There’s so much to do near Ottawa – from exciting attractions to stunning natural landscapes— kids can’t get bored if they tried. But when it comes to family travel, one size doesn’t always fit all. If you’re planning a weekend getaway, it’s worth considering these age-appropriate picks and tailoring a trip to fit your family’s interests and needs.
Babes and toddlers
With its log construction, stone chimneys, antler chandeliers and cast-iron fireplaces, Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, New York, offers luxury in the spirit of a classic Adirondacks camp just three hours from Ottawa. Best known as the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, the village of Lake Placid offers an impressive mountain setting and is home to one of North America’s oldest Ironman Triathlons. But you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy this natural playground. A resort concierge is available to arrange hiking, canoeing or fishing excursions suitable for even the most pint-sized explorer.
This all-season resort has an added bonus for parents looking for downtime. Unlike most resorts where day camps shut down at Labour Day, Kamp Kanu at Whiteface Lodge is available weekends and holidays throughout the year. The club offers outdoor games, crafts and sports supervised by trained camp counsellors. Or, if Mom and Dad want to enjoy a peaceful cocktail hour, the Sunset Club evening childcare program will entertain little ones with a pizza dinner and an evening of themed activities such as Space Night, Hawaiian Luau and Hip Hop parties.
When it’s time to turn in for the night, the one to three-bedroom suites provide plenty of space for a minivan full of baby gear, plus room for a grandparent or two. The fully-equipped kitchens make for worryfree meal planning and during baby’s nap time, you can even do some fall foliage leaf-peeping from the comfort of a private cedar and mahogany balcony.
If you think exploring the world of maple syrup is an activity reserved just for spring, a trip to Wheeler’s Maple Farm & Museum, north of Perth along the Rideau Heritage Route, will change your mind. Open year-round, it offers a wide range of maple syrup inspired activities guaranteed to keep even the most active tween entertained.
Begin your visit at the Maple Heritage Museum where displays demonstrate how maple syrup was produced centuries ago. The Coopers shop shows the crafting of wooden staves into buckets and barrels while free-range animals such as sheep, goats and chickens add to the lively barnyard atmosphere. Then, step into the great outdoors and do some exploring along the trails running through the sugar bush, where you’ll pass beaver dams, wetlands and old growth White Pine forest. A tube slide, swing set and zip-line add extra interest for the younger set.
Pancakes for dinner? Tweens love to shake things up and a visit to the Dining Hall with its handcrafted stone fireplace and pancake-filled menu will please even the most finicky eaters. Who could resist the Little Bear Special (one pancake and one maple sausage), or the Sugar Bush Special (two pancakes and three maple sausages)? Everything is made from scratch using farm fresh eggs, pure maple syrup and wholesome ingredients. Special options are available for those with allergies.
Back on the Rideau Heritage Route, several other interesting road stops await. You can have an ice cream and browse the shops in the fallfoliage capital of Westport or pick your own apples at Waddell Apple Orchard.
Where to stay
Head south to The Courtyard Kingston Marriot, home to Kingston’s wildest indoor pool and waterslide. Kids will enjoy unwinding while adults will appreciate the all-weather fun, in-room coffee, fridge and microwave in every room, free parking and easy highway access.
Thrills, spills and bragging rights are what it’s all about on a teen-friendly getaway to La Ronde, Eastern Canada’s largest amusement park. Part of the Six Flags family of amusement parks, the facility, which opened as part of Expo ’67, features 40 rides and attractions, including the Goliath, one of North America’s highest and fastest roller coasters. Check the thrill rating for each ride online before you arrive.
New for 2012, and in celebration of the park’s 45th anniversary, visitors have the opportunity to soar to new heights in Vol Ultime, an extreme ride made up of 32 seats around a central 15-storey tower. As the passenger gondola rises to the top of the tower, the swings begin to rotate at ever increasing speeds. With riders flying at 60 kilometres (37 miles) an hour by the time it reaches the top of the tower, it’s not for the faint-hearted. For those brave enough to open their eyes, the ride offers a breathtaking view of Montreal and the surrounding area.
At night, the tower is illuminated by hundreds of multi-coloured LED lights adding to the magic and excitement. It’s easy to blow the travel budget in amusement parks so let your teen do some of the planning and they’ll feel more involved. Suggest they manage their own predetermined budget for park souvenirs and fast food snacks. La Ronde is open until the end of October.
Where to stay
Located steps away from lively Sainte- Catherine Street, Place Ville Marie and Place des Arts, Le Square Phillips Hotel and Suites offers a hip urban vibe at surprisingly affordable rates. The two bedroom suites come with HD TV and a kitchenette with everything needed for meeting the appetites of growing teens. An indoor rooftop pool with panoramic city views will make this hotel their—and your—next favourite place.
Rideau Heritage Route
Le Square Phillips Hotel and Suites
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