Experience Your Perfect Summer in Thunder Bay
Hello, summer! It isn't the summer we all planned for, but it's here and it's beautiful. It's time to get outside and enjoy everything historic Thunder Bay has to offer.
We've rounded up some of the best experiences to check out in our favourite Northern Ontario city–with an emphasis on outdoor fun where physical distancing is easy, the views are scenic, and the air is fresh. Try walking along Canada's longest suspension footbridge, enjoy a day wandering Thunder Bay's scenic and artsy waterfront, or explore any one of the region's thousands of hiking and biking trails. If you're looking to discover nearby sights, check out the best day trips from Thunder Bay.
Just a day's drive from Winnipeg and a few hours east of Kenora, this beautiful waterfront city at the top of Lake Superior is the perfect place to enjoy the ultimate summer getaway. Whether you're visiting from Manitoba or just a local looking for the ultimate staycation in your own city, this A-Z bucket list will help you plan the perfect summer adventure. How many experiences can your family check off our list?
A is for…
Grab a bucket and pick out your own sparkly purple stones (Ontario’s official gemstone) at one of the area’s three amethyst mines. This family-friendly activity is sure to be a hit.
Pull up a colourful chair at Prince Arthur’s Landing to watch the container ships, tugs, and sailboats in the harbour. You can also book a sailboat tour or fishing charter. After months of being cooped up indoors, nothing feels better than getting out on the water! And check out these lighthouses you can visit nearby.
While the Centennial Botanical Conservatory is currently closed due to the pandemic, it's a good time to read up on the history of the conservatory and why it's important--and then offer support to the community groups trying to save it. It's currently in danger of losing funding. The lush tropical plants and waterfalls beloved by locals and visitors alike aren't a given–take action and ensure this spot is around for generations to come!
The music, the singing, the regalia, the food… it’s hard to pick a favourite part of a powwow. Visit Fort William First Nation at the end of June to enjoy and participate in the Pow Wow on the mountain.
Eating, Drinking and Being Merry
What will it be? Panzerotti at Caesar’s Place, hot sauce from Heartbeat Hot Sauce, gelato at Prime Gelato, tacos at El Tres, wings at Wacky’s, ribs at the classic Red Lion Smokehouse? Perhaps some cocktails and artisanal fare at the upscale Tomlin Restaurant? There are so many choices... come hungry.
The city of Thunder Bay is celebrating its 50th birthday this year! While many of the planned festivities have moved online, there are still some scaled back, physically distanced festivities to check out. For more info on where to catch a virtual event visit the city's event calendar.
Feast your eyes on cool contemporary art at Definitely Superior, works by 150 top northern Ontario artists at Thunder Bay Art Gallery, striking Indigenous art at Ahnishnabe Art Gallery… and more! Be sure to check out the city's outdoor art like the Cooke Street mural.
Explore the beautiful northwest—and perhaps catch some cool lake or mountain breezes—with a family hike.
Too hot, too wet, or too buggy… take the fun indoors! The entire family can climb to their heart's content at Boulder Bear Climbing Centre. This is a great spot for adults and kids alike to burn off some energy. The staff are taking every precaution and abiding by public health and safety guidelines to keep the place clean, sanitized, and ready for action!
Wait, what? The Thunder Bay Museum, housed in a former police station, has an actual jail cell that’s a favourite with kids. A bike with a giant front wheel and Albert the Albertosaurus are also big winners. Please note that health and safety precautions are in effect at all public buildings–face coverings are required and gift shop transactions are debit or credit only.
You can get a spectacular look at “The Niagara of the North” from the walkways at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, and consider a hike on the Little Falls trail too. Rest assured you'll encounter way fewer people here than you would in Southern Ontario's Niagara Falls!
Not only does the Thunder Bay Public Library offer family-friendly events four days a week, cardholders can also borrow fishing gear or gardening equipment Fun fact: The TBPL system is the home of Canada's first garden tool lending library.
Check out Thunder Bay's historic Marina Park, also known as Prince Arthur's landing. The lush waterfront space is part of a multi-million dollar investment by the city and it's packed with sculpture art, restaurants, and great views, Marina Park is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. It's also a great place to make friends with a local sailor–you never know when you might get an invite to climb aboard and take a spin around the lake!
Discover more of Ontario's incredible landscapes by getting outside the city and enjoying views like this one! Hike the nearby Sleeping Giant for amazing views.
The city has a new pop-up patio program this summer! Instead of parking spots, visitors will now find tons of new outdoor patios where they can sit outside, enjoy a beer, and enjoy the best that Thunder Bay's restaurants have to offer–be sure to try a local Thunder Bay beer made with the best fresh water in the world while you're at it.
How about a tour to taste-test Thunder Bay’s famous pink pastry, the Persian? This bucket list treat was invented here and has been featured on just about every food show imaginable. Other local kid-pleasing fare includes Sally Anns, Finnish pancakes, and Coney dogs.
If you’ve always wanted to try it, a SUP rental-and-lesson package at one of the city’s lakes is the way to go.
Test Your Wits
See if you can beat the clock and solve the clues and puzzles in one of four themed escape rooms. T is for tweens and teens too—this is great for a hard-to-please age group. Check out their Covid guidelines to read about the measures in place to keep visitors safe.
Billed as one of the largest living history attractions in North America, Fort William Historical Park brings a fur trade post circa 1816 to life with in-character interpreters who fire muskets, make birchbark canoes, tend farm animals, and more.
According to historical documents on file in Thunder Bay, “[Vickers Park] was always a paradise ... but now it has something more. The picture has come to life with the laughter of little children." It's a great spot for kids, along with all the other TBay playgrounds too. Savour the view of the Sleeping Giant at Hillcrest, play tag in the towering trees at Vickers, ride the mini-train at Centennial, and more.
At the splash pad, that is. The city has four free splash pads.
Snack your way through the Thunder Bay Country Market on Saturday mornings, pick your own berries or take a jam-making or veggie pickling class at Belluz Farms or see how gouda cheese is made at Thunder Oak Cheese Farm—yum!
An indie toy store is a kid-approved way to spend some of that vacation cash—explore ToySense, the Purple Camel, or the Kakabeka Depot for good-quality toys and games. Stores also sell kid-approved face masks with fun sports, mermaid, and pony designs!
While the famous zip-line experience at Eagle Canyon Adventures is currently paused for 2022, the rest of the park is open for business. Check out Canada's longest suspension footbridge if you dare!
As always, it's a good idea to call ahead to confirm opening hours of spots you want to visit, and be sure to check out the Thunder Bay District health guidelines to ensure you're up to date on the latest public health advice.
Have fun and make some memories this summer in scenic Thunder Bay, Ontario!