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Thunder Bay is a city located in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. It has a population of approximately 108,000 and is one of the most populous municipalities on Lake Superior.
Thunder Bay is a tourist destination due to its proximity to nature and outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking and skiing. The city also has a rich history, dating back to its founding in the early 1800s. Today, Thunder Bay is a modern city with various attractions and activities to keep visitors entertained.
Here are some of the hottest spots to check out when visiting Thunder Bay:
Top 10 Attractions in Thunder Bay
If you're looking for a vacation destination that offers something for everyone, Thunder Bay is the perfect spot. With its world-class attractions, beautiful scenery, and welcoming atmosphere, Thunder Bay is a great place to visit year-round. Here are our top 10 attractions in Thunder Bay:
1. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is one of Thunder Bay's most popular tourist destinations. Located on Sibley Peninsula, the park offers hikers, campers, and sightseers a chance to explore the area's natural beauty. The park has over 100 kilometres of hiking trails, the most popular of which is the Top of the Giant Trail.
The Top of the Giant Trail is a 22-kilometre round-trip hike that takes hikers to a lookout point known as the "Top of the Giant." The views from the top of the trail are spectacular and worth the effort required to get there. For those who are up for a challenge, the Top of the Giant Trail is an excellent way to experience the beauty of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
There are many trails to choose from, leading to different geological features. One of the most popular is the "Sea Lion" arch; a natural formation carved out by the waves over time.
The visitor centre is also worth a visit, as it houses various displays of the local wildlife and culture. If you're planning to stay overnight, you can book a cabin or campsite within the park.
Fort William Historical Park is a living history site that opened in 1973. It is located just west of the city centre and features 42 reconstructed period buildings. These buildings can be explored and include costumed "guides" who perform many of the tasks that would have been common at the time. These tasks include blacksmithing, curing and processing furs, canoe building, and carpentry. It is an essential attraction for those interested in learning more about the history of Canada. It's also a great place for bringing young kids, just mention that there's a cannon and they'll be onboard with the trip!
The reconstructed Ojibwa village and farmstead at the park are fascinating to visit. They recreate life as it was at the time, which is fascinating to see. There is also a 50,000-seat amphitheatre at the park, used for year-round events. There is a visitor's centre on-site with a gift shop and café, which are worth checking out.
Mt. McKay is located on the Fort William First Nation's Reserve and is worth visiting while in Thunder Bay. This imposing mountain is the tallest and most northerly of the Nor'Wester Mountain range and was formed over 1.1 billion years ago. You'll enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area from its summit, including the famous Sleeping Giant.
From the Mount McKay Scenic Lookout, you can see some of the best views. The lookout is easy to get to and has a boardwalk that offers excellent views. If you want to reach the summit, a narrow trail leads to the top of Mount McKay. The hike is recommended for experienced hikers only, but it is worth it.
4. The Marina Park
The Marina Park is located in the north downtown core of Thunder Bay. This beautiful park has fantastic views of Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant. There are many activities in the park, such as walking, biking, bird watching, and fishing. The park is also home to the new Thunder Bay Art Gallery.
The waterfront area is a great place to spend a day, with walking trails, boardwalks, and public docks. There are also areas for kids to play (including a splash pad), picnic spots, and sculptures and monuments to explore. The heritage buildings are worth visiting, especially the Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda. This hexagonal structure is unique and was erected in 1909.
Marina Park is also a great place to stay, with several new hotels, including the Delta Hotel and fabulous dining experiences. If you're looking to explore the area, consider staying at the Courthouse Hotel - a magnificently restored historic building with commanding views over Lake Superior and the north downtown area.
The place on the outskirts of Thunder Bay where the great Canadian, Terry Fox, had to end his courageous journey across Canada raising more than $1 for every Canadian for cancer research before his death in 1981. His foundation has since raised more than $850 million since 1980 and his message continues to inspire millions to this day. He ran a total of 5,373 kilometres with a prosthetic leg before his cancer spread to his lungs. He once said "I want to set an example that will never be forgotten" and he truly did, we will never forget what this hero has accomplished.
The Loch Lomond Ski Area is a popular year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities, located just 15 minutes drive south of Thunder Bay.
For winter activities, the ski area has three chairlifts providing access to groomed runs for skiing and snowboarding, with beginner slopes to advanced runs up to 2.5 kilometres long. The snow tubing facility is also famous for cross-country ski trails and snowshoe trails. Equipment and locker rentals are available. In warmer weather, the chairlifts are used by mountain bikers to access the downhill slopes, and hikers use the well-marked alpine hiking trails. The ski area transforms into a destination for outdoor activities year-round.
Kakabeka Falls is a 40-meter waterfall located in the village of Kakabeka Falls, 11 kilometres west of Thunder Bay. The falls are easy to get to and safe, making them an excellent stop for families travelling in the area. The gorge that the falls plunge into was carved out by the Kaministiquia River and is a beautiful sight to behold. The falls have been nicknamed the "Niagara of the North" because of their size and the fact that they are only 11 meters shorter than Niagara Falls.
The easy boardwalk trail from the car park provides access to the top of the falls, with excellent views over the gorge. The nature trails that branch off offer further exploration of what used to be part of the route taken by the original Voyageurs. These trails can be accessed in winter by those who enjoy cross-country skiing.
Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park is a beautiful park with some stunning views of the Ouimet Canyon. The canyon is 150 meters wide and has cliffs that plunge 100 meters down to the canyon floor. Two viewing platforms are easy to get to, and they provide great canyon views.
Eagle Canyon is just 15 minutes away from the park, which is home to Eagle Canyon Adventures. This adventure park has two suspension bridges that cross over the canyon, and the longest one is 183 meters long. There are also zip lines that go over the tree canopy at speeds of up to 72 kilometres per hour.
Both of these parks are great places to explore and enjoy the wilderness. Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park is a great place to hike and enjoy the views, while Eagle Canyon is perfect for those who want to try out the suspension bridges and capture stunning views.
The Thunder Bay Art Gallery is a must-see destination for art lovers interested in Canadian art and, in particular, First Nations art. The gallery has an impressive permanent collection of 1,600 works, including traditional art, modern multi-media pieces, paintings and drawings, photography, beadwork, and sculptures.
In addition, the gallery features regular visiting art exhibits, rotating every six weeks, along with educational themed workshops and classes for kids. Guided tours are also available. The on-site shop sells gifts and souvenirs related to the gallery's exhibits.
The Thunder Bay Museum is an excellent place for families and history buffs. It is located near City Hall by the intersection of Donald and May Streets. This museum features many historical artifacts from the region dating back to the fur trade in the 1800s and some even as far as back as 10,000 years ago.
Quetico Provincial Park is a vast wilderness area located west of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The park is home to ancient rocky islands, dozens of lakes, towering trees, and diverse wildlife such as moose, beavers, and eagles. While many camp overnight in the campgrounds or take a backcountry canoe trip, it's also an excellent destination for a day trip.
Visitors can swim in French Lake, enjoy the clean sandy beach, tour the Visitor Centre to see works by the previous artists-in-residence, learn about the Indigenous and settler history of the park, and go for a paddle in a canoe.
This list includes some of Thunder Bay's best places to eat, from fine dining to casual cafes.
1. Hoito Restaurant
Hoito is a Finnish restaurant in Toronto that has been around since 1918. It began as a cooperative dining hall that provided affordable meals to Finnish workers, and it is still run by the Finlandia Association today. The restaurant is set in the basement of the Finlandia Club, and it has mainly communal tables. The blue trim and wainscoting on the walls are meant to pay tribute to the colors of the Finnish flag. Hoito is known for its flattened Finnish pancakes, served all day. The menu also includes other Finnish specialties, like roast chicken, burgers, and shepherd's pie. Unfortunately, at current, the Hoito has been burnt down, but we are hoping it's able to rebuild and continue operating. Check them out if they are back up and running during your visit!
Caribou is a modern North American restaurant that offers a relaxed atmosphere and seasonal menu. The menu focuses on locally-grown food, with signature dishes such as cedar plank salmon, blue ahi tuna and certified Angus tenderloin. This restaurant is known for its generous portion sizes and features wood-oven pizzas, pasta, and meat entrées.
The exterior of Caribou is relatively plain, but the interior is decorated with designer stemware and crisp white tables clothes, making it an elegant choice for dining. With more than 30 wines available by the glass, Caribou has earned the "Wine Spectator Award of Excellence" since 2002.
3. Bight Restaurant
Bight is a popular harbourfront restaurant in Thunder Bay that offers a unique take on North American classics such as hamburgers and fried chicken. The dishes might seem simple, but one taste and you'll understand why locals flock to this restaurant.
The restaurant's modern design is both comfortable and casual and blends well with the contemporary take on classic cuisine. You'll find a decent selection of Ontario wine and craft beer available. Enjoying a drink near the bustling Thunder Bay Marina is one of the best ways to experience the Thunder Bay patio scene.
4. Bistro One
In a sophisticated setting, Bistro One offers a rotating menu of international dishes focusing on daily specials. Classic dishes like the sea scallops in maple syrup champagne sauce and the roasted rosemary rack of New Zealand lamb with gorgonzola butter are always available. At the same time, the main courses rotate to keep things interesting.
The restaurant also has a pastry chef who prepares delicious desserts, like the signature warm chocolate gateau with a raspberry coulis and espresso ice cream. And finally, Bistro One has an impressive selection of more than 100 wines, many of which are not available anywhere else in Thunder Bay.'
5. Tomlin Restaurant
Tomlin Restaurant on Red River Rd. focuses on local ingredients and farm-to-table cuisine, partnering with local producers to create fresh and eclectic plates. The menu blends Italian and Southern cuisine, taking diners on a flavour journey that offers a few twists and turns.
From starters to mains and desserts, the dishes at Tomlin showcase the best of what local Ontario has to offer. The restaurant also features a beverage menu heavily supported by ciders and beer from the region. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, Tomlin is the perfect spot to enjoy some of the best cuisines that Ontario offers.
6. The Sovereign Room
The Sovereign Room is a trendy gastro-pub located in the heart of downtown Toronto. The restaurant has a fantastic menu, with dishes like Duck Confit Poutine and stone-baked pizzas. The Sovereign Room also has an extensive selection of imported beers, with up to 60 different premium and domestic brews. The pub has a relaxed ambience, with old-fashioned signs and dark furnishings.
The bar also has a chandelier, which adds to the hip atmosphere. Live music is often featured at the Sovereign Room, with genres ranging from funk to indie. The restaurant is a great place to enjoy a meal and a few drinks with friends.
7. Kangas Sauna
Thunder Bay is home to a rich Finnish culture that has contributed much to the city's development. This culture is evident in the many Scandinavian-style bakeries and pancake houses found throughout the city.
One of the most popular pancake houses in Thunder Bay is Kangas Sauna. This unassuming restaurant is located on Oliver Road and is known for its simple but delicious food. In addition to pancakes, Kangas Sauna also offers a variety of other Finnish dishes.
What makes Kangas Sauna unique is its on-site saunas. These saunas are popular among Finns as they offer a place to relax and unwind. There is believed to be one sauna for every two people in Finland! If you're looking for a taste of Finnish culture, check out Kangas Sauna. You won't be disappointed!
8. Masala Grille
Masala Grille is a popular restaurant in Calgary that serves Indian and Thai cuisine. The restaurant has a beautiful interior with Indian decor, and three Indian chefs cook the food. The restaurant offers a variety of beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, vegetable, paneer, rice, and noodle dishes. Their spices are imported from India and fresh produce is sourced locally.
The restaurant occasionally hosts small cooking classes and special 'Tandoori Nights' during which meats and fish are cooked for diners in its tandoori clay oven. This is an excellent place for a delicious and authentic Indian meal.
9. Prospector Steakhouse
This steakhouse has been a family-owned restaurant in Thunder Bay for 25 years. They use only the finest ingredients, and their signature dish is the "Prospector Bones", which are an enormous rack of roasted and charbroiled prime rib bones.
This restaurant has a rustic interior with nostalgic tones. It is decorated with a blond tamarack wood bar, antique handguns, and local artwork. Their freshly baked "Prospector Buns" are famous, and they also offer a fantastic salad bar and chicken and seafood mains. This is the perfect place for a hearty meal with family or friends.
Thunder Bay is a city with much to offer visitors and residents alike. This northwestern Ontario hotspot has something for everyone, from its beautiful natural surroundings to its vibrant arts and culture scene. So whatever brings you to Thunder Bay – whether it be business, pleasure or family – make sure to take advantage of all the city offers. And be sure to try some of the delicious food the city offers!