My wife Ellen and I decided to do something we haven't done in years. Earlier this month, we went camping. To be honest, it really wasn't like past camping. Our tent was different from the small ones we'd known. This one was large, with a wooden floor, a heated king sized bed, electrical outlets, solar lighting, a refrigerator, indoor plumbing which includes flush toilets (Yeh!) and a shower. We were visiting Long Point Eco-Adventure Park located at 1730 Front Road in St. Williams on the edge of Lake Erie in Norfolk County. It's about a two hour drive from Niagara.
Steve Martin, General Manager of the outdoor park said, "We refer to this experience as "glamping," or glamorous camping. We are heading into our 6th season and adding new, authentic, outdoor educational experiences each year!" The 15 hectare (37 acre) park consists of 15 of these wilderness suites. When we turned in for the night we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the wind blowing across Lake Erie through the Carolinian forest outside our door. This was nature at its best.
After a good night sleep we were treated to breakfast in a nearby tent. With a full stomach we were ready to explore other things the park had to offer. One of the main attractions besides biking and hiking trails, swimming, bird watching (380 species of birds have been spotted here), canoeing and star gazing was zip lining over the Carolinian forest. It was first on our agenda for the day. Amy Van Kessel, who has been at the park for five seasons, put us through our paces before we were allowed to suit up for our two and a half hour adventure on eight zip lines, and two suspension bridges over the magnificent forest. When we finally made it to the wire we were pumped for our high adrenaline ride. Joining us on our ride was Jared Tschirhart who would act as our Sweep Guide (safety guide). He was the guy who made sure we were strapped in safely high in the trees as we zipped along the wires 30 kilometres per hour. Ellen and I both made it through with flying colours. We gave it 10 out of 10 for excitement.
It was late morning and we starting to get hungry so we decided to head into Port Rowan a 10 minute drive from the park for a bite to eat. As always, we asked locals where to eat and the response was, "Bella's Bakery" on Bay Street. Owner Elle Bouck opened the restaurant/bakery in a former Masonic Lodge last November. You won't go wrong with their homemade Chicken soup, freshly made sandwiches and their signature Belladelicious Pink Squares. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 5 pm.
Back at the park, we spent time exploring nature trails. At one point we were able to see across the marshes and Long Point Inner Bay to the south where we saw a 40-km long sand spit known as
Long Point. In 1986, Long Point was designated as one of a handful of biosphere reserves in Canada by UNESCO. The Long Point region contains the largest area of wetlands and woodlands remaining in Southern, Ontario.
After a brief rest in our luxury suite we headed across the road to Burning Kiln Winery where the official opening of an upscale food truck, David's Restaurant on Tour, was in progress. The food truck will be here all summer. Did we luck out, there were samples of delicious food and magnificent wines for us to enjoy.
This winery planted their first grapes in 2007 and opened in 2010 in a building that once was a tobacco packing barn. Since then, they've won 53 awards for their wines. Not too shabby.
Norfolk County Tourism Video
Norfolk County - Ontario South Coast
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.