When you think of Ontario’s Blue Coast, what comes to mind? I recently spent a weekend in Sarnia, Ontario where the water is bright blue, the beaches are endless, and where I got to watch a small town come to life thanks to Canadian summers. My love for small towns and hidden gems is undeniable, but I was pleasantly surprised with what a weekend away in Sarnia has in store and how the town is putting itself on the map.
As the largest city on Lake Huron and in Lambton County, Sarnia is about a three-hour road-trip from Toronto, located across from Michigan. I didn’t know much about Sarnia before heading out there for the weekend, but once we started exploring I got to see how this small town does summer time, and why Sarnia is a hidden gem in Ontario.
From local restaurants and boutique shops to water sports and community events and festivals, you can ask any local what’s happening in town and they will be able to tell you. Here’s how I spend my weekend in Sarnia and places you should definitely check out if you’re in town.
I love casinos! But I surprisingly didn’t go for the gambling. The Gateway Casino in Point Edward has a hidden gem of a restaurant that has a patio overlooking the water. Even though it wasn’t a nice day, their retractable roofs still let us enjoy being outdoors to watch the Mackinac boat races while enjoying an awesome brunch.
Apparently, you can’t go to Sarnia without going to Purdy’s Fish Market. This is the place to get your fresh catches of the day and sit and enjoy a casual lunch down on the water. It’s a tiny spot that sells local sauces and when asking them questions, they knew their stuff when it comes to seafood.
Everything in Sarnia somehow relates back to the water. And as someone who didn’t grow up on or near the water, I have never wake boarded before. This is why Boarder Pass was perfect for me! My favourite part of my weekend, only because I was a natural at it (surprisingly), but instead of classic wake boarding behind a boat, at Boarder Pass you’re towed by a cable around their wake board park. No, I did not go off any jumps, but the fact that I was able to stand and get the hang of it was good enough for me. Disclaimer- I also fell on my face (and hard) about seven times in the process, but it was something I have never seen or tried before and am very happy I got the courage to do it.
Shopping Down Town
The best part about small towns is how close in proximity everything is, and I love being able to park the car and just wander around. Sarnia was no exception to this. I got to shop (and purchased an awesome pair of sunglasses), have lunch (on another patio of course), and head to an art gallery all within a few blocks of one another.
But what’s a weekend on Ontario’s Blue Coast without heading to the beach? Located within Canatara Park (which is also great for activities), Canatara Beach is one of only 26 beaches in Canada to have earned official Blue Flag status for its commitment to strict water quality and safety criteria. And you could tell! I couldn’t believe how blue and clear the water was for a place in Ontario. A great beach for everyone, you’ll see boats, water sports, and activities for all ages.
Now known as the local hotspot in town, Refined Fool has made a name for itself in the craft beer market across Ontario. And there was no better way to learn about their beer than sitting down with one of its founders and chatting about how Refined Fool has grown to what it is today. With a constant rotation of beers on tap, I was lucky enough to do a flight and try ALL of them! A classic brewery vibe with games and food available too, Refined Fool is also trying out new beer flavours and ways to keep their customers (and locals) coming back for what’s next on tap.
Sounds like a fun way to spend a weekend (it really was)? Every weekend there are local events happening around town so if you’re going to visit make sure to check out what else you can get up to.
Disclaimer: This weekend road trip was in partnership with Ontario’s Blue Coast and Ontario’s Southwest. But just in case you don’t know, I only write about things that I enjoy and are 100% honest about. All opinions in this piece are my own.