On­tario Get­aways

On­tario is as di­verse as it is vast. Each re­gion, each county of­fers unique ex­pe­ri­ences un­like that of any­where else. Here are five des­ti­na­tions for the whole fam­ily to en­joy.

DINE and Destinations - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Adam Wax­man

5 Des­ti­na­tions for Fam­ily Ac­tiv­i­ties in On­tario

› WATER­LOO

The Men­non­ite his­tory is in­te­gral to the de­vel­op­ment of On­tario. Ride a horse-drawn trol­ley to Old Or­der Men­non­ite Farms and a sugar bush to tap and taste maple syrup and snow tof­fee. The St. Ja­cob’s Farmer’s Mar­ket is the largest agri­cul­tural mar­ket in Canada. Bring your ap­petite. Walk or cy­cle trails into the quiet of On­tario’s past. Ex­plore shops and crafts of St. Ja­cob’s, from the Quilt Mu­seum to the Maple Syrup Mu­seum. The Aber­foyle Model Rail­way is the most in­tri­cate and amaz­ing “0-scale lay­out” in North Amer­ica. In nearby Kitch­ener, THEMUSEUM fea­tures five floors of in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tions, pro­grams and events for chil­dren and fam­i­lies to in­spire imag­i­na­tion and ed­u­ca­tion. www.ex­plore­wa­ter­loore­gion.com

› BROCKVILLE

Dive Brockville Ad­ven­ture Cen­tre leads us to count­less ship­wrecks from the St. Lawrence River ship­ping route for some of the best fresh wa­ter div­ing in the world, as well as to Cen­teen Park, Canada’s first un­der­wa­ter sculp­ture park, which in­cludes hu­man sculp­tures. The Brock Rail­way Tun­nel un­der­neath the city cen­tre was Canada’s first rail­way tun­nel, and is now part of the Brock Trail Sys­tem. We pass through coloured lights and the sound of a train bar­relling straight to­ward us. Rent ca­noes, kayaks, or take a river cruise through The 1000 Is­lands and view cas­tles, man­sions, and light­houses. Fif­teen of the is­lands along the shores of Brockville are avail­able for pic­nick­ing and camp­ing. www.brockvil­le­tourism.com

› THUN­DER BAY

Cra­dled be­tween Lake Su­pe­rior and the Cana­dian Shield are six Provin­cial Parks with end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for hik­ing, cy­cling and pad­dling, and in win­ter, fat bik­ing and ice climb­ing. Out­door Skills and Thrills guides us to the Mecca of climb­ing in North Amer­ica in any sea­son. Rent a boat from Sail Su­pe­rior to sail along the rugged coast­line. There are 150,000 lakes and rivers in the re­gion for the best fish­ing in On­tario. The largest amethyst de­posit in Canada is here. Grab a bucket and dig­ging tools for rock hound­ing at Amethyst Mine Panorama. Jump out of a text­book and into 1816 at Fort Wil­liam His­tor­i­cal Park, an in­ter­ac­tive liv­ing mu­seum of 42 au­then­ti­cally re­con­structed build­ings on a 25-acre site. All those work­ing at this trad­ing post are churn­ing but­ter, bak­ing bread, chop­ping wood, build­ing ca­noes and pre­par­ing for meals and a ren­dezvous with dig­ni­taries. www.visit­thun­der­bay.com

› MID­LAND

The in­spi­ra­tion of The Group of Seven and the gate­way to

30, 000 is­lands of Ge­or­gian Bay, the world’s largest fresh­wa­ter ar­chi­pel­ago, of­fers end­less boat­ing, hik­ing and cy­cling along wooded trails. Mid­land Tours of­fers boat cruises. The Wye Marsh is a quiet pro­tected wet­land for walk­ing and pad­dling as well as an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre to ap­pre­ci­ate birds, tur­tles and frogs in their nat­u­ral habi­tat. At Rounds Ranch there is a pet­ting zoo, and all sorts of ac­tiv­i­ties from trac­tor rides to pony rides, pedal cart races to duck races, and ob­sta­cle cour­ses to corn mazes. Cas­tle Vil­lage and En­chanted King­dom Park fea­tures a wooded trail to child­hood fairy­tales. There are archery games in the woods; me­dieval ar­moury ar­ti­facts; a zip line and a slack line; and es­cape games. Mid­land is also home of the But­ter Tart Fes­ti­val. There are plenty of th­ese sweet pas­tries to be found. gbay.ca

› GE­ORGINA

Lo­cated at the south­ern end of Lake Sim­coe, Ge­orgina Is­land’s

Nanabush Trails fol­low the path of the Chippewa to a wig­wam vil­lage and wildlife view­ing, as well as pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing about the his­tory, cul­ture and na­ture of the is­land.

Clear­wa­ter Farm em­pha­sizes place-based learn­ing and pro­vides unique ex­pe­ri­ences from plant­ing in the herb gar­den to build­ing forts, and from un­struc­tured dig­ging in the dirt to yoga at sun­set. The aim is to con­nect chil­dren with na­ture, eco-friendly choices and grow­ing healthy food. My son would never try kale, and now he's eat­ing it out of the ground! Nearby, The Roc of­fers a range of out­door sports from a climb­ing wall, and a low and high ropes course in sum­mer to tub­ing, to­bog­gan­ing and ski­ing in win­ter. There are am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for fish­ing and leisurely hik­ing in

Sib­bald Point Provin­cial Park. For the ul­ti­mate rush, rent a jet ski from Lake Sim­coe Water­sport Rentals and rev up screams of ex­cite­ment. www.ge­orgina.ca

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