Fort Frances is a charming town located in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Nestled along the scenic Rainy River and surrounded by picturesque landscapes, Fort Frances offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, Fort Frances has something to offer everyone. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Fort Frances:
1. Fort Frances Museum and Cultural Centre
Start your journey by exploring the history and culture of the region at the Fort Frances Museum. This well-curated museum showcases exhibits on local Indigenous heritage, the fur trade, and the town’s development. It also hosts art exhibitions, workshops, and cultural events throughout the year.
2. Rainy Lake
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Enjoy the natural beauty of the area by visiting Rainy Lake, a stunning body of water that straddles the Canada-U.S. border. With its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and numerous islands, Rainy Lake is a paradise for boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. You can also explore the lake’s shoreline through hiking trails and picnic areas.
3. Point Park
Located at the junction of the Rainy River and Rainy Lake, Point Park offers breathtaking views of the water and the surrounding landscapes. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, a family picnic, or simply relaxing and enjoying the tranquility of nature. During the summer months, the park hosts live music concerts and other community events.
4. Sorting Gap Marina
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If you’re interested in boating and fishing, head to the Sorting Gap Marina. It provides boat rentals, a boat launch, and docking facilities for both residents and visitors. Spend a day out on the water, casting a line and trying your luck at catching walleye, northern pike, or smallmouth bass.
5. The Rainy Lake Trail
For hiking enthusiasts, the Rainy Lake Trail is a must-visit. This scenic trail stretches for approximately 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and winds through lush forests, offering beautiful views of Rainy Lake. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as white-tailed deer, bald eagles, and various bird species along the way.
6. Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre
Venture just outside Fort Frances to the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre, situated on the Rainy River. This archaeological site showcases ancient burial mounds, artifacts, and exhibits detailing the history of the Ojibwe people. Take a guided tour to learn about the Indigenous culture and traditions that have shaped the area.
7. Shopping and Dining
Fort Frances boasts a charming downtown area with a variety of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Explore the local stores to find unique gifts, crafts, and artwork. When hunger strikes, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the town’s eateries, which offer a mix of international cuisines and local favorites.
8. Manitou Mounds
Located just outside Fort Frances, Manitou Mounds is a historic site that showcases ancient burial mounds and artifacts dating back thousands of years. Explore the interpretive trails and learn about the rich Indigenous history and spiritual significance of this area. The site offers a serene and educational experience for visitors interested in archaeology and Native American culture.
9. Fort Frances Public Library
If you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or catch up on some reading, the Fort Frances Public Library is a fantastic place to visit. The library offers a wide selection of books, magazines, and digital resources for all ages. It also hosts various community events, author readings, and workshops throughout the year.
10. Sports and Recreation
Fort Frances is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With its proximity to lakes, rivers, and forests, the town offers plenty of recreational activities. You can go fishing, canoeing, or kayaking on one of the many nearby waterways. In the winter months, enjoy snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, or ice fishing. The Fort Frances Sportsplex is a popular facility that offers ice skating, swimming, and fitness amenities for both residents and visitors.
11. Borderland Farmer’s Market
If you’re visiting Fort Frances during the summer months, don’t miss the Borderland Farmer’s Market. Held on Saturdays, the market showcases local produce, baked goods, crafts, and artisanal products. It’s a great place to support local businesses, interact with the community, and indulge in fresh, homemade treats.
12. Rainy Lake Visitor Center
Situated in Voyageurs National Park, the Rainy Lake Visitor Center is worth a visit. The center provides information about the park’s flora, fauna, and recreational opportunities. You can learn about the area’s unique ecosystems, take guided nature walks, and even embark on a scenic boat tour to explore the park’s stunning islands and waterways.
Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the beautiful golf courses in and around Fort Frances. The Kitchen Creek Golf Club offers a challenging 18-hole course surrounded by lush forests and scenic vistas. It’s a great place to enjoy a round of golf while immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the region.
14. Cultural Events and Festivals
Fort Frances hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating the town’s heritage and community spirit. The Rainy River Valley Agricultural Fall Fair and the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship are just a couple of the popular annual events that draw visitors from near and far.
15. Robert Moore School Museum
History enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Robert Moore School Museum, which is housed in a restored historic school building. The museum provides a glimpse into the town’s past, showcasing artifacts, photographs, and displays that depict the early days of Fort Frances. It’s a fascinating way to learn about the town’s educational history and the lives of its early settlers.
16. Rainy River
Fort Frances is located on the banks of the scenic Rainy River, which offers a range of recreational opportunities. You can go boating, canoeing, or kayaking on the river, enjoying the tranquil waters and picturesque surroundings. Fishing enthusiasts will also find plenty of opportunities to catch a variety of fish species, including walleye, bass, and muskie.
17. Day Trip to International Falls
Take a short drive across the border and visit the neighboring town of International Falls, Minnesota. Known as the “Icebox of the Nation,” International Falls offers unique experiences such as winter icebox racing, ice fishing tournaments, and the Smokey Bear Park. Explore the town’s shops, dine at local restaurants, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of this American border town.
18. Sunset Viewing
Fort Frances is blessed with stunning sunsets that paint the sky with vibrant colors. Find a peaceful spot along the river or on one of the lakeshores and witness the breathtaking beauty of a Fort Frances sunset. It’s a serene and awe-inspiring experience that shouldn’t be missed during your visit.
19. Little Beaver Snow Park
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If you’re visiting Fort Frances during the winter months and enjoy snow sports, head to Little Beaver Snow Park. This family-friendly park offers activities such as tubing, tobogganing, and snowshoeing, providing hours of fun for all ages. Bundle up and embrace the winter wonderland while enjoying the thrill of sliding down the snowy slopes.
20. Local Cuisine
Fort Frances is home to several dining establishments that serve delicious local cuisine. Indulge in hearty Canadian dishes such as poutine, butter tarts, and fresh-caught fish. Many restaurants emphasize farm-to-table concepts, incorporating locally sourced ingredients into their menus. Don’t forget to try some of the area’s signature dishes and immerse yourself in the flavors of Northwestern Ontario.
21. St. Mary’s Church
If you’re interested in architecture and religious history, a visit to St. Mary’s Church is worth considering. This beautiful and historic church, built in the early 1900s, showcases stunning stained glass windows and intricate woodwork. Take a moment to admire the craftsmanship and enjoy the serene atmosphere within.
22. Fort Frances Public Market
For a taste of local produce, crafts, and handmade goods, visit the Fort Frances Public Market. Held on selected days throughout the summer, the market brings together local vendors offering fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade preserves, baked goods, and unique artisanal products. It’s an excellent opportunity to support local businesses and engage with the vibrant community.
23. The Hallett
If you’re interested in the arts, make sure to visit The Hallett. This community arts center hosts art exhibitions, performances, workshops, and cultural events throughout the year. From visual arts to music and theater, The Hallett provides a platform for local artists to showcase their talent and enrich the cultural scene in Fort Frances.
24. Fort Frances Library Technology Centre
In addition to its extensive collection of books, the Fort Frances Library Technology Centre offers various resources and services. Visitors can access computers, printers, and high-speed internet, making it a convenient spot for those needing to catch up on work or stay connected while traveling. The library also organizes educational programs and workshops for all ages.
25. Rainy River District Sports Hall of Fame
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Sports enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Rainy River District Sports Hall of Fame. This museum pays tribute to local athletes, teams, and coaches who have made significant contributions to the world of sports. Exhibits include memorabilia, photographs, and interactive displays, allowing visitors to learn about the rich sporting history of the region.
26. Fort Frances Lookout Tower
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For panoramic views of the town and its surrounding landscapes, head to the Fort Frances Lookout Tower. Located at the Sorting Gap Marina, this observation deck provides a bird’s-eye view of Fort Frances, Rainy River, and the picturesque Canadian-U.S. border. Capture stunning photographs or simply take in the breathtaking vistas.
27. Rainy Lake Market Square
If you happen to be in Fort Frances during the summer months, don’t miss the Rainy Lake Market Square. This lively gathering spot hosts live music performances, art displays, and community events. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, connect with locals, and immerse yourself in the cultural scene of Fort Frances.
28. Volunteer Opportunities
Fort Frances has a strong sense of community, and if you’re interested in giving back, there are various volunteer opportunities available. Whether it’s assisting at a local food bank, participating in environmental clean-up initiatives, or supporting community organizations, volunteering allows you to connect with residents and contribute positively to the town.
29. Cultural Festivals
Throughout the year, Fort Frances hosts a range of cultural festivals that showcase the diversity of the community. From Indigenous celebrations to multicultural events, these festivals provide an opportunity to experience different traditions, music, dance, and cuisine. Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural fabric of Fort Frances and celebrate alongside the locals.
Places and Things To Do