In late summer/early fall of last year, my husband and I got it into our head that our toddler was ready for our very first family camping trip. But, as the months went on, the weather had gotten too chilly. The two of us wouldn’t have minded roughing it, but camping outside in the freezing cold with our toddler didn’t seem like a good idea.
Luckily, we found out that KOA Campgrounds not only offer campsites for tent and RV camping, but they also have some neat little cabins that would be the perfect cold weather getaway for our family. We were looking for something out in the middle of nowhere with some simple, wholesome fun, and we found it in Canton at the Canton/East Sparta KOA, which is about two and a half hours from Toledo.
A bumpy start
On our way to Canton, we made a stop to do some thrifting (one of our favorite pastimes), then continued on our journey until we heard the telltale sound of impending vomit. Townes is typically not a barfy kid, so we always worry a bit when he does throw up. And we were right. He started to get feverish, developed a runny nose and cough…the whole nine yards. He did manage to keep having fun despite it all, but it was a sad development during our adventure!
Canton/East Sparta KOA Campground (AKA Bear Creek Ranch)
We were certainly grateful that we hadn’t opted for tent camping once we found out Townes was sick, and we were even happier when we arrived at our lodgings for the next couple of nights. The deluxe cabin comes with a fully equipped kitchen, queen sized bed, dining table and fireplace in the main room, plus a full bath with shower, and a separate bedroom with bunk beds and a small desk. It also has a cute porch with a swing and bench, not far from a gas grill and a cozy firepit.
When we checked in at the main desk, we were told that there wasn’t as much activity on the grounds because it was late fall, but we found plenty to do. Since Townes was sick, we were taking it easy with him anyway. There were two playgrounds, a cute game room where we played pool and arcade games, and a quiet, hilly landscape to enjoy walking around.
Honestly, it was comfortable at the end of the day to curl up in the queen bed together and watch Frozen with Townes after heading to the local grocery store to find Children’s Tylenol and Zyrtec for him. Poor little guy.
If you are looking for a quiet getaway during the winter, I would definitely recommend staying at this KOA Campground site, particularly in one of these cabins. It was simple, quality time together without any decision fatigue. We just enjoyed nature, driving through Amish country, and spending time with each other.
If you do visit the KOA Campground in the warmer months, you’ll find that there is a pool, horseback riding, ATV trails, paddle boat rentals, and all kinds of weekend activities. Peruse their website for more information if you want to book a trip!
The Deluxe Cabins typically cost $170/night and pets are allowed for a fee. There are also simpler Camping Cabins that cost $90/night, tent sites for $40/night, and RV sites for around $60/night. All amenities you need are on site, from bath houses to a general store at the main office complete with snacks, over-the-counter medicine, souvenirs, adult beverages and more.
Ernest Warther Museum & Gardens
Before heading back to Toledo, we decided to go to the Ernest Warther Museum & Gardens because Townes was feeling much better at that point. We knew that the site had some of the most impressive model trains we’d ever heard of, all carved by the World’s Master Carver Ernest “Mooney” Warther. Townes is so into trains that we figured it would be a hit, and we were right!
From the antique engines out front to the beautifully displayed craftsmanship inside, it is truly a crowd pleaser for all ages. Little kids like Townes will enjoy climbing on board the trains outside and seeing the mechanized depiction of early twentieth century factory life, while adults will marvel at the historic artifacts like narwhal tusks and other rare forms of ivory used for carving, along with an exact replica of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train (down to a tiny key that unlocks an interior door).
There is so much artistry to be admired at this museum and, if you have a kid who is crazy about trains, it’s certainly a family favorite when visiting this area of Amish country.
Tickets for the museum cost $6-$18 and children under age four get in for free. It’s open every day from 10am-4pm. Ernest Warther Museum & Gardens, 331 Karl Ave., Dover. 330-505-6003. thewarthermuseum.com