Have you ever wondered what living steps from the beach might look like? Whether you are moving to Grand Bend or considering spots for a lakeside cottage, this guide has everything you need to know about this popular Lake Huron beach community!
About Grand Bend: Where is Grand Bend, Ontario?
Grand Bend, alongside the former town of Forest and several nearby villages, make up the municipality of Lambton Shores. Lambton Shores spans the southern shoreline of Lake Huron from Kettle Point to Grand Bend in Lambton County. The community of Grand Bend occupies the northeastern point of the municipality, covering 6.44 square kilometres. Notable geographic features of the community include Lake Huron, the Pinery Provincial Park, and the Ausable River. Lambton Shores has a total population of 10,631 people, with about 2,700 residents living in Grand Bend alone. Due to the waters of Lake Huron, Grand Bend sees a slightly different climate than the rest of southwestern Ontario. Most notably, Grand Bend experiences Lake-effect weather in the form of rainfall in warmer months and snowfall during the winter.
Real Estate in Grand Bend
The majority of residents live in single family, detached, properties. Only a small minority of the population live in apartments or other multiple-resident buildings. Single family, detached homes in Grand Bend range in age, with older homes dating back to the 70s and 80s and new developments continuing to this day. According to the real estate board for the Sarnia-Lambton region, the average sale price of a residential property in the area was in the low-to-mid $300,000s at the beginning of 2020.
Homes in Grand Bend are quite affordable for properties so close to a popular Ontario beach. Residential Properties that are listed below $300,000 make for great starter homes or seasonal cottages. That price range usually affords an older, single-story property with an average of two bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms. More expensive properties that exceed the regional average offer secluded woodland, rural, or waterfront luxury living with some listed in the multi-million dollar range.
New construction is also taking place in Grand Bend. One of the new developments is Pinery Bluffs, a new subdivision located south of the Pinery Provincial Park. The area is the site of a former lottery dream home and offers custom built homes in proximity to outdoor activities. Homes are available for immediate possession as well as custom home designs starting at $395,000.
Living in Grand Bend, Ontario
Grand Bend is a popular spot for summertime vacations, but residents and seasonal cottagers have access to those amenities and local attractions all year. Numerous restaurants and stores dot the main street of the community and most public services and amenities are open beyond the summer season.
Public Health institutions can be found around Lambton Shores with the community-run Grand Bend and Area Community Health Centre found in Grand Bend. The nearest hospital with an emergency department is the South Huron Hospital, about 20 minutes away in Exeter.
Other community services include the Grand Bend branch of the Lambton County Public Library and the Grand Bend Recreation Centre, community room, kitchen, and gymnasium located in Grand Bend Public School.
By way of its direct connection to Kings Highway 21 - which runs along the shore of Lake Huron, Grand Bend has the potential to connect easily with other nearby communities and cities. Most notably, Sarnia is about 55 minutes to the southwest and London, Ontario is nearly an hour drive to the southeast. The City of Sarnia also serves as a border connection with Port Huron, Michigan in the United States. During the summer, a local business venture called the Bend Bus offers tickets for a school bus trip to the Grand Bend Beach from London and back every weekend.
Schools in Grand Bend and Lambton Shores
Grand Bend has one school in the community, Grand Bend Public School. The elementary school takes students from Kindergarten through to Grade 8. Other public school options offered by the Lambton Kent District School Board. The schools are found throughout the Lambton Shores municipality and include secondary school options for the residents of Grand Bend. The elementary schools in Lambton Shores are Bosanquet Central School in Thedford and Kinnwood Central School in Forest in addition to Grand Bend Public. For the secondary grades, students attend North Lambton Secondary School in Forest. Though there are no Catholic schools in Grand Bend, the St. Clair Catholic District School Board services Lambton County with school boundaries that expand into Lambton Shores. For elementary school, students attend St. John Fisher Catholic School in Forest. For the secondary years, students continue on to St. Patrick’s High School in Sarnia.
Post-secondary schools are available in several nearby cities, making a commute from home in Grand Bend to school a possibility for some students. The closest option is Lambton College’s main campus located 50 minutes away in Sarnia. Just under an hour away in London, there are three post-secondary institutions, Fanshawe College, Western University and affiliates, and Westervelt College.
History of Grand Bend, Ontario
Since its settlement and incorporation, Grand Bend has drawn crowds to its natural wonders and sandy beaches. Tourists and cottage-building started as early as the 19th century on the shore of Lake Huron with hotels arriving not long after that. Going back even further, the area was first settled by Scottish pioneers who established a lumber mill on the Ausable River in 1832. Eventually, a community called Brewster’s Mill built up around the mill. When the mill met its end, the community’s name changed to Grand Bend to reflect the shape of the nearby Ausable River as it turned to flow into Lake Huron. The little community and resort town would continue to develop, benefiting from better roads and vehicles, and ever improving its summertime experience.
As a part of municipal restructuring that took place across Ontario in 2001, the Grand Bend was amalgamated into a newly created municipality. Lambton Shores was created out of Arkona, Bosanquet, Forest, Grand Bend, Ipperwash, Port Franks, Ravenswood, and Thedford. Due to its status as a summer destination and popularity of its cottage country, Grand Bend retains its identity independent of the new municipality.
Things to do in and around Grand Bend, Ontario
Besides famous seasonal attractions, Grand Bend has a lot to offer residents of the community as well. With excursions to nature, bountiful community events across Lambton Shores, and easy access to the water, there is an activity for every interest and every season!
Parks: Pinery Provincial Park
The main park in the Grand Bend area is a rare Oak Savanna Forest with an unrivaled view of Lake Huron. Pinery Provincial Park offers trails for hiking and biking in the warmer months, with additional grooming for cross-country ski trails in the winter. The park also supports camping throughout the entire year with group campsites, RV sites, and roofed winter camping. The sites assist campers with several amenities like electricity, washrooms, comfort stations, and picnic shelters. The waters of Lake Huron allow visitors to try a variety of aquatic activities like boating, swimming, and fishing with the option of available rentals in the park.
Festivals and Events in Grand Bend, Ontario
A lot of Grand Bend’s festivals take place in the spring and summer to make the most of the beaches and the good weather. The season kicks off with the Arts, Eats & Beats Studio Tour in May, a guide through participating local galleries and restaurants with musical guests. In June, the main event is Beachfest, a chance to enjoy food, drinks, and live music with the exciting backdrop of the main Grand Bend Beach. Live music continues all summer with the Grand Bend Summer Sunset Sounds concert series taking place on the beach. June also marks the beginning of the Huron Country Playhouse season which runs all summer and into the fall. Every year, the playhouse offers a lineup of musicals, stage plays, and other entertainment acts across both their Mainstage and the South Huron Stage. Other long-running summer events include the Pinery Antique Flea Market and the Grand Bend Farmer’s Market. Winter is celebrated in style with the Light Up Grand Bend and various Christmas gathering events including a Grand Bend Christmas Home Tour to get residents into the holiday spirit!
The Grand Bend Beach is what most people think of when it comes to Lake Huron attractions. In addition to the events and concerts all summer, the beach also offers great day-to-day activities for people to enjoy. Sunbathing and swimming are appealing for families because of the well-maintained sandy shore, splash pads, and beach mats to help strollers and wheelchairs navigate the sand. The beach is outfitted with volleyball nets and a boardwalk for those who aren’t interested in swimming. Other ways to enjoy Lake Huron include fishing, kite sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and launching a boat out from the marina.
Dining Out? 5 Must-Try Restaurants in Grand Bend, Ontario
The culinary culture is another huge boon for the Grand Bend community. Many local restaurants are located within walking distance to the beach, providing a convenient dining experience for everyone. In no particular order, here are five must-try restaurants in Grand Bend!
The Lake Hound, named for all those lovers of Lake Huron, is a casual dining experience with a commitment to comfort food. Standouts from the breakfast menu include classics like the Hungry Hound, spicy fusions like Chorizo Tacos, and sweet treats like Gingerbread Pancakes and applesauce. The lunch and dinner menu is loaded with shareables, and entrees from around the globe. Thursday and Friday evenings are live music events featuring new and local talent to accompany the food.
Another year-round restaurant, F.I.N.E. finds a niche between casual and fine dining that has earned the restaurant quite a local reputation. F.I.N.E. uses locally-sourced ingredients to fuel an impressive lunch and dinner menu featuring curated entree plates, tons of tasty side options, and additional daily chef specials. Also impressive is the desert menu with cake, tarts, pies, and other warm pastry blends. If you’re stuffed from the fantastic meal, then F.I.N.E also offers an elaborate selection of specialty coffee blends and ice wine to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Craving the classics? Look no further than Paddington’s British-style pub, a hub of hot meals and creative drink blends. This popular ‘hangout’ spot offers a warm and cozy eating experience with all the comforts of a heart home-cooked meal. Menu staples include Butter Chicken Curry, the towering Tilson Burger, meatloaf, and of course, English-style Fish and Chips. To top it off, consider pairing any of the appetizers or entrees with some of the local microbrewery specials or house-crafted drinks.
Step back in time to Denny’s Drive-In, a family favourite for quality fast food. This traditional drive-in is open from April until Thanksgiving Monday and offers a patio dining or take-out. The menu specializes in burgers, shakes, and fresh-cut french fry dishes, but also offers a Fish & Chip Thursday special with enough battered haddock to feed two! Kids specials include hot dog and chicken strip options served with a side of mini fries.
Because this little Grand Bend gem is actually housed in an old schoolhouse, you might miss it on a first pass, but this restaurant is definitely worth tracking down. The quaint decor and large blackboards create a nice atmospheric blend of a rustic schoolhouse and cottage. The equally cozy menu is great for families, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Schoolhouse is favourite for brunch and meals after local events, but getting a reservation is a good plan for this popular spot.
As a historic place to go to have a good time, Grand Bend has years of practice entertaining both residents and visitors. Whether you are interested in the community’s cottage country, seeking a quiet retirement by the water, or looking to make a move for other reasons, Grand Bend is a stunning locale to call home. If you think life on the beach is right for you, consider taking a look at the selection of properties for sale in Grand Bend and the rest of the Lambton Shores municipality.