Forty-four per cent of 2,700 people polled by Trip Advisor (the world's largest travel web site) chose a beach trip as their #1 vacation choice for 2012.
The other top choices were a cultural trip - 42%, a road trip - 40%, a city trip - 36%, and a guy or girlfriend getaway - 24%.
All five can be experienced at Ontario Parks in 2012. Ontario Parks' five month booking window means you can reserve your 2012 vacation now. Book early for the best choice of campsites and roofed accommodation.
Did you know that 106,844 kilometres of protected and maintained beaches are in Ontario Parks? The longest and most popular is Wasaga Beach Provincial Park on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron (14 km long). Many park beaches remain well-kept secrets including Neys Provincial Park, on Lake Superior. Even though the Group of Seven painters immortalized the landscape at Neys on canvas, not many people know that Neys has one of the finest beaches in northern Ontario. The beach at Inverhuron Provincial Park on Lake Huron is also waiting to be discovered. Park campgrounds recently reopened after being closed for many years. Nine Ontario Parks on Lake Erie have beaches. Two of the best are at Long Point Provincial Park, south of Woodstock. The park is part of a massive sand spit and is a designated World UNESCO biosphere. Sand dunes at Long Point rival the ones you see at Sandbanks, a busy provincial park on Lake Ontario. Few people know that another nice beach is close to Sandbanks. North Beach Provincial Park, a day-use park, is a ribbon of sand sheltering tiny North Bay from Lake Ontario.
Visit Toronto and stay in one of three Ontario Parks. At Bronte Creek Provincial Park, west of Toronto, families can even sleep in a yurt. Darlington Provincial Park, east of the city, has a nice beach. Sibbald Point Provincial Park on Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto, has great fishing as well as swimming. Kids love the natural heritage education programs offered at all three parks.
In many Ontario Parks, natural heritage and cultural education programs entertain as well as educate. The programs are available to anyone who visits Ontario Parks for an overnight or for the day. At Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, Wasaga Under Siege: A War of 1812 Experience will mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 August 17-19, 2012. Hundreds will re-enact the War of 1812 battle that was fought here. The new Wasaga Welcome Centre will officially open. There will be music and other park activities. Check Ontario Parks' calendar of events for more natural heritage and cultural education activities planned for 2012. The calendar is updated regularly.
In every region of Ontario, an Ontario Parks circle tour is possible. A one-week road trip of eastern Ontario could include four or more provincial parks with hiking, paddling, camping, yurt or cabin accommodation, and even a wolf howl. The total driving distance between nine Ontario Parks on Lake Erie is only 299 kilometres. Three of the provincial parks, Port Burwell, Turkey Point and Long Point are within a 45-minute drive of each other. Ontario Parks' overnight camping permits allow you to stay in one park and visit others using the same permit. The same is true for day-use permits.
Guy or girlfriend getaways
For guys, Wabakimi Provincial Park, near Armstrong in northwestern Ontario, offers the fishing trip of a lifetime. VIA Rail services milepost stops in the south end of Wabakimi three times a week. Area outfitters pick park trippers up and offer guided fishing trips with lodge or cabin accommodation. For girls, a perfect fall getaway is Lake Superior's Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Two and three bedroom cabins in the park are available for rent in spring and fall. Park hiking trails lead to incredible lake views and fall colours are spectacular. Annual photography workshops led by a professional photographer are held on fall dates. Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines fly to Thunder Bay International Airport which has car rentals for the one-hour drive to the park.
For more information on Ontario Parks and to reserve your Ontario Parks vacation, log on to http://OntarioParks.com
For family vacation ideas at Ontario Parks, log on to http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2359 This Park Blog post highlights winter events at Ontario Parks, http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2372