Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Best Spring Kids Activities, Events and Weekend Getaways north of Toronto

We always get the following questions -

What can I do with my kids this spring in Ontario?
What are the best spring activities for kids?
How do I get my kids out enjoying nature in the spring?

This blog can answer all your Q's, well try to anyways.

We all know if the kids aren't having fun - everyone is pretty much miserable. The activities below are a broad range of choices to satisfy all types of kids and families. The right activities with the right attitudes are a great start to a fun family day trip or overnight getaway.

Springing out of an amazing winter full of snow, areas north of Toronto are the best place to watch Ontario prepare for summer. Outdoors spaces and small town attractions and activities can be a great focal point for a day trip or quick weekend getaway. 

1. Get Sappy at the Maple Sugar Bush. Maple festivals are a great way to really make you feel like you are part of Canada’s rich heritage. Did you know that Natives used syrup to flavour food and make tonics long before Europeans came to North America? We have a lot to be proud of. Even though it is getting warmer, you have not missed out on festivals for this year. Festivals in Ontario are ongoing throughout April. Tree tapping ceremonies, sugar shacks, maple tours and maple taffy are just a few of the experiences of visiting a maple bush. If you don’t already believe it is the perfect outing, festivals usually offer horse drawn wagon rides for tired legs to boot!

2. Shake your winter hibernation and have a quick getaway. Get into the spirit and enjoy the beautiful spring weather and go for a weekend getaway with the family.Take advantage of holiday promotions like Victoria Day long weekend and Mother's Day. Many resorts and hotels are offering great specials every weekend. Choose an event and stay in the area for a day or two, or more!

3. Happy Trails - Hike, Bike or Trike. Find the nearest paved or dirt trail and find out what's happening this spring in the forests of Ontario. Trails and access are available all over areas north of Toronto offering an option for every skill level or for families with kids of a range of ages. Many attractions offer trails as well as community maintained trails, or you could even find a beach and explore that too!

4. Thank a Farmer & enjoy FRESH FOOD. Exploring a local market is simply a must. It's the perfect destination for a day trip to a neighbouring community and the best place to see what edible goodness is being produced in the area. The month of May marks the start of farmer's market season and continues all the way through until fall. Kids get excited about food and love being a part of the procurement process as well as the preparation process (and don't forget the clean up process). Kids should know where their food really comes from! It's inspiring to think kids today are the chefs of tomorrow. This is a fun activity if you are staying in a cottage or cabin or a studio with a kitchenette.

5. Book a long weekend getaway. Who doesn't love a Long Weekend? It's been a long stretch, but Victoria Day long weekend is just what we need to get us into the summer mood! Queen Victoria , the UK monarch, reigned from 1837 to 1901. Canada decided to continue celebrating her birthday after she passed. There are many festivities to commemorate the grand day, and to cap-off the relaxing, fun-filled long weekend: fireworks! Watch our events calendar as we add events, activities and getaways for this exciting weekend.

6. Tried and True Attractions. Private or government run attractions are all over resort areas north of Toronto. A small town museum, a western ranch or an art or cultural centre are all places you can lose track of time hanging out with the kids. Parents will have just as much fun!

7. Celebrate good times, Come on! Festivals are a lively way to enjoy everything Ontario has to offer. Festivals are a big part of community celebrations and chances are you'll find a party for wonderful things everywhere like butter Tarts, strawberries, boats and more. Check our events calendar as we continually update with festivals and events. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for up to date messages about what's happening.

8. Explore the the wild side. Be sure to experience some of Ontario’s wildlife treasures that will make you and your little adventurers feel like you’re budding woodsmen. Pack your hikers and even your opera glasses if you wish and head off into nature looking for adventure. Take time to look for green tree buds, to smell any flowers and take in mother nature's all around awesome-ness.

9. Here Fishy Fishy. Be it a couple of hours of quiet fishing time on a dock or weekend getaway to a cabin for the family, fishing is a great activity for kids. Aside from a ton of fun outdoors, it's character building. We know it's not easy to teach the art of patience so here's our helpful tips for fishing with kiddos.

10. If all else fails, think summer thoughts. Summer holidays are right around the corner. Research and reserve your children’s spots in the best camps Ontario has to offer. Canadian Physical Activity guidelines state that children and youth need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorously intense activity per day. In addition to activity, camps build confidence, social skills, and educate! Whether it is a day camp or overnight, horseback riding or arts and crafts, there are so many to choose from.

Whatever it is you choose to do, remember our kids get most of their cues from us. Inspire them to be positive and be curious to experience new places and things. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The truth revealed about Sweetwater Harvest Festival - a child's review of the popular annual maple festival North of Toronto

Truthful Kids' Reviews
If you're wondering whether or not your kids will enjoy the annual maple celebration at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in Midland this spring then read Ontario Family Travel North of Toronto's 'KIDS TALK' review by Karine.

Karine is a regular reviewer for OFT, is 12 years old and likes writing and figure skating.

"I recently went to the Sweetwater Festival with my family at the Wye Marsh. I had a great time!! When I got to the Festival we paid for admission which included an all-day pancake breakfast. We ate pancakes, sausages and juice, tea or coffee. It really filled me up!! 

Photo: Wye Marsh

Then we went outside and we looked at the owls and a couple of hawks. They weren’t caged in and we’re sitting freely outside. My favorite was the great horned owl. 

That's what she's talkin' about!
Then we learnt how they make maple syrup. It was interesting to see how they did it. That was topped off with some fresh maple taffy!!! 

Then we headed out to the swan conservatory where the swans roam freely. I learnt about swans and how they got to be there. How some of them were found hurt or how others were born there. I even got a couple feet from a swan that was swimming around. It was funny watching my brother running away from the trumpeter swans!! 

We then went to the scout cabin where there were kid activities like colouring and face painting. Scouts showed us how to make a fire with a rock and a stick!!! 

Then we each took a handful of seeds and headed out to the observatory tower. At the top of the tower, we held out our hands and had chickadees eat seeds out of our palm. It was very funny the feel of their prickly feet and I tried really hard not to laugh when they came by. 

Then we got to make our own bannock grilled over a campfire. It was delicious!! 

Photo: Wye Marsh

Then we all took a nice walk down the boardwalk

To finish the day off we ate wye bean soup and watched a snake show all while admiring the beautiful quilted hats and savouring the homemade jams that were being sold. 

I had a great experience at the Sweetwater Festival and I hope to go again next year."

There you have it. We hope Karine has as much fun and more this year!

About: The annual Sweetwater Harvest festival at the Wye Marsh is one of the top maple syrup events in Canada and will entertain, educate, and engage people of all ages.

The festival runs Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20, 2016 in Midland.

Photo: Wye Marsh

Find the Wye Marsh at:

Have a review you'd like to submit to 411 Ontario Kids? Please send it to us via email!

Can't make this festival but still craving sweet maple events and activities? No problem!

See our website for more:

Follow us on FACEBOOK and TWITTER for updates and news.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Top 10 Late Summer and Fall Family Experiences North of Toronto

For many, the best time to get out and enjoy the abundant natural, cultural and historic treasures north of Toronto occurs in the late summer and fall.

Here, one can enjoy a leisurely spin around the region without combatting the peak summer crowds that seek out this area’s cornucopia of riches throughout late June and July.

Natural wonders and small-town attractions and activities can be a great focal point for a day trip, quick weekend getaway or an even longer stay.

1. Embrace those last days of summer. The coming weeks offers some of the best weather on the calendar for getting outside. And with two long weekends in the offing, there are plenty of places to explore. Labour Day and Thanksgiving provide ample opportunity to check out someplace new or return to a familiar, much-loved haunt.

* Labour Day Weekend Events
* Thanksgiving Weekend Events
* Events Calendar

2. Take in a festival. There are still plenty of chances to take in a family-friendly weekend event. Blue Mountain Village, for example, features a number of special events throughout the coming weeks. On August 15 and 16, the village hosts Mountain Music, a festival devoted to all things country. A couple of weekends later, the village mixes it up with Funkengruven, a fun festival featuring high-energy music, interactive drumming, groove dancing and even hula hooping.

Festivals include:

Sainte Marie among the Hurons Harvest Festival
Summer Sundown & Fireworks
Apple Harvest Festival

3. Brush up on your history. Whether one’s history bent relishes the story of early French missionaries or those protecting our land during the War of 1812, Huronia Historical Parks offers two must-see destinations. Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Midland features Franco-Ontarian Day on September 25 to celebrate French culture and heritage with special displays and activities followed on October 10 and 11 with the site’s popular Thanksgiving Harvest Festival. The family favourite features pumpkin decorating, seasonal displays, and dozens of artisans. A few kilometres away on the shores of Georgian Bay, Discovery Harbour returns with its popular Haunted Harbour October 22, 23 and 24. The evening event promises a fun and spooky time for the whole family as visitors walk along a candlelit path between the site’s historic properties and meet a range of costumed characters.

Museums & Galleries

Huronia Museum | Dave Beckett Gallery | MacLaren Art Centre

4. Pack up the tent for a fun weekend of camping under the stars. There’s no better time than late August and September to explore Ontario’s most famous park. Algonquin, which also features workshops at its Wildlife Research Station, and other provincial parks throughout the region offers great family-friendly experiences with camping, hiking and wildlife-viewing opportunities.

5. Learn about animals and other species at a wildlife centre. Families will love checking out facilities like the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre near Midland. Throughout the summer, the centre’s open late on Saturdays, which marketing and development coordinator Laura Thomas points out is the best time to view wildlife at its most active. The Marsh also boasts one-hour guided canoe and kayak tours led by a naturalist and more than 25 kilometre of trails, including its spectacular boardwalk that reaches out into the heart of the action where kids will get a kick out of using a drip net to see what kinds of little creatures inhabit the area. “There are ample opportunities to view wildlife from the majestic trumpeter swans to the playful river otters,” Thomas says, noting that throughout the summer the facility is hosting the popular Bats of Ontario Exhibit, on loan from the Royal Ontario Museum.

6. Head to the beach. With so many lakes and rivers on offer, the region north of Toronto features a plethora of great swimming, canoeing and kayaking possibilities. From collecting rocks and shells along the sandy beaches of Georgian Bay to paddling down a pristine river, there are just so many water-based activities to enjoy.

7. Celebrate the country’s First Nations. The Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre holds its 15th annual POW WOW September 12 and 13. Presented just east of Midland in Sainte-Marie Park, the POW WOW features all types of Native dancers and drummers as well as intertribal dances where everyone is invited to participate in the dance circle. There are also plenty of fun and colourful activities throughout the weekend as well as more than 35 vendors and artisans selling their crafts, jewellery, and foods. 

8. Thank a farmer. Late summer and fall is harvest season for many Ontario fruits and vegetables. What could be more fun than heading to a farmers' market on a cool sunny day and picking out your own pumpkin for decorating or making a delicious pie? Many pumpkin patches also offer hayrides and corn mazes that are sure to delight both the young and young-at-heart. The region also features plenty of apple orchards where visitors can pick an assortment of available homegrown varieties.

9. Head to a resort. Besides several well-known resorts dotting the area, the region features dozens of top-notch resorts offering a wide array of services designed to suit every taste. From the rustic to the luxurious, the area offers sublime getaways with a generous range of activities. Besides an array of water-based activities, many resorts also offer full dining plans along with a bevy of entertainment, sports and leisure activities.

10. Take in nature’s glory at its finest. This could easily be number one on the list since there are few things more spectacular than the vibrant orange, yellow and red hues that envelop the region when the nights become colder and leaves begin to change colour. But whether by bicycle, motorbike or car, there are plenty of backroads that can serve as not only a wonderful way to enjoy the many small towns and villages that dot the landscape, but also to breathe in the fresh air and let one’s eyes capture one of nature’s greatest gifts.

Excited to knock things off this list? Visit our website to find:

Events & Festivals

Fall Leaf Colour Progression Report and Road Trip Ideas

August GetawaysSeptember Getaways & October Getaways

Attactions, Activities & Things To Do

Article written by: A Philips for

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Franco Ontario Day at Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, Midland Ontario - September 25

"Wearing my shirt and ready to go!"
*note this blog was written following attendance to the 2012 festivities*

2015 Franco Ontario Day is Friday September 25.

This day celebrates French culture and traditions in Ontario. Francophone or not, this is a day to embrace and support the culture and bring about awareness of the large francophone community in Ontario.

According to the 2006 Canadian census, there were 488,815 self declared francophones in Ontario (declaring one mother tongue), comprising 4.1 per cent of the province's total population. *from Wikipedia

The French method of transportation
The Voyageur Canoe - which was quickly
adapted from watching and learning from
the native birch bark canoe.

Ontario’s first European Community, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people. In 1639, the Jesuits, along with French lay workers, began construction of a fenced community that included barracks, a church, workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Native visitors.

By 1648, Sainte-Marie was a wilderness home to 66 French men, representing one-fifth of the entire population of New France. Sainte-Marie's brief history ended in 1649, when members of the mission community were forced to abandon and burn their home of nearly 10 years.

French style construction deep in
Native territory
After extensive archaeological and historical research, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is now recreated on its original site, where the mission’s compelling story is brought to life.

Today at Sainte Marie among the Huron's special Fanco Ontario Day celebrations we heard the local story of the Loup de Lafontaine. The story was quaintly told in the smoky long house. We enjoyed this very much - especially since it was told with puppets! A perfect visual aid for my 3 year old son.

C'est bon le violon!!
We were serenaded by violin players. The violin has long been an instrument played by francophones.

French style shoes  ~1640
We visited the blacksmith shop and were shown many influencial items that the French brought into the area for the the very first time. For example, iron and the art of blacksmithing, various fabrics and materials and clothes items made with them.

Blacksmith shop items - iron was
introduced by the French to the area.
Things like hinges, nails and knives were
made here. No horseshoes. Horses
were not yet in this part of Ontario.
Franco Day Celebrations or not, it is well worth taking your family to Sainte Marie among the Hurons. It is rich in history and told in a child friendly way. Kids can see history come alive with costumed interpreters, artifacts and wonderful story telling. Their hands on approach on site is an interactive way for children to learn and become interested in their history. All the staff is friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about educating the next generation about the history of Ontario and how it came to be.

Featured Midland Accommodations:

...and they had CAKE! :-)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Ontario Kids Introduction to Snow Tubing

What exactly is snow tubing? 
Snowtubing at Horseshoe Resort

According to Wikipedia, it is: 
Tubing (also known as inner tubing or even toobing) is a recreational activity of riding an inner tube, either on water, snow, or through the air. The tubes, themselves, are also known as "donuts" or "biscuits" due to their shape.

One of the most wonderful things about snow tubing is it is an age-less activity. Adults enjoy it just as much as the kids. It is a great activity for blended families or families with mixed ages. You can snow tube with your own biscuit at a toboggan hill or for the more adventurous; you can head to a local ski hill for a bigger hill and the luxury of a ride to the top. 

Winter FUN
No skills are required either, perhaps common sense but that's it. This is also a good activity for large groups. 

What’s the process? How does it work? For starters, you get in the biscuit at the bottom of the hill and are pulled up to the top. This part seems leisurely and is in itself a relaxing ride where you can watch the sky, the snow fall or take in the views as you ride up the hill. Many operators are open for night snow tubing and it's a beautiful site to see the stars and night sky while you lean back and take a breather.

At the top of the hill, you get into a line up or a lane. When it’s your turn, an attendant will direct you and your biscuit to your lane. When it’s your turn and the riders are all safely in the tube the attendant will toss you down the hill! For real. Attendants will ask if you want to spin or what kind of ride you’d like. It’s not just straight down! Whatever your fancy, the adrenaline will flow, the giggles will burst and before you know it, you’re at the bottom of the hill pulling your biscuit over to be pulled up again for more!

Areas North of Toronto this year are picture perfect winter wonderlands. Ontario hills are loaded with fluffy snow and perfect surfaces for snow tubing. Snow tubing is truly a fun and adventurous winter activity. It keeps your family active and you will all have fun while you’re doing it.  

Families can find snow tubing facilities or getaways combined with snow tubing activities here

or Day trip to:

Horseshoe Valley Resort | Snow Valley Resort | Blue Mountain Resort

Click here for Overnight Getaways with Snow Tubing & Snowboarding




Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Kids and Family Holidays Events & Fun Activities north of Toronto

The wheels to the holidays gather speed as we near the Christmas & Holiday Break!

Events for everyone are taking place all over north of Toronto making the holidays extra special this year. You'll find a great roundup of events below perfect for day trips or if staying in the area. 

You can also find on our website:


Christmas With Neighbours (adult event)
November 28, December 6 & 13
Snow Valley Resort
Snow Valley is proud to offer a festive evening of Dining, Dancing & Festive Cheer! 

December 13
Hardwood Ski & Bike
Looking to buy? Or just want to try? Come out to Hardwood Ski and Bike to test the latest from Fischer, ONE WAY, Rossignol and Salomon equipment before you buy. You can take the skis out for approximately 30 minutes and that lets everyone have a chance to try what’s new. What a way to spend a winter Saturday! No other special requirements other than a trail pass. 

December 29
Hardwood Ski and Bike
The Southern Ontario Division Night Race consists of skate skiing laps on the 1.5km lit trail.
Those born between the years 2003 - 2000 will race 2 laps for a total of 3km, Those born between 1999 - 1997 will race 3 laps for a total of 4.5km,and those born in 1996 or before (open category) will complete 5 laps for a total of 7.5km. There will be some amazing draw prizes sponsored by ONE WAY SPORT also!

Blue Mountains

Jingles & Joy
December 1 - 31
Blue Mountain Village
Tis the time for Jingles & Joy in Ontario’s largest Village. Join Blue Mountain Village throughout December for family Joy! As they celebrate with free family fireworks display every Saturday in December at 8pm plus visits from Santa weekends 1-4pm, Horse & Wagon rides weekends 1-3pm and strolling carollers creating a festive shopping atmosphere weekend afternoons and some evenings. All month long! Christmas Eve fireworks also at 8pm and 40 restaurants and shops open daily 365 days a year.


December 20, 21, 22 & 27
Santa's Village
11:00am until 4:00pm daily - Come celebrate winter and the joy of the season with Santa and his Elves!Admission is $8 per person and children under 2 are free!


Annual Tree Lighting
Thursday, November 27
Beside the Midland Public Library

Annual Santa Claus Parade
Saturday, November 29
King Street, Downtown Midland

November 27 - 30
Downtown Midland
Girls Holiday Shopping Weekend, Tree Lighting, Customer Appreciation Specials & Santa Claus Parade! What a weekend.

First Light
November 27-29
Sainte Marie Among the Hurons
Now in its 15th year, Sainte-Marie’s “First Light” is a must-see event with a great line-up of family activities and performers, all amidst the spectacular glow of over 5,000 candles.

Festival of Trees
Nov. 12 - Dec. 12
Midland, multi-locations.
Links to: Midland Cultural Centre, Tourism Midland, Downtown Midland
Christmas in Nashville
December 13
Midland Cultural Centre
“Welcome to Nashville” is a tribute to the wonderful world of Country Music that began in Nashville, Tennessee, almost one hundred years ago. 

Midland Cultural Centre
Family scene at the MCC SCREEN Monday, December 15th Show: 1:00pm Afternoon movie screenings that are fun for the whole family! Third Monday of every month this fall.

Family Scene presents Chris McKhool in Celebrate! Holidays of the Global Village
December 20
Midland Cultural Centre

Santa's Wilderness Wonderland
December 7
Wye Marsh
Santa will be dropping by Wye Marsh for his annual visit Sunday December 7th. This year Santa will be bring Mrs. Claus along to explore the trails and visit the birds. Bring the family to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus from 11-2pm. Visitors are encouraged to bring to their wish lists and cameras.
While at the Marsh, explore the trails, feed chickadees and warm up by the fire while roasting bannock (10:30am to 12:30pm). There will also be a birds of prey show at 1pm.

Skating With Santa
December 13
Huronia Museum
Huronia Museum invites you to join them for Skating with Santa! 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Tay Community Rink in Port McNicoll. $1 And a Non-Perishable Food Item. Kids can also bring their letters for Santa and deliver them to him in person.

Haliburton Highlands

Santa Claus Parade
Friday, November 21
Haliburton Village, The Haliburton Village BIA and the Haliburton Lions Club are pleased to present a wonderful evening parade! Back this year: the Kawartha Kavaliers, the Kawartha Drum and Bugle Band and the Silver Flutes!

Gravenhurst Christmas Farmers' Market
Saturday, December 6
Gravenhurst Legion - Perfect gifts for all your christmas shopping. Free Admission but a donation for the local food bank is appreciated.

Hit the Hill Early and Save with half-price lift tickets. Ski/board for 50% off the regular price of lift tickets up to and including December 24. 2014. Opening weekend is Saturday December 6/Sunday, December 7. Also open December 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. Closed Christmas Day. Open from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4, 2015.

Ontario's Lake Country

Christmas in Craighurst
Friday, November 21
Bring the entire family along to get your picture taken with Santa and enjoy special discounts, offers, treats, and tours at local businesses.

Children’s Candlelight Parade & Tree Lighting
Friday, November 21
Hundreds of children, led by the Town Crier, carry glow lights and carol through Downtown Orillia to turn on the giant Opera House Christmas tree and light the way for Santa!

Orillia Santa Claus Parade
Sunday, November 23
One of the largest Christmas parades north of Toronto! Over 100 floats, bands and Santa himself!

Orillia Fairgrounds Winter Farmers' Market
Saturday, December 6, 13 & 20
Fairgrounds Road, Ramara


Annual Festival of Trees - December 4 - 7
Location: Tweed Hungerford Agricultural Building, 617 Louisa St., Tweed

Annual Santa Claus Parade - Saturday, December 6

For more holiday related fun activites or getaways visit -

December Getaways | Christmas & New Year's Getaways | More Santa Claus Parades
More Craft Shows & Bazaars | Winter Farmers' Markets