Sault Ste Marie is Naturally Gifted
If you have been following our Instagram, you know how much we love roadside attractions. We will stop at just about any random statue, sculpture, or artist’s creation that we find along the way on any of our road trips. The weirder – the better. We often plot our routes for our road trips based on where we can find roadside attractions. On occasion, we have even made long detours to find a roadside attraction. Sometimes these detours are worth it, and sometimes – not so much. You don’t always know until you get there.
Why Sault Ste Marie?
Several years ago, I was watching CTV Comedy Channel, and there was a program about roadside attractions starring Seán Cullen. He is from the Canadian comedy musical group called “Corky and the JuicePigs.” They had some mild success in the late early ’90s. The show was a travel series where he went to various parts of Canada looking for weird and unusual attractions, and he posed the question: “What were they thinking?”. The episode of this limited travel series that stuck with me was the one about Sault Ste Marie. I had never been to the SOO before, and this show made this seem like a roadside attraction hotspot, so of course, I was intrigued.
I filed that idea away if the opportunity to visit Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, ever came up. Fast forward several years, and when Roguetrippers were looking for a weekend getaway that was just fun and unstructured – I pulled that idea out of the files. We decided a roadside attraction road trip to Sault Ste Marie could fit the bill.
So, armed with some information that we gathered from a few roadside attraction websites, off we went. We were headed north from Guelph to Sault Ste Marie, looking for as many roadside attractions as we could find along the way.
Our first stop was the Nickel City of Sudbury, Ontario.
The Big Nickel
Sudbury is home to one of Canada’s most iconic roadside attractions – the Big Nickel.
Located on the grounds of the Dynamic Earth Science Museum, it is a 9-meter replica of the 1951 Canadian Nickel, and it is the World’s largest coin. Parking is for the museum, so you must pay parking fees for this attraction.
Sudbury, Saturday Night
Immortalised in the form of a bronze statue outside of the Sudbury Community (hockey) arena in downtown Sudbury, is Canadian folk singer and icon, the legendary Stompin’ Tom Connors. A fitting place for a man who sang songs about Sudbury, and the good old hockey game.
We had heard about the “World’s largest” Steel Skeleton Dragon and dinosaurs, and since we love dinosaurs – how could we miss out on something so magical? So, we headed north of Sudbury to unearth this mythical creature (skeleton). It turns out; this is the location of what is called “Canada’s largest mini-golf attraction,” a 7-course, 63 hole mini-golf attraction with many dinosaur and dragon sculptures made out of steel. This attraction is a real ‘sweet spot”.
While you are in Sudbury, you will want to check out Science North for a fun day of discovery, interactive exhibits, and amazement.
Welcome to the SOO
Once Roguetrippers reached our destination of Sault Ste Marie, it was not hard to find many unusual and quirky attractions for photo ops. Along the St Mary River, you will find the Sault Ste Marie Boardwalk and the Hub Trail. The trail is a lovely place to enjoy a leisurely walk. Take in the view of the river, and discover several monuments and attractions along the way.
A True Canadian Hero
The Soo is the birthplace of legendary Canadian astronaut, Dr Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut, and the first Neurologist in space. An awe-inspiring feat, for sure.
On Foster Drive, you will find Dr Roberta Bondar Park and tent pavilion. Here is a replica of the spaceship Dr Bondar was in, recreated into a charming garden in her honour. There is a bust of Dr Roberta Bondar in her spacesuit in the park as well.
The Bear Family
Along the Hub trail, you will find a family of playful and whimsical bears fishing in the river, as another bear videotapes their adventure. These adorable bears have seen better days – some parts are missing, but they are still a fun attraction. Other statues along the hub trail include the Otter, Fish, and the monument for the Steel Workers Union.
When you are in town, you will want to visit the Chippewa Trading Post and Frontier Village at the north end of town. This small shopping area is home to several locally owned businesses, including a general store, food vendors, candy shops, and more. The reason this destination makes our list – there are many unique and quirky statues here, including a moose hunting a man, fun bears, and much more. The trading post is a fun spot to visit to buy locally sourced items, while you enjoy the whimsical attractions.
One of the most notorious roadside attractions in Sault Ste Marie is at the Holy Cows Ice Cream Parlor. Here, you will find several cows (and a bull) positioned in fun and playful poses. What makes these statues so fun? The attention to anatomical detail. Stop into Holy Cows and enjoy their fantastic ice cream and be sure to get photos of the SOO Cows.
Sports fans (and fans of giant roadside attractions) will want to get a selfie of the Giant Diamond Baseball. Located at the entrance to the Sports fields complex at Blacks Road and Trans Canada HWY, it is the home of the Sault Minor Baseball Association.
The Long Road Home
On the road home from Sault Ste Marie, we found many small towns and communities that had some excellent roadside attractions. Each attraction was worth the detour.
As you drive down the TransCanada Highway, be sure to check out the Loon Dollar Monument in Echo Bay.
Giant Muskoka chairs are popular roadside attractions in many communities across Canada (see below). In the Town of Thessalon, you will find the Algomy Red – a Big Red Muskoka Chair.
In Serpent River, there is a spot with several statues of deer, including a couple of Bucks duelling it out.
In the town of Bracebridge, you can find a Giant #2 Pencil. This giant pencil erected as advertising for an office supply company in the city.
Sawdust Brewery is a fantastic craft brewery in Gravenhurst. We love their beer, so a stop was a must. As luck would have it – they have a Giant Yellow Muskoka Chair outside, making this stop a win/win.
In Innisfil ON, is a one-time Guinness Book of World records holder for the World’s most massive wooden Rocking Horse. While it is no longer the biggest rocking horse in the World, it is still a great attraction to visit.
If you love fun and quirky roadside attractions as much as we do, consider a road trip to Northern Ontario. Sault Ste Marie and the surrounding communities are known for their natural beauty, but they have some fantastic human-made attractions as well.
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This Saut Ste Marie Road Trip occurred long before COVID-19 was a concern.