A Rider’s Guide to Spring’s Can’t-miss Roads and Routes in Southwest Ontario

About the same time that our favourite groundhog pops his head out to determine how many more weeks of winter are left, motorcyclists start to count the days before the weather will be warm enough to trade four wheels for two.

If you happen to be one of those longing to hit the highway the moment Mother Nature decides to cooperate this spring, you’re in luck. We’ve done all the prep work for you with this roundup of 12 amazing routes that offer great roads, amazing spring scenery as well as roadside attractions and distractions aplenty.

Cruise the Coast Route

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This 7.5 hour cruise will take you along Lake Erie’s northern shorelines, which are arguably some of the most scenic to be found in all of Canada. When it’s time to stretch your legs there are plenty of spectacular lookouts, charming towns with great shopping and amazing restaurants to try.

Time Travel: Cruise down the main street of Erieau and you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a town that time forgot. Be sure try the delicious wood oven pizza at Bayside Brewing Co.

St. Clair River & Lake Huron Shores Route

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While this quick 2.5-hour cruise between Thamesville and Grand Bend does showcase some of the region’s most beautiful beaches, there’s no reason to reserve this ride for swimsuit season. The spring is an excellent time to discover this incredibly scenic part of Ontario.

Meet the Makers: Alton Farms Estate Winery is just a short detour off the route and definitely worth the trip to meet a dedicated husband and wife team who are committed to creating a new Ontario wine region on the shores of Lake Huron. Watch this video to get a sneak peek of the winery.

Experience Elgin Country Route

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This 2-hour ride will take you between the friendly towns of Tillsonburg and West Lorne and offers up a chance to explore everything Elgin. Keep an eye out for strange sightings along the way, like a roadside elephant in St. Thomas and a submarine from the Cold War era in Port Burwell.

Find an Old Flame: Stop by Anything Used and Sparta Country Candles in the village of Sparta to pick up a handmade candle and explore all the treasures in this restored 1838 general store.

Freedom Trail Route

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This short route is a perfect way to learn more about Canada’s fascinating role in the Underground Railroad with stops at Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Buxton National Historic Site and Museum.

Go Retro: Leave plenty of time for exploring the past by spending the night at the Retro Suites in downtown Chatham. Original tin ceilings, terrazzo floors and exposed brick create a unique sense of place in these beautifully restored suites.

Friday the 13th Route

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Discover why thousands of bikers make the trip to Port Dover every Friday the 13th on this one-hour cruise. Don’t make the mistake of making this a point A to point B ride, or you’ll miss out on getting to know cool communities like Caledonia, Hagersville and Jarvis.

Get the scoop: Stop for ice cream at Hewitt’s Dairy Bar in Hagersville for a dreamy dairy experience with over 60 flavours!

Grand River Route

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Follow a Canadian Heritage River as it flows south from Caledonia toward Lake Erie on this 2-hour ride.

Sweet treat: While the sap may have stopped running by the time you hit the road this spring, that shouldn’t stop you from stocking up on this season’s maple syrup at Richardson’s Farm and Market in Dunnville. Get a sneak peek of the sweet treat that is in store here.

Hub and Spoke Route

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This 3-hour route through Chatham-Kent offers scenic stopping points with historic plaques sharing fascinating details about the War of 1812. It also takes riders past Rondeau Provincial Park, which is a hotspot for the spring migration of a spectacular collection of birds, so bring your binoculars.

Birds of a Feather: Each May thousands of birders flock to Rondeau Provincial Park to watch the thousands of birds that migrate through the park during the Festival of Flight.

Oil Heritage Route

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Don’t just get your motor running. Learn more about the liquid that keeps it running! This 1.5-hour route will take you to the birthplace of the North American oil industry, a major drama staged in three Ontario towns – Petrolia, Oil Springs and Bothwell.

Show Time: If you’re visiting after the beginning of May, time your visit with a production at the beautiful and historic Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia.

Ontario’s Garden Route

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Norfolk County takes centre stage on this 1.5-hour ride that shines the spotlight on this incredibly fertile region of Ontario. The many wineries, breweries, restaurants and farm stands along the route offer a delicious taste of the unique flavours the land imparts on the products grown here.

Hop to it: Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm makes craft beer with hops grown right on the farm, but that’s just one of the delicious things you can enjoy there. Be sure to try their addictive kettle chips and enjoy comfort food classics at their restaurant, The Roost. Get a sneak peek here.

Our Rural Routes Are Showing Route

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Cruise this 3.5-hour route through Oxford County and discover rolling rural hills and countryside views that have made the area a favourite destination for cyclists in training.

Eat Cheese ‘Til The Cows Come Home: You can’t explore Canada’s Dairy Capital without enjoying some of the delicious cheeses produced here. The Oxford County Cheese Trail makes it easy to stop and sample along the way. Get a sneak peek at just one of the stops along the trail here.

Windsor Essex Peninsula Route

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If you’re inclination right now is to head south, you can’t go further south in Canada than this scenic 2-hour shoreline cruise.  This route connects picture perfect, postcard-worthy historic towns including Amherstburg, Kingsville and Harrow.

Get to the Point: Looking for a perfect pic to help you remember your ride? Snap a selfie standing on the southernmost tip of mainland Canada at Point Pelee National Park.

Visit Middlesex Route

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You’ve probably motored right through this region on Highways 401 and 402 before without realizing the wealth of rolling country roads nearby. Cruise past Carolinian forests as they turn vibrant and green on this 3-hour route just outside of London.  This ride offers up interesting museums and historic sites, great shopping and delicious dining.

Family Feud: Learn the fascinating story of the Donnelly family at the Lucan Area Heritage & Donnelly Museum. This legendary family emigrated from Ireland to Canada in the mid-1800’s and were involved in a notorious feud in Middlesex County that culminated in a massacre in which five family members were killed. According to local lore, the ghosts of the murdered family members can be seen floating in the fields near the murder site and horses will not ride past the former Donnelly homestead after midnight.

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