The perfect weekend getaway.
Canada has absolutely no shortage of diverse, natural beauty, and it's safe to say most Canadians can agree.
Seriously — from the oceans that surround the land to the mountains that stretch above it, no matter what kind of nature lover you are, there's something that'll make you stand back and think, "this is amazing."
Luckier still are those Canadians who happen to know about Sault Ste. Marie.
The Soo, and its surrounding regions, is sort of like Ontario's best-kept secret. A perfect town for adventuring, this Northern Ontario burgh is home to things like (new) mountain bike trails, paddling docks and microbreweries. For seasoned outdoor explorers and those looking for a relaxing escape from the city, Sault Ste. Marie is the perfect base to come back to after a day of adventuring.
Close to some of the province's most stunning provincial parks, the region surrounding The Soo is also chock full of sandy beaches, kilometres of stunning coastline, hikes that lead to jaw-dropping lookouts and plenty of waterfalls.
These eight waterfalls, hikes and beaches might give you a clue as to the dreamy day trips that await north of the GTA.
Pancake Bay Beach
Why You Need To Go: If you're missing your tropical destinations, you'll be pleased to know you just have to make your way to The Soo.
With over three kilometres of beautiful sandy shoreline and blue water that's reminiscent of the Caribbean, Pancake Bay will satisfy any beach bum. Plus, there's nearby hiking, birding, and good spots to launch a canoe for a paddle on the calm waters.
Why You Need To Go: With scenery this gorgeous, it's no wonder The Soo has so many different spots to overlook the area's sprawling beauty.
This hike winds through a beautiful forest, dotted with waterfalls and clifftop lookouts along the way. While challenging, this climb delivers views that are something to behold.
This spot's just north of Sault Ste. Marie and makes a great day trip. Once you arrive at the Algoma Highlands Conservancy, find the marked trailhead for Ila's Loop to do the full five-kilometre trek. You can also scramble up directly to the cliffs if you're feeling it.
Pointe des Chênes
Only 20 minutes from downtown is the idyllic sandy beach of Pointe des Chênes. Located at the mouth of St Mary's River, it's a perfect spot to watch the ships as they make their way through the Great Lakes.
This long beach has plenty of space for everyone, and after a long day of building sandcastles, splashing in the water or basking in the sun you can be back in town within half an hour for a delicious meal at one of The Soo's excellent restaurants.
Why You Need To Go: Whether it's the rushing cascade of water, the refreshing vibes, or just simply the sheer awe of the structure - whatever it is that makes waterfalls so absolutely magical, Chippewa Falls has it all. At under three kilometres, this is an easy trek that brings you right up to some gorgeous falls.
The rushing waters can be seen from Highway 17, and there's a roadside park right next to them making this a perfect rest stop or picnic break. You can also walk the rocks surrounding the falls when the water's low, but do be careful.
Why You Need To Go: Another gem along the coast following Highway 17, Batchawana Bay has an excellent sand beach with warm water and excellent views of Lake Superior. Parking fees may apply at this idyllic stop. Don't forget to bring your camera and a picnic because sunsets are magical here.
With beautiful day-use sites nearby, you'll never want to leave. Plus, if you're up for a paddle, the bay's a great spot with easy access to launch a kayak or canoe.
The Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout
Why You Need To Go: The Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout - situated across Highway 17 - is not necessarily for the faint of heart, but it is for those who have adventure coursing through their veins.
This 14-kilometre trail will take you through some of the region's most spectacular flora and fauna - you can expect to see Sugar Maple trees and moose alike - before you reach the top, which boasts an unparalleled view of Pancake Bay Beach and an infamous portion of Lake Superior where, in the '70s, the Edmund Fitzgerald ship sank in a storm.
If the history and nature weren't enough to impress you, then the views of the Bay below surely will!
Why You Need To Go: A short relaxed hike (only two kilometres) takes you to another one of The Soo's majestic waterfalls - and, at a 15-minute drive from downtown, it's probably the perfect afternoon adventure. At 15 metres high, Crystal Falls can be found along a long boardwalk with several viewing platforms beside and above the falls.
As part of the Kinsmen Park, there are a few ways to get to the falls, so be sure to do your research and plan your trail in advance. Catch the cascading water amidst some classic Canadian scenery, and if you're feeling up for it, continue on to the Voyageur Trail.
Lake Superior Coast
Why You Need To Go: Whether you're looking for an easy-to-access beach or a remote adventure, the Lake Superior Coast doesn't disappoint. Surrounded by the Algoma Hills, waterfalls, beaches, cliffs and some truly spectacular views, this is a choice spot to take off your pack and enjoy the stunning beauty of this great lake.
As you travel along Highway 17, watch for signs for Lake Superior Provincial Park to make your way into a landscape you won't soon forget (parking fees may apply).
Hike Harmony Beach Lookout
Why You Need To Go: Hike parallel to one of the most picturesque parts of the Trans Canada Highway at the Harmony Beach Lookout. At just over eight kilometres long, this hike's a good way to spend an afternoon with stunning lookouts over a gorgeous public beach and Havilland Bay.
You can end your trail with a dip in the lake at Harmony Beach after crossing the highway.
There's natural beauty all around, and in Ontario's best-kept secret, it's all waiting to be discovered. From Caribbeanesque beaches to historical hikes and breathtaking waterfalls, there's something for everyone — and the best part is, it's right here in our own backyards.
So, leave your passport at home, hop in the car, and get ready for an adventure!
To discover more about Sault Ste. Marie tourism, visit their website or check them out on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.