Best family-friendly campgrounds in the Toronto area
Posted on January 28, 2020
Toronto is a world-class city that attracts millions of visitors each year, as do the surrounding areas that offer great natural beauty. Many families come to the area as they can both join in the enormous cultural opportunities of the city while also experiencing the breathtaking natural wonders of Ontario. To do so, many find it convenient to tent or RV camp within driving distance of both the city and of regional parks. Here are some of the best family friendly campgrounds in area surrounding Toronto, in order of distance to city centre:
Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) Glen Rouge
The TRCA is divided into three separate camp sites, Albion Hills, Indian Line and Glen Rouge. Of the three, Glen Rouge is the only site actually located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) along the Rouge River. In fact, they bill themselves as "an urban camping experience".
The TRCA Glen Rouge Campground is near the Toronto Zoo, as well as several beaches and playgrounds, and boasts hiking trails and family-oriented activities. Amenities at this site include pits for evening campfires, showers, and bathrooms. The park offers activities for the entire family including canoeing, swimming, biking, as well as picnic areas. And in the winter, if you're brave enough to camp then, the park even offers cross-country skiing. The TRCA Glen Rouge is located at 7450 Kingston Rd, Scarborough, Ontario, about 30 km from Downtown Toronto.
Jellystone Park Camp Resort
Jellystone Park Camp Resorts are a chain of over 75 family campgrounds throughout the United States and Canada. Each Jellystone Park Camp Resort must meet certain standards including first-class restrooms, laundry facilities, a retail store, swimming pool, children's playground and more. Jellystone Park Toronto is the closest campground to Canada's Wonderland and is conveniently located on direct highway access to the GTA and all Toronto's major attractions. Even if you don't own an RV, you can rent one of 25 furnished cabins. The Jellystone Park camp resort is located at 3666 Simcoe County Road, Bradford, Ontario, about 70 km to downtown Toronto.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park
Open for camping from early April until late October, Bronte Creek Provincial Park has much to offer. There are five separate hiking trails; one of the trails leads to a creek where you can fish for Rainbow Trout. There are two interpretive centres at the park. Spruce Lane Farmhouse is a one-of-a-kind living history museum that showcases what life for the early farmers in the area must have been like. The Nature Centre is located next to the big Red Play Barn and Children's Farm. Displays feature the unique natural elements of the park: ravine and creek, field and forest. Kids love to visit with the resident turtles and explore hands-on in the discovery room. Bronte Creek Provincial Park is home to one of Canada's largest outdoor pools. This 1.8 acre pool is a large pond shape that is designed for wading with a starting depth of mere centimeters, gradually deepening to two meters in the center. Not to worry, lifeguards are on duty. Bronte Creek Provincial Park is located at 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville, Ontario, about 40 km from Downtown Toronto.
Elora Gorge Conservation Area
The primary attraction here is the Grand River as it flows through the bottom of a stunning gorge, approximately two kilometres long, with limestone cliffs reaching 22 metres in height. The gorge was formed by glaciers retreating after the last ice age. Riverside and scenic overlooks provide hikers with stunning views of the water far below where kayakers and tubers make their way through the rapids. If you're feeling adventurous tubing equipment is available to rent. The Elora Gorge Conservation Area is one of the eight Grand River parks with a total of over 2,200 campsites as of the summer of 2018. Popular activities at Elora Gorge include camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, cycling, swimming, picnicking, and tubing. Elora Gorge has 250 unserviced campsites and 130 serviced sites with water and electric. The park is located at 7400 Wellington Rd 21, Elora, Centre Wellington, Ontario, about 100 km to Downtown Toronto.
1000 Islands Camping Resort
The 1000 Islands Camping Resort is probably best described as a good halfway house between the overtly commercial family playground of Jellystone Park Camp Resort and a more authentic campground. The site is located around a three-hour drive from Toronto and an hour and a half from Ottawa. The actual camping "resort" itself is nestled right in the centre of an area offering boating, swimming, hiking, golfing and fishing, so if it's location you're looking for, then this could be it. On-site there's a camp store for snacks, groceries and gifts, washrooms with hot showers, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, regular scheduled children's activities, crafts, a Bingo night, wagon rides, mini-putt and even an arcade. For taking the family somewhere to get the camping experience along with a few extra fun amenities, this place is perfect. But once again, if it's a deep-woods private experience of authentic camping you're looking for this probably isn't the place.
For a more authentic, hardcore camping experience look no further than the relatively new Kawartha Highlands which is also the largest park of its kind in Ontario. This is a much more rugged experience than the previous two parks we've mentioned with lots of tranquility and a good helping of backcountry camping opportunities. There are no Karaoke nights or kids' clubs here, just darker night skies, plenty of real wildlife, and an altogether more authentic outdoor feel with the chance to even canoe up to some of the sites. It's a great place to introduce the younger members of the family to the joys of genuine camping, rather than the places that are more like holiday camps where you camp out at night.
We hope that you enjoy our recommendations, and should you require any vehicle maintenance or service prior to heading out, or your visiting locally and require emergency repairs, please contact our Service Centre at North York Chrysler.