If you’re a parent, particularly one still in the trenches of diapers, daycare and and crackers in the car seats, the concept of “date night” with your partner might seem like a hazy, distant memory. Between work, kids and other commitments, it can be hard to find the time, and, let’s face it, energy. But let’s say the stars align and you do have a free evening (and babysitter), where do you go? The standard dinner and a movie is great, but if you’re searching for something different, experiential and local to do, look no further than Oakville’s very own craft brewery. Continue Reading…
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Bronte Creek Provincial Park is one of our family’s favourite outdoor spots in Halton Region. I was super excited to check out their Victorian Christmas event this year. We hadn’t been since 2012 (see my post from that time), and had never been with Em. The marketing specialist, Andrew, assured me that the event this year’s event was the best yet, with even more games, activities and decorations, and we couldn’t wait to check it out.
Halton Region has just been blanketed by its first layer of snow this season, outdoor holiday lights are being hung and kids everywhere are eagerly anticipating Santa’s arrival. If you (like me) cringe at the thought of taking your family to a crowded mall to wait in line for hours, burdened by heavy coats and squirmy kids, for your 30 second visit with Santa, take heart. There is another option.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park’s Victorian Christmas offers visitors the chance to experience an old-fashioned Christmas, complete with a year 1900 heritage home decked out for the holidays, traditional games, crafts, songs and activities (and baking!). In addition, visitors have the opportunity to visit a sweet little rustic cabin on the property, enticed by the smell of apple cider and the sounds of jingle bells and a a cheerful “ho ho ho” chuckle. Yes, Santa is in residence at Bronte Creek, and instead of this:
Now that the kids are 2 and 4.5 years old, it’s easier and more fun to take them on daytrips and special outings. They have longer attention spans and can really engage in activities. It’s also special stage in our family life in that we are now building traditions and memories with them. One of our favourite activities is exploring nature and getting up close and personal with animals- so for the second time in their lives, we went to the Royal Agricultural Fair in Toronto!
“The Royal” as its known, brings country to the city. Hundreds of exhibitor and farmers from across the province all converge at the Exhibition grounds in Toronto to display their sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, goats, llamas, rabbits, etc. (basically, any animal you can imagine being raised on a farm), compete in shows and interact with the public. There’s a petting zoo, kids area with toy tractors, slides and other activities to engage little ones. The kids really enjoyed the Superdogs presentation (dog agility races and tricks) and got a huge kick out of milking a pretend cow and watching a horse competition (they were thrilled when their favourite horse won the 1st place ribbon).
It was funny to see 2-year old Em’s reaction to the loud baa-ing of the sheep (when there are about 20 of them in nearby pens all loudly clamouring for food it can be quite a scene). She was quite shocked and covered her ears, but when we visited the petting zoo and she saw her sister getting to feed the goats some pellets, she bravely wanted to try too. She loved it! So fun to see them interacting with such beautiful creatures and learning through play.
We definitely had a great time at the Royal and will be back in the future for sure. Thinking about going? Here’s what you need to know:
- Kids 3 and under get in free. Adults are $25 each. You can purchase tickets online in advance, or at the ticket booth. There is a self-serve kiosk as well- which we used with no issues.
- Get there early. They open at 9 and we were there by 9:15. It gets crowded quickly but it was quite busy at noon when we left. We went on a Friday when there are lots of school groups. Never been on a weekend but I imagine its busy then too.
- You may be tempted to leave the stroller at home, but don’t. Yes, there’s lots of other people pushing strollers and wheelchairs but there is a lot of walking involved so it’s great to have a place to put tired kids. Plus, you’ll need a place to put coats, sippy cups, etc. Safety wise, be aware that there are animals being led around in main thoroughfares and its entirely possible a runaway toddler could crash into a startled cow.
- Bring baby wipes! There are tons of hand sanitizer stations and handwash stations throughout the fair (there’s a lot of manure around and high touch surfaces…no one wants e.coli at the end of the day) but be prepared to wipe down little hands often.
- Aaand on that note, don’t wear your best shoes. Rubber boots are great for adults and well-loved runners are good for kids (unless they can walk easily in their boots). You may very well step in something.
- There is a food court with tons of yummy options but to avoid meltdowns and empty wallets, bring snacks if you can (even just juice boxes, veggies and crackers to tide them over during long waits). Try to avoid peak mealtimes so you can be sure you get a seat, but there are other less crowded spots in the venue that have shorter lines and spots to sit (near the horse paddocks and the Marlies hockey rink especially).
- There are some awesome vendors in the main hall. Bring cash to get the best deals! You could easily spend hours shopping there (er, if you didn’t have kids in tow).
Check out www.royalfair.org for more info. Say hi to the goats for us!
Winter in Ontario has been a long, drawn out affair. Endless days and weeks (turned into months) of bone-chilling cold and heavy snowfalls conspired to keep kids and their weary parents and teachers inside far more than they would have liked. But spring is coming. It’s coming. Birds are chirping, snow is melting and the scent of maple syrup is in the air. With that in mind this past weekend, Cat and I decided to go to one of our favourite spots in Halton Region, Bronte Creek Provincial Park, to check out their Maple Syrup Festival.