Trips with Kids
A Guide to Family Travel March 2008
Disney’s Magical Beginnings
March Break is Here!
a e k Ta Behind ey ls n r Jou he Fal t
Check out the March Break ideas inside
Varley Gallery • Dinos at the ROM • St. Catharines Fun
E E R F
3 Editor’s Baggage Our March Break Issue! 4 Travel Shorts Discover Canada’s most polite city
5 Gadgets & Gear The Great Canadian Game and Cool Toddler Shades 6 Niagara Region March Break Fun Take a Journey Behind the Falls 7 Disney’s Magical Beginnings Introduce your toddler to Disney 8 Toronto Hotspots Find some Dinomite at the ROM
9 On the Hill Talisman Resort Village 10 Destination: Lake Louise Dog Sledding Adventure Cover image: Tigger and young fan at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Editor’s Baggage March Break is here and we’ve got you covered! Welcome to our first March Break issue. We hope the ideas in this magazine will help your family plan a great March Break and ensure that you don’t hear the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” With families these days struggling to find “down time,” without the daily pressures of work, school and homelife, March Break week is the perfect time to organize a trip. If leaving your home for a few days isn’t in the cards, remember that day trips are a great way to get away from your daily routine. Just remember to take off your watch, ignore the deadlines and savour the day with your kids. Dont’ forget to visit tripswithkids.ca to see video of the new dinosaur gallery at the ROM and for a look behind Niagara Falls. There’s also a slideshow on White Meadows Farm and lots of other March Break ideas. Happy Trippin’
TWK Web Bonus This symbol is your invitation to visit the Trips with Kids website to see a web bonus feature.
Trips with Kids Editor: Anna Rodrigues Art Director: Phil Raby All editorial by Anna Rodrigues, unless otherwise indicated. All photos by Phil Raby, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. ISSN 1913-7915
Trips with Kids Magazine and the Trips with Kids website make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information it publishes and posts, but can’t be held responsible for any problems arising from errors or omissions. Advertising inquiries: Stephanie Ashton - 905-239-2936 Trips with Kids Magazine is published four times a year. Subscriptions are $12. To order a subscription, send an e-mail to email@example.com requesting a subscription. Contact: 1101 Queen St East Toronto, Ontario M4M 1K7 Phone: 416.461.4495
Travel Shorts Moncton Tops in P’s and Q’s Canadians are a notoriously polite nation of people, but do you know which of our urban areas holds the title of most polite city? According to an informal survey by Reader’s Digest magazine, Moncton, N.B. earned that distinction among Canada’s 15 largest cities. The magazine sent out two undercover reporters to track the P’s and Q’s of ordinary Canadians by seeing which city’s inhabitants were more likely to hold open doors or pick up a dropped folder. They also kept an eye on sales clerks to see whether shoppers were thanked for their purchases. After Moncton, the next most polite cities were Calgary and Vancouver (tied for second place), followed by Edmonton in third.
On the Cheap Vancouver
Looking for some family fun on Canada’s West Coast? Well, look further. We have some here, and best of all, none of these events will break the bank. Take a look at these freebies. Irish eyes will be smiling during CelticFest Vancouver, running from March 12th to the 16th. Families will especially enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the events going on at Kids Zone in Celtic Village. From magical storytelling to amazing acrobatic acts, there’s something for everyone. All the events at Kids Zone are free. Info:celticfestvancouver.com 4
The Kids Only Market, on Granville Island, is a must-do for families visiting Vancouver. There are 28 stores catering to children, along with two playgrounds.
Image: Tourism Vancouver, VanDusen Garden
Centennial Park is located in Moncton’s downtown area. This 230-acre park is a great place for families to enjoy time together.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a month-long event that begins March 25th. Free events include concerts, exhibits and guided walks in a variety of parks where families can enjoy seeing the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom. Info: vcbf.ca
Image: Tourism Vancouver / John Sinal
Gadgets & Gear Let the Games Begin Want to know what itâ€™s like to own the CN Tower, or how about trading your log cabin for a ski chalet? The Canada-opoly game allows you to do that and more. Itâ€™s lots of fun and kids (and adults) can learn all about this great country of ours. Cost: $34.95 (CDN) Find it at Mastermind Toys 888.388.0000 / mastermindtoys.com
Cool Shades for the Toddlers
The MEC Trekker Sunglasses are perfect for little hands. Offering the same level of protection as adult sunglasses, they are also durable and can weather any abuse heaped on them. Available in blue and pink. Cost: $6.00 (CDN) Find it at Mountain Equipment Co-op 888.847.0770 / mec.ca
Image: Ultimate Ski Vacations
The Ultimate Vacation! Ultimate Ski Vacations will have your family on the slopes of Mont Tremblant in less than three hours for a three- to four-day winter vacation. Flights depart twice a week from Pearson International Airport until the end of March. Prices run from $749 CDN pp (dbl occ). This includes roundtrip airfare; free airport parking in Toronto; 3 nights in a slopeside studio at Les Suites Tremblant; 2-day lift tickets; roundtrip transfers from airport to resort and all taxes & resort fees (except GST). Info: ultimateskivacations.ca
Taking a Break in Niagara This March Break make some plans to visit the Niagara region, where itâ€™s easy to find all-aged family fun. Sugar Shack
March Break just wouldnâ€™t be complete without enjoying great Canadian maple syrup. The best place to get that sugar rush is at White Meadows Farm, the largest maple syrup operation in the Niagara region. Every March, White Meadows presents the Great Sugar Bush Adventure, which begins with a short, bumpy ride in a covered wagon pulled by a tractor.
Take a Journey Behind the Falls and experience the power of the mighty Niagara Falls from a breathtaking vantage point. Be prepared to get wet! Purchase a Niagara Parks Winter Magic Pass to access this attraction and three others for a very low price: $32 for adults; $19 for children and kids under five are free. Info: niagaraparks.com
The goal is to reach a beautiful Carolinian forest that doubles as an interactive lesson in the history of maple syrup. Visitors will be greeted at a variety of stations that depict a different era in the production of the sweet stuff, complete with staff dressed in period costume.
The taffy making demonstration in pioneer-style is a great hit with the kids, as are the fiddlers who play traditional music while families meander the grounds.
The City of St. Catharines has a unique March Break program at the St. Catharines Museum that is sure to delight the history buff in the household.
As well, the Maple Lodge, a cafeteria-style eatery, offers lots of warm shelter along with pancakes, maple syrup and many other yummy homemade menu items. Info: whitemeadowsfarms.com
For five days kids can experience Viking life by becoming one. Costume making, crafts and a special exhibit are all part of this week-long program.. For ages 6 to 11. Info: stcatharineslock3museum.ca
Toddlers at Disney It’s easier than you think
Not sure if your little one is ready for Disney? Well, there’s no need to worry about taking a toddler to the most magical place on earth. Walt Disney World, in Florida, has a couple of programs in place to make sure every person in the family has loads of fun.
Magical Beginnings Knowing where you will be going, what you will be seeing and what to expect is imperative to making sure the visit is enjoyable for the whole family. To make things super-easy for families with small children, a new program has been introduced at WDW called Magical Beginnings. This interactive, easy-to-navigate tool on Disney’s website (www.disneyworld.com) allows the whole family to take a sneak peak at the attractions at all the different theme parks. With every click of the mouse (no pun intended) it’s easy to create a personalized itinerary after viewing descriptions detailing rides, shows and restaurants suitable for the littlest of Mouseketeers.
Don’t Rush Running around to catch every show, secure every character’s autograph and get on every ride at WDW will result in your child having more meltdowns than an ice-cream shop without electricity. Keep in mind that if your to-do list isn’t completely crossed out by the time your visit is over, it won’t mean perpetual banishment from the land of Mickey. To help in the quest to see as much as possible without rushing around, WDW has a special program called Extra Magic Hours. Each day, one of the Walt Disney World theme parks opens one hour early or stays open up to three hours later just for Disney resort guests. As well, using the free FASTPASS service offered at some of the rides at the parks is the best way to avoid the line-ups.
This is how it works: insert your park ticket into the FASTPASS machine and a paper slip will spit out with your time to return, within a one-hour window. Talk about feeling like a VIP…when you come back, you and the little ones will be ushered into a different queue bypassing all the line-ups.
If everyone is a little tired of waiting to get on rides, take a break at one of the many playgrounds at Walt Disney World. A particular favourite with the under five crowd is “Pooh’s Playful Spot,” a Hundred– Acre Wood–themed playground (located in the Magic Kingdom) where Tigger, Eeyore and Winnie are known to put in special appearances. www.tripswithkids.ca
Image: Royal Ontario Museum
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B d n a Dieyn k c â€™re Ba Th
Get up close and personal to a duckbilled dinosaur or say hello to a ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex...not sure this is possible? It now is at the Royal
Ontario Museumâ€™s new dinosaur galleries. Located in the spectacular Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the new James and Louise Termerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs have over 350 fossils on display, including over 20 complete or nearly complete skeletons.
TWK Web Bonus! Check out tripswithkids.ca to watch a video of the Dinosaur Gallery
Find your Inner Artist Children can now take art classes in a beautiful building located in the quaint, historic town of Unionville The Varley Art Gallery has a ton of March Break offerings. There are half-day sessions for kids ages 4 to 6 and full-days for older children, ages 7 to 12. Art classes include a variety of activities ranging from sculpting in plasticine to painting and collage. Other fun workshops include painting portraits and working in mixed-media. As well, kids will have the opportunity to make their own instruments and take part in a mini-concert. Info: varleygallery.ca
Budding dino hunters can spend some time digging for bones in the gallery as well. Info: rom.on.ca/dinos
Family Fun on the Hills
Mixing high-end cuisine with a child at the table is usually a recipe for disaster. Little ones simply can’t see the point in having stuffed pheasant or waiting for their parents to savour a nice glass of pinot noir. In fact, a whine of another sort will most likely ensue even before the appetizers hit the table. But there are places that understand how parents and kids work. At Talisman Resort Village, fine gastronomy is offered with a full children’s buffet, which includes favorites like hotdogs and pizza. As parents wait for their meals, kids can tuck in right away and end it all with a Popsicle or ice cream. But there’s a lot more to this resort, located two hours north of Toronto, than just offering some peace at dinner time for families.
The Commitment to Spectacular
Talisman’s two lodges, Alpine and Mountainside, have enchanting features sure to charm any visitor. Being slopeside makes it easy for guests to enjoy the hill within seconds of leaving their room. The location of the lodges also makes for some beautiful vistas of either the mountain or the valley from the room’s balconies. The suites are ideal for families. They are spacious, and along with two queen-size beds, include a fireplace and a private sitting area. Info: talisman.ca
The motto of Talisman, located in the small town of Kimberly in the Beaver Valley, is to provide all guests with unforgettable experiences, whether they are big or small, through “the commitment to spectacular.” The philosophy is one that began back on a cold January day in 1964. That was the first day the resort opened its doors to the public with just 22 guest rooms, two chair lifts and 350 acres of undeveloped farmland surrounding it. Forty-two years later, the resort has grown to two slope-side lodges containing over 90 rooms, 21 runs, seven lifts and more fun than a family can pack into a weekend.
Fantastic Fun What kid wouldn’t want to throw snowballs at their friends before launching a cannonball into a pool? It may sound implausible, but not at Talisman’s heated outdoor salt water pool. The average water temperature is around 32 Celsius, but if that isn’t hot enough for some visitors, there are several hot tubs as well. For those who love spending time outdoors there is 600 feet of vertical hill with minimal lift lines, all of it in great shape for skiing and snowboarding. Still feeling the need for speed? Zip down a hill on a snow tube. For an alternative to hill activities, there’s cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. www.tripswithkids.ca
Destination: Lake Louise
“Where are the sled dogs?” That’s my first thought as I arrive with my husband and daughter at the Kingmik Dog Sled Tours departure location in Lake Louise, deep inside Alberta’s Banff National Park. There are about twelve, short-haired dogs of undetermined breed (including one that looks a lot like our family hound) attached to wires between two posts. There isn’t a single Siberian Husky in sight. My first preconceived notion on dogsledding was about to be shattered. “People expect to see Siberians or Malamutes, but those dogs are bred strictly for the show ring. They do 10
the job, but shuffle along at a slow pace,” explains Meagan Routley, one of Kingmik’s operators. “Those dogs can’t hold a candle to the athleticism of these guys,” she says, checking the paw of one that looks like a cross between a German Shepherd and a hound. The lean, mean running machines she’s referring to are Alaskan Hus-
kies, the direct descendents of the northern sled dog that originated from native villages centuries ago. They are now the modern racing dog known for their resilience and speed. In fact, these dogs are the only racers in the grueling Iditarod, a 1,900-kilometre dog sled race through the Alaskan wilderness. Throughout generations, the Alaskan Husky has seen all sorts of breeds added to its gene pool, including
Pointer and even Greyhound. It is because of this that they’re not recognized as a purebred. “They’re mutts, but they’re a meticulously bred mutt,” says Routley, who’s been involved in dog sledding for the past 14 years. “Come on and pet them,” Routley encourages our three-year-old daughter, Madison. Before we know it, a pretty dog named Barbie licks half of her face amidst squeals of delight. Ryan Kinna, a 26-year-old Keanu Reeves’ doppelganger, is our guide. We’re asked to get in the sled, from biggest to smallest. We’re zipped up snug into a sleeping bag while Kinna hooks up the canines to the towline called the tandem hitch. The barking from the team is reaching a feverish pitch of excitement while the dogs being left behind are bellowing their displeasure. Kinna hops behind the sled and I wait for that all famous word that’s been made legendary in every Hollywood movie that’s ever featured a dog sled. It never comes. “Ok, let’s go!” he shouts as the dogs take off with a whoosh. We lurch backwards as if on a roller coaster. It turns out using the word “mush” gets the dogs to move as fast as a glacier and it’s actually “let’s go” that does the trick. The ride is bumpy but absolutely exhilarating. We can’t believe how fast Images:
Left: A group of Alaskan Huskies arrive at Kingmik Dog Sled Tours departure location in Lake Louise. Above: Madison has a chat with one of the dogs.
we’re going but Kinna tells us he is dragging one of his feet and applying the brake to keep the speed to about 15 kilometres an hour, less than half the top speed of these racers. “Haw!” Kinna shouts at the dogs and then to us. “Hold on! Here we go!”
Kingmik Dog Sled Tours offers three different tours at their Lake Louse operation. The best one for a family with smaller children is the 30-minute tour. The sled accommodates two adults and one small child. The cost is $120 per sled. Tours will be running into April. For more information: kingmikdogsledtours.com or 877.919.7779 (for Lake Louise location). Getting there: WestJet has daily non-stop flights into Calgary from all of Canada’s major cities. For more information on flights and prices: westjet.com
We veer to the left, down into a ditch and before we know it we’ve been effortlessly pulled up a steep embankment of snow. We’re off the trail and in the woods, gliding along a narrow path carved out in the snow. The sudden change in course scares Madison, who starts whimpering, so Kinna slows down a little more, which gives us a chance to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Where to stay:
The sound of incessant barking reaches us and breaks the wintry silence. We’re approaching our departure location and, sadly, the end of our thrilling ride.
Where to eat:
As the sled stops with the dragging heel of a well-worn snow boot amidst the happy howlings, I understand why these dogs love what they do.
The Lake Louise Inn is a fiveminute drive from the Kingmik Dog Sled Tours. This inn offers rooms ranging from economy to suites with kitchenettes and fireplaces. An economy double (two adults/two children under 18) is $149.00 per night (taxes included). lakelouiseinn.com / 800.661.9237
Lake Louise Railway Station Restaurant provides elegant dining in a turn-of-the-century historic log station. Families are welcomed but be prepared to pay approximately $80-100 for two adults and one child. lakelouisestation.com/403.522.2600 www.tripswithkids.ca