RVing in Small Towns

This summer we spent two weekends parked at municipal campgrounds in Ontario.  The first was Victoria Park Campground in Smiths Falls; the second was Victoria Park Campground in Cobourg.  It was a cute little coincidence that they are both called Victoria Park Campground.

We’d heard from others that some of the municipal parks are a great deal.  We liked that but also the fact that their locations gave us things to wander to.

Smiths Falls

We decided on the park in Smiths Falls because we wanted to check out some of the breweries in the Smiths Falls – Perth area and I wanted to visit Top Shelf Distillers in Perth. Top Shelf makes my favourite vodka.

We invited our friends, Fran & Nick, along for the weekend.  It was the first time we had anyone stay with us for more than one night.

We left from home on a Friday afternoon.  Al and Nick had the front seats; Fran and I had the sofa.  I admit I was a little worried about taking the drive in the sideways facing couch since I sometimes get motion sickness.  We opened one of the windows we were facing to get a bit of breeze, and I had no issues.

The drive to Smiths Falls was uneventful – my favourite kind of trip. 

We arrived at the park late afternoon and found that the site they had reserved for us was a bit of a tight squeeze.  We had lots of length, but width-wise we barely had enough room to put our awning out.  But Al is very good at backing the rig up, so he got us in without an issue.  We set up camp with our tables, BBQ, outdoor stove and lawn chairs near the back of the RV, which gave us the most space.  After dinner, we took a walk around the area.  Note:  this park does not allow campfires.

The park is located right on the Rideau Canal so there were lots of boats for us to check out.  Great walking path around the canal and locks.

The next day we started with a trip into downtown Perth to visit the farmers market.  It’s a cute little market right downtown.  Some of the stalls were serving fresh cooked food; some had the fresh veggies, mostly organic.  Also, some homemade “craft” products – I hate using the term “craft” as it makes me think of kids’ popsicle stick crafts; but these products were much nicer.  Of course, there was maple syrup available as well.

Our next stop was the Top Shelf Distillers in Perth.  I’ve been a big fan of their vodka since one of my brothers suggested I try it.  While we were at the distillery, we also tried their gin (good!) and a few of the moonshines.  The butter tart moonshine was our favourite, but we didn’t try them all….it was still early in the day!  I bought the gin and Fran bought some bitters for baking.

While we were at the distillery, one of the staff mentioned Weatherhead Brew Co., which we had not heard of before.  So that was our next stop.  We all loved it!  There was only one staff person working that we saw, and she was doing a great job of serving drinks and checking that everyone had what they wanted.  Neither Fran nor I drink beer, so we ordered water; the server asked if we wanted to try the kombucha.  Since it was a tastings kind of day, we both went for it.  The brand was Artizen, and we both tried the raspberry hibiscus.  Very tasty and refreshing.  The guys tried flights of beers and agreed Pilot was their favourite.  After a glass each of that and a purchase to take back to the RV, we were off to our next stop.

At Weatherhead Brewery

The Perth Brewery is a bustling spot as it’s located right on a major road and they have good beer.  We were able to snag a small table for four.  It was a busy spot, but table service was available.  Some of the Perth beers are in the LCBO, but the guys were able to try a few others.  We ordered pizza from the outdoor stone oven but were underwhelmed.  Fran makes a fabulous pizza, so a pizza must be spectacular for us to be impressed.  Lunch completed, we grabbed some beer to go and headed off to our next stop.

Perth Brewery

The last brewery of the day was 4 Degrees Brewing Company back in Smiths Falls.  I hate to give a brewery a bad review, but we just didn’t like this place or its beer.  Generally, it was getting good reviews on TripAdvisor, so I’m hoping they were just having a bad day.  Not a lot of beer in stock and an unhappy bartender.  We’ll leave it at that for now and hope things improve.

After an active day, we lounged around the campsite and had a simple dinner.  Nick was tuckered out, so we left him to do the dishes while we did another walk around the canal area.

Rideau Canal
View of the Campground from the Other Side of the Canal

It was a reasonably early night, so we were up on the early side on the Sunday morning.  Our pre-departure walk took us past the rental boats again, and we asked the cleaning crew if we could take a look at one.  Wow!  Room for 10 people to sleep.  Cosy, yes; but beautiful. 

Le Boat Rental

We walked further down along the canal to a outdoor exercise area.  There were a few people using the equipment, and I was able to convince Fran to model for us.

Outdoor Exercise Area

Walk complete, we packed up the RV and headed home.  Another successful trip.

Cobourg

The Cobourg beach is well known in our area.  It’s only about 90 minutes from our home and seemed like an excellent spot for a low-key weekend away on our own.

Victoria Park Campground on the shore of Lake Ontario in downtown Cobourg.  We were pleased that we were able to book a lakefront spot for our last weekend trip of the season.

For this trip, we both left from work in separate vehicles.  Al in the RV and me in my SUV.  He was all set-up and had a drink waiting for me when I arrived. 

Our RV at Lake Ontario

It was a beautiful late afternoon, so we sat out at the picnic table for a bit before we wandered into the downtown area for dinner.  We walked pretty much from one end of the downtown area to the other looking for a restaurant that piqued our interest.  We ended up at The Buttermilk Cafe which had come recommended by a couple of my co-workers.  We were not disappointed.  I wasn’t particularly hungry so just ordered the chicken fingers with a Greek salad; Al had the fried chicken with a Greek salad.  Both of us loved our meals and then shared a slice of pecan pie for dessert. 

The next morning, we rose to a dreary day, so we had a slow start to our day and took our time enjoying our coffee and Baileys.  You might see that coffee and Baileys is a recurring morning habit with us.

With our rain jackets on, we headed out to check out the farmers’ market.  The farmers’ market was quite small, and like Smiths Falls had mostly organic vegetables.  A few places were serving hot food; we shared a vegetable samosa and a sausage roll.  Both were very good.    A few more booths were selling “crafts”.

Vegetable Stand at the Farmers’ Market

The downtown streets were cordoned off for Harvest Fest.  Many stores had sales outside their storefronts, but there were also some other vendors and displays.  A beer garden, chili contest and live music were set-up on one of the side streets.  I think because of the weather there didn’t seem to be a large turnout for the event.  My big purchase for the day was a pair of walking shoes that I got for 50% off.

We had a roaming lunch.  We started out at The Oasis Bar and Grill and shared a platter of appetizers.  It’s located in an old house.  The day was starting to clear up, so were we hoping to sit on their patio, but it wasn’t open, so we opted for the bar area.  Service and food were both good.

Bar Area at The Oasis

From there, we went to The Ale House, which is best described as a local watering hole.  The server was fantastic and seemed to know a lot of the clients by name.  We opted for mango habanero wings.  The wings themselves were nicely cooked and tender but neither of us were crazy about the flavour of rub.  We would definitely return to this spot but just make a different flavour selection.

For our dessert, I popped into The Dutch Oven and got an empire cookie.  They have a large selection of baked goods.  Al stopped by one of the other stores and got some Kawartha Dairy ice cream.  At home, we only buy Kawartha Dairy ice cream – it’s the best!

The later part of the afternoon was spent lazing around the RV.  I was finally able to finish off the last instalment of blog series on our trip out west earlier in the summer.

We had arranged to meet some friends in Port Hope for the evening, so we headed to Rey Ray’s food truck for our dinner.  I absolutely love the fish tacos there and never miss an opportunity to have them.  The guy at the window (who I think is the owner) is always so pleasant and welcoming.  I had the fish tacos and stole some of the French fries from Al’s fish and chips.  A lovely meal!

Dinner at Rey Ray’s

Before meeting up with our friends, we took a walk along the Ganaraska River in downtown Port Hope.  At this time of the year, the salmon are spawning, and the banks of the river are lined with anglers.  To be quite honest, I felt terrible for the poor fish; it was like shooting fish in a barrel!

Fishing on the Ganaraska River

Sunday morning, we woke up to a beautiful bright morning.  Of course, that didn’t stop the coffee and Baileys.  Although we did limit the Baileys to one each since we both had to drive home.  Before packing up the RV, we took a nice little walk along the boardwalk and out onto the beach.  Not a busy place in late September but I understand it’s jam-packed in the summer.

Quiet Morning at the Cobourg Beach
View of the Campground from the Cobourg Beach

Our two weekends RVing in small towns were both splendid but different.  We loved that we had plenty to walk to but could still head out to other spots.  Both parks were reasonably priced.  Sites were a bit small, but you couldn’t bet the location of either.  We will be looking for more of these small municipal parks in our travels.

Enjoy your travels!

Vanessa

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