One-Tank Trip for Aug. 6-16
(c) By Jim Fox
Life’s a beach, especially this summer with the hot, sunny weather.
Ontario’s Southwest tourism wants to help you “find your best beach.”
The agency has “developed ‘Beach Cheat Sheets’ for some of the top spots, said Jen Moore, marketing manager.
They are packed with tips to help plan a beach escape with information on why you will love a certain beach, what to do, where to eat and stay while you’re there,” she added.
|For many visitors, Port Dover is a day at the beach. (Barbara Fox photo)|
So, hang on and catch a wave as we unveil five Lake Erie “gems.”
They’re called “one of the best-kept secrets” of Ontario beach lovers since they can be reached without the usual cottage-country traffic hassles.
These beaches along Lake Erie’s northern shoreline can be reached in less than two hours from London and 2.5 hours from downtown Toronto along “scenic and snarl-free” regional roads.
Lake Erie is the southernmost, shallowest and smallest in volume of the Great Lakes so the water warms up quickly in the hot summer months.
There are clean, sandy shorelines that stretch on and on, friendly beach towns and fun diversions including wineries, microbreweries and outdoor activities.
Head to the beach
Lake Erie beach lovers recommend these fun summer spots.
- Port Dover: Here’s where you will find a great sandy beach with a quaint downtown core just steps away with cool boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
The palm trees on the beach during the summer months make you think you’ve escaped to the tropics in this ultimate Ontario resort town.
The scenic pier is the place to be for fishing, taking a romantic stroll or watching the tugboats return with their daily catch.
|A monument paying tribute to commercial fishermen who lost their lives at sea is on the Port Dover pier. (Jim Fox photo)|
Perhaps best known for the motorcyclists are the Friday the 13th rides to the town and bikers can also cruise the Coast Route, a six-hour, 263kilometre ride along Lake Erie’s scenic north shore.
Visitors can dine on the beach overlooking Long Point Bay at the Beach House Restaurant.
Now operated by the Knechtel family, it was formerly Callahan’s with a menu featuring “coastal cuisine” and scenic views from the beach-front patio.
Drive times are about 1.5 hours from London, Toronto and Niagara.
- Rock Point Provincial Park: This sandy beach in Dunnville has a gradual drop off and a smooth rocky ledge that’s filled with fossils.
|Rock Point Provincial Park in Dunnville has a popular wide sandy beach. (Ontario’s Southwest)|
There are hiking trails and a dog-friendly beach on the lake near the mouth of the Grand River.
Drive times are two hours from London, 1.5 hours from Toronto and one hour from Niagara.
- Long Point: The 40-kilometre-long sandspit here is “so unique” it’s recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
“If you can tear yourself away from the two kilometres of soft sand and warm, clean water, there are fun activities in the area like zip lining and winery tours,” Moore said.
Arrival time is 1.5 hours from London, 2.25 hours from Toronto and two hours from Niagara.
- Turkey Point: The provincial park has a two-kilometre stretch of sandy beach, warm water with a sandy bottom and sand bars that make for a fun day of splashing about.
| Turkey Point has a
two-kilometre stretch of Lake Erie beachfront. (Ontario’s Southwest)
It’s Ontario’s only provincial park with a golf course.
Driving takes 1.5 hours from London and Niagara and two hours from Toronto.
- Port Burwell: With its provincial park, this is often referred to as the “jewel” of Lake Erie’s north shore.
It boasts 2.5 kilometres of clean, sandy beach, hiking trails, camping, a submarine, marine museum and historic lighthouse, two marinas and a wind interpretive centre.
|Surf’s up at Port Burwell’s beach on Lake Erie. (Ontario’s Southwest)|
Get there in an hour from London, two hours from Toronto and 2.5 hours from Niagara.
Make a splash
Along with those closer-to-home spots, Ontario’s Southwest has nine more beautiful beaches on Lake Erie and Lake Huron.
These include Canatara Park, Grand Bend, Port Glasgow and Port Stanley that have earned the coveted Blue Flag designation for their strict commitment to water quality, safety and environmental criteria.
There’s also Erieau, Fish Point, Point Pelee, Pinery and Rondeau.
Details: ontariossouthwest.com; (519) 290-8687.
For some deals, there are Best Beach Offers at ontariossouthwest.com/offers/beaches and a contest to win the “Best Beach Adventure.”
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca