Southwest Ontario is filled great beaches, and most of them are all within a short driving distance from Toronto. One of our favourites is Grand Bend.
Chances are that if you were a high school or university student in Southwest Ontario, you’re familiar with Grand Bend. Back then, we didn’t appreciate the fact that it was one of the best beaches in the country because we only wanted a place that had clear water and great sand.
Fast forward 10 years and you realize how important sustaining marine life is, and how wonderful it is that the go-to beach of our youth meets such high standards set by an international body.
Grand Bend is truly a Blue Flag Beach.
If you’ve never been to Grand Bend, or want to experience it as an adult (we totally recommend doing a girls trip!), we’ve put together a guide to help you get the most out of a beach trip to charming town.
What To Do When You Get There:
It’s all about the strip: Grand Bend is a relatively small town in Sarnia Lambton, and almost all of the action is centred on the strip- here’s where you’ll find bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops all lined up. Take a break from the gorgeous beach to grab a smoothie or a cold beverage to beat the heat.
Get your romance on: Grand Bend boasts one of the best sunsets in the world, and this is your perfect opportunity to grab your partner, and share a romantic moment with them. Don’t worry if you’re single, or on a girl’s trip- the sunset is still just as magical, and you don’t have to share it with anyone else.
Boat Ride: Tried of seeing the water from the beach?
Image of Angelie Sood via @thecuriouscreature
Head to Xtreme Watersports and rent a boat to take you to tubing, flyboarding, or just cruising down the canal so you can take selfies (yes, it happens). $180/hr for up to 10 people.
Charming boat operators are included!
Groove to the tunes: The Summer Sunset Sounds concert series will be taking place every Sunday at 7pm in July and August right on the beach.
Embrace your love of cider: Grab your car and head to the Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House– a must for anyone who enjoys the refreshing taste of cider. Their cider has won awards all over the world, and one sip will tell you why.
Dip your toes in: A quick 10 min drive out of the town will take you to Pinery Provincial Park where you can get some sun on the beach, or take your surfboard in and catch some waves, or even canoe down the river.
A charming oasis right off the main street, Pine Dale Motor Inn offers a pool, a conference room, and a secluded gazebo surrounded by greenery and a path that will take you all the way to Pinery Provincial Park for those who enjoy nature trails. Be sure to bring your camera and mosquito spray!
Where to Eat:
A quick 7 min walk from the beach -this old schoolhouse is converted into a charming restaurant accompanied by a delicious menu. We’re head over heels for the mango and brie quesadillas and the Tuscany salad. The salad is huge which makes it great for sharing! Head there early and grab a seat on the patio.
Situated right on the canal, this is a one of our favorite places in Grand Bend. Brought to life by an architect, Smackwater Jacks understands how to cater to the beach, and vacationing crowds by keeping the menu simple but amazing.
Get there early and grab a seat on the patio (upper or lower) and watch the sunset. Everything that we tried was delicious, but we will come back for the calamari, the tacos (fresh fish), and the cheesecake. You can’t go wrong with a place that does tacos and cheesecake well, or uses an old ambulance as a shuttle for those staying off the canal.
Grand Bend will always have memories of our childhoods, and when hanging out on dog friendly patios in Toronto just doesn’t fully scratch the itchy, we find ourselves going back and exploring the area a bit further really showcases the beauty that we have in Ontario.
Sometimes the best thing that happen is that things stay the same. In their own bubble. Grand Bend is that type of place. And the commitment to sustainability ensures that our children will get to experience the same wonder that we did.