Summer heat is at its peak, and what better way to cool off than on the breezy shores of a quaint beach town? You don’t have to travel to Malibu to walk past sprawling sandy beaches and colourful waterfront homes. In fact, you only have to drive 2.5 hours outside of Toronto to find it. Port Stanley is an underrated gem of a town and summer is the time to enjoy it in all its glory.

Port Stanley’s Main Beach stretches along the north shore of Lake Erie, and it’s one of 27 in Canada to earn Blue Flag status for its pristine water quality. If you want to relax in the sand away from the crowds, the secluded Little Beach is located just down the road, where the water is shallow and perfect for a refreshing dip.

There’s lots to do in Port Stanley besides marvelling at the homes and soaking up the atmosphere. The bustling town is full of boutiques and restaurants to explore. There are several marinas in town, as well as a golf course and a few charming inns to spend a night or two. If you like seafood, most restaurants in serve up the region’s famous Lake Erie perch.

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The town is located in Elgin County, which boasts vineyards and picturesque views for cruising along the Lake Erie shoreline. There are over 100 km of trails through the “Carolinian Forests” in Elgin, which gets its name because the county has a similar climate to the Carolinas. In fact, Elgin County is known as “Carolinian Canada” for this very reason.

There are many ways to experience the beauty of these forests, from off-roading to cycling and paddling through the waters of Elgin’s conservation areas. You’ll find all the details here.

When you’re done crossing activities off your end-of-summer bucket list around Toronto, this spot is an ideal escape from the busy city.