Earlier this summer, my boyfriend and I finally made the trip to Tobermory – a beautiful town along the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. We had been planning to make the visit for the past few summers, but had never been able to make the trip. This year, we finally set aside some time to spend a weekend there towards the end of June, and booked a campsite for a night at Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Tobermory is about a four hour drive from Toronto, and we hit the road around 9:00 am to get an early-ish start to our adventure. The forecast called for rain in the morning into the early afternoon, as well as cooler temperatures – so my bf was understandably wary of the drive. We actually encountered some hail along the way, so we were glad when the weather had cleared for the most part when we arrived.
After checking into our campsite, our first stop was a visit to downtown Tobermory to grab some lunch. The downtown area is comprised of basically one main street with a few restaurants and cafes, some little shops and a grocery store. We explored our options and decided on fish and chips for lunch at a restaurant called “The Fish & Chip Place.”
PSA: Do not, I repeat, do not get the fish tacos from this restaurant, though it claims to be “Home of the Tobermory Fish Taco”. I will spare your eyeballs from the photo evidence, but trust me when I say that these were the worst fish tacos we’ve ever eaten. The fish and chips (above) were tasty enough, and used local white fish from the area, but we learned after the fact that apparently the place to go is Shipwreck Lee’s Pirate Bistro – a sketchy looking all-you-can-eat place that we were too hesitant to try.
After lunch, we headed back to the National Park to make the hike to The Grotto, Tobermory’s claim to fame. Luckily, as this year is Canada’s 150th, we had a Parks Canada Discovery Pass (which you can pick up at your local MEC or sign up for online), which entitled us to free parking.
The Grotto is a short and easy 30 minute hike from the parking lot, leading you to a beautiful shoreline area that you can explore. When we first made it to The Grotto, it was still quite cloudy, but shortly after the skies cleared making for a beautiful sunny day.
What makes Tobermory so breathtaking is the crystal clear, turquoise blue waters of Lake Huron. I’ve never seen water this colour in Ontario, and was completely blown away! We were hoping to be able to go for a dip, but the water was absolutely frigid and just too cold to swim in. I think the water here is on the cooler side anyway, but would have been more tolerable on a hotter day than we visited. Only a few brave souls dared to take the plunge – and looked like they immediately regretted the decision!
The famous Grotto is actually an awesome wave-carved cave in Georgian Bay that visitors can explore. We had so much fun climbing the rocks and checking out the area!
Unfortunately once the evening hit, the temperatures dropped so low that we no longer wanted to camp out. After having some s’mores at the campsite, we packed up our things and hit the road to return home. I’d definitely like to return to Tobermory in the future, hopefully for a longer stretch of time!
Notes for next time:
- Take a trip to Flowerpot Island: We didn’t have time to check out this site, but a friend of mine highly recommended taking the glass-bottom boat tour to this little island from downtown Tobermory. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful blue waters, with fewer crowds.
- Visit later in the summer: A visit later in the summer would hopefully mean some warmer weather (no hail!) and being able to actually swim in the water.
Have you made the trip to Tobermory? Let me know in the comments below what your favourite things to see and do there are!