Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Our Fall Camping Weekend (With A Free Printable Cabin Camping Checklist)

Are you a fan of fall camping? I have always been attracted to the idea of camping when the air is crisp and the leaves have turned to red and gold, but we've never really done it. Fall is often busy with back-to-school, homework and the start-up of kids' sports and dance activities. But this fall the weather was so amazing and I felt like we best take advantage of it.

So when Kampgrounds of America (KOA) invited my family to camp at the Toronto West KOA in October, we were all for it. We went on the Thanksgiving weekend because Toronto West KOA is not far from where I grew up in Hamilton and was the perfect place to stop for a couple of nights before heading to my in-laws' house for dinner on Sunday.

Although we were technically camping in fall, I admit we were hardly roughing it. Toronto West KOA has an impressive selection of cabins, from 1-room camping cabins (with no bathroom) that sleep 4 to spacious deluxe 2-bedroom cabins that sleep 6.

We chose the "Columbia" model 2-bedroom cabin with living area. Some of the cabins are pet-friendly and some are no pets allowed, so be sure to check when booking. We have stayed at a few KOAs and found them very pet-friendly.

Our cabin had a kitchen with fridge, microwave and sink. It didn't have a stove, but there are models that do if you so desire. There is a barbecue right outside the front door as an alternative too. The cupboards and drawers were stocked with pots, pans, dishes and flatware.

The kids loved the small second bedroom with its built-in set of bunk beds. My youngest even brought a string of lights to decorate the room with, above. The room has a sliding door for privacy and a window for natural light.

As with the last time we stayed in a KOA cabin, I was truly impressed with the ingenuity of the cabin's design. It's not a big space, but every bit of it is designed for efficiency and convenience. Take, for example, the desk area, above. There is a rack above for clothing, with a shelf for pillows, a space underneath with a laundry hamper and shelves for extra linens.

There are hooks all over for bags and jackets, and there is even a retractable clothes line that goes across the bathtub. This cabin had me dreaming of buying a piece of land and building my own little cabin.

If you are looking for an experience that's less about glamping but not quite woods camping, Toronto West KOA has these really cute 1-room cabins. We stayed in one like this years ago north of Barrie, Ontario, and we really enjoyed it. It had a bed for Mom and Dad and bunk beds for the kiddos.

How cute is this camping kitchen (above)? Tent or 1-room cabin campers don't even have to bring a camp stove if they so choose.

Toronto West KOA has a small fenced dog park as well as a dog walk area - a secluded road that passes through the woods.

As you can see, Ace got quite cozy in our weekend home.

If you're like me, packing for a weekend away is stressful. I am so afraid of not packing enough that I tend to over-pack. That's why a good packing checklist is crucial. I have created one that is specific to cabin camping. Check it out at the bottom of this post and print it for your next cabin camping experience.

We had some pretty great weather for early October, so we were able to go out and explore during the day, roast (vegan) marshmallows by a roaring campfire in the evening and snuggle in with a movie later before bedtime. The KOA camp store had movies on DVD that you could sign out and there was DVD player in our cabin. We watched a couple of family favourites - Maleficent and ParaNorman (and it wasn't even Halloween yet). The wifi didn't quite reach the cabin village, which I feel was a blessing. It felt kind of retro and sweet to sign out a movie and watch it without all of us looking at our devices regularly.

Then again, the kids were happy knowing that they could get to wifi to keep up their Snapchat streaks with just a short walk, haha.

Toronto West KOA is located in Campbellville, Ontario, near Milton. We took advantage of the summer-like weather by visiting two local conservation areas. First up was Hilton Falls, which has over 33 kilometres of colour-coded trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and biking. The falls itself was pretty dry on our visit, but it was fun getting there and exploring the rocky base of the falls.

They had some special events going on that weekend and had set up this perfect "fall harvest photo booth," which is actually straw bales, pumpkins and flowers against a backdrop of real forest. I thought it was such a lovely idea.

Next we visited Crawford Lake, another of Conservation Halton's parks. (When you pay for day use at one Halton park, you can visit others for free that same day.) The site has a replica 15th century Iroquoian longhouse village. A highlight for us was a talk by Chief Top Leaf, who detailed how various animals in Canada have adapted to the cold climate. Crawford Lake itself is stunningly beautiful. It's a rare meromictic lake, which means (according to Wikipedia) that it has layers of water that do not intermix. Most lakes are holomictic and physical mixing occurs between the surface and the deep waters at least once per year. In meromictic lakes, the layers can remain unmixed for years, decades or even centuries.

There are also seasonal and holiday-related family activities planned for weekends at each KOA. Ours had a holiday feast for Thanksgiving.

We enjoyed our fall camping trip and will definitely do it again in future. How about you? Have you been camping in fall? Tent, trailer or cabin?

Free Printable Cabin Camping Checklist

Download my free printable cabin camping checklist. I have added suggested items based on our visit to KOA. Plus, the usual necessities (ever forget your underwear?). Our cabin was stocked with many conveniences - like sheets, dishes, garbage bags and towels - but visit your campground's website or call ahead if you have questions about what items are supplied.

Print one cabin camping checklist for each member of the family - even little kids can pack their own clothing and entertainment items (as long as they can read).

Pin it for later:

Free printable cabin camping checklist - take the stress out of camping with this complete checklist #organization #packing #cabin #camping

*Our visit was sponsored by KOA. All opinions are authentic and my own. Thank you for supporting the awesome companies that partner with Woman in Real Life.


  1. We always were happy to reach a KOA campground when we headed east with three kids, a dog and a cat: pulling a pop up camper. How much easier to have a cabin!

    1. Oh yes! Having to set up the pop-up after a long drive must have been tiring!

  2. Renting a cabin is our kind of camping...no need to fuss with a tent and worry about bad weather. And surprisingly, this is near our home and I didn't even know it was available so thanks for sharing!-Sonja

    1. I agree! I like tent camping, but rain definitely throws me! Yes, this one's close to home for you. :) Joann

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