My kids and I visited Lambton County, Sarnia and Grand Bend in Ontario’s Southwest for the first time ever! I hadn’t heard much about Sarnia, and honestly had no idea there were going to be beaches for us to enjoy there. I knew a few people who had visited Grand Bend and enjoyed their summer vacation there. So this trip was going to be a real treat for us newbies!
We first stopped at Canatara Park Blue Flag Beach. It’s a blue flag beach for a reason – the water is stunningly clear. It was cold, however, but beautifully clear. You could see the sandy bottom by eye; stunning landscape which made me feel like we weren’t on Lake Huron, but rather an ocean! The beach had lifeguards and bathrooms nearby as well. And the parking was free.
The boys were thinking about trying cable wakeboarding at Boarder Pass Wake Park but I think they were a little intimidated! Maybe next time we’ll give it a whirl.
We checked into the new Hampton Inn by Hilton in Sarnia/Point Edward, close to the the Bluewater Bridge International Border Crossing. The hotel is brand new, bright, filled with natural light and modern décor. The indoor pool was a real treat for the kids – I couldn’t pull them away! There is also a fitness centre right next to the pool.
The hotel also offers free WiFi, free parking and hot buffet breakfast – which my kids loved. Microwave and mini-refrigerator is in every room.
After we washed up and changed, we headed over for dinner at Alternate Grounds Dockside, on Sarnia Bay Marina. I was pleasantly surprised the restaurant offered gluten free options, as many times in my travels restaurants don’t have any options at all. But the restaurant had several choices, but I went with the chicken tenders and fresh cut French fries as it happened to be National French Fry day!
After dinner, we drove minutes away to the Blue Water Bridge, a perfect place to see late evening sunsets. Locals tell me that you must try the famous fries under the bridge from one of the French fries trucks. They sky had turned dark and it was just about to downpour, so we weren’t able to witness the sunset. But the views of the bridge, which go into the U.S., were lovely.
What was my favourite part of the Hampton Inn by Hilton Sarnia/Point Edward? The beds… The clean and fresh, super comfortable Hampton bed® and their pillows… I had a glorious sleep. Often I can’t sleep well in hotel rooms, but I slept through the night and woke up feeling refreshed.
The next morning, the kids enjoyed a buffet breakfast at the Hampton Inn by Hilton which offered scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries, hot waffles, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit and more.
But I had to pop into John’s Restaurant, famous for its award winning peameal bacon breakfasts! And boy was it ever delicious! We didn’t have time – and were too full – to stop into Purdy’s Dockside Eatery situated right on the St Clair River in Point Edward.
After we checked out of the lovely Hampton Inn by Hilton, we packed and heading north to Grand Bend. Along the way we passed rows of wind turbines.
On the way, we drove through the quaint town of Plympton-Wyoming and stopped for a lovely visit at the Alton Farm Estate Winery. Anne Alton greeted us and took us on an adventurous ride of the huge property. Merlin the family dog, joined us too! We stopped to look at the vineyard and the sheep, which Anne has names for – all of them!
Alton Farms Estate Wines have little chemical inputs; they use grapes, yeast and yeast nutrients mainly in the process and minimize filtering and clarification additives by allowing the wines to almost freeze over the winter. During this low temperature soak, the natural tartrates drop out of the wine, carrying down much of the sediment. After our tour, I enjoyed a wine tasting – the Lucy Kuhlmann is a special limited variety, and fans are put on waiting lists to purchase! It was absolutely delicious.
Once we arrived in Grand Bend, we headed over to the Blue Flag designate Grand Bend beach at the end of Main Street in Grand Bend. The beach is gorgeous! The sand is soft, and the water was perfect on such a hot, summer day. It’s no wonder why Grand Bend is one of Southern Ontario’s most famous beach towns. It’s been ranked one of the best beaches in Canada!
Grand Bend beach also has new performance stage too, but we didn’t get a chance to see live music during this trip.
The waves were a bit rough so we weren’t able to take a boat ride with Xtreme Watersports. So instead, we had an ice cream and walked down Main Street in Grand Bend to soak up the local flavour, souvenir stores, eateries, ice cream, and mini-golf.
Super casual inn with all the amenities you need when traveling with family is the Pine Dale Motor Inn. The room offered double beds, refrigerator, microwave, television and free WiFi, along with an indoor pool, barbecue and picnic area on the property. For the little ones, there is also a park on the grounds so the kiddies can run around to their hearts content, and sitting areas and a zen garden for the adults to chill. The inn also has several passes to the Pinery Provincial Park, which are given to guests on a first come first serve basis, a saving of almost $20. The staff is friendly, and knowledgeable about the area, offering guests plenty of recommendations for activities for the family.
Dinner on the patio at Smackwater Jacks Taphouse was a treat. Right along the water with views of the boats from the adjacent Grand Bend Yacht Club, the newly renovated restaurant serves locally grown produce served with meat from local farmers along side quality craft beers. I enjoyed a turkey avocado club sandwich on a gluten-free bun, and hand cut fries. Delicious!
You know those charming little family-run restaurants that remind you of your childhood, or a rustic cottage? Aunt Gussie’s Restaurant has that feel. This spot has been a landmark family restaurant in Grand Bend for several generations. It’s a relaxed, family-run eatery serving breakfast favourites & classic comfort food amid rustic decor. The restaurant offers a wide-ranging menu, and you can enjoy your in either a private booth, by the fireplace, at a large table or in the sunroom.
Pinery Provincial Park boasts 10 kilometres of sandy beach on the shores of Lake Huron. National Geographic has described this area as having the “Top Ten Best Sunsets” in the world. I only wish we were there to experience! The park is home to extremely rare and fragile Oak Savanna and Coastal Dune ecosystems with extraordinary biodiversity. The beach is perfect for families, with many areas for picnics too. There are 1,000 campsites within the park, including 12 yurts, 10 hiking trails, bicycle trail, canoeing, cross-country skiing and winter camping.
Do you plan on visiting any of the beaches in Grand Bend? Here is some information on beaches, what to do, where to eat and where to stay here.
Ontario’s Southwest is running a Best Beach Adventure Contest! Enter here to win a trip for four!
Thank you to Ontario’s Southwest and Tourism Sarnia-Lambton for their lovely hospitality! We can’t wait to come again!