Tents, sleeping bags, S’mores, and freaky ghost stories by a crackling fire. They’re all synonymous with a cultural phenomenon that has lasted centuries. Today, the term “camping” can encompass a lot more than sleeping on a blow-up mattress in a nylon tent, and waking up to 10 million insect bites and soggy shoes. It goes well and far beyond what you’re typical idea of camping might be.
Perhaps you’re a hardcore naturalist whose idea of camping makes Tom Hanks in Cast Away look like a total snowflake. Or – maybe you fall on my side of the fence and have always longed for “camping” in a queen size bed with a T1 internet connection, chai latte and a roof over your head.
Luckily, here in South Eastern Ontario, there are several ways to enjoy a camping trip that ranges from the ordinary to the extraordinary and well beyond.
1. Robin’s Roost Treehouse Experience
This epic treehouse located at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary offers an incredibly unique experience for both nature lovers, and urban escapists alike. Turn off your phone, leave the laptop at home and spend the night among the treetops as a choir of crickets and other forest night singers lull you to sleep.
In the morning, sip your coffee on the deck while basking in the dawn’s golden light as the chorus of over 150 varieties of birds proclaim the day’s arrival. Not one email, deadline, or calendar alert to be seen. Just you, and your significant other in a treehouse floating amid an emerald sea of beauty.
Alternatively, this mythic cabin can comfortably accommodate up to six guests, and sports a master loft, spare bedroom, and a futon for whoever loses the rock-paper-scissor match. Even better, you will have access to a private beach, outdoor shower and a BBQ – perfect for those tree-top grill sessions. Besides. What’s cooler than sleeping in a giant tree fort?
FRONTERRA combines a farm and a camp into in a truly enchanting, and memorable vacation destination. The result is an opportunity to reestablish our ties to a simpler and more sustainable way of life.One night in one of their immaculate prospector-style tents and you will feel immersed in a bygone era, similar to the fledgling days of our nation.
No matter what brought you to The County, Twin Birch will take care of you. This small, gorgeous, and unique boutique resort on West Lake in Wellington is full of surprises. These incredibly clean and well-maintained cottages all come with a full kitchen, BBQs, decks, and either waterfront or lake views. Look here for canoe, kayak, and SUP rentals, as well as complimentary seasonal passes to all provincial parks in the area. So much is within walking distance, from restaurants to the Millennium Trail to Wellington Beach. Pets are welcome here, too!
A curated waterfront cabin retreat with a sauna that sleeps the whole squad? Yes, please! The Frontenac delivers on all the nature and cabin style that one would expect from a stay in Frontenac County, but is so much more. Nestled among the trees on a private bay, guests enjoy this step up from the traditional cottage. Hotel-style amenities like a contemporary kitchen and bathroom make the stay even sweeter, but the view from the dock and even from the outdoor sauna makes this one a keeper. You’ll never want to leave.
Imagine an island retreat with cottages, an adult treehouse, lit basketball court, fire pit – and a glamping tent complete with a king-sized bed. It’s real-life and it exists as part of Bob’s Lake Cottage and Escapes. This rustic getaway is Badour Island Wilderness Retreat and is an unforgettable way to get into nature in a unique lakefront venue for family gatherings, reunions, weddings – it even comes with the use of a boat. Glamping at its best!
Another iconic destination in Frontenac is Loughborough Lake, a 25 mile long and deep lake that is prime for angling panfish, bass and some big pike! The park is located just North of Kingston on Sydenham Road and a short drive from the 401.
The claim to fame here is the Valemont Cabins. They are fully furnished with a kitchen, dining room, and a cozy upstairs loft area. These spacious cottages can accommodate up to six occupants, and include everything but the linens and food. Cabins are available in both sunny or shadier areas in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere.
I know what you’re thinking. What the heck is an oTENTik? Well, when a tent and a cabin love each other very much… you get a brilliant fusion of both worlds, the result of which being a fabulous new format for camping like a boss.
These unique shelters are an excellent hybrid between a quaint A-frame cabin and a prospector style tent – offering an easier and more comfortable way to experience the outdoors. Thousand Islands National Park offers a total of 10 oTENTik campsites – Three on McDonald Island and two on Gordon Island, as well as five sites on the mainland at Mallorytown Landing.
At the heart of the mighty St. Lawrence River in the jewel of the Thousand Islands is the legendary Ivy Lea Campground. Embraced by a seemingly endless expanse of vibrant green forests and crystalline water – this portion of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve has been a premiere choice for countless travelers for generations.
Within Ivy Lea Campground are 4 “Camper Cabins” that offer the best parts of camping, while providing convenience and comfort. They’re perfect for families or groups of up to four.
On the eastern shore of Charleston Lake, south of the Mark Twain sounding Huckleberry Hollow is a private rustic cabin that you can only get to by water. Cabin occupants get full use of all park facilities including comfort stations, visitor services activities, hiking trails, beaches, boat launch, and more.
A dock is provided at the cabin which is roughly 2km from the boat launch. Inside it’s 650 square foot space, you’ll have access to two decks complete with Muskoka chairs, a picnic table and a fire pit. The bedroom has a double/queen bunk bed, and a futon in the living room that sleeps two.
This cabin is a spectacular spot for a family getaway or a much-needed escape mission with your besties. There are also four Deluxe Yurts available that sleep up to six occupants for those looking for an expedition style getaway.
1000 Islands & Rideau Canal Waterways
Murphy’s Point is a splendid destination for those seeking an adventure-filled camping excursion with family, friends, or that special someone. Whether you’re exploring the area by canoe, hiking some lush and scenic trails, or spelunking caverns – there is an experience for every interest.
In addition to several traditional campsites, Murphy’s Point offers a small selection of more luxurious wilderness accommodations including a cabin, soft-sided shelter, as well as luxurious tents and yurts. The elegant tents come with an array of features and comforts. For complete details check out the Park’s website.
First built in 1842, this completely restored lockmaster’s residence is a prime choice for glampers seeking a historic themed experience. Part of the famed Rideau Canal, UNESCO World Heritage Site this immaculately rehabilitated stone defensible house is packed to the brim with comforts, and luxuries made for a vintage age, but fit for the modern traveler.
Built on higher ground that overlooks the gorgeous lock system this charming house accommodates up to six guests with two bedrooms, a pull-out sofa and some arresting views of the surrounding area. The beds consist of lavish Queen-size Fairmont Hotel mattresses, and the bathroom has a vintage styled claw-foot tub.
Don’t hide away in your shell all summer – find peace and reconnect with your loved ones at Turtle Hill Cottages on Newboro Lake. This relaxing, eco-friendly, deluxe accommodation features four cottages and a lake house with docks, decks, and patios overlooking the sparkling Rideau Canal. This perfect lakeside getaway is calling – answer the call and welcome to paradise.
This place is truly special, through and through. Feeling like home the minute you walk up to the main cottage at Lil Crow Cabin, it’s known as an oasis of reconnection on the shores of the Bay of Quinte in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. But alongside the hot tub and screened-in gazebo, there is a glamping bunkie that can be rented separately, too. Floor-to-ceiling intriguing art from all over the world give it a global vibe that is somehow both calming and welcoming. It’s the perfect place to unwind under the stars or out on the lake canoeing.
This is it: tiny living without giving up on homey comforts. Relax in this one bedroom, one bath designer tiny home in a small private campground with a water view and access. It’s ideal for a romantic getaway and a canoe is provided to help you get out and enjoy the water on the Bay of Quinte. The outdoor space is beautifully lit with Edison bulbs along with a large deck, bar top with stools, and a sitting area around a fire pit. Picture yourself relaxing in the hammock!
A Wilderness Wonderland
There is no shortage of options when it comes to enjoying the outdoors here in South Eastern Ontario.