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Ontario’s Port Dover: Beaches, Boat Tours and Motorcycles


Photo: Renee Navarro

Friday the 13th is not a day to stay home this July in southern Ontario. The community of Port Dover, less than 150 km away from Toronto, is hosting a massive biker rally, Friday the 13th Port Dover, on this day clouded in superstitions.

Swarms of motorcycling enthusiasts from across North America have been gathering here on “cursed” Fridays the 13th for more than two decades. Motorcycle-free visitors also show up to watch and play the superstition away. About 70,000 converged in Port Dover during the latest rally in April (video).

Expect to spot some nearly nude riders and incredibly colorful bikes—think a motorcycle with a barbeque or a wheelchair lift attached—on local streets.

Whether you’re doing rally or not, the community of Port Dover, on Lake Erie, is a great getaway. Here are some things to do and see other than the rally.

See Port Dover in pictures »

Beach Town

Port Dover’s popular white sandy beach on Lake Erie is often said to be Mediterranean-esque and is a popular swimming spot. There is no lifeguard on site, but the waters are mostly shallow near the shore.

Boat Tours

Port Dover’s River Rider and Kayloe sightseeing boats offer scenic river cruises perfect for an afternoon family activity or a romantic sunset evening.

Harbour History

The Port Dover Harbour Museum sits in a fisherman’s net shack. Learn more about fishing history on Lake Erie while checking out a 1932 fishing tug and a 1912 lake-freighter wheelhouse.

Wild Waterfalls

En route, check out the scenic Hamilton-area waterfalls, about 60 km from Port Dover. The 37-metre-high Devil’s Punchbowl Falls is particularly stunning. Be warned that falls can dry up if there hasn’t been a recent rainfall in summer, but the beautiful Webster’s Falls are usually flowing.

Wine Tasting

Ontario’s Lake Erie shore is an up-and-coming wine region with several exciting south coast wineries, such as Norfolk County’s Villa Nova Estate Vineyard or Langton’s Golden Leaf Estate Winery. About 75 km away, Rush Creek Winery offers a selection of fruit wines. Burning Kiln Winery in St. Williams, 30 km from Port Dover, has zip-line canopy tours through the greenery.

Where to Eat

Enjoy California’s coastal cuisine on a deck overlooking Ontario’s coast at the Beach House Restaurant (2 Walker St.; 519-583-0880). If you are craving a hot dog, fries and a Golden Glow (a proprietary orange-flavoured fruit drink), head to the Arbor (17 Main St; 519-583-0611), which has been around since 1919.

Where to Stay

The Port Dover Kinsmen Club offers camping ($20 per person, per night) from Thursday, July 12, to Saturday, July 14. But if you prefer a roof over your head at night, look into cottages and bed-and-breakfasts, such as Angel’s Nest Rooms by the Beach (316 St. George St.) or Goldora Place (57 Prospect St.).

Essential Information

You’ll need a car (or a motorcyle!) to get to and around Port Dover, which is 135 km southwest of Toronto. To plan your trip, see the schedule of live entertainment, which starts Thursday. Check for rally updates on the Friday the 13th Port Dover Facebook page.

See Port Dover in pictures »

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