Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling.
Get out of Ottawa with a road trip to Ontario’s Highlands where the snow is pristine and sparkling, and memories with family and friends are waiting to be made. Whether you have a day to get away, a weekend, or a full week, here are five ideas for family-oriented fun that will lift your spirits and keep your pant legs slush-free.
Glide Over Ice
Strap on your skates and glide beneath the sun or stars at an outdoor rink or trail. The Laurentian Valley Skating Trail near Pembroke is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is the perfect place to stretch your skating legs. Wander along a more than two-kilometre skating trail beneath towering trees. Check ahead to make sure ice conditions are optimal.
Skate the day away then stay the night and wander the city of Pembroke. The Best Western Pembroke Inn & Conference Centre is a great place to stay with the kids, who will love the indoor heated pool, saunas and hot tub. Parents will love the complimentary breakfast the next morning.
Pet Baby Animals
What says spring more than baby – or any – animals? Grab the kids for a sun-filled day in Lanark County and a visit to Serendipity Farm Alpacas & Llamas and feel furry llama or alpaca fleece, a fibre that’s as fine as cashmere but warmer than sheep’s wool. You can even take a llama for a walk, how fun is that? The farm and store are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on most weekend and holidays, all year long.
After filling up on baby animal love you can extend your visit with a stay at the beautiful Clyde Hall Bed and Breakfast, just a hop, skip, and a snowball throw away. Waken to a delicious maple breakfast made using maple syrup produced from the property’s maple trees.
It may feel like spring but that doesn’t mean winter’s fun is over. Spring skiing or snowboarding is the best experience – not too cold and not too warm (Goldilocks would approve). Only an hour from Ottawa, Calabogie Peaks is fun for both adults and adults-in-training. The kids will love stretching their snow wings on the terrain parks, or they can zip downhill on a snowtube. Your mountainside adventure doesn’t need to end with the setting sun, you can also visit Mount Pakenham and hurtle downhill at night for a magical starlight experience for the whole family.
Stay right at Calabogie Peaks resort for a spring outing where you won’t need to drive home at the end of a long day of fun in the sun. Soak the sore spots in an outdoor hot tub and you’ll be ready to hit the trails the next day. Fuel up after a day on the slope at Canthooks restaurant, right at the resort.
Sweet Maple Fun
Nothing says spring may finally be here more than the sweet flavour of maple on your tongue. Savour maple syrup in all its glory at Temple's Sugar Bush from the first week of March until the end of April for a pancake breakfast. At Fulton’s Sugar Bush & Maple Shop you can wander on their maple scavenger trail or take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the forest while sampling maple taffy. In Lanark Highlands, the pancake house, trails, and museum at Wheelers Maple is open every day except Christmas Day.
Extend your maple adventure into a weekend or week-long getaway in the 1880s original farmhouse log cabin that’s located on the Wheelers property. The kids will love sleeping back in time in the rustic, cute-as-a-button cabin. The cabin can sleep 13 guests, so you can bring the whole family for this fun maple getaway.
Spas are for Kids
Who says spa days are just for adults? Indulge in a day of pampering at Perth Parkside Inn & Spa. Sit side by side giggling and whispering the day away while tiny fingers and toes are treated to a manicure or pedicure. When you book a spa experience you can also access the spa’s steam room, hot tub and heated indoor pool. Afterwards, fill little bellies at The Locks, or head to Michael's Table for a family-friendly eatery serving up homestyle food, and plenty of it.
After a day of relaxation you won’t want to make the drive back home, and you don’t need to. Book a room at the Perth Best Western and once you’re all deliciously cozy you can wander upstairs to sleep off your #spahangover.
Bowling for Fun
When was the last time you spent a few hours at a bowling alley, knocking down pins and having some good, old-fashioned G-rated fun? Brush up on your bowling skills at Chasin’ Turkeys in Carleton Place, or Gratton Bowling Lanes in Smiths Falls. In Renfrew County you can choose between the Steelheads & Strikes in Arnprior or the Opeongo Bowldrome to get a strike.