Ontario's best urban beaches
Combine sun, sand and skyline views at these inviting, kid-friendly beaches located surprisingly close to the heart of the city.
Ontario's city beaches
Toronto’s The Beaches (that’s not a typo)
There are a number of great places in Toronto to dip your toes, including Cherry Beach and the Toronto Islands. The sand, Muskoka chairs and pink umbrellas of Sugar Beach offer relaxing views of Lake Ontario in a unique, urban beach park setting. And these are wonderful options.
However, there’s one Toronto neighbourhood truly dedicated to the ‘beaching’ experience. Splash in the surf, catch some rays, wander the boardwalk and check out the bustling shops and cafes of The Beaches.
What we love: Getting here from downtown is super convenient along the Queen Streetcar.
Where to stay: The Chelsea Hotel has made family fun a mission with the 39 metres (130 foot) corkscrew waterslide and family fun zone.
Eats and treats: The Beacher Café has become a neighbourhood landmark or head up to Pizzeria Libretto, a family favourite on The Danforth. Treat your sweet tooth to a maple bacon crunch at Ed’s Real Scoop on the strip.
Oshawa’s Lakeview Park Beach
Follow locals-in-the-know to Lakeview Park Beach for a day of swimming (supervised), picnicking, a stroll along the pier, beach volleyball and cycling.
What we love: Oshawa’s Waterfront Trail is part of The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, an amazing multi-activity trail that follows over 2,000 kilometres along Ontario’s great lake and river shores. Oshawa’s portion stretches 11 kilometres through parks and forests, by the harbour and to the beach – perfect for cycling, hiking or strolling before your dip.
Where to stay: Find the big three in terms of service; clean, comfortable and convenient; at the Best Western Plus Durham Hotel or the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Oshawa Downtown. With free breakfast and a swimming pool, you can add ‘kid-approved’.
Eats and treats: It’s worth the trip to Oshawa to experience the original Hollywood Cone, inventors of over-the-top, mutant milkshakes, cones and banana splits.
Ottawa’s Rideau and Ottawa River Beaches
There are four inviting, swim-able public beaches in the nation’s capital. Mooney’s Bay Beach is on the Rideau River, while Britannia, Westboro and Petrie Island Beaches are located on the Ottawa River.
What we love: the awesome view across the river from Petrie Island Beach and watching the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, June 23-26, 2022 at Mooney’s Bay.
Where to stay: Ottawa has a great selection of places to stay. The Metcalfe Hotel is centrally located with the bonus of a swimming pool. Just 20 a minute drive west from downtown, Brookstreet Hotel has amenities, activities and packages designed for ultimate kid fun.
Eats and treats: While in the nation’s capital, it’s practically your duty to dig into poutine and flapjacks. If you like your treats on the colder side, look out for the Merry Dairy ice cream truck (or hit up their Hintonburg parlour).
Sarnia’s Canatara Park Beach
The beach at Canatara Park proudly flies its Blue Flag status as eco-certified for its water quality and safety standards. Swim, sun, visit furry friends at the Children’s Animal Farm, tear up the BMX track or join in a beach volleyball match. The great news is that there’s a load of kid approved fun.
What we love: Lake Huron sunsets. Find out why communities along Lake Huron have been boasting about their spectacular sunsets for years. And the blue mobi-mats (pictured above) make wheelchair and stroller access to the beach easier.
Where to stay: The Harbourfront Inn & Suites is Sarnia’s only waterfront property overlooking the St. Clair River, and within walking distance of Canatara Park. Just an hour up the coast, Oakwood Resort treats beach-loving families to the sun and surf of Grand Bend.
Eats and treats: What says Day-At-The-Beach better than ice cream and fries? Albert’s Rolling Lunch chip wagon has been serving just that for over 50 years.
Sudbury’s Bell Park Beach
What we love: Bell Park offers an all-terrain, floating wheelchair service for visitors with disabilities to easily transition from land to water and enjoy a refreshing dip.
Where to stay: Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites offer spacious suites with kitchenettes, complimentary breakfast and a pool for little ones who didn’t get enough splashing in at the beach. Kids stay and eat for free at the Holiday Inn – you can’t find better value than that.
North Bay’s Lake Nipissing and Trout Lake Beaches
Did you know there are a total of 43 beaches in and around North Bay? You can see information on them (including the lifeguard schedule for those with lifeguards) on the North Bay website.
What we love: Fun Rentals at the Marina at Marathon Beach rents out canoes, kayaks and SUP boards as well as bikes.
Eats and treats: Get fresh and healthy Lebanese fare at The Cedar Tree. North Bays' Lakeside Landmark Restaurant and Bar, The Boat on Memorial Drive is right on the water and features a menu that caters to everyone in the family. Cool off with a specialty milkshake at Moose Crossing Ice Cream.
Life’s better at the beach, and there’s no shortage of sandy fun to be found all over Ontario.
Last updated: January 24, 2023