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Ultimate Luxury Family Glamping at Long Point Eco Adventures

Earlier in the summer, I took my kids on a “glamping adventure” in a rustic cabin. Personally, I thought it was wonderful due to the luxury of electricity, mini fridge and microwave. While those were definitely bonus features, for my pampered kids, the lack of a on site toilet or running water was a shock. Okay, let’s be real, Z Man doesn’t care, he’s 4.

For Miss M, it was more like camping, while I considered this experience to be glamping. Since my daughter really likes the higher end of accommodations and I’m more like a back country camper, I needed to find a compromise for us for our end of summer adventure. Something to please us both (note, Z Man is happy everywhere). I went on the hunt for a luxury family glamping experience and I found it at Long Point Eco Adventures, in Norfolk County, Ontario.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, front verandah

What is Glamping?

Glamping is glamorous camping. Simply put, it’s not roughing it in the wild in a tent on the rocks and sand. Glamping consists of sleeping off the ground on an actual bed under a roofer accommodation. There may or may not be electricity or water or a washroom at your disposal. Whether or not the toilet is attached, the restroom facility will likely be a toilet as opposed to a self-dug hole in the ground, with a make shift stand that acts as a toilet if you are camping.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, queen size beds

What Is Long Point Eco Adventures?

Long Point Eco Adventures is a truly unique experience! It’s a luxury glamping experience with onsite adrenaline rush activities from zip-lining to axe throwing to a night sky observatory.

Long Point Eco Adventures, zipline platform, luxury family glamping

Where is Long Point Eco Adventures?

Long Point Eco Adventures is across the road from Burning Kiln Winery, this is an important fact. It is 3-5 minutes north of the village of Turkey Point on Lake Erie in Norfolk County.

Google Map to Long Point Eco Adventures, luxury family glamping

What Are The Luxury Family Glamping Accommodations Like?

We stayed in a Wilderness Suite that is a large tent on a platform that had two queen size beds, a mini fridge, a fan, electricity and outlets, private toilet that flushed, an outdoor shower, hardwood floors, sliding glass door that locked and a private verandah. There are wilderness suites that come with a king size bed too.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, sleeping children

Other roofed accommodations include camping and wilderness pods. The camping pods come with either a queen bed or two double beds do not have electricity or a washroom attached. Guests there must utilize an outhouse. The wilderness pods have a queen bed, flush toilets and electricity, but shared outdoor showers.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, camping pod

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, outdoor shower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by a climbing trip to Kilimanjaro in Africa, the accommodations are very hotel like and not so much camping. Now, I never had a luxury glamping experience back in 2006 when I camped my way around the south west part of that continent. It was more like tents with openings for scorpions and snakes, but I digress… these beds at Long Point Eco Adventures were comfortable, the tents were spacious and the vibe was relaxed.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, back of tent 14

Here’s what I liked about our Wilderness Suite:

I liked that I wasn’t sweeping pine combs out of the tent, I liked that I could go to the washroom in the middle of the night and not leave my kids alone in the tent. I liked that this was a tent with a sliding glass door that locked so I could feel safe about leaving belongings in the tent and not locking them in the car. We had electricity, a mini fridge to store the kids snacks and left over food and wifi and I could work or entertain myself with my laptop after the kids had gone to bed. Even though we had lighting, it wasn’t bright lighting, it was soft and kind of romantic. I liked the fan we had in the tent because summer in Ontario is hella hot and I liked that I wasn’t sharing a sleeping bag with sweaty, sticky bodies on an air mattress. I liked that I did not have to cook breakfast or clean up after myself so it felt a little more relaxed.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, coffee mugAlthough these are essentially tents, they feel do private because of the canvas over top. Unless someone walks right up to your window, they cannot see in. 

I LOVED the private front deck that faced the trees. It was nice to drink coffee on while my kids slept in. I also loved the outdoor shower, especially at night, imagine having a starlight shower. Too bad I was alone… okay, I’m with my kids, but you know what I mean, no one to share that shower with at night. However, I would caution this – if you were sharing that private, outdoor shower under the stars with someone else, the noise you could potentially be making could be carried throughout the entire tented wilderness suite area. The moral of this story is to be quiet.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, children on front verandah

Here’s what my daughter liked about our Wilderness Suite:

She liked the the comfort and amenities of the suites. There was nothing lacking for her. She liked that it was clean and that nature was right outside the door.

Here’s what I would caution about: You don’t get to pull your car up to the tent, there is a central parking lot. Don’t get too comfortable and overpack clothes, shoes and food, there is no closet to hang them in, just a couple hooks in the washroom. Although there is a golf cart that will arrive at your car and assist you with getting your luggage to your tent, if you have too many bags and too much stuff, it will be difficult to manage or expect to do back and forth to your car.

 

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, two queen size beds

Also, Norfolk County mosquitos are hearty and plentiful. The accommodations might be luxury, but the bugs still exist. Bring and use your best bug repellent.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, back of tents 1 and 2

Can We Eat There?

You bet! You won’t starve for breakfast or lunch. A hot, buffet breakfast is included in your stay and you will find that in the central food hall. While we were there, the breakfast menu consisted of rotating between sausage and bacon, there was also scrambled eggs, toast, bagels, juice, coffee, potatoes. And coffee, good coffee.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, breakfast tables

For lunch, there is a food truck that is open until 2:00pm. The menu does change and the food is locally sourced. This is not included in your accommodations, it costs extra. We did eat lunch there one day and between the three of us, we split 2 mains. For the size portion of the lunch, we actually had some leftover.

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, food truck lunch menu

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, kids dancing outside food truck

 

For dinners and other snacks or meals, you can cook your own if you bring a propane camp stove. Be sure to also bring your own utensils and cooking gear. Or you can walk across the street to Burning Kiln Winery and sample some of the best wine I’ve had in North America. Also, the village of Turkey Point is a five minute drive away and there are a few options there at very reasonable prices.

street between where i stayed and the winery

What is the Price Point For Staying At Long Point Eco Adventures?

Luxury family glamping in Ontario does come at a price. Based on the 2018 pricing advertised on the website, the camping pods are prices at:

  • $95 / night low season weekdays 
  • $115 / night low season weekends and high season weekdays 
  • $135 / night high season weekends

The Wilderness pods are priced at:

  • $185 / night low season weekdays 
  • $235 / night low season weekends and high season weekdays 
  • $285 / night high season weekends

The Wilderness Suites (like what we stayed in) are priced at:

  • $199 / night low season weekdays
    $249 / night low season weekends and high season weekdays
    $299 / night high season weekends

Prices are based on double occupancy; additional guest fee is $30

There is a 2 night minimum on weekends (Friday & Saturday) in the High Season.

Long Point Eco Adventures typically opens for the year at the end of April and remains open until the end of October. The high season is end of June until Labour Day.

BOOK YOUR GLAMPING ADVENTURES HERE:


Booking.com


Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, food building and zipline platform

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, overlook view

Luxury Family Glamping Ontario, overlook view

What Activities and Amenities Are at Long Point Eco Adventures?

Here is the good news for those in the family or travel party who like to be constantly on the go or entertained: There is a lot to do. Other activities onsite consist of apiary tours, night sky observatory, ziplining and axe throwing.

Norfolk County is full of family friendly activities as well, so you’re not confined to only staying on-site. In fact, I encourage you to make a long weekend trip here and try to take in as much as you can.

For me, flying solo and taking my kids here, it was an easy experience in nature. I can honestly say I’ve never camped anywhere that’s across the street from a vineyard and has a food truck on site. And I’ve never really glamped aside from pop up trailer, parking lot camping. This was my third glamping experience this year. In 2018, I’ve done a yurt in Mew Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, a rustic cabin in Bonnechere Provincial Park and now this luxury family glamping at Long Point Eco Adventures in Norfolk County, Ontario.

I’m a bit of a convert as this is so much easier on my back when sleeping and my kids enjoy this experience in the outdoors so much more. Win, win.

Ultimate Luxury Family Glamping Ontario #norfolkcounty #glamping #glampinglife #familytravel #familycamping #familyglamping #luxuryglamping
Ultimate Luxury Family Glamping Ontario at Long Point Eco Adventures in Norfolk County #norfolkcounty #glamplife #kidswhoglamp #torontokids #torontofamily #wildernesssuite #campingpod #glampingontario

We were guests of Norfolk County Tourism while visiting the area and we received all accommodations and activities in exchange our opinion. We were not swayed into having a good time, but we did.

Play Hard And Be Seen With Zapped Outfitters

I’m a downtown, Toronto mom with urban kids who walk to school and extracurricular activities. Because of our pedestrian lifestyle, I am always on the hunt for active wear for my kids that will allow them to play hard and be seen.

In our busy neighbourhood, safety is always at the forefront of my mind. I always let my kids know how important it is for them to watch out for vehicle traffic, cyclists and other pedestrians because not everyone can see them. Now that the sun is going down earlier in the evening and we’re walking home from after school care in the dusk, SAFETY is paramount.

I WORRY A LOT. I WANT MY KIDS TO PLAY HARD AND BE SEEN.

When we head out to the country to visit my folks, I get worried sick about walking across the highway to get to the corner store or park. Even though it’s something kids have been doing for many years and they know to look both ways before they cross. I know that I am not the only parent who feels that way.

Fellow Canadian Mom, Scarlet Kux-Kardos is the founder of Zapped Outfitters. Zapped Outfitters has been inspired by our dark, Canadian winters to manufacture items that make kids SAFE without making them look uncool to their peers. And Scarlet has the chops to prove it. She’s the founder of sk2design.com, which is a performance sportswear design studio. Some of their clients include Under Armour, Marmot and Columbia. I’m willing to place my bets that she knows what’s up on the durable and reflective kid’s clothing spectrum.

Zapped Outfitters has created a collection of outerwear products that are REFLECTIVE and WATERPROOF.

play hard and be seen #playhardbeseen

play hard and be seen #playhardbeseen

Let me explain – each article of active wear – baseball caps, slip on shoes, high top shoes or jacket is embedded with glass beads that reflect light. When the light hits the reflective material, mimicking a headlight from a car, they reflect back. Let me show you:

play hard and be seen #playhardbeseen

I put the slip on shoes and baseball hat that Zapped Outfitters sent my daughter to the test. We headed out to a busy, downtown street after dark. First photo, on the left was taken withOUT the flash. The second photo on the right is WITH FLASH, mimicking headlights from a car. The proof is on the picture! The reflective clothing brings more visibility to her.

The slip on shoes Miss M is wearing have a rugged rubber toe cap and a reinforced heel for durability. We parents all know that we don’t want to be buying new kids shoes and clothing ALL THE TIME, so durable is key here. And because they are slip ons, she can get them on fast and be out the door, hanging with her friends before I can sing a cheesy song to her. They retail for $75.00 Canadian. And they’re cool looking. She will legit wear these.

play hard and be seen #playhardbeseenplay hard and be seen #playhardbeseen

The ball cap have a meshed back (good for sweaty kids… like mine) and can fit any head because of it’s back snap adjustment. Retails for $30.00 Canadian.

play hard and be seen #playhardbeseenplay hard and be seen #playhardbeseen

Zapped Outfitters has our kid’s back, literally. One of Zapped Outfitter’s products is a backpack. It retails for $80.00 Canadian.

Cool backpacks for kids

But heads up Moms – before we order the vodka, red bull and sit down with our iPads to get some of these fancy high visibility shoes, hats, backpacks and jackets… and glow sticks… I have to tell you, these are just for kids. There will be no rave in my garage for the neighbourhood Moms. Well, there won’t be one with us wearing our kid’s Zapped Outfitter outerwear at least.

Winter is coming.

Earlier dusk is coming. Don’t delay on checking these products out for your children.

And for rainy days? Their products are WATERPROOF too. Yep, the jacket ($110.00) will keep you dry.

cool jacket and backpack for kids

This might be the first line of products like this for kids.

Interested in checking these out for yourself? Click this link to visit Zapped Outfitter’s website and use the code KATHRYNANYWHERE20 for 20% off your online order so your kids can play hard and be seen!

play hard and be seen #playhardbeseen #zappedoutfitters #reflectiveclothing #coolkidsshoes #coolkidsbackpacks #familytravelblogger

Zapped Outfitters sent my daughter the slip on shoes and hat to test out in exchange for an honest opinion of the products. Our thoughts are all our own.

Family Friendly Fun in Norfolk County, Ontario

I had realized awhile ago that there was so much of Ontario I had not yet seen or experienced. And that was a shame, because it’s my own backyard, literally. So, I looked at the parts I was not yet familiar with and started to plan new routes for us to explore. It’s worth noting that I pretty much accept any challenge that involves exploration, right? Right. I don’t like to sit still and with my kids in tow, I need to be sure we’re hitting the most family friendly places out there. We’ve been to so many new places in the province now! 

Norfolk County might not appear to be Ontario’s premiere vacation destination on the surface. It’s not exciting or cosmopolitan like Toronto or full of history and decorum like Ottawa… Or so you think. Once you look under the surface, you find Ontario’s South Coast and a flourishing wine, craft beer and agri-tourism industry. Aside from that, it’s a quiet, green place to spend a weekend or take a mid-week trip, only two hours from downtown Toronto. And you find a relatively unknown area for family friendly fun in Norfolk County.

toronto kids on a bridge in waterford, norfolk county

Anyway, this summer, I kept my kids quite busy between our experiences at Bonnechere Provincial Park, venturing into the Grotto on the Bruce Peninsula and hiking. They were ready to slow it down a bit. Norfolk County provided for them a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle they are used to living in the city of Toronto and I wasn’t able to drag them out on to cliffs this time. And it’s just what we needed to enjoy the last week of summer before school started and I head back to the all too familiar grind of working in reality TV. 

 

Where Is Norfolk County?

Norfolk County is made of quite a few small towns in the southwestern part of Ontario. Head southwest from Hamilton or west from St. Catherines/Niagara Falls and you’ll be there in under an hour. It’s important to mention that due to the size of Norfolk County and how spread out everything is from each other, a vehicle is required for touring around.

norfolk county map
from Google maps – map of Norfolk County and surrounding area in Ontario

What Exactly Does Norfolk County Consist Of?

Turkey Point Beach on the South Coast

Turkey Point Provincial Park has a wonderful beach on Lake Erie in the village of Turkey Point. It’s shallow and sandy, which makes it great for kids. Expect to make plenty of sand castles here. The swimming area at the main parking lot in the village is marked by a buoy line and the Ontario Parks website says there is no undertow here. It’s approximately 2 kilometres long and easily accessed by car with a large parking lot. It’s a day use area and if you are just a day visitor opposed to a camper in the camp ground, there is a fee for your car.

The day we were there was not overly busy, we carved out our own space fairly close to the water. I happen to drive around naturally with a pirate ship, sand pails and shovels in the trunk of our Ford Escape, so for Z Man, he was set for fun.

toronto kids at turkey point beach

 

Long Point National Wildlife Area

It’s definitely worth the drive down Long Point towards the sand and pit formation to see one of Canada’s officially designated World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. This is an incredibly important area for wildlife in Norfolk County. There is a diversity of habitats such as marshes, dunes and beaches that are home to more than 75% of migratory birds in Canada. Over 80 bird species nest there!

Long point sunset cruise wetlands

You can see the marshes from the water and find a secret beach if you know someone who knows how to get you there. For that, you need to look up Captain Graham with Long Point Island Huggers. Graham Ferguson is a really jovial, comical, warm man with a great personal backstory of how he came to chartering boats through the marshes. He takes his pontoon boat that accommodates groups and people of all ages for wonderful cruises from sunrise to sunset. Captain Graham is so knowledgable about the area that you’ll leave the cruise with a whole new appreciation of the wetlands.

sunset at long point

Words cannot describe how beautiful the sunset from the water is or how excited my son was to “feed the fish”, so you’ll just have to see for yourself:

 

Night Time Star Gazing

Z Man is space obsessed and what I did not realize is that Norfolk County is pretty spectacular for star gazing. When the skies are clear, there is an observatory at Long Point Eco Adventures that offers stargazing tours. It is quite prudent to point out that for an amateur like me, a star gazing app on a smart phone is enough to impress a four year old boy.

With the app and the naked eye, we were able to find Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and numerous constellations. We were unable to find Uranus or Neptune, so it looks like we will have to go back and try again.

The last time I saw stars like that was in November 2006 in Namibia, close to Sossusvlei.

 

Apple Hill Lavender Farm and Raging Bull Pottery

An absolute must-go-to experience in first half of the summertime in Norfolk County is lavender farms. The photos and the scent are just to die for. In late August, around the time we visited, most of the lavender had been harvested. However, you can still find some purple in the fields.

lavender at ground level

But here, despite the lack of the deep purple fields I expected, lies the beauty in childhood wonder. My kids had no preconceived notions of what a lavender field should look like. All they knew is that they were in a field and they could run up and down the rows. It’s moments like that, I sometimes take for granted. Miss M and Z Man don’t have freedom like that in the city. So, I let them run. I just let that opportunity be exactly that. No one else was there in the way, no one else dictating rules to them. They just got to explore.

apple hill lavender farm girl in background

lavender farm boy running

The Apple Hill Lavender farm consists of more than just lavender fields. There are sunflowers, a small bee apiary and lots of apple trees. In the old farm house, you will find a shop to purchase lavender products, hand crafted body care products and Ragging Bull Pottery. Ragging Bull Pottery sells handmade, award winning porcelain by artist Melissa Schooley. If you’re looking for an amazing local artisan for house wares, this is it.

lots of apple trees

There is no admission fee for a self-guided tour. There is a fee for a group tour with live demonstrations and professional photo shoots. Located in Windham Centre, Ontario.

 

Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery

Still on the lavender fields, but this one is different. Not only is Bonnieheath known for the lavender, it’s a beautiful winery too. Pulling up in your car here is an experience, it feels like an “estate”, like a French Chateau.

the french chateau exterior of bonnieheath lavender and winery

This is the kind of place where you can order a glass of wine, then take a walk outside and wander through the lavender fields. Oh and wander through the vineyard too. At the very back of the vineyard you find a wetland. And it’s intentional. The wetland is an environmental project growing native grasses and windflowers to promote biodiversity and attract wildlife back to the area.

wide shot of lavender farm from abocewide shot of lavender farm from above

In addition to selling wine and ciders, you can also purchase lavender infused food products, like salt and pepper, tea and chocolate. My kids consumed that chocolate faster than anything.

Bonnieheath wine grapes

Toronto kids looking for frogs in wetland

Again, no admission fee. Located in Waterford, Ontario.

toronto kids enjoying time outside eating lavender infused chocolate

Burning Kiln Winery

When it comes to Ontario Wines, I’m really picky. There have been quite a few that have not sat right in my stomach. I went through the tasting menu here and tried all the wines expect one. I liked all of them. So much so, that I bought quite a few bottles of wine to take home. I’m normally not a Riesling fan, but guess what? Loved their Riesling!

white, rose and red wine tasting list

While I was doing the tastings, the kids were welcome to play with balls and skipping ropes outside, no problem. There is a restaurant and we ate dinner there. While there is not a kid’s menu, Miss M and Z Man really enjoyed splitting the lamb and I had fish tacos.

winery building in norfolk countyHere’s where I am going to give a really interesting piece of agriculture fact and history to you. Norfolk County was once renown for tobacco farms in Canada. It’s part of “Ontario’s Tobacco Belt” and was very prosperous here until the early 2000’s when Ontario started to implement smoking bans. Many farmers have turned their fields into growing ginseng, asparagus, pumpkins, squash and now there are vineyards. Why am I telling you this? On the site of Burning Kiln, was once a tobacco tract.

Vineyard at burning kiln winery

The original barn has been reconfigured and pays homage to it’s history. The bulk tobacco kilns were repurposed to implement the grape drying art of “appassimento”, which is a technique that started in Italy to really enhance the flavours. And let me tell you, one taste of their Kiln Hanger cabernet franc and you’ll know what I mean about how good they are.

red wine making process

Burning Kiln Winery is located right across the street from where I was staying at Long Point Eco Adventures with the kids. Located approximately 3km from Turkey Point Beach.

street between where i stayed and the winery

 

Ramblin’ Road Brewery

What happens when kids go to a brewery and they get to eat a bowl ice cream? Mom gets to try craft beer in peace. The idea of serving ice cream at the brewery is pure genius!

When you hang out socially with me, you learn a couple things fairly quickly. I am a cream ale and an IPA fan. And for hangover breakfasts, I will drink a stout. Long story short, I know my beers. Ramblin’ Road Brewery did not disappoint me in that department and I was presented with something new – Ontario’s first potato beer, it’s called Dakota Pearl Ale. I was able to taste the Country Pilsner, Country Cream Ale, Country Lager, Dakota Pearl Ale and 3D Triple Chocolate stout. While the Dakota Pearl Ale was smooth, had a great golden-straw colour with a white head and a nice floral aroma, it is one touch too hoppy for me.

Brewery Farm owned by picard

I purchased the 3D Triple Chocolate Stout and the IPA Unleashed. First, I’m a real sucker for chocolate and stouts. The IPA has a bitterness of 48 BU’s, making it a little sweet. The brewery has lots of other products by the parent company for sale such as kettle chips, peanuts and cute t-shirts.

picard property

Located just north of Delhi, Ontario.

 

Vanessa’s Bees and Apiary Tour

The highlight of the week for Miss M was the Apiary Tour. Interestingly enough, she was really hesitant about donning a protective suit and going anywhere near the bees. My somewhat sheltered, urban, Toronto kids in an apiary. Who would have thought?

apiary at long point eco adventures

Let’s be real, kids bring a certain element of the unknown to any situation. Taking them into the apiary, putting on the protective suits and bringing them close to the bees was a calculated risk. As in risk for the bees! I wondering if one of them was going to scream or freak out or knock something over or scare the bees and ruin the work that Vanessa and Cam had lovingly put into the apiary. Turns out my hesitations were unfounded. Again, my kids impressed me. They put on the suit without question and excitedly went towards where the bees were kept. Not only that, Miss M had a drone bee in her hand.

my daughter with a drone bee on her hand

The kids got to experience the whole inner working of the hive. Learn about how drone and worker bees come to be. Learn about the Queen Bee and what happens to the Queen when a new one comes along – spoiler – it doesn’t always end well. It was beyond educational and exciting.

kid holding a honeycomb

My kids went willingly out of their comfort zone. Maybe it was the promise of honey tasting after all that would be over. Maybe it was knowing we were going to make a candle out of beeswax that they went through with it. All I know if they did and would do it again.

Check out their little video here:

 

What Else?

These are the places we went and experienced personally, but that doesn’t mean that’s all of it! What else is there to see or do for family friendly fun in Norfolk County?

  • The Waterford Heritage and Agricultural Museum in Waterford
  • Port Dover Harbour Museum
  • Zipline at Long Point Eco Adventures
  • Kayak Tours through Big Creek National Wildlife Area
  • Fishing Tours
  • Zodiac Boat Tours

summer flowers close up

What’s great about this region, especially if you are from the Toronto area, is that you can come for a weekend or two or three and not even fit in everything I’ve listed above. You could just focus on one area like Long Point and Turkey Point in one weekend.

Long Point Eco Adventures zipline platform

Go and check out Norfolk County is my advice. Do it before it turns into the next Prince Edward County and you can’t book accommodations anywhere. You can impress your friends with your knowledge of this wine region long before they’ve even heard of it.

BOOK YOUR GLAMPING EXPERIENCE HERE:



Booking.com


 

 

FAMILY FRIEDNLY FUN IN NORFOLK COUNTY, ONTARIO #longpoint #norfolkcounty #familytravelblog #bestfamilytravelblog #kidsfriendlyactivites #ontariotravel #roadtrips #discoverON #kathrynanywhere #torontofamily

The kids are I were guests of Norfolk County Tourism in August, 2018. We were given accommodation and experiences in exchange for an honest review. Our opinion has not been swayed in anyway. 

Visiting Tiny Tim The Mini Donkey

Back in August, I took my friend Chris, from Rudderless Travel out to the metropolis of Apsley, Ontario to spend the day visiting someone very special. First, I got him out of the city of Toronto, then told him we were going to the country! He thought I was joking. We took a journey to visit “Tiny Tim The Mini Donkey”, his new friend Chip and their really amazing owners, Jody and Ted Topping. I had been keeping the secret in my back pocket that I happen to know them. I just knew Chris would have a good time there too.

We thought we were just going for a fun day of visiting and farm fun. However, Jody and Ted had something else in store for me. I got put to work.  I am a city girl, bear that in mind. It looks like I’m comfortable in those ugly, worn in running shoes and jeans. I’m truthfully more happy in a skirt or dress and heels. It was definitely fun on the farm.

Anyway, check out the video and see how I make an ass out of myself!

Driving a tractor was a new experience and it was really fun! I seemed to have mastered it really fast. BUT… in all honesty, what I cut out of the video was that it took me about 3 tries to get the tractor into reverse. It was brutal and video is about making me look good, right? I can now list “tractor driving” as skill on my resume, right? Right next to black belt in karate and open water diver.

The hay was dropped in the cow pen – is that what it is called?

My friend Chris made a video blog about the day as well, I recommend you check it out here to see it all.

A Day Spent With Tiny Tim The Miniature Donkey #minidonkey #miniaturedonkey #tinytim #tinytimdonkey #apsley #apsleyontario #ontariodonkeys #donkeys #makeanass #doingfunthings #tinytimtheminiaturedonkey #tinytimminidonkey

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 didn’t realize how popular The Grotto was until last summer when we were turned away from seeing it due to the volume of people already there for the day. Luckily, we made it in this summer!

I’ve seen quite a few posts on Instagram and Facebook this summer from others who have attempted to go to the Grotto, but unfortunately could not make it in. I decided to put together this question and answer post of “What You Need To Know About Going To The Grotto” for other travellers before they attempt the journey and are disappointed.

 

What Is The Grotto?

The Grotto is a shoreline sea cave with the 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 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 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 there.

2.) Reserve parking in advance if coming from outside the park. The fee to park is $11.70 per vehicle plus applicable reservation fee ($6.00 online, $8.50 by phone). 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.

selfie in the grotto
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 trail head to the shore line at Indian Head Cove is rated as easy. It’s a man made trail that is wide and scenic. Once you get to the shore line, it’s a rocky hike. It is not wheelchair or other 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 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

There is a hole that you have to slide down to get into the actual Grotto and it’s not marked, no sign posts. 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 or swim around from Indian Head Cove.

The climb can be done wearing running shoes or bare foot 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.

 

Is The Grotto Safe For Kids?

The hike from Indian Head Cove to the Grotto that can be challenging for children, 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 risk of injury or serious consequences if children are not kept under control. There is no barrier on the hike and there is no life guard to supervise in the water. 

As mentioned, you have to slide down a hole and and climb down an escarpment to get into the Grotto. My children, ages 9 and 4 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 in to 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 kid’s 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

 

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 summer time. 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!

 

 

Did I miss anything you need or want to know? Ask below! I’ll get back to you.

 

What You Should Know About The Grotto in Tobermory #tobermorygrotto #brucepeninsula #brucepeninsulanationalpark #parkscanada #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto

Please Summer, Don’t End

Everything about this moment on the Bonnechere River with my son is perfect.

Still water.

Perfect light.

It’s oh so quiet.

I took him out of daycare at the end of June and in two short weeks, he’ll be heading off to junior kindergarten, my daughter into grade 4 and I’m having all the feels. There isn’t enough time left. I know some moms are so looking forward to the end of summer, enjoying the hustle and bustle of the shopping and preperation and sending their kids back to school, but not me. I’m not looking forward to lining up for drop off and getting that Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I’ll miss the outdoors, the fresh air, the wind in my hair, the sun on my shoulders. I’ll miss the exploration and hiking. I dread the routine, the alarm clock, the lunch packing, the rush to finish work to make it for pick up at the end of the school day.

I don’t care that these past couple months it’s been hard to get things done. Simple video fixes take me 5 hours instead of one because I’m refereeing between him and his nine year old sister or that I am the snack maven or maker of entertainment or Netflix supervisor. Cleaning the house has been a challenge. Laundry has taken a backseat. My coffee gets cold a lot.

 

I’ve worked full time for the past twenty years and I’ve had a really good time with my kids not doing that.

 

No strict deadlines, no pressured phone calls. There is no one telling me how important their work is and how much I have to care. No rebooting computers or swapping drives. No juggling USB keys.


This is what life is, adventures everyday. Sleeping in. Snuggles on the couch. Wandering where the wifi is weak and in some cases, completely nonexistent. Teaching them about the outdoors. Jumping over poison ivy.


I don’t think I could ever work full time through the summer again. 

 

Please summer, don’t end.

 

Please Summer, Don't End #adventuresparenting #outdoorparenting #familytravelblog #bestfamilytravelblog #kathrynanywhere #kidswhohike #takeyourkidseverywhere #familyhiking #getyourkidsoutside