Ready, set, tent!

As the leaves begin to unfurl and the tulips peek out, it’s officially time to start making summer plans. If this is the summer you feel like exploring Canada’s incredible outdoors, at IGNITE, we’ve got your back! Our team’s biggest camping fanatic (moi) spent nearly every weekend last summer exploring different national parks in Ontario, and it was the summer of my life!

Right from shivering in Tobermory and stoking a campfire all night to stay alive (tip: it’s summer, but the temperatures do dip a lot at night) to taking in the incredible private island-esque feels at Thousand Islands, it was an absolute vibe. It made my summer unforgettable, so allow me to use this article to talk your head off about the places you can visit through summer break.

Two men sitting under a collapsing tent in the rain.

Before we set the stage (or tent) for this, some housekeeping: Parks Canada’s website is where you can make all campsite reservations. It also has information on maximum group size per campsite, whether you’ll get firewood at the site, whether there’s an electric power connection or BBQ, and so much more. If you are ever unsure about something, you can give them a call or write to them to figure it out!

Now, without further ado, let’s look at some of these gorgeous spots to make your summer dazzle!

Thousand Islands

Thousand Islands National Park. View from the Hill Island bridge.
Photo by Mykola Swarnyk via Wikimedia Commons

The Thousand Islands are a group of more than 1,800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada. A fashionable retreat for the elite in the late 19th century, this spot is now accessible for everyone. Parks Canada’s island feels like your own private island, yours to grill food, dive into the water off the decks, and lounge on the Muskoka chairs dotting the cliffs of the island. You can boat or paddle to these islands, take a guided tour or even take a shuttle from the Mallorytown Landing Visitor Centre if you just want to take in the views.

If you plan to swim, make sure you’re prepped for freezing waters, which don’t warm even through summer. But if you’re like me, the balmy afternoon sun is more than enough to thaw while enjoying a few seltzers. Pro tip: Camelot island is possibly the most stunning one among all of Parks Canada’s campsites, so keep an eye out and snag a campsite there if you can.

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Georgian Bay, Georgian Bay-Marr Lake Trail, Bruce Peninsula National Park
Photo by elPadawan via Flickr

Nestled along a vast expanse of shoreline, the Georgian Bay Islands National Park offers an unparalleled camping experience. With its crystal-clear waters, rugged coastline, and lush forests, this park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Remember how Thousand Islands had fun-yet-freezing waters? If that’s not your cup of tea, Georgian Bay is perfect for you! Its warm and balmy waters in summer is just perfect to float along on a pool float while sipping your favourite drink and getting a great tan!

A scenic 15-minute boat ride will take you to Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The park has various camping options available, including camping in an OTENTIK, a mix of tent and A-frame cabin that features raised floors, cosy beds and furniture.

Algonquin Provincial Park

View of North Tea Lake at Algonquin Provincial Park.
Photo by Ryan Hodnett via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled in the heart of Ontario’s wilderness, Algonquin Provincial Park (our first provincial park on the list!) offers every camper a quintessential Canadian camping experience. Spanning over 7,600 square kilometers of pristine forests, tranquil lakes, and winding rivers, Algonquin is among Ontario’s largest provincial parks. While known for its incredible hues and colours in Fall, the park doesn’t fail to stun even in summer!

The iconic Algonquin Park Track and Tower Trail offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, while shorter trails like the Spruce Bog Boardwalk provide a more leisurely stroll. Beyond its natural wonders, Algonquin Provincial Park boasts a rich history dating back thousands of years. Indigenous peoples, including the Anishinaabe and Algonquin, have called this land home for centuries, leaving behind a legacy of cultural significance and stewardship, all of which you can experience first-hand when you visit this provincial park.

Bruce Peninsula National Park

A nice and cool day at the Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park Canada.
Photo by Muhammad Ghouri via Flickr

Nestled along the pristine shores of Lake Huron, Bruce Peninsula National Park allows you to discover the breathtaking beauty of Tobermory and its surrounding wilderness. From towering limestone cliffs to turquoise waters teeming with marine life, this spot is absolutely incredible. If you want to check out the local cuisine, browse artisanal crafts, or just chill out in the laid-back atmosphere of the town, plan your trip now. Tobermory has an amazingly festive vibe, with lovely cafes and all you can eat fish and chips (pro tip: don’t miss out on Shipwreck Lee’s feast!)

Tobermory also offers world-class snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. The park’s crystal-clear waters (read: cold) harbour a vibrant underwater world, where you can swim among shipwrecks, explore underwater caves, and see countless colorful fish and marine flora. Near the breathtaking Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park, you’ll find several campsites allowing you access to some stunning views. One popular choice is Cyprus Lake Campground, located just a stone’s throw away from the Grotto.

Point Pelee National Park

An image of Point Pelee National Park's boardwalks.
Photo via Parks Canada

Located at the southernmost tip of mainland Canada, Point Pelee National Park offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. From birdwatching and wildlife photography (pro tip: do not miss the beautiful boardwalk hike or the trip to the southernmost part of the park) to hiking along scenic trails and kayaking through peaceful waterways, there’s something for everyone. The park’s rich biodiversity, including rare plant species and migratory birds and butterflies, will steal your breath away!

Point Pelee has a rich history too, which becomes immediately evident when you set foot into this national park. Indigenous peoples inhabited the area for thousands of years, leaving behind traces of their presence in the form of ancient artifacts and archaeological sites, all of which you can explore.

Picture of a camping site taken from inside a tent with a view of trees and rocks.
Photo by Scott Goodwill via Unsplash

So, go forth, explore!

With finals season almost a thing of the past, it’s time to say goodbye to the books and begin making a list for the summer! As you plan your summer camping adventures, remember that the best moments are those spent in nature, either with your best buddies or alone. From the rugged cliffs of Tobermory to the tranquil waters of Thousand Islands, each destination holds its own unique charm and gives you the opportunity to make unforgettable experiences.

So gather your friends, pack your bags, and get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re pitching a tent near the Grotto, exploring the trails of Algonquin, or marveling at the biodiversity of Point Pelee, may your summer be filled with wonder and joy. Here’s to an incredible summer ahead—let the adventure begin!

Feature image by Mykola Swarnyk via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for other exciting things to do this summer? Try some authentic Toronto restaurants that will make you feel like you’re on a global tour!

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