From the national parks to the charming towns, our complete guide of things to do on the Bruce Peninsula will help you plan your adventure.
Dividing the glorious shores of Georgian Bay from the turquoise waters of Lake Huron, the Bruce Peninsula, also known as the Saugeen Peninsula, is one of the most popular places to visit in Ontario.
Replete with dramatic landscapes shaped by the crashing Great Lakes and the rocky Niagara Escarpment, this stunning example of Ontario’s majestic shores is home to some of the greatest wonders the province has to offer.
Each year, the Bruce Peninsula attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors who make the journey up from Ontario’s urban centres to enjoy the quaint small towns such as Wiarton and Tobermory, and the natural wonders of “The Bruce”. The breadth of attractions of this narrow peninsula is simply astounding.
The Bruce Peninsula is home to not one, but two Canadian national parks, several cave systems, adorable towns, stunning beaches, loads of shipwrecks, and several of the most incredible hikes in Ontario.
From the gorgeous waters to the epic landscapes, and everything in between, here are the top things to do in the Bruce Peninsula.
About The Bruce Peninsula
Dividing Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, the Bruce Peninsula juts outwards between the cities of Southampton and Owen Sound. At its tip is the town of Tobermory, a popular summer vacation spot for those visiting both Bruce Peninsula National Park as well as Fathom Five National Marine Park. Tobermory is also the location of the Chi Cheemaun Ferry which takes travelers out to Manitoulin Island.
This popular destination is home to the final point in the epic Bruce Trail, an epic hiking route that winds for more than 900 kilometres from the city of Queenston on the border with New York up to Tobermory Harbour at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.
Throughout the 154 square kilometres of the Bruce Peninsula, there are a plethora of charming small towns that are a treat to visit. Towns such as Wiarton, Lion’s Head, and Sauble Beach are just a few of the places that make this region of Ontario such a popular destination.
In recent years, more and more locals have begun recognizing and appreciating the rich Indigenous history of this famous peninsula.
Indigenous history is rich within the Bruce Peninsula, both the Saugeen First Nation and the Chippewas of Saugeen Ojibway Territory have made their home for countless generations and their communities are both recognized under the Crown treaties.
Thanks to recent land acknowledgments and the push for Indigenous rights in Ontario, Canada, and beyond that Parks Canada has begun to refer to the Bruce Peninsula as the Saugeen Peninsula as a token of respect to the caretakers of the land. Over time, we expect that this term will catch on from its current naming for James Bruce, a former Governor and diplomat who help shape Ontario during the mid-1800s.
Amazing Things To Do On The Bruce Peninsula Ontario
There is a wide range of Bruce Peninsula activities for every interest. Whether you’re looking to explore the Bruce Peninsula beaches, hikes, town, or waters, our guide to the Bruce Peninsula lets will help you plan the ultimate itinerary.
We’ll lay out the best things to do on the Bruce Peninsula from the base to the tip to help you plan your visit.
Explore The Towns Of The Bruce
From bottom to top, the Bruce Peninsula is packed with magnificent small towns. Here are just a few that you’ll want to check out.
Southhampton is a small town at the base of the Bruce Peninsula. Make a visit to the historic Southampton Market, explore the trails of MacGregor Provincial Park, or grab a beer at Outlaw Brew Co.
Sauble Beach might be the biggest draw of the Bruce Peninsula south of Tobermory. Not only is it home to one of the best beaches in Ontario, Sauble Beach, but this popular summer tourist town is loaded with attractions including adventure walks and Sauble Falls Provincial Park.
Grab a meal at Casero Taco Bus, watch the sunset from the beach, and stroll along the small-town shops to pick up some fun beach clothes to enjoy on your visit to the Bruce.
Owen Sound, Ontario is home to some incredible hiking and cycling routes. The largest city on the Bruce Peninsula also hosts a popular farmers market, art galleries, and live theatre entertainment. Owen Sound is also a popular starting off point for local waterfall tours that include Inglis Falls, Indian Falls, and Jones Falls.
Enjoy the waterfront, shop around the scenic downtown, and treat yourself to an ice cream at Sunday’s Ice Cream Parlour.
The small town of Lion’s Head gains its claim to fame from the famed Lion’s Head lookout which is accessed via the trailhead within the city. But the town has much to offer beyond the iconic hike. Head to the waterfront for some beautiful cycling or paddling or just laze around on the Lion’s Head beach. While you’re there you can check out the beautiful Lion’s Head lighthouse.
Home to Canada’s most famous groundhog, a visit to Wiarton should be on everyone’s list of Bruce Peninsula things to do. Besides visiting the rodent that determines the length of our Ontario winter’s, Wiarton has loads of other experiences for visitors.
Wandering through the Corran ruins that date back to 1821, take a stroll through Bluewater Park, hike through Spirit Rock Conservation Area, and grab a bite to eat at the Green Door Cafe.
Perched right at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula is the tiny town of Tobermory. Stop in at the Sweet Shop or Peninsula Supply Ice Cream Parlour for a sweet treat and get out to explore.
In Tobermory, there are a wealth of attractions to experience, many of which are covered in other areas of this guide. But you’ll want to make sure that you make a visit to the Big Tub Lighthouse, take a cruise out to Flowerpot Island, and enjoy some snorkeling among the many shipwrecks that can be found just a short distance from shore.
Experience World-Class Hiking
Hiking on the Bruce Peninsula is an experience that draws outdoor lovers from around the world. Beyond the epic Bruce Trail, which covers a massive 904 kilometres from Niagara to Tobermory, hikers are drawn to other Bruce Peninsula hikes. Here are a few of them.
Arguably the most popular hike on the Bruce Peninsula, Lion’s Head hike can be done as an out and back from the Lion’s Head trailhead or as part of a challenging 18.7 km loop that explores the landscapes and waterfront of Lion’s Head Provincial Park.
Be warned though, this hike is extremely popular. And in the summer months the trailhead fills up extremely fast. Locals in the town of Lion’s Head have become overwhelmed with supporting those coming into the town for the hike and filling up street parking. Research your visit beforehand, ensure you follow proper trail etiquette, and support the local businesses in order to keep access to this wonderful hike open to the public.
Halfway Log Dump
Another popular hike on the Bruce Peninsula is the Halfway Log Dump trail. While this trail wasn’t blessed with a beautiful name, it more than makes up for it in views.
This 7.7 km point-to-point trail covers some of the most scenic shorelines of Bruce Peninsula National Park. The hike passes sea stacks, rocky beaches, and the famous Bruce Peninsula Grotto on a one-way journey to Cyprus Lake Visitors Centre.
Halfway Log Dump has received so much traffic in recent years that a reservation system has been put in place between June 17 to September 25. You must book ahead in the Parks Canada reservation system or you will be denied entry.
Singing Sands Forest Beach Loop
Singing Sands might be the most popular of all of the Bruce Peninsula beaches, but its also home to a stunning hike that offers outdoor lovers a completely different view of the region than the ultra-popular Georgian Bay side.
This three km moderately difficult hike follows gentle streams nestled among vibrant wildflowers. You’ll explore the dunes along Dorcas Bay before ending your hike at Singing Sands beach itself.
Bruce Peninsula Beaches
With the Bruce Peninsula being surrounded by water on both sides, there’s no surprise that it is home to some absolutely phenomenal beaches. Some of these beaches are absolutely world-class and no visit would be complete without a dip.
Sauble Beach is home to the world’s second-longest freshwater beach in the world. It is, without a doubt, one of the best beaches in Ontario.
The beach is divided into two sections, a public area at the base of the town of Sauble Beach, and a private area managed by the Saugeen First Nation. The Saugeen First Nations side may require a fee to access, however it is much less crowded than the public beach.
One of the most popular beaches in the northern section of the Bruce Peninsula is Singing Sands. The beach got its name from the eerie howl the sand makes as its blown over the limestone cobble shorelines and alvar.
Although Singing Sands is located on the Lake Huron side of the Bruce Peninsula, it’s still part of Bruce Peninsula National Park. It can get very busy. And the small parking lot means that the beach might be too busy to visit, especially on weekends.
Located about 15-minutes west of Wiarton, Oliphant Beach has been a popular getaway for families for generations. The long shoreline and shallow waters of Lake Huron make it a safe and relaxing place to visit. This beach has also drawn numerous kiteboarders and is becoming one of the hottest destinations for the sport in Ontario.
Bruce Peninsula National Park
The crown jewel of the Bruce Peninsula is none other than Bruce Peninsula National Park. The park covers 156 sq. km of craggy limestone cliffs, mixed forests, wetlands, and rocky shores. One visit and you’ll understand why it’s been made a part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Bruce Peninsula National Park is home to some of the most popular things to do on the Bruce Peninsula including the Bruce Peninsula Grotto, a sea cave located on the Georgian Bay shores, and Halfway Log Dump, a popular hiking trail that follows the rocky shoreline. The Bruce Trail also passes through the park on its way to Tobermory.
There is one campground within the park, located at Cyprus Lake Campground. Bruce Peninsula camping is one of the most sought-after experiences in the park. And as such, camping spots tend to book up within minutes of reservation eligibility. Both the Grotto and Halfway Log Dump require reservations to access during much of the high season. And as such, Accessing Bruce Peninsula National Park has become one of the most sought-after experiences in the region.
While Bruce Peninsula National Park books up fast, there are other, private campgrounds throughout the Bruce Peninsula for campers if they can’t get a reservation. You can check out a list of private campgrounds near Tobermory here.
Fathom Five National Marine Park
Located off the shores of Tobermory, Fathom Five National Marine Park is Ontario’s only National Marine Park. The series of islands and protected waters that make up this important area makes it one of the most incredible places to visit on the Bruce Peninsula.
The park is home to an incredible collection of islands and shipwrecks that draw divers from around the world. In fact, Fathom Five National Marine Park is one of the world’s best destinations for freshwater SCUBA diving. IF you want to experience this magic for yourself, connect with local SCUBA outfitter Diver’s Den, they’re a reputable company that runs many dives and diver training in the area.
One of the most popular activities in Fathom Five is the glass-bottom boat tours that take visitors over and around many of the islands and shipwrecks. The tours usually culminate in a visit to Flowerpot Island, a spectacular natural wonder that has large stone towers that stand out against the blue waters of Lake Huron.
A fun way to get a closer glimpse at some of the wonders of Fathom Five National Marine Park is by booking a private tour with Tobermory Wave Adventures. I did a trip with them this past summer and the up-close and personal views we were treated to were amazing!
Bruce Peninsula Caves
Hidden within the gorgeous landscape of the Bruce Peninsula are a collection of jaw-dropping cave systems that visitors are just beginning to discover. Exploring these cave systems is one of the most exciting things to do on the Bruce Peninsula.
There are three major Bruce Peninsula caves that draw visitors. And each one has it’s own unique features that make it a pleasure to explore.
The Grotto is, without a doubt, the most famous Bruce Peninsula cave. This jaw-dropping sea cave in Bruce Peninsula National Park is so popular that for much of the year there is a reservation system in place for those who want to visit. The Grotto is accessed via a short hike from the Cyprus Lake Visitors Centre or via a much-longer hike by way of the Halfway Log Dump hiking trail.
Burce’s Cave is a shallow cave system with mammoth mouths located near the base of the Bruce Peninsula. The system is located in Bruce’s Caves Conservation Area just a short drive northeast of Wiarton.
The Bruce Caves Conservation Area consists of seven hectares along the Niagara Escarpment. Within the park visitors will find caves and wooded wetlands, and beautiful views.
Greig’s Caves is a cave system located near the base of the Bruce Peninsula near the town of Hopeness. This private cave system is open seasonally from May till Thanksgiving Weekend.
All visitors must pay an entry fee and sign a waiver before entering the property. And once you’re there you can enjoy a self-guided tour throughout the 10 limestone caves located along a rugged trail. The property has long been a popular attraction in Bruce Peninsula and has even been a filming location for Quest for Fire and Against the Wild.
Bruce Peninsula Waterfalls
Some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Ontario are located at the base of the Bruce Peninsula. While these disappear as you head north, these Bruce Peninsula waterfalls make for some spectacular stops on your road trip itinerary.
Indian Falls is a 15-metre tall waterfall located in Indian Falls Conservation Area just 10-minutes north of Owen Sound. The beautiful horseshoe shape of this bridal veil-style beauty attracts visitors from across Ontario. There are hikes throughout the Conservation area to enjoy the scenic woodlands as well.
Situated just a short drive north of the town of Sauble Beach is beautiful Sauble Falls Provincial Park. This historic step cascading waterfall was the former home of a timber mill and generating station. But these days it has been transformed into one of the most popular provincial parks on the Bruce Peninsula.
Located just a few minutes west of Owen Sound at the base of the Bruce Peninsula, Jones Falls is a 12-metre tall Bruce Peninsula waterfall that cascades over the Niagara Escarpment. The waterfall is located in Pottawatomi Conservation Area and the falls are fed by the Pottawatomi River.
This waterfall is at its most powerful from early spring through to the end of July. There are over 116 hectares of park to explore. And it’s a particularly beautiful spot during the fall months when the fall colours of Ontario are in bloom.
Bruce Peninsula Lighthouses
There are 15 Bruce Peninsula Lighthouses to visit and photograph during your time in the region. They dot the shores and islands on both sides of the peninsula.
Big Tub Lighthouse
Big Tub Lighthouse is a gorgeous red and white lighthouse located right in the town of Tobermory overlooking the mouth of Big Tub Harbour. The 14-metre tall wooden lighthouse was built in 1885 and is still used to this day.
Lion’s Head Lighthouse
Originally built in 1903, the Lion’s Head Lighthouse has been rebuilt several times over the past century due to the extreme weather that the cove experiences. The most recent destruction occurred in 2019 when it was brought down by high waves. The popular attraction was quickly rebuilt and can again be visited by lighthouse lovers.
Cove Head Lighthouse
Built out of stone in 1855 and originally fuelled by Sperm Whale oil, the Cove Head Lighthouse is one of the most scenic and historic lighthouses of the Bruce Peninsula. In 1971 an underwater cable was run to the island allowing the light to function on electricity rather than by burning fuel.
Which Of These Incredible Things To Do On The Bruce Peninsula Will You Experience Next
The Bruce Peninsula is one of the most popular places to visit in Ontario. During the summer months it can be absolutely jammed with visitors, especially on long weekends.
Kevin Wagar is a founder and editor of Ultimate Ontario. He has been working in the travel media industry since 2015 when he founded his family travel website Wandering Wagars – Adventure Family Travel.
Over the years Kevin has developed a deep love for his home province of Ontario and aims to showcase the incredible experiences and amazing small businesses found within it.