Into the Blue…Mountains

…Mountains, that is. Take a bite out of Ontario big apple country

Time was, Collingwood built lake freighters, navy trawlers and ice breakers. It then developed as a winter destination for skiing and eventually became an all season destination for hiking, caving, golfing, paddling and zip lining. Then, from Georgian Bay’s fruit basket, apples became the core of tourism.

What we’ve discovered is, an escape to The Blue Mountains, with its endless outdoor activities and festivals, offers many ways to appreciate and enjoy Ontario’s quintessential fruit: the apple. Continue reading “Into the Blue…Mountains”

Ontario’s Apple Pie Trail

If you could squeeze Ontario into a glass, it would be apple cider. Apples are the quintessential fruit of the province. Ontario’s Macintosh apple inspired the computer logo. Ontario’s Apple Pie Trail around South Georgian Bay, Grey County and the Blue Mountains inspires the most fun-filled adventures for families, couples, friends and apple lovers of all ages. Continue reading “Ontario’s Apple Pie Trail”

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”

The Stratford Forum

What might “dinner and a show” have looked like in Shakespeare’s time? It would not yet have included potatoes or tomatoes, coffee or chocolate, white tablecloth or instagrammable dishes. The grounds of the Globe Theatre would have been a mob of activity with food stalls selling pies and ales, meats on a spit and a “ploughman’s lunch.” In celebration of Shakespeare, and to enhance and enrich the theatrical experience, The Stratford Festival Forum has elevated dining and theatre-going by encompassing special performances, panel discussions, interactive workshops and dining that incorporate the themes of the play bill. Continue reading “The Stratford Forum”

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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Temperance and Temptation

“Is it just me, or does the Temperance lady have an ass like two duck eggs in a napkin,” whispers Micky Burns with a nudge and a wink as Eleanor Krumpacker inspects our bus for whisky. And so it goes as we sidle up for a most unique interactive tour to experience the scandalous history of bootlegging in York Durham Headwaters. Continue reading “Temperance and Temptation”

International Farmer’s Markets

Food trails and markets have become the tastiest part of any travel experience. They are the places where we can really sink our teeth into a taste of place. Write up a new bucket list of farmer’s markets. Here are some of the most incredible ones to experience. Continue reading “International Farmer’s Markets”

Tree Top Trekking in Stoufville

Kids love to climb. Parents only think they can. That’s why benches along the wooded path are full of parents beaming with pride as they catch their breath, while all the kids frolic above in the trees. No rest for me though, because my son’s rule is I have to catch him. He darts through a network of tunnels, while I crawl after him. He runs up wooden footbridges, scales 8-foot tall hammock nets between tree houses and descends back down slides. It’s no use. He’s too fast. Continue reading “Tree Top Trekking in Stoufville”