Pinery Provincial Park

Pinery Provincial Park is a must-see sunset location this summer

Pinery Provincial Park, located about three hours from Toronto, is the perfect distance for a road trip. In my opinion, a three-hour trip means adding stops to make the adventure more exciting. 

For years, I've been inspired by the views of Pinery's world-famous sunsets and beautiful dune paths. When looking at photos that friends and fellow Instagrammers had taken, I was worried I would be underwhelmed when I arrived.

I am happy to say the visit was better than I expected.

I would recommend adding St. Thomas’ Elevated Art Park to your drive. As someone that loves the High Line in New York City, this was a must-visit.

The bridge itself is a short walk, but if you have your bike with you, I recommend making the trail longer by creating a loop through the nearby trails.

Plus, it's a short detour en-route to Lake Huron and offers beautiful views and fun sculptures along the way.

St. Thomas Elevated Art Park

St. Thomas Elevated Art Park.

Consider heading to Berry Hill Market after. We loved the fresh veggies, fruit, and preserves that made camping more delicious. It's a short 10-minute drive away from the Art Park, and from there, it's another hour to Pinery.

We did the trip for 3 days and two nights, which is the minimum time I would visit for. Here are my recommended tips to make the most of a short getaway.

Must-do Pinery activities:

Obviously, you go to the Pinery for the beach and sunsets. The park has been voted as having one of the top sunsets in Canada several times and it does not disappoint.

Paddling Old Ausable Channel

Paddling Old Ausable Channel at Pinery.

My favourite part of the park was the boardwalk located along 10 km of beachfront. Walking along it among the dunes was gorgeous. I could have spent the whole trip just taking in the views.

As an avid paddler, I think adding the river into your adventure is well worth it. The park has a range of short hikes that overlook the river, but being on the river was even better.

Pack a lunch and enjoy the whole Old Ausable Channel — it's about a 14-km round trip (with one short portage) and ends at the park boundary. Plus, you can rent equipment if you don't own a canoe or board.

If you're in the mood for cycling instead, there's a beautiful 14-km trail that loops the park. Whether you rent or bring your own, a bike is the best way to get around here and is also useful for getting to the different sand dunes.

Where to stay: 

Although there's a range of hotels and motels in Grand Bend to consider, camping at Pinery is worth it. The sites are spacious and there are over 1000 to choose from. They do book fast, so make sure to plan ahead. Visit the Ontario Parks website to book.

Something to consider when choosing a site is how far you want to walk to the beach. Staying in the Dunes will give you a prime spot for evening sunsets and quick beach access.

Burley is similar and a bit quieter, as there will be no camper vans in this area. Often this area has more families, too.

We stayed at Riverside, and though it was beautiful, without a bike it would be a bit of a drive (or a long walk) to the beach. That said, you'll have easy access to the main amenities and the river. There are also roofed accommodations here which are perfect for winter adventures at the Pinery.

Pinery Views

Walking the dunes to the beach.

Where to visit nearby:

There are plenty of wineries and cideries near Grand Bend, including Dark Horse Estate Winery. Starting at $16, you can enjoy a flight of wine and learn about the winery.

Since I'm a big antiquer, I definitely recommend a stop at Dale's Antiques and Mennonite Furniture shop. The building is stuffed with great finds to admire (and take home). 

And no trip to Grand Bend is complete without ice cream. Grab a cone or snack at The Dairy Dip and Pizza Place and head down to Grand Bend’s beach, which is much livelier than Pinery but has an equally beautiful view of the lake.

For dine-in meals or a morning coffee, try the Cottage Cafe. This locally-owned and sourced cafe offers delicious baked goods, sandwiches, and patios. 

However you choose to celebrate summer, Pinery Provincial Park is a great summer getaway from the city.

Photos by

Ontario Hikes

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