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Why Winter Camping in Ontario Is Awesome

Winter camping was one of those things I tried as a novelty. My first trip was to Mew Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park. When Ontario Parks invited me to experience yurt winter camping at Mew Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park during the first week of March, I laughed at the thought of me hanging out and sleeping in the cold, crisp Canadian air. Then, I jumped at the chance once assured the yurt was heated! Winter camping in Ontario is awesome.

Truly it is. Although Ontario is a year-round camping province, I had never camped outside of the summer months. Now, winter camping (or even winter glamping) is something I have now done year after year.

Camping in the winter is beautiful and still. The air is fresh and crisp. The people are few and far between.

Cyprus Lake Bruce Peninsula Yurt 4 winter camping exterior from water

Over the past couple of years, winter camping has become one of the hottest trends in outdoor adventure. Winter camping in yurts or winter camping in a rustic cabin is amongst the most popular activities. Hard-core adventure seekers and back-country enthusiasts still camp in wintertime. The camping season in Ontario does not end on Labour Day in September! The best part is, you don’t have to be an experienced camper. Camping novices can try a yurt or a rustic cabin in the woods.

So let’s pull on the long underwear, pack the hot chocolate and let’s check out all of the exciting winter camping (and winter glamping) options in Ontario.

Winter Camping in Ontario

From luxurious fully catered, resort-like settings complete with restaurants and flush toilets, to self-catered heated cabins and yurts with comfort stations, or self set up hot tents and RV camping in Ontario Provincial Parks, there’s something for almost everyone.

Spending the night in the great outdoors during any season is good for your soul. When you are camping and spending more time in nature, you’re surrounded by trees. This means you are breathing in more oxygen and less urban pollution. Your body will be much healthier and will function better when there’s more oxygen.

Contact with nature has been found to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help prevent disease, and reduce stress levels. If that doesn’t attract you to the great outdoors, what will? Ontario Parks has 26 Provincial Parks that are open during the winter season. Services and facilities range from day use only to front and backcountry camping and roofed accommodation.

Different Types of Winter Camping

As mentioned, there are many ways to camp in the winter in Ontario. You can find luxurious glamping tents that are at fully catered, resort-like settings complete with restaurants and flush toilets (maybe even a private bathroom). There are many places to book self-catered heated cabins and yurts with comfort stations at many of the provincial parks or at some private facilities that can be accessed on Airbnb. For the hardcore camping enthusiasts, you can still set up your tent at a campsite or hike a few kilometres out and have a backcountry experience.

Back Country Camping in Winter

Backcountry camping in winter can also be called cold camping. What cold camping means is that you don’t have heat in your tent. There’s no stove and there certainly isn’t electricity. Much like a summer backcountry excursion, everything you take in with you, you have to take out. This is a hike it in and hike it out situation. The bonus part of doing this in winter is that you can often transport your gear and food on sleds if there is enough snow.

Only attempt cold camping if you are an experienced camper who can meal plan. You will need to understand how to stay dry and warm and why wearing cotton while cold camping is bad. This is a situation where tents and sleeping bags have to be rated for extremely cold temperatures. Test out your camp stove at home before taking it cold camping to ensure it works in such cold temperatures.

Hot Tent Camping in Winter

Camping in a hot tent is really interesting. Your hot tent has your stove right inside. And the chimney runs out the ceiling of the tent. So this is a very warm and cozy method to camp and a good way to dry out gear. These tents and the gear are expensive to beginners, but once you have built out your kit and you are comfortable with your gear, it’s less daunting.

There are many different kinds of tent canvas and tarps and stoves to build out your site with and of course, there are many safety lessons to learn before you do this on your own the first time.

There are many sites throughout the provincial park system you can bring your top tent set up. Once you have the right gear and everything set up properly, you can be comfortable for days on end as long as you’re happy to cook over a fire in the ground.

Hot tent winter camping in Mew Lake campground at Algonquin Provincial Park

Yurt Winter Camping

One of the most popular new adventures is winter camping in yurts. Yurt winter camping often referred to as glamping, is a comfortable way to ease yourself into the winter overnight, outdoor experience without exposing yourself to the elements. A yurt is a soft-sided structure. It’s made of heavy-duty canvas and is on a platform, off the ground. Many yurts have electricity and are heated either by an electric stove or by a wood-burning fireplace. It is rare to find yurts with running water.

Like camping in a tent, you need to keep your food out of the yurt. Food should be stored in the trunk of your vehicle or in food storage lockers. Any scent of food in a yurt is an invitation for an animal to try to make its way in. Cooking in yurts is dangerous and should not be done due to the flammable nature of the structure.

Very few yurts have access to private washrooms. Provincial and national parks have comfort stations for use as well as outhouses. Yurts in Ontario are available to book through Parks Canada, Ontario Parks as well as at numerous private campgrounds across Ontario. These are great options to introduce kids to winter camping, you can read all about my son and I camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park here.

Parks Canada Cyprus Lake Campground Yurt 4 interior

RV Winter Camping

If you have a recreational vehicle and you use it in the summer, chances are good can use it in the winter. That is the ultimate comfort in camping. As a camper who actually sleeps on the ground, in tents and have hiked and canoed my gear through lakes and over hills, I personally do not consider RV a camping vehicle. An RV is a cottage on wheels. Private and comfortable bedroom, flushing toilets and an equipped kitchen? You can take that mobile cottage to the campground and plugin for your water and electricity. I have seen many RV’s in MacGregor Point provincial park over the winter.

Sounds like a perfect retirement plan if you ask me!

Cooking While Camping In The Winter

Cooking while winter camping is exactly the same as cooking during summer camping, you just need to dress for it. The same equipment is required – fire, frying pans, gas stoves… But you’re wearing gloves in sub-zero weather. It’s important that you plan a menu for us that consists of pre-cooked protein foods (steak, chicken and dumplings if you eat meat) that only need to heat over the flame for a short period of time to eat along we easy to prepare side dishes. Preseason food and pack it in your cooler.

Even in the winter, the food needs to be stored away from your accommodations. Lock coolers and bags of groceries in your trunk or some campgrounds, like Cyprus Lake in the Bruce Peninsula, have food storage lockers.

Many yurts come with a BBQ for you to use at your site. Trust me when I say that as a single mom camping with kids, it makes your life easier.

woman bends over, cooking in a skillet over a fire in Algonquin Provincial Park

The First Winter Yurt Camping Experience

My first winter camping in Ontario experience was a (glamping) camping trip in a Yurt at Algonquin Provincial Park. My friend, Brian from Luxography Photography agreed to join me for a few days hiking, exploring, cooking and taking a thousand pictures of the lake and surroundings.

When Brian and I pulled up at yurt #49 at Mew Lake yurt in Algonquin Park, I was stunned looking at this green canvas thing on a wooden platform. When we opened the door to the yurt, any apprehension I had was gone. I’m usually up for any adventure, so there wasn’t a whole lot of worry about what we were doing. However, for below zero weather and snow in the short-term forecast, I was wondering what I had agreed to.

Yurt at Mew Lake campground in winter

Inside the yurt, there are 2 bunk beds, the bottom bunks are a double and the top a single for a sleeping total for six people. I can see a family up to six people in there, but I can honestly say that a travel party of 6 adult friends might find the conditions cramped. We brought our own sleeping bags and pillows as your own bedding is required. There is also a table, some plastic chairs and a heater. Between the two of us, we each had ample space and never once did I find it crowded. There is a comfort station with heated water for showering as well as three sinks, hand dryers and flush toilets about a 4-minute walk from the yurt.

Also, this yurt had electricity!

interior of yurt #49 at Mew Lake in Algonquin Provincial PArk

The winter lake view was amazing, simply breathtaking – frozen lake, a dusting of snow on the trees, barely a soul in sight. And it was quiet. Wonderfully and delightfully quiet.

Mew Lake in March at Algonquin Provincial Park

Things To Do At Algonquin Provincial Park In The Winter

While we were at Algonquin Provincial Park, there were a couple of families with younger children in Mew Lake and my first thought was – hey, there isn’t a playground for these kids… What are they going to do? I realized that everywhere there was their playground and an opportunity to use their imagination.

The coolest and most Canadian attraction to the Mew Lake campground – the skating rink that is there! There are hockey nets and sticks to play with – right beside the comfort station.

Snowshoes are available for rent at the park gates for a reasonable price. Other Ontario Park locations that offer snowshoe rentals are Arrowhead, Frontenac, Killarney, Pinery, Wasaga Beach and Windy Lake.

Hiking trails are open during the winter months, depending on skill level and weather, these are mostly manageable, ice grips (ice cleats or crampons) might be required.

Nineteen Ontario Parks locations offer cross-country ski trails with 450+ km of trails with about half groomed or track-set. Many have warm-up shelters and/or cabins with wood fires and even hot chocolate to warm you up! Cross-country ski rentals are available at Arrowhead, Pinery, Wasaga Beach and Windy Lake.

Snowshoes for rent at Algonquin Provincial Park

The Visitor Centre is open daily for bird watching, book purchasing and has world-class exhibits on Algonquin Provincial Park’s natural and human history. During any season, the Visitor Centre at Algonquin Provincial Park is worth a visit. Be sure to check out and read here all you can explore: Algonquin Provincial Park Visitor Centre; behind the scenes

How’s The Wifi Out There?

Like many campgrounds, they are not in dense, urban areas. Unfortunately, there is not a 5G tower on each corner and service can be spotty in the great outdoors. This is what some people will call a drawback – there is no wifi at the campground unless you are bringing your own. At Mew Lake, to have wifi access, we had to drive 20-25 minutes to the Algonquin Visitor’s Centre to use theirs. If you are looking for a digital detox, go camping.

Important to keep in mind, an iPhone looks for a stronger signal everywhere and in the sub-zero weather, the battery drains itself in a matter of minutes.

Winter Camping in a yurt at Algonquin Park #mewlake #algonquinpark #yurtlife #glamping #wintercamping #travelblogger #femaletravelblogger #ontarioroadtrips #yurtcamping

 

Are You Ready to Go Camping In The Winter?

No matter how you decide to camp in the winter in Ontario, you have to make sure you have the proper equipment. You need warm sleeping bags and durable tents. You need cooking equipment that will operate in sub-zero temperatures. It’s imperative you have a  wardrobe to keep yourself dry. Also, you must prepare to keep yourself fed and hydrated.

Once you are prepared, the fresh air is all yours. Get out there and enjoy winter camping in Ontario.

To book an Ontario Parks yurt or rustic cabin or backcountry or car camping site, be sure to check out their booking site here: Ontario Parks Reservations

To book a Parks Canada yurt or Otentik, be sure to check out their booking site here: Parks Canada Reservations

If you would like to check out Ontario’s Glamping hub, look here: Glamping Hub Ontario

Happy camping!

 

Disclaimer: Ontario Parks has provided me with the stay in a yurt numerous times in the past, but in no way swayed us into having a good time. Opinions are always mine.

 

Tobermory Ontario: Best Things to See And Do

One of my family’s favourite summer destinations is Tobermory, Ontario on the Bruce Peninsula. The first time we visited was in the summer of 2017. We designated Tobermory as a two-night stop on our way to Lake Superior Provincial Park from Toronto.

We subsequently visited Tobermory in the summer of 2018 as we loved it so much and enjoyed everything the area has to offer. The Bruce Peninsula is stunning. The town of Tobermory is quaint. The grotto is right out of this world!

While summer is the main time to visit Tobermory, it can also be a destination for winter warriors as well.

 

How To Get To Tobermory From Toronto

The drive to Tobermory, Ontario from our home in downtown Toronto is approximately 4 hours. The most direct way from Toronto is north on Highway 427 to the 401. Take Highway 401 westbound to the 410 and then take the 410 north. That highway eventually becomes Highway 10 and you will drive north on it until you reach a set of lights with a Champ Burger on one corner and a Super Burger on the other corner. We highly recommend Super Burger. Turn left and drive towards the town of Shelbourne. Follow the street signs that point north towards Own Sound. Once you reach Owen Sound, follow highway 6 north.

To get to that part of Ontario, you’re not driving on mega highways with rest stops. You will be driving through small towns. Once you head north of Orangeville, the next biggest city is Owen Sound. If you wish to purchase any groceries for your stay, Owen Sound is the best bet. If you want to pick up a snack or meal at a fast food place or use a washroom, again, Owen Sound is the safe bet.

We enjoyed our time in Tobermory in the summer of 2017 so much that we decided we would return in the summer of 2018 as well. And you know what? It is safe to say, I will return again. Tobermory boasts an abundance of things to do!

Tobermory, Ontario Lighthouse at Big Tub Harbour

Best Things To See And Do In Tobermory, Ontario

Here is the list of the best things to do and see in Tobermory, Ontario with kids. This is based on the activities my children enjoyed there. By no means is this a list of everything to do in Tobermory.

Shipwreck Boat Tour in Big Tub Harbour

Tobermory is one of the best places to see shipwrecks in Ontario! Really and truly, nothing beats scuba diving shipwrecks if you are a certified diver. If you are not a diver or a snorkeler or you are travelling with your children and do not have other care for them while you are on a dive, then viewing from a boat is the next best thing here. The two wrecks you can see in Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory are called Sweepstakes and City of Grand Rapids.

The Sweepstakes went down in 1885, spoiler alert – no treasures left and currently lies in roughly 6 metres of water. It is one of the best-preserved shipwrecks of its time in the Great Lakes. The City of Grand Rapids wreck is from 1907, it was a double-decker steamer that caught fire while mooring. It was released from the dock and left to burn in the harbour. It sank where it lies.

Totally worth seeing – see if you can get on one of the glass bottom boats to do this! Note – the boats can get very crowded fast. Either get a seat up top for premium viewing over the side or stay down below at the glass bottom.

Sweepstakes, shipwreck in Big Tub Harbour, Tobermory - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario With Kids

Diving and Snorkeling in Tobermory

In this same harbour where you can take a glass-bottom boat over the shipwrecks, you can scuba dive and snorkel over them as well. There are a few designated diving sites and a number of shipwrecks to see!

For certified scuba divers, you must register in advance with Parks Canada. There are only certain times of the day scuba divers are allowed in the area. Be sure to hit up the Divers Den for all of your diving needs in Big Tub Harbour. Going into the shipwrecks is not permitted, but observations from around them absolutely are. Snorkelers do not need to register in advance with Parks Canada, but there are certain areas in the water that you will have to stay clear of. This harbour sees so many large boats filled with tourists, please follow all of the rules and regulations.

Kayaking in Tobermory

You can absolutely kayak in Tobermory as well! There are kayak rentals from a number of outfitters in Tobermory. Dunks Bay, south of Tobermory is a good place to launch and paddle around. Cyprus Lake and Cameron Lake and calm and picturesque places to paddle.

It is possible to kayak to Flowerpot Island from the harbour in Tobermory. You would need a sea kayak. It takes about an hour to get to Flowerpot Island and it will take you much longer to get back as you’ll likely be fighting wind and waves. It’s not uncommon to see swells of up to 5 feet, so please only venture out there if you are an experienced paddler. You can camp there overnight if you’re not up to going back and forth in one day. Be sure to register for one of the six sites well in advance.

Flowerpot Island

Flowerpot Island is only accessible by boat from Tobermory, Ontario and is one of the best experiences in Fathom Five National Marine Park! The island is famous for its natural “flowerpot” rock pillars, caves, historic light station and rare plants. This is a great spot for easy to moderate level hikers – my kids had no problem. Here you will find great swimming and snorkelling, picnic areas and overnight camping if you are adventurous. Be sure to bring your bathing suit in a day bag with you and have sturdy shoes. Hiking pro-tip: I don’t recommend that you come in flip-flops and try to do the hiking.

Flowerpot Island - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario With Kids

We were not prepared for the beauty here – it is so awe-inspiring! The water really is the colour of these photos – no filter! The rookie mistake we made when we went was not packing a cooler. There is really nothing to purchase here, bring your own food and water! Also, there are not a whole lot of places to dispose of garbage here, so please plan to take back with you what you bring.

Word of wisdom to the Instagram Models of the world – please do not try to climb the Flower Pots. It’s dangerous to you if you fall, but it’s also disruptive to nature. Imagine being the asshole who damages one of these natural structures so terribly that it changes the appearance?

Flowerpot Island 1 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

How To Get To Flowerpot Island

There are a couple of boat charter companies to get you here from Tobermory, Ontario. You do have to pay for tickets to get out to the island and back. You can combine a shipwreck viewing tour or simply take an express boat direct and they have ticketed return times when they drop you off. According to the Parks Canada website, they recommend that you spend 4-5 hours hiking and see it all. Plan to spend the day – at least an afternoon, please don’t short change yourself on time here. Buying tickets from any of the suppliers in the harbour area of the town in advance is a good idea to ensure your plans for the day are not disrupted.

Flowerpot Island 2 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

 

Visit The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park

The Grotto, found in Bruce Peninsula National Park, just outside of Tobermory, is a place that is so popular, we couldn’t get in the first year we tried. I severely underestimated that it is one of the top attractions in the province and that just showing up would suffice. It turns out it requires a little more planning to be able to see and experience this magical place.

We did our planning and did get into the Grotto in the summer of 2018 and I was back in the winter of 2021. During the peak season of July and August, there are a couple of ways to make sure you are in Bruce Peninsula National Park and can access the Grotto:

1.) Be there already as a camper at one of the backcountry sites along Georgian Bay or in Cyprus Lake Campground.

2.) Reserve parking in advance if coming from outside the park. Parking is assigned by time blocks and only a certain amount of cars are permitted per time slot.

3.) Head up there in the off or shoulder seasons of April/May/June or September/October when the demand to visit is much less.

There’s a twitter hashtag you can follow for more information – #GrottoParking

As of June 1, some Parks Canada places began a safe, gradual reopening of some outdoor areas at national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.

The natural arch, Grotto rockface, Tobermory Bruce Peninsula National Park

Covid Protocols and The Grotto, Tobermory

Reservations for parking at the Grotto for the summer of 2021 will be available online on April 29th at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Important to note – Visitors will not be permitted to climb into the Grotto since physical distancing is not possible. Parks Canada is asking that you enjoy the view from above.

 

Enjoy ice cream at The Sweet Shop on Bay Street

There’s this sweet little ice cream shop with a lot of brilliant Canadian flavours of yummy ice cream. Located at 18 Bay Street, overlooking Little Tub Harbour, the locally owned Sweet Shop makes candy, fudge, chocolate and brittle onsite. Come after dinner, sit and relax! Walk around Tobermory and see the boats in the harbour with ice cream in hand, you won’t be sorry!

Visit Singing Sands Beach

Singing Sands Beach is located off of Dorcas Bay Road south of Tobermory. This large sandy beach with shallow waters is part of Bruce Peninsula National Park. I admit, when my family rolled up to this beach, we were not impressed. It looked like it was full of weeds, there were not a lot of people there and it was windy. My family is a little spoiled. The kids are used to Prince Edward County and Caribbean beaches.

The water was warm and you could walk really far out before the kid’s lower bodies became submerged. The kids even had a good time. For those who are squeamish about things touching their feet in the water, I recommend wearing a pair of water shoes. It’s not really so bad once you walk out in the water for a bit. Admission here is free.

Tobermory Beach, singing sands beach - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

And as a bonus for you history buffs – there are historical walking tours available in town.

Tobermory Brewing Company

If you’ve been reading my blog posts and following me for a while, you know what a craft beer lover I am. In fact, Ontario craft beers rank as some of my favourites in the world! So no trip to Tobermory is complete without finding a brewery. And I found Tobermory Brewing Company. It’s Tobermory’s first and only brewery, a restaurant and a beer store. Sweet find, definitely worth a visit to sample the brew. The older woman hostess wasn’t over-friendly – I think she wanted me to leave because I had children with me, but the beer made up for it.

Women with children enjoy craft beer too. We enjoy the artisan work involved. Trying to turn us away with your 40-minute wait and its really crowded speech is not cool.

Tobermory Brewery Flight Sampler on the patio facing the sunset

Visiting Tobermory Ontario In Winter

If you plan to visit Tobermory in the off-season, you need to understand that a lot of what draws people to the area is not available then. The town of Tobermory, in the winter, is essential shut down. The only shops you will find during the week that are on are the LCBO and the Foodland. Maybe the brewery on the weekend is open, but you should call ahead and double-check before you go to the Tobermory Brewing Company or any other restaurant you’d like to dine at.

Most accommodations in and around Tobermory are closed between Thanksgiving and the May long weekend. For our winter trip, we camped at Cyprus Lake in a Yurt.

There are definitely one-day activities during the winter you can check out in Tobermory.

Parks Canada Visitor Center and Look Out Tower

In the town of Tobermory, you’ll find the Parks Canada Visitor Centre and the hike to the lookout tower. To get there from downtown Tobermory (Litle Tub Harbour), it takes approximately 10 minutes.

The Parks Canada Visitor Centre is an entertaining place for kids to learn about the shipwrecks of the area, the marine life, the geography and the grotto. We spent more than an hour in there for time reference. The curation of the information and all of it is in French and English, is really quite spectacular.

Parks Canada visitors centre bruce peninsula interior display

Once you’ve discovered all there is to discover inside the visitor centre, get outside and hike to the lookout tower. The lookout tower is 65 feet tall and is 112 steps to the top. From the lookout tower, you can see the town of Tobermory, Little Tub Harbour and the outlying islands.

Parks Canada aerial look out point from tower of Tobermory

Hike to Little Dunks Bay Look Out

Honestly, if it wasn’t December and there wasn’t snow and ice on the rocks, you’d think it was still summer to look at the colour of the water. Those Caribbean hues of Georgian Bay hold even when it’s below zero on the thermometer.

The hike to Little Dunks Bay Look Out from the tower is less than a kilometre and on the day we went, we were the only people on the trail. This is a very secluded little cove. The hike is relatively easy, the ground is flat and the path is very well worn in. The view is priceless!

Little Dunks Bay look out point in December

Where to Stay in Tobermory Ontario

My kids and I have stayed at the Blue Bay Motel as well as another location we do not recommend. We are booked to return to the Blue Bay motel this coming summer.

Take your family on a road trip – check out BOOKING.COM today (affiliate link, I make a small commission if you make a booking at no extra cost to you)


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Kingsville Ontario – What To See And Do On A Day Trip

Kingsville Ontario is Canada’s most southernmost town and is absolutely dripping with charm and history. There is no better time in Ontario to stay close to home, so enjoy a staycation and shop local! You’ll qualify for a tax credit in 2022 if you do. With so many amazing places in Kingsville to drink in, dine at, explore and shop, why not plan a day trip there? Let’s dive right in with the best places to eat, drink, browse and shop in Kingsville! 

Where is Kingsville Ontario?

Kingsville is a town in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada. Believe it or not, the latitude that Kingsville is on is the same latitude as Northern California! The area is primarily agriculture, fruit farming and wine.

The town sits on the northern shore of Lake Erie. The closest city is Windsor. If you are driving from Toronto, the primary route will be the 401 to County Road 27. This drive time is approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Day Trip to Kingsville – Shopping

I highly recommend you start your first day at Colasanti’s Tropical Garden in northern Kingsville with a friendly game of indoor mini-golf. This 18 hole course is easy enough for any and all travel companions you would have with you. When you’re done that, hit the games in the arcade. Collect tickets from all of your video game wins and trade them in for a prize when you’re all played out. 

You can enjoy a sit-down lunch in the tropical-themed dining area and be sure to save room for dessert. Be sure to allow some time to shop for home decor and plants here. This is a place that’s hard to leave without a shopping cart full of bonsais and succulents!

Colasanti's Tropical Garden mini golf in Kingville Ontario

Did you know that Kingsville’s premier olive oil and vinaigrette tasting bar can be found at Cindy’s Home & Garden? There are over 60 different flavours of extra virgin olive oil! This is the place to learn about tasting and pairing olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette with your favourite foods and wines. 

Cindy's Olive Oil tasting bar in Kingsville

If you like to shop for a variety of plants available all year round, you’ll be blown away by the selection at Anna’s Home Garden & Wellness. There are lots of locally planted and potted flowers and topiaries for the home and garden to choose from. 

Anna's Tropical plants in Kingsville

Pay a visit to Point Pelee Winery on Seacliff Drive in Kingsville to shop for the best local wine. See if you can pre-book a wine tasting. Try the Lola Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend and maybe you’ll have a new favourite red. I’m only a fan of white wines in the summer, but I really liked the Lighthouse Reisling!

Pelee Island Winery white wines for sale

Downtown Kingsville Ontario

In Downtown Kingsville, you’ll find an incredibly picturesque downtown area. For shopping local, I can’t recommend The Local Maker enough! This is a cute shop on Main Street where 30 local artisans bring their wares to sell and all work together to keep it running. Lots of kitschy but also a lot of great gifts to be bought here.

Windsor Essex sticker and custom t-shirts at Local Maker in Kingsville

 

Kingsville Craft Beer and Bites

Straight across the street from The Local Maker is The Grove Brew House. This is Essex County’s first brick-and-mortar brewery. Secondly, The Grove Brew House boasts quite a few of its beers on tap. A great tasting flight to try that I had is the clean and crisp Paradise Lager, Private Beach Coffee Blonde and a special run of Sasquatch Small Batch – if it’s still on tap. They also make their own gluten-friendly, no-sugar-added hard seltzers. Lunch here is also great, my son and I had a nice meal here.

Beer flight at The Grove Brew House Kingsville

Almost kitty-corner to The Grove Brew House in Kingsville, is the Kingsville Brewery Taphouse. There are 5 beers on tap here – Light Eh! lager, Hefeweizen, Czech Lager, an India Pale Ale and a barrel-aged stout. Flights come in tastings of 4. Pair your flight with a plate of nachos, you won’t be sorry!

TWEPI Kingsville Brew in Kingsville Ontario, Essex County

 

Where to Stay In Kingsville Ontario

If you decide to stay in the area of Kingsville, be sure to check out these cute locations on the map below. Adjust your dates and see what’s available!
Booking.com

(I receive a tiny commission on any booking you map through the above map. This is at no extra cost to you.)

And that’s a wrap on your day trip to Kingsville Ontario. From mini-golf to olive oil to local breweries, there is something for everyone to enjoy here.

Interested in other places in southwest Ontario? The Windsor International Film Festival (click here) is a great place for the girl’s weekend getaway. Are you a whisky lover like me? You’ll want to take the J.P. Wiser Experience tour (click here) of the Hiram Walker distillery.

Things to do in Kingsville Ontario in a day. From breweries to olive oil to shopping for year round plants, there is something for everyone!

What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory

The Grotto, in Bruce Peninsula National Park, has become one of Southern Ontario’s most popular tourist destinations in the summer. Located near Tobermory, it’s close to lots of other tourist destinations such as Fathom Five National Marine Park where you find Flower Pot Island. I have been the poor soul who once tried to get into The Grotto and was turned away due to the volume of people already there for the day. I learned the tactics and did make it in the following summer! Seeing quite a few posts on Instagram and Facebook during summer months from others who attempt to go to the Grotto and are turned away, I decided to put together this question and answer article of What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory for other travellers before they attempt the journey and are disappointed.

What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory

Due to the health pandemic that has spanned the world, Canada is still being cautious. Social distancing is required and reservations to enter must be booked in advance. You will have to self-screen ahead of time.

At this time, visitors will not be permitted to climb into the Grotto since physical distancing is not possible. Parks Canada is asking that you enjoy the view from above.

What You Should Know About The Tobermory Grotto #tobermory #brucepeninsula #parkscanada #grotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #tobermorygrotto #hikingthebruce #brucetrail #dangerousplaces #rockyterrain #bestfamilytraveltravelblogger #ontariofamilyadventures

What Is The Grotto?

The Grotto is a shoreline sea cave with beautiful blue waters. It looks like it’s straight out of the Caribbean! The Grotto is a unique natural wonder and memorable place to experience. An underwater tunnel extends from the pool inside the cave through the cliff to Georgian Bay. This often makes it appear as though the pool is glowing on sunny days.

I do not believe there are other grottos located in Canada. If there are some that anyone else knows of – please let me know.

man on Rock Face at the Grotto
Rock Face at the Grotto

Where Is the Grotto?

The Grotto is specifically located close to the Cyprus Lake Campground in Bruce Peninsula National Park. The national park is on the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, just outside of Tobermory, Ontario. It is about 300 kilometres or a 4-hour drive northwest of Toronto. It’s on the Bruce Trail.

How to get to the Grotto
map courtesy of Parks Canada

 

How Do I Make Sure I Can Get Into The Grotto?

During the peak season of July and August, there are a couple of ways to make sure you are in Bruce Peninsula National Park and can access the Grotto:

1.) Be there already as a camper at one of the backcountry sites along Georgian Bay or in Cyprus Lake Campground, then hike over from your campsite via the Cyprus Lake Trail.

2.) Reserve parking in advance if coming from outside the park. The fee to park is $11.70 per vehicle plus an applicable reservation fee ($6.00 online, $8.50 by phone) and an individual fee. Parking is assigned by time blocks and only a certain amount of cars are permitted per time slot. Parking does book up well in advance on weekends. You might have more luck during the week if you can try to go then.

3.) Head up there in the off or shoulder seasons of April/May/June or September/October when the demand to visit is much less.

What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory - my selfie in the grotto
“What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory” Me at the Grotto

 

How Do I Get To The Grotto?

To get to the Grotto, you will have to hike the Georgian Bay Trail from P1 of Cyprus Lake Campground. It takes roughly 45 minutes with younger kids. It can be done in 30 minutes if walking at a good pace. The trailhead to the shoreline at Indian Head Cove is rated as easy. It’s a man-made trail that is wide and scenic. Once you get to the shoreline, it’s a rocky hike. It is not wheelchair or another mobility device accessible. Watch your footing and keep children supervised. The portion of the Bruce Trail leading to the Grotto does require some climbing over slippery rocks and tree roots.

Once you reach Indian Head Cove, the Grotto entrance hole is approximately 100 metres away to the west, so don’t be confused when you arrive. Indian Head Cove is a great place to swim. As you carry on to the west, you will come across the Natural Arch, you can see the water through the hole, you’re still not there yet. Keep going.

Indian Head Cove, east of the Grotto
Indian Head Cove

How Do I Get Into The Grotto?

There is a hole that you have to slide down to get into the actual Grotto and it’s not marked, no signposts. Watch for others going in and out. Once you corkscrew down through the hole, you have to climb down a small escarpment.

I had to remove my backpack and have it passed down to me as I did not fit with it on my back.

Side note – the climb in and out is not something you can do if you are excessively overweight. You won’t fit through the hole. You will have to attempt a climb down and back up the rock face, which is not safe. Alternatively, you can attempt to swim around from Indian Head Cove.

The climb can be done wearing running shoes or barefoot if you are comfortable. I do not recommend attempting this with flip-flops or water shoes that do not have good grips.

If you are not physically fit, you might need to rely on assistance from others to get back up and out. I’m not saying this to be rude, I am stating a fact. I had to push a couple of people up ahead of me through the hole to get out as they did not have the upper body strength to hoist themselves out. You will need to assist your children. Send them up ahead of you.

Hiking To The Grotto In Winter

The Grotto is open all year round and you can also access it in the winter! The big differences in hiking in the winter versus the summer are your footwear, conditions of the terrain and the weather. The colour of the water will be the same unless it’s covered in ice. The rocks are icy now as the water that would have normally washed over the rocks is frozen. This will deter inexperienced hikers and there will be fewer people in the area.

The trail from the Head of Trails at P1 was slightly icy in some areas. We hiked in wearing krampons (ice cleats) but had to remove them as there was no snow on the rocks. We would have ruined our ice cleats had we continued to wear them.

Weather on the Bruce Peninsula does change frequently and can be unpredictable. Please do not plan on hiking out there later in the afternoon unless you want to hike back to the Head Of Trails in the dark. Use caution when approaching the shoreline as it can and will be slippery.

It should go without saying, but it will be stated anyway: please stay off the ice on the bay.

Natural Arch at Bruce Peninsula National Park in December

Is The Grotto Safe For Kids?

The hike from Indian Head Cove to the Grotto can be challenging for children, the elderly and those with mobility issues. Kids have to recognize that there are dangers to running off on their own here and parents need to understand that there is a risk of injury or serious consequences if children are not kept under control. There is no barrier on the hike and there is no lifeguard to supervise in the water. 

As mentioned, you have to slide down a hole and climb down an escarpment to get into the Grotto. My children, aged 9 and 4 at the time, did it with assistance from myself and their father. We are both fairly fit (gym rats) and assisted the children with no problem. This is not something the kids could have done on their own.

We did have to assist other kids with families coming into the Grotto through the hole and climbing back out.

The water will be cold for them and the rocks are slippery. Please keep your children close to you at all times. The water is shallow enough close to the cave that they can walk around and the water won’t be past most older kids’ shoulder height.

Girl at the grotto
My daughter at the grotto

 

How Cold Is The Water At The Grotto?

We visited the second week of August and I found it cold, but tolerable. I’m also a hearty Canadian who can swim in lakes and bays, so take my opinion on this with a grain of salt. My kids froze, their dad froze, they enjoy pools heated to over 80 degrees. If I could have carried more items in my backpack, I would have brought a wetsuit for the kids as well as floatation devices.

feet over ledge at grotto
My feet looking at the grotto

And a final note on washrooms – there are compostable toilets at the parking lot that are open. Toilets along the trail are closed in the winter but normally open in the summer.

Where Else Is There To Stay In The Area?

If you are not camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park, there are many BnB’s, AirBnb’s and motels in the Tobermory area. We’ve stayed at Cedar Vista Motel and also at the Blue Bay Motel. We recommend Blue Bay Motel. Accommodations in Tobermory fill up fast in the summertime. Be sure to plan and book your trip in advance or try going in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.

BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS IN TOBERMORY HERE:



Booking.com

 

I made a little video with my GoPro camera that we took down there… Check it out!

 

 

I hope this helps you with What You Need To Know About Going to The Grotto at Tobermory. Did I miss anything you need or want to know? Ask below! I’ll get back to you.

 

What You Need To Know About Going To The Grotto outside of Tobermory in Bruce Peninsula National Park #grotto #tobermory #brucepeninsula #discoverontario #parkscanada #grotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #tobermorygrotto #hikingthebruce #brucetrail #dangerousplaces #rockyterrain #bestfamilytraveltravelblogger #ontariofamilyadventures

*** This post contains an affiliate links that supplement my income if you chose to make a no-obligation booking or purchase ***

Winter Camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park

Have you ever camped in a yurt? If you’re looking to try, check out winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park!

I previously enjoyed my winter adventure in a yurt at Mew Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park. Yurt camping in the winter is pretty amazing. For people who like to be outdoors, but don’t want to be cold when they sleep, winter camping in a yurt is the way to go. I don’t mind cooking and spending the majority of my time outside as long as it’s not -30 degrees!

Little Man and I walking up to the camp office in the snow at MacGregor Point Provincial Park to get checked in #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019

Winter Camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park

You’ll find MacGregor Point situated on 7 kilometres of the shores of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario. Get yourself to Port Elgin, then head south for a few minutes. It took 2.5 hours to drive there from downtown Toronto. This Ontario Provincial Park is open year-round and is a popular camping destination. Known for being a hot spot to observe and view migratory birds and ecologically diverse natural places.

Like a lot of provincial parks in Ontario, popular summer activities at MacGregor Point Provincial Park are swimming, hiking, bird watching, canoeing, and biking. In the winter, the hiking trails have turned to cross country ski trails and one of the campgrounds that closes off to campers open up to snowshoers! There is a skating rink by the visitor’s center that is maintained by camp staff and a skating oval is created at the Cedar Lane Campsites.

There are 16 yurts open year-round for campers in Birch Boulevard Campsites loop.

 

What’s In The Yurt?

The yurts at MacGregor Point Provincial campground sleep 6. And they have electricity! There are two bunk beds, the bottom bunks are a double and the top is a single bed. I can see a family up to six people in there, but I can honestly say that a travel party of six adult friends might find the conditions cramped.

Inside yurt #60 winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula

 

At the site next to us, there were four adults in a yurt and they seemed alright. We brought our own bedding, sleeping bags and pillows as the bunkbeds only have a mattress on them for campers. There is also a table, four plastic chairs and a gas stove for heat. The gas stove is temperature controlled and kept us very toasty through our stay! My nightly trick was to put the boots and socks in front of the fire to make sure they were dry and warm for the next morning.

Safety note: Never put your belongings directly on the fireplace and keep them a safe distance away.

Inside yurt #60, keeping boats and socks and mitts dry and warm while winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula

Outside the yurt, campers get a fire pit, kitchen shelter, picnic tables, and propane barbeque with side burner. The kitchen shelter is slightly elevated. You likely cannot notice in any pictures I post due to the snow, but there is a ramp up the shelter making the kitchen shelters and yurts accessible. Ontario Parks has really made an effort in terms of making their beach and roofed camping accommodations accessible to everyone.

How Do You Prepare Food For Winter Camping in Ontario?

You will need to bring your own pots, pans and cutlery. Just like cooking at home, I like to keep the whole meal preparation process simple! Every morning I would boil water on the side burner of the BBQ for instant oatmeal. I actually forgot my instant coffee at home and was devastated. Have no fear! The park office sells coffee to winter campers if you are in a pinch! If you have to drive to Port Elgin to coffee, it’s not very far. The closest Tim Hortons is a 10-minute drive.

Cooking while winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February! We wrapped chicken breasts, cherry tomatoes and provolone cheese in tin foil and put it on the BBQ #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula #campcooking PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO LUXOGRAPHY

For lunch and dinner, we cooked primarily on the barbeque during this stay. We were hit with bouts of freezing rain and that made cooking on the open fire hard. Utilizing the BBQ in the kitchen shelter was easy for us. Brian had marinated and prepared some chicken and dumplings ahead of time. I had also brought some freeze dried and dehydrated goods from MEC that you just added water to.

Cooking while winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February! We BBQ's burgers one day! #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula #campcooking PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO LUXOGRAPHY

Winter Camping Cooking Pro Tips

Do not cook inside the yurt. It’s not remotely safe. We stored our food in a cooler that we kept outside during the day. At night, while bears are not a concern during the winter, we still locked up the food in the trunk.

Dishes get washed outside. Pro tip: Boil water while you are eating. Pour that water into a plastic tub with biogradeable dish soap to wash your dishes after you eat. Dispose of the used water in the outhouse.

Cooking while winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February! Enjoying rehydrated food inside the yurt from MEC #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula #campcooking

 

Where Do You Do Your, You Know… Business?

I’m sure by now you have noticed that washroom facilities and running water are lacking in this yurt. No worries! There is a comfort station with heated water for showering as well as two sinks, electric hand dryers and flush toilets a 2-minute walk from the yurt. The comfort station is also where you get your potable water from to wash your dishes and cook with in the laundry facilities.

There was an outhouse right next to our site. We (I) used it once in a pinch, but not more than that as the water is turned off at the outhouses and you cannot wash your hands after doing your business. Oh the joy of the subzero temperatures!

 

Birch Boulevard Campground Park map for facilities and camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Yurt #60 and comfort station highlighted. #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula

Get Outside!

My son and I spent so much time on our snowshoes and hiking the Old Shore Trail by Lake Huron. The Visitor Centre was not open while we were there, however it does open for select dates such a Family Day. We hiked past it on the trail and on our way to the playground.

20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #FindYourSelfHere #OntarioParks #YoursToDiscover #DiscoverOntario #DiscoverON #Snowshoe #MacGregorPoint #ProvincialPark #MacGregorProvincialPark

The hiking trails turn into cross country ski trails and they were being used a lot while we were there. We did not snowshoe on those trails as it would be dangerous to get in the way of the skiers. There are signs telling snowshoers to not go on the trails. It’s best to snowshoe at the Nipissing Campground area as it’s closed to campers for camping in winter.

Little Man at the playground while winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019

Little Man was really into running ahead on the trails and roll down any snow pile he could find! He was in his element of no walls, barriers or restrictions. We had nowhere we were in a hurry to be and that meant he had freedom to roll and laugh and play. He was so in the moment and carefree.

Is Winter Camping in a Yurt Good For Kids?

When Ontario Parks and I initially discussed a yurt winter camping experience, I intended on bringing both of my children, but this was not something my daughter was going to enjoy like my son was going to.

Parenting your kids and figuring out how to play to their strength is tough. First of all, nothing with kids is ever constant, you get used to one method, and then they change. In that aspect, kids are kind of like flowers that change from season to season. No two flowers require the same amount of water or sunlight to grow. You have to nurture each one individually and figure out what they need to blossom. Then you feed that flower and watch it grow.

I have a 12-year-old daughter (wait, she’s almost ten as she will remind you) and a 7-year-old son with vastly different interests.  One loves and needs to be outdoors running around, the other would rather be indoors reading books, especially in winter. In order for each one to have their buckets filled, they require a different amount of sunlight, food, and love.

Little Man helping unload supplies from our Ford Escape for winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019

 

Single Mom Camping

Little Man, myself and “Uncle Brian” enjoyed this trip. Brian is my friend and photographer who often accompanies me on camping trips. He was my wedding photographer way back when! Side note – Brian is the reason why I actually end up with photographs of myself with the children that are not selfies. And mainly plans the menu, that’s really useful because he’s a good cook. I’m the Queen of hotdogs and burgers on the fire. He’ll actually marinate steak in advance.

Little Man and I walking on Old Shore Road Trail at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019

A New Yearly Tradition

Winter camping is something I’d really like to make this a yearly tradition with my son. It’s a great bonding experience for us and it’s so lovely to see my downtown, urban kid thrive out in nature. I think he actually prefers it out there! I know I do.

Little Man and I looking out at Lake Huron while winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula #lakehuron PHOTO BY BRIAN TAO, LUXOGRAPHY 2019

 

Not into camping at all, but still want to enjoy the hiking, skating, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter at MacGregor Point Provincial Park? Check out other accommodations in the area.
Booking.com

Want to reserve your Ontario Parks getaway? Check out upcoming events across the province in 2019 and go #FindYourselfHere, click here!

Happy camping!

 

Disclaimer: We were guests of Ontario Parks during our visit to MacGregor Point Provincial Park, but in no way swayed us into having a good time.  Our views remain our own.  

Yurt #60, I went winter camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park in February with my son. It was an amazing experience for him and I recommend it highly for anyone seeking some extra adventure in life #findyourselfhere #macgregorpointprovincialpark #macgregorpoint #macgregorpp #ontarioparks #yurtcamping #wintercamping #outdoors #adventureparenting #portelgin #brucepeninsula

I’m no stranger to experiences in Ontario Parks. You can read up on my other camping and glamping trips here:

Epic Hikes With Kids – Barron Canyon Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park

Yurt Winter Camping in Algonquin? Yes Please!

Glamping in Bonnechere Provincial Park

20 Photos That Will Inspire You To Snowshoe at MacGregor Point Provincial Park With Your Kids

Serpentine Loop in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park – 20 Photos to Inspire You To Canoe That Route

Canoe Portage With Friends: How To Have A Successful Back Country Camping Trip

 

What To Do And See In Sudbury In Fall

My kids and I were hosted by Sudbury Tourism to take part in the splendour of what to do in Sudbury in fall. Our opinions of how much we love Northern Ontario’s largest city are always our own.

Sudbury has not historically ranked up there in terms of gorgeous autumn places to go in Ontario. However, after years of meticulous care, reseeding and revitalization, The City of Greater Sudbury has become a playground in the outdoors for everyone in all seasons. I have been lucky enough to play in the winter wonderland of Sudbury before. And in the fall, there are so many gorgeous sights and things to see around Sudbury.

What To Do In Sudbury In Fall

Here’s a great list of what to do in Sudbury this autumn. From tourist attractions in Sudbury to off-the-beaten-path breweries and distilleries, we tried to discover it all. We even found the largest mural in the city!

And you might want to hurry outside before the leaves all fall off the trees. My kids and I were lucky enough to experience these attractions in Sudbury, Ontario ourselves when the red and orange leaves started popping!

Sudbury Largest mural in the city

PUMPKINFERNO at Dynamic Earth

Where else can you enjoy an animated Halloween show projected onto the iconic Big Nickel? Nowhere else! Pumpkinferno at Dynamic Earth is one of Sudbury’s most exciting Halloween events for families. The Pumpkinferno experience features 19 carved pumpkin vignettes and roughly five thousand glowing jack o’lanterns displayed along a 250m outdoor pathway. For now, the indoor attractions at Dynamic Earth are closed during this event.

It was definitely raining the night we attended Pumpkinferno. We likely missed out on taking in the outdoor science show or telling spooky stories around a campfire, but that didn’t stop the rest of the outdoor fun for us. The kids participated in a scavenger hunt, made seed bombs and most importantly made fun of my pumpkin carving skills. I really have to level up my game now after being inspired here. You have to see some of that artistry!

The Pumpkinferno experience is every Friday to Sunday in October evening. Please note that there is limited capacity for this event and other specific details are on the website pertaining to safety measures to keep your family safe. Admission tickets for timed entrances to allow for social distancing must be purchased online.

Sudbury Big Nickel Pumpkinferno lights and scary face

Science North

For those familiar with southern Ontario family tourist attractions, the Science Centre in Toronto is our gold standard. Science North is Northern Ontario’s gold standard and dare I argue, a family favourite for us.

Of all the amazing exhibits at Science North, you must discover the new Indigenous Ingenuitiy exhibit . It’s new since our last visit to Sudbury in February of 2020 and you can definitely check out our winter travels here Sudbury Rocks For Families In Winter.  Indigenous Ingenuity is designed around an interactive quest. You access the audio explanations via a bracelet you obtain when you enter the exhibit and take with you from station to station as your guide. The exhibition allows you to experience the innovative Indigenous knowledge and processes by listening to the elders with their knowledge and experimenting with basic scientific principles. This means for the kids, it’s actual hands-on experimentations. From leaving “how to hunt” humanely, to building structures like teepees and seeing things the origins of things that we use in our everyday life.

Sudbury Science North Indigenous Ingenuity, learning to hunt humanely

 

Get Outside – Hiking trails in Sudbury

One of the bests things to do in the autumn is to go hiking. How else will you see the amazing autumn hues that Mother Nature has painted for you? Seriously, my favourite colour is October 🍃🍂🍁♥️

Here are a couple of trails that I highly recommend around Sudbury:

Onaping Falls Trail

Have you seen Onaping Falls yet? Onaping Falls is only a half-hour northwest of Sudbury and it will take your breath away! When you park your vehicle in the parking lot, you’re not too far from the A. Y. Jackson Lookout. The A.Y. Jackson Lookout is famous for the Group of Seven artist, A.Y. Jackson, who memorialized this view on his canvas entitled Spring On The Onaping River.

Kids at Sudbury Onaping Falls AY Jackson look out

The hiking trail from the A.Y. Jackson lookout point to the bridge over High Falls is approximately 1 kilometre. It’s a bit rocky and requires some steady feet and appropriate footwear. You do need to go down the rock scramble and then through the woods with lots of protruding rocks and roots. There are multiple viewpoints along the way as you get closer to the falls and bridge. Definitely a great adventure with the kids! Then we hiked to the bridge for some seriously stellar views.

Sudbury Onaping Falls from bridge

Kivi Park Trails

In the south end of Sudbury is Kivi Park. If you’re in that area, you should check out the hiking trails at Kivi Park. Their hiking trails are available year-round, are well maintained, the trail system is marked and they offer a range of loops and trails for hikers of all levels. The Kivi Park trails will take you through forests, meadows and past beautiful lookouts over the lake. The length of the hikes ranges from 1 kilometre to 7 kilometres. They’re good for kids and for adventurous souls as well. You can also bring your bikes here and if you are not afraid of cold water, paddle boarding and kayaking is also an option.

Speaking of kids, the playground just off the parking lot here is excellent!

During the winter months, be sure to check out the cross country ski & snowshoe trails as the kids and I have before in this very same spot.

Sudbury Kivi Park Hiking Trail in autumn

Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

When you think of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, you may, as I did, think naively only about southern Ontario. Imagine my surprise to be walking along Ramsay Lake on the Bell Park side with my kids and then we found ourselves on the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. It turns out, Sudbury is the east anchor of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. And there are over 60 kilometres of this cycling trail around Sudbury interconnected together. Now you know!

Sudbury Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

Fun Places To Visit in Sudbury

While travelling with my kids we do hit a lot of family-friendly type destinations and activities. However, there’s going to be a stop or two along the way that’s for my enjoyment and not necessarily for the kids. Here are some of the fun things to do in Sudbury that involve maple syrup and distilleries:

Maple Hill Farm

Have you ever had bourbon-aged maple syrup? I had not before I picked some up from Maple Hill Farm. Now, we all know I’m a whisky lover, but an oak barrel whisky flavouring on my pancakes for breakfast is a game-changer!

Celine and her husband are the new owners of Maple Hill Farm, a maple syrup farm on 35 acres of beautiful forest. This location has been in the maple syrup business for many decades, closed for a while and is now reborn. The farm’s historical values and traditions have been maintained and if you’re in the Sudbury area and need to get your hands on some excellent maple syrup, this is the place to go. The syrup is made on-site and while they’ve upgraded to a mechanical process, there’s still a lot of manual labour and love that goes into running such a wonderful place.

Sudbury Maple Hill shop

Production happens in the spring, so don’t expect to see the sap flowing from the trees in autumn. However, you’re still welcome to visit and book the outdoor space for events if you wish. While this was an educational experience for me, the kids were amazed by seeing the sap lines from the trees and how they run downhill to the newly built sugar shack. Really put the idea of how we use nature

This location is so gorgeous, particularly in the fall, it’s worth the drive outside of the city.

Sudbury Maple Hill Brewery Sugar Shack

Crosscut Distillery Sudbury

How do you feel about drinking the best Ceasar you will ever have in your life? Truth be told, I have never really been a Ceasar fan. I’ve had them at brunches before and they were always okay, but not high up on my enjoyment scale.
Then I had a Ceasar made from Bacon Vodka. Yes, Bacon Vodka. It’s a Triple Grain Vodka, distilled with caraway, black pepper and bacon to create a balanced flavour.  This Ceasar has a nose of caraway, pepper, salty brine, sweet smoke and cardamom. I bought each and every one of the ingredients to take home to make it myself.

Sudbury Crosscut Distillery Bacon vodka Ceasar

This is Sudbury’s one and only distillery. Crosscut Distillery opened in April 2018 and produces vodka, gin, whisky, liqueurs & more. Crosscut Distillery is a craft distillery making small batches utilizing local ingredients and quality grains. You can taste the edge of Northern Ontario with every sip. Especially with their gin.

I do want to give a nod to the creativity here as well – I had a pumpkin spice cocktail here that was like a really great boozy desert.

Sudbury Crosscut Distillery pumpkin spice cocktail

There are breweries in Sudbury. Sudbury has a bit of an emerging craft beer scene. I tried Stackt Brewing when I was there last and when I look back on my beer tasting and rating app that I use Impact, an altbier is actually rated as one of my highest and best.

Where To Eat in Sudbury

I’m a huge fan of locally grown and harvested ingredients and farm-to-table meals. While Sudbury does have its share of chain restaurants, there most certainly are a few local gems worth mentioning.

Nickel City Cheese + NCC Poutinerie

This isn’t really a restaurant. This is a cheese factory with a chip truck outside in the parking lot and that’s charming. Nickel City Cheese makes fresh cheese and curd and has quickly become a local favourite!

Laughing Buddha

Laughing Buddha is a lovely restaurant in downtown Sudbury. The food served up is vegan and vegetarian dishes, but have no fear meat lovers, there are options for you too!  My kids got pizzas and I got the Buddha Bowl and it was really good. I don’t eat vegetarian only for the most part as I am a meat lover, but I would call the meal very enjoyable.

They serve draft beer with local options on their taps, so always a bonus in my eyes.

 

Hotels In Sudbury Ontario

Where do you stay in Sudbury? This time, my kids and I stayed at the Holiday Inn Sudbury Ontario. This is a big, spacious hotel that has a great pool for relaxation. The beds are very comfortable. The rooms are a great size for families. There is a restaurant and bar on-site, ample parking and the rates per night are fairly decent.

Sudbury Holiday Inn double room interior

The one beef I have and I have this with pretty much every hotel – there’s never enough coffee provided. And why is there always the same amount of decaf coffee as regular coffee? This is a mystery to me.

If you’re travelling to Sudbury, be sure to check out the Holiday Inn or Travelway Inn in Sudbury where we stayed last time here:



Booking.com

(This is an affiliate link and I make a small commission if you make a booking. This is at no extra cost to you.)

Hope this provides you all the inspiration to get out and enjoy what Sudbury offers in the autumn! And if you are looking for winter activities, because that season is right around the corner, but sure to check out Sudbury Rocks For Families In Winter.  There are more restaurant recommendations and activities to check out with friends, as a couple or with the family.

 

What To See and Do in Sudbury this fall, how to enjoy autumn in Sudbury, Ontario, Hiking Onaping Falls Trail, eat at local restaurants, visit Crosscut Distillery