This is my second post in a series of Explore the Bruce Passport Hacks, showcasing the beautiful place I grew up, Bruce County. Check out the first post, plan a day trip (or weekend) and grab an “Explore the Bruce Adventure Passport” of your own!
Let me just say it. I LOVE the Bruce Peninsula. I truly believe you haven’t been to Bruce County until you’ve visited the beautiful Bruce Peninsula. This year’s passport includes 3 stops on the Peninsula and although you could get them in one day, I know you will wish you had longer, so plan a weekend. It’s simply amazing here.
If your route takes you up County Road 10 through Tara, stop and grab the passport stop. Just getting to the Bruce Peninsula is likely going to take the better part of an evening. Traffic can be heavy heading north, so plan your stops accordingly. Although you need an hour for the Hope Bay hike, all the passport stops can be done at any time. Plan the rest of your visit to avoid disappointment, then fit these in accordingly.
A Weekend in the Bruce Peninsula
Ideally, I would plan to spend two full days in and around Tobermory. There’s only one passport stop here but the area is simply too amazing to not see, so try to find accommodation close by.
If you’re a camper, then there is really no better spot than Cyprus Lake. It fills up early though, so you’ll need to plan ahead (think winter/spring) to get a site in summer. Even if you can’t get into the campground, you NEED to visit the Grotto! Plan to go here early (9 am) because the park definitely fills up in summer and then you won’t be able to get in.
When you’ve had enough of the grotto (or more likely the tourists) head back to Tobermory to explore the little town. If there’s time, you could do a Glass Bottom cruise over the shipwrecks and may be able to even squeeze in a visit to Flowerpot Island. Catch the 2 pm departure, and you will have almost 2 hours to explore the caves, flowerpots and brave a swim in the chilly water!
If this sounds like too much for one day, I recommend visiting Flowerpot Island and exploring Tobermory on your first day, and visiting the Grotto the second morning. Leave yourself time to grab the other 2 passport stops on your way home.
On Your Way Home
From Cyprus Lake, it’s about thirty minutes to Lions Head where you might want to grab lunch. I haven’t been here in a few years but we used to love Marydale’s Restaurant for breakfast when we stayed at a nearby friend’s cottage each summer.
This hike zig zags up the side of the escarpment over rocks and ferns and I couldn’t help but wonder why I don’t hike the Bruce Trail more often. The scenery never fails to amaze and if you only have time to do this little jaunt (in and out took us an hour), it will be worth it! Bring bug spray though!
Heading back to Highway 6 on Mar Sideroad, you’ll find the last passport stop (and the warmest water of the trip) at Berford Lake. Take a quick swim or indulge yourself on the swings before heading home.
If You Have Time
There really is never enough time to see the Bruce Peninsula. Here are a few more stops worth a visit if you have time.
Spirit Rock Conservation Area just north of Wiarton is a great place to stretch your legs and experience some of Bruce County’s maritime lore. The legend and nearby ruins are sad and hauntingly beautiful at the same time.
Snap a selfie with Wiarton Willie down by the bay and take home fresh Georgian Bay Whitefish, Lake Huron Trout and smoked salmon from Howell’s Fish in Wiarton. I baked the trout with this recipe from Canadian Living and my family loved it!
Earthbound Gardens at Red Bay is a gardeners
oasis, especially if you love lilies. They have over 60 varieties and have established beautiful gardens by building their soil (the land here is all sand) and focusing on growing native plants.
Disclaimer: We didn’t actually spend a whole weekend. We are splitting the stops up, so we went to Hope Bay and Berford Lake last weekend and will visit Tobermory another day. Because Tobermory is at least an hour from Owen Sound, if you’re planning to visit, I strongly recommend making a full weekend of it. We visit Tobermory annually on day trips, and I have camped at Cyprus Lake for a weekend and these recommendations are based on these experiences. 🙂