Updated: Aug 4
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? More beach options if Cobourg Beach is full when you get there + a gorgeous and whimsical garden by the beach.
Since Cobourg’s beautiful sandy beach was to be closed on weekends for the whole summer, I went there recently to look for other options in the area. I was about to write this post when I found out that the Town of Cobourg just voted, on July 26, to reopen Cobourg Beach every day, starting this weekend!
My time was not wasted, though. The distancing rules will inevitably impose a limit on the number of visitors, so many won’t have access to Cobourg Beach when they show up. So here’s a good back-up plan with enough tempting options to justify a road trip around Cobourg, a 90-min ride from Toronto.
Everyone knows Cobourg Beach, east of the Cobourg Marina, at the end of Division Street. But did you know that there is another beach west of the marina, at the foot of Third Street? A nice paved pathway runs along the marina between the two streets and there’s a large parking lot near Third Street.
In front of the parking lot is a tiny sandy beach, a hot spot for sailing camps on weekdays. You will have to walk west, at the edge of the parking lot, to reach West Beach, a vast pebble and sand beach that is 550 metres long.
Note that the water here is deeper than at Cobourg Beach, making it a bit more stressful for parents with young children.
A beautiful boardwalk runs along the beach, which is peppered with pretty field flowers. Which is not surprising, considering West Beach borders the colourful Cobourg Ecology Garden, established in 1996.
Cobourg Ecology Garden
The prettiest way to access West Beach is to enter through the green arch of the Cobourg Ecology Garden (at the foot of Hibernia Street). This is an enchanting (and free!) little oasis. Many will recognize it as the garden of their dreams, with its shady nooks and crannies filled with botanical surprises.
The garden opens onto the boardwalk, gracefully lined with grasses and wildflowers, with the lake in the background. Beautiful! It offers half a kilometre of peaceful strolling while listening to the sound of the waves crashing on West Beach.
Down Donagan Park
At the foot of D'Arcy Street, a few blocks east of Victoria Park and Cobourg Beach, there is a small hidden pebble beach, shaded by a few trees. Parking is available at Donagan Park. (which includes a small skatepark). Not far from there, on Lakeshore Drive, don’t miss the pretty mural on the intriguing round building of Cobourg’s Water Treatment Plant.
Lookout Point Park
If one could walk uninterrupted going eastbound on the waterfront from Cobourg Beach, she would reach Lookout Point Park in 1.5 km. Fortunately, it can be reached at the foot of Coverdale Avenue (south of King E). On-street parking is readily available in this very quiet residential neighbourhood.
The “park” is actually a narrow grassy corridor leading to the lookout. When I was visiting, a lady was sitting with her little dog by a bench overlooking the lake, lost in thought. Her younger friend, who later came to join her, explained to me that it was the old lady’s bench, dedicated to her deceased husband…
Thanks to the current low water level of the lake, large rocky platforms are revealed on the beach and can be reached through a passage amidst large boulders (thread carefully). The place is so nice that I came back there to have a picnic with some friends and it was heaven!
Fitzhugh Shores Park
What a great find! Fitzhugh Shores Park would be only 600 meters from Lookout Point if one could get there from the beach. You can access it by taking Willmott Street south of King Street E, then turning right on Cooper Crescent and left on E House Crescent. Again, this is in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, and street parking is available.
Enter the small park at the foot of E House Crescent and take the grassy corridor on your right. At the end, you will find a wooden staircase providing easy access to the pebble beach.
Lucas Point Park
Back at the top of the stairs, you will notice a small dirt path under the trees. It will allow you to reach in a few steps the cliff of Lucas Point Park.
The edge of the park is 1-km away. It includes a few benches, happily situated and I noticed at least two relatively easy access (for strong legs) to reach the beach. Note that if you go down the stairs of Fitzhugh Shores Park, you can walk eastbound to follow the bottom of the cliff of Lucas Point.
While you're here
Now that Cobourg's great beach has reopened full time, I don't know what the availability at the various hotels in the area will look like for the rest of the summer. My personal favourite is definitely the Breakers on the Lake, with its private beach just east of Cobourg Beach (expect $165-$175 with kitchenette, and other options with 2 to 3 rooms).
For my daily caffeine fix, I tested three independent coffee shops to my liking: the one that opened the earliest, The Human Bean (80 King W, open 7am-3pm, closed Sunday); the coffee shop/pastry shop with a nice terrace serving a delectable blueberry scone, Black Cat (4 King W, open 8:30am-4pm, closed Sunday); and the only one open on Sundays at the time of my visit, The Rustic Bean Coffee Co. (91 King W, open from 9am to 4pm).
The thick golden blueberry pancakes at Buttermilk Cafe (44 King W, open 8am-8pm Wednesday-Sunday and 8am-3pm Mondays and Tuesdays) kept me going until dinner! They have a lovely front patio and plenty of indoor seating.
I discovered too late to try it a hidden restaurant that seduced me with its funky patio and tempting menu, George & Orange (67 rue Orange, Cobourg, open from 5 to 9 pm Tuesday to Thursday, from noon to 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and from noon to 4 pm on Sundays).
I’ll be back!
Nathalie Prézeau is the author of the walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls, which you can get on amazon.ca
or by contacting the author directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can pick up the book at 299 Booth Avenue, the author delivers in Toronto and Canada Post takes care of the other destinations.