Owen Sound is a place where you can stay active, indoors and out, in all seasons. Many of our most popular recreational sports, such as biking, hiking, golf, swimming, motorcycle touring, and ATV riding, take advantage of our geography and natural assets: gently rolling hills, protected forests and parkland, and waterways flowing into Georgian Bay.
Winter doesn't have to put a halt to your outdoor fun. We have plenty of snow sports when the frost hits and snow flies, from skiing and snowshoeing to snowmobiling and skating.
Prefer to exercise indoors? We have several sports facilities to choose from, including a modern YMCA with indoor pools and ice rinks.
Looking to swim at a clean, sandy beach? There are several places to dive into the cool, clear waters of Georgian Bay in and around Owen Sound.
On the western shore you'll find Kelso Beach Park, which has a shallow sandy beach, change rooms and washroom facilities, a sheltered picnic area, splash pad, playground and trails. It's near the Georgian Shores Marina. Parking is free and the beach is unsupervised. Picnic under the tall shady willows and enjoy the view across the harbour.
Further north lies Sarawak Family Park, across from the Legacy Ridge Golf Club. It has a sheltered beach, small playground, washrooms and picnic facilities. The beach is sandy, but the bay here is rocky in places. Parking is free.
There are several other beaches tucked along Owen Sound Bay heading north on County Road 1 past Kemble, but the largest is in Big Bay, the self-proclaimed "Skipping Stone Capital of Canada." Indeed, the shore is full of smooth, flat stones perfect for skipping on the water. While you're there, stop by the Big Bay General Store for home-made ice cream, or Kepple Croft Gardens for a horticultural treat!
On the east side of Owen Sound Bay a little north of the city is the Hibou Conservation Area, a great place to take the family for the two natural sand beaches, hiking trails, playground, picnic facilities and bathrooms. Hibou is on County Road 15. From May to October there is a $5 parking fee.
Sauble Beach, the second-longest freshwater beach in the world, is only 20 minutes west of Owen Sound.
If the waters of Georgian Bay feel a little too cold or poolside lounging is more your style, there are several other swimming options, including heated outdoor pools at Harrison Park, the splash pad at Kelso Beach Park and indoor swimming at the YMCA Owen Sound Grey Bruce, Stone Tree Fitness, and the Quality Inn.
Owen Sound Bay and the harbour are natural ports of call for recreational boaters. Retail services and restaurants are available within a short walk of the floating docks on the east side of the inner harbour. The city is also served by a marina and boats launches.
Canoes and paddle boats can be rented by the hour at Harrison Park for use on the Sydenham River between the park and the Mill Dam and Fish Ladder. The Putt 'n Paddle is open daily during the summer and weekends in the spring and fall, weather permitting.
If you have your own canoe or kayak, you may launch it at either of the city's two boat launches in the inner harbour, or at the paddling kiosk at the north end of Harrison Park. Drive to the bottom of 5th Ave. East at 4th St. East and continue to the kiosk, where you can safely launch your boat.
Those wishing to rent canoes or kayaks for longer excursions should contact outfitters in the area; the nearest is Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth.
The Owen Sound harbour is a historic port of call that still greets many ships each year, including Great Lakes freighters transporting grain, salt or cement to the elevators. It's also the winter home of the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry, which sails from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island during the summer. The Chi-Cheemaun offers a single public sailing up the Bruce Peninsula coast each spring and fall between Owen Sound and Tobermory. These sailings fill quickly; call 1.800.265.3163 to book ahead.
Owen Sound boaters are served by the Georgian Shores Marina and the Georgian Yacht Club, plus public boat launches on either side of the harbour and a floating dock on the east side.
The west side boat launch is at 1455 1st Avenue West, just north of the Visitor Information Centre. It offers a coffee shop, live bait and tackle, parking, fish cleaning station, ice, washrooms and picnic area.
The east side boat launch is at 1900 3rd Ave East, at the north tip of the parking lot at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. Both venues offer daily passes, season passes, extended parking and overnight docking.
Daily passes are available at the East Side Boat Launch Pay n' Display machine.
Passes can be purchased on-site or visit www.owensoundboatlaunch.ca for more information and to pre-purchase launch tickets online, or call 226.910.1022
Daily launches $10.00 + 13% = $11.30
Extended overnight parking $8.85 per night + 13% = $10.00
Daily dockage $1.00 per foot, per day + 13% only charged during Derby
Season passes $100.00 + 13% = $113.00
Season passes (2nd pass) $44.25 + 13% = $50.00
Visit www.owensoundboatlaunch.ca for more information and to pre purchase launch tickets online, or call 226.910.1022.
The Georgian Shores Marina offers 450 slips for boats up to 55 feet long. You'll also find a fully stocked chandlery and licensed mechanics, plus gas and diesel services, a sewage pump out, a fish cleaning station, ice, washrooms, nautical charts, boat accessories, repairs to all makes and models of marine engines, boat sales and a boater's lounge.
The Georgian Yacht Club caters to both power and sail boats. It has 150 full members and 70 associates, and features a sail boat racing program from June to October. The club was formed in the 1940s.
Transport Canada owns and operates the Port of Owen Sound, located on the southwest quadrant of Georgian Bay at the mouth of the Sydenham River. Navigation is seasonal from March to the end of December; some Great Lakes freighters over-winter in the harbour. The federal government oversees approximately 1,200 metres of the west harbour wall and 1,140 metres of the east harbour wall.
Treat yourself to some rest, relaxation and pampering in Owen Sound.
Wellness centres include Trillium Healing Arts, focusing on naturopathic medicine, breast health and more.
While unwinding in the River District you may want to check out Body Science, where every item you pick up comes with a recipe card to get you started on some natural at-home delights.
For yoga classes, head to Trillium or Tone Yoga, in a renovated church in the River District.
There are many excellent massage therapists here as well.
If you're heading east of Owen Sound to the Blue Mountain area, check out the award-winning Scandinave Spa, featuring thermal baths, massage, and more.
Recreational ORV riding is an increasingly popular pastime. By municipal by-law, ATVs and ORVs are allowed on most Owen Sound streets, but not in parks, on trails, and in open areas except as noted below. For the purpose of the by-law, Off-Road Vehicles are defined as: Single Rider and Two-up ATVs, Side-by-side Off-Road Vehicles and Utility-Terrain Vehicles.
The City's by-law states that ORVs are only permitted between sunrise and sunset on any day between April 1st and October 31st. When riding on any road in the City, ORVs are limited to 20 km/h. ORVs may ride on part of the Georgian Bay trail but are not permitted in parks, sports fields, playgrounds, trails, cemeteries, sidewalks or boulevards.
Portions of the Georgian Bay Trail allow for ORV access.
The Owen Sound ATV Map shows all the streets ORV use is permitted on, in black, and all of the prohibited streets including Grey County roads, in red. For details on the Off-Road Vehicle By-law please see By-Laws and Policies (Streets and Traffic By-Laws, 2016-087).
Riders are also reminded of Provincial operating rules and safety standards, which include:
- Front and rear lights must be on at all times;
- ORVs must have a permit and number plate;
- Riders must have insurance, a driver's licence and wear a helmet;
- Tires must be inflated to the normal setting while on the street.
Two local clubs have further resources which may be of interest to recreational riders. The Dufferin Grey ATV Club covers the Owen Sound area and the rest of Grey County as well as Dufferin County. The South Bruce Peninsula ATV Club is dedicated to the Bruce Peninsula region, including the Township of Georgian Bluffs which borders the City of Owen Sound to the west and north.
Owen Sound has some of the most outstanding golf courses in the region, including Cobble Beach Golf Links and the Legacy Ridge Golf Club, both overlooking Georgian Bay. The Scenic City Golf Course is just east of the City on Highway 26.
If you're visiting, you can take advantage of "stay and play" packages that offer golf plus dining or overnight accommodation.
Cobble Beach Golf Links
The course at Cobble beach was designed by renowned golf course architect Doug Carrick. Rolling fairways and greens with panoramic views of Georgian Bay from every hole make it both challenging to play and beautiful to view. The course has received accolades from Golf Digest, Travel & Leisure Golf, Ontario Golf, Fairways and SCOREGolf magazines.
Course: 18 hole, Par-72, 7174 yards (black)
Amenities: Clubouse, restaurant, driving range, practice facilities, tennis courts, spa and fitness centre, plus accommodation (The Inn at Cobble Beach and individual cottages)
Location: 221 McLeese Drive, just off Grey Road 1, north of Owen Sound
Golf Packages: starting at $135 per person
Book your tee time: 519-370-2173 or 1-888-278-8112
Legacy Ridge Golf Club
Nestled along the shores of Georgian Bay just north of Owen Sound, Legacy Ridge Golf Club offers a mix of picturesque scenery, hospitable staff and 94 years of golf history. The course challenges experienced players while helping rookies relax as they learn this classic game. Legacy Ridge is also a popular venue for tournaments, weddings and other special events.
Course: 18 hole, Par-71, 6201 yards (gold)
Amenities: Legacy Ridge houses a pro-shop and dining on site.
Location: 318494 Grey Road 1, just north of Owen Sound
Golf Packages: starting at $119 per person
Book your tee time: 519-376-1961
Scenic City Golf Course
The Scenic City Golf Course takes pride in offering "great golf at affordable prices." Get the edge up on your friends using the driving range, practice green and practice sand bunker. The course is owned and operated by Jake Clark and family.
Course: 18 hole, Par-71, 6010 yards (blue)
Amenities: Scenic City has a pro-shop, driving range, practice green and licensed restaurant on site.
Location: 203674 Highway 26, just 3km East of Owen Sound.
Book your tee time: 519-376-4649
The Owen Sound area has fabulous fishing throughout the year. If you are looking for Chinook Salmon, Brown Trout or Rainbow Trout, you can troll the Owen Sound Bay or work the harbour walls. The Sydenham Sportsmen's Association has maintained an active stocking program that makes Owen Sound a favourite destination for anglers.
Here are some fishing tips and prime locations.
Be sure to have a valid Ontario fishing license before you head out.
Fish off the harbour wall
Owen Sound has thousands of metres of easily accessible harbour to fish off. Come, pick your favourite spot! You'll find Chinook Salmon in late summer and fall, best caught in late evening or at night. Rainbow trout run in the spring and late fall.
Further upstream you can fish in the Sydenham River through to Harrison Park. During the Salmon migration in September and October the river is declared a sanctuary for spawning fish and is off-limits to anglers from just north of the Mill Dam to Inglis Falls.
Pick your season
In spring, the hottest salmon fishing in Owen Sound Bay can be experienced over Thompson's Hole from ice-out until early July. Here the big kings are found in 80-120' depths of water. Slow trolling and downriggers are the only method to catch them.
In summer Thompson's Hole is a likely location to pick up Chinook Salmon but most of the angling pressure begins to shift to Squaw Point and the west shore from the mouth of Indian River to Cape Commodore. Approximately six miles from the inner harbour, watch for Cobble Beach Golf Links along the west shore. Here, excellent trout and salmon fishing can be found.
Plenty of Chinook Salmon are still present in the outer bay until mid-October. There are excellent drifting opportunities for Chinook and Rainbow in the lower stretches of the Sydenham and Pottawatomi Rivers.
In winter, the best ice fishing can be found approximately three miles from the inner harbour across from the former Goodyear plant located on the east shoreline. Parking is available at the East Side Boat Launch.
We live in a snow belt. Owen Sound gets about 9 feet of the white stuff each winter, which is great for snowshoeing, tobogganing, skiing (both downhill and cross-county), snowmobiling and good old-fashioned snow angels and snowmen. What if it's a light winter? We still have skating, fishing, trail rides and awesome winter waterfalls to explore. Here's the lowdown:
Head for the hills!
The Harrison Park toboggan hill is the perennial favourite for thrill-seekers, with a very steep hill and also a smaller one for beginners. Best of all, you can warm up later with a hot drink at the park restaurant. Gentler slopes can be found in downtown Owen Sound at Ryerson Park off 8th Street East or near Indian Falls off County Road 1.
Harrison Park's outdoor skating rink, a gift from the Scenic City Order of Good Cheer, is especially pretty during the Festival of Northern Lights. The HOSE rule applies, meaning Hockey on Odd days, Skating on Even-numbered ones. Admission is free and the rink is open evenings, so you can skate under the stars.
Hit the Ski Trails
For skate-skiing, classic skiing, or a refreshing night ski, head to the Sawmill Nordic Centre on Highway 6 near Hepworth. It offers trails for both novice and advanced skiers. The trails are groomed for both skate-skiing and classic skiing and separate snowshoe trails are available, along with a heated log cabin for eating and changing, and night skiing under the lights. The nordic centre is operated by the Bruce Ski Club. Ski rentals are available at the nearby Suntrail Source for Adventure.
Cobble Beach Resort just north of Owen Sound also offers 10 kilometres of groomed trails.
If you're hankering for the adventure of an un-groomed trail close to home, try Inglis Falls or Harrison Park.
The Owen Sound Cross Country Ski Club maintains 9.6 kilometres of classic groomed wilderness trails in Massie, south-east of Owen Sound on Concession 6 or Side Road 6 (there are two entrances). They also allow snowshoeing on the property
Snowshoe our Winter Waterfalls
A pair of snowshoes is your ticket to discovering the beauty of a waterfall in winter. Inglis Falls, Weaver's Creek Falls and Jones Falls are wondrous to behold and accessible in winter with snowshoes. Bring along a ski pole or walking stick for good measure. (If you've planned a waterfall trip and there isn't much snow, you can hike to the waterfalls instead).
Other great places to snowshoe include Harrison Park, Stoney Orchard Park and Coffin Ridge Winery, where you can romp around in the vineyards! You can rent snowshoes at Suntrail Source for Adventure.
Fish the Sound
The Owen Sound bay is great for ice-fishing when it freezes over, usually in early February until the end March. The best ice fishing can be found from the harbour channel out to Thompson's Hole, approximately 3 miles out pending ice conditions. Under the ice you will find Rainbow, Brown and Lake Trout, whitefish -possibly salmon and maybe the odd Ling!
Open water angling on the Sydenham and Pottawatomi rivers will net you rainbow trout. Be sure to have a valid Ontario fishing licence, available online or from the Service Ontario office in Owen Sound, Canadian Tire or Watson's Tackle.
The Blue Mountain area boasts some terrific ski slopes and is only 40 minutes east of Owen Sound.
Owen Sound is a sledder's paradise. There are more than 3,600 kilometres of groomed trails in the region (District 9 of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs), and with an average yearly snowfall over 330 centimetres, Owen Sound is the ideal destination for fresh powder! Snowmobile trails enter the city at various points with easy access to accommodations, restaurants, gas stations and shopping opportunities.
Four established trails pass through Owen Sound: the Bruce Peninsula Tour (193 km), the Queen's Bush Tour (185 km), the Saugeen River Tour (263 km) and the Walter's Falls Tour (142 km). Complete trail routes available on the District 9 OSFC web site.
For more information on snowmobile usage guidelines with the City of Owen Sound, view our Snow Vehicle Operations map or refer to the City’s Operation of Motorized Snow Vehicles By-law No. 1976-027 and the City’s Parks By-law No. 1992-014.
Read more in this review by The Intrepid Snowmobiler. You can also check out the Ride Grey Bruce site for information on sledding and motorcycle routes. The Owen Sound Eastside Snowmobile Club is an active local group involved in the OSFC. Trail conditions often change during the season so check the District 9 OFSC web site before you go, and please ride with safety in mind.