I grew up within striking distance of Ontario’s best beaches. Grand Bend, The Pinery, and Port Stanley were second homes to me in the summer from tot to teenager. Sand between my toes and wind swept hair were a way of life. It wasn’t until I moved away that I realized I took for granted what was so close. I assumed all of Ontario had beaches like those I grew up on. Not so. As much as I love my adopted hometown of Ottawa, it lacks the beauty of the beaches that can only be found in Ontario’s Southwest. I long to share these beaches with my children, since I know that much of my love for the earth and all it’s natural beauty was acquired on those Ontario beaches.
Look a little deeper and you'll realize that the beach is so much more than picnics, frisbee, and swimming. Spending time at the beach is an opportunity to expand horizons and educate our children about our fragile eco-system and history, all slipped in under the guise of beach-y fun.
If you're planning your beach escape right now, here are four "can’t miss" beaches in Ontario’s Southwest that find just the right mix between fun and education.
Located along the shores of Lake Erie, Rock Point is the summer destination for budding paleontologists. After you take the kids to see the latest Hollywood interpretation of dinosaurs, consider heading here afterwards to search for the real deal, fossils are abound on this pebbly beach. Fossils aside, it’s also the perfect place to swim and camp for the weekend. And you won’t even have to worry about hungry velociraptors.
Port Burwell is often times referred to as the jewel of Lake Erie’s north shore and it’s not hard to see why. I remember visiting this gorgeous beach as a child and being mesmerized by the sheer size of the place. 2.5 kilometres of white, sandy beach stretches along the deep blue of one of Canada’s greatest lakes. You’re visiting to slip in some stealth learning though, so you should definitely check out the HMCS Ojibwa, a cold war submarine that served during the Cold War.
Let’s all just absorb this little fact for a moment—Point Pelee is Canada’s most southern point. It’s further south than some points in America and it’s all ours. I am hoping all you winter haters are doing a happy dance right now.
Of course, it’s only fitting that something so much closer to the equator than the rest of us has over 20 kilometres of amazing beaches. Point Pelee will always be about the B’s for me though—birds and butterflies. 370 types of birds pass through the park during migration as does the annual migration of Monarch butterflies. You’ll want to make sure you have your binoculars on hand when visiting this location. See? B words.
Oh Rondeau; you complete me. Another Lake Erie gem, you simply can’t go wrong with a day or weekend visit to Rondeau Beach. Claiming eleven kilometres of Ontario’s Southwest best beach front, this beach is a definite can’t miss for your summer travels. Bring your binoculars to catch some of the amazing birds inhabiting this place, but make sure you get on the water to truly appreciate the space. Kayak, canoe or paddleboard, just get out there.
I’ve had the distinct pleasure of visiting all 13 beaches listed on Ontario’s Southwest website and each has its own amazing cheat sheet that share helpful tips like distance from major city centres, accommodations, and things to do while visiting. Don't miss the opportunity this summer to have fun on the beach with your kids - we'll keep the whole added bonus of "learning" our little secret.
This summer, instead of getting steamed up in cottage country traffic, chill out on some of the province's best beaches in Ontario's Southwest.
Don’t miss out on the “Best Beach Adventure” contest. One lucky family will enjoy a four-day beach adventure for four on Lake Erie, featuring amazing outdoor adventures—a prize valued at $2,500!
Check out more great stories and information about beaches in Ontario’s Southwest: