Beaches and Local Attractions
In addition to providing a number of excellent choices for lodgings, shopping or eating , Port Stanley also offers terrific beaches and a variety of year ’round attractions, including many outdoor activities and events that will make your visit to ‘Port’ memorable (click here for a listing of all merchants, facilities and services).
Port Stanley offers one of the most outstanding beaches in Canada. ‘Main Beach‘ has again been awarded the prestigious ‘Blue Beach’ award for 2011 and rightfully attracts tens of thousands of sun-seekers and beach-goers every summer and throughout the year. Click HERE to view the Blue Flag profile of Port Stanley’s Main Beach in Central Elgin. It has a deep sandy beach leading out to warm waters and a sandy bottom that drops off gradually to deeper waters in the first hundred meters. The main beach is patrolled by Life Guards during the summer months and has a pavillion with 7 picnic tables and BBQs, public change facilities and ample parking to accommodate thousands of daily visitors. Windsurfers and windsailors are often seen ‘doing their thing’ most seasons because of frequent, good on-shore winds.
Our ‘Little Beach‘ is best suited for families with small children. It sits on the east side of town, has shallow water and is well-protected by the east berm. It too has ample parking, public toilets and will easily accommodate a few hundred people for a day of fun, sun and picnics at the beach with the family.
‘Erie Rest Beach‘ is several hundred meters west of Main Beach and has parking for about 20 vehicles – plan to arrive before 11:00 AM if you hope to find a spot. ‘Erie Rest’ is about 250 meters wide and has a beautiful sand beach with waters dropping off gradually in the first 100 meters. This beach has no lifeguards and facilities are limited to a portable washroom. It’s best suited for those hoping to find a beach that’s less busy than Main Beach on a hot sunny day.
There is a relatively secluded beach about 350 meters west of Erie Rest Beach. This beach has no facilities or supervision. Access is limited to walking west along the shoreline past all private dwellings on the beach and cliff.
The beaches immediately to the west of both the Main and Erie Rest Beaches (and between the Main and Erie Rest beaches) are privately owned down to the water’s edge; however, thousands of people walk the entire beach shoreline to soak in the beauty of the area. It’s about a two kilometer walk from the east end of Main Beach to the cliffs at the end of the secluded sandy beach west of the Erie Rest Beach.
On any given day throughout the year, local residents and visitors alike can be seen casually strolling along the beach to catch a magnificent sunrise or sunset or just get some fresh air and take in the sounds and sights of one of the great lakes of the world.
OUR SCENERY & VIEWS
On arriving in ‘downtown’ Port Stanley, there’s no mistaking our fishing and maritime heritage. Marinas and commercial fishing boats line picturesque Kettle Creek and the harbour. The lighthouse stands at the end of the west pier, jutting out into Lake Erie, guarding the entrance, guiding the fishing fleet and thousands of boaters and sailors to the safety of the harbour. The maritime character of many buildings in Port Stanley’s core business district speaks to our past and current history as the largest commercial fishing hub on the north shore of Lake Erie and one deserving of consideration as a Heritage Conservation District.
Converging breakwaters protect parallel piers leading into Kettle Creek. Important clearance limitations include the historical King George VI bascule highway or ‘lift’ bridge with 13 feet when closed and a fixed railroad bridge upstream with 15 feet. The bascule bridge, which is the oldest in Ontario, opens on the hour and half-hour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the boating season and monitors VHF channel 6. All of the marina facilities are located above the lift bridge. The lift bridge is so delicately balanced that in the event of a mechanical or electrical breakdown, it can be raised or lowered by hand.
OUR ANNUAL & SEASONAL EVENTS
Port Stanley and various community organizations host a number of seasonal and annual events, including:
Dickens Days Parade – an annual parade prior to Christmas featuring floats, carriage rides and hot beverages hosted by the Lioness Club of Port Stanley
Community-wide, Spring and Fall Yard and Sidewalk Sale – every spring and fall, Port’s residents and businesses put on a community-wide yard and sidewalk sale
Fish Fry and Dance – every May, the Lions Club of Port Stanley host a large fish fry and dance at the Port Stanley Arena & Community Centre
Craft and Bake Sale – every spring, Branch 410 (the Last Post Branch) of the Royal Canadian Legion hosts an annual craft and bake sale
Please visit our ‘Events Calendar‘ for a complete listing of upcoming events in Port Stanley
OUR GOLF COURSES
Port Stanley offers four golf courses within 15 minutes of Port Stanley. The Kettle Creek Golf & Country Club is open to the public and within walking distance of downtown Port Stanley. It boasts a scenic 18 hole golf course and handsome, full service club house, restaurant and banquet facility. Reservations are recommended.
The Bluffs Golf Club, about a 5 minute drive from Port Stanley, is a challenging and picturesque 9 hole public course with driving range located on the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie. Its combination of rolling terrain, deep ravines and breathtaking views make it an enjoyable experience for all levels of golfer.
The St. Thomas Golf & Country Club is a member-only, private 18 hole championship golf course that was established in 1899 and is repeatedly ranked in the top 100 golf courses in Canada.
Redtail Golf Course is an ‘uber-exclusive’ private golf course with restricted membership and access. It was designed by Donald Steele and is about a ten minute drive from Port Stanley . Throughout the golfing season, private helicopters are often seen ferrying the ‘rich and famous’ to and from this beautiful and demanding links-style course.
OUR OTHER ATTRACTIONS
There are a host of other attractions and sites to see while visiting Port Stanley such as:
Elgin Hiking Trail – If you’re much more adventurous and hiking is your ‘thing’ then the Elgin Hiking Trail will not disappoint you. It’s South Western Ontario’s 41 km long ‘jewel of trails’ and weaves through the magnificent Carolinian Forests between Port Stanley and Payne’s Mills. It has trail elevations of approximately 50 meters and runs through valleys, ravines and along wooded hillsides adjacent to Dodd’s Creek and Kettle Creek. It also links to the Legacy Trails of Ontario. Visit http://www.canadatrails.ca/hiking/on/elgin.html for more information.
Fisherman’s Museum – right by the bridge at Glover Park, Port Stanley hosts a small museum and memorial to the lives and times of Port Stanley fishermen.
Glover Park – a recently renovated mini-park with benches and picnic tables right beside the King George VI lift bridge and Kettle Creek. It’s a wonderful spot to sit, relax and watch the ebb and flow of maritime traffic slip by. It’s also occasionally used to provide a venue for small bands and entertainers.
Historical Walking Tour of Port Stanley – If going for a casual stroll is more to your liking, consider spending an hour or so taking a walking tour that brings to life some of the fascinating history and heritage of our beautiful village.
King George VI Bascule Bridge – Port Stanley’s trademark bridge is entertaining in its own right. Watch as it majestically opens and closes to allow boaters and fishing vessels safe passage to and from the harbour.
Lake Erie Salmon & Trout Club – maintains a beautiful acreage located just outside of Port Stanley at 4255 Thomas Road. The club features fish hatcheries, ponds, a natural creek and woodland. The public is always welcome. Inquiries – contact Kit Brown at 519 633-2979 or by Email
Lions Landing Marina Park – is a public, grass-covered park with picnic tables, BBQ pits and a covered seating area. It also rents boat slips on a seasonal basis. It’s situated on the west side of Kettle Creek just north of the lift bridge.
Moore Water Gardens – for over 75 years, Moore Water Gardens has specialized in the growing of water lilies and aquatic plants for wholesale and retail sales. They have more than an acre of outdoor ponds devoted to hardy lilies and greenhouse facilities for the propagation of tropicals. Moore Water Gardens offers special events, tours and speakers over the summer months. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.moorewatergardens.com/
Port Stanley Jail – imagine, then see what a period jail cell looked like in Port Stanley in the 1870’s. It’s located across from the Legion just over the King George VI bridge.
Port Stanley Festival Theatre (PSFT) – a 150 seat theatre located in the former Town Hall building. The PSFT produces appealing, summer theatre that highlights Canadian works in drama, comedy and musical-comedy, along with other celebrated works. You can view their summer schedule and purchase tickets at: http://www.portstanleytheatre.ca/
Port Stanley Terminal Rail – an operating tourist railway running between Port Stanley and St. Thomas. It’s been in operation for 25 years and is Elgin County’s longest running tourist attraction. Visit http://www.pstr.on.ca/ for train schedules, fares and special events.
The Cork Kiln – located near the south end of Main Street was built around 1915 during the boom of the fishing industry and was instrumental in drying the cork floats used for the fishermen’s nets. The kiln was built into the side of the hill as a natural means of maintaining a dry heat. Its preservation makes a unique architectural contribution to the streetscape.
The Stork Club Big Band Museum & Hall of Fame – was set up to create a museum, exhibition and hall of fame dedicated to the history of the Stork Club, the display of Big Band memorabilia, and the revival and enjoyment of Swing Era music through on-going events such as dances, concerts and festivals. It’s located in the heart of Port Stanley beside the theatre and library. Find out more at: http://www.musicmemories.ca
Port Stanley also has other recreational amenities provided and maintained by the Municipality of Central Elgin including a Skateboard Pad, Baseball Diamond and a recently renovated Arena & Community Centre.
For regional attractions within easy driving distance of Port Stanley, please visit our Regional Attractions page.