My Roadtrip Home

explore-kincardine-ontario

I don’t know what exactly it is that keeps pulling at my heart-strings and has me returning to this beautiful little town in Southwestern 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 is home and that’s where my heart has remained.

Kincardine, Where You’re a Stranger Only Once. The best Ontario Summer road trip destination.

  1. How to Get to Kincardine
  2. Things to do in Kincardine
    • Tiny Tot Playground and Beach
    • Rock Garden
    • Grey Matter Beer Company
    • Station Beach, Lighthouse and Kincardine Harbour
  3. More Things to do in Kincardine
    • Kincardine Pipe Band
    • Phantom Piper
  4. Places to Eat in Kincardine
  5. Places to Stay in Kincardine
  6. Know Before You Go
  7. My Home Town

How to Get to Kincardine

Kincardine is a small town that lies along the sandy shores of Lake Huron in Western Ontario. It’s 2 hours and 44 minutes from Toronto.

Kincardine is my quick got to road trip when I just want to escape the city for a day or two.  I always love to explore my home town as if I was a tourist, and I never fail to find something new.  Kincardine has so much to offer and I never have a problem filling my day without breaking the bank.
This is why Kincardine has become my favorite summer Ontario road trip destination.

My childhood home, Kincardine, Ontario
My Childhood Home

When visiting 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!

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Things to do in Kincardine

Kincardine has many things to offer, but the beach is the primary reason people flock to this small town. As a hometown girl, I recommend that you spend the day close to the water.

Tiny Tot Playground

216 Lampton Street, Kincardine, Ontario

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 on the north side of the town.  This is a fantastic area to visit if you have children, and even if you don’t.

Tiny Tot Playground is the perfect spot to spend the day when visiting Kincardine with children.
Tiny Tot Playground

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 numerous picnic tables, several tennis courts and the lawn bowling area, and public restrooms.  Bring a picnic as you can easily spend the entire day at the Tiny Tot Playground.

NOTE: After at least 60 years, the Town of Kincardine has recently changed the name of the park to MacPherson Park.

Rock Garden and Pavillion

Rock Garden: 155 Durham Street, Kincardine, Ontario

Kincardine Pavillion: 156 Durham Street, Kincardine, Ontario

After playing on the beach for a bit, I recommend taking a walk down the beach towards the rock garden, which is also located on the beach and has spectacular views.  What an incredible spot for a wedding, with beautiful Lake Huron offering the perfect backdrop.

The Kincardine Rock Garden is a magnificent spot for an outdoor wedding over-looking Lake Huron
Kincardine Rock Garden

Next door to the rock garden is the Kincardine Pavilion (fondly known by the locals as the “pav”), which is also located directly 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.

To escape the crowds on the beach, head towards the Pavillion to seek some solace.  It's not quite as busy.
View from Kincardine Pavillion

INSIDER TIP: After visiting the Rock Garden, continue walking and you will hit what locals call Lover’s Lane. Walking Lover’s Lane is a very easy short 2 minute walk that provides peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the main beach. Back in the day, teenagers would sneak to Lover’s Lane with the “love of their life”. Hence the name Lover’s Lane was born.

The Tiny Tot Playground, Kincardine Pavillion, Rock Garden and Lover’s Lane are all connected and an easy short walk for all fitness levels.

Grey Matter Beer Company

726 Queen Street, Kincardine, Ontario

When it’s time to cool off with a nice cold beer, the Grey Matter Beer Company offers beer by the glass, as well as beer tasting flights.  Given that I’m not a beer drinker, I was very impressed with the quality and taste of the beer. The staff were extremely friendly, providing an easy laid-back atmosphere.

When in Kincardine, visit Grey Matter for some beer tasting and book a tour in advance of your visit.
Grey Matter Beer Company

You can easily spend a couple of hours at Grey Matter, tasting the different beers, playing games, people watching, or enjoying the sunset as it sets over the sky of Lake Huron. Everyone is made to feel welcome at this establishment, even our fur buddies. What could be better than making a pit stop for a beer when out walking your dog? 

The beer is brewed on site and the floor below has an opening so you are able to see the tanks below.

Tour Grey Matter Beer Company when visiting Kincardine, Ontario

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. Better yet, book a room and spend the night.

Grey Matter Beer Company is located on the lands and treaty territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation

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.

Visit the Kincardine Lighthouse at dusk during the Summer and listen for the Phantom Piper
Kincardine Lighthouse

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 which is accessed directly from the beach.

Kincardine offers some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Once you lay eyes on a Kincardine sunset, you will understand why Kincardine is one of the best destinations in Ontario. I highly recommend that you plan on sticking around long enough to take in this beauty.

Kincardine has the best sunsets in the world. North pier
Kincardine has some of the best sunsets in the world

The perfect ending to the perfect day.  I love my hometown.

More of the Best Things to do in Kincardine, Ontario

If you can stay for more than a day, there is plenty more to do and see. This hometown gal has the following recommendations:

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.  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, bring your bagpipes so that you can join in the entertainment.  If you are a tourist, beware 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 and an Ontario must see activity.

Kincardine Saturday night scottish pipeband parade is the most popular tourist attraction in Kincardine, Ontario
Pipeband Parade – every Saturday night in the Summer

Phantom Piper

If visiting Kincardine during July and August, you will have 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.

Kincardine's phantom piper   HOME SWEET HOME 🙂

If you aren’t a beach person, there are several other ways to fill your days while visiting the friendly Town of Kincardine:

  • browse the quaint locally owned shops
  • antique shopping. Check out Reid’s Corner Antiques located 10 Km. south on highway 21 and concession 4 (open Saturday and Sundays)
  • take a historic walking or driving tour
  • hike one of Kincardine’s trails
  • take a tour of the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant
  • visit the Walker House, Kincardine’s oldest building located at 235 Harbour Street, Kincardine, Ontario
  • take in a play at the Bluewater Summer Playhouse, located at 707 Queen Street, Kincardine, Ontario

Places to Eat in Kincardine, Ontario

When visiting Kincardine, it is important to remember that it is a small town and therefor won’t have the amount of food establishments that we are afforded in the city. Yes you will find the usual chain restaurants along highway 21, but I highly recommend eating at one of the local establishments:

  • Hawgsbreath Saloon for pub fair $$$
  • Bistecca Italian Steakhouse for finer dining $$$$
  • Erie Bell $$$
  • Tartan Tusk Pub and Eatery $$$ (my favorite for the location)
  • Kings Pearl in Tiverton $$ (71 King Street, Tiverton, Ontario, 12 minutes outside of Kincardine)

Before visiting any of the restaurants check to see if they are open. Small town restaurants tend to be a hit and miss. If you are visiting during the Summer months, I highly recommend making reservations.

Places to Stay in Kincardine, Ontario

When visiting Kincardine, it is important to remember that it is a tourist town and accommodations book up well in advance of the summer months. Whether you prefer chain hotels, boutique hotels, airbnbs, or a unique stay, Kincardine has it all, however book early!

For visitors looking for independent accommodations, there are cottage rentals, airbnb’s, and campgrounds.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (INSIDER TIPS)

  • Kincardine is an extremely safe destination for solo travellers. There is very little crime and the people are friendly. It’s true…you are a stranger only once.
  • While it is possible to visit Kincardine year round, it is a summer destination. If you decide to visit during the winter, prepare to be storm stayed. Both highways 21 and 9 which lead into Kincardine are frequently closed due to weather conditions.
  • Restaurants are not always open. I recommend bringing a picnic if visiting for the day or bring some finger foods for snacking on in the evening
  • If you are travelling with a large group or for a family reunion, I HIGHLY recommend booking the Kincardine Cabins. They typically book a year in advance so don’t wait!
  • A quiet beach can be accessed from Lover’s Lane
  • Accommodations are difficult to find during the summer. Book early!

I Hope You Enjoyed My Hometown

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”.

Written in loving memory of Mandi Cartwright. I will remember this day forever.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME ON MY ROAD TRIP HOME 🙂

Kelly xoxo

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42 thoughts on “My Roadtrip Home

  1. Wendy

    Kelly I want to go with you! Very impressive! I have only been there once and it was just to visit someone. It sounds like a beautiful town and lucky you got to be raised in it xoxo When I was reading I could picture myself sitting or lounging by the gazebo watching the sun go down as well as having that picnic. Thank you for sharing ❤️

    Like

    1. Just One Passport

      You’re very welcome! I’ll take you in the Spring or Summer when the weather is warmer. It’s beautiful in the Summer, but unfortunately it is in accessible the majority of the Winter. I’m glad you enjoyed! xoxo

      Like

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  11. Josy A

    It is always strange to see your hometown with the eyes of a tourist – it seems only possible when you’ve moved away for a while right? Kincardine looks like a really charming area to come home to. I can see why it’ll hold a part of your heart forever. 🙂

    Like

  12. Tanya T

    Wow, what an amazing road trip you had! I can’t believe you covered such a vast distance and saw so many stunning sights along the way. You must have been thrilled to see it again after so much time on the road. I can also imagine how bittersweet it must have been to say goodbye — but hello open road and new adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. James

    This is a really in-depth blog post and very useful! Would you believe I nearly moved to this area before? While I was only ever in Montreal now I would love to visit Kincardine!!! Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the next post! 😁 James

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Mitch

    It’s always lovely to read about a location from the perspective of someone who calls it home and your passion for your hometown is very clear. Kincardine looks like a delightful place to visit with many things to do and see. We’d particularly enjoy spending time at Grey Matter Beer Company – it looks as though there are plenty of interesting beers to sample. (And I think we’d take your advice and stay the night!)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. BlondeAroundTheWorld

    I love the way the article begins, “Where you are only a stranger once.” It makes you feel at the outset like getting to know a place that welcomes you with an open heart.
    Every photo makes one want to visit your city, and the description, noticeably made with great affection for the area, conveys the peace that the place itself seems to have.
    I believe that making a picknick and seeing the sunset at Station Beach would be something that would please me a lot. Thanks for sharing your hometown…I’m getting more and more curious to visit Canada!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Barry

    You clearly love and have fond memories of this town and that comes across so well in your writing of the post. I have only been back to my home town a few times in the last 30 years as it is now so far away but I totally get that whimsical memories felling you portray here. The name is Scottish and with the pipe bands there must be a clear and long association with Scotland.
    The Grey Matter Brewery would definitely be on my list as I love local and craft beers. The views along the lakeshore are marvellous. I was in Toronto many years ago but never had the time to explore the areas as much as I would have liked to – so this is on the lost of I ever get back to Toronto.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Agnes

    It’s a fascinating article about Kincardine. Since Ontario is on my bucket list, I’d love to visit your town too. Small towns have charm, and I like adding them to my itinerary. So far, I’ve only gotten to know western and northern Canada, BC, Yukon, Alberta, and Northwest Territories. But I’m also planning a road trip around Ontario because I only know Toronto a bit. The town has friendly and uncrowded beaches. Willing to try the local beer too. And because I love lighthouses, I would also like to see and photograph Kincardine Lighthouse and Kincardine Harbour. It’s great that you also give recommendations on where to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      When you’re in Ontario, make sure to take road trips away from Toronto. If you love lighthouses, there is a “lighthouse trail” along Lake Huron from Grand Bend to Tobermory. I’m actually in the middle of drafting a post on that road trip. The Kincardine lighthouse and harbour are by far my favorites (I might be a little biased lol). I so want to spend so time in the Yukon and I’ve ready your posts which makes me want to. I was there for a day and I couldn’t get over how beautiful it is.

      Like

  18. Luke Young

    What a lovely and heartwarming post. I always do this when I visit the village I grew up in. How tempted were you to stick in an offer?

    Such a lovely beach as well, a somewhat hidden paradise with all the charm. Sunsets & beer, I’m sold!

    Thanks for your sharing your beautiful home town.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pam

    Sounds like a quaint place to go! Surfing in Canada sounds intriguing. The rock garden looks very interesting place to visit. I can really tell your affection in the post and that makes me want to visit as well haha. I think I’d enjoy staying in the cabins in the warmer months.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Emma

    Thank you for sharing a place that means so much to you. I love reading about people’s hometowns, it’s always so nice to see the things that are fondly remembered. Kincardine looks like a lovely place – I’m still always amazed at how the great lakes can really look and feel like being at the ocean, right down to the beaches. I’d be all over the brewery (love the name) and the antiques and small stores. But it looks like there are so many beautiful outdoor spaces too

    Liked by 1 person

  21. awakenedvoyages

    How lovely for you to be able to go back to your hometown and see it with new eyes every time! Your childhood house is so charming as is the whole of Kincardine. I love quaint and quiet towns like this and I can imagine how pretty it must be in the summer when you can enjoy those sunsets from a beach with a cold drink or go on a lovely walk on one of the trails.

    Liked by 1 person

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