Visit Awenda Provincial Park

Conrad Kuiper/Flickr

At Awenda, the Nipissing Bluff drops a dramatic 60 metres into Georgian Bay, providing varied terrain for the geography enthusiast, including boulder fields, cobble beaches, kettle lakes and sand dunes. Check out Methodist Point Bay for the most protected, sandiest beach, perfect for swimming. Once you’re finished splashing around, look across to Giant’s Tomb Island, where the spirit of Kitchekewana—creator of the 30,000 Islands and the five bays of Georgian Bay, according to legend—is said to rest. If you’ve brought your dog, Awenda also offers a pet-friendly beach.

More info: Ontarioparks.com

What’s nearby: Check out Penetanguishene (known as Penetang by locals) and nearby Midland to learn more about the area’s fascinating Aboriginal and early French history. Visit Saint-Marie Among the Hurons, a reconstructed Jesuit mission dating from the seventeenth century, then venture over to the Martyrs’ Shrine, which commemorates eight French priests, now saints, who worked and died in the area more than 350 years ago. For a slightly more recent view of history, check out the Discovery Harbour, a nineteenth-century naval base. Finally, for a relaxing end to a busy day, take a sunset cruise around the 30,000 Islands from Penetang’s harbour.

How to get there: Take the 400 north and take exit 121 towards Midland/Penetanguishene. Turn left onto Robert Street West in Penetang, turn right onto County Road 26/LaFontaine Road E, then right onto Concession 16. Turn left onto Awenda Park Road and follow the signs.