Confession time: We bought our latest motel in Sauble Beach without exploring the Bruce Peninsula first.
We’d seen the photos all over Narcity and Blog TO — you know, the ones with clear blue swimming holes, unbeatable hiking views and sunken shipwreck tours. We knew that there would be something magical about exploring the Bruce and finding paradise in our very own backyard, but we didn’t explore until after moving here.
Now, we can’t imagine a trip to Sauble without it.
THE MOTELIER’S GUIDE TO EXPLORING THE BRUCE PENINSULA
The Bruce Peninsula spans over 150 square kilometres and sits between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It’s home to two National Parks, an island, plenty of lush hiking trails and a few marina towns. Think a picturesque and idyllic escape meets natural outdoor paradise. As we look forward to fall, we can hardly wait to see the colours change.
Here’s our guide to the best day trips while you’re staying at The June in Sauble Beach — just an hour’s drive away. For the true Motelier experience, fuel up beforehand with a smoothie or latte from The Wellness Refinery.
HOW FAR FROM THE JUNE: 50 minutes by car.
LENGTH OF EXCURSION: This is a half day trip.
MOTELIER TIP: Local rumour says that Halfway Log Dump is the undiscovered twin of The Grotto (yes, that truly is the name)...
This is the spot that really broke the news about the undiscovered beauty of the Bruce Peninsula. It’s the one with the natural sea cave, underwater tunnels, turquoise blue waters and limestone rock beach. You can chill out here with a great book, a cold drink and good friends. The Grotto is the ultimate summer escape and one that’s hard to believe is right here in Ontario. It's a tourism hot spot these days, so be sure to book your time slot well in advance of your trip. Each slot is up to 4 hours long, to limit the occupancy in the park, and you’ll want to reserve 1 hour for the hike there (30 minutes each way). Bring your swimsuit if you're brave enough to jump into the frigid Georgian Bay waters and don't forget your camera — because you'll want to remember these stunning waters and rock formations.
LIONS HEAD LOOKOUT
HOW FAR FROM THE JUNE: 30 minutes by car.
LENGTH OF EXCURSION: You can do this round trip hike as quickly as 45 minutes, or you can bring a snack and bevvie and stay a little longer to soak up the views.
MOTELIER TIP: Park at the Bruce Trail lot on McCurdy Drive, then follow the white trail markers on the trees for the shorter loop that leads right to the viewpoints!
The Lions Head Lookout hike is one we recommend for a group who is looking for a shorter outing. It’s fairly easy, with a mostly flat trail, but it does get rocky when climbing to the lookout — which leads to a stunning backdrop of turquoise waters over 200ft tall limestone cliffs. The full Lions Head Loop extends as far as 18 kilometres, but the shorter lookout hike is only about 4 kilometres. Along the way, you’ll come across 10,000 year old geological wonders. We’re talking about mysterious potholes and caves. And, if you’re really up for an adventure, you can continue on after the lookout for a dip in the icy Georgian Bay waters at McKay Harbour, a mostly undiscovered and scenic rock beach.
HOW FAR FROM THE JUNE: 50 minutes by car.
LENGTH OF EXCURSION: As long as you want to explore the area!
MOTELIER TIP: Make a stop at Big Tub Lighthouse, which was originally built in 1885 and is still in use to this day!
If you’re after an excursion, but hiking isn’t really your thing, then head to Tobermory. It’s got the same clear blue waters as some of the major hikes in the area, but with a small town feeling that offers a completely different experience. It’s quaint, charming and seriously feels like a seaside destination. Start the day by walking around the inner harbour and checking out local galleries, diverse artisans outposts, the sweets shop and other classically touristy shops...it's guaranteed that you’ll find a souvenir for everyone. If you want to make the most of exploring the coastline, rent a kayak or a SUP board for a laidback afternoon activity. For a bit more adventure, book a tour and discover the best snorkeling in Ontario. Then, you can really reward yourself at The Fish and Chip Place or Tobermory Brewing Co afterward…
HOW FAR FROM THE JUNE: 50 minutes by car, then 6.5km by boat.
LENGTH OF EXCURSION: You’ll want to reserve a full day for this one.
MOTELIER TIP: There are a couple of options for the boat ride from Tobermory to Flowerpot. The orange speed boat is a fast and kind of wild ride...so hold onto your hats. Alternatively, the glass bottom boat takes a bit more time but stops at each sunken shipwreck along the way.
This day trip might be our favourite Bruce Peninsula experience because it offers the best of everything — you get to visit Tobermory, cruise along the Georgian Bay waters, hike at the Island and even swim once you’re there. The island itself is a natural wonder, known for its "flowerpot" rock pillars, caves, historic lighthouse and rare plant species. It’s a diverse spot and is worth spending at least a few hours exploring. The lighthouse station is run by volunteers and open to visitors, so if you’ve ever wondered what being a lighthouse keeper on a secluded island is like, this is your chance to tour the well maintained and historic home. On the flip, if you want to explore Fathom Five National Park and the sunken shipwrecks, but don’t feel like stopping at the island, you can book a cruise that tours you around Tobermory.
The views along the Bruce Peninsula are stunning year round, so don't reserve your exploring to just July and August. If you're looking for an outdoor adventure and want to visit the area, book your stay at The June in Sauble Beach this September and October. We'll meet you at check-in with a can of rosé!