Five Interesting Places To Visit Along Highway 401


Ontario is packed with incredible places to visit, and you’ll find many of them along the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway – better known as the 401. It’s so much more than service stations! Keep these five interesting places in mind when you’re driving this route, whether you’re in a truck or on a road trip with your family!

Jumbo The Elephant, St. Thomas


PlacesFifteen minutes off the Ontario 401, you’ll find the spot where one of the biggest celebrities of the 1800s was killed in an unfortunate accident. The main attraction of P.T. Barnum’s “Greatest Show on Earth,” Jumbo was a 13,000-pound African Elephant. He brought in some of the largest crowds in the history of the circus. 

In September 1885, the Barnum & Bailey Circus came through St. Thomas. As the circus train prepared to leave town, an unscheduled locomotive bore down on the boxcar containing Jumbo. He died from his injuries, and a statue now commemorates the spot. Pop in for a beer at nearby Railway City!


Hell Holes Nature Trails, Centreville


PlacesLooking 20 kilometres north of the 401, you’ll find one of the wildest geological areas of Eastern Ontario. One of the best is the Devil’s Horse Stable Cave, a hole that descends eight metres into the depths of a cavern only three by three metres. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart! You’ll also find a natural stone bridge, 30-metre high limestone walls, and the namesake deep Hell Hole. 

Taking this trail is a step back in time, and visitors can explore the rock formations created during the glacial period and see rare plants developed over the area. Be sure to bring a flashlight or a headlamp – the darkness can be overwhelming!


The Big Apple, Colborne


The Big Apple is a popular roadside stop for many weary travellers on the 401. On top of the hot eats and baked goods, you can climb to the top of the apple to get a great view of the area. Stay for the restaurant, gift shop, and the activities for children, including a small amusement park and a mini-putt course. Whether you’re travelling alone or with your family, it’s a much different experience from the usual Service Center.


VW Beetle Spider, Port Hope


Port Hope is chock full of weird attractions. One of the best you can see from the 401 is the VW Beetle Spider, a massive sculpture with dangling spider legs suspended atop a post. It’s actually one of several spider sculptures made from this classic Volkswagen scattered throughout Ontario!

While you can’t get a selfie with this creepy-crawly artwork, pay attention – whoever you’re riding with can get a photo from the truck. It’s just east of Port Hope.


Landon Bay Lookout Trail, Thousand Islands


Way up along the route, you’ll find one of Ontario’s best natural treasures. The Landon Bay Lookout Trail is an excellent spot for hiking; not too difficult, you can enjoy a great view of Landon Bay, one of the largest bays in the Thousand Islands. An easy half-kilometre hike from Landon Bay Centre, Lookout Trail has long been recognized as the best natural view in all of the Thousand Islands area – and that’s really saying something!