Goderich Beach + 13 Must-Do Activities Nearby in 2023
If you’re headed to Goderich beach this summer you’re in the right spot to find out all there is to do!
Goderich Beach is one of the most popular beaches along Ontario’s West Coast. The picturesque, turquoise blue waters and unbeatable sunsets are reason enough to visit this part of the Lake Huron shoreline.
And unlike its neighbouring party-town Grand Bend Beach to the south, the beaches in Goderich are more attractive to families and those wanting a quieter experience.
But the spectacular beaches aren’t the only reason to head to Goderich. This town has a lot in store for the eager explorer. Read on as we show you all that’s worth doing in “Canada’s Prettiest Town.”
The beachfront in Goderich is divided into three beaches: Goderich Main Beach, St Christopher’s Beach, and Rotary Cove Beach. Each beach offers something unique, which we’ll dive into below, but if you’re short on time, here’s a quick guide to help you narrow down which one you’ll want to head to:
⛱️Goderich Main Beach: close to a few restaurants, playground, the salt mine and the marina
⛱️St. Christopher’s Beach: Goderich’s dog-friendly beach
⛱️Rotary Cove Beach: long sandy shore with playgrounds and ice cream stand
Since each beach is connected by a long (and beautifully maintained) accessible boardwalk, you don’t really need to know which beach you’re going to land at for the day. You can start at one end of the shore and walk all the way down to the last beach and walk back when you’re done.
⛱️Goderich Main Beach
Goderich Main Beach is the closest beach to the town centre of Goderich. It’s a really great spot to play at the water’s edge, grab some greasy beach food or refreshing ice cream, and of course, go swimming.
Main Beach is also located near the Beach Street Station restaurant with an awesome patio overlooking the water. And if you’re interested in walking the stairs to get to the Goderich Lighthouse and Lighthouse Park, this is the closest beach to that point.
That said, the Main Beach is located right next to the Goderich Salt Mine and harbour, so it’s note quite as relaxing as the beaches to its south. The water quality at the Main Beach is also sometimes hit and miss. (We wouldn’t have the expertise to know whether that is due to its proximity to the mine or not.)
If you aren’t looking to swim and just want to hang out by the water, the Main Beach is a great option. But if you want to spend your day swimming we suggest heading further south to Rotary Cove Beach.
⛱️St Christopher’s Beach
The next beach south of Goderich Main Beach is St Christopher’s Beach. It’s easily accessible along Cove Road or the accessible wooden boardwalk that spans the three beaches in Goderich.
This beach has a mix of sand and rocks (including a section of boulders) and isn’t quite as busy as the other two beaches. But it is the place to go if you have a dog who wants to swim, as it’s the town’s official dog beach.
It’s also equipped with a playground, pavilions, washrooms and some trees for shade.
⛱️Rotary Cove Beach
In our opinion, Rotary Cove Beach is the main attraction in Goderich. This beach is beautiful.
It’s wide and sandy, has lots of playground equipment, ice cream stand, and even unique features like a permanent concrete table tennis court and outdoor fitness equipment!
If you’re coming to Goderich to swim, we highly recommend this section of the beach. You can park either right at Rotary Cove, or park anywhere along Cove Road and walk the boardwalk to the beach.
Water Quality & Conditions
The local health unit tests the water at each beach regularly for E.coli levels. Signs are posted if the water doesn’t pass the bacteria tests, but even still, it’s a good idea to use your common sense about not swimming if the water looks murky or there was just a heavy rainfall.
Goderich beaches can get decent sized waves (by lake standards). Be cautious for undertows and rip currents, especially with the little ones around. The Lake Huron Coastal Centre has great information on beach safety around rip currents.
Lake Huron water can be considerably colder than Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The lake is deeper and further north, and these two facts make a difference!
But in the heat of summer, Lake Huron beaches are incredibly popular and are worth visiting. It may be helpful to note that the later in the summer you visit, the more likely the water temperatures will have risen.
On the flip side, if you’re swimming early in the season be prepared for a refreshing dip!
Best Things to Do in Goderich
When it comes to activities and attractions in Goderich, this small town has lots of hidden gems to offer! Not only is Goderich unique for its octagonal layout of the town (with the historic courthouse situated right in the centre of the town), it’s also known for some major historic sites and unique features you won’t find anywhere else in Ontario.
Here’s a look at our recommendations for what to do in Goderich.
1. Walk the Boardwalk
We’ve mentioned it already, but the 1.5 km long Goderich waterfront boardwalk is quite simply, a model for all other beaches in Ontario to emulate. This fully accessible, wooden and well-maintained boardwalk not only connects each beach, but it also encourages physical activity for its community members and visitors.
The boardwalk is lined with benches and pavilions, outdoor gym equipment (at Rotary Cove), playgrounds, parking, and even ice cream stands at both ends.
2. Enjoy Watersports
Let in your canoes, kayaks, SUPs or seadoos and enjoy the bright blue water of Goderich beach while you float your way along the shore.
You can also begin your canoe/kayaking adventure along the Maitland River, further inland from Goderich, and make your way towards Lake Huron. This trip would require some planning to make sure you avoid any waterfalls (such as Benmiller Falls) or other geographic barriers.
3. Huron Historic Gaol
Functioning as the county’s jail between 1841-1972, this unique, octagonal building with a high wall around it is now a National Historic Site. During its lifetime, this facility housed criminals as well as people institutionalized for being ill or mentally ill.
Interestingly, it was also the site of the last public hanging in all of Canada, in 1869. The public can now tour the site for an admission fee, but if you hold a Huron County library card your admission is free!
4. Huron County Museum
Housing thousands of local artifacts from both urban and rural areas surrounding Goderich, the Huron County Museum is a family fun activity in Goderich when you need a break from the beach.
It’s open all year round and charges an admission fee except if you’re a Huron County library card holder.
5. Walk the Menesetung Bridge & Tiger Dunlop Trail
The Menesetung Bridge is a long, historic bridge that was build in the early 1900s to connect Goderich to the surrounding land just north of the town. It was originally a Canadian-Pacific railroad bridge and maintains its original steel and wooden look today.
It’s now only used as a pedestrian bridge along the 3.2 km long Tiger Dunlop Trail, and is a peaceful place to walk to gaze out at the blue shoreline, the Maitland River below, and to take in an unforgettable Lake Huron sunset.
6. Goderich Lighthouse & Lighthouse Park
Grab your lunch and head to Lighthouse Park for the perfect spot to look out over the cliffs at the beach below.
You can also walk the long stairway down the cliff to get to Goderich Main Beach and the boardwalk along Cove Road.
7. Goderich Farmer’s Market
Every weekend between Victoria Day and October, the Goderich BIA Farmer’s Market runs in Courthouse Square at the octagonal centre of the town. Support local businesses that make this small town what is, and pick up some great farm fresh products for affordable prices!
8. The Livery Theatre
Enjoy fabulous live theatre put on by the Goderich Little Theatre, a community arts group that owns and operates out of The Livery Theatre. Situated just steps away from Courthouse Park at the centre of the town’s octagon, attending a show here is a great way to enjoy a night on the town in Goderich.
9. Workout on the Beach
If you don’t mind pumping iron in front of a few passerby’s, then why not get in a workout on the outdoor fitness equipment located along the boardwalk at Rotary Cove Beach. There are over a dozen workout stations with bodyweight gym equipment, each spaced out widely from each other and each facing the beach.
We’ve yet to find something like this at any other beach in Ontario! It’s special touches like this that make Goderich beach one of our favourite in the province yet.
10. Shop in Downtown Goderich
The Downtown Heritage Shopping District is home to over 180 local shops, restaurants and businesses in its downtown core. As the town is a popular daytrip location in Southwestern Ontario, there are a lot of boutiques and one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants that cater to tourists.
Strolling around the octagonal downtown streets is a must-do way to spend the day in Goderich!
Note: The reason there aren’t many cars or tourists in these photos is because we visited on Victoria Day weekend, which was before Goderich sees a flood of tourists.
11. Take in a Beach Sunset
When the day is done and the sun is setting, you’ll get the chance to see just one more reason why Goderich has been named “Canada’s most beautiful town.”
The sunset over Lake Huron is stunning all year round, regardless of whether you’re watching it from the shoreline or from high up on the cliffs at Sunset Park.
12. Point Farms Provincial Park
Located just 8 km north of Goderich, Point Farms Provincial Park is a great place to go for camping and outdoor activities in Huron County. Enjoy the park’s sandy beaches, hike the forested trails, and enjoy views of the water from the top of the bluffs.
13. Visit Nearby Beaches
Goderich is just one of many fantastic Lake Huron beaches worth checking out! If you’re spending multiple days in the area, we highly recommend daytripping to some of the other nearby tourist beach towns.
Great nearby options include:
✔️Bayfield (20 min south) for more swimming and unique shopping;
✔️Grand Bend Beach (40 hour south) for lively entertainment and lots of watersports;
✔️Ipperwash Beach (15 minutes south of Grand Bend) for a quiet family beach;
✔️Sauble Beach (1.5 hours north) for another highly-visited beach with lots of activities and amenities.
Where to Stay in Goderich
Accommodations in Goderich are catered towards families and those looking for a charming small town getaway. Most places to stay here are boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts and clean, cozy, and affordable budget hotels.
Here’s our recommendations for where to stay in Goderich:
Top Boutqiue Hotel: Benmiller Inn & Spa
This 3-star hotel is located just outside of the town of Goderich, on a beautiful property overlooking the Maitland River. The property is charming and quaint, and rooms are decorated with vintage features that create a cozy and romantic atmosphere.
There is everything you will need for a complete getaway right on this property, including a full restaurant and spa. Perfect for weddings, romantic weekend getaways and everything in between, Benmiller Inn & Spa is an excellent place to stay during your trip to Goderich.
Top Budget Hotel: Comfort Inn & Suites
This 2-star hotel gets great reviews for being clean, comfortable and quiet. It’s located about 2 km away from the beach and a 10 minute walk to the centre of town. The property has modern rooms, an indoor pool, fitness centre, continental breakfast and lounge.
Goderich Beach FAQs
Here are a few more common questions about the beach in Goderich that you might be wondering.
Is there sandy beach on Goderich?
Yes! There are actually three sandy beaches in Goderich: Main Beach, St Christopher’s Beach and Rotary Cove Beach. Each beach does have sections where there are more rocks or pebbles, and the best one for sand is Rotary Cove Beach.
Is Goderich beach safe to swim in?
Goderich beach is a popular beach for swimming, but always be sure to check the water quality with Huron Perth Public Health. As water quality tests require processing time and may not be done each day, the health unit recommends avoiding swimming if the water is visibly cloudy or if there’s been a heavy rainfall in the last 1-2 days. Always swim at your own risk.
Why is Goderich water so blue?
The concentration of salt around Goderich is likely why the water is so blue. Goderich is also home to the world’s largest underground salt mine – Compass Minerals’ Goderich Salt Mine.
Do you have to pay to park at Goderich beach?
Goderich Beach parking is metered from May 15 – October 15 between 9am-5pm. If you are a Goderich resident you can apply for free waterfront parking permits to be exempt from paying.
Wrap Up: Visiting Goderich Beach
If you’re looking for an awesome, sandy beach in Southwestern Ontario, you’ve got to check out Goderich. Goderich is definitely more family-oriented and less chaotic than the popular Wasaga Beach and Grand Bend (two of the province’s busiest beaches).
In our opinion, it’s quite comparable to the beach at Port Stanley on Lake Erie. Both beach towns have lots of things to do for adults and kids, the shorelines are well-maintained, and there are lots of great shops, restaurants and great places to stay the night.
Enjoy one of Ontario’s best hidden gems and happy traveling!
Erie is the owner and author of Everywhere Ontario. She’s lived and traveled around Ontario for over 30 years, visiting small towns and big cities from the shores of Lake Erie to the crisp northern air of Hearst along the Trans-Canada Highway. She is passionate about maximizing fun and supporting local tourist businesses and is always looking to provide the best recommendations to her fellow Ontario travelers. Read more about Erie here.