If a weekend getaway isn’t enough of a break from the city for you, surround yourself with nature and go camping this summer. With no shortage of incredible sites in the two-to-four hour driving range, you best stock up on s’mores ingredients, firewood, beer and bug spray.
Make it a wild summer! Here are the best places to camp near Toronto.
Algonquin Provincial Park
What’s a camping list without Algonquin Provincial park? The best way to experience Algonquin Province Park is to explore the interior by canoe or on foot. The park is 7,653-square kilometers, that’s about 1.5-times the size of Prince Edward Island, and is home to over 2,400 lakes. If roughing it in the bush doesn’t sound like your thing, there are also drive-in campsites along Highway 60.
Arrowhead Provincial Park
This 2.5-hour drive from Toronto will bring you to the heart of Muskoka country, in Huntsville Ontario. Take a romantic hike with your loved one on any of their 15 km of hiking trails including a trail leading to a picturesque waterfall. Chill out at any of the three sand beaches on Arrowhead Lake. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, go on an adventure by renting canoes, kayaks and mountain bikes nearby.
Awenda National Park
Awenda Provincial Park is on the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay near Penetanguishene, 2.5-hours north of Toronto. Awenda has private and shaded sites for tents, cars and RVs, and a radio free and pet free areas. There are tons great hikes and bikes to do with over 31 km of trails including a popular beach trail. You can also rent canoes in the interior lake within the park.
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Anyone who’s been to Bruce Peninsula Provincial Park will tell you how crystal clear and picturesque the water is. ‘Bruce’ almost feels as if you are on the west coast, with massive rugged cliffs and thousand year old cedar trees overhanging Georgian Bay. Because of it’s natural beauty, Bruce can become packed with tourists in the summer months, but a short walk along the shoreline in either direction will allow you to discover the raw beauty of southern/central Ontario. Bruce Peninsula also connects to The Bruce Trail – one of the most famous hiking trails in Ontario.
The nearly 4-hour haul northeast to Bon Echo Provincial Park is well worth the drive. Bon Echo suits all types of campers with drive-in sites, backcountry camping, or canoe in sites, some have electricity and are close to running water. For the hiker enthusiast, there is a trail that goes across a majestic 100-metre high cliff with over 260 Aboriginal pictographs that is a must-do. If that’s not your thing, there are plenty of other things to do from educational activities to boat trips.
Elora Gorge is just an hour-and-a-half from downtown Toronto near Guelph, and offers a wide range of camping experiences. From roughing it to ‘glamping’, there are many ways to enjoy the gorge and the Grand River that flows through it. Take a dip at the “old swimming hole” and admire soaring 22-metre high cliffs. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can kayak or inner tube down the river. The picturesque town of Elora makes for an enjoyable day trip as well.
Frontenac Provincial Park
The great Canadian Shield is calling! You’re just a three hour drive from hitting peak Canadiana. Portage to 22 lakes for a day paddle, or put your hiking boots to the test on any of the 100 km of looped backpacking and hiking trails. This scenic provincial park located just north of Kingston is a great spot to spot wildlife, catch some fish
Killarney Provincial Park
If you’re looking for a campsite that will absolutely take your breath away, look no further than the sites at Killarney National Park. Spread out across George Lake, Killarney offers a wide variety of camping, some located nears cliffs, beaches and heavily wooded areas. While the four and a half hour drive north west of the city is a bit of a trek, trust us: it’s well worth the drive. Pro tip: Get up at the crack of dawn to watch the sun rise over George lake, and make sure there’s enough room on your camera roll.
MacGregor Point has been known to be one of the most ecologically diverse regions along the Huron Lake. Spend your day walking through MacGregor Point’s silver maple swamps, cattail marshes, ponds, fens or bogs to reveal it’s “unusual inhabitants”. This seven-kilometre stretch south of Port Elgin offers an expansive coastline that’ll make you think your tent was magically transformed to a different country overnight.
Another excellent spot located along the coastline of Lake Huron. Similar to MacGregor point, The Pinery offers a region diverse in biodiversity. With over 800 vascular plants and over 300 bird species, it’s an animal lovers paradise. The Pinery is located just a short hop from Grand Bend, for those day trippers out there who don’t do the whole sleeping outdoor thing.
When you think of Ontario, great beaches isn’t the first thing that comes to mind; however, Sandbanks Provincial Park is said to be among the largest and most beautiful beaches in Ontario. Located in Prince Edward County, Sandbanks is a 2.5-hour drive east of Toronto. The park is home to 549 campsites with special larger sites for group camping, and “comfort stations” for those who actually wish to shower while camping. You can also practice your windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and boating at Sandbanks.
There’s a reason it’s called Silent Lake. A three hour trip from the city will bring you to this serene paradise, away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life and the roar of weekend warriors roaring speed boats. Make sure you book in advance because these 150 spots go quick!
Image courtesy Tommy Lisbin via Unsplash