Beach Bum Bucket List
Swim. Lounge. Play. Repeat.
SEEKING ALL BEACH BUMS! Boasting some of the BEST BEACHES in Ontario and one of the BEST SUNSETS in the world, the Lake Huron shoreline from Ipperwash to Grand Bend to Bayfield offer beachgoers clean water, safe swimming, water sports and endless stretches of sand.
The Main Beach located in Grand Bend enjoys Blue Flag designation (blueflag.org), amenities just steps from the shoreline, accessibility and lifeguards on duty throughout the summer months. Bayfield also boasts a Blue Flag beach which is just a short 10-minute walk from downtown boutiques and accommodations.
For more than a hundred years, the beach has drawn fans of sun, sand and surf to the area, making it a favourite vacation destination for generations of families who have created memories to last a lifetime. Rural, historic towns and villages perch along Lake Huron’s shoreline and farms adorn the beautiful countryside. It’s not surprising artists find the natural landscape inspirational and you’ll find original works in artist studios and small galleries from Camlachie to Bayfield.
With 66 kilometres of Lake Huron’s shoreline from Bayfield to Ipperwash, you can bask on 20 area beaches, while the kids build sandcastles and collect shells. Two dog-friendly beaches are located in Pinery Provincial Park.
Be an Adrenaline Junkie
Where else can you skydive, parasail, seadoo, paddleboard, skateboard, cycle and swim? Happily in one place – the Greater Grand Bend Area. View the shoreline from 10,000 feet by parachute or see the beach and lakeshore parasailing at 1,000 feet. You could even top off your thrill-filled day wakeboarding (Grand Bend & Bayfield), paddleboarding, flyboarding, seadoing, boating or even skateboarding at one of Ontario’s largest indoor skateboard parks (located in Zurich). Grand Bend Motorplex, one of Canada’s largest racing venues, is also one of only two offering drag-racing, road-racing, oval track-racing and motocross. It’s also home to Eastern Canada’s largest drag-racing event with more than 350 competitors – the MOPAR Canadian Nationals.
Culture Vultures – Treat Your Senses to the Pleasures of Theatre, Music & Art
Mix your sand-and-surf vacation with culture and see how many of the 32 productions you can attend. Live theatre, live music, original art and opportunities to be creative lets you feed your soul and imagination just steps from the beach. Five professional theatres are within a 40-minute drive of the shoreline, including:
- Huron Country Playhouse (Grand Bend)
- Victoria Playhouse (Petrolia)
- Blyth Festival (Blyth)
- The Livery (Goderich) and
- Stratford Festival (Stratford)
Enjoy FREE music concerts on Grand Bend’s beach every Sunday or holiday Monday (Summer Sunset Sounds) in July and August. Area restaurants also offer live music on their patios several evenings during the week. Explore more than a dozen small galleries and working studios and participate in a variety of drop-in and scheduled art workshops. In late March, Paint Ontario, Ontario’s foremost juried art competition, show and sale of original represent art is hosted at Lambton Heritage Museum just south of Grand Bend.
Be a Taste Explorer and Eat Like a Local
TASTE EXPLORERS can experience what it means to live like a local by visiting farmers’ markets, shopping at farm-gate or farm retail outlet stores or dining at owner-operated restaurants where chefs use local produce. Herbs, fruits, vegetables, meats, honey and garlic are all easily available. Local wine and craft beer offerings are available at many area restaurants and available for purchase to take home as a souvenir. Be sure to visit internationally recognized Twin Pines Cidery for their award-winning ciders and wines.
Be a Healthy Hiker in the Carolinian Life Zone
HEALTHY HIKERS will be rejuvenated trekking through rare Savanna and Carolinian forest. The Carolinian Life Zone represents less than one percent of Canada’s landmass, but is home to the largest diversity of fauna and flora species in the country. Hike bare and forested dune lands, freshwater coastal wetlands, rare Oak Savanna, steep and forested ravines, and remnant prairies of tall grass and wildflowers. You could even play paleontologist and hunt for fossils at Rock Glen Conservation Area or wonder at the “Kettles” (spherical concretions) found in the Ipperwash and Kettle & Stony Point areas.
Shop the Unique & Boutique
Shopaholics beware! You’re going to check boxes off your shopping list you didn’t know you had. Escape the mundane and repetition of big-box stores and malls. Shop the unique at family-owned stores for a refreshing shopping experience that will excite your soul and delight the senses. Proud shop owners that take the time to share their creative talents and one-of-a-kind merchandise. Stores filled with truly unique items. You can own pieces of history, handcrafted treasures, conversation starters and works of many local artisans and artists.
- More information for treasure hunters
FARMERS MARKETS open up after the Victoria Day Weekend and typically run until just before or after the Thanksgiving Weekend. Farmers markets take place in Grand Bend on Wednesday (8am-1pm), in Forest on Friday morning (8am-1pm), Exeter on Thursday (2-6pm) and Bayfield on Friday afternoon (3-7pm). There’s also the not-to-be-missed, very popular Pinery Antique Flea Market, which runs Sundays 8am-4pm, May to Thanksgiving.
FISHING & BOATING FUN on the Lake
MASTER ANGLERS can fish Lake Huron with Blue Line Fishing Charters and Grand Bend Fishing Charters out of Grand Bend April to October. Experience the thrill of hauling in King and Coho Salmon, Rainbow Trout and Walleye. Or fish a quiet river with Fly Fitters who offer guided fly fishing, spey fishing and sport fishing adventures on the Maitland River, Bayfield River and Saugeen River.
- More information for Master Anglers
- Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority
- Maitland Valley Conservation Authority
SERENITY SEEKERS ON THE LAKE in sailboats and motorboats will can find everything they need at the municipal Port Franks Marina, Grand Bend Harbour and Bayfield Marina, which are open just prior to Victoria Day Weekend to Thanksgiving. Take the “Safe Boater” test at either the Grand Bend or Port Franks marina office. There are also a good number of private marinas in the area.
Migration Wonders & More
BIRDERS from across Ontario flock to the Thedford Bog fields behind the Lambton Heritage Museum in early spring to take in the sight of thousands of Tundra Swans returning to Canada’s Arctic from Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Get involved in Migration Count days at Pinery Provincial Park or simply be on the look-out for more than 319 species of birds, including Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Red-throated loons and many other feathered friends.
Be a History Buff and Explore Quaint Towns and Villages
CULTURAL EXPLORERS can experience our history through self-guided walking tours of Grand Bend, Forest and Exeter or visit area museums with unique stories to tell like the Sloman School on Wheels Railcar Museum or the Lucan Area Heritage & Donnelly Museum (learn about the famous Donnelly murders). Don’t miss the annual Kettle & Stony Point PowWow held in July.
Be a Fairway Ninja
FAIRWAY NINJAS can create their own “Highway 21 Golf Tour” from the 11 local 18-hole courses and two 9-hole courses. Top off exercise, social time and sunshine at the 19th hole or a local restaurant or pub.
Tips for Travellers
Visitor Information Centre – Open Year Round
- September to May – Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm
- June to Labour Day – Daily, 10am to 6pm
Location: 1-81 Crescent Street, Grand Bend (Main Street & Highway 21)
Phone: 519-238-2001 / 1-888-338-2001
Parking is FREE, except in Grand Bend during peak summer months (June to August). Overnight street parking is not allowed from 2am to 6am year round. Seasonal Parking Passes are $130 (valid April 15-November 1). Click here for a Parking Brochure (PDF).
Main Street West, Grand Bend (2-hour maximum; $2/hour)
- Statutory holidays & Weekends: Paid parking 10am-6pm; FREE before 10am & after 6pm
- Weekdays: FREE before Noon and after 5pm
Gill Road & Crescent Street, Grand Bend (6am-11pm): FREE
MOBILE PARKING APP
HonkMobile can be used to pay for parking throughout Grand Bend. The app will even alert you when you’re down to the last 15-minutes of paid time and enable you to top up your parking time.
- Download app at: honkmobile.com.
- HonkMobile Support: 1-855-338-2824.
|Per Hour||Daily Max.||Hours||Overnight Park with with $10 Pass||Overnight Parking with Seasonal Pass||Boat Trailer & Large Vehicle Parking|
|Main St. W. / 5724*||$2||2 hours||Holidays & Weekends: 10am-6pm. Weekdays: Noon-5pm, FREE before & after hours||No||No|
|River Rd./5730*||$2||2 hours||8am-4pm||No||No||Boat trailer in appropriate spots|
|King St. / 5722*||$3||$15||6am-3am||YES||YES|
|Mid-Town / 5723*||$3||$15||6am-3am||Yes||Yes|
|Huron St. / 5729*||$4||$20||6am-3am**||Yes||Yes|
|Main Beach / 5720*||$4||$20||6am-11pm**||No||No|
|North Beach / 5721*||$4||$20||6am-11pm**||No||No|
|Gill Rd. / 5727*||FREE||FREE||6am-11pm||No||No|
|Municipal Dr. / 5728*||FREE||FREE to 3am||6am-3am||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ontario St. S. / 5726*||FREE||Free||6am-11pm||Yes||Yes||Boat trailer only|
*HonkMobile Zone / **FREE after 7pm / lambtonshores.ca/parking
- Drivers with an “Accessible Parking Permit” or “Disabled Person Parking Permit” may park anywhere for FREE. Ensure permit is clearly visible!
- Pay parking tickets online at www.paytickets.ca.
- Download the parking brochure from grandbendtourism.com/parking or pick a copy up at the Welcome Centre.
- Medical / Fire / Police: 911
- Ontario Provincial Police: 1-800-310-1122
HOSPITALS / CLINICS
- Hospitals: South Huron Hospital – Emergency Department, 24 Huron St. W., Exeter; Clinton Public Hospital – 98 Shipley St., Clinton
- Walk-In Clinics: Grand Bend Dental & Health, 72 Ontario St. S., 519-238-3384; Grand Bend & Area Community Health Centre, 69 Main St. E., 519-238-2362, Grand Bend (Saturday 9am-11:30am only); South Huron Medical Centre, 23 Huron St. W., 519-235-3343, Exeter (Weekdays 3:45pm-6:30pm / Weekends 10:45am-1:45pm).
There is no public transport to the Grand Bend Area. To make a reservation for pick-up and transportation from London to Grand Bend call That Girl Taxi Services at 519-238-1080, transportationservicesgrandbend.ca or Star Taxi at 519-238-STAR (7827), startaxi.ca.
- Bayfield: Bayfield Garage (Esso) – 9 Main St. S.; GoCo – 34023 Mill Rd.
- Clinton: Mac’s – 89 Albert St.; Shell – 238 Albert St.
- Exeter: Esso – 544 Main St. S.; Shell – 119 Main St. N.; Hensall Co-Op Gas Bar – 51 Main St. N.
- Forest: Al’s Gas & Variety – 9401 W. Ipperwash Rd. (Ipperwash); Esso – 73 Main St. S. (Forest); MacEwan – 198 Main St. N.
- Grand Bend: Esso – Ontario St. S.; Shell – 71146 Bluewater Hwy.
- Hensall: Shell – 80 London Rd. (Hwy. 4)
- Port Franks / Northville: Goco – 8565 Lakeshore Rd.; MacPherson’s 8512 Lakeshore Rd.
- Thedford: GoCo – 78 Main St.
- Zurich: Petro Line – 29 Main St.