Rice Lake Ontario, With Kids

I’m going to hold my hands up here and admit that I didn’t do my research so well when I stumbled upon Rice Lake as a place to stay while in Ontario. My friend who lives in Canada had suggested the Kawartha Lakes as being an ideal place to visit that is not too far from Toronto and Guelph (where they live) and somehow Southview Cottages on Rice Lake stood out as being much more reasonably priced than many of the other cottage resorts. Turns out Rice Lake isn’t technically a Kawartha Lake, but it’s more ‘in the region’. Whoops!

Thankfully for us we haven’t seen any of Ontario’s other lakes so we had nothing to compare it against and we thought it was stunning. It’s just an hour and a half from Toronto and was ideally placed for us visiting some of the surrounding area during our week there.

STAY

We stayed at the Southview Cottage Resort which I genuinely couldn’t fault. No, I lie, we arrived in the middle of a crazy heat wave and the cottage’s air con system was pretty old and not so effective so we may have melted into puddles in the first couple of days. That aside though, the cottage was spacious, clean and equipped with everything we needed for the week (including gas BBQ hooked up to the cottage’s gas supply). The resort also upgraded us from a Lakeview cottage to a Lakeside one free of charge on arrival and we couldn’t have been better placed to take in the stunning views of the lake.

On site was a heated pool and toddler wading pool,  a brand new play park, a lovely selection of nature walks AND you have free use of the canoes and pedalos as well as the option to hire a boat for the day too.

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Unfortunately you need to have a boating license so we didn’t think we would be able to properly go out on the lake. Luckily though, we met a lovely Canadian couple who were licensed to drive a boat so we had a great day out fishing with them and their two children. And T caught a fish all by himself. I’m not exaggerating when I say that moment was the highlight of his entire holiday.

Explore

I don’t think the kids would have been bored if we had stayed in the resort for the entire week as they just loved being in the pool and swimming in the lake. But us adults did want to see what else the area had to offer.

Peterborough

Our first full day on Rice Lake fell on Canada day and we heard the nearest large town would be holding various celebrations so we headed over to check it out and got to watch their Canada Day parade.

We also took some time to wander around Millennium Park which sits on the Otonabee River in downtown Peterborough. The Park features a landscaped walking path with sculptures, flower beds, the Butterfly Garden, grassy areas and benches.

Bewdley

The community of Bewdley (population of about 650 people) was around a 15 minute drive from our resort and we took ourselves out there for lunch and an explore one afternoon. It sits on the western side of Rice Lake and has a great play park right in front of the lake so the kids can play while you take in the beautiful views.

We had lunch in Rhinos Roadhouse, a great traditional Canadian restaurant which sits on the main road and had a lovely outside area for you to take in the view.

Cobourg

Around a 40 minute drive away is the town of Cobourg, a fantastic beach town on the banks of Lake Ontario. We enjoyed a few hours at and by the beach building sand castles, swimming, playing at the parks and in the splash park, checking out the boats in the marina and grabbing ice creams. I’d definitely recommend it for a proper beach day if you’re in the area.

 

Muddy’s Pit BBQ

Muddy’s Pit BBQ just deserves a section of its own. We would never have known about it was it not for a lovely local recommending it. Situated in a little town called Keene, only the locals seem to know about it (which I love). The food is served at the counter like in a deli and you sit on picnic benches to tuck in. We had the carnivore sampler with baked beans and mac n cheese. No frills but AMAZING tasting food, great beer and live music, and it’s so relaxed that the kids can run around freely without bothering people. If you’re in the area you MUST give it a visit.

We had a fantastic week exploring Rice Lake and the surrounding area and could easily have stayed longer. Have you visited this area of Ontario before? What would you recommend?

Cx

 

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Toronto With Kids

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about doing a city break with the kids, having never done anything like this with them before. But since we were flying into Toronto from Edinburgh we couldn’t very well pass up a chance to see at least a little of this beautiful city on the first stop of our break in Ontario.

Thankfully Toronto is an incredibly child-friendly city with so much going on for the whole family that there was really nothing to worry about (apart from the searing heat, which really affected all our energy levels).

I’ve detailed below some of the things we got up to that will hopefully provide a lil inspiration if you’re thinking about visiting with your kids.

CN Tower Restaurant

The CN Tower used to be the highest free-standing structure in the world (at 1815 feet) until the Burj Khalifa overtook it in 2008. The prospect of going to the top of a ridiculously tall building is pretty exciting for kids (our eldest at least) so we didn’t want to leave without doing this.

We opted to make a reservation at the restaurant for lunch as it means skipping the queues (which can apparently be up to 2 hours long) and, although a bit pricey for food, removing the stress of trying to entertain two children in a huge queue…well that’s priceless isn’t it!

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To access the Tower itself costs 38 CAD (ages 13-64) and 28 CAD (ages 4-12) so for 65 CAD per adult and 12 CAD per child to eat AND access the glass floor afterwards doesn’t make the cost seem so eye-watering. The restaurant itself sits on a revolving floor so no matter where you’re seated, you’re guaranteed to see every view! All in the comfort of your own space with no crowds surrounding you and, if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy it all with a large glass of wine in your hand. The restaurant itself is really child-friendly. They get their own menu, special cups to drink from and some colouring in to do if, like our youngest, they’re not interested in watching planes land at Billy Bishop airport just across the lake or attempting to spot ant-like people walking in the streets below.

After our lunch we were escorted down to the next level to check out the view again and then the next floor down for the glass floor. To be honest, after experiencing the view from the restaurant, we didn’t feel like this had the same level of excitement for us. However T enjoyed chilling out on the glass floor for a bit.

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To plan your experience check out their website here.

Toronto Railway Museum

Conveniently located just across the road from the CN Tower and with a really low entrance fee (5 CAD for over 14s and 3 CAD for under 14s), this was a perfect way to while away an afternoon. There’s a fab train simulator so you can have a go yourself at being a train driver, plus you can explore some of the real carriages.

Note that if the kids want to go on the miniature train ride outside this is an extra cost (3.50 CAD for over 14s and 2.50 CAD for under 14s).

The museum is also conveniently located just beside the Steam Whistle Brewery, so you can grab one of Canada’s premium Pilsners and enjoy the views before heading on your way.

You can find out more about the Railway Museum here.

Centre Island

A perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and it’s only a 10 minute ferry journey (which in itself is an adventure for kids, well ours at least), you can easily visit Centre Island over a couple of days as there is just so much to see and do.

And why rush it? Take a picnic and check out the beautiful fountains, gardens, maze, Franklin Children’s Garden, beach, park and splash pad.

If that’s not enough for you, go along to Centreville Amusement Park for that carnival fun of times gone-by. Great for younger children, no scary rollercoasters, just great fun rides, including a Ferris Wheel with amazing views of the Toronto skyline, log flume, twirling teacups and pony rides. You can also pop along to the Far Away Farm petting zoo which is completely free.

For opening hours of both and prices for Centreville check out their website here.

If you have the time, and the funds allow, I would take a day to explore the Island and then pop back for another day just for Centreville and Far Away Farm.

You can get the Centre Island Ferry schedule and up to date pricing here.

Ontario Science Centre

We had THE best day out here. There is an entire floor of the Ontario Science Centre dedicated to children’s exploration and fun. There is genuinely too many activities to note. Our two didn’t even do everything there was on offer but they did have a chance to find out a little more about space, play with bubbles, water, torches and balls, help build some walls, play in the supermarket, play in the ‘vegetable patch’ and read books. And this is just some of the fun we had.

It’s a bit of a drive out of the city centre, but well worth a visit. There’s even an IMAX cinema!

For prices and opening hours and up to date info about what’s on, check out their website.

Chinatown

Head to Chinatown for dinner and let the kids explore the market stalls and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurants. We chose a fabulous low-key restaurant and were surprised at how child-friendly it was. We got great advice on the right kinds of dishes for the kids in terms of spice and portion size and they barely blinked at the mess and noise we created, and not just by the kids. I managed to drop a scalding bowl of soup and wontons were flying ALL over the place! Needless to stay, we didn’t stay too long after this. Also, after some of the expenses of the previous days we couldn’t believe our entire meal came to less than 50 CAD.

Harbour

We happened upon the harbour a little by chance as we had some time to kill before our lunch at the CN Tower and we could have easily made an afternoon of our visit. There’s a man-man beach with Muskoka chairs to chill in while watching the planes landing at Billy Bishop Airport just across the lake, or to take in the amazing view of the CN Tower.

Streetcars

The Toronto Streetcars are not only a fabulous way to get around the city, for children they are pretty darn exciting to hop on and off. The routes and pricing are really easy to get the hang of so don’t be afraid of trying them out. We loved this guide to the Streetcars when we were doing our research ‘How to Take a Streetcar in Toronto’ so do check it out.

There’s obviously soo many other things to do in Toronto with kids…Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium, Hockey Hall of Fame and Riverdale Farm but we didn’t want to feel as thought we’d rushed around simply to tick things off a list. We had so much fun doing the things we did that we left the city feeling like we would happily visit again and again and always find something new to do.

Have you visited Toronto with your children? What are your recommendations?

Cx

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