10+ Things to do in Port Stanley, Ontario: A Gem on Lake Erie

Port Stanley, Ontario is a quaint village located on the shores of Lake Erie in Elgin County.  This lovely little village is known for its world class beaches that wash up along Lake Erie’s northern shores.  During the summer months, Port Stanley becomes a hotspot amongst boaters and beachgoers.  While situated on Lake Erie, Port Stanley is also home to Kettle Creek.  Port Stanley offers a number of unique attractions and a well established downtown.  This little village is very picturesque and offers visitors a number of things to do.   

Hit the Beach

Port Stanley Beach

Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie, Port Stanley is home to two beautiful, sandy beaches, Main Beach and Little Beach.  As the name states, Main Beach is the main beach in town and is very popular amongst visitors.  Main Beach holds Blue Flag status based on its water quality and commitment to safety. 

Both beaches are great for swimming with warm waters and sandy bottoms that drop off gradually.  During the summer months, Main Beach is equipped with lifeguards.  Main Beach is definitely a busy place and is where all the action happens.  You’ll find restaurants on the beach here, as well as, a playground and bathroom facilities.  If you’re looking for a quieter beach, Little Beach is the place for you.

Ride the Terminal Rail

Train Terminal, Port Stanley

The Port Stanley Terminal Rail is a tourist train that transports passengers along the historic rails of Elgin County. The Terminal Rail follows a scenic route for 6.8km to Whytes Park where the train stops to allow passengers to disembark. The train then returns to Port Stanley making the journey a total of one hour.  On Saturdays in the summer months, passengers have the option of taking an extended trip to Parkside just outside of St. Thomas.

Visit a Marina

Marina in Port Stanley

Port Stanley is home to Kettle Creek and also sits on the shores of Lake Erie, making it a popular boating destination.  With an abundance of waterways, boats can been seen coming and going all day.  With so much action on the water, Port Stanley has three actively used marinas.  In town, you will find Stan’s Marina, Bridgeview Marina and Kettle Creek Marina.

Watch the Lift Bridge Open

Lift Bride in Port Stanley

In the centre of Port Stanley, sits the King George VI Lift Bride.  This bridge is apart of Port Stanley’s history and is the oldest lift bridge in Ontario.  From May to October, the lift bridge opens every half hour to give boats access to Lake Erie and Kettle Creek.  The bridge is also equipped with pedestrian walkways and is a popular walking route when exploring downtown. 

Stroll the Pier

Pier in Port Stanley

The Port Stanley Pier is a great place to stroll and take in the views of Lake Erie.  The pier follows the curves of Lake Erie and takes you along a concrete path to the Port Stanley Lighthouse.  The Pier is freshly renovated and equipped with a number of benches to enjoy along the way.  The Pier is lovely at all hours of the day, but is especially beautiful at sunset.

GTs On The Beach

GTs On the Beach

Gt’s on the Beach is a restaurant and bar that boasts a large beachside patio.  GT’s serves a number of pub style options as well as fresh fish caught in Lake Erie.  With good food and great views, this beautiful beachside patio is always packed and a Good Time.

Indulge in Ice Cream

Milkshake at Licks

There is no shortage of great ice cream when it comes to Port Stanley.  This town maybe small, but it’s home to many great ice cream parlours.  The main three options for ice cream in Port Stanley include Licks, Shaw’s Dairy Bar and Brodrick’s Ice Cream Parlour.  Each offer a different experience and serve only the best.   

Experience Mackie’s

Lunch at Mackies

Mackie’s is a fast food restaurant located on the beach in Port Stanley.  Mackie’s serves a variety of fast food options and is known for its famous Orangeade drink.  It’s been said that the Orangeade is so great, it’s the “drink that made Port Stanley famous”.  Mackie’s is a complete experience offering indoor and outdoor seating options.  The restaurant is also home to a mini arcade and a few rides for smaller kids.  This iconic restaurant has been around since 1911 and a visit to Port Stanley isn’t complete without stopping here. 


Wildflowers Farm, Port Stanley

Agritourism (Agriculture Tourism) is on the rise in Elgin County and gives visitors a unique experience while visiting the area.  While being a bustling beach town, Port Stanley also sits in a rural landscapes.  With that being said, agritourism should be on your list of things to do while visiting Port Stanley.  

Agritourism may sound daunting to some, but there are a number of different options.  You could stop at a road-side stand for fresh produce or visit a local farm and pick your own.  Visit a local winery for a tour and tasting or stop by a flower farm to explore the gardens.  If you’re looking for a place to get started, I highly recommend visiting Wildflower Farms.

Wander Downtown

Downtown, Port Stanley

Downtown Port Stanley is dotted with a number of charming restaurants, cafes and boutique style shops.  Shopping and dinning aside, downtown is also home to the King George Lift Bridge, The Terminal Rail Station and a number of marinas.  Downtown is a great place to wander and enjoy the beautiful views of Kettle Creek and Lake Erie in the distance.

Day Trips from Port Stanley

Port Dover Beach

Port Dover

While Port Stanley is one of the best beach towns in Ontario, and you likely won’t want to leave.  There are plenty of fantastic places to explore in the area.  There are a number of other small beach towns or the larger cities of St. Thomas and London all within a reasonable driving distance.  Click the links below to learn about possible day trips from Port Stanley.

  • Sparta – 13 minute drive
  • St. Thomas – 17 minute drive
  • London –  40 minute drive
  • Port Rowan – 1 hour drive
  • Turkey Point – 1 hour 10 minute drive
  • Long Point Provincial Park – 1 hour 10 minute drive 
  • Port Dover – 1 hour 15 minute drive
  • Grand Bend – 1 hour 15 minute drive
  • Bayfield – 1 hour 35 minute drive

*All driving times are an approximation 

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