Bruce Peninsula: Ontario's paradise
Canada has many impressive natural landscapes, but one of the most mesmerizing would have to be Bruce Peninsula National Park and its turquoise shoreline. The Bruce Trail straddles a huge forested ridge that runs throughout southern Ontario, connecting the Niagara River with Georgian Bay. Due to its location along the Niagara Escarpment, the trail is marked with impressive rock formations throughout. Only three hours from Toronto, the area acts as a perfect city getaway for avid hikers and nature lovers. In our view, it’s a true Canadian paradise, and Guided Toronto just loves planning trips and tours for international travellers interested in exploring the area. Here is our guide to Bruce Peninsula and the town of Tobermory.
Although one can devote weeks to completing the entire Bruce Trail, most opt to simply dip into different sections for a few hours of exploration at a time. One of the top spots to visit is the Grotto, which is a limestone cave overlooking Georgian Bay’s clear aqua waters. Give yourself two to four hours to complete the walk and enjoy the sights along the way. The trail is sure to strike you as one of the most picturesque places you have ever seen, with expansive views around virtually every corner. If you choose to drive in, you’ll have to book your time slot through the Parks Canada website, and book early to ensure a spot – especially during the summer months. We’d recommend timing the trip for the early or late evening in order to avoid the heat and midday crowds, and also to get the best lighting for pictures.
The next stop is Tobermory, the town at the tip of the peninsula that just oozes small town Ontario charm. Surrounded by Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, the town acts as a naval hub for the area. Whether you’re looking for a canoe rental, diving trip, or scenic cruise, you’ll find it here. And while you’re at it, a trip to town would not be complete without grabbing a bite to eat at one of Tobermory’s many quaint restaurants, like Shipwreck Lee's or Tobermory Brewing Co.
If you would like to book one day tour please visit Bruce Peninsula Tour Package
From Tobermory, you can book your trip to Fathom Five National Marine Park. This park offers plenty of options for visitors: shipwrecks for divers, canoe caving for adventure seekers, and cruises for those feeling curious but a bit less adventurous. A trip to Fathom Five is highly recommended, and a popular choice is to opt for a cruise and tour around Flowerpot Island, where you can hike towards the old lighthouse and swim alongside the impressive rock formations that gave the island its name. Give yourself three to four hours for this excursion, as a good 60 minutes is needed to walk around the entire island.
Although a trip to Bruce Peninsula can be done in a single day, keep in mind that the more time you give yourself, the more you’ll be able to see – and the easier it will be to avoid heavier crowds. If you manage to give yourself some extra time, a hike at Lion’s Head is well worth the trek, as is a swim at Singing Sands or Sauble Beach. The small towns of Wiarton and Owen Sound are worth a peek, as well, if only to grab an ice cream or dinner by the waterfront. Many travellers choose to add on a few days to take the ferry across to Manitoulin Island. Also known as “Cave Spirit Island,” this has been the site of many archeological discoveries, some dating as far back as 10,000 BC.
At Guided Toronto, we keep a running list of our favourite places to stay, and if you want us to help plan your trip, please reach out and contact us. We would absolutely love to help you get the most out of your experience on the peninsula! For just a quick reference, however, here is a list of some recommended accommodations:
CAMPING AT CYPRUS LAKE
The advantage to camping here is that you will have first-light access to the Grotto and the trail. Early risers get to enjoy views unspoiled by the hordes of day trippers and are also able to explore the park at their leisure. Due to parking limitations and popularity of the park, those driving in for the day are designated four-hour time slots between 8 am and 9:30 pm. One way to glam up the camping experience – and avoid the need to haul camping gear – is to rent a yurt along the shores of Cyprus Lake. There are only 10 in the area, so it’s imperative to book your trip early in the year.
HOTELS, COTTAGES, B&B's, & INNS
Accommodations up near Bruce Peninsula can vary both in comfort and style. Weekends and summer bring peak pricing, and paying around $300 a night for a 3- or 4-star place is not uncommon. Renting a cottage is a great option for larger groups, especially given the wealth of activities in the area. Staying at a small inn or B&B is one of our favourite ways to go, as the hosts’ knowledge of the region and the hardy complimentary breakfast will serve as welcome perks during your stay. Remember, no matter where you stay, having a car is a must, as many of the area’s sights are spread out.
HOTELS, MOTELS & INNS IN OWEN SOUND (75 min from Grotto)
- The Inn at Cobble Beach (only “5 star” in the area)
- Best Western Inn On The Bay
B&B's & INNS IN TOBERMORY (20 min from Grotto)
- Gales Haven B&B
Ancient Coast B&B
Orange Bicycle Guesthouse
B&B'S & INNS IN LIONS HEAD (30 min from Grotto)
- The Purple Frog B&B
- The Fitz Hostel
OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS TO CONSIDER (45 to 75 min from Grotto)
- On The Rocks Guest Inn (Miller Lake)
- Sauble Falls B&B (Wiarton)
- Roxy’s Gas & Variety: Cabins &Tent Sites (Tobermory)
Weekdays are always the best time to visit the peninsula, as weekends and public holidays tend to be rather crowded. Bruce Peninsula National Park is open from May to October.