Out On The Peninsula

How to spend the perfect weekend in Ontario's turquoise oasis

Photo by Out for a Trek

Photo by Out for a Trek

When you hear the phrases "crystal clear aquamarine waters" and "sun-kissed pebble beaches," where is the first place that comes to mind? Tofino? The Amalfi Coast? Big Sur? You may be surprised to know that you can find this captivating scenery in Ontario.

Let us introduce you to Bruce (Saugeen*) Peninsula National Park.

For many Ontarians, the peninsula has long been an adventure-seekers paradise and a convenient scenic getaway from the cities and towns to the south. This 100-km landform extends northwestwards out into Lake Huron and contains a large section of the geological wonder known as the Niagara Escarpment.

At the tip of the peninsula is where you'll find a crown jewel in Canada's National Parks system: the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

This breathtaking region became an officially designated National Park in 1987 in an effort to preserve the area's unique geologic formations and its plethora of animal and plant species that call it home. In fact, the park makes up the bulk of UNESCO's Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve.

You'll find a wide array of wildlife here, such as red squirrels, porcupines, hawks, black bears, salamanders, garter snakes, and leopard frogs.

To help you see all the wonders of this incredible park, we've compiled the perfect weekend getaway itinerary.

*Parks Canada recently announced the Bruce Peninsula will soon be called the Saugeen Peninsula to recognize the park's presence on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.

Friday Evening

It's time to hit the road and head up to the Peninsula. Here are some approximate driving times from urban centres in Southern Ontario:


Approximate Time to get there


Downtown Toronto

3 Hr 45 min

275 km


3 Hr 30 min

275 km


3 Hr

230 km


3 Hr 30 min

257 km


3 Hr

203 km

For your overnight accommodations, there are many great options depending on the experience you're looking to have. If you are hoping to camp, Bruce Peninsula National Park offers front-country sites and yurts at its Cyprus Lake Campground, as well as hike-in backcountry sites along the Georgian Bay shore. Make sure to book well in advance as these sites are extremely popular, especially throughout the summer tourist season.

If you're unable to secure a site in this park, Sauble Falls Provincial Park to the south is also a great option as a base camp for your peninsula explorations.

If camping isn't your style, no need to worry as there are many motels and Bed-and-Breakfasts up and down the Bruce Peninsula. Just like camping though, make sure to book well in advance to make sure you can secure your accommodations.

If you're able to check in while it is still light out, head to any of the Peninsula's beaches along the Lake Huron coast to catch one of the most magical sunsets of your life.

Photo: Destination Ontario

Photo: Destination Ontario


Rise and shine for your first day on the Bruce Peninsula. Today you'll spend lots of time exploring the National Park itself, as well as the quaint lakeside town of Tobermory.

First, hop in your car and head to the Halfway Log Dump Parking Lot (reservations are required). From there, hike a calm and easy 1 km along a wide, well-groomed trail to the beach at Halfway Log Dump.

The spot gets its name from its former use as a dumping spot for the logging industry, where logs would be floated down the coast of the peninsula to lumber mills.

Today it is a gorgeous cobblestone beach that offers panoramic views of the rocky shore of the National Park and the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay. If the waters are calm and you're visiting in the warmer months, this is also a great swimming spot. Take precautions and heed risks, as there are no lifeguards at the beach.

Photo by Out for a Trek

Photo by Out for a Trek

After hiking back to the parking lot, head into the town of Tobermory where you'll find the Visitor Centre of Bruce Peninsula National Park. For another lakeside vantage point, you can hike the short distance to the Little Dunks Bay Lookout, or you can climb the observation tower at the Visitor Centre for 360-degree views over Georgian Bay.

By this time you might be feeling a little hungry from all of this exploring. Satisfy your cravings at one of our favourite restaurants on the Peninsula: Las Chulas. Their tacos are absolutely delicious and the staff are very friendly.

Now it's time for some rest and relaxation at The Grotto, which many locals and tourists alike would argue is one of the most beautiful spots on the entire Bruce Peninsula.

If you are staying at the Cyprus Lake Campground, you can make the short walk to the shoreline. If not, you'll need to reserve a parking spot ahead of time. The Grotto is famous for its limestone cliffs, which have been carved out by the clear blue water of Georgian Bay to create spectacular caves and coves in which you can swim during the warmer months. At any time of the year, admire the incredible scenery that surrounds you on all sides.

grayscale photo of two men in cave with body of water

Photo by Warren on Unsplash

Photo by Warren on Unsplash

Cap off your spectacular Saturday with a campfire at your site or a sunset stroll along Singing Sands Beach.

ocean waves crashing on rocky shore during sunrise

Photo by Destination Ontario

Photo by Destination Ontario


On your final day on the Peninsula, start the day by driving back into Tobermory. Catch a boat tour in a glass-bottom boat to explore well-preserved shipwrecks and travel out to Flowerpot Island.

Flowerpot Island is one of five stunning islands that comprise the Fathom Five National Marine Park. This area is known for its teal waters, its rugged rocky shoreline dotted with flowerpot rock pillars, its unique biodiversity, and its famous scuba sites at 24 different shipwrecks.

gray rock formation on sea shore during daytime

Photo: Destination Ontario

Photo: Destination Ontario

The Flowerpots themselves were formed from thousands of years of erosion from wind, ice, and rain that broke down softer rock along the shoreline and left the harder parts of the rock remaining in stack formations.

On the island, you'll find a short hike from Beachy Cove that leads to the flowerpots and light station.

Next, catch your boat back to Tobermory and head down to the Peninsula to Lion's Head. If you're looking for some relaxation, grab some delicious fish and chips at Cindy Lou's and catch some rays on the town beach.

If you're feeling more adventurous, head to Lion's Head Provincial Park (reservations are required) and hike the 6.8-km return trail to the Lion's Head Lookout.

This trail is fairly rocky and includes a few elevation changes. This is also a segment of the famed Bruce Trail, which extends from Tobermory in the north all the way south to the Niagara River. At the lookout, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views over the crashing waves of Georgian Bay below, and you may even be able to spot turkey vultures roaming the cliffside for a tasty morsel.

Sadly, we've reached that moment when it's time to head home after an incredible weekend out on the Peninsula.

a large body of water with rocks in the foreground

Photo by Mike Markov

Photo by Mike Markov

David Bolsby & Graham Hendren

Meet David and Graham, the dynamic duo behind Out for a Trek. What began as a 2021 mission to explore 50 national and provincial parks has blossomed into a grand adventure. They've journeyed from the sun-soaked landscapes of Point Pelee to the rocky cliffs of Sleeping Giant. From backcountry adventures to serene neighborhood strolls, they embrace it all. Join them as they celebrate the magnificence of nature, showcasing that the great outdoors welcomes all.