Golfing and Exploring in Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

(Last updated August 2018.)

Take any large map of North America and zoom in on the Great Lakes. That dot where Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan appear to converge near the Canada-US border? That’s Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario — my hometown. We were back recently for a family visit and to check out the local golf courses. I also made sure we had time for a few of my favourite things. Here’s a true insider’s guide to visiting this area — my top picks for what to do in “The Soo.”

Teeing It Up

Crimson Ridge Golf Course, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

The par three No. 17 at Crimson Ridge Golf Course.  (Image: Crimson Ridge)

With the addition of Silver Creek in 2010 to its roster of courses, the Sault Ste. Marie area has become an emerging Northern Ontario golf destination. Many of the course designs make use of the unique topography of the region, incorporating Precambrian shield rock shelves, natural creeks and wetlands, stunning elevated views and mature hardwood forests that blaze a breathtaking red and orange in the fall. You can’t help but feel that, just beyond the well-manicured fairways, you’re on the edge of untamed wilderness.

Golf Courses:

 

Tastes of the Town

My favourite taste sensations aren’t exactly part of a balanced diet, but they do give you the real flavour of the Soo.

  • Spumoni Gelato from Ricardo’s Big Slice Pizza

    I’ve sampled this flavour of Italian ice cream everywhere I’ve travelled (including a gelateria on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence) and I still think Ricardo’s is the best. It’s homemade daily on site, and hits the perfect balance of creamy, sweet and nutty. Enjoy your scoop while people watching on the nearby St. Mary’s River boardwalk. Station Mall, 293 Bay Street (705) 256-6995

  • Aurora’s Westside Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

    Given the Soo’s large Italian-Canadian population, the subject of who makes the best pizza is hotly debated. For my money, it’s Aurora’s Westside. You can’t beat their combination of sweet Italian sausage and mushrooms, with the tasty soft dough shaped in their signature rectangle pizza. 300 Second Line West, (705) 949-3000

  • Ernie’s Coffee Shop

    It’s hard to find places like this anymore — an old-fashioned diner with booths, a lunch counter and stools. Service was friendly and quick and the breakfast delicious during our visit. Don’t forget to order a generous slice of homemade pie — the coconut cream alone is worth the visit.  13 Queen St. E., (705) 253-9216

  • Thompson's Maple Syrup

    (Image: Thompson’s Maple Products)

    St. Joe’s Island Maple Syrup

    Be sure to pick up a litre of 100 percent pure maple syrup from nearby St. Joseph Island, an hour’s drive east of Sault Ste. Marie. The island is home to 15 maple syrup farms, including Thompson’s, one of the largest maple syrup producers in Ontario. If you’re in the area when the sap is running (March-April), you can visit the sugar shacks and take part in one of the many local pancake breakfasts. Year-round, you can buy St. Joseph Island maple syrup products in many Sault Ste. Marie supermarkets and gift shops.

Essential Sights

Statue honouring Roberta Bondar, Canada's First Female Astronaut

On the boardwalk is a statue honouring Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut.

Take a leisurely stroll on the St. Mary’s River waterfront boardwalk and watch the huge lake freighters on their way through the Soo Locks. You’ll pass fishermen casting their lines from the shore in pursuit of salmon, trout and whitefish. In season, visit the Saturday morning farmer’s market at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion, and end your stroll at the Art Gallery of Algoma, with its whimsical outdoor sculpture garden. One of my favourite hikes in summer is along the trail to Crystal Falls at Hiawatha Highlands/Kinsmen Park. Or experience part of the Trans-Canada Trail  by exploring the Hub Trail at the Fort Creek Conservation Area.

Agawa Pictographs, Lake Superior Provincial Park

Agawa Pictographs. (Image: Tourism Sault Ste. Marie)

Sault Ste. Marie may be best known as a jumping off point for the spectacular drive along Lake Superior. Pack a picnic lunch and sunscreen — and your canoe, kayak or camping gear, if you’re so inclined — and hop in your car and head north for adventure. Only an hour’s drive from the city, Pancake Bay Provincial Park offers an ideal picnic and camping spot, with a 3.5 km long sandy beach and protected bay for swimming. Another family-friendly picnic stop is Katherine Cove, about 90 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie in Lake Superior Provincial Park. And one of my favourite places to feel the full power and mystery of Lake Superior is the Agawa Pictographs, just north of Agawa Bay — a sacred Ojibwe site, found on a sheer rock ledge 30 metres above Lake Superior, where ancient rock paintings in red ochre depict dreams and spirits.

Getting There

Road Trip

Because you’re circumnavigating the Great Lakes, the drive to Sault Ste. Marie from any direction is scenic but long. It takes 8 hours from Toronto, Thunder Bay or Chicago; and 7 hours from Detroit or Milwaukee.

By Air

Porter Airlines and Air Canada have daily one-hour flights from Toronto.

Where to Stay

The newly renovated Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel overlooks the St. Mary’s River and the boardwalk and is within easy walking distance of the Agawa Canyon Tour Train station, the Station Mall, Casino Sault Ste. Marie, three museums, the Algoma Art gallery, and the Essar Sports and Entertainment Centre.  The Delta offers several stay-and-play packages for golf and other events and activities.

More information

Tourism Sault Ste. Marie

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