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Hidden Gems – The Barrie Waterfront

Hidden Gems – The Barrie Waterfront

A More Familiar Gem: The Barrie Waterfront

With temperatures climbing as spring transitions into summer, many leave the leafy forests to seek refuge from the bugs and humidity by visiting their local waterfront. Although not such a hidden gem, there are many smaller treasures hidden to be discovered along the way. A short walk from the shops and dining and entertainment establishments of downtown Barrie, the Barrie Waterfront offers something for both residents and tourists alike within its 5 km stretch.

Kempenfelt Bay, within the confines of the City of Barrie, is home to 4 main beaches: Centennial, Johnson’s, Minet’s Point, and Tyndale. If you are looking for lots of action and opportunities to people watch, Centennial Beach is the place to be. It is located just off of Lakeshore Dr. between Bayfield and Tiffin Streets. This beach features the Rotary Club’s Fountain Landmark (Barrie’s version of the Swiss Jet d’eau), a sizable and accessible maritime themed playground, biking and walking paths, picnic tables, washrooms, a concession stand, a boat launch, flower gardens, and beach volleyball courts. It’s definitely a real hive of activity. For those looking for a smaller and cozier beach experience, check out Johnson’s or Minet’s Point Park and Beach. Located at the very end of Johnson Street, where it practically meets the water (2 Johnson St.), this beach is a very small and very sandy beach that is perfect for those wanting to catch some rays as it offers very little natural shade. It does, however, offer washroom and change room facilities and is in very close proximity to the North Shore Trail. In contrast, Minet’s Point Park and Beach does offer some shady spots for those wishing to limit their UVA and UVB intake. This locale also features a fabulous picnic shelter as well as playground equipment. Washrooms are also present. A nice mix of action and chill time can be found at Tyndale Park and Beach. This beach is a mix of sand and stone, so water shoes may be helpful in this instance. Close to trails and containing community use barbeques, a large picnic shelter, a play area, and beach volleyball court, this beach is the perfect spot for large gatherings of friends and family without too much noise or outside encroachment. Head to 45 Tyndale Road to check this spot out.

For those looking to do more than lounge and wade, the waterfront offers a wide variety of additional activities both on and off the water. For the landlubbers, the Waterfront Trail spans approximately 6.7 km around the lake and provides beautiful views for the walking, jogging, cycling, skateboarding, and rollerblading set. Fans of team sports can enjoy basketball at the Centennial Park rink (used for hockey and skating in the winter months) or Beach Volleyball also at Centennial Beach or Tyndale Beach. Unique and accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities, outdoor fitness equipment is located at six areas around the bay between Heritage Park and the Southshore Community Centre. Water babies can be found preparing for boating and sailing adventures at the Marina or Tiffin Boat Launch. Chances “R” Sailing Excursions operating out of the Bayfield Basin features tours of the bay. Looking for more magical moments on the water, check out Happy Paddling Canoe and Kayak Rentals, Northern SUP , or Surf, Wake, Ski. For the ultimate in family and kid friendly fun be sure to visit SPLASH ON, a 13, 000 square foot inflatable waterpark located just off of Centennial Beach. Wanting to engage your mind? Why not investigate the Discovering the Waterfront Self-Guided Tour? It is one of seven Heritage Barrie walking tours. Taking approximately 83 minutes to complete, it follows Lakeshore Drive between Memorial Square and the Southshore Community Centre. Six interpretive plaques highlight historic locations along the waterfront that provide insight into Barrie’s history. Creative, artsy folks will appreciate the First Nations inspired Spirit Catcher, a focal point of the Barrie Waterfront since 1987. The more recently installed Sea Serpent serves as a companion piece. After a long day of making memories, enjoy a relaxed evening stroll to Scoops and Cones ice cream hut or head over to Meridian Place and Memorial Square to enjoy some wonderful panoramic views or possibly catch some local entertainment. If you are ambitious, do both!

Whatever your age or interests, Barrie Waterfront never disappoints. Be sure to plan at least one visit this summer.

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