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In your own Backyard

Today's Parent / July 2012

Ontario has no shortage of family-friendly vacation spots just a road trip away

Long Point Eco-Adventures
Turkey Point, Ont. (2 hours Southwest of Toronto)
Easy three-day packages have zip lines through forest canopies to entertain brave kids while grown-ups camp in style: “Wilderness suites” have electricity, private bathrooms and big, comfy beds. Foodies will enjoy a roundabout of Norfolk County’s local cuisine and wine tastings at the prestigious Burning Kiln Winery, while nature lovers can hike the “mushroom foray” in the forest with a mycologist guide. $95/adult, $75/kid (ages 8 to 17); lpfun.ca

Madawaska River Family Raft Trips

Forester Falls, Ont. (5.5 hours Northeast of Toronto)
Whitewater rafting is a family experience to remember (and one you won’t get with your go-to trip to the beach). Head to Barry’s Bay, outside Ottawa, and stay overnight at one of many local B&Bs. The next day’s two-hour guided trip over five kilometres of metre-high rapids will have school-aged kids riding high – and psyched that their parents are so cool. $35/adult, $25/kid (ages 2 to 12); owl-mkc.ca

Lumina Muskoka Family Resort
Dwight, Ont. (2.5 hours North of Toronto)
A week in Dwight, east of Huntsville, offers all the regular perks of cottage life – cute digs, lazy lakeside afternoons – without the hassle. Lumina offers cottages for families of different sizes, a full meal plan and entertainment for all ages. The kids’ program – available at no additional cost – includes sandcastle competitions, picnics, and arts and crafts. $1,000/adult, $0 to $300/kid per week (prices vary by age, and kids under three are free); luminaresport.com

Blue Mountain
Collingwood, Ont. (2 hours Northwest of Toronto)
While most people only think of the ski resort, a trip to Blue Mountain in the off-season can offer big savings for thrifty families. The Summer Adventure Package consists of a $59-a-day “Active Pack” for kids with eight activity tickets for fishing, biking, kayaking, and more. Parents might find a romantic adventure of their own: The resort offers scenic air gondola rides to view the landscape. From $1,290 for a standard room, 2 adults and 2 kids/per week, breakfast included; bluemountain.ca

Collingwood Scenic Caves and Nature Adventures

Collingwood, Ont. (2 hours Northwest of Toronto)
Venture off the resort with your scientists-in-the-making, while touring winding underground caves and rock formations. Follow that with a three-hour walk in the other direction: 300 metres high, along Ontario’s largest suspension bridge (126 metres long), with a 10,000-kilometrewide view. $95/adult, $85/kid (ages 10 to 17); sceniccaves.com

Hunter Farm
Peterborough, Ont. (2 hours Northeast of Toronto)
Country bumpkins – or at least citydwelling wannabes – will feel right at home at Hunter Farm, a charming 1879 Victorian farmhouse. Animal lovers enjoy the goats, chickens, Jake the donkey and three pot-bellied pigs – not to mention the wild critters residing on 245 acres of wetlands. $125/ensuite, $20/kid; whockey.com/hunterfarm

Clifton Hill
Niagara Falls, Ont. (1.5 hours Southeast of Toronto)
While the Falls usually get all the attention, the nearby “Street of Fun” (a.k.a. Clifton Hill) boasts more than 20 kid-friendly attractions, including the Guinness World Records Museum, a waterpark, an arcade, glow-in-the-dark Galaxy Golf and the 175-foot Niagara SkyWheel. A thrifty “Fun Pass” gets you into your top five choices, with all options close to many bargain hotels in the area. Fun Pass $29/adult, $23/kid; cliftonhill.com

Glamping at Bingeman’s Camping Resort

Kitchener, Ont. (1 hour Southwest of Toronto)
If roughing it isn’t your idea of a vacation, but the resort lifestyle doesn’t appeal to you either, Bingeman’s glamping option might be the answer to your summer getaway quandry. The family glamping package includes daily park admission, a yurt (a tent/cabin hybrid with hard walls and a door), two queen-size beds with linens, a fridge, a firepit and a picnic table. Oh, and a chandelier. It isn’t called glamping for nothing. For the ultimate experience, spa and personal chef packages are also available. $565/weekend for four people (any mix of adults and children is acceptable); bingemans.com

Fern Spa & Resort
Orillia, Ont. (2 hours North of Toronto)
Convinced babies and spas don’t mix? You’ll be proven wrong at Orillia’s Fern Resort, which is totally baby- and
kid-friendly and fully equipped with cribs and bathroom stools so little people can see over the sink. The spa options are no slouch, either: Try the hot stone massage, anti-aging facial or seaweed wrap. $1,400/adult, $160 to 800/kid per week depending on child’s age and the room, meals/activities for kids of all ages included; fernresort.com

Centreville Island
Toronto (Downtown)
And if getting out of the city is a pipe dream, consider a quick staycation at Centreville Amusement Park. Score an all-day family pass that lets kids of all ages splash in the wading pool, play tennis or volleyball and try more than 30 rides and roller coasters. Crash at a downtown hotel for a mini-getaway or drag your tired kids home without worrying about the long drive.
$96/family all-day ride pass including one adult minimum; www.centreisland.ca