Thunder Bay has eluded me for years. Upon hearing about Kakabeka Falls for the first time almost a decade ago, I knew I had to visit but it just never seemed to happen… until now! This is seriously a destination that you need to visit ASAP. I truly wish I made it this far north sooner! With incredible outdoor experiences, gorgeous art and an amazing foodie scene, you’ll absolutely fall in love with the city after you get a taste of these seriously fun things to do in Thunder Bay Ontario.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Brief History of Thunder Bay
The city of Thunder Bay as you know it has only existed for 50 years. Yes, 2020 is its 50th birthday! Prior to this, Thunder Bay was actually two towns, Port Arthur and Fort William, but we’ll have to go much farther back than this for Thunder Bay’s roots.
It is said that humans have inhabited this area for over 10,000 years and there’s archaeological evidence to back that up, though it’s uncertain if these humans are linked to the Ojibway who have called this area home long before European colonization. Ojibway territory spans as far as Georgian Bay, all along Lake Superior and Lake Huron, and into the prairies.
Why The Name Thunder Bay?
When European colonizers began to arrive in the 17th Century, they heard the Ojibway people call this area “Animikie” which means thunder in English. However, it was the French fur traders who ultimately influenced the name as they referred to the area between the Sibley Peninsula and the northern shore of Lake Superior as the Baie de Tonnaire, or “Thunder Bay”.
Port Arthur and Fort William
As Canada became a country in 1867, Canadians negotiated with the Hudson’s Bay Company to try and acquire Rupert’s Land. In the meantime, a man named Simon Dawson was sent to Thunder Bay with the goal of determining the start point for a road to Fort Garry (now Winnipeg). He had a few options, including the already established Fort William located at the mouth of the Kaministiquia River and an area across from the Sibley Peninsula which was known as “the Depot”. Dawson chose the latter, which later became known as Port Arthur – thus kickstarting the rivalry which continues to this day.
For the 19th century, the two towns prospered next to each other. However, 1970 came and the cities were forced to amalgamate. I’ve been told it was no longer feasible to have two of everything in towns that are literally side by side and so by the power of the province of Ontario, Port Arthur and Fort William came together to create Thunder Bay. Though if you talk to any locals, they’ll still reference Port Arthur and Fort William to this day! This is a very small overview of Thunder Bay’s history so if you’d like to know more, check out the city’s website.
Things to Do in Thunder Bay & The Area
Enough about the history of the city, let’s get to all of the amazing things to do in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area! While many of these awesome experiences are within the city limits, some will require you to travel a little bit. Northern Ontario is one of those places where a car is necessary but I promise it’s 100% worth it!
RELATED: Thunder Bay is a fantastic destination both in the warmer months as well as when the snow hits. If you’re looking for some “cool” things to do, check out my guide to Thunder Bay in winter!
Fort William Historical Park
It’s one of the top Thunder Bay attractions – and for good reason! The Fort William Historical Park is one of North America’s largest living history attractions. Step inside the trading post walls as you’re transported to the 1800s. You’ll learn about what life was like with the North West Company during the Canadian fur trade. Spanning 250 acres, you’ll get to explore the grounds and peek inside buildings from personal dwellings to the apothecary to the canoe shed. You won’t want to miss taking a guided tour so you can get a true taste of what life was like in 1816. Make sure you climb the observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the fort too!
INSIDER TIP: Head to Attractions Ontario’s website and you’ll find a coupon where you can get two admissions for the price of one!
As someone who has been trying to be more aware of how history is told from the colonial perspective, I was a little nervous to visit. However, I really learned so much and I highly recommend visiting the Fort William Historical Park. I learned that the North West Company had an amicable relationship with the Indigenous who were the first peoples of this territory. These settlers knew they needed kindness and kinship from the Indigenous in order to survive. There was a reciprocal relationship that was amicable and it’s my understanding that things stayed this way until the Hudson’s Bay Company came in and destroyed it as they exploited the First Nations of this land.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I was quite surprised to find this all out and wanted to share as it shows just how little I truly learned about the fur trade during my school years – and I’m sure I’m not the only one. This is just one of the reasons why it’s so important to visit historical attractions such as Fort William when we travel!
RELATED: Fort William Historical Park is easily one of the top things to do in Thunder Bay for families. As you explore the site, you’ll be able to interact directly with some of the artifacts and live actors will engage kids of all ages. Activities you may experience can include canoe building, blacksmithing demonstrations, tailoring, food preparation and even some taste testing if you’re lucky! It really allows you and your children to connect with this important history and chances are you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of it. For more ideas of family-friendly fun, check out this article.
Thunder Bay Art Gallery
Whether or not you have a rainy day while in the city, you don’t want to miss visiting the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Opened in 1976, this cultural hub is dedicated to supporting and featuring contemporary Indigenous, local and regional artwork. It was founded by the Thunder Bay Museum Historical Society and thanks to their efforts and those of Dr John Augustine and his wife Annette, it became the 4000 square foot facility you see today.
During my visit, I experienced two of their exhibits. The first being The Drive which references our complicated relationship to the land. Anchored by Tom Tomson’s piece of the same name, the works within this exhibit depict the effects of colonization and its impact on the environment. While many of the Group of Seven’s pieces show untouched landscapes, The Drive captures just how intense the logging industry was in Algonquin Provincial Park, a juxtaposition of how we view the park today.
The second exhibit is the Waabooz/Rabbit exhibit which delves deep into how the rabbit is seen through storytelling, how it’s spoken about, and how it’s reproduced in the art world. Rabbits often appear in tales we tell children to entertain, share wisdom or relay warnings for the future. Take a walk through the gallery and see how the rabbit is depicted much like people are as they’re given human traits which often contradict each other.
On a return visit to Thunder Bay, I’ll be looking out for their Madaabii exhibition – meaning “she/he/they go down to the shore” in Anishnaabemowin (the Ojibway language). Twenty-seven artists have been commissioned to create works of art reflecting this term and how it connects to the shores of Lake Superior (Gichigami). Artists both Indigenous and non-Indigenous will explore some of the most important environmental issues of our time through their pieces. It sounds like it’ll be an incredible exhibition and I can’t wait to experience it once it opens along Thunder Bay’s waterfront.
Indulge in a Thunder Bay Persian
I promise cannibalism is not on the table here folks. While your mind may drift immediately to a Middle Eastern person, mine goes to the delicious donut-like dessert that Thunder Bay is famous for. Head to The Persian Man and enjoy one of these tasty little morsels. What is it exactly? A Persian is an oval-shaped fried pastry, similar to a cinnamon bun, but topped with raspberry icing. It’s seriously legendary and you haven’t truly experienced Thunder Bay unless you’ve had one!
I also recommend getting some to go, especially if you’re camping. While they’re delicious when they’re freshly made, take it to the next level by enjoying them reheated over a campfire. Cut them in half, put the icing side down so it’s in the middle and fry until crispy – as pictured below. You’re welcome.
Enjoy Some Thunder Bay Craft Beer
This is one of the things to do in Thunder Bay the adults will enjoy. You may not expect there to be a craft beer scene this far north but Thunder Bay has some awesome breweries! Stop by one (or all three, no judgement here!) and quench your thirst with some local brews.
Sleeping Giant Brewing is Thunder Bay’s original brewery. Their beers are said to be inspired by Lake Superior herself, the wilderness of Northern Ontario and the area’s rich heritage. With their water sourced from the lake and their malt coming from the Canada Malting Co just down the street, it really doesn’t get more local than that! They also get bonus points for participating in efforts to help the environment such as EcoSuperior’s Stash the Trash campaign.
Dawson Trail Brewing is all about brewing the freshest beer possible since they opened in 2016. They make some unique brews, especially their Imposter. Whether or not you like Persians, you have to give this cinnamon raspberry beer a try. It might sound like a strange beer combo but it definitely won me over!
One Time Brew Co is Thunder Bay’s newest brewery which opened in 2019. One Time Brew considers themselves a boutique brewery with a focus on unique creations you won’t find anywhere else. With the tag line “because every great story starts with one time…”, you know it’s going to be a memorable experience. Considering I enjoyed their Meditating Melon fruit sour after gunning it to Thunder Bay praying my tire didn’t deflate on the way, it not only hit the spot but it will be a beer I won’t forget!
Check Out the Local Street Art
There is no shortage of incredible street art in Thunder Bay. While there are many murals scattered throughout the city, Thunder Bay has its own mural alley. Head to Cooke Street where you’ll see panel after panel of incredibly intricate and colourful works. You’ll also find some other street art pieces in this area including on Court Street South, Lincoln Street and over by the Thunder Bay Public Library.
Stroll Along the Waterfront
If you’re looking for more public art, you’ll want to head to the Thunder Bay waterfront. Here you’ll find Prince Arthur’s Landing which features some paved walking paths with great views of Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant. Alongside the boats moored at the docks, you’ll find a number of beautiful structures and statues.
As your exploring, keep an eye out for the small metal signs you’ll see scattered throughout the waterfront area. Each of them speaks to a part of the history of this area. You’ll especially find a few near the gathering space close to the Pearl Street roundabout. Look for the ones which talk about the Robinson Huron Treaty and Nanabijou (also known as Nanabozho) for a glimpse into the Indigenous culture of this area.
Eat Some Finnish Pancakes
Finnish pancakes in Thunder Bay? It might seem strange to think about Finland in Northern Ontario but Thunder Bay is home to one of the largest Finnish populations outside of Finland. Fins began to settle in the area in the 1870s and have since become an integral part of Thunder Bay’s character.
While the Hoito was the go-to destination in Thunder Bay for these tasty little morsels, it has unfortunately closed due to the last few turbulent months. Luckily there are a number of other places in town including Rooster’s and Niva’s where you can enjoy this Thunder Bay staple. While you’re at it, why not take a stroll in “Little Finland” on Bay Street.
Hunt for Views of the Sleeping Giant
So you really don’t have to hunt all that much as the Sleeping Giant is very easy to find… unless the clouds are low. I digress, but there are some great spots in the city to spot him. One of these spots is The Bluffs, just off of Arundel Street. You’ll enjoy great views of the Sibley Peninsula as well as of Thunder Bay itself. It’s also not uncommon to see locals rock climbing here as well. Another spot is Hillcrest Park on High Street South. Here you’ll find some beautiful flower gardens, a World War II memorial and some great views of course!
Admire the Beauty of Kakabeka Falls
This natural beauty might just be one of the most popular activities in Thunder Bay. Nicknamed the “Niagara of the North”, you won’t want to miss this waterfall! At 40m in height, Kakabeka Falls is said to be the second tallest waterfall in Ontario, second only to the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls. Admire the Kaministiquia River as it rushes over the crest into the canyon below from the boardwalk surrounding her.
INSIDER TIP: There’s another waterfall within Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, appropriately named Little Falls. While she is much tinier than her sister, I still recommend the trek! Follow the Mountain Portage Trail to find the Little Falls trail which will take you right to her.
Kakabeka Falls is located just 30 minutes from the heart of the city and offers camping from late June until early October. This is a great Thunder Bay accommodation alternative if you’re looking to save some money during your adventure. I slept very well at my campsite and I attribute that to the low rumble of the falls lulling me to sleep!
Explore Pigeon River Provincial Park
It may feel as though you’re driving to the United States but just before the border crossing (I’m talking 500 metres before!), you’ll find Pigeon River Provincial Park. Spanning 2435 acres of land, it protects a significant amount of natural and cultural resources as the western gateway to the Great Lakes Heritage Coast. There is evidence of human occupation dating back to 7000 BC and while it’s now a day-use park for us, it was once an important part of the Boundary Waters Fur Trade Route.
There are six hiking trails to explore ranging from short and easy to long and difficult. Don’t miss the Boardwalk Trail as it’s a quick stroll at just 350 metres one way and it will offer some beautiful views of Pigeon Bay. Otherwise, I recommend the High Falls Trail as you hike along an old logging road and admire the gorgeous views of the Pigeon River. It will lead you to the Canadian side of High Falls, a gorgeous 28 metre (92 feet) high waterfall. Don’t forget to be a kind neighbour and wave to the Americans on the other side!
Looking To Chase More Waterfalls Around Thunder Bay?
Check Out This Post For 10+ Waterfalls You Have To See!
Visit the Terry Fox Memorial
Just 10 minutes outside of town along the Trans Canada Highway, you won’t want to miss this tribute to a true Canadian icon. For those of you who may not know who Terry Fox is, he was a Canadian athlete and cancer survivor. Despite having one leg amputated due to cancer, he embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research in 1980. Named the Marathon of Hope, his cancer returned and he was forced to end his trek early – very close to the location of the memorial. Canada lost an amazing person on June 18, 1981 as he lost his battle with cancer.
At the Terry Fox Memorial, you’ll find a 9-foot high bronze statue commemorating his valiant efforts during his short time on earth. A small walking path takes you from the parking lot to the memorial and the beautiful lookout it is situated on. There is also a visitor’s centre located here where you can learn more about the Thunder Bay area.
Tackle the Top of the Giant Trail
What I’d say is one of the most epic trails in Northern Ontario (possibly even the province!), you’ll have to travel about an hour from Thunder Bay to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Upon arriving, you’ll be heading to the South Kabeyun trailhead so you can climb to the tallest point of the giant you’ve been admiring from the city.
Now, this trail is no small feat. You’re looking at 22 kilometres out and back with 3 of that having approximately 500 metres of elevation gain. It’s long and it’s tough but I’d be lying if I said the views weren’t worth it. The earlier the start the better so that you can enjoy your triumph once you make it to the top! If this trail sounds like too much though, don’t worry. There are a number of other amazing trails in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
Peer Into the Ouimet Canyon
About 50 minutes down the Trans Canada Highway, you’ll see the signs for the aptly named Ouimet Canyon Road. Follow it all the way to the end (careful to follow the turn otherwise you’ll end up on Greenwich Lake Road!) and it’ll take you right to Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park. Operated in partnership with the Friends of Ouimet Canyon, this day-use park protects an incredible 150 metre gorge. There are a few theories as to how the canyon was formed, but there’s no denying its beauty!
Follow the trail to the two lookouts as you admire the 100 metre cliffs and into the gorge. One of the reasons this area is protected is due to the sub-arctic tundra found on the canyon floor. The closest place you’ll find some of these plants is 1000 kilometres away in Hudson Bay! It stays so cold down there that ice formed from previous winters seldomly melts. How incredible is that?!
Visit Canada’s Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge
Located just 15 minutes from Ouimet Canyon, you’ll want to head to Eagle Canyon Adventures in Dorion. Here you’ll find two incredible suspension bridges – and some of Canada’s longest! Make the trek up to the first bridge which measures 300 feet in length and take in the views of Bat Lake from 125 metres above its surface. Continue along the trail to the mother of all suspension bridges, sitting at 182 metres (almost 600 feet) in length and 152 metres in the air.
While the entrance fee is a little steep at $20 plus tax, there’s no time limit to your visit. Take your time and enjoy the views from the bridges because they’re seriously breathtaking. Once you’re done admiring the bird’s eye views, follow the trail to the stairs and descend into the canyon below. The trail takes you around the lake where you can truly appreciate how tall the canyon walls are before completing your visit to Eagle Canyon. I’m sure this goes without mentioning but IF you are afraid of heights, this might not be the stop for you!
Additional Things to Do in Thunder Bay
Turbulent weather paired with everything that’s going on right now meant I didn’t get to visit everything I wanted to, but that just means I need to visit again! If you’re looking for more things to do in Thunder Bay, here’s what’s on my radar for future visits.
Visit Anemkii Wajiw – Also known as Mount McKay, this scenic lookout is a great spot to enjoy some awesome views across the city, Pie Island and the Sibley Peninsula. It is located on the lands of the Fort William First Nation so when you visit, please be respectful and respect any possible closures Fort William may be enforcing.
Mine for Amethyst – Something you might not know is that Ontario’s gemstone is the amethyst and you can find easily find these gems along the north shore of Lake Superior! Thunder Bay is home to a number of spots like the Blue Point Amethyst Mine where you can actually mine for it yourself. Sounds like a fun way to bring a souvenir home to friends and family!
Explore More Conservation Areas – There are seriously so many amazing conservation areas that you’ll need an extra three days alone just to visit them all. I was able to visit the Cascades Conservation Area which I highly recommend but there are so many more to explore. MacKenzie Point Conservation Area will be one of my first stops on a return trip, especially since there’s a waterfall here calling my name!
David Thompson Astronomical Observatory – At the Fort William Historical Park you’ll also find this gateway to the stars. Here you’ll find one of the largest telescopes in the country! Whether you’re an amateur stargazer or a serious astronomer, pop into this state-of-the-art facility to learn more about the cosmos.
Centennial Botanical Conservatory – Established as an ode to Canada’s 100th birthday (hence the name), these beautiful gardens give visitors a green refuge to visit all year round. Inside, you’ll find exotic plants from around the world which bloom no matter what time of the year it is. If you’ve experienced a Northern Ontario winter, then you’ll know this makes a great break from the cold! If you’d like to learn more about the plants as well as the conservatory itself, I recommend booking a guided tour.
Indulge at the Thunder Oak Cheese Farm – While I didn’t get a chance to visit myself, I have had the pleasure of enjoying their cheese and it is incredible! They’re the only farm in Ontario to produce gouda cheese and it comes from the Schep Family’s very own Holstein cows. I swear it’s some of the best local Ontario cheese you’ll eat – I literally ate the entire block of their Garden Herb Gouda Cheese in one day.
Sail Lake Superior – The weather wasn’t on my side during my visit so I didn’t get a chance to explore Lake Superior from the water. However, this is on my list for the next time I’m in town. Sail Superior offers some great sightseeing tours and I hear they’re going to start offering Caribbean-style catamaran tours where you can spend a few nights out on the greatest of the Great Lakes!
Explore Quetico Provincial Park – This one’s a little bit of a trek as it’s 2 hours west of Thunder Bay (and in another time zone!), but the park is famous across the globe for its backcountry canoeing experiences. While I haven’t made it to that level of fierceness yet, I hope one day I will so I can truly appreciate this park and all it has to offer!
Thunder Bay Restaurants to Eat At
Chances are you wouldn’t think of Northern Ontario as a foodie haven, but you’ll definitely find one in Thunder Bay. There are so many amazing restaurants in the city and while I only had a chance to indulge in a few, I can’t wait to return so I can continually update this list!
If you’ve been following along with my Instagram stories from my trip, you’ll remember that I had some tire trouble which added an unplanned level of “excitement” to my visit. Luckily Northern hospitality came through and I was able to get it all sorted out. After that wave of relief, I indulged at Rooster’s Bistro and I couldn’t think of a better way to fuel myself for a day of adventure!
They have a very extensive breakfast menu including a number of unique eggs benedicts (I’ll be back for you!), however I couldn’t resist their big breakfast. This comes with two eggs, your choice of bacon, ham, or sausage, a side of toast and home fries of course! You’ll also get a choice of Finn pancakes, French toast or waffles. Actually, it’s not really a choice because you need to get the Finn pancakes, end of story. Trust me on this and I promise your taste buds will thank me!
Bight Restaurant & Bar
If you’re looking for lakeside views and amazing eats, Bight has you covered. Located in the Water Garden Pavillion, you’ll be treated to great eats made with the freshest ingredients possible. They also partner with other local businesses like the Bakeshop on Boundary for their bread and buns which I love to see. Their menu isn’t the largest but it offers a great variety of items from sandwiches to fish and chips to pasta dishes
I enjoyed their pork belly sandwich when I visited and it was delicious. The sweet and slightly salty grilled pork belly is topped with black garlic aioli, pickled carrots and cabbage. All of this is nestled into a Bakeshop on Boundary milk bun with a choice of fries or greens for your side. While I pretty much always opt for greens, I highly recommend the fries. First, if you’re starving you’ll get a mountain of them so you’ll be a happy camper. If you do though, be sure to ask for an extra side of ketchup. Bight makes their ketchup in-house and it’s seriously amazing, especially if you’re a ketchup chip addict like me. I would pretty much get the fries just to eat their ketchup.
Red Lion Smokehouse
If you’re a fan of the classic British pub, that’s what you’ll get here – but with a smokehouse twist. The Red Lion Smokehouse’s culinary prowess is led by Chef John Murray who has trained extensively under Michelin star chefs in Toronto and England. He pairs British pub traditions with top-notch kitchen tools like a Josper charcoal oven so that guests get superior meals that will leave you wanting more.
Their menu is EXTENSIVE with pulled pork, wraps, tacos and more. Their wide variety of items is impressive, including how many are vegetarian and vegan considering it’s a smokehouse. I should also mention that there are gluten-free options on the menu as well! When I saw they had a pulled pork burrito, I knew I had to try it. It’s chock full of pulled pork (obviously), maple bacon, pork and beans, smoked cheddar and smokey BBQ Sauce. What I wasn’t expecting was the beautiful presentation and how it was elegantly topped with sour cream, guacamole, corn and tomato salsa. I not-so-elegantly devoured it.
The Sovereign Room
One of the early establishments to fuel Thunder Bay’s incredible foodie scene, The Sovereign Room has been serving up great eats for a decade. This gastropub prides itself on culinary innovation along with using fresh, house-made ingredients whenever possible. Oh, and did I mention it was featured on You Gotta Eat Here?
After indulging in one of their meals, I understand why. While many of their menu items look delicious, you have to get The Sovereign Room’s weekend noodle special if you find yourself there on a Saturday or Sunday. Their concoctions might be unique but it is guaranteed to be delicious – especially since they pull the noodles fresh with every order. The special during my visit was their spin on a Beef Carbonara. Nestled into a bed of fresh garlic noodles I found an abundance of crispy, seasoned beef, accompanied by leeks and mushrooms. Topped with a poached egg and Parmesan shavings, what seems like a fairly simple dish was incredibly flavourful. It was gone way too soon!
I’ve been told that this is the go-to pizza place for locals and that this won’t be on any tourism guide you’ll see – until now! As you know, I’m all about the local experience and places like this are what I live for. It’s also takeout from places like Stan’s that keep me alive after my body is dying from an insane all day hike. Yes, I’m looking at you Top of the Giant.
While it’s always great to go out to a restaurant when you travel to a destination, there’s something to be said about getting takeout and eating it in bed at your hotel. If that’s what you’re looking for after a long day of exploring Thunder Bay, give Stan’s a call and order their Thunder Cape pizza. It’s honestly got more toppings than I’ve ever ordered in my life with pepperoni, bacon, ham, salami, ground beef, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and green olives on top of mozzarella cheese but let me tell you, it is the king of takeout in pizza form. Stan’s also makes for great leftovers to reheat over a campfire – true story.
RELATED: There are even more tasty Thunder Bay restaurants where that came from! See what other spots I indulged at when I visited Thunder Bay in the winter.
How to Get to Thunder Bay
There are a number of ways you can get to Thunder Bay depending on where you’re departing from. If you’re coming from Southern Ontario like I did, you can hop on a bus, a plane or drive. While the Ontario Northland does go to Thunder Bay, you’re looking at two transfers and almost 24 hours of travel time. It’s definitely not an ideal option especially at $250-$300 for just one way, but it’s there!
While you might not feel comfortable flying right now, this is a popular option for visiting Thunder Bay. While I have not flown myself, one of the perks of flying between Toronto and Thunder Bay is that you get to avoid the madness of Pearson Airport and fly from the smaller Billy Bishop Airport with Porter Airlines. It’s a lot less hassle, you’ll be in and out of security in no time flat AND you can access the airport from the underground tunnel linking it to downtown Toronto. Of course, this means you’ll be without transportation once you’re in Thunder Bay. While the downtown area is definitely walkable, I highly recommend renting a car. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on so much of what the area has to offer!
If you do the third option and drive up, you’re in for a real treat. Mind you this is no short trek as you’re looking at over 15 hours of driving but it’s easily one of the most beautiful road trips in Ontario. This is a trip all on its own so take your time and spend a few days. There’s plenty to see between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie, let alone once you get along the shores of Lake Superior! Once you get a taste of Northern Ontario though, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. However, if this sounds like too long of a drive then you’ll definitely want to look at flying to Thunder Bay.
What Thunder Bay Hotels to Stay At
Chances are if you’ve made it this far, you’re looking for a place to call home for a few days. When planning a trip to Thunder Bay, you’ll want to be well-rested so that you have plenty of energy to explore the area! These Thunder Bay hotels are the perfect spots to rest your head when you’re in the area.
The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel
The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel has been a staple along Port Arthur’s waterfront for over a century. Thanks to a game of poker, the idea for a hotel was birthed in 1908 with the doors opening in 1911. At the time, it was considered one of the most luxurious hotels in the country. It has received some renovations over the years which still make it a fantastic hotel with plenty of character. Though I have to say, The Prince Arthur’s character doesn’t stop with the decor!
This building has long had its place in history. For example, it was an active spot for smuggling alcohol to the USA during the prohibition area. If you’re lucky, you might even get a glimpse of the tunnels that made this possible! In the hotel’s early days, it housed a Bank of Nova Scotia location and the vault is still in the basement. Oh, and don’t forget to ask about how Queen Elizabeth II left her mark at The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel! A huge thank you to Michael for giving me the grand tour and sharing all of these fascinating stories with me.
I had the pleasure of staying in a room located on the third floor. I don’t think I’ve stayed in a hotel room so large – I seriously had more space than I knew what to do with. It also offered some great views of the waterfront where I could watch the storm as it rolled in across Lake Superior. From check-in to check-out, the staff were absolutely wonderful which really took my stay to the next level.
Convinced that you should stay at The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel? Click here to book your room now or see what previous guests have had to say about their experience.
The Courthouse Hotel
I don’t know about you, but I love to see old buildings transformed with a new purpose. What was once Thunder Bay’s original courthouse has since become The Courthouse Hotel. You’ll be sentenced to a great night of sleep in this century-old building which full of personality.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a judge, this might give you a taste of what it feels like. What do I mean by this? Each room used to be a judge’s office! As you walk around the hotel, you’ll see some of the original features such as the original banisters as an ode to its past life. Even the courthouse schedule is still posted inside the main lobby! It’s also one of the few hotels in Thunder Bay which offers rooms with a jacuzzi – perfect for a romantic getaway to the north.
Ready to Visit Thunder Bay?
As you can see, this Northwestern Ontario city has so much to offer. While I didn’t get to experience it this time around, apparently the events in Thunder Bay are next level. Hopefully, I’ll be able to experience one of their amazing festivals during a future visit!
Whether you’re planning to visit for two days as part of an epic Ontario road trip or you’re taking your time to explore the area, there’s plenty to experience here. Now the big question… which of these Thunder Bay activities do you want to experience first?
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