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Updated December 13, 2023 / Commissions may be earned from LuxuryOntario‘s affiliate partner links.


It certainly doesn’t hurt Parry Sound’s tourism sector that the town is set in one of the most picturesque spots in Ontario. Located overlooking the bay (or “sound”) after which it’s named, the town’s deep-rooted connection to Georgian Bay and the rugged 30,000 Islands, a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, has ensured its place in the hearts of outdoor enthusiasts.

Then there’s Parry Sound’s cultural side. Culture vultures can choose between fascinating museums and historic sites to explore, to one of Ontario’s best classical music events, the must-attend Festival of the Sound. Add to this an array of excellent eateries and top-notch places to stay, and there’s no excuse for not having fun here.

To find out more about this charming town, check out our list of the best things to do in Parry Sound.


The Very Best Things To Do in Parry Sound


Take a 30,000 Islands Cruise
Shutterstock30,000 Islands - Gerry Bishop rocky shoreline
Parry Sound provides access to the spectacular 30,000 Islands (Photo: Gerry Bishop / Shutterstock)

Topping our list of Parry Sound attractions, Georgian Bay’s spectacular 30,000 Islands is part of the same Canadian Shield that so defines neighbouring “cottage country” Muskoka and is considered the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. Covering a massive area of over 860,000 acres and part of the UNESCO Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, this natural wonder is a must-do when in Ontario.

By far the best way to explore this ruggedly beautiful region is via a fun cruise. Local operators of repute include Parry Sound Cruise Line, which offers a variety of tours and private charters aboard the MV Chippewa; and Island Queen Cruise, which operates the large Island Queen tour boat as well as a smaller 40ft vessel for groups seeking guided tour experiences. Both operate out of Parry Sound Harbour.

Whichever you book you’ll enjoy narration by knowledgeable guides who provide fascinating insights into the Indigenous heritage and the early European exploration of these waters, including stories of shipwrecks and the people who once inhabited the area. Wildlife enthusiasts will delight in the chance to spot a variety of animals, including bald eagles, ospreys, deer, and even the occasional black bear. Birdwatchers can also keep an eye out for migratory birds that visit the area.


Go a Little Wild in Killbear Provincial Park
Killbear LighthouseTrail Fishing one of the best things to do in Parry Sound
Exploring the Killbear lighthouse trail is a must-do in Parry Sound (Photo courtesy Ontario Parks)

Killbear Provincial Park covers an area of over 6,000 acres and is popular for its stunning shoreline along Georgian Bay. Framed by stretches of sandy beaches, rugged rocky outcrops, and lush forests, the clear waters of Georgian Bay are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, canoeing, and kayaking.

Hiking enthusiasts will find a network of well-maintained trails to explore. Personal favourites include the Lighthouse Point Trail and Lookout Point Trail which boast panoramic views over Georgian Bay and the surrounding 30,0000 Islands. Enjoy camping? Killbear features several campgrounds including some backcountry camping options, each equipped with amenities such as showers, picnic areas, and interpretive programs to enhance your outdoor experience.

Killbear is also home to a wide range of animal species, including white-tailed deer, foxes, turtles, and a variety of bird species. Enjoy birdwatching? Bring your binoculars to help you spot ospreys and bald eagles as well as native warblers. You can learn more about these along with the park’s human history at its informative Visitor Centre.

Visit Killbear Provincial Park for more info.


Get the Facts at the Museum on Tower Hill

The West Parry Sound District Museum does a great job of detailing the region’s rich history and heritage and is certainly worth visiting. Housed in a historic building adjacent to Tower Hill, notable displays focus on the maritime heritage of Parry Sound, highlighting its role as a hub for shipping and transportation on Georgian Bay.

Other highlights include Indigenous exhibits which pay homage to the original inhabitants of the area, the Anishinaabe, including their culture, traditions, and the connection between their communities and the land and waterways of the region. The museum also delves into the early European exploration of the area, showcasing artifacts and stories of the first settlers who arrived in the 19th century.

The museum also houses a substantial collection of model ships and nautical artifacts which together provide a glimpse into the maritime history of the region, highlighting the importance of shipping, fishing, and navigation on Georgian Bay. Be sure to check out the museum’s event schedule for news of upcoming workshops and special exhibits.

Address: 17 George St, Parry Sound, ON


Climb the Tower Hill Lookout and Visit the Heritage Garden  
shutterstock_Boxcar Media - view from Tpower Hill is one of the best things to do in Parry Sound especially when a train passes by
The views from Tower Hill Lookout are especially good in the fall (Photo: Bocar Media / Shutterstock) 

Located right next door to the West Parry Sound District Museum, the Tower Hill Lookout and Heritage Garden offers superb views of the Georgian Bay area. Perched atop Tower Hill, this scenic viewpoint is a bit of a climb, with 130 steps needing to be tackled, but the views from the top make every ounce of energy spent well worthwhile.

Stretching before you is Parry Sound, the bay that separates the town from Georgian Bay; it’s a lot of fun watching the boats and floatplanes come and go from the town harbour. You’ll also enjoy spectacular views of the iconic Canadian Pacific Railway trestle bridge that passes over the town, an especially impressive site if a train just so happens to pass by (you’ll hear it coming from miles off if so).

Spend some time afterwards resting your weary legs in the Heritage Garden at the base of the lookout tower. This pleasant green space is well-maintained and features a variety of plants, flowers, and sculptures that reflect Parry Sound’s maritime heritage.  Interesting interpretive panels are also provided and detail the importance of the lumber industry, and the maritime traditions that shaped the region.


Take in a Show at the Charles W Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts

Located at the water’s edge overlooking the harbour, the Charles W Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts is widely regarded as one of the best music venues in small-town Ontario. This modern and architecturally striking facility has earned its reputation as an excellent hub for the performing arts, offering a diverse array of entertainment and cultural experiences.

One of the venue’s defining features is its world-class acoustics, with each of its 480 seats enjoying exceptional sound quality. The hall has hosted a wide range of musical genres, from classical and jazz to folk and contemporary, attracting both local talents and internationally acclaimed artists. Other performing arts disciplines showcased here include dance, theatre, and cultural performances, and workshops, masterclasses, and educational events are frequently hosted,


Get Your Music Fix at the Festival of the Sound

 One of the best-known annual events held at the above-mentioned Charles W Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, the prestigious Festival of the Sound is a popular celebration of music that draws fans from far and wide. The festival’s programming is diverse and inclusive, often featuring a mix of classical, jazz, and occasionally folk music.

Playing to audiences for over 40 years, this much anticipated annual event attracts a roster of renowned artists from across Canada and the globe, including celebrated ensembles, soloists, and up-and-coming talents here to perform compositions ranging from timeless classics to contemporary pieces, offering something for every musical taste.

Education and community outreach are integral to the Festival’s ethos, with a range of workshops, lectures, and interactive sessions hosted that are designed to engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds.




kim Kerr is a luxury lifestyles writer  and Co-Founder of Riley and LuxuryOntario and is proud to call Muskoka “home.”

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