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AMAZING Things To Do in Thunder Bay

by Andy Vanr

Take a couple days to explore these amazing things to do in Thunder Bay.

Enjoy the beautiful outdoors in the city at the head of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. Learn how the area has been a base for explorers for generations.

What to do in Thunder Bay

There’s something amazing for everyone to do in Thunder Bay.

Thunder Bay Attractions

Thunder Bay Attractions Map
Click on the map for an interactive version.

Fort William Historical Park

This is an exact replica of the inland headquarters of the North West Company, the world’s largest fur trading company. The park has many heritage buildings, an Anishinaabe encampment and a working farm, all staffed by exceptional interpreters. These talented re-enactors are always in character, bringing 1816 to life and answering visitors’ questions.

Experience the Great Rendezvous, the annual summer meeting between French-Canadian voyageurs, Indigenous and Metis fur traders and the company’s partners. See the process of trading beaver pelts for ironware, cloth and trinkets brought from the east. The pelts were sent to Europe to satisfy the 19th century appetite for fur clothing and accessories.

Join the crowd in welcoming the arrival of a dignitary from the local Anishinaabe community. They traded extensively with the company obtaining items to help survive the harsh wilderness.

Fort William Historical Park is on the banks of the Kaministiquia River. The river was used extensively by fur traders to reach the interior of the continent from Lake Superior.

Canoes and kayaks are available for rent.

For star-gazers, the David Thompson Astronomical Observatory is located near the visitor centre and offers public events year-round.

If you are camping or RVing, check the Fort William camping website for more details about the full-service campground.

Kakabeka Falls

These 40-metre high falls are the second highest waterfall in Ontario (after Niagara Falls).  A wheel-chair accessible, boardwalk trail lets you get close to Kakabeka Falls, the Kaministiquia River and its stunning, deep gorge.

Couple Kakabeka Falls river bridge background
The waters of the Kaministiquia River flowing over Kakabeka Falls have carved the deep gorge we see today.

The falls are within Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, located right off the Trans-Canada Highway. There is plenty of parking here.  A Daily Vehicle Permit is required to see the falls.

Hiking in Thunder Bay

These three places are the best of many spots in the Thunder Bay area to enjoy a hike in the natural beauty of the region’s boreal forest. For more individual hike information see the Thunder Bay hiking trails table below.

Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

The park has a number of hiking trails of varying difficulties and lengths.

Hike the historic portage route that early explorers, fur traders and Indigenous people used to go around the huge obstacle of Kakabeka Falls. Imagine being a fur trader carrying your canoe, animal pelts and all your belongings around the waterfall. The hike is a 3.6-kilometre loop combining the Mountain Portage and Little Falls Trails.

People wooden viewing platform Kakabeka Falls
The boardwalk at Kakabeka Falls gets you close to the falls. The boardwalk is U-shaped starting on either side of the river and travelling over the road bridge. All other trails in the park start across the bridge.

The park is open year-round for day-use. In the winter, several trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. Snow-shoeing is also available.

Daily Vehicle Permits are required for day use access. They are available up to 5 days in advance of your arrival at the park. Visit the Ontario Parks Reservation website to obtain your vehicle permit. In the summer there are day-use visitor limits so buying your permit in advance guarantees your spot. Permits are available for 2 hours, 4 hours or the full day.

The park offers camping from mid-May to mid-October.

Cascades Conservation Area

Hike the short, generally easy, trails through the forest to the cascades on the Current River. Each trail provides the hiker a slightly different view of the forest and river. The cascades are a series of small waterfalls over rocks of the Canadian Shield. Relax to the sound of the water tumbling between small pools worn into the rocks.

Man foreground woman rocks river background
The trails at Cascades Conservation Area lead to the Current River and its pretty cascades over pink granitic rocks.

The park pavilion at the parking lot provides information about the rocks, trees, animals, birds and plants of the area. Enjoy a picnic on tables by the pavilion or bring it along to the riverside.

Cedar Falls Conservation Area

Enjoy a short, out-and-back hike through mixed forest to pretty Cedar Falls.

Couple Cedar Falls woods Thunder Bay
Cedar Falls is the perfect destination for a hike. We really enjoyed the fall colours on our hike.

Hiking Trails Thunder Bay

These are the trails you’ll find at the 3 places we’ve highlighted. There’s definitely a trail for you.

Trail Name/ TrailheadLength/Type/Difficulty
Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park 4853 Highway 11/17 (48.4031,-89.6225)
Boardwalk Trail Main parking lot750 m out/back Easy Wheelchair accessible
Mountain Portage Trail Near Visitor Centre1.25 km loop Easy Wheelchair accessible
Little Falls Trail mid Mountain Portage Trail2.5 km loop Moderate – Difficult
Poplar Point Trail Ski trail parking lot near Whispering Hills campground4 km loop Moderate
Beaver Meadows Trail4.5 km loop Moderate
River Terrace Trail3.5 km loop Moderate
Cascades Conservation Area Balsalm St. (48.4926, -89.2254)
Yellow Trail from parking lot1.7 km out/back Easy
Forest Trail from parking lot750 m paved loop Easy
Red Trail from orange or blue trails1.4 km linear Easy to Moderate
Orange Trail from yellow or blue trails1.6 km linear Easy to Moderate
Blue Trail from parking lot700 m linear Easy
Cedar Falls Conservation Area End of Broome Rd. (48.3694, -89.6558)1.6 km out/back Easy

For a great day hike that’s only an hour from Thunder Bay, check out our article Best Day Hike in Ontario – Hiking Sleeping Giant.

Terry Fox Monument

The monument honours Terry Fox, a courageous Canadian. He had lost a leg to cancer but decided to run across Canada in 1980 to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The Terry Fox Memorial is near the spot where, unfortunately, he was forced to end his run September 1, 1980 due to cancer’s return.

Man standing granite monument man on top
This beautiful granite monument is a tribute to the memory of Terry Fox. He inspired Canadians to support cancer research in 1980 before his cancer returned and took his life.

Sculpted in bronze, the Terry Fox Statue is mounted on 41 tons of Ontario granite. It includes the provincial and territorial coats-of-arms and Canadian symbols, the maple leaf and beaver. He died in June 1981 and the monument was unveiled several months later.

Thunder Bay Museums

In addition to Fort William Historical Park, two other area museums are worth a visit.

Founders’ Museum and Pioneer Village

Walk the dusty “Main Street” with its general store and shops to the railway station. Visit buildings moved from forgotten pioneer settlements in Northwestern Ontario. The homestead, church, one-room school, blacksmith, cobbler and carpenter give you a look into the past. There are antique cars, tractors, farm equipment and much more.

Lakehead Transportation Museum

The star attraction at this waterfront museum is the SSGS Alexander Henry.  The retired Canadian coast guard ship served as an icebreaker, buoy tender and lighthouse supply ship. It has returned to Thunder Bay where it was built in 1958 by the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Company.

The museum is dedicated to the preservation and display of transportation artifacts important in the history of the Thunder Bay area. Tours of the Alexander Henry are available. Several street cars are also on display.

Boat at dock picnic tables grassed area
The Alexander Henry, a retired coast guard ship now permanently at the Thunder Bay Transportation Museum, was built in Thunder Bay in 1958.

Thunder Bay Waterfront

The Thunder Bay waterfront has undergone a huge transition over the last decade. In the 20th century it was the world’s largest grain port, home to over 20 grain elevators. While grain elevators still exist, the commercial activities are now concentrated in the south leaving the north for recreation and entertainment. It is thriving. There are condos, multi-use trails, parkland, shops, restaurants, bars and the pleasure-boaters marina.

Thunder Bay Marina

The marina, with more than 250 slips, is open from mid-May through mid-October. It’s adjacent to a vibrant waterfront park with links to the city’s downtown. There are also condos and shops of all types nearby.

Paved path docked boats Thunder Bay Marina
Thunder Bay Marina has over 250 slips and is in the center of the action at Marina Park on the Thunder Bay waterfront.

If you are looking for a water adventure or just a different perspective of the city, set sail with Sail Superior from their dock at Pier 3, Marina Park.

Thunder Bay Marina Park

The park has a number of recreation and entertainment options.

  • Picnic area and children’s playground
  • Paved trails for walking or cycling
  • Skateboard and BMX plaza
  • Summer splash pad/Winter skating rink
  • Prince Arthur’s Landing event space. Check the City of Thunder Bay Events page for events.
  • Baggage Building Arts Centre showcases local artists in a renovated early 20th century railroad freight shed.

Parking is available near the marina and on the other side of Water Street which parallels the lake shore. A covered, wheelchair-accessible walkway starts behind the arts centre and crosses over the railway tracks and busy Water Street to the downtown.

As you exit the walkway, the Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda is at the corner of Water Street and Red River Road. Open since 1909, it is Canada’s oldest operating information building. The pagoda-shaped roof and domed cupola is unique.

Mount McKay Scenic Lookout

Mount McKay, Anemki Wajiw in Ojibwe, is on land of the Fort William First Nation. It is the prefect spot to look out over Thunder Bay and the Kaministiquia River. Anemki Wajiw stands out on the horizon with its top about 300 metres above Lake Superior. Its flat top is hard igneous rock protecting the softer rocks below from eroding away. There is a small fee to access the lookout.

Couple wooden platform panorama Thunder Bay
From the wide lookout platform you can see the city and beyond.

Thunder Bay Breweries

After a day of exploring the city, enjoy a beverage at one of these great Thunder Bay breweries.

picnic tables industrial building Sleeping Giant Brewery
Pick up a Sleeping Giant beverage to take home or enjoy it on their patio.

For some great food, try the locally-owned Daytona’s restaurant. They’ve been serving comfort food for over a decade. We enjoyed an amazing blackened chicken sandwich paired with our Sleeping Giant brews.

Thunder Bay Map

Couple lookout Fort William Thunder Bay
The lookout tower at Fort William Historical Park gives you a birds-eye view over the fort’s many buildings.

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