Ontario’s Blue Coast and specifically, the town of Grand Bend, is a favourite summer getaway. The gorgeous sandy beaches and turquoise waters look more like the Caribbean than southwestern Ontario. While you might assume that these adventures happen only in the summertime, think again. There are so many fun things to do in Grand Bend and the surrounding region in all seasons, even the winter. I’m going to show you exactly how to have an amazing winter vacation in Ontario’s Blue Coast. So, pack your parka, bundle up, and let’s go!
PLEASE NOTE: This content was created before the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses and locations have made changes to meet regulations and help keep you safe. Please call ahead to ensure business is open and limit your movement to public health guidelines.
Explore a Wintry Pinery Provincial Park
Pinery Provincial Park flaunts its beauty in all seasons, and it’s a particularly magical time of year in the winter. There are opportunities to go hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing if there’s enough snow on the ground. For the hikers in the crowd, the Cedar Trail and the Heritage Trail are accessible year round. I recommend venturing around the Cedar Trail loop because it’s a relatively easy hike with a spectacular lookout partway through the trek.
A trip to Pinery wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the beach. Yes, you can go to the beach in the middle of the winter! It’s an entirely different experience from those hot, sunny days in July and August. The beach and the sand dunes look absolutely dazzling covered in layers of snow and ice. Chunks of ice float on the surface of the water as the waves crash against the frozen shoreline. The wind off the lake is freezing, but it’s such a peaceful and pretty sight. There’s a good chance you’ll have the entire place to yourself, too.
Stay Overnight in a Yurt
Have you spent the night in a yurt yet? It’s a unique accommodation that you need to add to your bucket list. You can sleep inside cozy and comfortable yurts all year long at Pinery Provincial Park. A glamping experience at Pinery is an absolute must for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. You can stay close to the great outdoors while maintaining some of the comforts of home. The yurts have electricity and heating, so you’ll be nice and warm, even in the chilliest weather. The yurts at Pinery have two bunk beds, sleeping up to six guests. Every yurt has its own parking spot, firepit, and gas barbecue. There’s a comfort station down the lane with restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. Gather the gang and spend at least a night or two in your very own yurt to make amazing memories together.
Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Now that you’ve enjoyed winter adventures at Pinery Provincial Park, why not treat yourself to a spa day? The Lakeside Spa at Oakwood Resort is the perfect getaway in all seasons, including the winter. You can pamper yourself with all kinds of spa treatments, like facials, massages, body treatments, manicures, pedicures, and so much more. I recommend getting a revitalizing massage for your tired muscles after going snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
Visit the Forest Glen Herb Farm Shop
Just south of Grand Bend down Highway 21, discover the Forest Glen Herb Farm shop for culinary delights and unique classes. Meet the knowledgeable owner, Cynthia, and learn more about the various herbs and flowers that she grows right on her farm. You could easily spend hours at the Forest Glen Herb Farm shop, located inside a charming antique barn. There is a vast assortment of dried herbs, spices, garlic, potpourri, and handmade home decor up for sale in the shop. It’s also possible to take a class at Forest Glen Herb Farm. Learn how to make your own everlasting dried flower arrangement or mix up your own specialty herb vinegar. Regardless of your reason to visit, you’ll surely be captivated by the aromas of lavender that fill the air and Cynthia’s warm hospitality.
Sample Craft Beer at Stonepicker Brewing Company
Stonepicker Brewing Company is open all year long, even with special events happening all winter long. Unlike other city breweries, Stonepicker Brewing Company is in the middle of the country, which definitely plays to their advantage. The brewery grows its own barley and uses freshwater from its own well. The result? Refreshing and great-tasting beer in several varieties to please every palate. I recommend trying a beer flight to sample a few of them if you’re new to the brewery. You can also plan your winter trip to Ontario’s Blue Coast around their weekly events, such as live music, trivia nights, and even yoga at the brewery (followed up with a pint of beer, naturally).
Dine at Local Grand Bend Hotspots
While many establishments along the main beach strip in Grand Bend are closed down for the season, there are still some fabulous local eateries where you can enjoy a superb meal. The Lake Hound pairs healthy plant-based delights, comfort food, and pub grub in a casual atmosphere. You’ll find live music and trivia nights throughout the winter months that draw quite a crowd.
Dave’s Pub and Grill at Oakwood Resort offers a relaxed and intimate dining experience with views overlooking the golf course. Don’t miss their daily dining specials nearly every day of the week. It’s a fantastic place to gather with your pals, whether you’re enjoying snacks and a pint at the bar or keeping cozy by the fireplace.
Witness that Famous Grand Bend Sunset
The sunsets at Grand Bend are famous for a reason. The Grand Bend Beach offers one of the most spectacular sunsets in the province, night after night, and the winter is no exception. The sunset scenery in the winter is drastically different when compared to those hot, summer days. The sandy beach is covered with snowdrifts, and the boardwalk to the lighthouse is coated with a thick layer of ice. You’ll even find snow and ice in the water. Chunks of ice bob up and down on the surface of the water, forcibly crashing to the shore with the surf. Even still, the sky lights up as the sun begins to go down. Hues of pastel pink, orange, and lavender streak across the horizon. While the sun seems cold and distant in the winter months, it still puts on quite the show as it disappears into Lake Huron.
Bio: Lauren Yakiwchuk is a travel blogger and content creator at Justin Plus Lauren, based in Mississauga, Ontario. She loves outdoor adventures, discovering nature, and exploring big cities and small towns alike. You can follow her travels on Instagram and Facebook.