St Marys: The Best Day Trip From Stratford

When you’re looking for something interesting to do, Ontario is chock full of unique destinations and experiences for all.

While there are a great deal of cultural activities to be found in Stratford, after watching an incredible production of The Neverending Story at the Stratford Festival, we seek family friendly fun to cool off from the summer heat. A stone’s throw away is the Town of St Marys, aka Stone Town. Known for its abundance of limestone, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and a disarmingly friendly community, what begins as a side trip becomes the highlight. Continue reading “St Marys: The Best Day Trip From Stratford”

Family Fun at the Stratford Festival

My son’s first show at the Stratford Festival would be at the same theatre as my Dad’s last. Poignant. It’s The Neverending Story. I remember watching my Dad play Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman all those years ago. I hardly knew Stratford then, or of its many legendary performances. Now, having acted here myself, it’s home. Continue reading “Family Fun at the Stratford Festival”

Cultural Getaway To Stratford

An annual visit to Stratford is booked on the agendas of thousands of local and international culture connoisseurs. They come, attracted to its most renowned event, the Stratford Festival with the added value of the Stratford Forum. In 1953, founder Tom Patterson fulfilled his dream of transforming his hometown into a Shakespearean theatre Mecca. Fast forward to today. The town now generates $133 million in economic activity each year. Continue reading “Cultural Getaway To Stratford”

Chasing Happiness in Antigua

I arrive on a Sunday and head over to Shirley Heights Lookout on English Harbour to watch the sunset. The sounds of a steel-drum band are mesmerizing and suddenly I’m swaying to the music. The crowd on this plateau is in the hundreds, and there’s a sense of camaraderie and fun. Everyone knows that this is the best barbecue on the island. The aroma is intoxicating. I pass my plate to the grill man, and he piles on ribs, chicken and fish until I say stop, then with Rum Punch in hand, I squeeze onto a bench at one of the picnic tables and gaze out at sea and sky. “You’re a long way from home, Sara Waxman,” I say to myself, and I know that my vacation has begun. Continue reading “Chasing Happiness in Antigua”

California Road Trip: Monterey

“The West is the best. Get here, and we’ll do the rest” – The Doors

There’s no rush here. None. If not for that enviable laid-back California vibe where the pace of life and conversation moves like a sip or two of wine while waves roll up on a quiet shore, then it’s the road that forces us to slow down and Cali-fornicate with that awesome majesty of the golden coast. Highway 1 from Carmel to Big Sur weaves and undulates like the whip of a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon. Awed by the “prophet on the burning shore” of which the Grateful Dead sings, around each bend lies another panorama that I can’t stretch my eyes wide enough to see. An endless sea of sapphire pours out from the horizon and laps the high rocky coves as I veer off the road into the storybook of Esalen. Continue reading “California Road Trip: Monterey”

Father-Son Trip to Blue Mountain Village

“I am not afraid,” I tell myself, unconvincingly. Strapped into the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, our car goes clickety-clack as we slowly make our way to the summit. And then, the point of no return, and we bomb back down the mountain. “Too fast! Too fast!” I scream in agony, only to be drowned out by my son’s screams of delight. “Faster! Faster!” He shouts to my ghostly white face. Oh, the things we do for love! Our father-son getaway to the Blue Mountain Village Resort is the best value-for-money trip in Ontario. Continue reading “Father-Son Trip to Blue Mountain Village”

More Fun Things To Do With Family in Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls was given the moniker, “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” not only because of its majestic waterfalls, but also because of its endless secluded romantic parks and trails, and now its veritable buffet of activities and experiences beyond the falls for the whole family. Continue reading “More Fun Things To Do With Family in Niagara Falls”

Fun Things to do with Family in Niagara Falls

Do you remember your first trip to Niagara Falls? Planning it for a child is like reliving it.

There are so many different angles for us to view the Falls and, of course, each one is a completely different experience. My son has no idea what’s in store, and I am so excited!

As we approach the Table Rock Welcome Centre the epic sight of the Falls is inescapable. We immediately run to the railing and marvel in wide-eyed wonder at the force of 2,800 cubic metres of water per second barrelling over a 670 metres wide crest mere feet from our perch. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’m still captivated. My son—he’s entranced. “Do you know how that’s made?” I whisper in his ear. “No,” he mouths, without averting his gaze. “Come here. I want to show you something.” As I pry him away, we head inside.

Niagara’s Fury

Within a 4D, 360 degrees, multi-sensory theatre, we travel through time to discover how the Falls were formed. We’re not voyeurs on this journey.

The platform beneath us, and to which we’re clinging for dear life, is simulating the geological forces displayed on the screens.

As we watch the animation and enjoy the characters on the screen, we shiver during the last Ice Age as snow falls upon us. We’re jolted off balance as the ice cracks. And we get drenched as we’re hurled down river amidst the massive power of the water. The simulations are brilliant, exhilarating, and, within the safety of the theatre, provide a visceral understanding of how those the Falls came to be. This did not exist when I was a kid, but my son, full of laughter and joy, proved that this is an indispensable experience for any family to include in their Niagara Falls itinerary.

Table Rock House Restaurant

After an experience like that, it’s time to eat, and the restaurant conveniently located within Table Rock is probably one of the essential dining experiences to have in Canada. It’s on the level of the CN Tower in the unique and profound views it offers, and its menu truly reflects the Canadian culinary landscape for international tourists and locals alike.

While my son opts for a thick and juicy burger of Canadian beef, I indulge in a Great Lakes Fish Sandwich combining smoked rainbow trout and Northern Ontario rainbow trout on a brioche bun.

For dessert, the Niagara Spy Apple Barge is a warm and decadent filo basket of cinnamon-scented apples with French vanilla ice cream that hits all the right notes.

Journey Behind the Falls

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends.” We head back outside, walk along the river, and line up for Journey Behind the Falls. (Pro-tip: unless you arrive first thing in the morning, line-ups are unavoidable. Don’t be deterred. They do move reasonably well. It is worthwhile to carry a distraction for your child while waiting. For us, bubble guns always do the trick!)

We’ve descended into the tunnels underneath and behind the Falls. Again, mind blowing. He’s transfixed by the immense scope of this natural wonder.

For me, the natural wonder is in watching his face, and imagining what’s racing through his mind right now.

He darts from portal to portal in happy amazement that we are now viewing the base of what we were previously viewing from above.

Hornblower Niagara Cruises

For our final soaker, we board the iconic cruise into the mist of the Falls. Similar to Journey Behind the Falls, we’re prepared for a line-up. Mid-afternoon is busy, but it’s a wonderfully refreshing way to end a visit. We’ve experienced the simulation, the views from above and below, and now the anticipation mounts as we face off against relentless spraying that is a memorable highlight of the day. (Pro-tip: for anyone asking where is the best place to stand, it really doesn’t matter. You will get wet if you want to. Upper deck, facing front, starboard side of the boat left us drenched.)

This is one of the great experiences to have in Canada. For a family, it’s like a rite of passage, and we see multi-generations of smiles.

There are so many fun things to do with family in Niagara Falls, but the core reason for being there will always be experiencing The Falls in it’s rawest form. I still remember my excitement when I visited as a kid with my parents, and now I’ll never forget the excitement when I visited with my kid as his.

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