17 Best Summer Activities in Sault Ste. Marie

Beaches, biking, festivals, and food—here's the best-of-the-best list of things to do in the Soo this summer.
Two kids in shorts and carrying sand buckets walking through the soft sand toward the blue water of Lake Superior. The sky is a vivid blue and cloudless.

The city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario comes alive in the summer months with a huge variety of activities that will appeal to everyone. But planning a trip around so many options can be overwhelming.

To help you streamline your choices, we’ve curated the best of the best—whether you’re looking to go sightseeing, visit historic sites, enjoy time with your kids, get on the water, ride a bike, hit the trails or more. Now it’s time to pack your bags and look forward to experiencing the best things to do in Sault Ste. Marie. 

Best Full-day Sightseeing Tour: Agawa Canyon Tour Train

A red passenger train gliding down the track through lush green forested countryside under a bright blue sky.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

Want an all-day encounter with the immense wilderness surrounding Sault Ste. Marie? Ride the historic Algoma Central Railway aboard the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which operates August through mid-October. Incredible scenery is the main highlight of this 10-hour rail adventure. A 90-minute stop at Agawa Canyon Park gives you a chance to walk the trails in the depths of one of Ontario’s most spectacular canyons. Check out our guide to the Agawa Canyon Tour Train.

  • Enjoy a meal at the Mill Steakhouse, located adjacent to the train station in the historic Canal District, when you’re done.

Best Part-day Sightseeing Tour: The Miss Marie Sault Lock Tour

A group of people on a white tour boat docked in a canal with a bridge in the background.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

The Miss Marie Sault Lock Tour provides two-hour lock tours in Sault Ste. Marie on the St. Marys River. You’ll get a unique perspective of the waterfront and experience the locks that allow freighters to pass between Great Lakes Superior and Huron. Boat tours depart the Bondar Marina in downtown Sault Ste. Marie twice daily, May through September, with special evening cruises during the summer months. Check out our guide to the Miss Marie Sault Lock Tour.

  • Try some authentic South Asian noodles for lunch at Pho Max.

Best for Canadian History Buffs: Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Two men talk in the midst of several colourful, varying models of bushplanes on display in the large gallery room of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.
Photo credit Sault. Ste. Marie Tourism

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is certainly one of Ontario’s most unique attractions, with a huge collection of quintessential Canadian aircraft, including vintage DeHavilland Beaver and Otter float planes as well as water bombers used to battle forest fires. Interpretive displays and multimedia presentations bring it all to life. Fittingly, the museum is located in a historic aerodrome on the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront. Check out our guide to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

Best Local and Canadian Art: Art Gallery of Algoma

patrons enjoying and discussing the many paintings hung in front of them on the gallery walls in the Art Gallery of Algoma.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

Located in Clergue Park on the Sault Ste. Marie waterfront, the Art Gallery of Algoma features an impressive collection of Canadian and regional art, including Indigenous work and several original pieces by the legendary Group of Seven landscape painters.

  • Located on the waterfront adjacent to the art gallery, Clergue Park features sculpture installations and shade trees for a picnic.

Best Family Attraction: Entomica Insectarium

A chameleon lizard with spots being held by a white hand. A white blonde woman with a large moth on her nose. Her black t-shirt says Entomica Insectarium. Children looking at an insect being held out for them by a red head in bunny ears.
Up close and personal with some creepy crawlies at the Entomica Insectarium // Photo credits Entomica Insectarium Facebook

Located in the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum, Entomica Insectarium is a small yet vibrant science centre with something for everyone. Passionate and knowledgeable interpreters will get you excited about insects and allow you and your family to get up close and personal with many different types of “bugs.”

Best LGTBQ2+ Friendly: Pridefest

parade marchers and floats full of people, all decorated with rainbow balloons and banners, moving in a line down a Sault Ste. Marie street on a sunny summer day. A smiling crowd watches and takes photos.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

Sault Pride hosts the community’s annual Pridefest in July, including a float in the Rotaryfest Parade, a Pride Walk, as well as events like a Family Queeraoke, cycling and running races, the Rainbow Coffeehouse and more. 

Best Summer Festivals

children ride an amusement park swing ride with their arms stretched out like wings as they swing high in broad circles while sitting in small bucket seats. A carousel, green trees, blue sky and carnival booths are in the background. two actors wearing the striped short-and-tank body suits and black handlebar moustaches of 1920s carnival strongmen flex and entertain a group of onlookers at the Rotaryfest in Sault Ste. Marie.
At Rotaryfest // Photo credits Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

Summer is festival season in Sault Ste. Marie. Rotaryfest Community Days is a long-standing local tradition of great music, food, art and a parade, held July 18-20, 2024. Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts celebrate Ontario’s finest trails at the Salty Marie Trails Fest, hosted at the Hiawatha Highlands and including mountain bike events for all levels of riders and a trail-running race on July 27. The Fringe North Festival is a multi-day event held August 21-25 2024. Although primarily focused on theatre, Fringe North has expanded to become a multi-arts experience! 

Best Mountain Biking: Hiawatha Highlands

Cyclists head across a narrow wooden bridge on a gravel trail surrounded by large smooth boulders and lush, dense green forest.
Crystal Creek trail system at the Hiawatha Highlands. // Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

There are over 60 km of single-track mountain biking at the Hiawatha Highlands, located just a 10-minute drive north of uptown Sault Ste. Marie. Local enthusiasts with the Sault Cycling Club have worked hard to establish the best mountain biking in Ontario, with machine-built flow trails, rugged, hand-made single-track, and a pump track for kids. There’s truly something for every level of mountain biker.

Best Historic Site: Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada

Visitors to Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site look at a display case while a centre employee speaks about the items inside.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada 

The Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada takes a deep dive into the incredible engineering that formed the final link in the All-Canadian Waterway, enabling vessels to travel from the St. Lawrence Seaway to Lake Superior. Travellers can check out the new Visitors Centre, discover historic buildings, witness an early hydroelectric facility, and learn more about the unique features of this network of “aquatic elevators.”

  • The Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site includes walking paths on South St. Marys Island, adjacent to the St. Marys Rapids. The area includes a range of habitats and supports an incredible diversity of bird species. The rapids are renowned for year-round fishing opportunities, too.

Best Urban Park: Bellevue Park

A pair of blue plastic slides on a playground with children visible in the background.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

Bellevue Park is Sault Ste. Marie’s best greenspace, with a network of easy walking paths, plenty of shade trees, gardens and great views of the St. Marys River. The park also features outstanding play areas for kids, including a splash pad.

Best Beach: Pointe des Chenes Park

two young children building a sand castle in the soft sand of Pointe Des Chenes beach. Gentle sparkling waves of Lake Superior lap up just behind them. Green forest and blue sky are in the background.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

You can’t beat Pointe des Chenes Park when it comes to the best beach access in Sault Ste. Marie. Right within city limits, this gem of brown sugar sand is located at the eastern terminus of Lake Superior, and features clear, shallow water that warms to comfortable swimming temperatures on summer days. On weekends, hop on the city's Pointe Des Chenes Bus from downtown or Sault College and enjoy a hassle-free ride to the beach. The park also includes a disc golf course.

Best Canoeing, Kayaking and Paddleboarding Opportunities: The Sault Waterfront

2 kayakers and 2 paddleboarders paddle out from shore on the turquoise water of Lake Superior in the summer. The pristine shore is full of green trees and short buildings, and the sky is clear blue.
Sault College Waterfront Adventure Centre // Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism 

The Sault College Waterfront Adventure Centre offers excellent access to the St. Marys River, just upriver of Bellevue Park. You can rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard to explore the river on your own; or sign up for a guided outing with Indigenous-owned Thrive Tours. The Waterfront centre also offers a cafe, a gorgeous riverside deck and pickleball courts. Check out our guide to the best things to do on the waterfront.

  • Forest the Canoe offers canoe rentals and guided interpretive canoe day trips in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area.

Best Patios

An outdoor patio at Gino's in Sault Ste. Marie, with rows of comfortable tables and chairs, thick wooden beams making up a roof for shade and a covered bar. There are wooden barrels and lots of potted plants and hanging flowers for decor.
Photo credit Gino’s Fired Up Kitchen 

Located uptown and downtown, respectively, the Soo’s best patios include Gino’s Fired Up Kitchen (serving homemade Italian pasta and wood-fired pizza on Great Northern Road) and the Northern Superior Taproom (offering locally brewed beer and a rotating menu from a variety of local restaurants).

Best Urban Walking and Biking: John Rowswell Hub Trail

An aerial shot of a narrow boardwalk across a section of very green forest and a shallow gorge with a winding trail at the bottom.
The Fort Creek section of the John Rowswell Hub trail // Photo credit Chris Marshall Visuals

There’s no question the John Rowswell Hub Trail is the ultimate pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly path in Sault Ste. Marie. This 25-km paved circuit traverses wooded areas (including the scenic Fort Creek Conservation Area), residential neighbourhoods and commercial areas in all corners of the city.

Best Hiking: Voyageur Trail

A girl looks down a rushing stream at a cascading waterfall in the middle of a green forest.
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism 

Check out the Voyageur Trail for hiking in Sault Ste. Marie. In particular, you’ll find easy hikes to scenic waterfalls in Hiawatha Highlands, just north of town, and a challenging 5-km loop with great views of Lake Superior at Gros Cap, about 15 minutes west of city limits.

Best Fishing: St. Marys Rapids

The best spot to fish in the Soo is the St. Marys Rapids (although the boardwalk along the waterfront is also a popular spot to cast a line). With steelhead, rainbow, and four species of salmon in the rapids, these waters are considered a fly fishing paradise. With more than a kilometre of rapids including pools, runs, riffles, and current breaks, there’s loads of fishable water here. While it's a popular spot for locals, guides are recommended for those navigating these deep waters and strong currents for the first time. Check out our guide to the best places to fish in Sault Ste. Marie. 

Best Dining

an attractive plate of meats and cheeses, with other dishes in the background. two golden-brown pizzas with colourful vegetable toppings at Fratelli's Kitchen in Sault Ste. Marie
Photo credits Ernie's Coffee Shop (left), Fratelli's Kitchen (right)

Fuel up for your day with enormous portions at The Breakfast Pig on Bruce Street; grab a plant-based lunch at Ojas across the Sault Ste. Marie Museum on Queen Street; and discover the locally sourced menu of Ernie’s Cofee Shop, the Soo’s best hole-in-the-wall diner on Queen Street.

  • Authentic Italian food is a Soo staple. Try Fratelli’s for casual dining or Giovanni’s for upscale; both are located on Great Northern Road.

Best Local Foods: Soo MRKT

A smiling vendor at a table full of colourful fresh produce helps a customer to put some vegetables into their bag, which is labelled "Soo Market".
Photo credit Sault Ste. Marie Tourism 

The downtown Soo MRKT bustles in the summer months with fresh fare from local fields, forests and waters, along with unique crafts and gifts and street food. The market is open Saturdays with fresh fish and select booths open Tuesdays and Thursdays in the summer months.

Plan Your Trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Today

Visit Tourism Sault Ste. Marie for accommodation listingsrestaurant recommendations, more things to see and do, and more. Make it a summer in the Soo!  

About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

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