The warm weather has arrived which means it’s time to get back to the beach. And while Toronto is known for a decent but modest offering of spots to soak up the sun, the beach scene in the rest of Southern Ontario – some just a few short hours away, is alive and kicking, full of personality and definitely worthy of a drive.
Whether you fancy some swimming and sunning, or prefer a volleyball game in the sand, check out our list of the best beaches in Southern Ontario to escape to.
Sandbanks Provincial Park, Prince Edward County
If you take a trip to The County, a stop at Sandbanks Provincial Park is a must. Just two-and-a-half hours east of downtown Toronto, this popular vacation spot is the place to be thanks to a bunch of hip restaurants, quaint B&Bs, and white sandy beaches that have been ranked among the best in Canada. It’s also the home to the world’s largest freshwater dune formation, stretching 12-kilometres across Lake Ontario. There are three beaches located in the park – Outlet, Dunes, and Lakeshore, with Outlet being the most popular. Set on two kilometres of perfect beach, it’s got plenty of amenities like watercraft rentals, a pet-designated area, and a park store and grill.
Southhampton Beach, Bruce County
Located on Lake Huron, thirty minutes from Owen Sound, Southhampton Beach is the kind of beach you escape to. Known as being the quieter of the neighbouring beaches (I’m looking at you Sauble), it’s got a relaxed vibe and features several miles of fluffy sand (four-kilometres to be exact), and while the water is known as being a little rocky, its nothing that a pair of water shoes can’t fix. From the shoreline is a view of Chantry Island and its historic 1856 Imperial Lighthouse, and best-of-all, the paved boardwalk is the perfect spot for a stroll.
Long Point Beach, Port Rowan
Known as having the warmest waters of the Great Lakes, Long Point Beach is located on the shores of Lake Erie within Long Point Provincial Park, famous for attracting thousands of birdwatchers each year. The beach checks all the right boxes: a 40-kilometre sandpit (recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve), crystal-clear waters with a shallow entry – great for the kiddos, and two kilometres of sandy beach. Before you leave, make sure to pay a visit to the charming lakeside town of Port Rowan where you’ll the best fish and chips in the area.
Providence Bay Beach, Manitoulin Island
A bit further afield, Manitoulin Island offers a serene and stunning getaway destination for ambitious Toronto weekenders looking to find solace and sunshine aplenty. Well, Manitoulin Island is just that. And Providence Bay Beach could be one of the best and most beautiful natural beaches in the province. Because of its length and unique characteristics, there is always a private place to burrow into the sand and enjoy a summer’s day. You’ll need at least a weekend to truly enjoy Manitoulin Island, but it’s well-worth the effort.
Turkey Point Beach, Norfolk County
Within Turkey Point Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Erie, you’ll find Turkey Point Beach. A popular destination for families, the beach stretches over two-kilometres and features a designated, buoyed section to keep kids safe in the shallow area. A number of water activities are on offer including canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and flyboards. Located two hours from Toronto, if you plan to stay the night, there are also 235 campsites onsite where you’ll find playgrounds, picnic shelters and even a laundromat.