By Brooke Madden
If you’re anything like me, you’re beyond ready to get out of your home, breathe some noncirculated air, put on real pants (okay, maybe not so much this one), and start doing again. Fellow Ontarians, I know it’s been a difficult 15 months. If you, too, are finding endless laundry loads, infinite dishwashing (seriously, how many cups can your son possible keep on his side table?), Netflix binges, pacing back and forth waiting for this seemingly eternal doomsday feeling to end, baking banana bread, and boardgames with the kids a little mundane at this point, fear not; your time has come. Whether you were a perpetual Lysol mail-wiper or a fearless (albeit responsible) pandemic survivor, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Ontario is back, and families are ready to enjoy it. For those itching to get out of the house with the family, I’ve created a Family Activity Guide, where you and your loved ones can enjoy each others’ company, with a less monotonous, even exciting back-drop.
1. Royal Botanical Gardens
RBG is the largest botanical garden in the country. A leading force in environmental preservation, the gardens serve as a quaint day-trip for families, young couples, and quiet minds, seeking a relaxing day of solace. Personally, I like to pretend I’m a protagonist in a Shakespearean love scene and/or a Game of Thrones-style conspiracy murder plot while strolling through the gardens…but they’re also an incredible educational resource if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of people, plants, and nature.
2. 5 Drive-In
Let’s be honest, the best date nights involve dancing hot dogs, sitting under the stars, and an unexpected hint of Travolta energy. Take the Sandy to your Danny or the entire family for a retro-inspired movie night. I grew up going to 5 Drive-In, and I promise you, their snacks are the best movie snacks you’ll find in the GTA. It does get busy, so show up early if you want to snag a great spot!
3. Bronte Creek Provincial Park
With activities like hiking, disc golf, swimming, fishing, and even a children’s animal farm, Bronte Creek Provincial Park makes for an entire day of fun for kiddos and kids at heart alike. If you’re a bit of a bird nerd like me, you and the family can spend the day observing a plethora of warm-blooded vertebrates you’d usually miss out on in the city. It’ll be a hoot!
4. Kelso Conservation Area
More athletic, competitive families can take advantage of the mountain biking opportunities at Kelso this summer! There are plenty of trails for bikers and hikers alike; a fun way to get out of that quarantine slump and get moving. There’s also paddle-boarding, canoeing, and picnicking opportunities. If you’re more of a movie-loving family, check out Family Outdoor Movie Nights under the stars!
5. Terre Bleu Lavender Farm
Aside from being one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in the province, Terre Bleu Lavender Farm is home to over 40,000 plants! Learn something new with your family, on a guided tour through the farm. Experience the essential oil distillery, honey house, equestrian ring, and herb bar. This sustainable farm makes for a gorgeous outing for families and dates alike!
6. Chudleigh’s Entertainment Farm
Though Chudleigh’s was initially opened exclusively for apple picking, the farm has transformed into a summer destination for kids of all ages. With multiple play areas, animals, trails, and music nights, Chudleigh’s seriously has something for everyone. Speaking from personal experience – definitely visit the Blossom Cafe for some of the most incredible treats. You won’t regret it.
9528 Regional Rd 25, Milton
chudleighs.com | @chudleighsfarm
7. Brae Ridge Farm & Sanctuary
Brae Ridge is a small farm with a focus on “alpacas, bees, and lavender.” Just reading those words makes me unclench my jaw, take a deep breath, and feel like I’m sinking into a hot bubble bath. Brae Ridge offers private tours where families can learn about and feed the animals. If you’re in need of a little zen, try alpaca yoga available every weekend this summer. I’ll definitely see you there.
8. Canada’s Wonderland
Rollercoasters, waterslides, funnel cakes, what more can I say? Canada’s Wonderland is an iconic Canadian destination. Opening July 7th to the general public, the amusement park is looking forward to welcoming guests by reservation. With two new attractions this season (Mountain Bay Cliffs and Beagle Brigade Airfield), the 2021 season will be like no other. Definitely keep the SPF handy, and treat your family to a summer outing they’ll never forget.
9. Long Point Eco-Adventures
If you and your kids have a little bit too much pent-up energy from staying indoors all year, look no further than Long Point Eco-Adventures. Zip-lining, kayaking, axe-throwing, fishing, water and land tours, are all offered at this unique spot. Honestly, it’s a pretty great date destination too! Journey a little ways south and check out beachside towns with a variety of shops, restaurants and, most importantly, wineries.
10. Ontario Science Centre
Opening during phase 3, the Science Centre is definitely a must-do with the kids. If the rubber pencil trick impressed you as a kid (or an adult, I’m not judging), the interactive and educational activities at the Science Centre will blow your mind. An iconic Ontario destination, your kids will be begging to return to learn even more! P.S. If you were a sub-par home schooler in virtual science class, this one’s definitely for you.