As travel restrictions begin to ease up all around the world, and vaccine passports are swiftly rolling out, it may be tempting – scratch that, it is extremely tempting – to want to take off on the next flight to anywhere.
Most of us are tired of being cooped up in the same familiar spaces with those all too familiar faces. But this summer, there’s something to be said about the novelty within the familiar. I’m talking, of course, about what’s found in our own backyard.
I say let’s ditch the flights, long lineups, and lengthy arrival protocols altogether and opt for a good old fashioned road trip. You don’t need to go across Canada or even leave the province to go exploring.
That’s where my head was at when I planned a road trip to northern Ontario with an old friend. As soon as lockdown restrictions eased and we had both snagged our second jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine, we decided to make the trip. On a casual Friday afternoon after work, we loaded up the car and headed north from downtown Toronto.
Sioux Lookout, “The Hub of the North”, was the destination – a town in Northwestern Ontario. “It can’t be that far,” we told ourselves, “after all, we’d still be in Ontario!”
Twenty-two hours later we were still driving, and we were still in Ontario.
If you’ve ever been on any kind of road trip across Canada, you would have already stumbled upon the curious fascination that small towns seem to have with the “world’s largest _______” roadside attractions. In other words, really big things.
There’s even a classic road trip movie on this topic, One Week (2009), featuring Canadian icon Gord Downie, and starring Joshua Jackson. This movie will surely get you in the mood for a trip like this. It definitely did for me!
Now here’s a list of our top giant roadside attractions on our way up to northwestern Ontario!
1. “Big Nickel”, Sudbury, ON
2. “Northern Ontario’s Largest Muskoka Chair”, Thessalon, ON
3. “The Giant Loonie”, Echo Bay, ON
4. “Giant Baseball”, Sault Ste. Marie
5. “Canada Goose”, Wawa, ON
6. Terry Fox Memorial and Lookout”, Thunder Bay, ON
Aside from the top roadside attractions in this list, there were also a series of random roadside attractions that were just excuses to stop for a quick rest and have another pin to drop on the GPS map to keep things interesting. For example, we stopped at a Winnie-the-Pooh monument (not in the greatest condition) in what is said to be the beloved bear’s hometown in White River, Ontario. There was also a ridiculous “giant” thermometer. I do suggest you find some of these because they are hilarious and a great opportunity to stretch your legs. Trust me, you’ll need it.
Our road trip from Toronto to Sioux Lookout was an absolute blast, made all the more entertaining by our very random “giant” stop-offs along the way. If you’re looking for a COVID-safe travel idea this summer, I hope you consider taking a road trip and visiting some of the roadside attractions in this list. You may just surprise yourself at what the road holds. Let’s go local, and support local businesses while we’re at it!
Recently visited a roadside attraction? Was it “giant” or debatable? Share in the comments below.