Summer Escapes

Is a hectic work schedule or a lack of funds getting in the way of an extended summer vacation abroad? There are still plenty of places nearby that you can head to for a change of pace and some relaxation. All you need is a car and a weekend to discover some of Ontario’s best spots—whether it’s for a family getaway, couples’ retreat, fun with the girls, or time with the guys.

on June 5 | in Life & Style | by Daniela DiStefano | with No Comments

WaterRafting3Whitewater Rafting

Where: The Ottawa River Valley
Perfect for: A boys bonding trip, or a weekend with old university roommates.
Why go: Plan a few days of adrenaline pumping adventure in the whitewater capital of Canada. Four major river systems and close to 1,000 lakes make it the perfect spot for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts to spend a weekend on the water, or for new adventure seekers to get their feet (and everything else!) wet with a drenching rafting experience. Rivers such as the Petawawa and Madawaska offer some of the safest and warmest waters in the country, and a number of whitewater rafting operators and instructional schools with half, full-day or weekend packages will help you conquer the thrill of the rapids, whether you’re a beginner or expert paddler. When you’re finished riding the rapids, spend the night at a nearby campground or a local lodge for an Ottawa Valley experience you’ll want to re-live again next summer.
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ClevelandHouseMuskokaDeckClevelands House

Where: Lake Rosseau, Muskoka
Perfect for: Starting a summertime tradition with the kids, or the spot to host that long overdue family reunion.
Why go: The Muskoka lakes have long been appreciated as Ontario’s most popular cottage country, and Clevelands House offers a waterfront playground beaming with local history and an award-winning children’s program. Soak up the Muskokan sun fishing or kayaking on the open water, enjoy the seemingly endless forest views relaxing on the deck, or get the kids in a game of volleyball or tennis. Daily entertainment includes guided hiking and bike tours, live music, a water-ski show, movie nights and more. Staff will go that extra mile to ensure the weekend is filled with adventure and fun for all. The resort—which is two-and-a-half hours from Toronto—offers several accommodation options to suit families of all sizes and preferences, from standard hotel rooms boasting magnificent lake views, to one to three bedroom rustic cottages complete with bunk beds for that camp-like feel.
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steannes_spring_garden_1088-1024x661Ste. Anne’s Spa

Where: Grafton, Ontario
Perfect for: Pampering a mother to-be, or catching up with the girls.
Why go: Sometimes you just need to spend a couple of days wrapped up in a cozy white terry cloth bathrobe while someone else tends to your wishes. At this 400-acre fieldstone estate two hours east of the city in the Northumberland Hills, there are plenty of ways to be pampered and disconnected from the everyday norm. Big windows with scenic rural views, cushiony sofas and cucumber-water coolers will help you unwind fireside in between a Milk & Sesame Stone Wrap, Ste. Anne’s Signature Facial and a Hand Therapy Treatment. Then move on to one of the many wellness classes offered, such as yoga and meditation, and a steam in the indoor eucalyptus room before meeting up with your party for the afternoon tea selection of cheeses, fruits and desserts.  You just can’t help but be relaxed here.
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Stratford Festival of Canada 2002 SeasonStratford

Where: Stratford, Ontario
Perfect for: Anniversary celebrations, or a weekend for two.
Why go: These days, Stratford might be best known for its superstar export Justin Bieber, but the charming Victorian city has long been recognized as one of North America’s greatest arts destinations. Nestled in the countryside, a few short hours from Toronto, is a place to savour the story of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet at the famous Shakespeare Festival, or a picture-perfect afternoon walking the banks of the Avon River admiring the trumpeter swans. The classic English landscape of the Shakespearean Gardens will be ablaze with blooming colour and sounds of music all summer long, and the unique shops and restaurants along Ontario Street will have you experience the city like a local. Stay for a night or two at one of the many elegant hotels or intimate bed and breakfasts—most in century homes, cottages and heritage mansions—for a full weekend of live theatre, music festivals and 19th century history.
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