This post is sponsored by Ford Canada. As always, all opinions are my own.
Yesterday was the first official day of summer (or “summer solstice”, as I’ve been hearing around) and I’m so excited for consistently warm weather and summer events! While the weather here in Toronto is as unpredictable as ever, I’m glad it’s finally at least warm.
In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, I’ve been doing a little series here on Diary of a Toronto Girl in celebration of all things Canadian! Last weekend I paid a visit to Hamilton, Ontario with Ford Canada. Ford aims to help bring people together, and wanted to help reconnect my best friend and I by bringing us together on National Best Friend’s Day through a specifically curated trip.
Shay and I were so stoked to see the gorgeous waterfalls in Hamilton for our road trip!
I picked up my 2017 Ford Explorer on Friday morning and I was stunned by how badass it looked in the lot. I wasn’t used to driving newer cars so I struggled for like 20 minutes trying to figure out how to turn on the car.
I plugged in my iPhone and discovered the amazingness of CarPlay, which I’d never heard of before. I could send messages and make phone calls all through the magic of Siri! It was also a touch screen and I was astonished by the modernness of it all. I was in a rush to get to Shay’s house, so I quickly setup Google Maps and chose a playlist on Spotify before heading off.
Let me just start off by saying that midday on Fridays is the worst time to embark on a road trip from Toronto. Shay and I knew we would arrive in Hamilton a bit later for lunch, so we grabbed some iced capps and donuts from Timmies for our little 🇨🇦Canadian road trip🇨🇦.
We arrived in Hamilton about an hour and a half later, and we stopped by HMBRGR for lunch. I got the Maui Wowi burger, which had slow smoked and coffee-rubbed pulled pork, caramelized pineapple, white cheddar, crispy onions, and coffee BBQ sauce – it was as amazing as it sounds! I also tried Fruli Strawberry Beer for the first time and it was life changing.
The Chedoke Radial Trail + Cliffview Falls
The first stop we wanted to check out was Cliffview Falls. Be sure to do your research (or take notes from this post) before you visit any waterfalls in Hamilton. Not knowing Cliffview Falls was literally right next to the parking lot, we walked down the never-ending Chedoke Stairs (people do hardcore workouts on these), trekked through the long Chedoke Radial Trail, and then suffered going back up the never-ending Chedoke Stairs.
To be honest, Cliffview Falls isn’t really anything special compared to the rest of the waterfalls you can visit in Hamilton. Chedoke Falls is nearby and it’s an amazing but extremely difficult hike. It’s located by the Chedoke Radial Trail, but you can park at the Chedoke Golf Course so you don’t have to walk down and up all those endless Chedoke Stairs. Seriously. They were made for extremely fit people.
We were tired and disappointed, so we wanted our next waterfall to be as close to a parking lot as possible. Tiffany Falls definitely lifted our moods up!
While it’s quite small and can get pretty busy, it’s a fun little spot to snap some quick photos and dip your feet in the water. It looks like we’re alone in these photos, but there was actually a wedding shoot going on right next to us!
Since we spent so much time searching for Cliffview Falls, it was time for dinner by the time we left Tiffany Falls. We visited The Mule (which turned out to be right by HMBRGR) for some tacos.
We asked for patio seats thinking they’d be on the rooftop we saw above the restaurant, but as the waiter walked us through the restaurant and out the side door, we wondered what the heck we were getting ourselves into. To our surprise, they had a beautiful, intimate outdoor patio hiding behind the restaurant!
Sam Lawrence Park
When I travel, I usually search on Instagram for places to go, because obvs the people know best. I came across Sam Lawrence Park, which I hadn’t seen on any tourist websites, and it looked pretty cool. Pretty cool didn’t even begin to describe it – the view was breathtaking. Photos don’t even do it justice.
We started our morning off with brunch at Aberdeen Tavern, which was fancier than we expected. The interior was Victorian-themed with old paintings everywhere, and it was stunning! Pretty much all the places we ate at in Hamilton were Instagram-worthy.
Webster Falls, Tew Falls, + Dundas Peak
I wanted to start off our day with some easier hikes, so we visited Webster Falls, Tew Falls, and Dundas Peak. I visited all three of these attractions two years ago, and my first road trip to Hamilton was actually one of my first blog posts!
The city has since started charging fees to see them ($10 per car and $5 per person), and on weekends they have shuttle buses. We actually really enjoyed taking the shuttle buses – they took us directly to each location and we could easily follow other people on the bus so we wouldn’t get lost.
Apparently the city closed off Webster Falls so you can’t get to the bottom anymore, and the view from the lookout was pretty bad. We did a little photoshoot on this cool bridge before we headed back to the shuttle bus to Tew Falls.
We had much nicer views of Tew Falls. It was more beautiful than I remembered it being! Afterwards, we walked down the Dundas Peak Trail. There were more lookouts of Tew Falls along the way.
We finally reached Dundas Peak, and the view was spectacular. I’d dangled my legs off this edge before, but I was a little more frightened this time because I read an article about someone who’d fallen off a cliff in Hamilton two days earlier. So, just remember to always be careful.
We thought we’d check out a side trail before heading back to the shuttle buses, so we walked through one of the uncanny pathways and took some occasional photos along the way.
The trail ended up coming to an end and we could only turn back. Shay wanted to see if there was a shortcut through through the forest, so we walked off the trail. We stumbled across some huts locals had made, and they were pretty cool. We should have turned back right then and there, but we stupidly kept walking and we got ourselves lost. Do not do this unless you’re an experienced hiker.
Neither of us are experienced hikers, so it was really dangerous and really terrifying. We climbed up steep dirt hills and over fallen trees, and I genuinely thought we were going to have to wait for other hikers to help us out or one of us was going to get seriously injured. Thanks to Google Maps, we were able to find the trail, but navigating through that hilly forest was not easy. On the bright side, we worked off all the food we ate from climbing all those hills!
Afterwards, we had a relaxing dinner at Baci Ristorante. Shay got the gnocchi and it was so delicious, and I got the pizza which was good as well. I definitely recommend sharing the pizzas because they were ginormous.
Sam Lawrence Park
I enjoyed Sam Lawrence Park so much the night before that I wanted to see it while there was daylight. It’s much more beautiful at nighttime, but the photos are nicer during the day!
We had so much fun getting to know the Explorer. Everything from the massive sunroof to the parking camera to the butt coolers and massagers was amazing! The car also came with SiriusXM so we sang along to current popular hits or old songs we listened to during childhood when we got bored of our songs on Spotify.
We ended off our night with some drinks at Radius. The patio was adorable.
We’d planned on hiking to Chedoke Falls, but the last two days of getting lost took a toll on us and we didn’t really feel up to it. Instead, we had a wonderful brunch at The French. I got the duck waffles with duck confit, buttermilk, rosemary blueberry, and almond, and it was my most favourite meal of our entire weekend!
Since it was both Sunday and Father’s Day, the roads weren’t too busy and we had a peaceful drive back home. When I first drove around in Hamilton, all the one-way roads scared me, but I grew to love driving there over driving in Toronto.
Hamilton is filled with unreal sights and has such a strong food game. The city itself is really adorable, and it’s somewhere I actually wouldn’t mind living. Shay and I were so surprised by how hip it was! If you’re looking for somewhere adventurous to road trip close to Toronto, I highly recommend paying a visit to Hamilton. Just do your research and don’t get lost like Shay and I did. 😓
Thank you so much to Ford Canada for providing me with such an amazing experience. The Explorer was such a fun and powerful car to drive – perfect for our weekend adventure!
P.S. if you liked this post, you might like this post on my previous road trip to Hamilton.
Photos featuring myself by Shay A.
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