Sault Ste Marie is where three of the Great Lakes join, separated by the Saint Mary's River. Originally a fur trading fort, it is now a major connection in the St Lawrence Seaway and is unique for having same-named communities north and south of the Canada-US boundary, and with the Canadian side about 5 times the size of the American city.
To capture the essence of this city, here are suggestions for your first day (especially if its your only day) in Sault Ste. Marie.
You can take a ride in the Lock Tour Canada Boat. This is one of the busiest locks in the world. You'll travel vertically 21 feet as the water rises and descends
Check out the many heritage buildings in the Sault's downtown core
Then visit the Art Gallery of Algoma. Collections of historic and contemporary art in all forms of media.
Take in a couple of the cultural centres within the city. Prominently the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and Sault Ste. Marie Museum.
See Sault Ste. Marie's International Bridge, this 40 year old bridge, extends 2.8 miles and reaches 145 feet above the river. It Connects the two parts of this unique city from Ontario, Canada to Michigan, U.S.A.
Zip over to the United States, and check out the American-side attractions, including the working locks
If you are visiting for a longer period, there are a number of destinations worth visiting (each about a day, including driving):
Head to Algoma on a Train
While in Sault Ste. Marie you have to take a trip on the Algoma Central Railway, (this will take most of your day though). The train takes you through 114 miles of Northern Ontario's beautiful wilderness. The highlight of the trip is the two hour stopover at Agawa Canyon Wilderness park. Here you can enjoy scenic views of the canyon and waterfall, also areas for hiking and picnics.
Head North along Highway 17
You can head past Pancake Bay and Batchwanan Bay, the mid-point of the Trans-Canada highway, and north toward Wawa, famous for its Canada Goose Statue, During the winter you spend the day on the slopes at one of Sault Ste. Marie's nearby ski hills, including Searchmont ski resort which is about a 45 minute drive from Sault Ste. Marie. This Hill has a 700 foot vertical, 18 runs and excellent lodging accommodations.
Head East along Highway 17 First you pass through Garden River First Nation beside the St Mary River. Across the Channel is Sugar island, (on the United States of the river) ,and when hihgway 17 bends straight east, yu pass St joseph Island (on the Canadian side), and you pass Bruce Mines, Thesasalon, Iron Bridge and Blind River, with Manitoulin island coming into view across the North Channel of lake Huron. you can only access the island by road until you reach McKerrow and Espanola, with a road down to Little Current, the northernmost town on the island,
Head to a Park The wilderness is your backdoor around Sault Ste Marie. Head to one of the many nearby Provincial Parks and National Parks, each with many outdoor and aquatic activities to take park in.