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First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

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Georgia
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First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

My husband and I along with our four children (3 college, 1 high school) will be in Toronto for the Rogers Cup in August. Arriving in Buffalo on the 5th, we plan to see the falls and then spend a couple of days sightseeing before going into Toronto on the 9th. After reading numerous posts, I am trying to decide between the areas of Owen Sound, Midland, and Prince Edward. I realize August is the prime vacation period so, which of these would be less busy/touristy? Since we will be in the city later in the week, we are looking for a three hour or less drive to Toronto, relaxation and beautiful sunsets. Thanks in advance for your help and any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Toronto
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1. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

Midland and Owen Sound are on the south shore of Georgian Bay, which is the one shore I would not describe as spectacular. It's a pleasant rural area, but not all that much to offer in terms of rugged scenery and adventure compared to Georgian Bay's east shore (Parry Sound area), west shore (Bruce Peninsula) or north shore (Killarney area). Of these three, Parry Sound fits best into your 3-hour range from Toronto, and since it's the west-facing coast there are great sunsets to be seen.

Prince Edward County is a very nice quaint rural area that features some wineries and the dune beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park. I'd say it's nicer than the Midland/Owen Sound area, and much more domesticated than the east/west/north shores of Georgian Bay, so it depends what kind of scene you're looking for. One thing to keep in mind is that the farmland/vinyard landscape of Prince Edward County has more in common with some of what you might see in Niagara region.

toronto
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2. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

I beg to differ just a bit with Tweed...

You can get some absolutely gorgeous sunsets from the east side of Georgian Bay. That side of the bay features miles and miles of sandy beach and lots of cottages, some of which may be available for rent -- usually for 1 to 2 week periods. That probably wouldn't work for you given your schedule, but there are some hotels in the area (e.g. Midland) if you just wanted to spend a couple of days there. From Midland, you can a take cruises from the harbour through the Georgian Bay Islands, visit Ste Marie Among the Hurons, the Wye Marsh and Martyr's Shrine - as well as visit the beaches. It's also only about 1 1/2 hours north of Toronto.

Toronto
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3. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

Haha I certainly didn't say you couldn't see great sunsets from the east side of Georgian Bay, I said that you could, thinking about Parry Sound/30,000 Islands area etc. I just think that the Bay's southern extremity (Midland) is maybe not the best that it has to offer. Although if there are birding enthousiasts in your group, then by all means visit Tiny Marsh etc.

Georgia
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4. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

Thank you for your quick replies! Of the three, I was leaning toward the Midland area because of the distance from Toronto, the sites shpToronto mentioned as well as the beaches between Balm Beach and Deanlea Beach. Are there any other “must see” places/landmarks/things to do, etc. in the vicinity of Midland or between Midland and Toronto?

5. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

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Niagara Falls, ON
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for Niagara Falls
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6. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

Sainte.Marie Among the Hurons is a must when in that area. It is a recreated French Jesuit settlement from the mid 1600's, the first European settlement in what is now Ontario. Well worth the effort.

saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca/sm/…index.htm

Also, if you are Roman Catholic (or even if you aren't) Martyr's Shrine, across the highway from Ste. Marie, is a peaceful spot to spend a little time.

http://www.martyrs-shrine.com/

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

I have nothing much to add to the above comments. All three places are worth a visit. It is, indeed, more spectacular up at the top of Bruce Peninsula -- but a bit further than you would like to go it seems. Considering the age of your children, I think your choice of Balm Beach and Deanlea Beach are fine. Wasaga Beach, which is close by, is a well known young person's hangout in the summer (i.e. plenty of sun lotion and taught bodies parading around trying to impress each other).

If you are there during the Aug 17-19th weekend be sure to catch Summerfolk http://www.summerfolk.org in Owen Sound.

One thing I noticed from your post, is that you are going to spend August 5th to 9th in Niagara Falls area. I, of course have no idea about your family's interests, but I believe that may be too long considering the age of your kids (I suppose the University student's could play in the Casino). I think they might find more to entertain themselves with in Toronto itself.

Edited: 06 March 2012, 11:45
Toronto, Ontario
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8. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

My own family experience was that we used to go to Owen Sound because it was cheaper to stay there, and then spend 20-25 minutes to drive over to Lake Huron (Sauble Beach, http://www.saublebeach.com/) for the day. Sauble is the Lake Huron equivalent (sort of) to Wasaga Beach up on Georgian Bay, but it is right on Lake Huron. National Geographic declared Lake Huron on it's list of 1000 places to see because of its amazing sunsets. Midland is a much quieter community; Sainte Marie among the Hurons is more of a historical living museum. If your kids aren't up for that sorta thing, they may be a bit bored, whereas Sauble Beach is very much geared to their age group.

We have also loved Prince Edward County, but it's a different vibe than Wasaga or Sauble; much quieter, more younger families (think sand dunes and little kids with buckets LOL). Prince Edward County has several wineries and is considered to be quite the "foodie" area of the province.

Georgia
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9. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

Godott, I need to clarify our schedule. Our plans are to leave Niagara Falls on the 6th, spend three nights in another area, and then drive into Toronto on the 9th. Godott and Flyinmom you have both peaked my interested in the Bruce Peninsula again. The area looked very appealing to us but because of the extra driving time we had taken it off of our list. From your experiences, would you choose the Bruce Peninsula or Midland area? I don’t mind adding a little more drive time if you think the Bruce Peninsula would have a greater variety of things to do and see. Thank you for taking time out of your schedules to give us guidance!

Toronto, Canada
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10. Re: First Visit to Ontario - Itinerary Help

Don't panic:, if you have never been here before, either choice you make will be fine. I think a very nice compromise is what Flyinmom outlines in her post.. Head over to the base of the Bruce Peninsula on the Lake Huron side (near or in Sauble Beach) . The beaches here are incredible. From here, if you are so inclined, you can take a one day trip up to Tobermorey and visit that town or one of the 3 National Parks up there (However, you'll need SCUBA gear to visit Fathom Five National Park).

However, I slightly disagree with Flyinmom, perhaps only from personal experience, that, Sauble Beach is more geared towards your kids age-group than Wasaga Beach (I'll grant her Midland proper but not Wasaga Beach). However, both are hot spots for young folk -- and Sauble Beach wins on beauty, sand and waves but looses on distance from Toronto. Your pick.

I also think that "Sainte-Marie among the Hurons" ranks a notch higher than your typical living museum.