Where to Launch, Stay, Eat and Play on Lake Nipissing

Three and a half hours north of Toronto lies one of the most unique lakes in all of Northern Ontario.

Lake Nipissing is one of the largest lakes in the province and is a world-class freshwater fishery—anglers have been journeying here for decades to test their skill. It has also developed into a popular boating destination. From the wide open spaces of the main lake to the small inlets and bays at the mouth of the French River, this lake offers something for every boater.

There are several places ideally suited to launch your boating expedition. The most popular location would be the City of North Bay. Located on the eastern shores of Lake Nipissing, this place bears a curious name, as it does not reside on a bay. The nearest bay is, in fact, Callander Bay, an 8-km boat ride to the south.

Despite the odd naming convention, North Bay is a wonderful place to visit. Lake Nipissing features spectacular golden sunsets, attracting tourists from all over. The city’s location on the easternmost shore ensures a spectacular view.

North Bay Marina

North Bay is well-equipped to service your needs during your boating trip. In the heart of the waterfront area, you’ll find the marina. This facility has 270 slips available on daily, monthly and seasonal rates. The marina provides a boat launch. If you want to stay afloat overnight, power, fuel, pump-out services, showers, vending machines and 24-hour security are all available.

Things To Do

For day boating, the marina offers a double-wide concrete boat launch and plenty of parking. Fun Rentals offers a selection of rental toys for you to enjoy, including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.

The waterfront area is filled with attractions for you to explore, should you need a break from the boat. You’ll find a playground for the kids to enjoy and several kilometres of walking paths. There’s an arboretum, picnic shelters and Kate Pace Way, a biking path that winds along the shoreline.

Visitors who are looking to relax or swim can scout a sunny spot on Marathon Beach and unwind. You won’t find a better spot to take in one of those famous Lake Nipissing sunsets.

If you do choose North Bay as the home port for your Lake Nipissing boating adventure, you must take some time and check out the Heritage Railway and Carousel Company. The trans-continental railway played a huge role in the history of North Bay and there is no better way to experience that nostalgia than with a ride on the miniature railway. Each miniature locomotive, two steam and two diesel, pulls two passenger cars along a two-mile railroad through the waterfront district.

If trains aren’t your thing, perhaps the carousel is more your speed, with its collection of 33 hand-carved horses to enjoy.

Where to Eat

When meal time arrives, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to visit The Boat, recently showcased on the Food Network as one of eight restaurants across all of Canada for unique dining. This refitted cruise ship is right next to the marina and offers pub fare and a full bar. Try one of their signature paddle boards. You won’t regret it.

For a more upscale dining experience, visit the Station Tap House & Steak Company. This eatery offers a tap house on the lower level, with 16 taps and a casual menu for a quick meal. The steakhouse on the upper level features a signature selection of beef, chicken, lamb, seafood and pasta dishes. It’s a short walk from the marina, but well worth the effort, especially considering you are likely to overindulge at dinner.

Where to Stay

If you’re spending a night or two in North Bay, you’ll find no shortage of accommodations. While staying on your boat is certainly an option, should you want a bit more space to relax, or perhaps you want someone else to make up the beds in the morning, might I suggest you check in at one of the many local hotels.

There’s a Days Inn and Suites and a Howard Johnson Inn just a couple of blocks from the marina. Further south you'll find a selection of hotels, both chain and independent, right on the waterfront where a lakeside room will get you a great view of the famous sunsets.

Morning at North Bay's Sunset Inn. Photo courtesy of venere.com

For truly unique accommodations, you’ll want to look in on the Sunset Inn Hotel. With everything from standard rooms to jacuzzi rooms, fireplace rooms, penthouses, beach houses and private chalets, this facility is sure to have exactly what you need for a relaxing stay.

If you’re looking for a quieter place to begin your exploration of Lake Nipissing, perhaps one of the many small communities surrounding the lake will be a better choice. But if you’re looking for an easy-to-get-to destination, with all of the necessities needed for fun on the water, look no further than the North Bay waterfront.

About Steve Sansford

Steve has spent most of his life in and around boats. His father was a marine mechanic and Steve studied Marine Navigation in college. He currently holds several Transport Canada navigation and safety ratings. His work has been published in Powerboating Canada magazine and various other online outlets. Check out his Instagram feed for updates on his latest adventures.

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