Owen Sound, ON - #WhereYouWantToLive
Published: Monday, July 1, 2019
Our city is the perfect destination to explore the natural beauty of Ontario while experiencing authentic food, culture, arts, and entertainment. Owen Sound has a variety of must-haves, whether you are visiting, passing through, or thinking of making our city home. It truly features it all – a beautiful harbour and bay, winding rivers, tree-lined streets, plush parks, numerous trails, and a thriving, historic downtown.
Owen Sound is perfectly placed along the Niagara Escarpment, an ideal location to base yourself during your next Grey-Bruce adventure by boat, or on foot!
While experiencing our Scenic City, you are never far from water – rivers and waterfalls, bays and beaches, and the harbour that is the city's namesake. If you're a marine history buff, be sure to visit the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre on the west harbour, open May to October.
On the western shore, you'll find Kelso Beach Park, which has a shallow sandy beach, change rooms and washroom facilities, a sheltered picnic area, splash pad, playground, and trails. It's near the Georgian Shores Marina, which makes it convenient for boaters visiting the region. Picnic under the tall shady willows and enjoy the view across the harbour.
Further north lies Sarawak Family Park, across from the Legacy Ridge Golf Club. It has a sheltered beach, small playground, washrooms, and picnic facilities. The beach is sandy, but the bay here is rocky in places. Parking is free.
There are several other beaches tucked along Owen Sound Bay heading north on County Road 1 past Kemble, but the largest is in Big Bay, the self-proclaimed "Skipping Stone Capital of Canada." Indeed, the shore is full of smooth, flat stones perfect for skipping on the water. While you're there, stop by the Big Bay General Store for home-made ice cream, or Keppel Croft Gardens for a horticultural treat!
On the east side of Owen Sound Bay, a little north of the city, is the Hibou Conservation Area, a great place to take the family for the two natural sand beaches, hiking trails, playground, picnic facilities, and bathrooms. Hibou is on County Road 15, and can easily be accessed by boat where you can anchor yourself and enjoy the afternoon on the water, swimming and taking in the sun.
Our Bay and the harbour are natural ports of call for recreational boaters. Retail services and restaurants are available within a short walk of the floating docks on the east side of the inner harbour. The city is also served by a marina and boat launches.
Georgian Shores Marina Owen Sound is located at 195 24th St West. The marina has gone through some extensive renovations over the last five years, including relocating the gas docks along with a new Chandlery. A spectacular boater’s lounge has been added with a full kitchen and TV, accessible washrooms with showers, laundry facilities, FREE Wi-Fi, and a waterfront view with lounge chairs. The new main store has also been redone and fully stocked with boat and motor parts and accessories with a showroom upstairs. Monitored 24 hours a day with strategically located camera surveillance, the facility is also foot patrolled by a trained security firm nightly to allow you to rest assured your boating needs are protected while you rest comfortably on the water during the boating season. The marina has over 400 slips to accommodate boats as big as 72 feet. Whether you are a sailboat or a power boat, the marina can facilitate you and seasonal and transient boaters are always welcome.
If canoes and paddle boats are more your scene, they can be rented by the hour at Harrison Park for use on the Sydenham River between the park and the Mill Dam and Fish Ladder. The Putt'n Paddle is open daily during the summer and weekends in the spring and fall, weather permitting.
If you have your own canoe or kayak, you may launch it at either of the city's two boat launches in the inner harbour, or at the paddling kiosk at the north end of Harrison Park. Drive to the bottom of 5th Ave. East at 4th St. East and continue to the kiosk, where you can safely launch your boat. Those wishing to rent canoes or kayaks for longer excursions can always contact outfitters in the area; the nearest is Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth.
The Owen Sound harbour is a historic port of call that still greets many ships each year, including Great Lakes freighters transporting grain, salt, or cement to the elevators. It's also the winter home of the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry, which sails from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island during the summer. The Chi-Cheemaun offers a single public sailing up the Bruce Peninsula coast each spring and fall between Owen Sound and Tobermory. These sailings fill quickly; call 1.800.265.3163 to book ahead.
Not only is Owen Sound beautiful, but it has fabulous fishing throughout the year. If you are looking for Chinook salmon, brown trout, or rainbow trout, you can troll the Owen Sound Bay or work the harbour walls. The Sydenham Sportsmen's Association has maintained an active stocking program that makes Owen Sound a favourite destination for anglers.
Owen Sound is a proud sponsor of the largest fishing tournament in North America – “The Salmon Spectacular.” With a 30,000 square foot tent, the Spectacular 10-day event has live music, food, and beverages each day, including two fish fries, plus all the proceeds go to support sustainable fishing in the area. In the fall, check out the Owen Sound Salmon Tour, which follows the Chinook salmon as they make their way from the cold, deep waters of Georgian Bay up the Sydenham River to spawn.
Four popular waterfalls you may wish to take in during your visit spill from the rocky Niagara Escarpment near Owen Sound, rushing into nearby rivers and streams: Inglis Falls, Jones Falls, Indian Falls, and Weavers' Creek Falls in Harrison Park. Each is less than 10 kilometres from the downtown Visitor Information Centre, so you can tour all in a single day. Or take your time and choose one or two on each visit, exploring the falls, forests, and trails around them. Spring is "high tide" for our waterfalls, where the water flow is abundant, but they are popular in all seasons.
Jones, Inglis, and Weaver's Creek falls are linked by marked trails, offering experienced hikers an invigorating day trip with many look-out points along the way. Be sure to bring your camera!
While visiting Owen Sound during the summer months, be sure to make it out to one of the highly attended TD Harbour Nights, which are concerts that happen at 7pm on Sunday evenings. The stage is located just outside the Owen Sound Tourism Centre.
Another “must-experience” is the very exciting Harbourfest event. Unfolding July 13 on both sides of the inner harbour, the event features daily on-water performances, food-trucks, local brews and ciders, vendors, and musical performers taking centre stage outside Mudtown Station – the historical Rail station, recently turned microbrewery and restaurant!
Whether you're visiting us for a day, a weekend, an entire week or more, you'll want to surround yourself with our authenticity. Our gritty, energized locality is the ideal place to explore! We know you will need to extend your stay and want to return often to experience it all!
Visit www.owensoundtourism.ca to plan your trip today!
This article first appeared in the Summer Issue (Jul/Aug) 2019 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.