One of the stops we made during our Trans-Canadian road trip was Thunder Bay, driving from Wawa the previous day, which was around 5h15 in total. We broke this up with lots of interesting stops along the way, a couple of which are included here.
Before you arrive in Thunder Bay
When driving to Thunder Bay, do make time to stop at a couple of places along the way (or way out, depending on which direction you are driving). We drove across Canada from East to West, so the following places were on our way into Thunder Bay.
Amethyst Mine Panorama
If you have children (especially those who enjoy digging and exploring and all things shiny), or a love of amethyst yourself, this is an absolute must stop off place. It is a little way off the main route into Thunder Bay, but I promise it is worth it.
Follow the signs to the mine. It will become quite a rough dirt track that seems never ending, but just keep going. You eventually arrive at the mine, where there is lots of free parking.
Make sure you use the bathroom before you head inside as that is the only one. You will see it in the trees over your left shoulder once parked.
Amethyst Mine Panorama is a family run business, passed on through generations and run by the owners, who you will see around the attraction. It’s open from 10-5 daily during the summer season which is June 1st until October 1st.
You will be guided initially and given a ton of fascinating facts and information about the mine. Following this , it’s a self-guided tour at your leisure, where you can dig for amethyst, spend time sorting and cleaning your discoveries and deciding what you would like to purchase to take home.
This is an interesting, engaging and fun activity for people of all ages – our children brought home some gorgeous souvenirs and this was one of their highlights of our trip.
Terry Fox Scenic Lookout
Terry Fox Scenic Lookout is an absolute must stop on the way into Thunder Bay, both for the inspirational story behind it and the incredible view.
This is well signposted and literally at the side of the road, so you’d struggle to miss it. You drive up a short but steep road to the car park at the top.
Once parked you can see the 9-foot high bronze statue, set on a 45-ton granite base with a foundation of local amethyst, commands a breath-taking view of Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant. The statue was erected in memory of Terry Fox, the courageous runner who after losing his leg to cancer embarked on the ‘Marathon of Hope’, a cross-country run in support cancer research. The site is not far from the spot where Terry was forced to end his run at 5,342 km (3,339mi) after his cancer had returned. Cancer took Terry’s life on June 28, 1981. It truly is an incredible story and the views are spectacular too, so well worth a stop!
Where to stay in Thunder Bay
This will depend how long you are staying and who you are travelling with of course. We stayed in the Holiday Inn Express & Suites which was ideal as we were only there a night when passing through. There is so much to do in Thunder Bay we could have easily spent more time there but unfortunately our schedule didn’t have space for that.
During our Trans-Canadian trip we stayed in several Holiday Inn Express & Suites and we were really impressed. They are the ideal hotels for families. Beautifully clean, loads of parking, spacious rooms, complete with a fridge and microwave, friendly staff and an absolutely superb breakfast which is included in the price of every room.
Not only that, but there is free WIFI, a swimming pool and gym. Everything you need for a speedy family stay!
Marina Park Splash Pad
Like I’ve said before, the children’s playgrounds in Canada are exceptional. Thunder Bay is no exception. If your children are in need of a cool off, you can stop at the Marina Park Splash Pad. This is open until 11pm, it’s also a lovely place for a walk and to see the boats.
If you have time whilst in Thunder Bay, a great place for children is Chippewa Park. The is a children’s playground, some lovely walking, views of lake superior and you can paddle to cool off. There is also a selection of amusement rides open until 8pm, you will pay CA$22 for a book of tickets.
Mount McKay Scenic Lookout
A trip to Mount McKay Scenic Lookout will offer you a birds eye view of Thunder Bay. You can drive up for $10 or walk up for $2 a person, which seems like a fair price to keep everything looking beautiful. If you have the time it would be a nice place for a lunch time picnic stop!
Leaving Thunder Bay
Our next overnight stop after Thunder Bay was Kenora, which is about a 5h20 drive from Thunder Bay. When leaving Thunder Bay an absolute must is a stop off at the Kakabeka Falls. This is often referred to as the “Niagara of the North”
We really loved Kakabeka Falls and were so glad we made the stop, it really is a must see place. The Falls are accessible from the car park inside the entrance. You don’t have to walk far to see them as there are stunning wooden platforms and boardwalks.
However, don’t limit your stop here to just seeing the falls from the car park side. Make sure you take the time to cross the bridge and see the falls from the other side too. Once across, you will be able to pick up a drink or ice cream from the gift shop, use the restrooms and get some great shots of the falls from a totally different perspective.
Here’s a little look at the falls!
This article is in collaboration with Tourism Thunder Bay.