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Set against the backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment to the south and Georgian Bay to the north, there’s really no need to wonder why Owen Sound is one of the best places to visit in Ontario for those who enjoy stunning scenery. This small community, dubbed Ontario’s “Scenic City,” also just happens to offer no end of fun, from cultural offerings and outdoor activities to tasty food experiences and awesome places to stay.
Owen Sound’s stunning waterfalls are also a big draw and include stunning Inglis Falls, where the Sydenham River cascades down 18 m of limestone cliff, as well as Indian and Jones Falls which further enhance the region’s geological wonders and serve as picturesque spots for picnics and photos.
To learn more about these and the many other popular tourist attractions here, be sure to read through our list of the best things to do in Owen Sound.
The Best Things To Do in Owen Sound
Visit the Inglis Falls Conservation Area
Just a few minutes’ drive away from downtown Owen Sound, stunning Inglis Falls is where the Sydenham River meets the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. With its dramatic 18m drop, Inglis Falls is simply breathtaking.
From the Inglis Falls Conservation Area car park at the top of the fall you’ve got a number of great vantage spots to enjoy, so be sure to do them all. The easiest to get to are from the Escarpment Discovery Centre set in an old stone building at the top of the falls. Here, you’ll catch a glimpse of the river as it rushes past the building and over the edge of the escarpment.
Other great viewpoints can be found a short distance behind the visitor centre, as well as by following the Bruce Trail, which from here extends south all the way to Niagara Falls some 270 km to the south, as it traces the edge of the falls to a viewing platform. Looking back the way you came reveals stunning views of the falls in its entirety.
If you’ve time to explore a little more, Jones Falls is close by and features a much gentler cascade. Also worth a visit, Indian Falls features a 15 m drop that’s great to photograph.
Address: 237785 Inglis Falls Rd, Owen Sound, ON
Get Your Canadian Art Fix at Tom Thomson Art Gallery
Art enthusiast or not, the Tom Thomson Art Gallery is a fun spot to visit in Owen Sound. Referred to fondly by locals as the “TOM,” this great museum and gallery is dedicated to the life and work of Tom Thomson, widely considered one of Canada’s most influential artists of the early 20th century. Known for his landscape paintings and profound impact on the Group of Seven, Thomson’s connection to the rugged beauty of the Canadian wilderness is a marvel to witness.
The gallery’s permanent collection features Thomson’s evocative sketches and paintings, drawing you into the very essence of the northern landscapes he so famously captured on canvas with his depictions of rugged Georgian Bay shores and the Canadian Shield.
The gallery also showcases a variety of contemporary artists, both local and national, whose works reflect the ongoing narrative of Canadian art. Tours, educational programs, and workshops are also available.
Address: 840 1st Ave W, Owen Sound, ON
Learn About Canada’s Fighter Ace at the Billy Bishop Home & Museum
The Billy Bishop Home & Museum stands as a tribute to one of Owen Sound’s most illustrious sons, Air Marshal William Avery “Billy” Bishop, a true Canadian hero. This charming red-brick Victorian house was where Bishop was born in 1894 and now serves as a museum dedicated to the life and legacy of the World War I flying ace.
Fully restored rooms reflect the period in which the Bishop family lived, with memorabilia, photographs, and military artifacts displayed throughout. You’ll learn about Bishop’s early life and influences, gaining insight into the formative experiences that shaped him, and his journey to becoming Canada’s top flying ace and Victoria Cross recipient.
Other interesting exhibits deal with the development of aviation and its role in the war. Special exhibits and events are held throughout the year including remembrance ceremonies and veteran talks.
Address: 948 3rd Ave W, Owen Sound, ON
Marine and Rail Museum
Located along Owen Sounds’ revitalized waterfront area, the Marine & Rail Museum presents a fascinating journey through the town’s rich nautical and railway heritage. Housed in an historic CN Rail Station, the museum is a trove of stories and artifacts from the days when Owen Sound was a bustling port and a vital rail terminus.
The museum houses an impressive collection of models, photographs, and maritime equipment, with exhibits featuring the ships that once navigated local waters. Notable among them is the storied Chi-Cheemaun ferry, as well as the icebreakers that opened up trade routes and supported local economies.
The rail section of the museum is equally fascinating, with displays, model trains, and railway memorabilia to explore. In addition to interactive exhibits for younger visitors, the museum’s programming includes talks, events, and an exploration of its large archives.
Address: 1155 1st Ave W, Owen Sound, ON
Take a Stroll Through Harrison Park
Harrison Park spans nearly 100 acres of green spaces, waterways, and trails about halfway between the downtown area and Inglis Falls. It’s a delightful spot for a stroll, especially along the trails closest to the Sydenham River or those that head off into the woods. Some of the more popular pathways are paved and are also popular for cyclists to navigate.
Highlights include the park’s photo-worthy black iron bridge spanning the river, as well as the children’s playgrounds and picnic spots. When the snow flies, the park transforms into a winter wonderland with cross-country skiing trails and ice-skating on the frozen pond.
Address: 75 2nd Ave E, Owen Sound, ON
Enjoy a Show at the Roxy Theatre
The historic Roxy Theatre is another of the top Owen Sound attractions you’ll want to include on your travel itinerary. Built in 1913, The Roxy’s interior still exudes an old-world charm with its plush red seats, ornate décor, and ambient lighting, all of which combine to create an intimate setting for the performing arts.
The Roxy is also home to the Owen Sound Little Theatre, a community troupe that produces a variety of shows, from Broadway-style musicals to dramas and lighthearted comedies. It’s also used for film screenings, concerts, and lectures.
Address: 251 9th St E, Owen Sound, ON