What exactly is it that keeps pulling at my heart-strings and has me returning to this beautiful little town in Western Ontario, over and over again?
Is it the roar of the waves or the beautiful sunsets over Lake Huron? Could it be the people young and old, who take time out of their busy day to speak to everybody, whether they know you or not? Is it the childhood memories of days many years ago? Or could it be the familiarity I feel surrounding me whenever I return. To me it doesn’t matter what the reason is. I just know that Kincardine home and that’s where my heart has remained.
Whenever I decide to hop in the car for a road trip, Kincardine always seems to be where I end up. I always love to explore my home town as if I was a tourist, and I never fail in finding something new. Kincardine has so much to offer and I never have a problem filling my day without breaking the bank.
As I always do whenever returning to my hometown, the first place I visit is my childhood home. The last time I was there, the home just happened to be for sale. Was this an omen and I was being called back to my hometown? Of course as I was taking photos and reminiscing of days gone by, a friendly neighbour came along and we spent at least the next half hour talking. I did mention that the people are really friendly and like to talk!
Tiny Tot Playground
Next on the agenda, I always pay a visit to the beach and my favourite area from my childhood days, the Tiny Tot Playground. This is a playground area located right on the beach. This is a fantastic area to visit if you have children, and even if you don’t.
Like the name suggests, there is an amazing playground for the kids and also for the kid in all of us. In addition to the playground and the beach, there are also several tennis courts and the lawn bowling area. This is the perfect spot to spend the day. Make sure to bring a picnic as you can easily spend the entire day at the Tiny Tot Playground.
Rock Garden and Pavillion
After playing on the beach for a bit, I like to walk down the beach towards the rock garden, which is also located on the beach and has spectacular views. Luck would have it that the garden was set up for a wedding. What an incredible spot for a wedding, with beautiful Lake Huron offering the perfect backdrop.
Next door to the rock garden is the Kincardine Pavilion (fondly known by the locals as the “pav”, which is also located on the beach. The outdoor patio offers the perfect place to lounge and watch the sun go down over the lake. My daughter was so impressed with the beauty of this location that it has now been added to her list as being a potential wedding venue.
Grey Matter Beer Company
By now it is time for lunch and a cocktail. This is where small town living can get a bit dicey. I won’t go into the entire dining experience, as it was not the best experience ever. Suffice it to say that the first restaurant we visited was closed, the second one opened at 3:00 p.m. (in another 2 hours), and the third one lost our order. We never did get our lunch. I highly recommend bringing a picnic, as there are so many beautiful spots to picnic in the area.
Since we were unable to get food, we figured the next best thing would be to go next door for a cocktail. We visited Grey Matter Beer Company and we certainly weren’t disappointed! We ordered the beer tasting flight and we were given so much beer that we couldn’t possibly drink it all.
The atmosphere was fun and very laid back, offering games to play while having a beer and visiting with friends. I also noticed that some people had brought their dogs with them. What could be better than making a pit stop for a beer when out walking your dog? You could also watch the beer being brewed on the floor below, and tours were available if they were arranged in advance.
The best part of all …. were the incredible staff. They were so much fun! Did I mention that the beer was also fantastic?! I would highly recommend making Grey Matter Beer Company your first stop when visiting Kincardine, however, make sure you have a designated driver after testing their beer flights.
Station Beach, South Pier and Kincardine Harbour
No road trip home is quite complete without a visit to Station Beach, the South Pier and the Kincardine Harbour.
Station Beach is the most active beach in the area and this is where you will find the kiters, surfers and paddle boarders. It is known to offer some of the best surfing in Canada. There are also ample volleyball nets for the volleyball enthusiast like myself. If you are looking for some serenity, you can escape the beach activity by taking a walk out onto the pier or along the trail. This is the resting place of my mother, my son, and my daughter, so it holds a very special place in my heart. Once you lay eyes on it, you will understand why. It was breathtaking as we watched the sun set over beautiful Lake Huron.
The perfect ending to the perfect day. I love my hometown.
Pipe Band Parade
I would be remiss in neglecting to mention the Scottish Pipe Band Parade which occurs every Saturday evening between mid-June until Labour Day weekend. Unfortunately we missed it. Young and old alike have been flocking to the small Town of Kincardine from all across the globe since 1948 to participate in this fun-filled event. If you are a piper, make sure you bring your bagpipes so that you can join in the entertainment. If you are a tourist, the locals will always be able to spot you as you hoist the little ones up onto your shoulders and follow the band the two blocks down the main street.
It is at the end of the downtown that the pipers take their cigarette break and the children play the drums with Blinky (the mascot), before making their way back through the downtown to Victoria Park where they continue to serenade the crowd.
The parade is the place to be to catch up with friends, old and new alike. A true Kincardine tradition!
Had we visited Kincardine during July and August, we would have had the opportunity to experience the Phantom Piper, which is a long-standing Kincardine tradition. In honour of the late Donald Sinclair, one of the early pipers in Kincardine, a member of the pipe band will play his or her bagpipes, and can be found atop the Kincardine lighthouse or standing on the steps into the lighthouse. On many evenings throughout the week at dusk, you may be lucky enough to hear the bagpipes playing as you walk along the shores of beautiful Lake Huron.
Ahhhhh……HOME SWEET HOME xoxo
For more information on what to do, where to stay and where to eat when visiting Kincardine, visit Kincardine Tourism. I can guarantee that you will love my hometown just as much as I do! Kincardine is the absolute best road trip or staycation destination in Ontario, and you really are “a stranger only once”.
SAFE & HAPPY ROAD TRIPPIN 🙂
Written in loving memory of Mandi Cartwright. I will remember this day forever.
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