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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Family Day Weekend in Ontario, a time for fun

   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 11/12
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Here are ways to keep everyone happy on the Family Day Weekend in Ontario.
   This includes outdoor adventures in parks, indoor Kids-Fests and Snowman Mania – in spite of the absence of winter.
Family Day weekend events include cruising along the 300-metre skate path at Arrowhead Provincial Park north of Huntsville. (Ontario Parks photo)
   Walk on the wild side
    - Ontario Parks suggests the following including Winter in the Wild at Algonquin Provincial Park.
   The Saturday (Feb. 18) event starts with a guided morning bird walk, lunch at the visitor centre and a visit to the "Collection Room" with natural history items including bird and animal skins, pinned insect and plant specimens, some of which are 80-years old.

Naturalists lead a guided morning walk to see and hear the birds at Algonquin Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks photo)
   An afternoon guided snowshoe walk will search for winter wildlife tracks while at night, there’s skating at the Mew Lake Campground that has heated yurts (wooden tent-like structures) for optional overnight rentals (reservations necessary).
   There will also be a bonfire, barbecue, fireside wolf program and howl, and night hike.
   A winter day pass ($16 a vehicle) is all that’s required plus the cost of meals.
Skating along an icy trail is a fun activity at the parks.  (Ontario Parks photos)
   - Head to Killarney Provincial Park on the north shore of Georgian Bay for events from Feb. 18 to 20.
   Killarney has 33 kilometres of cross-country ski trails and six heated yurts at the George Lake Campground.
   Events include star gazing at the new observatory (weather permitting) on Saturday night, a free barbecue lunch on Sunday, guided snowshoe hike and a workshop on building a quinzee (snow mound hut).
   On Sunday night, astronomer Bruce Waters will give a presentation at the Killarney Bay Inn.
   - Skate through the woods at Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of Huntsville.
   The new 300-metre skate path winds through the East River campground where sites are equipped with picnic tables and campfire rings so skaters can roast hotdogs and marshmallows.
   Arrowhead has some of the best groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails and a great tubing hill.
   - A skate path snakes its way through MacGregor Point Provincial Park, two hours northwest of London, on Lake Huron.
A guided snowshoe walk will search for winter wildlife tracks during Family Day weekend events at Algonquin Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks photo)
   The path is lighted for night skating and there is an outdoor hockey pad, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, along with heated yurts.
   - Skate to music at Bronte Creek Provincial Park in the Oakville area on a “massive outdoor oval” along with a Children’s Farm and Playbarn that’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   For details and to check about ice and snow conditions: www.ontarioparks.com

   And, the fun just keeps on coming
   - Ontario Tourism has these suggestions starting with Toronto Kids-Fest (International Centre) and Hamilton (Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum) from Feb. 18 to 20.
   It’s where children can “bounce, laugh, play, run and scream in some of North America's largest indoor inflatables,” play Laser Tag, rock climb and enjoy a stage show.
Kids-Fest in Toronto and Hamilton is "Canada's largest indoor inflatable show" with a day of bouncing, laughing, crawling and screaming. (Handout)
    - Blue Mountain Village has free activities over the three days including free-flying birds of prey shows, guided snowshoeing, horse and carriage rides, a fire dance show and fireworks.
   - Rink at the Brink in Niagara Falls is an outdoor ice skating rink “a snowball's throw” from the Horseshoe Falls. It has “breathtaking views and a magical outdoor Niagara Falls ice-skating experience,” through Feb. 29.
   - Snowman Mania means winter fun in Wasaga Beach from Feb. 16 to 20 with skating, skiing, a ball hockey tournament, dance, pancake breakfast, chili cook-off and live entertainment.
   - In Toronto, the Canadian International Auto Show runs from Feb. 17 to 26; the Royal Ontario Museum features Mayan secrets through April 9; there’s an open house at Fort York on Feb. 20; HarbourKids activities Feb. 19 and 20 at Harbourfront; and special events at the Toronto Zoo, Feb. 18 to 20.
   Details at: www.ontariotravel.net; 1-800-ONTARIO

   Stay in style
   The Sheraton Centre Toronto, across from Nathan Phillips Square, has many free activities for guests.
   Across from the city hall skating rink and connected to the underground PATH system for shopping, activities next Saturday and Sunday include swimming classes in the large indoor/outdoor pool, family yoga classes, Art Barn School with interactive arts and crafts, movies and Medieval Times’ Be a Knight for the Day chivalry lessons.
   There is free hot chocolate for kids, golf swing analysis and special offers at Senses Spa.
   The Family Day package available Feb. 17 to 20 starts at $149 a room nightly. 1-866-716-8101; www.sheraton.com/tospecials


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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