Alpine villages and Caribbean all-inclusives have their charms but sometimes it’s nice to just spend a low-key March Break at home. Of course with kids, life can never be too low-key. So, we’ve collected a bunch of Southern Ontario attractions that will keep your family entertained while letting you also rest your heads in the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Arrowhead Park – Huntsville
Located roughly 2.5 hours outside of Toronto, this is one of the further destinations on this list but Arrowhead is just so pretty that we had to include it. It’s also a great spot to take the family and get back to nature. Available activities include skating, snowshoeing and tubing. And yes, the site does have flush toilets.
Bird Kingdom & Butterfly Conservatory – Niagara Falls
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While neither of these spots is quite big enough to justify the drive to Niagara on its own, combine them into one visit and you have a great day packed with colourful winged creatures. Both attractions are sure to wow children with their live animals while you’ll appreciate the kid- (and stroller-) appropriate layouts. Want to amp up the fun? Stop for lunch at the Rainforest Café; it’s located within walking distance of Bird Kingdom and is about as family-friendly as a restaurant gets.
Historic Sites & Museums – Hamilton
Hamilton is packed with entertaining (and educational) March Break activities. Start your day off at Dundurn National Historic Site/Hamilton Military Museum where interactive exhibits let kids play dress up in 18th century-inspired costumes. A family pass to the site costs $32 while adult and children tickets cost $12 and $6.50 respectively.
Next, head over to the Hamilton Children’s Museum. From March 14-22, this affordable attraction (a family pass is $12 while kid tickets are $4.50 and youths and adults pay $3) is all about wizards, magic and potions.
After your children have learned how to whip up a spell and care for magical creatures, finish your Hamilton adventures at the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology. Featuring the free (regular fees apply for Museum tours) Be a Theme Park Engineer! event, this attraction is a great way to show kids that yes, you can have fun without a screen.
Horseshoe Resort – Barrie
This isn’t Southern Ontario’s biggest or flashiest ski resort but it is well known as a great spot for families to hit the slopes. For newbies or those who just need to brush up on their technique, there’s a ski and snowboard school that also offers private lessons. And so long as the weather cooperates (not too hot, not too cold), the resort also offers a wide variety of other outdoor activities including tubing, mini snowmobiling and skating.
Maple Sugar Festival at Brooks Farm – Mount Albert
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In Eastern Canada, early spring means one thing: It’s sugar bush season. Starting soon, Brooks Farm hosts its annual Maple Sugar Festival. Tickets get you all kinds of activities including train or wagon ride, guided educational tours and weather permitting, access to the Barnyard Playland. There’s also the indoor pancake house, where you can buy pancakes, butter tarts and hot drinks. Stay tuned for more info!
North Ridge Ranch – Muskoka
Dogsledding is, of course, a weather-dependent activity but if there’s snow up north come mid-March, this is something you’ll want to check out. North Ridge’s half-day dog sled tours will take you and your family on a scenic 20km trip through the Muskoka wilderness and includes a break for hot chocolate, snacks and photos with the dogs. Kids 12 and under are $135, adults are $195 and kids three and under are free.
The always-popular Reptilia reptile zoo now has a second location. The new Whitby facility offers 31,000 sq ft of indoor exhibits that you and your family can explore at your own pace. Dozens of scaly creatures call Reptilia home, including crocodiles and a wide variety of lizards and snakes. Education chats with handlers happen throughout the day and sometimes include an option to get up close and personal with the animals. The facility also has a large outdoor space that, weather depending, can be a great spot where your kids can burn off energy.
Royal Botanical Gardens – Burlington
Pop in the car and head out to Burlington’s Royal Botanical Gardens to learn all about one the fascinating world of Wildlife Rescue, an eye-opening, inspiring and wildly interactive exhibit for all ages. In addition to fun and educational activities, there’s a simulated flight to guide young whooping cranes along their first migratory route.
The Wave Pool – Richmond Hill
Want to treat the kids to a waterpark but don’t have enough time to head out to Niagara Falls? Then consider popping up to Richmond Hill and the Wave Pool. There you’ll find the GTA’s only wave pool, a 100-foot waterslide and all kinds of water-friendly toys. There’s also comfy lounge chairs and wi-fi. Just note that unlike in Toronto, Richmond Hill charges for admission to the Wave Pool: $6 for kids 3-15 and $9.90 for adults.
You Gotta Eat Here Food Tour – Across Southern Ontario
If you and your kids are foodies, consider designing your own You Gotta Eat Here food tour. Using the TV show’s official webpage as a reference, plot out two or three tasty destinations that you have to check out. Some options include Philadelphia Kitchen in Orangeville for cheesesteaks and Haugen’s Chicken & Ribs Barbeque in Port Perry for, well, barbeque.