9+ Unusual Things to Do in Thunder Bay

Ready to uncover Mount McKay's best-kept secrets? Hold your breath as you ascend—what awaits at the summit will leave you...
Date Published
March 8, 2024

Table of Contents

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But hold on to your toques, because we're just getting started. Did you know you can tickle your taste buds with Indigenous cuisine that's as authentic as the welcoming "boozhoo" greeting you'll hear? Or how about sailing into the sunset with the local loons singing backup? And if you're a stargazer, prep your neck for some serious craning at the Thunder Bay Observatory. Picture yourself amid contemporary masterpieces, blooming botanicals, and intimate theater performances, before seeking serenity in the quietude of Mission Island Marsh.

Still with me? Good. Because Thunder Bay's got enough ice climbing escapades and historical museums to keep your social media as lit as a midsummer bonfire. This isn't just a list, folks—this is your exclusive guide to squeezing every drop of awe from Thunder Bay’s unique blend of culture, nature, and

Uncover the Secrets of Mount McKay

Picture this: You're standing atop Mount McKay, the breeze lightly tossing your hair as you gaze out over the vast expanse of forest, the city of Thunder Bay stretching out like a miniature model below, and the mighty Lake Superior shimmering in the distance. Yeah, feel that thrill? That's the Mount McKay lookout experience!

Why's it so special, you ask? Well, standing at over 1,000 feet above sea level, Mount McKay isn't just your average hill. It's a slice of pure, soaring geology that gives you the kind of 'top of the world' selfie that will make your friends super jealous.

For a lookout experience that scores a perfect 10 in awesomeness, plan to spend at least a couple of hours here. Just enough time to soak in all the views, maybe have a picnic, and let the serenity of nature work its magic on you. Oh, and it’s perfect for everyone - families, couples, solo travelers, and Instagram warriors.

Local tip? Try to catch a sunrise or sunset up here. The way the sky lights up in shades of pink, orange, and purple will have you believing in magic—if you didn't already. Plus, there's a little something for the adventurers too—a number of trails beckoning hikers of all skill levels to explore.

Come and embrace the raw beauty that ignites the spirit of Thunder Bay; come uncover the secrets of Mount McKay. Take my word for it, the lookout experience here? Unbeatable. Sure, there’s more info you could dig up online, but trust me, you need to see this place for yourself. Go ahead and make those memories!

Traverse the Trowbridge Falls Trails

Imagine yourself surrounded by the fresh, crisp air of the great outdoors, with the soothing sound of a waterfall humming in the background. That's the vibe at Trowbridge Falls, where hiking becomes more than just a walk in the park—it's a journey through nature's splendor. With 1-2 trails winding through the serene landscape, Trowbridge Falls beckons to both intrepid adventurers and those seeking a peaceful retreat.

You'll want to lace up your best walking shoes because this place is a slice of heaven for hikers. The trails are lovingly embraced by lush foliage, and they lead you to a magnificent waterfall that seems to be ripped straight from a postcard. Each step is an invitation to connect with the Earth beneath your feet.

Spend an hour or two here, and you'll feel rejuvenated, ready to tackle whatever else Thunder Bay has in store. It's perfect for families looking to bond, couples seeking a romantic backdrop, and solo travelers craving solitude. Whether you're in it for the 'gram or the gratification of conquering another trail, Trowbridge Falls delivers.

Here's the cool part: you're not just getting a hike; you're stepping into a slice of local heritage, where every leaf and stone has a story. So, let your curiosity guide you. Who needs a time machine when you've got trails that whisper tales of yesteryears?

After you've worked up an appetite, the nearby picnic areas are perfect for refueling. Share a meal with squirrels for company, and if you listen closely, you might even hear the soft whispers of Mother Nature.

Trowbridge Falls isn't just a destination; it's an experience tailor-made for your soul. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, earn those trail-blazing bragging rights and drink in the beauty of the great Canadian wild! 🍁🥾

Relish Thunder Bay's Indigenous Cuisine

Get your tastebuds ready for a flavor-packed adventure because we're diving into the heart of Thunder Bay's Indigenous cuisine. This isn't just food; it's a cultural journey, one where every bite tells a story of tradition and the land.

Imagine sinking your teeth into locally harvested wild rice or savoring tender bison that practically melts in your mouth. Enjoy local cuisine that's both a nod to the past and a delicious take on the present. You're not just munching on snacks; you're partaking in centuries-old gastronomy.

In Thunder Bay, the indigenous food scene is pulsating with life, offering dishes that are as nourishing as they are scrumptious. It's where you find ingredients foraged straight from the forests, fished out of the freshest lakes, and hunted from the sprawling wildlands that hug the city.

You're in for 1-2 amazing discoveries:

  • Dig into a steaming bowl of hearty moose stew.
  • Let your palate explore the complex flavors of corn soup, a signature comfort food that warms both the body and soul.

And where do you enjoy this traditional feast? Local eateries dot the city, places that hum with stories just waiting to be told over a plate of sumptuous wild game. You might be lucky enough to catch a food festival or a pop-up event as well, where the city's top Indigenous chefs showcase their culinary artistry.

Whether you're a food connoisseur or a curious traveler, Thunder Bay's Indigenous cuisine will leave you mesmerized and utterly satisfied. Picture yourself sharing a meal with locals, exchanging stories, all while learning what makes each dish so unique. It's the kind of experience that tickles the taste buds and tugs at the heartstrings.

So, allocate an entire evening for this experience – go around sunset, get cozy, and dive into the delightful fusion of local produce and timeless recipes. It's perfect for couples, families, or anyone who appreciates a meal served with a side of heritage and pride. Get ready to fall in love with every spoonful, because Thunder Bay's Indigenous flavors don't just fill the plate; they fill the soul.

Sail into the Sunset on Lake Superior

Imagine the wind in your hair, the sun dipping below the horizon, and the soothing slap of waves against a sturdy sailboat. Yep, that's what sailing on Lake Superior is all about. It's not just a pretty ride; it's a full-on embrace of the wild and pure spirit of this mammoth lake. Now, what makes this gig a must-do? For starters, the views are next-level awesome – we're talking about pink-and-orange skies that'll make your camera roll say “thank you”.

So, who's ready to feel like Captain Jack Sparrow of the Great Lakes? Singles, couples ready for romance, or families with a sense of adventure – grab your sea legs because this is the kind of thing that's good for pretty much anyone without an aversion to water. You don't need to be an expert sailor either; there are experienced skippers to guide the way.

You're looking at about two to three hours of sailing time, which is perfect for fitting into your evening plans. Just imagine finishing up a day of exploring with the tranquility of gliding over the lake as the sun waves goodbye.

And let's talk about the crowd. While the vibes are chill enough for a relaxing evening, sailors often have that spark of adrenaline when a gust fills the sail. It's all smooth sailing here, but with a sprinkle of excitement. Now, while you're charting your course, don't forget to check out the nearby marinas and charming local joints for a good meal after your nautical adventure.

Discover the Stars at Thunder Bay Observatory

Experience the universe like never before at Thunder Bay Observatory. Tucked away from the city lights, this local gem is where the stars steal the show. Whether you're a serious stargazer or just looking for a night of magical views, this is the place to be. Ready to dive into a celestial spectacle?

With clear skies, you're in for a night of epic stargazing. The observatory is designed for your cosmic curiosity – think high-powered telescopes and super knowledgeable folks who live to point them at the most gobsmacking celestial bodies. Oh, and the Milky Way? It's like the universe spilled a glittering trail right above you. You might even catch a shooting star if you're lucky!

Spend a couple of hours – that's all it takes to fall for the charms of the cosmos here. It's a hit among couples looking for that sparkle, families on an educational night out, and solo explorers itching to meet the universe. There's something about gazing up at the endless stretch of stars that gets everyone, from toddlers to grandparents, completely hooked.

So, pack a cozy blanket, some midnight munchies, and hit the road to the Thunder Bay Observatory for a night that's literally out of this world. It's not just about staring up; it's about feeling connected to something way bigger than any of us. And when you're there, whispering sweet nothings to Andromeda or waving at the man in the moon, you'll get why locals and tourists claim this spot is pure magic.

Peek through the massive telescopes and watch as the universe unfolds before your eyes. And hey, who needs a bedtime story when you've got a sky full of tales twinkling right at you?

If you're itching for a splash of culture that'll make your synapses dance, then prance on over to the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. Nestled in the heart of Thunder Bay, this contemporary art space is the perfect playground for your artsy side.

Wire up those neurons for the gallery's rotating selection of cutting-edge exhibitions. From abstract paintings that'll have you tilting your head and squinting in curiosity to mixed-media installations that speak louder than a thunderclap—you'll find it all. Your visit won’t just be a browse; it'll be a full-on cerebral hug.

Whether you’re a solo art aficionado, a couple on a quirky date, or a family wanting to inject some creativity into your kids’ lives, this spot has the vibes. Plan to spend a good hour or two here—enough time to really engage with the art and maybe even rub elbows with local artists.

And guess what? You don’t have to wander far for a post-gallery coffee or snack. Thunder Bay's culinary and café scene is just around the corner, and it's as vibrant as the gallery itself. Imagine sipping a latte and discussing the intricacies of a piece that captivated you, still vivid in your mind’s eye. That’s the kind of afternoon we’re talking about.

Let's be clear. The Definitely Superior Art Gallery isn’t just a place to check out contemporary art in Thunder Bay—it’s a dynamic space that lures you into the local art scene’s beating heart. Don’t just take my word for it; zip on over and feel the pulse for yourself!

Stroll through the Blooms at Centennial Botanical Conservatory

Imagine stepping into a lush paradise bursting with colors that make your heart do a little joyous somersault. Yes, that's the Centennial Botanical Conservatory for you, the place where flowers smile back at you! Just being there makes you want to twirl around like you're in the happiest music video ever!

The Centennial Botanical Conservatory is unique. It's not just a house full of plants; it's a tranquil retreat right in the middle of Thunder Bay's buzz. You're looking at a kaleidoscope of blooms ranging from delicate lilies to bursts of tropical foliage. Here's your ticket to instant Zen, folks.

So, whatcha waiting for? Put on your comfiest walking shoes because this picturesque indoor garden deserves your full, undistracted admiration. It's perfect for:

  • Families looking for a peaceful escape
  • Solo visitors craving a quiet moment with nature
  • Couples on a romantic, flower-filled stroll

Your camera will insist on working overtime, 'cause every corner is a potential frame for breathtaking photos. Snap a pic near the cascading waterfall or pose with the exotic birds – either way, you'll be Instagram-famous for a day! And for those of you planning on hanging out a while, why not bring a book? Just imagine reading surrounded by the scent of nature. Pure bliss!

What's nearby? After basking in the conservatory's glory, grab a bite at a local café or continue your green-thumbed journey at a nearby park. And how long should you spend here? I'd say hit that two-hour sweet spot, enough to soak in the serenity and still have energy to explore Thunder Bay's other charms.

And the crowd? Well, everyone's welcome, but it's especially magical for those who appreciate nature's quiet beauty. If your idea of thrill is smelling roses, and your adrenaline rush comes from a blooming orchid, this place will have you giddy as a kid in a candy store!

Experience the Intimacy of Magnus Theater Performances

Imagine you're cozying up in an intimate setting, the lights dim, and a hush falls over the crowd. That's the vibe at Magnus Theater, where performances are meant to reel you in and keep you hooked. It's like they're performing just for you, and with only 1-2 acts, this place knows how to deliver a punch without dragging it out.

The lineup here is bold and diverse, with plays that make you laugh, cry, and think. It's the kind of experience perfect for date night, a thoughtful solo outing, or an artsy evening with your friends.

The theater's right in the heart of the city, so you're never too far from a coffee shop or a neat diner to gab about the show afterward. You won't need more than an evening to get the full Magnus effect—an hour or two for the show, and maybe another to debate your favorite part over a local brew.

This spot's not just for theater buffs, it's ageless and timeless. Seniors get that nostalgic kick, while young adults dig the modern twists. And you're not squeezing into some massive auditorium—this place is snug enough to see the actors' expressions up close and personal.

And hey, if you're a theater newbie, fear not! Magnus is mighty welcoming, and you'll leave feeling like a seasoned patron of the arts. So, why watch another rerun at home when you could be part of something live, something thrilling, something Magnus? Don’t just take my word for it, check out their latest play and feel the energy for yourself.

Seek Tranquility at Mission Island Marsh

Looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle? Mission Island Marsh is your little slice of peaceful paradise right on the cusp of Thunder Bay's energetic pulse. This conservation area is where you swap city noises for the symphony of chirping birds and rustling reeds.

Dive into this ecosystem where every step on the boardwalk is a step into a vibrant tableau of nature’s best work. Bring your binoculars because you're in for a treat - this spot is a bird watcher's dream! From the tiniest warblers to majestic birds of prey, the air is literally bustling with wings.

The Marsh isn't a passive experience, oh no, it's a full-on immersive rendezvous! Stroll through the lush trails, breathe in the crisp, clean air, and let your worries melt away faster than ice cream on a hot July day. You're not just visiting, you're becoming part of this breathtaking spectacle.

It's picture-perfect for families seeking a learning adventure or solo explorers craving solitude. Spend a couple of hours or a whole day; it won't matter, because time stands still when you're wrapped in nature's embrace. And get this - it's just as stunning during every season. Ever seen a marsh dressed in autumn gold or blanketed in snow? It's pure magic!

Mission Island Marsh is for everyone - the quiet dreamers, the eager photographers, or those just looking to press pause on life's fast-forward button. From curious tots to those wise in years, it's an encounter with the quiet side of Thunder Bay that'll renew your spirit.

So when you feel that itch for a little unplugged downtime, remember, Mission Island Marsh is waiting like a best friend with open arms. Find the heart of tranquility and let your soul sing with the reeds and the ducks. Trust me; it's an experience you won't forget.

Paddle Through Thunder Bay's Waterfront

Imagine the gentle splash of your paddle dipping into the cool, crisp waters as you glide across the Thunder Bay waterfront. Sounds idyllic, right? If you're looking for a unique way to take in the sights and sounds of Thunder Bay, grabbing a paddle is a solid choice.

Now, onto those harbor cruises – are they worthwhile? Absolutely! They're not just a ride; they are the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. You'll see Thunder Bay from a new perspective, feel the fresh lake breeze, and maybe even spot some local wildlife.

If you're wondering, "How long should I set aside for a paddle adventure?" Give yourself a couple of hours to soak in the views and the serenity. It's not just a physical journey; it's a chance to unwind and connect with nature.

What makes this excursion stand out? It's your golden ticket to escape the hustle and bustle without actually leaving the city. Both locals and visitors adore these cruises because they cater to everyone – whether you're a solo explorer aiming to find your zen or a family looking to bond over an exciting new experience.

And when you're done paddling, why not stroll around nearby areas? Tantalize your taste buds at local eateries, or catch a vibrant sunset that paints the sky in hues of oranges and pinks.

To sum it up, when it comes to answering the call of the water, Thunder Bay's harbor cruises are a must-do. It's not just about the paddling; it's about the moments of peace, the laughter with loved ones, and the memories you'll cherish long after you've docked your boat. So, slip on a life jacket, grab your oars, and prepare for an unforgettable journey through the heart of Thunder Bay.

Embrace Winter Ice Climbing Adventures

Get ready to spike your adrenaline and heat up your winter with some amazing ice climbing! It's not your everyday walk-in-the-park type of adventure, it's an experience that will make you literally cling to the edges of frozen waterfalls and cliffs. Think less 'chill' and more thrill!

Ice climbing in Thunder Bay is a unique, heart-pounding escapade where the winter wonderland becomes your vertical playground. Perfect for adventurers of all levels, this is where you can start as a newbie or show off your expert moves.

Benefits of tackling this cold challenge include:

  • Pushing your personal limits in a frosty setting.
  • Enjoying the majestic winter landscapes from a bird’s-eye view.
  • Creating one-of-a-kind memories that are cool in every sense of the word.

How long should an ice climber spend here? Well, gear up for at least half a day of action-packed climbing. Your blood pumps fast, your muscles work hard, and by the time you're done, you'll have stories that could freeze time itself.

This exhilarating activity is great for singles or groups—sorry, tots, this one’s more for the grown-ups. And hey, after conquering those ice walls, you might want to celebrate with a hot cocoa nearby, because you've earned it!

Whether you're a local looking for a new challenge or a tourist eager for an epic tale to tell, ice climbing offers an intense escape that’s simply cool. So grab your axes and crampons, and ice climb your way to a peak experience in Thunder Bay that will leave you on a natural high!

Explore Historical Museums in Thunder Bay

Imagine stepping into a time capsule where every corner whispers stories of the past. In Thunder Bay, the historical museums are not just buildings; they are gatekeepers of time, each brimming with tales itching to be told.

You'll want to slip into your most comfortable shoes because these repositories of history are packed with exhibits that deserve your undivided attention. Ready to discover the rich tapestry of Thunder Bay's heritage?

First stop: the hallowed halls of the Thunder Bay Museum. Picture this: three floors of permanent and temporary exhibits that pull you into a different era at every turn. From Indigenous artifacts to the echoes of the fur trade, and the gritty details of local military history, a visit here isn't just educational; it's a downright adventure.

Got a thing for the dramatic? Then the Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre is your next hit. Here, you'll be swooping into the golden age of aviation, where the stories of bush pilots and their flying machines will have you soaring high without leaving the ground.

Pop quiz – What do locals and travelers find captivating about these museums? Well, it's the intimate, firsthand vibe they offer. You're not just observing; you're part of the narrative—the kind of place where every exhibit speaks to you personally.

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking to while away an afternoon, these historical haunts cater to all. Solo wanderers, families in tow, even curious toddlers will find their imaginations sparked. Allocate a solid afternoon just to scratch the surface, and who knows? You might find yourself lingering until the doors close.

Close by, your journey through the annals of time continues at the Fort William Historical Park. History buffs, rejoice! You've got a whole reconstructed fur trade post to conquer, and it’s so interactive, you can practically smell the black powder in the air.

So, what's the hold up? Lace up, step out, and turn the pages of history with Thunder Bay's unrivaled storybook at your fingertips. Get ready to be whisked away on a whirlwind of discovery!


Q: Unique things to do in Thunder Bay?

A: Check out the mysterious Sleeping Giant, explore the Amethyst mines, and visit the Magnus Theater for local performances.

Q: Things to do in Thunder Bay this weekend?

A: Hit the Farmers Market, take a stroll in Marina Park, and catch some live music downtown.

Q: Things to do in Thunder Bay today?

A: Enjoy the waterfront at Prince Arthur’s Landing or visit the Thunder Bay Art Gallery to see some awesome art.

Q: Things to do in Thunder Bay during the winter?

A: Go skiing at Loch Lomond, ice climbing at the frozen waterfalls, or snowshoeing in Trowbridge Falls Park.

Q: Things to do in Thunder Bay at night?

A: Savor some craft beer at a local brewery, try your luck at the casino, or see the stars at the planetarium.

Q: Things to do in Thunder Bay for kids?

A: Have fun at the Fort William Historical Park, go animal spotting at the Chippewa Wildlife Park, and splash at the Volcano Bay Water Park.

Q: Is Thunder Bay Canada worth visiting?

A: Heck yes! It's a hidden gem with awesome nature, history, and unique attractions.

Q: What is Thunder Bay on known for?

A: Thunder Bay is famous for the Sleeping Giant, rich history, and Finnish pancakes, yum!

Q: What makes Thunder Bay special?

A: It's where you'll find cool cultural diversity, stunning nature, and the biggest lake you've ever seen.

Q: Is Thunder Bay a beautiful city?

A: Absolutely! With Lake Superior views, lush green parks, and a backdrop of mountains, it's picture-perfect.

Final Words

You've just journeyed through some of the coolest spots in Thunder Bay, from the peak views at Mount McKay to the tranquil vibes of Mission Island Marsh. You now know the best trails for a hike and the most delightful local dishes to taste. No doubt, sailing on Lake Superior as the sun dips low was a highlight, not to mention the starry wonders at the Thunder Bay Observatory.

And let's not forget all that contemporary art, the vibrant blooms, and those historic museum treasures. Whether you're braving the ice for a climb or seeking serenity at the marsh, Thunder Bay clearly has something special for everyone. So go ahead, embrace your inner adventurer, and explore all the amazing things to do in Thunder Bay!Ever wonder what secrets lie tucked away in the rugged beauty of Canada's great outdoors? Thunder Bay isn't just your run-of-the-mill destination—it's a treasure trove of untold adventures. This slice of Ontario serves up more than just a breathtaking view of Lake Superior—oh no, it dishes out thrills with a side of jaw-dropping scenery. From the mysterious whispers of Mount McKay to the natural symphony of Trowbridge Falls, this is where Mother Nature rolled up her sleeves and said, “Let’s make this interesting.”

Meet the Author
Isabella Kai
Isabella Kai, the Instagram wordsmith, crafts tales that captivate hearts worldwide. A dedicated foodie, she whips up culinary delights and pairs them with stories that make your taste buds dance. Beyond the screen, she's on a mission to visit every artisan bakery in town.
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