Beachy Keen – Best bets for sun, surf and sand.

“Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.” – Michelle Held

A beach vacation is a must for any summer getaway, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll only get the ideal beach experience if you pay for a plane ticket. There are many fabulous destinations where you can sink your toes into the sand within a three-hour drive of here. Map out these ten destinations and plan out your summer beach trip.

Sandbanks Beach, Lake Ontario
Distance: 277kms
A trinity of golden sand in Prince Edward County awaits here: Outlet Beach, Sandbanks Beach and Dunes Beach. Said to be some of the most beautiful in Ontario, complete with huge sand dunes and shallow water perfect for kids.

Sauble Beach, Lake Huron
Distance: 234kms
Sauble Beach is the second longest fresh water beach in the world. It’s a resort community where you’ll find 11 km of golden sand, stunning sunsets, a playground and amusement park for kids, go-karts for bigger kids, restaurants and fry huts and bars.

Grand Bend, Lake Huron
Distance: 199kms
Luxuriate on this 30 km stretch of sand – plenty of room for soaking up the sun. This is a popular spot, though North Beach tends to be quieter if you’re looking for something more tranquil for the family. There are lots of bars and restaurants, hotels, motels and inns and the water is warm. A beautiful sunset signals the end of the day.

Pinery Provincial Park, Lake Huron
Distance: 223kms
Just south of Grand Bend, Pinery Provincial Park is home to the world’s third largest active sand dune ecosystem. Campers make the most of this spot, which offers nearly five miles of blissful beach and lovely sunsets.

Port Stanley Beach, Lake Erie
Distance: 170kms
A short drive to Lake Erie’s north shore and you will find an urban sand beach with beach volleyball, a boardwalk and supplied BBQs at Pavilion (near the beach washrooms). This beach is staffed with lifeguards from late June to early September. Stay at a nearby historic B&B, harbourside inn or cottage for a long weekend.

Cobourg Beach, Lake Ontario
Distance: 154kms
Pull up a beach chair on the white sand; enjoy a snack from the beach canteen and nearby Victoria Park has a place to play, shady trees and picnic shelter. Just a few steps away, the historic downtown offers lots of shops and restaurants. Coburg is often described as one of the prettiest towns in Ontario.

Long Point Beach, Lake Erie
Distance: 120kms
Accessed through Long Point Provincial Park, this southern beach offers warm water and lots of sand: 2 km of pretty dunes and shallow water.

Wasaga Beach, Georgian Bay
Distance: 177kms
Relax, recline, read and play on 14 km of soft, white sand. If you don’t mind more crowded congregations, Beaches 1 & 2 are busier. A more tranquil option lies east and west of these two areas. There are lots of restaurants, diners and bars where you can fuel up at midday or before heading home.

Fifty Point Beach, Hamilton
Distance: 23.7kms
A short drive past Hamilton, this protected beach offers a spectacular view of Toronto and does not get very busy. Water temperatures are perfect for more than just the tips of your toes – said to be some of the warmest water in Lake Ontario.

Burlington Beach
Distance: minutes away!
This list wouldn’t be complete without Burlington’s own sandbanked beauty. Burlington Beach has everything you need for a whole day, a few hours, or a respite on your lunch break. Burlington Beach Rentals offers standup paddle boards, paddle boats, chair and sun shelter rentals and beach related items for purchase. The canteen sells all the tasty summer staples: hamburgers, hotdogs and ice cream.

by Becky Dumais

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