I had mixed feelings about driving out to Bar Harbor, Maine. 1,225 miles with 4 kids sounded miserable, especially since I can’t even go 10 miles in Grand Rapids without them seriously fighting about everything. I decided to figure out how I could make this trip more fun + explore new places on our drive. My husband and I both had the idea of going thru Canada and when we brought up the directions it came up as 2 hours shorter to go thru Ontario and Québec. SCORE!
We started making plans for the drive by researching and calling to find out what documents we needed to cross the border with kids. We called both border stations where we would cross to make sure we had all the documents needed for them to clear entering and exiting Canada. And if you plan on doing that any time soon with your kids. I will say this, all you need for your kids (under the age of 16) is a birth certificate. We almost got passports or enhanced photo ID for our kids which would have been a little pricey, but if needed we would have done it for this trip.
All we knew is that we wanted to stop in Toronto + Montréal and then on to Bar Harbor. It broke up our trip into 3 equal trips of 6-7 hrs. This felt very doable since we regularly drive straight through to North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia several times per year which are 13+hrs drives.
I was a little nervous to reserve a hotel in Canada for the fear that we wouldn’t be able to cross the border, but I think that was a bit of a mistake on our side. It left us wondering where we were going to stay + wandering around Toronto with no great direction. So definitely book your hotel before visiting a new city especially if you have kids. It would have been nice to have dropped off all our stuff + taken a moment to regroup mentally from the car ride.
So we decided to drive straight for Kensington market to look for Brunners, a vegan + gluten free bakery. (side note: I am not vegan or strict gluten free but I definitely prefer to eat paleo when I’m not traveling) Everything in the bakery looked AMAZING + from what we had tried, it was. This little section of the city was definitely hustling and bustling and appeared to be a pretty touristy spot to go. It was full of different ethnic restaurants, shops, street music, and character. I definitely would have enjoyed this area a bit more without 4 kids in tow. It made me a little nervous walking around, squeezing through people to explore this nook in Toronto.
After spending 2 hours there, we made our way downtown to eat at Amsterdam Brewery… We were told we must try poutine, although I still don’t understand exactly what I ate. Lol. Some kind of beef thing with cheese curds and fries. Not sure. (if you know explain it to me) Either way my kids loved it! I may have splurged and ate an enormous burger, which was AMAZING! I mean look at this picture!
I absolutely loved it downtown, my husband might say otherwise because driving around was a little challenging, especially with the one ways and figuring out how to maneuver around the electrical streetcar + trolleys. But there are lots of parks and harbors. I finally felt like I could put my fears in my back pocket and let my kids be kids. Most of the day I was stressing about them getting in the way of other pedestrians, getting snatched or “making a scene.” Anyways, by the time we actually got done with dinner we only had a few minutes to get back to our car before the meter ran out so (side note: a bit expensive to park anywhere)
We booked a hotel while in a café in Kensington market which ended up being an amazing hotel just north of Toronto a little bit. It was definitely nice to be a head of all the city traffic for our trip up to Montréal + it had an amazing complimentary breakfast which took any stress off of looking for a place with our rascals.
Please hit me up if you have any questions!
Coming soon! Our adventures in Québec, Montréal.