Lake Erie is the most shallow and warmest of the Great Lakes so head to one of the beaches on its shores but find so much more in this county southwest of Hamilton. You’ll find adventures from jumping from a plane to racing around a track, plus animal adventures, hiking trails and fresh local produce at three farmers markets.
1. Take a river cruise
Take in the views of the Grand River and a fabulous roast beef dinner all in one on a lunch, sunset or private cruise. With large windows, you won’t miss a thing as you learn about nature and history while enjoying soothing music. A dinner cruise costs $75.
Address: 36 Brant County Road 22, Caledonia
2. See Lake Erie from the sky
Skydive Ontario offers you a chance to jump out of a plane on your own – with training – or in tandem. If you go with a tandem ride, the fee is $295.
Address: 5820 ON-3, Cayuga
3. Look out from Rock Point
Lounge on the full kilometre of sandy beach at Rock Point Provincial Park or seek out fossils from a coral reef dating back to more than 350 million years in a nearby limestone shelf. Stroll among Carolinian and oak savanna forests as you walk on its two-kilometre trail. Plan to stop for selfies at the viewing platform with Lake Erie in the background at the top of the sand dunes. Fees cost $11.80 to $18, depending on your age and the size of your party.
Address: 215 Niece Rd, Dunnville
4. Head to the zoo
The Killman Zoo has mostly big cats, such as lions, but also houses foxes, eagles and other creatures. Adults pay $20 admission while kids under 11 are charged $12. Kids under three get in for free.
Address: 237 Unity Side Rd E, Caledonia
5. Head off hunger in Hagersville
Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at the Hagersville Farmers Market every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to noon. You’ll find it right behind the post office.
Address: 1 Main St S, Hagersville
6. Two beaches in one
James N. Allan Provincial Park hosts a full kilometre of pebble beach and 100 metres of fine sand for building your sandcastles. Take a swim then hike while you watch for birds.
Address: King’s Row at County Road 49
7. Hike the Gypsum Mine Tract Trailhead
This 12.2-kilometre trail gives you a few options so you can mix it up on different visits. You can go east to Haldimand Road #9 then south on #9 to Highway 54. Another day, you can take the Rotary Riverside Trail west back to Caledonia or go across the Grand River to reach the same destination or Cayuga.
8. Burn some rubber
Live out your dream as a drag racer or spin around the track a few times in an F-2000 at Toronto Motorsports Park. You can even have your bachelor or bachelorette party here on wheels. The drag-car experience costs $339 as you go from zero to 100 miles per hour within seconds.
Address: 1040 Kohler Rd, Cayuga
9. Walking to the market
The Dunnville Walking Path is a two-kilometre tour of the lovely town and its Lions Park and Wingfield Park. The final stretch takes you along the Grand River and ends at the Farmers Market, which runs Tuesdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Address: 98 Robinson Road #2, Dunnville
10. Learn about wildlife
The Hobbitstree Wildlife Refuge takes in sick and injured animals to bring them back to life. While it doesn’t allow visitors on its site, it does offer outreach programs to teach children about the creatures among us and how to live cooperatively with them.
Address: 1226 Concession 4 Walpole, Jarvis
11. Motors and music
Jukasa Motor Speedway may be known for its stock car racing, but it is so much more. Camp out or enjoy a show in the covered band pavilion. It also has a playground to keep kids busy while parents relax. Call for fees.
Address: 901 County Road 20, Hagersville
12. Catch a ride on Whinney
Iron Spirit Services offers horseback-riding lessons and rides, individually or in groups of all ages. The ranch also holds special days to meet its horses and chat with other riders, calling them Me Days. Fees range from $25 per hour for Kids’ Club to $40 per hour for private lessons.
Address: 174 Bird Road, Dunnville
13. Escape it all in Caledonia
If you love the game of Clue, you’ll love some of the adventures offered at Escape Caledonia. It has four distinct escape rooms that require a team of players to solve clues and find trinkets to work your way out. Call for pricing.
Address: 55 Argyle Street North, Caledonia
14. Stunning sights of the Grand River
The Cayuga Grand Vista takes you on a 3.2-kilometre breath-taking tour with two loops and two lookouts – one to the east and one to the west. Park at the courthouse in Cayuga then take the restored CN Bridge to King George Street and Maple Road. You can return to your car via Talbot Street East and Munsee Street North.
Address: 55 Munsee Street, Cayuga
15. Shop for crisp produce in Caledonia
Pick up fresh vegetables, fruit and other local goods at the Caledonia Farmers Market every summery Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Canadian Tire parking lot. Find out how much good stuff grows in this area with one stop.
Address: 365 Argyle St South, Caledonia
16. Check out Chippewa Trail
Take a 2.7-kilometre jaunt from Haldimand Road #66 to the edge of the county and continue towards Hamilton on a connecting trail if you wish. Hikers enjoy this natural trail without overheating in the warm weather.
Address: 208 Haldimand Road #66, Caledonia
17. Peace out in the pines
Selkirk Provincial Park features the 1.6-kilometre Wheeler’s Walk Trail that takes you through old-growth forest and into a 50-year-old white pine plantation. You’ll also discover a boardwalk to the wetland on the west side of the park. Bring your dog for a run too. Fees cost $11.80 to $18, depending on your age and the size of your party.
Address: 151 Wheeler’s Sideroad, Selkirk
18. See the Ruthven villa
Ruthven Park National Historic Site features an 1845 Greek Revival villa and 598 hectares of natural area. Rich with forest and wetlands, it is an ideal venue for birders and natural explorers.
Address: 243 Haldimand Highway 54, Cayuga
19. Visit the historic jail
The 150-plus-year-old Edinburgh Square Heritage and Cultural Centre is an iconic structure that houses the former local lock-up and celebrates the once-rich gypsum mining industry along the Grand River. Check out its regular and temporary exhibits. Admission costs $10.
Address: 80 Caithness Street East, Caledonia
20. Follow Blue Heron Way
Start your outing on this trail at Hutchinson Road south of Mt. Carmel then shoot east to connect with the Gord Harry Trail to Niagara. The first leg of the journey within Haldimand runs for 1.1 kilometres.
21. Drill into history
The Canadian Drilling Rig Museum shares the rich history of the early natural gas fields of Haldimand and beyond. Come see the rebuilt 1896 drilling rig in action then learn more from the other artifacts and displays.
Address: 259 Kohler Road, Selkirk
22. Hike the trail ring at Byng
Byng Island Conservation Area has two walking trail loops, beginning near its ball diamond. Off the trail, you can explore the full 190 hectares of Carolinian forest and riverside views of the Grand River.
Address: 4969 Haldimand Rd 20, Dunnville
23. Go berry picking
24. Explore Grand River on your own
Rent a canoe, or kayak from Grand River Marina & Cafe and explore the river on your own own.
Address: 7336 Rainham Rd., Dunnville
25. See a lighthouse
Enjoy a walk on the pier to Port Maitland Lighthouse. Located on the shores on shores of Lake Erie and at the mouth of Grand River, Port Maitland is an ideal place for those who love to fish or spend a day by the water.
Address: 949 Port Maitland Rd, Dunnville