Explore Bruce County: Best Family Staycations in Ontario
Some of our best summer memories have been made along the blue-tiful Bruce Peninsula and in the region of Bruce County comprising of some of our favourite towns and villages to staycation – Port Elgin, Southampton, Sauble Beach & Tobermory among them. The turquoise tranquility and spectacular sunsets of Lake Huron, as well as amenity-rich beach/coastal towns for families make Bruce County a top pick among our crew for immersing in Ontario’s summer splendour. Our beach-hopping adventures along The Bruce took us from south (Port Elgin) to north (Tobermory). With this year’s Ontario Staycation Tax Credit opportunity, we’re also sharing some of our favourite places to stay for an overnight getaway in Bruce County. We think you’ll understand why Bruce County offers some of the best family getaways in Ontario!
*Disclosure: House of Kerrs earns compensation, hosted travel experiences and/or commissions from travel partner links we use ourselves to facilitate our reviews and keep our travel content flowing. As always, opinions are our own and reflect our authentic experience. Read our Disclosure for more information.
Port Elgin – Stop 1: Bruce County Ontario
Port Elgin is a sweet little beach town set along the shallow-bottom stretch of Lake Huron, making it one of the spots along the Bruce Peninsula that is great for young families. A visit to Cenotaph Park to pay respect to our Veterans followed by take out from adjacent Alan’s Fireside Grill to enjoy a waterside family picnic on Port Elgin’s Main Beach made for an enriching stay.
What families will love at Port Elgin Main Beach:
- Free parking;
- A paved pathway and wooden boardwalk connecting one end of the 3 km beach to the other – great for families with strollers/wagons;
- Accessible family restrooms;
- Outdoor showers/wash stations to rinse away the day’s sand;
- Lots of shaded spots to sit, including covered picnic areas
- Calmer waters compared to some of the other Bruce County beaches for younger swimmers; and
- Beautiful sunset views from Main Beach’s viewing area all got our family’s check mark!
Where to Staycation As a Family – Port Elgin, Ontario
We stayed at the Super 8 by Wyndham on our visit to Port Elgin. Not our typical choice style accommodations, but we were pleasantly surprised! The clean, modern Superior 2-bedroom Apartment Family Suite with kitchen, dining and lounge areas and being steps to the motel’s outdoor pool made for a memorable, budget-friendly stay. Bonus: the motel rate includes a hot breakfast and the location was fantastic – across the street from a plaza with a Walmart to get groceries and about a 5-minute drive to the main beach.
Southampton – Stop 2 Along The Bruce
Called “Ontario’s Hamptons”, Bruce County’s town of Southampton was a new-to-us spot along the Saugeen Shores of Bruce Peninsula. An early visit to the Main (*and a little more pebbly*) Beach felt like we had it all to ourselves. The sound of birds soaring above, and waves crashing the shore was a peaceful way to start our travel day along The Bruce. The colour of the water here was noticeably more Bahamas-like blue!
Nice views of the Chantry Island Lighthouse can be soaked in from shore, or you can find a boat tour to visit up-close. The beach is approximately 4 km long, and rockier than other beaches in Bruce County. You may want to put water shoes on the kids. We did not do an overnight stay in Southampton because we had a place booked in Port Elgin (just a 12-minute drive away!), but there are some fabulous boutique inns and vacation homes you can rent for your family getaway.
Sauble Beach – Stop 3: Bruce County, Ontario
The world’s second largest fresh water beach, and voted by TorStar as one of “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”, Sauble Beach is our gang’s favourite wave-riding beach along The Bruce, especially among our teens.
Like most spots along Lake Huron’s shore, you will not want to miss a Sauble sunset. Grab your tripod and take a family shot of a little sunset heaven on Huron – unforgettable!
Where to Eat – Sauble Beach, Ontario
Brunch at Two Chicks Cafe (smoothies & breakfast sandwiches all around!) and a Mexicana refuel at Casero Kitchen’s Taco Bus (burrito bowls, tacos & sneaky wings!) are our fave spots for family eats in Sauble!
Where to Staycation As a Family – Sauble Beach, Ontario
We had a fantastic stay at CasaVon Cottages on our most recent visit to Sauble to kick-start summer break. We stayed in Cottage A, which offered very well maintained quarters, cozy sleeping arrangements, all the conveniences of home (fully-appointed kitchen, TV, Wi-Fi, etc.), and super close access to the main beach (2-minute walk) and dining establishments. Other perks – FREE on-site parking and a beautiful outdoor space with dining/lounge areas, an outdoor shower & hot tub + fire pit for marshmallow-roasting fun. A fabulous outdoor oasis to let your family enjoy time outside to the fullest!
Owners Yvonne & John were among the most gracious hosts we’ve encountered on our travels and we will certainly be re-booking for next year! CasaVon Cottages is a fantastic choice for families looking to take advantage of Ontario’s Staycation Tax Credit!
Tobermory – Stop 4 Along The Bruce
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you already know how much we adore this place our family calls “Tob-Amore” – your hearts will soar here!
We have a FULL POST with all the details your family will need to make the best of your Ontario family staycation Tobermory, including the best time to visit (psst…it hasn’t passed yet!), the best places to STAY, EAT & WANDER for families of all ages, and why some pre-planning is a must – Tobermory is NOT FOR SPONTANEOUS DAY-TRIPPING.
For some family getaway truth-telling, watch us spill our honest thoughts about what it’s like to visit the very beautiful and popular Grotto with kids HERE 😉
What Families Should Know Before You Go to Port Elgin, Southampton, Sauble Beach & Tobermory in Bruce County, Ontario:
- Weekday visits mean less crowds and more availability at hotels/vacation homes and dining establishments;
- There are no lifeguards at any of the beachy spots listed above and water currents can get rough. Bring PFDs;
- Some of the best spots to swim in Bruce County require a bit of a hike and trek down rugged rock formations (Tobermory); bring good walking shoes for all members of your family & note some parts of trails are not accessible for those with mobility challenges;
- For-fee and some free parking is available close to the main beaches of Port Elgin, Southampton and Sauble Beach. Tobermory requires advanced parking reservations to visit the Grotto with Parks Canada. You can make your Grotto parking reservations HERE.
- Body boards were sold out last summer. If you have kids who like to boogie board on the water, grab some before you go!
- Leave our beaches, trails and parks without a trace – pack a garbage bag in your beach gear/knapsack to take your trash away wherever you wander;
- Many eating establishments allow you to pre-order online & pick up – do that! This will save you time, especially at the very popular dining spots of your trip;
- Ongoing service sector staff shortages could mean ever-changing OPEN/CLOSE times at tourist spots & rotating closures at restaurants. Check destination/establishment websites & socials before you visit. Pack a little extra patience & presence of mind everyone’s doing the best they can on this rocky road back to tourism recovery in Ontario.
We’ll be visiting another spot along the Bruce this summer – Kincardine – and will update this article for another Ontario Family Staycation option after we do!
We hope you found this post helpful for your day trip or family staycation to Bruce County! Share your family adventures with us in comments or tag us on social at @House_of_Kerrs after you visit. And if you’re an Ontario resident/family and stay overnight in one of these fabulous family destinations in Bruce County, don’t forget to take advantage of the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit! How to claim your eligible Ontario staycation expenses can be found HERE.
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Barbara Di Mambro says
Loved my stays at Sauble and Tobermory the last two years. So much to do and see. But an early morning relaxing time on the beach watching the waves roll in by Lake Huron was so peaceful. I want to go back sometime soon.
K. E. says
My sister’s live in Port Elgin. Been visiting these beautiful places nearly 50 yrs. The population has grown so much over the years. Our last visit in July, 22, we stayer at the Super 8 Hotel in Port Elgin. Couldn’t ask for better lodging. Very clean, good breakfast included. From Port, you get to enjoy the main beach, Sauble beach. Visit sound you. Many shops. Travel a little and you can come back to your room. Always a pleasure to go back.
House of Kerrs says
Wonderful to hear, Kathleene 🙂 It’s such a fantastic area for families and I’m so glad to hear you found the Super 8 an excellent choice for your stay too 🙂 The location was super! Have a wonderful summer! ~Sonya