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Amazing things to do in Lake Erie, Canada’s ‘forgotten coast’

Looking for a new Canadian adventure? Check out Lake Erie’s shoreline to experience beautiful beaches, fantastic local wine, delicious food, and more!

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Canada is filled with a ton of hidden gems, and Lake Erie, Ontario, is definitely one of them. You might have heard about the lakes of Muskoka, Prince Edward County, or even the beaches of Lake Ontario that surround the city of Toronto. But have you heard about Lake Erie’s shoreline? Lake Erie in Ontario’s southwest region is sometimes referred to as Canada’s forgotten coast.

Where is Lake Erie in Canada?

Lake Erie in Canada is approximately an hour and a half drive south from Toronto. Drive a few more hours west along Highway 3 and visit the small scenic towns and the beaches by Lake Erie’s shoreline. From Port Stanley to Port Dover and all the way down to Leamington, you’ll find delicious local food, wine, and stunning natural beauty along the way. Here is a look at amazing things to do on the north shore of Lake Erie and its nearby communities. 

Enjoy Lake Erie’s beaches

Port Dover is quite popular and less than two hours from Toronto. One of the bars on the beach, Callahan’s, plants several palm trees in the sand every spring.

Port Stanley has a long, fantastic beach that is one of the best of the Great Lakes region, with plenty of space for sandcastles or a game of beach volleyball. Stop at GT’s on the Beach, a bar just off the beach that feels like something out of the Florida Keys. Drive about 20 kilometres and you’ll be at Turkey Point, another great Lake Erie beach with a couple of popular bars where you can quench your thirst.

Further down the Lake Erie shoreline is Erieau, a small town with a perfect beach for swimming. Erieau is known to have some of the warmest water of Lake Erie, so get ready to dive in!

Go wine tasting

Burning Kiln Winery, located just a few minutes from the town of Port Dover, is a former tobacco farm that now makes some of the province’s best wines, including rich and fruity reds.

Closer to Windsor, Muscedere also makes lovely wines and has super-friendly staff. Oxley Estate Winery in Harrow makes nice white wines and has a lovely patio with good food.

silhouette of people playing in the water by the beach at sunset
Amazing Things to Do Around Lake Erie

Explore the small towns

Kingsville is a trendy small-town community in Ontario’s Lake Erie with a lovely downtown. It’s also the southernmost town in all of Canada! Stop in at ODG (it stands for “Old Dutch Guys”) for wonderful chocolates, including bird-shaped delights. You can also sip a nice cup of java at Merlis Coffeehouse and Eatery.

Port Stanley has a pretty main street with beautiful flowers and a cozy harbour. Not to mention fun, engaging shop owners. It also has a statue of a giant bass.

Amherstburg, just south of Windsor, has a lovely downtown with cool galleries and one of Ontario’s best ice cream shops, called Waterfront.

Have adventures outdoors

Long Point Eco-Adventures is a fabulous company for folks seeking a bit of a thrill. They have a series of zip lines, mountain bike trails, and axe-throwing. Guides can take you out on kayak trips that range from relaxing to strenuous, or out on the lake for fishing. They also have cute cabins and glamping units to sleep in and an observatory for stargazing.

Farm Dog Cycles does bike tours of wineries on flat terrain near Point Pelee.

Indulge in local delights

I had a great meal at The Windjammer Inn in Port Stanley a couple of years ago, including a lovely salad with Ontario fruit and perfect risotto with seafood and local peas.

Try the Main Grill and Ale House in Kingsville for good food and a nice patio, or Jack’s Gastropub in Kingsville for a great burger. The Chilled Cork up in Chatham serves sophisticated cuisine in a nice, bright setting. It’s a little bit away from the water, but Twisted Lemon in Cayuga is one of Ontario’s best restaurants in my opinion.

Take a scenic drive along the coast

The coast here is not as dramatic as, say, Lake Superior, but you will find plenty of pretty villages as you motor your way from Amherstburg to Port Dover. You will also find fantastic fresh fruit and vegetable stands, great beaches, and lovely old barns that are an Instagram photo waiting to happen.

The main highway along Lake Erie near Burning Kiln winery, known as Front Road, is especially lovely with nice bends, dips, and swirls. For information on the area in general, visit the Ontario Southwest Website.

Lake Erie’s craft beer scene

In the small city of Simcoe, The Blue Elephant is a nice restaurant that also makes a series of very good beers.

In Delhi, Hometown Brewing makes a series of nice beers that won’t knock you over the head with high alcohol counts, including one made with local blueberries. You can usually find their beers at Sandbar on the Beach on Turkey Point Beach, one of Ontario’s best patios.

Tiny Erieau also has a craft beer spot called Bayside Brewing. Try their light but tasty Honey Cream Ale on the back patio with some pizza or calamari.

Explore Pelee Island

Pelee Island is an easy, 90-minute ferry ride from the mainland. It is the southernmost inhabited part of Canada, the latitude here being the same as the north part of California. Pelee Island Winery has good wines and a lovely patio with colourful chairs. Be sure to sample some merlot, which is what Pelee Island is known for. You’ll also find quirky bits such as the ruins of an old winery and a tree that’s decorated with old shoes.

Stop at the Anchor and Wheel Inn for a restaurant with lots of laid back beach vibes.

Take a little history lesson

The Buxton Settlement (formally known as Buxton National Historical Site and Museum) was an important area for settlers in Canada, some of whom arrived from the U.S. on the Underground Railroad. There’s a fine museum on site and an old home you can explore; the guides here are wonderful.

Just south of Windsor in Amherstburg is Fort Malden, a pretty spot along the Detroit River where folks dress in period costumes and soldiers occasionally fire off their guns (blanks, of course).

Where to stay near Lake Erie

In Kingsville, the Grove Hotel is a hip and trendy spot that you might not expect in a town of about 20,000 residents. On Pelee Island, The Wandering Pheasant Inn is a pretty spot with good, clean rooms, covered porches, and a barbeque you can use. It’s billed as the most southern inn in Canada.

Retro Suites in Chatham is a surprisingly cool place to stay, with rooms done up in themes that range from Canadian outdoors to Paris to football and sports. In the pretty town of Dunnville, Lalor Estate Inn is a wonderful B&B with kind, engaging owners and a porch big enough for a game of croquet.

Adding it to your bucket list? Check out Skyscanner’s car rental search to make the most of your trip!

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