there is only 1 route, highway 401, and can't imagine any "quaint little villages" along the way, or within 50km around the route. There is no scenary. If you don't drive the main highway, I suppose you can drive along the smaller roads, parallel the highway, but with no added scenary.
Your drive to Kingston from Toronto will be about 3 hrs along the 401 highway, but you could definitely take the time to enjoy the picturesque scenery along the way......south of the highway near Belleville in Prince Edward county. Use mapquest to check destinations.
There's information here on sights as well as restaurants....even wineries.
Or you can go a little farther south and cross into the US for part of the drive with this route:
<<The Loyalist Parkway follows the course of Loyalist settlement which commenced in 1784 following the American Revolution. As a living monument to the Loyalist settlers it presents a rich source of information for those with interests in Heritage Tourism, Genealogy, Canadian History, Early Canadian Architecture, and genealogy for those following their United Empire Loyalist roots. As an alternate route between Trenton and Kingston it offers a wide choice of accommodation, sightseeing and recreation for the whole family. A one meter wide paved shoulder has been provided for cyclists along its length. There are over 40 listed Archeaologic sites and at least 125 notable heritage buildings adjacent to the Parkway.>>>
Just east of Kingston is Upper Canada Village, and though not a First Nations settlement, is quite interesting:
If you are interested in First Nations culture and history, an exhibit not to be missed is in Ottawa at the Museum of Civilization. It would be well worth the time if you wanted to visit. I found it simply amazing:
<<1. The Grand Hall
Our Grand Hall celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Native Peoples of Canada’s West Coast. Each of the Hall’s six houses presents an Aboriginal community living in coastal British Columbia, and features exhibits rich in artifacts and imagery. Guided tours are available for an additional fee.
2. The First Peoples Hall
A dynamic blend of artifacts, works of art, archival documents and audiovisual presentations in the First Peoples Hall celebrates the diversity and contributions of Canada’s First Peoples from their earliest origins to the present day.>>>
Hope that gives you a few ideas.
How about tracking a little further north and taking Highway 7 through the Kawarthas?
Doesn't get much more scenic than that...
Staying on the 401 (major highway) the whole way is not the way to discover the country. You must get a map and take the exits and follow some secondary road a few times.
I've taken the road at Port hope exit and follow it by the lake, some very nice properties over there.... You can go back on the highway after Trenton.
There is also the area called the 1000 islands near Gananoque. Lots of day cruises to be taken around there. Nice to visit.
Note that Gananoque is just pass Kingston.
Kingston itself also has some historic places.
Before the 401 came along, the main route to Kingston was Highway 2 (known in Toronto as Kingston Rd.) It's still there, though much of it is now a local street through suburbs and smaller cities, often lined with fast food outlets, car dealerships, etc. The rural parts are a bit more scenic than the 401, as it gets closer to the lake than the 401, but probably nothing you'd stop to take a photo of.
Highway 7 goes all the way to Ottawa, but if you went that route you'd be going out of your way to stop in Kingston.
Thanks all of you. That has been very helpful.
I second the Highway 2 recommendation. Pick it up after Oshawa, and it will take you through some nice scenery and a few quaint downtowns. Port Hope and Cobourg are worth a 10-15 minute stop -- great restored 19th-century buildings -- but you do get close to the lake elsewhere, and it's generally a much more peaceful and pleasant drive than the 401. If you feel like making a detour, stop in Belleville and head downtown. It's a small town that's benefiting a lot from the tourism and cottage boom in surrounding Prince Edward County, and has some quaint shops and decent restaurants.
As far as First Nations go, Highway 2 goes through the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory (www.tyendinaga.net). I've never stopped there, but I expect it's not exactly a "village."
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