Looking for an Ontario summer vacation idea?
If you live in or around Toronto, or will be visiting the Big Smoke during the summer, you may want to consider taking a road trip out of the city and into God’s country to discover some of what Ontario has to offer! A three hour drive north-west will land you on the western shore of Lake Huron at the beach town of Port Elgin. If you’re traveling with little ones, even better, as the Port Elgin is very popular with young families, with 3 km of sand beach that is shallow until you walk out pretty far.
Where to Stay
There are a couple of motels in town and a small number of bed and breakfasts around, but most families rent cottages for a week or two, from Saturday to Saturday. There are many cottages to choose from and at various price points. Since it is usually just my daughter and myself visiting, we tend to stay at the Windspire Inn, a bed and breakfast located halfway between the town and the beach. We have also enjoyed Edelweis Motel, located right on the beach and a great location for families who want to walk to the beach and have a lot of equipment (and kids) to carry. MacGregor Point Provincial Park also offers 360 campsites and a private beach for families that prefer to set up camp overnight.
Where to Eat
While at the beach you may want to grab some lunch at the beach snack bar due to convenience, but for healthier (and cheaper) options, take a drive over to the Independent Grocers just outside of town for prepared sandwiches, fruit, drinks and snacks to have throughout the day, and pack them a cooler with ice. You will pass Hi Berry Farm on the way to the grocery store and this is a good place to stock up on locally-grown veggies if you plan to prepare your own dinners. I like their freshly picked peas to snack on throughout the day!
Goderich Street, the main street that runs through the town of Port Elgin, offers many options for restaurants. We like The Wismer House for their wood fired pizza and fajitas at Allan’s Fireside Grill, both of which feature live music some nights. Rabbit Dash is Port Elgin’s trendy coffee shop is cute and offers latte’s, a large selection of teas and baked goods.
What to Do
Aside from spending days building sand castles and swimming in the clear (but sometimes cold) lake, there are a number of things to keep both adults and kids busy. Little kids will enjoy taking a ride on the train at the little railroad located on the beach. Bring your bikes and ride the 30km scenic bike trail along the shore that connects Port Elgin with nearby Southampton.
If you are in Port Elgin on a Tuesday morning, take a drive to nearby Kedy for the large flea market, to purchase locally made honey, handmade soap, old comics and vinyl, and a host of other food items and trinkets. Visit Port Elgin’s own smaller flea market on the beach on Wednesday mornings.
For the golfer there are a few golf courses located in and around the area and yogis will enjoy a break from the kids by taking a class at Metta Wave Yoga in town. Port Elgin also has stand up paddle boarding right on the beach now too!
Then the end of the day, after dinner, take a walk down to the pier to grab an ice cream and watch the most spectacular show of the day, the evening sunset. It’s the perfect end to a beach day in Port Elgin!