Southampton, Ontario is a small town on the shores of Lake Huron, in the lovely County of Bruce. It’s one of those charming, picturesque towns that is worthy of a post card, and tourists dream about all winter long.
It’s pretty awesome for those of us that live here, too 😉
This town is a beautiful place in every season, from beach life in the summer, to snow sports in the winter. There is no end of things to do, but we wanted to share a few of our favourites with you…
Here is our list of 30 things to do in Southampton:
1. Watch the Sunset
Southampton is home to one of the best sunset views in all of Canada.
Every evening the skies put on a fiery show, and each night is better than the last.
2. Take a Chantry Island Boat Tour
Chantry Island is Southampton’s most famous view, as it can be seen all along the waterfront, and sits in front of those amazing sunsets that you’ve heard so much about. Of course it’s beautiful to look at from the shore, but why not get up close and personal?
Head down to the harbour, and hop aboard the Chantry Island Tour boat. After a 15 minute boat ride from the harbour, you will spend two hours in the island (home to a migratory bird sanctuary), with the opportunity to climb to the top of the Imperial lighthouse (one of the oldest lighthouses on Lake Huron).
3. Walk Down the Pier
The Lighthouse at the end of the Range Pier is another of Southampton’s most iconic sites, and it’s easy to tell why as soon as you arrive.
Not only is the view spectacular, but it’s rather calming to walk out and hear nothing but the sound of wind and waves crashing around you. Even when the water is calm, it feels like the Lake itself swallows up the sounds of the busting town behind.
Stand at the base of the pier for the famous Lighthouse shot, or walk down to the very end to capture another version of those captivating Southampton sunsets.
4. Explore the Sand Dunes
Most people head directly to the main Southampton Beach, from the end of High Street. However, an arguably better beach is located on the South side of Gerry’s Fries, backed by tall sandy hills. A series of narrow paths between beach grass lead all through the hills, and eventually lead to the beach itself.
The view of Chantry Island is even better from here than the main beach. There is a large board by the entrance to give you some more information about how the dunes got there, and how they’re being maintained.
5. Get a Southampton Sweatshirt
Locals and tourists alike love the infamous Southampton Sweatshirts and T-Shirts from Logan’s on High Street. Choose from many different colours, patterns, and even designs like tie-dye.
The clothing is super affordable, and make either a great souvenir, or perfect wardrobe regular. There are also bags, flags, teddy bears, onesies, and more.
Wear your new gear on over to Port, and show wear your loyalties lie 😉
6. Walk All the Way Around Fairy Lake
Fairy Lake is beautiful from any angle, but why not view it from every side. You can park on the street or the park behind, get out, and walk the entire circumference of the Lake. The trail takes you along High Street, behind the hospital, into a lush forested area with small wooden bridges, past a picturesque park, behind the school, and back to a little rest area where you can feed the ducks, geese & swans. Turtles, carp and other fish can also be spotted in the Lake.
You could also check out a concert at the Fairy Lake Bandshell on Sunday evenings.
This is another great location for a calm water sunset view.
7. Visit all 3 Lighthouses
The Imperial Lighthouse on Chantry Island is not the only lighthouse in Southampton–in fact there are two more.
The Range Lighthouse sits at the end of the pier, near the small harbour area, at the mouth of the Saugeen River. It is accessible from a small parking area, or wooden staircase from the road above. It makes one of the best subjects for Southampton’s infamous sunset views, in a photo.
The last lighthouse is a bit harder to find, but if you head east on the first street on the north side of the bridge, the Saugeen River Lighthouse will be right in front of you.
However–as we say “lighthouse”, there is only one true light house. While they look similar, the other two are actually range lights and don’t function quite the same. They are used to guide vessels into the harbour, whereas a lighthouse warns of dangerous shoals, obstructions, sand bars, etc..
8. Get some Gerry’s Fries
Order large fries at Gerry’s Fast Food, and bring a blanket to each on the beach (or just sit in your car). The fries are mini bites of greasy gloriousness.
Of course, everything else is delicious, too. Plan for a big lunch.
9. Hike the Woodland Trail
The Miramichi Bay Woodland Trail is easily one of the best in the Southampton area, is accessible from several points, and open to the public. It can take up to an hour to hike it, giving yourself some time to stop and check out the surroundings, and enjoy the nature.
While most of the trail is relatively level, there are a few small hills near the South Street entrance, giving way to beautiful winding “hall ways” of trees as you make your way deeper into the forest.
Don’t forget to stop at Ghost Ridge, a completely random local curation of Halloween decorations and other creepy items set up in the middle of the woods.
Even better, bring a set of cross country skis or pair of snowshoes and experience the trails in a winter wonderland. The forest is well sheltered, so winds won’t chill you, and you can finish the trail before getting cold.
10. Stroll Along the Boardwalk
Start at the end of High Street, and walk all the way along the beach until you get to Gerry’s Fries.
Return, rinse, repeat.
11. Go for Breakfast at the Lighthouse Restaurant
This is a staple for anyone that has spent some time in Southampton. Go now, and enjoy a big greasy delicious mouthwatering breakfast of eggs, home fries, sausage, toast, or a Macedonian omelette.
It’s cheap, tasty, and the best way to cure a hangover.
12. Eat lunch on the Walker House Patio
The Walker House is always a favourite spot among locals at any time of year, but there’s nothing like a quick bite and a few drinks on the Walker House patio on a warm summer evening.
The regular menu alone is great, but their specials are always made to impress.
13. Visit the Saugeen First Nation Amphitheatre
The Saugeen First Nation is a quick drive across the Bridge, and is home to one of the Southampton areas most beautiful outdoor areas; the historic amphitheatre. Here, you can take in native story telling, traditional native feasts, native craft workshops and so much more.
The Amphitheatre features sensational gardens, dazzling terraces, picnic areas, oversized stonework and numerous workshops offered by the local Ojibway inhabitants.
14. Spend a Day the Beach
Probably an obvious one, right?
15. Shop on High Street
There are plenty of options for shopping in Southampton, and most of the shops can be found right along bustling High Street. Take a stroll down both sides of the street, and maybe even grab an ice cream at Lucky Convenience.
16. Go Fishing at Denny’s Dam
This seems to be one of the most popular spots for fishing in town, so it must be a good one. Locals and tourists alike flock here for a healthy fish population, and low, easily navigable waters.
17. Go Vegan at Pea Pod
The Pea Pod is a brand new vegetarian/vegan restaurant in downtown Southampton, just steps from the beach. From fresh fruit juices and smoothies to nachos and quesadillas, or spring rolls, sandwiches and soups, there is something delicious on the menu for everyone.
Plus, the place smells like heaven.
18.Indulge at the Offshore Bakery
Delicious sugary fluffy treats of goodness. Need we say more?
19. Rent a Canoe and Go Down the River
Rent your own canoe at Thorncrest Outfitters, and paddle down the Saugeen River for a few hours or a full day. Bring snacks, swimwear, and sunscreen for a day on the Saugeen.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, start farther up the river and make it a multi-day trip, finishing in Southampton.
Or, if you rent a kayak and launch from a spot below Denny’s Dam, you can pretty much lean back and let the river do the work for you, and glide on out to the Lake.
20. Go Golfing
If golfing’s your thing, you’re in luck in Southampton. With three courses to choose from, within such a short range of each other, you could choose your favourite, or cycle through until you’re all golfed out.
21. Find Art in the Alleys
Start at Southampton Art School & Gallery, where art classes are available for both kids & adults, and art pieces are on display outside in the “Gateway to the Arts”. They also host an “Up Your Alley” fine art and craft sale each summer, which is a fun event that attracts artists from around the area to show their work under the Gateway. It’s a day of art with many different vendors, including photography, painting, knitting, pottery, jewelry and much more.
Another great place for art and other interesting finds is the Pop Up Alley on High Street, between Hill’s Insurance and the Southampton Olive Oil Company.
You could also pop into nearby Light House Photo Gallery to check out some cool photos from the area.
22. Visit the Bruce County Museum
If you’re looking for a little local history and culture, walk on over to the Bruce County Museum. The property hosts several events per week, and regular state of the art interactive exhibits and collections.
Did you know that Southampton is the oldest port on the Bruce coast?
The Centre offers an unforgettable experience in a journey through thousands of years of natural and human history, Bruce County artifacts, an Archives & Research Room, a Bruce County film and a cute little gift shop.
23. Walk the Rail Trail
We’re certainly not suggested first-timers walk between Southampton and Port Elgin, but most portions of the Saugeen Rail Trail within Southampton are a beautiful little hike, with plenty of scenic views. The trail is level, well maintained, and quite popular among locals.
The trail isn’t only accessible in the summer, but makes a beautiful Fall hike, and incredible cross country ski or snowshoeing trail in the winter.
24. Go SUPing in the Bay
Whether you have your own, or rent one from nearby SUP Port Elgin or Sauble Beach, Miramichi Bay and Horseshoe Bay have to be some of the best SUPing spots in all of Ontario. The waters are generally calm, even when the rest of the Lake is choppy, and the water glistens a beautiful turquoise over the shallow sandy floor.
If you’re up for the challenge, you could even try to head back to Port Elgin on your board, along the Shore Road route.
25. Hang out in a Hammock
Southampton is the ultimate hammocking destination, with countless spots to pick along the beach, river, or just about anywhere in town.
One of the best spots has to be over at the Southampton dunes, where several small trees speckle the tops of the sandy dunes, perfect for strapping up a hammock and watching the sunset.
Any of the trees along the Lake make a good spot, as well as the forest beside Fairy Lake, and the tree at Gerry’s.
26. Shop at the Southampton Market
The Southampton Market is quite unlike the other stores that you’ll find in Southampton–and that’s half the charm. You could go in for a blanket, and come out with a new hand crafted table. Or plan to grab a coat, and end up with a pair of oven mitts.
It’s also a good spot to browse if you’re trying to find a gift for friends or family, and with two acres of unique products, it’s easy to get lost inside for hours.
27. Grab a Slice
Craving some yummy carbs? Pop into Roberto’s Pizzaria for a hot slice of pizza and enjoy on the patio, or order out and eat at home.
Two words: Taco. Pizza.
28. Go Olive Oil Tasting
This one might sound a bit strange if you’ve never tried it, but Southampton Olive Oil Company invites you to try all of their delicious oils in the shop. by pouring a little in a cup, and drinking it straight. It’s actually quite good.
You won’t be able to leave without wanting a bottle of your own.
We recommend the garlic olive oil!
29. Try the Beer at the Outlaw
The Outlaw Brew Co. brews their own uniquely crafted beers, from a hoppy lagered ale to Bronco IPA, and chocolaty dark ale to smooth wheat beer.
Drink on tap at the bar itself, or visit the shop up front to take home some cans, or a growler, or two.
30. Cruiser Nights for Car Enthusiasts
Every Thursday night from June 2 to August 25 at 6:30-9:00 pm, Southampton Cruisers Cruise Nites are held at the end of High Street, behind the big flag pole. It’s a small weekly antique car show, along with music and a 50/50 draw. It’s fun for everyone from big time car enthusiasts, to families and groups of friends alike.
There are certainly many more things to do in Southampton that we didn’t include on this list, but you try rounding it up to only 30!
We’d also recommend:
Grab a coffee at South Stables Coffee House
Have lunch at Armen’s
Walk across the old bridge at Saugeen River access #14
Bike the lakeshore trail
Check out the new playground at Rotary Accessibility Park
Run in the soccer fields
Walk the trails around Denny’s Dam
View the River from above on the cliffs across from the Southampton graveyard
Watch sunrise over the River
Go for dinner at the Elk & Finch or Forge & Thistle
Swing on the swing set at South Street Beach
Swim in the Lake
Visit Holiday Park and jump on the giant 36′ x 63′ bounce pillow
Watch a game at the Southampton Coliseum
Stay at one of the many charming bed & breakfasts or inns
Hang out in Pioneer Park
Have a BBQ with some tasty Bruce County Beef from Southampton Meat Market
Indulge at Duffy’s Fish & Chips
Find the Sunset Piper by the big flag on Friday nights in the summer
Take your dog to the dog beach
Join the Tennis Club and play as often as you like
Watch the Canada Day fireworks
Weeknight Ghost Walks with tales of Southampton’s unique history
Play beach volleyball at the Island street beach
Attend one of the many free events at the Southampton Library
What are Your Favourite Things to do in Southampton?
While we wanted to come up with a list of our favourite things, our main objective is to provide a thourough list of everything to do in Southampton, for locals and tourists alike–creating a collective list for everyone to read when looking for something to do in town.
We are taking everyone’s thoughts and suggestions into consideration, and will continue to update the list above, from your blog comments and Facebook suggestions (by the way, we’d love if you followed us on Facebook, our page is brand new).
Thanks for all of your help!