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Five fun cross-border winter vacations for Toronto families

Hop Over to Buffalo, New York

With the amount of snow this area gets, Buffalo, New York is a good choice for families who like tobogganing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Visit Chestnut Ridge’s toboggan chutes , or hike/ski a trail while enjoying the spectacular view at the Tifft Nature Preserve. And at just under a 2½-hour drive from Toronto, you could slip out after work on a Friday to make the most of a winter weekend getaway.

Explore Historic Albany, New York

Historic and gracious Albany, New York is an often-overlooked winter getaway for Torontonians who enjoy outdoor activities and winter events. Snowmobiling, skating, and a variety of winter-themed shows and activities abound. Enjoy a free skate at Albany’s Empire Plaza, or enjoy the Market 32 Capitol Holiday Lights Display in the park. If the weather’s bad, visit the New York State Museum for living history exhibits. Albany offers inexpensive lodgings and meals and is just over a 6- hour drive from Toronto.

Discover the Detroit, Michigan Area

Detroit, Michigan may not even be on your radar for a fun winter vacation, yet it has much to offer for families, couples and singles when the weather gets cold. Car and history enthusiasts can spend days wandering around the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Science fans should take in the unique exhibits at the Michigan Science Center, and animal lovers can bundle up to visit the famous Detroit Zoo, open 362 days a year. If your family includes Lego fans, be sure to stop in at the fun winter vacationLegoland Discovery Center where you’ll find a brick pool, 4D-Cinema, and Lego creations galore. The Detroit, Michiganarea is just a four-hour drive from Toronto.

Visit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

At under six hours travel time by car, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is another rust-belt city that's a good choice for families interested in American history – yet it also has a variety of winter activities to try, such as dog-sledding and ice-climbing. Take a ride on the Duquesne Incline , a cable car that’s over 100 years old and offers gorgeous views of the city. Gardening fans can visit the Phipps Conservatory with it’s historic glasshouse greenhouse, while history buffs should consider a day trip one or more of the Andrew Carnegie museums – including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, or the Andy Warhol Museum.

Learn About Music and Art in Cleveland Ohio

Though it may surprise you, northern Ohio’s Cleveland is a wonderful winter destination for Torontonians interested in culture – specifically art and music, and it’s just over a 4 ½-hour drive. The Cleveland Museum of Art houses one of the most important art collections in the United States and offers free admission to the permanent exhibits. And if your family includes one or more rock fans, be sure to stop by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Other things to do during your winter trip to Cleveland could include shopping at the historic indoor/outdoor West Side Market or visiting of the many parks dotting the Lake Erie shoreline, where you can find winter hiking opportunities, skating, and winter events.

Whichever destinations you choose, make sure you know how to get there safe and sound and in decent time. Download a traffic app like Waze or GoogleMaps to help you avoid traffic congestion, construction, and find the best driving route for your getaway.

If you’re ready to expand your travel horizons without busting your winter holiday budget, consider one of these five cross border vacations that are easy drives from the GTA.