tobermory ontario

Tobermory is a bucket list Ontario road trip to crystal waters and amazing views

If you're dreaming of crystal waters and majestic views, then look no further than Tobermory, Ontario. Sure, the water's chilly here, but it's also one of the province's most magical locations.

I remember when I first visited the area and have since aimed to return each year to explore the rugged coastline by land and water. In my opinion, this area of the Bruce Peninsula is a must-visit location any time of year.

Tobermory is a 4-hour drive from Toronto (which is no easy feat for many), but you'll be rewarded for the effort. Here are a few tips to make the most of a road trip to the Bruce Peninsula.

Tobermory Ontario

Bruce Peninsula's crystal waters and views of Georgian Bay's shoreline.

Before you begin your adventure

The Bruce Peninsula region can be a busy one. Before you begin your adventure, prepare! You might not be a big planner like me - think meal prep and a packing list a mile long - but you'll want to make the effort.

The best hikes and campsites book up early, and it's recommended that you pre-book any of the hikes and accommodations you're interested in to avoid disappointment.

Where to stop en route

There's a range of routes you can take on your trip north, but Highway 10 to Highway 6 is the main one. This route will take you past Orangeville and one of my favourite hikes at the Forks of the Credit.

If Toronto traffic is as it often is, this stop will be a welcome reprieve from hectic city life. But if you can push further, consider stopping in Owen Sound.

Owen Sound is a waterfall-filled town with a range of great hikes and places to eat. Inglis Falls, a quick 5-minute detour, will take you to a beautiful cascading waterfall and a longer hike if that's your vibe.

I highly recommend The European Bakery for lunch or some delicious baked goods, coffee and fresh bread (plus, their Nanaimo bars are a decadent masterpiece).

From Owen Sound, the town of Tobermory is another hour and a half drive. Here are a few recommendations for what to see and do in the area.Tobermory Ontario

Lion's Head Cliff.

Hikes you have to try

My favourite hike is Lion's Head Provincial Park — you can find me hiking here at least once a year.

Lion's Head is a 7 to 16-km hike along the towering coastline of Georgian Bay, with ancient rocks and forested trails that open up to some of the most breathtaking and Instagram-worthy views in Ontario.

The parking lot is small and booking your vehicle at least 24 hours in advance is highly recommended to guarantee a spot, saving you from having to walk from town.

The final kilometres of Ontario's famous Bruce Trail are located here in the Bruce Peninsula. This 890-km trail culminates in the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Consider hiking some of it along Little Cove, The Grotto and the Halfway Log Dump Trail.

All these trails require a parking reservation ($30 for a 4-hour window) that can be easily booked before your arrival. Locals mentioned over 1,800 cars were turned away and towed last summer when trying to hike without a pass, so make sure you grab one before stopping by.

The Grotto is a must for first-time visitors so bring your bathing suits to explore the caves and crystal-clear, chilly water. I recommend expanding your hike to follow either the Marr Lake trail or checking out Cyprus Lake.

Tobermory Ontario

Flower Pot Island at Bruce Peninsula National Park. 

Fathom Five National Marine Park, located in the town of Tobermory, is also part of the park. The rocky trails here weave along the shore with plenty of swimming opportunities along the way.

While you're there, consider doing on a tour of the famous Flowerpot Island — this short hike offers beautiful views, with a windy boat ride to see the sunken ships that litter the coastline here.

Where to eat in Tobermory

Whether you're a hiker like me or want to paddle, dive, or just take a tour, the town of Tobermory has lots to offer. There are many food trucks in town to explore if you want more than camping food while in the area.

The Hungry Hiker was our stop. They have a range of sandwiches and grilled treats, with a great sitting area where you can enjoy one of their signature drinks - the Sasquench (you might even spot a Sasquatch or two).

Where to stay

If you’re lucky enough to snag a campsite at the Grotto, then you're set for a perfect trip. I've stayed at Miller Lake and found its central location great for exploring all of the wilderness around. As you drive north on Highway 6 you'll see signs for Miller House, a great option for both tent or cabin camping. 

Miller House rents water toys for the lake and has a small restaurant/tuck shop where you can refuel after long days of hiking. If you're into glamping, consider a few nights at the Grotto Getaway Glamp, an oasis near Miller Lake.

Grab some friends and get planning - Tobermory is waiting for you. The photos alone will make the road trip worthwhile.

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Ontario Hikes

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