Summer Fun – Crystal Beach and Port Dover

The summer is coming to a close and we had fantastic weather in Toronto. Those sunny hazy days in mid July were great for hanging out at the beach and soaking up the sun. Our family decided that we were going to challenge ourselves to visit the top five rated beaches in Ontario. Quite a hefty challenge, the summer is almost over and we only visited two! In our defense we visited Crystal Beach twice.. not sure if that counted but we made a valiant effort.

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The beaches in Ontario are lakes which are usually located in provincial parks. They are accessible by car with paid parking and restroom facilities. Some beaches have sand while others are stony with shallow waters where you can swim and have a picnic. Crystal Beach in located on the shores of Lake Erie close to Niagara Falls. It is rated in the top 10 and noted as a party beach but you can still have a great time despite the crowds. Our first visit was on a Friday, there was no crowd and parking was easy to find close to the beach. We took our nieces along with us to celebrate the close of school and the beginning of Summer. The water was clear with gentle waves and lots of space to have a picnic on the sand. The kids had a great time, despite the 30 degree temperatures the water was quite chilly. It took some time to get use to the cold water, you could not stay in for too long. The beach was amazing however the restroom facilities definitely needs improvement. There were three port a potties for the entire beach! The city should invest in building permanent facilities for this popular location.

We had such a great time, we asked our neighbours to come with us on Canada Day. This was a different experience, the beach was packed and it took us 20 minutes to find parking. There was such a crowd on the beach we thought it would be difficult to find a spot to spread our blankets. We weaved our way through the throng of people and found a spot close to the edge of the lake. The water was warmer, much more bearable than the Friday before. We hung out in our chairs people watching and catching up with my friend who is a teacher, she was happy to be off for the summer and this was the start of her holiday. I can’t help being jealous of her for a quick minute, then when she tells me stories of her classroom I am reminded I could not do her job. We stayed until the sun sank low on the horizon, then we slowly packed up the tent and chairs and walked back to the car.

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Another weekend, another beach to discover… Port Dover. This beach is also located on Lake Erie in the town of you guessed it – Port Dover. The beach is very small compared to others and you need to arrive early to get a prime parking spot. The water was warm when we visited in late July and with the inclement weather the waves were stronger than normal. Parking can be difficult as the beach is at the end of a street, you could be in for a long wait or a long walk depending on the time that you arrive. The facilities at this beach was good, permanent restrooms that were fairly clean are located close to the beach.

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Rain was in the forecast, but we were determined to enjoy a few hours in the water, riding the waves and bobbing away on a blow up float. I really liked this beach, the water was warm enough to swim and the atmosphere was laid back and relaxed. There are lots of restaurants close by serving fresh fish that was caught in the lake. If fish is not your thing hamburgers, hot dogs and many more await you if you walk along the street by the beach.

As we packed up rain came poring down, we hustled to the car and made our way home.  On the drive home I reflected on the great opportunities I had this summer.  Most of my adventures were free or minimal cost for parking.  I spent excellent quality time with family, friends and connected with them in a deeper, fun and meaningful way. I look forward to continuing this connection in the fall and winter months.  Walk good.

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