This summer, discover Thunder Bay in all its superior glory on a solo adventure through the city and the outskirts along the shores of Lake Superior.
Just You and Thunder Bay
With plenty of natural wonders and mouth-watering fare- you’re sure to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with yourself. The added bonus of extra-long summer days means you have plenty of time to unwind and just enjoy being with yourself.
Getting to Thunder Bay
Whether you hop in the car for an epic cross-province road trip or you opt for a flight, there are plenty of ways to get to Thunder Bay.
If you want more time in the city and less time on the road- no worries. Fly in with Air Canada, Westjet, Porter, Flair, Bearskin or Wasaya Airlines- all of whom have regular flights into Thunder Bay International Airport.
Driving in from the south? Power to ya! Grab that playlist and cruise up the long, winding and oh-so-beautiful Highway 11 for chances to see wildlife, beautiful lakes and deep forest, sometimes the journey is half the adventure. Thunder Bay is at the crossroads of Highway 11/17 and 61 so it’s easy to access.
Coming from Northern Ontario? Drives along Lake Superior’s north shore offer STUNNING views of the lake with multiple opportunities to dip your toes in the water! Grab that camera and a travel coffee mug so you can take your time and truly take in Mother Nature.
Once you’re in the city, there are lots of adventures to be had within walking distance of most hotels but if you want to swim in Lake Superior (Brr! Go you!) and check out some of the natural wonders, farms and breweries on the outskirts, we recommend renting a car. You can usually pick them up right at the airport when you land.
Let’s Talk Food and Drink
Anybody who has encountered our marketing team in the last year knows how much we enjoyed our time in Thunder Bay.
From unforgettable restaurants to agritourism stops like cheese factories and dairies to some pretty crazy-good beer, Thunder Bay has the trifecta of goodness.
Lake Superior lends itself to epically good beer for the water alone and brew masters have taken note. Two of our fav stops for quenching our thirst our third are Lakehead Beer and Sleeping Giant Brew Co.
Those staying within city limits can easily walk downtown to grab a pint at Lakehead. With four simple core brews to choose from, this new kid on the block is a must-stop.
They’ve honed their craft and we love sipping on their classic Pilsner or Deep Cuts American Brown Ale while sitting in the window and doing a little people-watching (don’t judge us, you do it too).
Feeling hungry? Attached to the brewery is Tomlin Subdivision where they make unreal deep-dish pizza as well as hush puppies that are worth the trip to Thunder Bay alone (no seriously).
On the outskirts of the city, Sleeping Giant Brew Co. is a community staple beloved by locals and travellers alike. Grab a seat out on their picnic tables in the good weather or in the tap room on rainy days.
With an inventive and creative string of brews and always something new on tap, past favs have included their Spruce Harvest infused with locally-foraged spruce tips, Northern Logger and their One City Pilsner.
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Working to create a safer space, the environment is welcoming, and the staff is incredibly friendly. They also host numerous events with live music, great food and more on tap.
Great Eats in the Downtown Core
Thunder Bay’s restaurant scene is pretty wild. You’ll be sure to find loads of local ingredients spread across the menus including Lake Superior fish, locally crafted cheese, hot sauce and of course, that aforementioned beer.
Those looking to celebrate a special occasion (hey! Being with just you is reason enough) should check out The Tomlin– a farm-to-table restaurant with fantastic cocktails and a rotating menu of goodness. Be sure to book ahead!
For mind-blowing Thai food, Thai Kitchen is a must. We loved their curry puffs and Tom Ka Gai- a tangy coconut broth-based soup with chicken, fresh mushrooms, chillies, lemongrass, lime leaf and galanga topped with fresh cilantro. Drool!
In Common Social Pub is an absolutely must-stop downtown. No seriously, we insist. This Indigenous-owned stop isn’t just cool because they work hard to create a safer space for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community by hosting special events and supporting artists from the community- they also have a wicked menu of food made with locally sourced ingredients. Even the dishes themselves are made by local potters and woodworkers!
Check out the Bannock Lady. This unassuming stop in the Thunder Bay mall is anything but ordinary. Owned by Jeanette Poisine aka The Bannock Lady, they specialize in all things Bannock. Think Bannock tacos, Bannock burgers and even Bannock hot dogs. Plus, if you’re nursing a hangover, she makes a ridiculously comforting Hangover Soup.
Finally, for coffee roasted right on-site, aficionados will love St. Paul Roastery. This simple yet delicious stop is the perfect way to put a lil’ pep in your step for the day.
Other Tastes of Place
Want to go home with a taste of Thunder Bay? Thunder Oak cheese is located in the beautiful Slate River Valley and was Canada’s first Gouda farm. From clover and honey Gouda to dill Gouda and fresh curds- you’ll want to try it all!
Down the road, Slate River Dairy sells whole skim, cocoa milk and fresh yogurt, cheese and kefir right on their dairy farm. Talk about sweeping views of the valley and soaking in the gorgeousness of Ontario. You may just want to grab a spot on the picnic table and enjoy a glass of that milk yourself. After all, there’s no one’s schedule you have to stick to.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the goodness that is Heartbeat Hot Sauce. Found on menus throughout the city (seriously, we’ve never see SO much love for one product), it’s a must-try and a must-bring home. With all kinds of varieties like dill, pineapple and blueberry habanero, you’re going to want to try a few.
Want to try a whole bunch of different tastes of place in one convenient location? The Goods & Co. has fresh produce, locally-made syrup, handcrafted jewellery and one of the coolest cocktail bars around. It’s a must-stop for souvenirs, delicious eats and more.
Natural Wonders and Heritage
Of course, Thunder Bay is best known for just how darn beautiful it is! There are plenty of opportunities for you to get out and explore Mother Nature. Just remember, if you’re solo, let somebody you trust know where you are and keep your cell phone on you!
Kakabeka Falls is the second biggest set of waterfalls in Ontario and offers gorgeous, sweeping views. Stay close to the car or check out some of the hiking paths that range from 750m to 4km. Camping is also available in the provincial park! There’s also a small beach here to swim in Kaministiquia River.
Looking for a mix of culture, heritage and outdoor adventure? We LOVED visiting Fort William Historic Site where you’re transported back in time to 1916 to the inland headquarters of the Northwest Trading Company- the world’s largest fur trading enterprise.
A band of wonderful in-character guides take you through the Anishnabee encampment to learn about the food of Indigenous peoples and how it changed as Scottish and French settlers came to the area.
You’ll stroll into the mess hall, fire-roast coffee on the hearth, nibble on Scottish shortbread and more as you learn all the while along the shores of Lake Superior as the encampment prepares for Rendez-Vous- a two-week event in July when businessmen, voyageurs and Indigenous peoples met to discuss trade, business and reacquaint.
You could easily spend a full day here!
Of course, swimming in Lake Superior is a bucket-list-worthy experience you need to enjoy. Park yourself for a steamy afternoon on the shores of one of many beaches in the area and go for a (very) refreshing dip in the clear and chilly waters overlooking the Sleeping Giant (aka Nanabijou). Really into water activities? There are also opportunities for paddling, paddleboarding and so much more.
Cheers to You
Now it’s time to crack a beer, enjoy a Lake Superior sunset and head out in search of your next delicious meal. Don’t forget to download the Great Taste of Ontario passport to receive a $25 Feast On® gift voucher when you check into 5 stops!
Hot tip for flyers: Really want to bring some beer or hot sauce home but sad you can’t bring it in your carry-on? No worries! Pop into NOMAD in the airport before you leave to stock up on all kinds of local goodness!