Along the stunning shores of Lake Huron, you’ll find the quaint town of Kincardine. Rich in heritage both on land and in the water, there is plenty for visitors to experience. Dig into Kincardine’s Scottish history, meader the trails and sink your teeth into some of the great eats and treats to be found. Make the most of the long summer days with a day or a weekend exploring the area with these amazing things to do in Kincardine!
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Best Things to Do in Kincardine
Whether you love to relax on the beach, explore local shops or enjoy some fantastic cultural experiences, there are plenty of things to do in Kincardine!
The only lighthouse built within the core of a town, the Kincardine Lighthouse was constructed in 1880 along the banks of the Penetangore River. The town was known for its busy fishing and salt shipping industry as well as its importance for lumber and furniture companies to help ship their goods. Sitting at 24 metres tall (74 feet), the lighthouse is on top of the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling which is now the Kincardine Marine Museum. Stop by for a visit and learn more about the marine history of the area as it’s open from July 1st until Labour Day!
Soak Up the Sun at Station Beach
Kick off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes at Station Beach. This is definitely one of the great things to do in Kincardine for families as the beach has a gradual slope that’s perfect for the little ones. Plus you can find a number of playgrounds close to the waterfront that they will adore!
Station Beach in downtown Kincardine has it all; boardwalks, playgrounds, waves, piers, and more. Amazing for the little ones, this sand beach has a nice gradual slope into Lake Huron that any age can enjoy. Tiny Tot Park just north of the pier is an amazing place for the kids to expend some energy and a boardwalk along the shoreline is a great place for a slow stroll or a jog. With co-ed beach volleyball every Friday night during the summer, Station Beach is always happening. And since it’s situated right downtown Kincardine, all the amenities of that great town are a short walk away.
Stroll Along the Kincardine Boardwalk
Even if the beach isn’t for you, plan to spend some time exploring the Kincardine boardwalk. Along it, you’ll find a number of interpretive signs talking about some of the more prominent events in the town’s history such as shipwrecks and the old railway line that ran right to the beach. The best part though is all of the beautiful flowers and art installations you’ll see! Enjoy your meander and if you need a rest, there are plenty of benches to sit down and enjoy the views.
Paddle the Waters of Lake Huron
If you’re looking for even more fun and adventure in Kincardine, get out for a paddle on Lake Huron! Launch your canoe, kayak or paddleboard from Station Beach for a great time on the water. You can also launch just upstream along the Penetangore River at Wildfang Park. You’ll get to see Kincardine from a new angle before you head out into the big water!
If you don’t have your own watercraft, you can rent stand-up paddleboards from Sursfup Eco Shop. You can reserve online if you’re looking to paddle the full day or if you want just a few hours, pop by their shop on Queen Street and they’ll get you outfitted with what you need!
Experience the Kincardine Scottish Festival
Did you know that Kincardine has declared itself one of Ontario’s top Scottish destinations? The town is rich in Scottish heritage as many of the settlers in the 1850s who established the town were of Scottish descent. The Kincardine Scottish Festival & Highland Games honours this history every July. Catch some amazing live music, see how far you can go with the hammer throw, learn about the cultural heritage of the Scottish clans, and more. If you can’t make it to the festival, plan to visit on a Saturday as Kincardine’s Pipe Band marches around town at 8:00 pm sharp!
Check Out the Shops in Kincardine
Supporting local is always a good idea and Kincardine has a number of adorable shops where you’ll find plenty of unique goodies! My personal favourite is Stilara Artisan Shop where you’ll find over 100 artisans from across Canada that craft handmade, sustainable products. A large selection of these artists are from Bruce, Grey, and Huron counties so if you’re looking for a unique gift or souvenir from your visit, this is the place to go! West Shore Clothing & Surf Shoppe is another beautiful store where you’ll find plenty of beachy gear bursting with surf style as well as lifestyle products.
Enjoy a Pint of Craft Beer
Say hello to Kincardine’s one and only brewery! Grey Matter Brewing Company is located right along Queen Street in the heart of town. They offer four standard brews that you can get all year round as well as a variety of seasonal beers from black IPAs to seltzers and sours. If you find yourself in town on a Thursday, you’ll want to pop by and check out their “brew lab” as they release a new beer each week using specialty ingredients. It’s always a very limited run so if you’re an avid craft beer fan, you’ll want to be there at 4:00 pm on the dot when they release it!
Get Creative at the Centre for the Arts
What was once the original town hall has been reborn as the Kincardine Centre for the Arts. Home to a number of artsy ventures, this is where you’ll find the Victoria Park Gallery, the Scougall Gallery, the Wood Turners Guild as well as the seasonal Bluewater Supper Playhouse and Kincardine Theatre Guild. Whether you’re a fan of the performing arts or more ‘static’ artistic practices, stop in to see where old meets new.
FUN FACT: This is also where you’ll find a number of stops on the self-guided art walks in Kincardine. You can find the routes online here!
Walk Along the Trails in Kincardine
The town of Kincardine is home to five colour-coded trails that will take you through various parts of town. The Red Trail is 6 kilometres long and follows the Penetangore River. It connects to the Green Trail of the same length which features three bridges and is popular in the winter for snowshoeing. The Blue Trail is the longest at 9 kilometres with a number of side trails where you’ll meander through parkland and tranquil scenery. It connects to the Pink Trail at its northern terminus. The Pink Trail is the shortest at 4 kilometres in length and follows the waterfront. Lastly, the Yellow Trail connects to the Green and Pink and you’ll find the best spot for birdwatching in between!
Enjoy the Gardens at Geddes Park
Located just down the road from the Centre for the Arts, Geddes Park is the perfect spot to pack a picnic and admire the beautifully maintained community gardens. This is also where you’ll find the Kincardine Labyrinth. This classical Labyrinth pattern is known as the ‘chalice’ design like the one found at the Chartres, France cathedral. Follow the pathway as you embark on this meditative walk to find peace within.
Restaurants in Kincardine to Eat At
All that exploring is bound to work up an appetite! Luckily Kincardine restaurants are nothing to scoff at and you’ll find some great eats in town.
The Bruce Kincardine
The Bruce has one of the nicest patios in Kincardine where you can catch a glimpse of Lake Huron as well as the Kincardine lighthouse. You’ll find a variety of items on the menu including shareable dishes like spinach dip and wanton nachos, lighter fare such as tacos and salads, and hearty eats like fish and blackened cajun salmon and steak. However, I highly recommend their burgers made with locally sourced beef. I’m not much of a burger person but I absolutely devoured their dill pickle burger.
Hawgs Breath Saloon & Deli
Supporting local is always a blast, even more so when it’s a woman-owned and operated business! Known as the “biggest little pub” in Kincardine, Hawgs Breath Saloon & Deli serves up delicious appetizers, soups and sandwiches that are perfect for a casual lunch date. These are easily some of the best sandwiches in Kincardine, so much so you’d think they were classically trained chefs in the kitchen. Nope, just your average gals who have eaten their fair share during their 25+ years in the industry!
The Daily Grind
If you’re looking for your caffeine fix, The Daily Grind is the place to go. They make fantastic lattes both coffee and tea-based that are perfect to enjoy while exploring Kincardine. If you’re feeling a little peckish, you’ll find a number of savoury pastries, meat pies and toasties that will certainly hit the spot. They also have fantastic treats like cake pops and cupcakes for when you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Step inside a piece of history for a meal at The Tusk. Dine in one of the earliest buildings erected in town as you enjoy globally-inspired eats from Chef Braden’s worldly travels. They use as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible including Kincardine’s Farro & Rye bakery, Springhills Fish in Hanover, and Ripley’s Farlot Farm. Their Sunday tapas menu is absolutely incredible as well as their lunch/brunch menu. Count me in for the brisket bacon and crispy onion eggs benedict!
Best Friends Bakery & Ice Cream
For eight years and counting, Best Friends Bakery & Ice Cream has been making Kincardine a little bit sweeter. You’ll have a tough time choosing between their freshly baked donuts, cookies, tarts and other treats. Don’t miss snagging a loaf of their sourdough bread as it’s made with their own natural starter!
Things to Do Near Kincardine
Once you’re done exploring Kincardine, it’s time to experience more of Bruce County! Pop in your car and hit the back roads as there’s more fun to be had.
Inverhuron Provincial Park
Established as a park in 1956, Inverhuron Provincial Park has a unique history. It was sold to Ontario Hydro 17 years later when Bruce Nuclear was constructed. Operating solely for day use, it wasn’t until Bruce Nuclear closed its heavy water plant that camping returned once again in 2005 and the park could operate at its full capacity for outdoor adventure.
A notable site for Indigenous history long before colonization, interpretive signage explains the significance of this area along a variety of trails. As European settlers gravitated to the area, the now ghost town of Inverhuron was established and you can still see remnants of it within the park. However if you’re going to try any trail in the park, make it the stunning River Trail and make sure you say hello to the Nokomis Giizhik aka Grandmother Cedar! This is definitely one of my favourite things to do around Kincardine.
Explore Port Elgin & Southampton
There are plenty of spots to explore along the Lake Huron coast! Since you’re already in the area, why not visit some other local gems?
Port Elgin is the closest and natural next stop. This quaint little town is well known for its expansive Main Beach and gorgeous sand dunes. You have so many great things to do in Port Elgin that are just a short walk from the shores of Lake Huron. Enjoy street art, craft beer, local shops, fantastic coffee and more.
As for things to do in Southampton, you’ll find a similar vibe to Port Elgin with a touch more historic charm. Head to the old town hall now turned art gallery, grab a cup of joe at one of the local coffee shops and keep an eye out for the plaques as Southampton is home to a number of heritage homes. You’ll certainly want to plan a meal here as there are so many incredible restaurants in the heart of town!
MacGregor Point Provincial Park
One of the younger provincial parks, MacGregor Point is located just southwest of Port Elgin off of Highway 21. It was established to protect one of the most ecologically diverse areas along Lake Huron. Within just 12 kilometres squared, visitors will see coastal wetlands, forests, sand dunes and seven kilometres of lakeshore. This also makes it a popular spot for migrating birds.
With four campgrounds and eight trails to experience as well as fantastic paddling and fishing, it’s a must visit when exploring the area. Kids will especially love it in the summer months as park interpreters offer guided walks and other programs to educate about the silver maple swamps, cattail marshes, ponds and their inhabitants within the park.
Things to Know When Visiting Kincardine
Ready to make your way to Kincardine for your own adventure? Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your visit to the shores of Lake Huron.
Is There Free Parking in Kincardine?
Yes, there is free parking in Kincardine! A number of city streets offer free parking for 3 hours or longer and there are municipal lots for a longer stay. The best spot for free parking is located behind the banks just off Princes Street here.
How Long Should I Plan to Visit Kincardine?
Kincardine is the perfect day trip destination along Lake Huron. However, you can easily spend a few days using Kincardine as a home base for exploring the area. This way you can enjoy as many activities as possible!
What Hotel Should I Stay At If I Plan a Longer Visit?
There are a number of great hotels in Kincardine as well as more options to be found in Port Elgin and Southampton. If you’re going to stay anywhere, the Inn at the Harbour is your top choice of Kincardine hotel. Each room is equipped with a wet bar, microwave, mini fridge and coffee maker as well as air conditioning. With brilliant balcony views and just steps from Lake Huron, you can’t go wrong.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know For Visiting Kincardine in 2023?
Visitors should be warned that the heart of Queen Street is currently undergoing a revitalization project. Conducted in three phases, it will mean Queen is only accessible to foot traffic between Durham Market Square and Durham Street in various stages. While there will be some additional noise, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Kincardine as the downtown businesses would appreciate the support!