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    by KATE POCOCK
    Family Travel Ink

Eastern and Northern Ontario's Top Ten Family Vacation Experiences


  • Ottawa River Rafting and Kayaking: safe family floats just west of Ottawa as well as exciting family trips in rafts and kayaks. Wilderness Tours, Madawaska Kanu Centre, and Owl Rafting ride the rapids in a kid-friendly way. All offer safety lessons, overnight accommodation, tasty meals and kid-size equipment.

  • Rockhounding in Bancroft: three weekly guided outings with patient geologists during July and August. Families are led to various sites to find crystals, minerals and rocks in the Mineral Capital of Canada. Goggles and hammers provided.

  • Ottawa: every kid needs to visit the Nation’s Capital at least once in a lifetime to see Parliament Hill and the summertime Changing of the Guard. Terrific museums such as the National Museum of Science and Technology, Museum of Nature and the Currency Museum (where money is made), and a scene for teens in Byward Market.

  • Living History: Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg: Stroll through this bustling 1860s farming community and let the kids try on costumes, bake bread, sit at a desk in the one-room schoolhouse or ride the horse-drawn ferry, Children’s Activity Centre, July-August.

  • Fort Henry: daily programs include a children’s military muster parade, firearm demonstrations, battle re-enactments and “learning” sessions in the one-room schoolhouse. Sunset ceremony with fireworks Wedneday evenings July-Aug.

  • Eco-experiences at the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve: the world’s longest forest canopy walkway hangs 20 yards above the pine forest floor. It’s a unique experience to embark on this two hour trek through the tree tops. Paddle a Voyageur canoe across Marsh Lake, learn about wolves at the Wolf Centre

  • Old Fort William, Thunder Bay: embark on a two-day Voyageur Overnight Adventure with children 10 and older. Don Voyageur style clothing to paddle down the river, sleep in a tent, and learn how to make moccasins or other crafts before returning to the Fort. Otherwise, it’s fun just to walk around the Fort and discover life as a fur trader or Ojibwa native.

  • Canoeing in Algonquin Park with Voyageur Quest: John Langford’s cozy log cabin in the northwest corner of Algonquin Park serves as home base for families as they ride in a Voyageur canoe, visit a First Nations elder or hike the trails.

  • Houseboating in Temagami: rent a houseboat for a week to cruise through the beautiful Temagami lakes. Several companies in Temagami accommodate families and groups.

  • Anishnabe Experience: Linda Sarazin of the First Nations reserve on Golden Lake near Renfrew knows kids and what they can absorbe. Sleep in a real tepee on cedar branches around a fire pit, feast on bannock tacos and tea and learn about First Nations culture.

  • Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village, Whitby: the most popular tourist attraction between Toronto and Ottawa and perfect for smaller children. Some 160 miniature buildings, lakes, forests and streets teem with tiny people riding amusement park rides, waterskiing around the lake or watching television in their tiny homes. It’s fun for big people too.
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