rating: $ 164 to $ 184 per night
Glam factor: 3 of 5
You will know that you have arrived at Eco Camp, a wonderfully crispy, solar-powered tent city in northern Ohio, when you see owner Alex Wrege approaching you on his mini Segway –dressed in a Hawaii print Shirt and cargo pants, sipping his latte from a pint glass. Without dismounting, he shows you the grounds, which are made up of a handful of Lotus Belle Outback tents that look like giant canvas Hershey kisses, a few group accommodations filled with comfy wicker furniture and rainy day gear (books, USB chargers) , a tambourine) and a fire pit in the community, where visitors can enjoy the woody charm of this barracks between a mobile home park and a horse farm.
Wrege, a German expat who quit his job teaching English as a second language to run The Eco Camp, also offers “safe, environmentally sound” stand-up paddleboard trips (including lessons) along the Maumee River in Ohio . You can take advantage of the 90-minute or half-day package add-on, spend the day hiking, or just throw a floatie in the swimming pond that is shared with the campsite next door.
In addition to a comfortable tent, the camp has everything a person needs to simulate off-grid life for a few days: firewood, fully charged lanterns, YETI-style coolers, and butane stoves. Each tent has its own state-of-the-art porta potty. The campers can refresh themselves in a shared shower building.
Granted, the experience falls on the grosser end of the glamping continuum, but what the Eco Camp lacks in perks it makes up for in good, old-fashioned, Viennese roast camaraderie under the Tibetan prayer flags. The location is so randomly Wes Anderson that no one questions the bank of gum vending machines and caliber shops positioned at the camp entrance next to the solar panels and S’Mores sticks. Who said roughing couldn’t be fun? 5751 Waterville Swanton Rd., Swanton, Ohio, 419-482-8406, theecocamp.com
While you’re there …
eat:: In nearby Waterville, Ohio, enjoy a stack of cherry and granola pancakes or a loaded pan breakfast at Dale’s Diner (dalesbarandgrill.com).
Hike: Take advantage of the network of carefully maintained metroparks in the Toledo area. The largest and closest to the Eco Camp is Oak openings preservedwhich covers approximately 5,000 acres with hiking trails and open-air fish ponds.
Explore: The village of big rapids offers a charming collection of antique shops, boutiques and restaurants on the banks of the Maumee River.