Guide to 12 Things to Do in Norfolk County Ontario

One of the best things about living in southern Ontario is its proximity to so many amazing destinations. From small towns to outdoor adventures to big cities – there’s a lot to see and do.

I love to seek out those under-the-radar spots too. To my delight, Norfolk County Ontario is brimming over with some pretty amazing hidden gems.

In this article, I’ll share one perfect day itinerary or weekend, bringing you to some secret places in Norfolk County. So, let’s hit the open road and check out the amazing things to do in Norfolk County this weekend!

Where is Norfolk County Ontario?

flowers next to brown barn in norfolk county ontario

Norfolk County is a rural region on the north shore of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario.

It is made up of four communities – Simcoe, Port Dover, Waterford and Delhi. 

Day tripping to Norfolk County is under 90 minutes from Toronto. And even closer for those cities in the west end like Kitchener.

Norfolk County tourism describes this area as an up-and-coming region to discover. So if you’re anything like me, go now before it becomes too saturated with other day trippers like us! 

Things to Do in Norfolk County Ontario

tall corn fields with barn in Norfolk County Ontario

Wondering what to do in Norfolk County? I’ve built a full-day itinerary that takes you from one end of Norfolk County to the other. You can pick and choose what interests you the most depending on how much time you have to spend in Norfolk County.

1. Visit a Lavender Farm

lavender farm in norfolk county ontario

Start your day by visiting a top attraction in Norfolk County – lavender farms!

Apple Hill Lavender is a 4th generation family farm that began its operations in 1906. Today, the farm grows apples and lavender on its 45 acres.

It’s a family affair with one sister overseeing the apple orchard and the other sister, the lavender farm.

It is open to the public from May to December and is located at 1795 Windham Road 11, Windham Centre.

The best part, you can stroll the rolling hills of Lavender for free. 

fields of lavender with barn as things to do in norfolk county

Fields of lavender are such a beautiful sight to behold, aren’t they? And, Apple Hill Lavender is at the top of the list!

With the sound of bees buzzing and the intoxicatingly sweet smell of lavender in the air, this is such a tranquil spot.

In bloom for such a short time of the year (mid-June to late July) are the popular French (Lavandula) and English (Angustifolia) cultivars.

Norfolk County lavender

In addition to growing, they also harvest and distill on-site producing their own natural essential oils. From these, they make a large variety of culinary and body care products sold in their Bake House and boutique shop

I met with Melissa, the operator of the lavender farm, who is also a very talented artist. Her pottery, ‘The Raging Bowl’ can be found in the boutique shop. She graciously shared the family history with me.

red picnic table with trees in Norfolk County Ontario

Enjoy a picnic under the old apple trees. Before you reach Apple Hill Lavender you will pass by many farm market stands, stop in and grab yourself some seasonal fruit and baked goods, knowing that you now have the perfect spot to enjoy them right here. 

2. Take a Detour

One of the fun things to do in Norfolk County is taking a bit of a detour- here are two stops I did.

A popular place to visit in Norfolk County is Picard’s Peanuts.

In 1979, the Picard family began harvesting peanuts. Today, they offer over 150 confectionary products in 6 locations in Ontario.

Visit where it all began and stop in at Windham Centre – the original location and processing plant. It’s located at 2353 Nixon Road in Simcoe Ontario. 

Another fun detour is quenching your thirst at New Limburg Brewing Company. If you love Belgian-style ales you’ll want to stop here.

The family has brought their roots from Limburg Netherlands and Limburg Belgium to Norfolk County.

The once-elementary school has been transformed into a microbrewery and restaurant that has all the European vibes you could ask for.

New Limburg Brewing Company is located at 2353 Nixon Road in Simcoe Ontario.

3. Visit Port Dover Attractions

lighthouse on long pier in port dover one of the things to do in norfolk county

The popular beach town of Port Dover, named after Dover England, was discovered in 1794. Only to be burned down and destroyed during an American raid in 1812. The survivors of the war slowly rebuilt the community and by the 1870s the village grew to over 1,000 residents. 

Sitting on the Ontario shores of Lake Erie a Port Dover day trip to this laid-back beach town offers up a whole lot more than fun in the sun. 

One of the top things to do in Port Dover is to visit it’s most famous beacon – the Port Dover lighthouse from the mid-1800s.

Walking along the long pier for those panoramic lake views is one of the best things to do in Port Dover.

surf shop with surf board in norfolk county

Wondering what to do in Port Dover, surprisingly there’s a lot!

Located just off the beach strip is the Port Dover Harbour Museum a small museum preserving the town’s historical role in the commercial fishing industry.

You might also hear some legendary tales of famous shipwrecks and rum smugglers. 

Take part in Port Dover’s thriving arts and culture community. Visit the Lighthouse Festival Theatre for some live professional theatre. Also, be sure to check out Woodhouse Gallery featuring local and Canadian artists. 

4. Things to do in Port Dover Ontario: Downtown Shops

red brick building with flowers on latern in port dover a town in norfolk county

Seekers of small-town charm will be presently surprised at just how quaint the downtown is.

Just a couple minutes’ walk from the main beach area is where you’ll find the historic buildings lined with some cute shops.

shop window with window boxes in norfolk county ontario

Boutiques like The Dover Cheese Shop, Cottage North Soapworks, and 13 Reasons, to just name a few.

Port Dover is also known for its restaurants. They have an amazing array to suit everyone. From beach-side grill to diner and pub-style to a bistro and even a couple of fine dining. No matter, almost every menu in town features its famous local fish – perch and pickerel. 

band stand in park with red flowers in port dover norfolk county

The winding roads along the scenic Lake Erie shoreline, known as Ontario’s South Coast, are a popular motorcycle route.

Port Dover was put on the map due to its Friday the 13th tradition. Since 1981, the gathering of motorcyclists every Friday the 13th (rain or shine and all seasons) where hundreds of thousands of bikers descend upon this small town. 

5. Visit a Ghost Town

blue shed with red door in norfolk county ontario

One of the things to do near Port Dover is to visit Normandale, a tiny historical village that is also known as a ghost town.

In the 1800s, the population swelled to almost 800, but today only a couple of hundred part-time cottagers reside here. 

This secret spot has historical roots as being Ontario’s first steel town (sorry Hamilton). The Van Norman Company, from 1822, was known for building the first iron furnace, among other iron materials like the cooking stove, kettles, pots and pans.

Nothing remains of the foundry today on Mill Street, only a marker designating it a National Historic Site in 1927.

red barn in Norfolk County ontario

Today, Normandale is a quiet place for cottagers, with maybe the odd full-time resident.

To reach it, you drive through “Spooky Hollow Nature Sanctuary” – a densely forested area with a winding hilly road until you reach the main street. 

post office building with white picket fence in Norfolk County ontario

Two well-kept historic buildings, the Union Hotel (1840) and the original Post Office (1842), stand at the main intersection of Normandale Road and Main Street.

They are this tiny village’s top attraction.

blue lake with kayakers in norfolk county ontario

Another fun thing to do in Normandale is to take the trail from Mill Street leading you to a small secluded beach.

The views of Lake Erie are worth coming to Normandale. It is also the only dog-friendly beach in the area.

That was the initial reason for seeking out Normandale, only to be pleasantly surprised to find a whole lot more. 

6. Grab an Ice Cream in Normandale

flags in green yellow, white over terrace in norfolk county ontario

Amazingly, there are two restaurants in Normandale. The long-standing General Store is known for its burgers and ice cream and Tacos ‘n’ Tequila, which is authentic Mexican food.

As soon as I saw the Instagrammable outdoor terrace with Papel Picado, Mexican folk art, strung overhead I was sold. Tequila drinks on the cute terrace it is!

This family-run business also includes the adjacent Normandale Century Inn, which was just opened by a newly immigrated Mexican family. We sipped on some tequila cocktails with homemade nacho chips before we headed out to our last and final stop. 

7. Take the Scenic Route from Turkey Point to Long Point

wild flowers of yellow in norfolk county ontario

Follow the scenic Waterfront Trail roadway, a 20-km stretch from Turkey Point to Long Point, and visit some more Norfolk County things to do.

8. Visit a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

lakes in greenery for norfolk county ontario

One of the best things to do near Turkey Point is to go to Long Point. Long Point is comprised of over 26,000 hectares of a protected coastal ecosystem.

Designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1986 it’s home to:

  • 1,300+ species of plants,
  • 370+ species of birds,
  • 100+ species of fish,
  • 45+ species of mammals,
  • 30+ species of amphibians and reptiles, and
  • 90+ species of butterflies

This 40-km stretch of uninterrupted beaches, undisturbed sand dunes, grassy ridges, wet meadows, woodlands, marshes and ponds is an incredible sight. 

9. Do Some Birdwatching

pond with ducks is popular things to do in Norfolk County

Turkey Point, one of the earliest settled communities in Norfolk County, was named for the abundance of wild turkeys that nested there.

Today, its diverse ecosystem of marshes, ponds, wetlands and dense Carolinian forest make this a popular spot for migrating birds and other wildlife. 

Long Point is a world-renowned refuge and stopover for migrating birds in the spring and fall.

Come here in March and April for a waterfowl viewing. Its delicate dunes and marshes teem with songbirds, spawning fish, turtles and frogs.

Stop at the Lee Brown Waterfowl Management Area. Climb the lookout tower with your binoculars, or the zoom lens of your camera, and do some birdwatching. 

10. Visit a Winery

winery with bench in norfolk county things to do

One of the best things to do in Turkey Point is to check out some wineries.

Once a Tabaco farm, the crop was replaced with grape vines and the doors to Burning Kiln Winery was opened. This winery has it all. From dining at Canned Heat to live entertainment and a pop-up artisan market, and even the option to stay in the original farmhouse from 1865.

Tasting flights of 3 or 5 are guided by your wine expert. And, we may have walked away with a couple of bottles, including their newest wine, ‘Broken Needle’, a delicious Pinot Noir Rosé.

Further down the road is Blueberry Hill Winery. When in season freshly picked blueberries and market preserves are available, as well as, their wine.

11. Visit Port Rowan

boat houses in colours in norfolk county things to do

The small town of Port Rowan dates back to 1825. It thrived in the lumber and fishing industries.

Today it is a popular marina. Being so close to the tourist attraction of Long Point most drive right past it. Don’t. Especially for those amateur or professional photographers. 

water with boat houses Norfolk County ontario

There is nothing here but old boathouses. The more rustic the better. Wait for the perfect lighting and the water reflections to come alive.  

Locals can be found fishing off the pier. Boaters come and go. And, the only business in sight is Twin’s Ice Cream Parlour which has been operating for several decades. This was one of the highlights of all the Turkey Point things to do.

12. Visit the Beach

beach with shady tree and umbrella in norfolk county things to do

For the best beach experience, visit one of the area’s two provincial parks – Turkey Point and Long Point Provincial Parks.

Alternately, both towns have public beaches that extend into cottage areas, just watch for private property. I recommend the public beach at Turkey Point, it’s a long stretch of 3 km of sandy shoreline.  

FAQ About Norfolk County Ontario

What towns are in Norfolk County, Ontario?

The towns in Norfolk County are Simcoe, Delhi, Port Dover, Waterford, Port Rowan, Langton, Courtland, Jarvis, Clear Creek, Lynedoch, Walsh, and Wilsonville.

Is Norfolk County worth visiting?

Yes, Norfolk County is a scenic and up-and-coming area of Ontario that offers beautiful natural scenery of its beaches, wetlands and farmland, as well as delicious food and wine from local farms and vineyards.

What is Norfolk County known for?

Norfolk County is known for its farmland with many fruit orchards and lavender, its beaches, the beach town of Port Dover, and its outdoor activities of swimming, hiking and bird watching.

What are things to do in Simcoe?

Things to do in Simcoe Ontario include a visit to the Norfolk County archives, hiking along the Delhi rail trail and stopping at New Limburg Brewing Company for their beer on tap.

As a Holidaymaker

Day-tripping to Norfolk County was full of hidden gems. This region in southwestern Ontario surprised me.

It’s chock-full of some amazing places that could have you exploring this region for days. I hope you enjoyed this list of top things to do in Norfolk County Ontario. 

If you are looking for more hidden gems Ontario inspiration I invite you to visit my Canada Travel page where I have all my articles at your fingertips. My focus is on small Ontario towns and fun experiences.

But I will leave you with a couple of articles now:

  • Have you visited Caledon yet? The area of Caledon is full of nature, art and quaint historic villages with great full of tiny hamlets, great eateries, artand scenic rural landscapes perfect for hiking and an artist community.
  • The very popular Prince Edward County is bursting with wineries, farm-to-table restaurants, cool places to stay and the beaches of Sandbanks are something to see.

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