How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Fear Not, Pilgrim
There’s still time to go somewhere special so your kids have something to write for their annual, back-to-school essays

The countdown is on. In less than three weeks the kids will be back in school. And right this very minute, a question may be looming large over your household:
“Moooom!  What are we going to do?
“Chris and Bailey are gone to the cottage and Jessie and Seth got to go to overnight camp in the United States for three whole weeks. And guess what? Tyler and Jeremy went to see Tyler’s grandma and grandpa on the farm. They saw cows and pigs and chickens and kitties and Tyler says they got to milk the cows.
“Everybody in my class has gone somewhere awesome this summer. Where are we going to go mommy? What are we going to do?
“Mom? Mom?”
Oh boy.
No pressure, right?
Since every single person on Planet Earth – or at least in your kids’ classrooms – tends to go somewhere special each summer, there’s a perennial obligation to plan a family getaway that’s equally dazzling. That way, when September rolls around, your little darlings will have something to write for the annual, back-to-school essay entitled How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
Fear not, pilgrim. You don’t have to rent a medieval castle or book a return trip aboard the space shuttle to earn parenting points. Nor must you succumb to Little Miss’s plans for a grand, cross-continental tour of suburban malls or Junior’s desire to attend a week-long goth gamers convention – in the dark.
You don’t need to break the bank either. Right here in eastern Ontario, we’ve got all sorts of kid-dazzling attractions, destinations and special events to please the whole family – and then some.  Two or three day trips will do the trick or, if they have their hearts set on a sleep-away adventure, that’s easily doable close to home.
Try your luck without a GPS at McMaze in St. Andrew’s, South Stormont Township. Besides award-winning corn mazes, you’ll enjoy the farm animals, wagon rides, activities and picnic spots. Take a gander at the McMaze Corn Launcher and try milking Daisy Maze the cow. It’s a pleasure getting lost here.
Spend an idyllic day at the Mill of Kintail on the Indian River in Lanark County. You can hike on lush trails, go on a nature walk and have a picnic. There’s also a play structure and a museum honouring Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball, and Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie, influential doctor, physical educator and sculptor.
At the Morris Island Conservation Area along the Ottawa River near Fitzroy Harbour, you can go hiking, picnicking, canoeing and fishing. It’s beautiful, peaceful and unplugged.
Family rafting adventures in the Ottawa Valley offer an incredible time for ages six to 86. You don’t have to be a thrill seeker to enjoy a spectacular day on the river. Gentle whitewater, experienced guides, safe and easy runs, stunning scenery and wonderful resort facilities and child-pleasing amenities make for a memorable holiday.
Ottawa’s countryside is full of fun options, from ancient caves and waterfalls to sandy beaches and white water rapids. Go ziplining and golfing, canoeing and fishing, even aerial trekking.

Ahoy, me hearties!
A little further afield, Gananoque and Kingston are perennial holiday hits. In Gananoque, a boat cruise is at the top of the To Do list. Visit incredible Boldt Castle, take a gander at the legendary Millionaire’s Row and hear the stories of scallywags and shipwrecks, romance and tragedy, titans of industry and villains of the waterway that are part of the 1000 Islands’ celebrated history.

The Limestone City rocks
A picture-pretty waterfront destination that’s loaded with history and pizzazz, Kingston offers big-time family appeal.
There are restaurants, attractions and museums galore, from the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes and Bellevue House, home of Canada’s first prime minister, to the International Hockey Museum. (Rumour has it that hockey started in Kingston!) Join the military, in 19th century style, at incredible Fort Henry, where you can experience garrison life during the year of Canada’s confederation. Do some time at Canada’s Penitentiary Museum, where you’ll learn about where the bad guys went in the (good?) old days. The exhibits are pretty cool and there’s nothing like a couple of minutes in a cell to remind your little rippers of the benefits of staying on the straight and narrow.
Whether you take a ride on the Confederation Tour Trolley, find the city’s spooky secrets on a Haunted Walk, hop on the ferry to Wolfe Island, go shipwreck scuba diving, windsurfing or kite boarding, you’ll all think Kingston rocks.




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