“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”Anonymous
As a part of my business trip, I visited Sarnia in September 2019. To be frank, I never heard about Sarnia anytime in my life before I visited this scenic and peaceful place. Sarnia is truly a little hidden gem in the south western Ontario.
The name “Sarnia” is Latin for Guernsey, which is a British Channel Island.
Sarnia is a city in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, and have a population of around 73,000. It is the largest city on Lake Huron and in Lambton County.
There are many chemical companies around Sarnia the biggest being Nova Chemicals.
Sarnia Chris HadField Airport is the only airport in Sarnia. The airport is located 4 nautical miles from Sarnia downtown and this airport has served the needs of Sarnia-Lambton for over 60 years. Built in the late 1950’s, runways were paved in 1958, and in December of 1958 Scheduled Flights began from this airport. This is one of Smallest Airport that I had ever visited in my life.
AirCanada Flies regularly from Toronto to Sarnia (It’s a 37-Seater small flight, one of the smallest flights that I have ever travelled). The flight timing is around 35-40 Minutes.
The town is about three hours’ drive from Toronto and is also accessible by train.
After reaching Sarnia by flight, if you want to hire a taxi, am providing a list of taxi numbers. You can call them, and they would be happy to pick you up from the airport. I was told that only 3 or 4 taxis are tagged with the Uber network.
I could see very less tourists here in Sarnia. I was told that Sarnia is considered as a retirement destination by many citizens. I also felt so, as I found a lot of senior citizens in this part of Canada.
I presume that might be one of the reasons why Government of Canada is also not promoting this place as tourist destination. Maybe they would like the avoid the overcrowding of tourists here and wants to retain the Sarnia as it is.
Some places that I have explored in this trip:
1) Canadian National Railways #6069, Sarnia, Canada:
Canadian National Railways #6069 is on permanent display in Centennial Park, Sarnia Ontario Canada. An information sign located near the locomotive provides the following narrative: Engine 6069 was one of the last steam engines built for the CNR. It was built in November 1944 at Montreal Locomotive Works Montreal Quebec and delivered to the CNR during the last quarter of 1944.
2) Blue Water Bridge from Sarnia, Canada to Michigan, United States:
The Blue Water Bridge is a twin-span international bridge across the St. Clair River that links Port Huron, Michigan, United States, and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.
This bridge is jointly owned and maintained by Canada and United States.
You can take a taxi from Sarnia to Port Huron by crossing the US border, provided you have necessary travel documents to cross the border. Many of the taxi’s here have the license to cross the bridge. Both the US and Canada border stations are open 24 hours per day.
When I enquired with a taxi company (United), I was provided with the following charges:
90 CAD one side, 45 CAD for the return trip and 30 CAD waiting charge for 1 hour.
3) Canatara Beach:
One of only 26 beaches in Canada to have earned official Blue Flag status.
This is internationally recognised and respected award for beaches that meet the strict criteria under 4 categories:
a) Water Quality
b) Safety and services
c) Environmental management
d) Environmental Education
This flag is awarded on a yearly basis and is only valid if the standards are maintained.
This sandy beach stretching nearly a kilometre along Lake Huron is perfect for family fun, Watersports and so on.
4) Canatara Park:
There are more than 100 parks in Sarnia, the largest being Canatara Park, which covers more than 200 acres along the shore of Lake Huron. This park is well maintained with trails and Bicycle routes.
5) Centennial Park:
This beautiful waterfront park opened in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s Centennial.
Today, the park features award winning floral gardens, a children’s play area, Court of Flags, walking trails, recreation and entertainment area all maintained by the
city’s parks and recreation department..
There is also a very interesting Population display board here in Sarnia. I have not seen such boards in many of the cities.
5) Centennial Park:
Sarnia down town is very small. This cute little downtown is incredibly walkable and lined with little locally owned boutiques and shops. Imperial Theatre is in Downtown Sarnia. I also found an Indian restaurant – Sithara in the downtown. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find time to try any food there.
It’s good to note that many of the shops here close by 6 PM.
There are also some large stores like Canada Super store and Walmart available in Sarnia.
I was surprised to see how friendly the people of Sarnia are. … No matter you are in a beach or park or at down town, they would always greet you with a Sweet smile or Hello…..
There are also a lot of Walking Trails across Sarnia. Try exploring some of those trails, if you are really interested.
If you want explore Sarnia in a cycle, I would recommend you to check out ‘The Bicycle Shop’ .. More details can ne found here : https://www.thebicycleshopsarnia.ca/
In my entire trip, I happened to see the highest number of cars in front of the casino. Due to the time limitations, I couldn’t find time to visit this casino. I was told that it’s a very popular destination here in Sarnia.
Some attractions that you can explore:
I tried some local menu here and would definitely recommend the below 2 restaurants and would certainly recommend both of them, to all my fellow travellers.
1) Lola’s Lounge:
Lola’s menu is inspired by Latin America. The menu offers a good variety of food and the ambience is superb. The food was tasty, and service was prompt.
No dedicated parking is available, but you can park your vehicle on the road side which is just in front of this restaurant.
2) Macarthy’s Bara and Grill:
The Quantity of the bucket chips was more, so order it only if you can finish.
More details here: https://mccarthysgrill.com/
Food and the service was good. It was crowded when we visited this place. There is parking available in front of the shop.
I have heard a lot about Purdy’s.
Purdy’s has been in the town since 1900 offering fresh fish to the town. They have a dockside eatery where you can enjoy the views of the waterfront while munching on some fresh fish and chips.
But unfortunately, it was closed on the day that I visited.
There are many hotels available in Sarnia. I stayed in Hampton inn by Hilton. I have provided a detailed review including photos about this hotel in my blog:
Summary: Sarnia might not be in the bucket list of many of the people, But I would certainly recommend you try this place one time and you would never get disappointed. That is a guarantee that I can certainly give you. people in Toronto can easily try this as a long weekend gateway, Afterall its just 3 hours journey by car from Toronto.
The intention of this blog is to provide you a comprehensive list of attractions/places/restaurants so that you can use this as a reference, while preparing a Sarnia Itinerary. Typically 2 full days would be more than enough to cover this scenic little place in South Western Ontario, Canada.