3 Reasons to give the gift of Merrill House If you’ve made your list and checked it twice, a little time away could be the perfect gift for a loved one or — let’s face it — you! After almost two years of vacations to Las Living Room or to St. Porch, a little getaway can go a long way this holiday season. Don’t want to hop a plane? No problem. We have a destination that’s only a few hours’ drive from Toronto that will make you feel like you’re a world away — Merrill House. By Rachel Naud Where Located in picturesque Prince Edward County, Merrill House is situated in Picton, Ontario, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto. 3 Reasons Why It Makes a Great Gift: The Design Built in 1878 for Judge Edwards Merrill, The Merrill House is steeped in history and culture. Today, owner and creative director Jordan Martin de Rosales has managed to preserve the authenticity of the property while creating a mix of old and new to create the ultimate destination. Having studied Luxury Brand Management in London, living in Zimbabwe and working for hotel groups in London and Dubai, Martin de Rosales brings his world travels and design aesthetics to the two-acre property and its 14 individually themed guest rooms. For instance, the Owner’s Suite serves up the ultimate accommodation on Merrill’s top floor with sweeping views across Picton, while the Future Room reimagines what the interiors of the future will look like. Throughout the hotel, design elements include wallpaper by William Morris, murals by Fine and Dandy Co, objets d’art by British luxury label House of Hackney and furniture by Spanish designer, Houtique. The property also features a bespoke Indian marquee, complete with a ceiling with hundreds of hand-stitched stars, designed by Martin de Rosales to house Merrill weddings and events. Merill House is also home to art exhibitions including The Indigenous Peoples on the Bay of Quinte, a collaboration with Rebecca Maracle, a fourth generation feathersmith from the Mohawk community. The Amenities For the ultimate experience, The Merrill House offers a mix of amenities — both free and paid — to create the ultimate getaway. Free amenities include: Welcome Photograph: Capture your first Merrill House moments with an old-fashioned Polaroid Pillow-Scenting Service: Test scent domes at check-in and determine the perfect scent for your night’s sleep Gourmet Breakfast: Room rates include a complimentary gourmet breakfast by breakfast Chef Lili Sullivan Indoor and Outdoor Fireplaces: To
9 Ways to Recapture Your Teen Spirit in Niagara Falls, Ontario By Rosalind Stefanac-Skugor It has been a long haul for many teens this past year, stuck indoors with their parents—and vice versa. So, to get my son excited to hang out with his mom outside of the house again, I promised him a mid-week adventure he wouldn’t forget—and Ontario’s Niagara Falls did not disappoint. As someone who has been touring this geological wonder since my own youth, even I was impressed by just how much there is to do at the Falls these days. Here are 9 ways to impress your teen traveller in Niagara Falls and have an epic adventure in the process. Rent an e-bike If the thought of nature hikes has your kids rolling their eyes, consider renting a bike with some horsepower (e-bikes can go up to 32 km/hour) to get them excited about exploring nature. We went to Snap E Bike where owner Michael Lucid gave us a training lesson and equipped us with helmets, maps, snacks and water for the day. When my bike got a flat tire, he was quick to come and meet us with a replacement bike so our sightseeing along the beautiful Niagara River Recreational Trail could continue. Riders must be 16 years of age or older. Make like a drone At 3,500 feet above the Niagara Gorge, the Whirlpool Aero Car —an antique cable car suspended from six sturdy cables—provides some pretty magnificent views of the swirling Niagara Whirlpool. The torrent of river rapids coming down the Gorge from the Horseshoe Falls turns abruptly counterclockwise at this point, creating a must-see natural phenomenon. Face the Falls up close Niagara City Cruises will get you a misty front-row view of the Niagara Gorge, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and awe-inspiring Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Recyclable ponchos are provided for the 20-minute boat ride, but my son picked a perfect spot to soak it all in that got us soaked in the process. We loved it! With reduced capacity onboard, there are plenty of photo ops, provided you don’t mind the mist. Take a journey behind the falls During summer daylight hours, more than 2,800 cubic metres of water crashes down the Falls every second at 65 km/hour. To put that into perspective, the average household uses only 14 cubic meters a month! This self-guided tour took about 30 minutes. To begin, we descended 125 feet by elevator to explore a 130-year-old
Long Weekend Fun in Kingston, Ontario Summer is short. We want to soak up all the adventures we can before fall arrives with our busy schedules and our back-to-work/back-to-school routines. For families with teens looking for a great way to spend the August long week, look no further than Kingston, Ontario. With everything from great food and wineries (for mom and dad) to haunted walks and thrill-seeking attractions, this relatively short drive from Toronto is jam-packed with family fun. For the Foodie Bistro on Ontario Street Over the August long weekend, Ontario street will be closed to traffic, allowing foodies to taste their way through the city and lounge in Muskoka chairs under the sun. With expanded patios and bistro dining, foodies can enjoy a variety of cuisines. Ontario Street is home to several notable restaurants including Feast On-certified Dianne’s Fish Shake and Smokehouse (East Coast meets Mexican), Wooden Heads (gourmet wood-fired pizza), Namaste (fine Indian cuisine), Mio Gelato, and White Mountain Homemade Ice Cream. County Sips Wine Tours This is the ultimate foodie’s day out -- enjoying a variety of wineries and a local market. Hosted by sommelier Ian Nicholls, the tours begin with a scenic drive to Prince Edward County along the shores of Lake Ontario. All wine tours will include wine tastings at four selected wineries and a lunch at the Waupoos Market. Expert Ian will explain the terroir of PEC, winemaking and tasting while showcasing the beauty of The County. The tours run on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sundays with different itineraries offered each day. Each tour departs at 9:15am and returns to Kingston by 5:45pm. Check out hotel packages here. For the Explorer Kingston Penitentiary Closed less than 10 years ago and now open to the public for tours, the explorers in the family can venture into Canada’s oldest maximum security prison. The facility is now offering two new tours for the season: Architecture Tour, where visitors dive into early history of the buildings and the architects and planners responsible for drafting and building the institution; and a Film Tour, where guests visit various areas of the site and learn about how they were used in film, the different productions that filmed there and learn about how these films were made. For the Thrill-Seeker Kingston Haunted Walk For the family thrill seeker, this ghost tour’s spooky stops include haunted hotels, hidden burial grounds, grave robbings, hangings at the old courthouse and Kingston’s famous haunted courtyard. The Ghosts of Fort Henry Walk explores Kingston’s spooky 19th-century fortress and its many
4 Reasons to Take Your Teen to FAN EXPO in Toronto The Family Zone. This year, FAN EXPO is featuring its Family Zone, which offers the FAN EXPO experience to people of all ages. There is something the whole family can enjoy this year from August 22-25—taking part in the sorting hat ceremony, playing Quidditch, or watching a Knight Fight! The Zone will occupy 10,000 square feet of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and will be packed full of activities the entire family can enjoy. For a full list of activities, click here. The celebrity guests. John Travolta (Grease), Brendan Fraser (The Mummy), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), and Zachary Levi (Shazam!) will be among the guests at FAN EXPO this year. Meet and take a picture with your favourite star during their scheduled Photo Booth times! The shopping. Tons of retailers from all over pack into over 400,000 square feet for the ultimate shopping experience. Specializing in everything gaming, comics, anime, fantasy and horror, these vendors will have exactly what you’re looking for, whether it be DVDs, games, memorabilia or branded merchandise from your favourite series. The Artist Alley. A must-see at FAN EXPO, the Artist Alley showcases the people behind the scenes of your favourite comics and shows. Here you’ll find original art, up-and-coming comics and graphic novels, and limited edition prints! You can find new talent and seasoned pros in Artist Alley, so take your time going through the booths. There is something here for everyone and you never know what you might find.
5 Waterparks in Ontario You and Your Teen Will Love By Rosalind Stefanac The heat is on, and for those of us who don’t own a cottage or backyard pool, waterparks are a great way to keep cool and have some fun with your teens in the process. Here are my top picks for teen-friendly outdoor water parks in Ontario to check out this summer—and they all feature private cabanas for rental if you’re looking for privacy, shade and poolside bar service. Bingemans Big Splash Kitchener, Ontario Why they’ll love it: In addition to 11 water slides and a large wave pool, the park features a big indoor arcade, outdoor mini-golf and dedicated space for beach volleyball. Lots of open spaces for playing frisbee too. Why you’ll love it: Free parking! You can bring your own food/cooler (no alcohol or glass) and can camp on the premises via tent, container cabin or log cabin (there are 450 campsites available). Campers get access to a lovely gated pool and poolside loungers too. Calypso Limoges, Ontario Why they’ll love it: The biggest of the bunch with 35 waterslides and a wide selection of water games. My teen (and I) loved the Kongo Expedition, a lazy river that took us through jungle-like caves and unexpected waterfalls via inner tube. The park also houses Canada’s largest wave pool at 50,000 square feet, with waves hitting up to 1.5 metres above the surface. Why you’ll love it: If you don’t rent a cabana, there are lots of shaded, grassy areas with picnic tables for reading or napping while the teens are occupied. You can bring your own picnic, plus there are several bars/eateries on site. Well worth the drive even if you’re outside of Ottawa. Splashworks: Canada’s Wonderland Vaughan, Ontario Why they’ll love it: Thrill-seekers will get a kick out of the 60-foot tall Muskoka Plunge or the Super Soaker, which takes rafters spiraling down a dark tunnel to plummet into a splash pool. Even my 17-year-old, who is rarely impressed by anything, rated the day a 9/10 (point lost due to lineups). Why you’ll love it: Once the water park closes at 7 p.m., there is still a massive amusement park within the premises included with your admission, which means easy access to more rides, shows/concerts and plenty of restaurants. Just note that the waterpark’s cabanas sell out quickly so book at least a week in advance. Wet ’n’ Wild Toronto Brampton, Ontario Why they’ll love it: Thrilling slides, such
4 Things To Do With Your Teen In Toronto This Summer Summer may be half over but there is still time to have some serious fun with your teen. In a bustling city like Toronto, with so much to do, the options can sometimes be overwhelming. Whether you want to make it a day out with the family or if you only have a few hours to spare, we have something for you! Go to Canada’s Wonderland. Wonderland has something to offer all family members of all ages. Check out the new ride, The Yukon Striker, which is the longest, tallest and fastest dive coaster in the world. If rollercoasters aren’t your thing, check out Wonderland’s waterpark, Splash Works, where you can cool down and experience waterslides and wave pools. Take them to the Museum of Illusions. Of interest to kids, adults, and everything in between, the Museum of Illusions offers a one-of-a-kind interactive art experience that blends science and psychology. With more than 70 different illusions, there is a great balance of simple illusions and advanced mind-benders that make you question your own perception. Make sure you visit the vortex tunnel! Take them to Casa Loma. The gothic castle is a landmark in Toronto, where you can visit the past by viewing their Classic Car Collection and their Dark Side of Toronto photo exhibit. Or, you can experience their escape room series! Try the immersive and theatrical King of the Bootleggers escape room, set in 1920s Toronto during prohibition, where you must take cues from the actors and work with your team to become the new Kings and Queens of the Bootleggers. Visit The Funhouse. The Funhouse is an immersive experience created by visual and musical artists from across Toronto. You begin in a 1920s hotel, then get lured deeper into a multi-sensory maze of 14 featured rooms. Blending visual arts, music and immersive tech for an alternate universe, the Funhouse is always different (you choose your own adventure!) for a unique experience for everyone. Photos courtesy of Tourism Toronto.
One Train, One Tween, One Unforgettable Trip By Rachel Naud “We’re doing WHAT?” That was my 11-year-old son’s reaction when I told him instead of flying home, we were going to take the Via train from Winnipeg to Toronto. “Well…. how long is THAT going to take?” he asked with a facial expression, I like to call the “tween tick.” It’s when he looks half-pissed and mostly confused. “Two nights, two-and-a-half days(ish),” I said tipping my hand from side to side. “MOM, actually?!” “Yes, it will be fun!” “But there’s wi-fi, right?!” I wasn’t ready to drop that no-tech bomb, yet. Instead, I gently tickled under his chin and said, “don’t worry, you’ll like it.” The train The journey from Winnipeg to Toronto takes approximately one full day, 13 hours and 59 minutes on The Canadian. We opted for a sleeper car for two, which during the day contains two spacious seats, a big window and a private bathroom and sink with electrical outlets. During the evening, the seats disappear, and the attendant pulls out the bunk beds, which are hidden in the walls until turn-down service at night. With sleeper car status, comes the ability to walk about the trains, soak in the panoramic scenery in the dome car, play some games and grab a snack in the lounge and, of course, indulge in the fine cuisine that is served up in the dining car every breakfast, lunch and dinner. The experience You’ll want to stock up on books, download movies on your iPad and save your favourite tunes on your phone because the wi-fi is basically non-existent. And I don’t say this with any disdain. In fact, I was pleasantly pleased that my son couldn’t log on to his video games or Netflix account, and instead had to soak in the real travel experience. Instead of battling it out on Fortnite or having his face glued to his screen watching 100 consecutive episodes of Bob’s Burgers, he (gasped!) Looked. Out. The. Window. He pointed to the cool scenery, let his mind wonder and started conversations about the topography and geography of Canada. During meals, he sat with complete strangers and heard about their stories of being farmers, as Americans seeing Canada for the first time and even met a young English man from London travelling the country to meet up with a friend. All different faces with different backgrounds, but my 11-year-son managed to come up with common ground with each of
5 Reasons to Take your Teen to Deerhurst Resort This Summer Want a fun getaway with the family this summer? An escape to Deerhurst Resort, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Toronto, is just the destination to experience a mix of cottage life with all the amenities of a four-star getaway. Situated in Huntsville, Ontario in the picturesque Muskoka region, Deerhurst Resort offers something for everyone in the family — including even the pickiest of teens. Need a reason why your teen will love a stay at Deerhurst? We have five. The amenities. The main lodge alone boasts several restaurants to cater to a myriad of tastes! In the morning, fuel your day with the breakfast buffet at the Eclipse Dining Room where your family can serve themselves early morning favourites, including pancakes, eggs and bacon, muffins and more. For a casual lunch or dinner, head to Maple Pub & Patio for pub classics, including burgers, pizzas and fish and chips. For a more sophisticated dining experience, the Compass Grill & Bar, located just steps from the main lobby, serves up tender plates of steak and wild boar, while still offering up teen-friendly fare such as beef tacos and chicken wings. To burn off all those delicious meals, the year-round rock-climbing wall and indoor pool offer the ideal opportunity to burn off energy and keep the kids happy, rain or shine! Want to connect with nature? Head to on-site Stoneleigh Farms to go on horse rides on the trail or visit the petting farm. The accommodations. This summer marks the introduction of Lakeside Lodge, Deerhurst Resort’s newest accommodations! With sizes that range from Studio to Three-Bedroom Lodges, guests can get the cottage experience on the water while enjoying all the amenities of the resort. These new accommodations boast a contemporary style with rustic accents and include an eat-in kitchen, gas fireplace and balcony. Not in the mood to cook? The main pavilion is a short 10-minute walk so you can enjoy dinners at the resort. The activities. To celebrate the opening of Lakeside Lodge, Deerhurst’s “This Is Summer” package offers fun daily activities until Sept. 1. Some activities are free and include an inflatable water park on the lake, sunset hike & campfire, early morning paddle experience and classic lawn games. Additional activities that can be booked include tree-top trekking, boat cruises and ATV tours, to name a few. The fun. Head into town
3 Reasons to go to The Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018 Exhibit Have you thought about some places you might want to visit this summer? If so, here’s a site worth traveling to. Just picture being surrounded by luscious plants and flowers while gazing at the most beautiful sculptures of Gatineau, and spending some much needed time with your teen. From now until October 15th The Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018 exhibit is open to the public for viewing. This year’s theme is “A Marvelous Voyage” and consists of 45 magnificent floral pieces surrounding Jacques-Cartier Park. This exhibit is a must-see, with more than 5.5 million plants used to design such majestic sculptures each exhibiting a piece of Canadian history. Need a reason to take your teen? We have three. It encourages Canadian history Your teen will benefit from the history behind some of these figures such as The Man Who Planted Trees, The Drum Dancer, The Howling Wolf, and Mother Earth, just to name a few. Each sculpture represents a story, every piece brings the essence of the story alive in a remarkable, profound way that’s breathtaking to the eyes and engages questions that’ll manifest the curiosity in your teen to learn more. History has made a huge impact on the pieces they’ll witness throughout the exhibit; the plaques represent the story behind each sculpture to encourage learning every step of the way. It exposes teens to art Another great reason to bring your teen to the exhibit is for the exposure to art they’ll experience. 45 different pieces surround the park, all offering something quite unique, such as the Bird Tree: a sculpture that represents as many as 50 endangered species. This piece is 52-ft high and weighs over 100 tonnes. An astounding 350,000 plants were used to create such magnificent work that raises the awareness of such talents from the creators who have taken mountain climbing and trapeze courses to perfect the trimming of the trees. Whether it’s plants or flowers, each sculpture is handcrafted into something quite breathtaking that should be witnessed in real time. The sculptures have a way of sparking up creativity or inspiration and that’s something we want our teens to exercise, especially during the summer when all they want to do is shut their brains off and relax. It’s a perfect way to keep their minds stimulated. It fosters bonding time Finally, the third reason you should visit the Mosaïculture Gatineau 2018 exhibit
4 Reasons To Take Your Teen To Clear Lake, Manitoba Families looking to experience a quintessential Canadian beach town need look no further than Wasagaming in Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba. As soon as you enter the log cabin-looking gates of the provincial park, you will be transported to a place that’s packed with adventure, wildlife, amazing food and scenery that will leave an imprint on your memory for years to come. Surrounded by lush forest, Wasagaming, otherwise known as Clear Lake, is located about three hours northwest of Winnipeg. During the summer, the hotspot is bustling with vacationers — young and old. If you’re looking to impress your tween and teen with a family getaway they won’t soon forget, don’t miss out on these four things to do and see in Clear Lake. The Lakehouse Before you begin exploring the area, stake your basecamp at The Lakehouse. Located in the heart of the main stretch of Wasagaming, just steps away from the beach, this boutique hotel is not only the perfect place to stay, but it also serves as a hotbed for entertainment. Whether they are staying there or not, the main lobby is bustling with vacationers lined up at the ice cream, coffee and smoothie bar. The adjoining lounge, fitted with sink-into chocolate leather lounge chairs, a cozy fireplace and reclaimed wood bar and tables, is the ideal setting for the lodge’s trivia, boozy bingo and live music nights. In the back of the resort, where you access the hotel rooms, is two hot tubs, barbecue stations, and sitting/lounging areas, all underneath a canopy of twinkle lights, that look nothing less than magical on a warm summer’s night. The rooms are comfortable and contemporary with reclaimed wood headboards, brightly coloured furniture and convenient amenities every family needs, such as a microwave and fridge. Don’t leave without picking up a Lakehouse souvenir — the stylish logo is printed on everything from candles and coffee cups to T-shirts and sweaters. Clear Lake Marina You can’t help but be drawn to the crystal clear waters of Clear Lake. It’s the perfect place to swim, water ski, wake-board, canoe, and paddleboard. To soak in the scenery from a whole new perspective, head to the Clear Lake Marina where you can rent everything from a motorboat to a paddle boat or take the family on a dinner or sunset cruise on the Martese. Not only will your teen capture some