Ipperwash Beach: What to Do, Where to Stay & More!
Are you wondering whether Ipperwash Beach is worth visiting? Read on to find out why this might be your new favourite beach.
Ipperwash Beach on Lake Huron is a hidden gem for anyone who loves sandy beaches without the crowds.
Ideal for families with kids, couples hoping for a quiet plot of sand to themselves, or friends looking for space to play frisbee or volleyball, Ipperwash Beach is the perfect beach to add to your summer bucket list.
What’s Ipperwash Beach Like?
Ipperwash Beach is located on the sandy shores of Lake Huron, just 40 minutes northeast of Sarnia and 20 minutes southwest of the popular beach town of Grand Bend.
It remains a public beach with free access (including free parking in Ministry-owned lots), though there are sections of the beach adjacent to the public beach that are private.
It is not to be mistaken with the nearby Port Franks Beach, which is privately owned and remains for the use of Port Franks residents only.
Ipperwash Beach is perfect for families both because it is generally less busy than many of the other beaches in Southwestern Ontario (though it is still a popular spot), and also because the waters are quite shallow and sandy at the shore.
There are also public washrooms, pavilions and picnic tables, which are a major bonus for families!
Ipperwash Beach is also surrounded by large sand dunes. These are fragile ecosystems and it’s important to avoid trampling them.
Note: There are no lifeguards at Ipperwash Beach, so safety is entirely your responsibility!
Public Beach Access Locations & Parking
There are three public entrances to Ipperwash Beach:
- Off West Ipperwash Road
- Off Ipperwash Road
- Off Army Camp Road
Note: The east end of the beach is typically cleaner and clearer than the west end, which can sometimes get a build-up of organic materials at the shore. We typically enter off of Ipperwash Road (near Ipperwash Beach Club) and find the water to be great there.
It’s also important to note that while the beach is open to the public, there are still private properties along the beach. Make sure to stay on the public beach and off of the private sections.
Parking at Ipperwash Beach is free in the four Ministry-owned lots along East Parkway Drive and West Parkway Drive.
Entrances and parking lots are marked on this map of Ipperwash Beach:
Safety & Water Quality
The shallow shores of Ipperwash Beach make swimming here more favourable than some of the other Lake Huron beaches. Of course, like at all beaches, it’s important to take caution against rip currents and undertows and to exercise normal precautions.
Ipperwash Beach has a great track record for good water quality. Water quality is tested weekly between end of May and end of August and can be found on the Lambton Shores Municipal website as well as on signs posted at the beach entrances.
Ipperwash Beach vs Grand Bend: Which is Better?
You might be wondering which is better, Ipperwash Beach or Grand Bend Beach. The answer largely depends on what you’re looking for in a beach visit.
Here’s how we suggest you make the decision.
Head to Ipperwash Beach if you:
✔️Are a family with small kids
✔️Like a quieter beach that’s still busy but not crowded
✔️Just want to lounge on the beach or play in the water
✔️Want to spend less money
✔️Don’t mind fewer dining options and accommodations
Head to Grand Bend Beach if you:
☑️Want to be where the action is
☑️Want lots of other things to do and see aside from swimming and lounging
☑️Don’t mind a crowded beach
☑️Want choice for where to eat and stay for the night
☑️Don’t mind paying for parking
All in all, Ipperwash Beach is a lesser-visited but equally beautiful alternative to Grand Bend that’s definitely worth visiting.
Best Things to Do in Ipperwash Beach
Most of the activities at Ipperwash Beach are low-key, self-led and free – our kind of adventures! That’s part of why we love a beach like this one.
If you’re looking to add to your day of lounging by the shore, consider adding some of these best things to do near Ipperwash Beach.
1. Rent Watersport Equipment
Bring your own watersports equipment or rent a paddlebard or kayak from Ipperwash Beach Club. They also have lifejackets available to add to your rentals. Call the Beach Club directly to book.
2. Dunes and Swails Nature Trail
This beautiful 5.5 km trail through the lush Carolinian forest and the sand dunes will give you a great look at the unique ecosystems at Ipperwash Beach. You’ll be hiking through blazed paths as well as on wooden boardwalks.
3. Ausable Cut Conservation Area
Open seven days a week from dawn to dusk, Ausable River Cut Conservation Area is a great place to go hiking near Ipperwash Beach. It’s located just outside of Port Franks and Pinery Provincial Park. Check out the trail map to plan your day of hiking.
4. Pinery Provincial Park
The Pinery Provincial Park is located just a 10 minute drive from Ipperwash Beach, on the way to Grand Bend. The Pinery (as locals call it) a popular year-round camping destination, and is home to so many great things to do in nature.
With 10 different hiking trails, a long bike path through the park, and non-motorized watersport rentals located by the Old Ausable Channel, you can easily fill your day with outdoor adventures here for a change from spending the day at the beach.
5. Lambton Heritage Museum
Heading to the Lambton Heritage Museum is a cheap and easy way to spend the afternoon near Ipperwash. You can explore thousands of local artifacts and historic buildings from around Lambton County, all for a matter of a few dollars to support this local cultural gem.
6. Grand Bend Farmer’s Market & Pinery Market
Every Wednesday morning from May-October you can find the Grand Bend Farmer’s Market located at Lambton Heritage Museum. This is a great place to stock up on local produce, baked goods and artisan products, crafts and much more.
Pinery Market runs every Sunday between May-October along Lakeshore Road. This market is a mix of farmer’s market and antique flea market. If you love unique finds then this is your spot to check out!
7. Rock Glen Conservation Area
A bit further away from Ipperwash Beach you’ll find one of Southwestern Ontario’s most picturesque waterfalls, Rock Glen Falls in Rock Glen Conservation Area.
Not only is this a fun place for splashing in the waterfall and hiking down a rocky creek, its also an amazing place for finding fossils! The area was apparently once an ancient tropical sea and as a result you can find an incredible natural deposit of Devonian Era fossils (not to be mistaken with dinosaur fossils, which you will not find here).
We had to check this site out ourselves and wrote about it in our guide to exploring Rock Glen Conservation Area.
If you love looking at the stars on a clear, dark night, then you’ll love the kinds of skies you can find at Ipperwash Beach. Located away from the light pollution of other cities, you can get a pretty good look at the constellations from the beach.
While there aren’t any official stargazing groups or public telescopes that we are aware of, we’re still fans of lying on the beach and seeing what kinds of night treasures you can find.
9. Grand Bend Beach & Town
As we’ve already mentioned, the popular beach town of Grand Bend is only 20 minutes up the coast of Lake Huron from Ipperwash Beach.
If you’re spending a couple days at Ipperwash Beach and you aren’t too familiar with Grand Bend already, then we think you’ll like checking out what this great beach town has to offer. There are lots of watersport rentals, boat tours, specialty surf shops and boutiques, and great patios to enjoy a bite to eat.
Ipperwash Beach Rentals
When it comes to accommodations at Ipperwash Beach, most people choose to rent a cottage or cabin for a long weekend or weeklong stay.
The streets surrounding the beach are filled with Ipperwash Beach rentals cottages for affordable nightly or weekly rates. We recommend searching on through VRBO or Airbnb for the best deals.
Ipperwash Beach Club, located just steps from the beach, also offers luxurious second-floor rentals with waterfront views. With modern, cozy suites with large windows, a deck, kitchen appliances and flat screen TVs, staying here is a great alternative to renting a whole cottage to yourself.
Restaurants & Stores at Ipperwash Beach
☑️Ipperwash Beach Club
Ipperwash Beach Club is the area’s most popular sit-down restaurant with a full range of menu items, from steak dinners to fish and chips to filling salads and much more.
There is also an ice cream shop and large outdoor patio to sit and enjoy your food.
We are firm believers that every beach town needs a good restaurant with patio, and Ipperwash Beach Club encompasses just that!
Butler’s is another Ipperwash Beach restaurant serving more of a fast food style menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Their Indian tacos are all the rave, and prices are very reasonable.
Sweet Bites Ice Cream and Restaurant is another fast food restaurant and ice cream shop located on the west end of Ipperwash Beach.
☑️Rob’s Fresh Cut Fries
Heading out of the community on West Ipperwash Road you will find Rob’s Fresh Cut Fries fast food restaurant. This is another convenient place to stop for a quick bite to eat on your way to or from the beach.
FAQs: Ipperwash Beach
We hope that we’ve answered most of your questions so far, but if not, here are a few more commonly asked questions about this community.
Is Ipperwash a public beach?
Yes! Ipperwash Beach is open to the public, unlike its neighbouring Port Franks Beach which is private. This is thanks to the willingness of the Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation to provide public access to their land. There are parts of Ipperwash Beach that are private property, so stick to the public beach access points.
Is Ipperwash beach free?
Yes, Ipperwash Beach is free to access and has free public parking in Ministry-owned parking lots along both East and West Parkway Drive.
Are dogs allowed on Ipperwash Beach?
No, there is no designated dog beach at Ipperwash Beach. Nearby Pinery Provincial Park allows dogs on the beach in Beach Area 1 and 2. There are also a few other great dog beaches along Lake Huron that you could consider visiting instead.
Wrap Up: Ipperwash Beach
Ipperwash Beach is a quieter alternative to the busy town of Grand Bend and the private shores at Port Franks. Its shallow waters are ideal for kids, and the free parking and well-maintained public washrooms close to the water adds lots of convenience for visitors.
You can easily occupy a full day here by lounging at the water, grabbing a bite to eat at Ipperwash Beach Club, and stargazing into the evening. But if you’re looking for a beach full of activities, tours and attractions then we recommend checking out Grand Bend Beach just 20 minutes up the coast.
And if you’re looking for another family-friendly beach along Lake Huron, then be sure to check out the incredible shoreline of Goderich, an hour’s drive north.
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.