It may not be the sunniest holiday weekend ever forecast, but if you’re looking to get out for some summer fun on the water this long weekend, CBC Hamilton has put together a roundup of local spots where you can splash and, let's hope, bask in some sun.
Confederation Park – 25 minute drive from downtown (buses available daily)
Right here in the city, Confederation Park sits on the edge of lake Ontario and iincludes a 4-plus-kilometre beach trail, go-karts, batting cages, mini-golf, as well as popular beach restaurants Hutches and Baranga’s on the Beach. Also available is the Lakeland Pool, open from 11:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. daily. Lakeland boasts a splash pad, a basketball court and a beach volleyball court.
Along the lake, accessible by car of by the beach trail, are three beaches, Confederation, Van Wagners and Beach Road. Water at all three beaches is tested weekly to ensure swimming safety. All beaches listed as safe as of June 24. Check the Hamilton public health website for up-to-date ratings.
Wild Waterworks - 25 minute drive from downtown (buses available daily)
Visit Hamilton’s own waterpark. Wild Waterworks has a wave pool, six water slides, the Eazy River, as well as a special toddler area with shallow pools and slides called Little Squirt Works.
Lockers, tubes, and life jackets are available for rent with a refundable deposit. Cabana rental packages starting at $55 are also available. Group rates and season passes are available. $19.67 plus tax for ages 11-64 and $12.15 plus tax for ages 3-10. Children under 3 are free.
Port Dover – One-hour drive from downtown
If you’re looking for a beach day outside of the city, but not too far from amenities, Port Dover is the place to go. Located on the north shore of Lake Erie, the resort town’s sand beaches are close to shops and public bathrooms. Shopping, restaurants are within easy reach of the water. Port Dover also has several bed and breakfasts near the beach if you decide to stay overnight. The town also boasts the Lighthouse Festival Theatre, with shows Tuesday to Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Emerald Lake – 30-minute drive from downtown
Emerald Lake is a privately owned swimming and recreation area, 30 minutes away from downtown, up Highway 6 and down the Concession 11. The site includes the spring-fed lake, a water slide, a splash pad, diving boards and water toy rentals. There is a picnic area and playgrounds for the kids as well as a WiFi hotspot if you need to check you email over the weekend. The camping area has room for tents and RVs as well as cabin rentals. Prices for tents without water and power begin at $65 per night, with a three-night minimum for long weekends. The camping area includes hot showers, firewood and ice, and sports fields including a skateboard park.
Emerald Lake is great for families looking for a camping experience without too much wilderness.
Christie Lake & Valens Conservation areas – 20-30 minute drive from downtown
Both sites are operated by the Hamilton Conservation Authority. For the full, outdoor experience, you won’t have to go very far. Christie Lake Conservation area is only a 20-minute drive from the city center, and Valens Conservation area is only a half hour drive.
At Christie Lake, 360 metres of sandy beaches are available for swimming and sunbathing. Rentals of rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and tubes are available, and the site has a picnic area as well. The park has 10 kilometres of hiking trails.
If you want to camp out and go fishing, head to Valens Conservation Area. The lake is home to northern pike, largemouth bass and panfish. Boat rentals are available. 1000 picnic tables are scattered around the park, as well as 10 kilometres of hiking trails, and a 300-meter wetland boardwalk. The campground has 225 sites, more than half of them with water and power. Public washrooms are on site. Rates start at $35 a night.
Christie Lake and Valens each charge $9 for car and driver and $5 for each additional passenger. For guests who walk or bike into the park, the charge is $5. Beaches at Christie Lake and Valens are tested weekly to ensure swimming safety.
Both lakes are listed as safe as of June 25. Check the Hamilton public health website or up-to-date ratings.
Water as in rain: Indoor pursuits for a wet weekend
If you’re looking for something to do this (potentially very rainy) long weekend, here are a few things entertainment options that will be open.
Museums: The Art Gallery of Hamilton is open from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and the holiday Monday. The gallery is hosting a Family Fun Day on Sunday, during which families can come to the gallery for mini-tours and hands-on activities catering to children. The event is free for members and $5 per family for non-members.
Also, drop by on Saturday, Sunday or Monday at 2 p.m. for a tour of the gallery. The tour lasts approximately 40 minutes and is free for members. For non-members, the tour will cost $10 and $8 for students and seniors.
On Saturday and Sunday, take a trip to one of Hamilton’s several civic museums, which include the Dundurn National Historic Site, the Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology and the Hamilton Children’s Museum. Admission rates vary. All city museums are closed on the holiday Monday.
Swimming: If you really want to go for a swim despite the rain, head to one of Hamilton’s recreation centres. Most public pools have swim scheduled all weekend. Most sites also have drop-in gyms, where adults and children can participate in sports and other activities. Check the city website for times. On Monday, all recreation centres are closed, but the city’s eight outdoor pools will all be open.
Socializing: If the rain is still getting you down, you can always head over to one of the rapidly growing number of coffee shops and cafés dotting the city.