Travel Spotlight on Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Its 17 Best Attractions

Discover the nature and history at this major historic trading post

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

Positioned right on the border between Ontario and Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is twins with Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, located across the St. Marys River. In the large scope of travel, SSM seems like small and modest city (the third largest in Northern Ontario, after the similarly-sized Sudbury and Thunder Bay), but historically, this sleepy area has played a tremendous role in Canadian trade and was once called "The Meeting Place," calling inhabitants from Aboriginal communities all over Europe and North America. Visitors who come with a curious ear for history will certainly pick up quite a few more topics of discussion after a wander through SSM’s many museums, while everyone else is simply drawn to the area for its lush wilderness, rugged shores, sand beaches, twisting rivers feeding into two Great Lakes and the majestic Canadian Shield. Perfect for fishing and even more for excellent photo ops, hiking, skiing and any other outdoor sport one can even imagine, Sault Ste. Marie is an ideal place to get away in any weather.

Located just east of Lake Superior and just across the bridge from Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie is serviced by its own regional airport.

Learn about the bush plane and forest protection tradition at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

An exciting and informative homage to Ontario’s bush plane and firefighting tradition, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre offers a large facility with flight simulators, an impressive display of 30 aircrafts including one vintage bush plane visitors can actually get into, fire pumps and railway speeders, a reproduction of an actual bush camp, a real fire tower that visitors can climb, and a restoration area where aircrafts are rebuilt. Exciting for adults and even more exciting for kids, the 48,000-square-foot hangar is where "water-bombing" was developed. Visitors get to discover how Canadians invented the bush plane, without which backcountry areas around the world would be totally inaccessible.

Glide along the perfect Nordic terrain of Stokely Creek Lodge

The over 8000 acres of Stokely Creek Lodge first started as one man’s dream to share the perfect Nordic skiing experience to the citizens and visitors of Sault Ste. Marie. The terrain is conditioned by a "natural snow machine," that is the prevailing northwest winds, and collects moisture over the Goulais River to create over 17 feet of fresh snow right over the Algoma Highlands, bordered by the high cliffs of the Canadian Shield. With its pristine terrain, manicured trails and the modern backcountry lodge designed by David Osler, Stokely Creek is an ideal location for events and backcountry wandering.

All aboard a century-old cargo ship at the Museum Ship Valley Camp just across the border

The Museum Ship is literally a ship: the Valley Camp sailed from 1917 to 1966 as a cargo ship on the Great Lakes, and now its 11,500-ton hull holds a 20,000-square-foot museum with over 100 exhibits and four 1,200-gallon aquariums devoted to informing visitors on maritime history. Permanently docked along the Saint Mary’s Falls Canal on the American side of the border in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the Valley Camp offers an insight into life as a Great Lakes sailor and the history of cargo-shipping.

Dance along the shores at Dock's Riverfront Grill

Visitors to Sault Ste. Marie can soak up the nightlife and the view over the St. Marys River all at the same time. Specializing in traditional pub fare with a bent towards seafood, diners can get their fill on steak and burgers or snack on their best-selling calamari or the crab and shrimp stuffed mushrooms. Perfect for a beer and a night of live music, Dock’s Riverfront Grill features regular weekly jazz nights, as well as an in-house DJ. With their fully stocked bars, diners turn into drinkers as the night progresses.

Scale the Agawa Canyon or take a sightseeing trail tour

Sculpted 1. 2 billion years ago by faulting along the Canadian Shield and slowly expanded by the Agawa River, the Agawa Canyon makes for a gorgeous tour or hike. Visitors can take the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which operates most of the year and winds through the great Canadian Wilderness, along granite walk walls that extend up to 575 feet, four waterfalls, and through all the bursting mixed forests and exotic fauna in Agawa Canyon Park before descending 500 feet to the canyon floor, where visitors can get off and explore the area. Since the beginning of Canada, this canyon has served for inspiration for landscape artists like the members of the Group of Seven, and it’s no wonder, as every angle of this naturally carved wilderness expanse is an awakening experience.

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