a peek inside the fishbowl

25 Aug, 2011

A trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|travel talk

I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year we start looking around for some big ways to cap off the summer. I figure it’s good to go out on a high note, kind of like a salute to summer.

The beach at Sandbanks

One of the things we did last week was take a day trip to the beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Sandbanks is in Picton, Ontario… about a 3.5 hour drive from Ottawa. Our chosen route included a very nice (and short) ferry ride too:

The ferry ride

We’ve camped at Sandbanks before, but it was so long ago I can hardly remember. Perhaps it’s time to return for an overnight or two.

The big draw here is the beach. It truly is the perfect place to bring a young family. Imagine giant sand dunes, soft white sand as far as you can see, and shallow water for swimming and wading … with no rocks or weeds or yucky things to step on.

Just look at that beach:

I'm a kite - Sandbanks Provincial Park

The beach at Sandbanks - Sandbanks Provincial Park

I wish we could have overnighted (there are lots of resorts in the area), but it wasn’t in the budget this time around. :(

A couple of tips if you’re heading to Sandbanks:

  • Leave early if you’re heading from Ottawa. Pack a lunch in a cooler and don’t forget to bring LOTS of water. There are snacks and drinks available at a nearby store, but we should have packed our own (not very smart on a hot summer day).
  • Bring buckets and shovels too. The sand is the perfect building material because it’s so fine.
  • There are shaded spots near a stand of trees that skirt the length of the beach, but they go fast. I was very happy that we remembered to bring our beach umbrella.
  • If you’re driving home the same day, consider leaving enough time to poke around Kingston. I wish we had! It’s a great place to visit, and not far from Ottawa at all.
  • We had dinner at a restaurant in Kingston called the Raging Bull Chophouse near the waterfront. Mark declared their burger to be the best he’d ever eaten. (Which is saying a LOT. Trust me.)

All in all it was a really great day. The girls nodded off in the car and we had a peaceful ride home.

Have you been to Sandbanks? Did you love it or what?

8 Responses to "A trip to Sandbanks Provincial Park"

1 | Alicia

August 25th, 2011 at 2:56 pm


Fun! I love going to the sandbanks. Kingston is a great city to explore, especially downtown in the summer. Have you made a trip over to Wolfe Island yet? That’s my hometown :)

2 | lacoop

August 25th, 2011 at 4:41 pm


Prince Edward County and Sandbanks are great. Count can’t how many times we have been there. The whole St. Lawrence Seaway and beginning of Lake Ontario (so Prince Edward County) is a gem…we are lucky to have it all so close.

3 | Carla

August 25th, 2011 at 11:08 pm


I love love Sandbanks. We went last year on the only (!) wet weekend of the summer, so it was a bit of a bummer, but we still made the most of it and had fun. These are the perils of booking 5 months in advance, which is absolutely necessary to be able to get a campsite at Sandbanks on a weekend. I would love to go back soon, but maybe in a couple of years, it’s a longer drive than I like to make with a small kid, and our youngest is just 3 months old.

4 | Shannon B

August 25th, 2011 at 11:53 pm


We’ve never been, a little too far for me! We tend to stick to Wesport area. Maybe one day! Alicia! We actually camped on Wolfe Island once…I think the campground is gone now though. Biked around the island, went to the golf driving range. Cool place!

5 | fern

August 31st, 2011 at 3:41 pm


We discovered Prince Edward County and Sandbanks last summer when a friend from Toronto suggested we rent a cottage for 1 week. We loved it! It was perfect for us with young twins (now 2.5 years old but only 18 months at the time …). This year I did my research early (in February) and found a cottage almost within walking distance of the Park and spend a great week there! We were at the beach 5 out of 6 days and still had time to visit 2 cheese “factories” as well as the cider “winery”. Eat lots of fresh, local and organic produce, etc. We’re not into long drives so I couldn’t imagine going the distance as a day trip. But happy to hear you did it!

We like to go to Lac La Peche in the Gatineaus when we want to spend the day at the beach and enjoy the clean lake water, etc. Haven’t been this year though …

6 | sue Nelson

March 6th, 2014 at 6:56 pm


hi there. I’m planning a trip there with my kids. just wondering where the cottage was. so many on the Internet and so hard to tell if they are any good! any details would be appreciated. thx!

7 | Welcoming a new patron: The Ambassador Hotel in Kingston >> a peek inside the fishbowl

February 17th, 2013 at 8:39 am


[…] bunch of times, and I truly love it. It’s been much too long since we went. The last time was on our way back from Sandbanks Provincial Park. I distinctly recall wishing we had more time to spend in this lovely city. Kingston is the perfect […]

8 | Camping at Presqu’ile Provincial Park – part one >> a peek inside the fishbowl

July 29th, 2014 at 10:25 am


[…] and this year it was Presqu’ile’s turn. That, and we have some happy memories from Sandbanks, which is in the same general […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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