Travel Diary: Thunder Bay

We started our trip with a celebratory lunch at Thunder Bay’s recently-opened Mexican eatery, El Tres, devouring an order of off-the-cob Esquites, Carnitas with sweet pineapple, and Machacha. The eclectic, southwestern decor and casual eating space offered a warm atmosphere, as did the lively staff and … spirited drink menu. With a late afternoon activity planned, we skipped the tequila and opted for a pint of Northern Logger from Sleeping Giant Brewery.

El Tres, Thunder Bay

El Tres interior

After a quick stop at Bean Fiend, where we sipped our coffees in the zen-inspired garden and awaited our guide from SUP Superior, we headed out for an afternoon on the water.

SUP Superior

Stand up paddleboarding

The gentle streams at Hazelwood Lake made for a peaceful paddle despite the windy day on Lake Superior. Our guide, Andrea, helped us with techniques to improve our paddling, all the while taking in the sounds of nature and the unblemished views of the wilderness.

With achy muscles and a big day planned, the hotel hot tub and comfy beds at the Days Inn made for a perfect night as we enjoyed the city’s famous Persian donut-like pastries gifted to us by the hotel’s friendly staff.

Making the most of our final day, we bravely booked a challenging rock climbing session with Aric Fishman from Outdoor Skills and Thrills, an experience that can easily be added to your itinerary when booking with Porter Escapes.

Outdoor Skills Course

As new climbers, the rock walls at Silver Islet felt like giant cliffs to us, but with Aric as our guardian watching our every step, we felt at ease. We were infants on shaky feet until Aric’s genuine enthusiasm gave us the mental boost needed and we began to challenge ourselves by reaching for smaller holds and trusting our bodies’ strength.

Rock climbing in Thunder Bay

“Right on,” he yells from below. Then suddenly we were at the top, cheering for ourselves as we looked out on the treetops below us and prepared to rappel down.

Rock Climbing

The view from the top

In celebration, we headed for food. Tomlin, in the heart of Thunder Bay, had the upscale ambience of a big city eatery without the fuss. The waitstaff pampered us and the menu made our hungry stomachs roar with anticipation. Tomlin was the ultimate treat. The drink menu includes original cocktails like ImpeachMint, a peach-infused brandy with Lillet Blanc and mint.  Even classic cocktails have been given a signature twist (look no further than their version of a Tom Collins, muddled with fennel and coriander tincture for a little edge).

Sharing an order of house-made gnocchi with locally-foraged mushrooms, peas, and pecorino cheese and an order of tofu slaw, a medley of sliced apples, savoury cabbage and tofu marinated in a citrus vinaigrette, we ate our way to happiness.

Read on to learn more about Thunder Bay’s superior views and outdoor offerings.