7 best local beaches in WR

As summer sets in and restrictions start to lift, it’s time for you to visit some of the best beaches within a less than a two-hour drive from downtown Kitchener. Whether you go for a swim on Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Conestogo Lake or the Grand River, we’ve got you covered.

  1. Conestogo Lake Conservation Area (44 min/54.5 km) 

Surrounded by Mennonite farms and managed by the Grand River Conservation Authority, this area is home to a huge concrete flood control dam. The park is used for many activities including camping, power boating, hunting, sailing, water skiing, canoeing and fishing. The beach area has a playground for the little ones and parking close to the beach.

  1. Valens Lake Conservation Area (32 min/37.2 km): 

This man-made reservoir, located in the northwestern corner of Hamilton, was created around 1970 to control flooding and is a bass sanctuary. It includes a natural sandy beach, 10 km of trails, a 300m wetland boardwalk and an observation tower.

  1. Shade’s Mills Conservation Area (26 min/25.9 km): 

Part of the Grand River Conservation Authority, Shade’s Mills has one of our favourite beaches! It is a little oasis in the middle of Cambridge, which makes it perfect if you need amenities close by. The sandy beach is surrounded by two kilometres of trails and a wide green space with picnic tables. It’s ready for your outdoor adventures like swimming, fishing, hiking and canoeing.

  1. Port Burwell Provincial Park (1 h 24 min/119 km): 

Port Burwell has one of the most beautiful beaches on the northern shore of Lake Erie.  It has a 2.5km stretch of sandy beach with an area designated for dogs, so if you have a fur baby, definitely check this one out! 

Guelph Lake (left) and Port Burwell Provincial Park (right). MARIANA BILBAO PHOTO
  1. Port Dover (1 h 17 min/95.3 km): 

Well known for its palm trees and sandy beach, Port Dover is located in Norfolk County and is also on the northern shore of Lake Erie. It doesn’t have resort-like feels and can get very crowded but it’s definitely worth a visit. There is a parking lot directly off the beach and a charming small community with boutiques, restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops.

  1. Grand Bend (1 h 29 min/121 km): 

Grand Bend is the ultimate beach destination in Ontario! It’s known for the little town on Lake Huron and the sandy beaches that allow you to relax during the day and party at night. Summer definitely looks different around here with the new restrictions in place, but it still gets quite crowded during the warmer months. 

  1. Guelph Lake Conservation Area (40 min/30.6 km): 

There are two beaches in Guelph Lake Conservation Area that you can enjoy— a paradise just a few kilometres away from Waterloo Region. I highly recommend driving or biking around because this park seems endless with 1600 acres around a reserve created with the Guelph dam in 1974. The park also has picnic areas and during the two days I spent there, I saw people riding bikes, going for hikes, walking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddling, sailing, windsurfing and much more!

  1. Bonus!—Kiwanis Park and Pool (provide location info): 

Kiwanis is a concrete beach—a lake-like pool located right in Kitchener and one of our favourite summer destinations. It reopened this year with limited capacity so you’ll need to purchase tickets online with three time slots available. That will definitely keep the park less busy. Dogs are welcome but not allowed in the water and there is an off-leash designated area close by. 

Summer goes by fast and this year we’ve been given the opportunity to explore our own backyard and the beautiful golden sanded fresh water beaches there are in and around KW. Make sure you visit the official websites before you go to check on restrictions, entry fees, capacity limits and tips to help keep nature clean and safe.

Remember that all Ontario Provincial Parks remain free for day use, from Monday to Thursday until September 2, 2021.

“If you are looking for more fun things to do in the region, make sure you check my instagram account where I share fun things to do daily @luso.canadiana.”