For a few days away or a major vacay, our neighbor to the north welcomes adventurers of all stripes. Here are 9 can’t-miss adventures from Sault Ste. Marie Tourism.
The bridge between Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Canada has become a true bridge again. Opened borders have given Michiganians the chance to cross the border north to explore favorite destinations, dramatic landscapes and new tours and trails.

These nine ways to vacation in Sault Ste. Marie will set your heart’s compass to true north, whether you’re heading up for a weekend or crafting a longer trip with family or friends.

1 | Riding the Rails

The Agawa Canyon Train line has run the same route for more than a century through landscape carved more than 1.2 billion years ago. New owners will likely tweak the guest experience, but there’s no improving upon the natural beauty of the route—particularly at peak fall color—as the train winds through thick maple forests and past waterfalls to descend 500 feet to the floor of the Agawa Canyon. The train is the only way to reach Agawa Canyon Park, where a stop allows climbs to stunning overlooks, and the trip itself offers photo ops as it rumbles over trestle bridges and crosses the Goulais River. Narration given through headsets in multiple languages add another layer with tales of the original Ojibwe settlers, fur traders, explorers and more.

Bridge with train in Sault Ste. Marie

Photo by Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

2 | Beach Bounty

Sandy Pointe des Chenes at the mouth of the St. Marys River is a perfect spot for both sandcastle building and freighter watching. On the wilder side, Pancake Bay Provincial Park offers up kilometers of golden sand, crystal clear waters, loon calls and the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout. At Old Woman Bay, you can spend the day hunting for driftwood surrounded by rocky cliffs that resemble an old woman’s face. Families love Batchawana Bay Provincial Park, a warm cove where picnic fare must include apple fritters from the Voyageurs’ Lodge and Cookhouse. Rather experience the big water from a boat? The “Superior Rocket” lets you and 11 other passengers rip around Lake Superior at speeds of up to 55 mph in a military-style craft.

3 | Culinary Touring

When Carole Blaquire leads groups on her Blaq Bear culinary walking tours through downtown Sault Ste. Marie, the food is elevated by storytelling. She shares tales of the city’s fascinating culture and history, evidenced in the murals along the path and buildings themselves, many made from Jacobsville sandstone quarried from the canal. A growing international population is reflected in culinary scene with newcomers like Georgie Shawarma, with its trademark chicken shawarma, or in-house specials like the souvlaki at Ernie’s coffee shop, or even in the hand-picked whiskeys from around the world at Whisky Barrel. Other new favorites include Peace, featuring shared plates, and a culinary tour favorite, the Machine Shop collective inside the canal district. Here, a steak house, gelato mill, freshly cooked pizzas in The Boiler Room and Outspoken Brewery are cleverly housed inside the renovated former Lake Superior Paper Company complex.

Dining in Sault Ste. Marie

Photo by Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

4 | Biking Sault Ste. Marie

The city has positioned itself as an adventure town, with a recent million-dollar investment in mountain bike trails that opened this spring. “It’s up with anywhere in the world, really,” says Jack Perotta-Lewin, the Sault Cycling Club’s mountain bike director. “Every day I wake up here it’s like I won the lottery.”

The Hiawatha trail system, a 20 minute ride from downtown, offers options for multiple skill levels. Those looking for a more leisurely ride can opt for the paved 22-kilometer John Rowswell Hub trail that takes in the St. Marys River waterfront and connects restaurants and museums. It’s particularly stunning in fall. Rentals are available during summer months from the Bondar Marina or Sault Canal.

5 | Destination Hiking

The hiking along the Lake Superior Provincial Coastal Trail is “rugged enough to have beaten me up a time or two,” says ecotour guide Ryan Walker, who founded his company with partner Shana Shipperbottom in the area in partly for the trail’s dramatic landscapes and geology. Come autumn, he and other area guides steer guests to the Robertson’s Cliffs within the Algoma Highlands Conservancy, widely considered some of the North’s best hiking to a fall overlook view.

6 | Indigenous Tourism

Attend a Powwow like the competition-style Gathering of the Rapids at Algoma University or traditional Batchewana Powwow to experience dancing in traditional regalia and to sample foods and learn about the culture. Thrive Tours, co-owned by two Indigenous guides, lead tours to Powwows, and they share their heritage in more subtle ways, sometimes with singing and drumming on a paddle or hiking trip. Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre Tours offers tours of Shingwauk Hall, a central part of the Algoma University campus. Shingwauk Hall was established in 1873 as a residential school for First Nations children, and operated as such until the Shingwauk Indian Residential School closed in 1970. The building is one of the oldest landmarks in the Sault Ste. Marie area.

For explorers at heart, Agawa Rock within Lake Superior Provincial Park contains pictographs from the 17th and 18th centuries; it’s one of the most important Indigenous archeological sites in the country and still a ceremony site for Indigenous people. View them via a tricky hiking trail (accessible when Lake Superior waves aren’t too high) or by guided paddle trips including the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy’s large voyageur-style canoe.

Local community event at Sault Ste. Marie

Photo by Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

7 | Fishing in Sault Ste. Marie

Fishing enthusiast Ernest Hemingway wrote that “the best rainbow trout fishing in the world is the rapids of the Canadian Soo.” But here’s the rest of the quote: “and it’s a wild nightmare kind of fishing.” That just means you’ll want a guide like John Giuliani leading you over boulders into the flowing rapids to what he calls the best fly fishing in North America. Thanks to Lake Superior being the watershed’s headwaters, the rapids have the longest rainbow trout and steelhead season anyplace in the Great Lakes. In a single day, he’s caught Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and steelhead, something you can’t do anywhere else in Canada. “It’s phenomenal,” he says, “and it’s right near downtown.”

8 | Paddling Sault Ste. Marie

From the Sault College Waterfront Adventure Centre on the St. Marys River, you can get a new perspective on the city with a canoe, kayak or standup paddleboard rental. Book with Indigenous-owned Thrive Tours, and you’ll get a similar view with a deeper perspective, or opt for an outing in watercraft modeled after those used in the Canadian fur trade, offered with history/wildlife tours by the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy. Or head out onto Lake Superior, easily done from the shoreline base camp of Forest the Canoe in Goulais River. The company offers a tent and a tiny house rental for an overnight and tours along the red sandstone coastline.

Paddling during fall in Sault Ste. Marie

Photo by Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

9 | Explore the Local History

History comes to life at the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic site’s exhibits related to the War of 1812 and the fur trade, shared by interpreters in period costume. But the city’s museum claim to fame is the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre — a former airplane hangar devoted to the history of the way bush planes opened exploration of Canada’s more rugged north as well as aerial firefighting. Experience the thrill of flight in a flight adventure simulator, climb aboard vintage aircraft and settle into the cockpit of a Saunders ST27 passenger plane.

In an airplane at Sault Ste. Marie

Photo by Sault Ste. Marie Tourism

Visit the Sault Ste. Marie Tourism website for more information on maps, tours, lodging, how to book and more.

Photo(s) by Sault Ste. Marie Tourism