Winter Getaways by Ilona Kauremszky

Ontario Getaways

By Ilona Kauremszky
Special to the NOW Magazine
Winter Getaways Issue 2005

1, Inn On the Twenty 3845 Main Street
Jordan, Ontario
1 800-701-8074/1 905-562-7313
1 hour
Overlooking the snowcapped Jordan Valley, Inn On The Twenty's Executive Chef Roberto Fracchioni is creating a whole new culinary experience with his latest Blind Tasting Menu, pairing exquisite wines from Cave Spring Cellars with every course. Choose from his five, seven or nine courses and be sure to arrive plenty hungry. The meal is an event itself and lasts up to four hours.

2. Hillebrand Estates Winery Restaurant
1249 Niagara Stone Road
Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario
Tel: 1.800.582.8412
1.5 hours
Chef Tony de Luca transforms local produce into an exotic culinary experience with his popular "Tour of Niagara." Three miniature entrees are paired with Hillebrand's finest. During these cold wintry nights, the floor to ceiling windows facing the snow-covered vines provides the perfect ambience for this dining establishment.

3, Windermere House
2508 Windermere Road
Windermere, ON
Ever since 1870, this popular Muskoka establishment known as the "Lady of the Lake" has been providing guests at its upscale Rousseau Dining Room with tantalizing views as they munch on some of the best cuisine this side of the Mukoka not to mention their stellar wine list that won the "Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator in 2000.

4. Ste Anne's Country Inn and Spa
RR #1 Grafton, ON
1.5 hours
A destination on its own, World Culinary Olympiad two-time gold winner Executive Chef Christopher Ennew emphasizes local produce in everything he creates. From rhea to lamb tenderloin shanks, there's sure to be a delectable feast anytime you visit. Menu changes regularly. It's BYOB at this five-star premise.

5. Kettle Creek Inn
216 Joseph Street
Port Stanley, Ontario
2 hours
Chef Earl Wilson is getting rave reviews on both sides of the border. New York Times hailed his culinary genius as "one of the best meals" and we think so too. Using locally produced perch, pickerel and organic lamb and beef tenderloin, these dishes are finger licking good.

6. Copper Blues Bar and Grill
Village at Blue
156 Jozo Weider Blvd, Collingwood
Situated in Blue's new faux Tyrolean village, there's an Elvis look-alike chef manning the helm preparing a mean flambé in his open concept galley kitchen. It's a not-to-miss sight but even better after a day at the slopes this popular brasserie lives up to its fine dining reputation.

7. Hillcrest Inn and Spa
175 Dorset St. West, Port Hope
Toll-free 1.888.253.0065
Besides the historic property possessing the highest lookout of Port Hope, the inn's dining experience is making big headways too. Up and coming chef Therese DeGrace just back from a stint in Ireland where she worked at the prestigious K Club frequented by the likes of Sean Connery and the Spice Girls wants to take guests on a culinary journey. Known as a great forager, chef picks her own fiddleheads, morel mushrooms and wild herbs. The airy dining room offers a scenic view of Lake Ontario in the distance.

8. Little Inn of Bayfield
Main Street, Bayfield
Surrounded by a quaint lakeside village, Executive Chef Jean Jacques Chappuis uses the freshest ingredients from "the Breadbasket of Ontario," Huron County to create a symphony of food at this four-diamond inn. The Chef's cellar has won the coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence annually since 1994. Your menu includes Huron Air Dried Beef Val D'Aosta Style, house smoked salmon among other delectable. Inquire about his popular cooking classes.

9. Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa
RR #3, Cambridge, Ontario
At this five-star dining room, Executive Chef Frank Dodd marries simple ingredients with rich flavors for his sumptuous menus. The always-popular afternoon tea is a favorite including Sunday brunches, which often has delicacies like Seared Nova Scotia Scallop Orecchiette Pasta or Pan Roasted Ontario Beef Tenderloin.

10. The Olde Stone Brewing Company Restaurant
380 George Street North
Peterborough, Ontario
(705) 745 - 0495
This good old-fashioned English-style pub offers affordable fare in the heart of an old stone building. Try the homemade brew made on the premises. It's a great alternative to the stuffy beer joints in the city. Be sure to take their free brewery tour.

Best Bar / Social Scene

1.The Only Café and the Gordon Best Theatre
216 Hunter Street West
Peterborough, Ontario
Proprietors Jerome and Charron Ackhurst have created a funky, artistic yet alternative venue for the social scene. Around since 1984, Peterborough's most unique eating environment is plastered with posters and knock-off repros by the world's greatest painters. Not a square to spare. The outside is decked out in a Jurassic style sunflower mural three stories high. It's a wonderful place to relax and meet.

2. Monsoon Lounge and Sushi
168 Hurontario Street
Collingwood, Ontario
705.444.2900 or toll-free 1.866.55.SUSHI
Megamartinis (there's over 60 kinds) are offered in this uber stylish sushi lounge. Plush sofas and lounge chairs make up this funky hangout that just opened this past Labor Day. Acts like Juno nominated Dana Manning are known to perform here.

3. KayToo
Village at Blue Mountain
Collingwood, Ontario
Blue Mountain Resort's newest bar and grill is anchored by a massive fieldstone hearth, the restaurant's centrepiece which warms the mood after a cold day on the slopes.

4. The Flying Dog
341 Marsland Drive
Waterloo, Ontario
This gargoyle-ridden lounge sets itself apart with slick dark woods décor. Thursday nights it's sultry Latin night. Jump up to the rhythms of the island man!

5. The Corral 433 Simcoe St. South
Oshawa, Ontario
This place gets two thumbs up for its big dance stage and warm and friendly staff. Countless birthday parties are popular as local country bands make you feel like you're in the Deep South and not the deep freeze.

6. Deerhurst Resort
1235 Deerhurst Drive
Huntsville, Ontario
(705) 789-6411 /1-800-461-4393
2 ½ hours
This luxury all-season resort offers decadence and seclusion. After a day of outdoor adventure, it's time to meet at the uber chic Landing Lounge or check out the local acts performing at its three entertainment venues which once spawned the likes of chanteuse Shania Twain.

7. Pigs Ear Tavern
144 Brock Street
Peterborough, Ontario
(705) 745-7255
This place is more of a home to college and university students then their dorms. Cheap drinks and cozy atmosphere. It reeks of old canadiana that looks like somebody's basement loaded with 70s style pannelling on the main floor.

8. Rumours Night Club
4960 Clifton Hill
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Phone (905) 358-6152
A block away from Niagara Falls, on the top of Clifton Hill, rumour has it this is the rocking place to go. Dance bar, jumbo sized video screen, laser light shows, it's the place to unwind after a day at the casino.

9. Jakes on Main
202 Main Street
Unionville, Ontario
35 minutes
In a former funeral home mansion, Jakes is a lively neighborhood pub with plenty of imported beer on tap. A casual country pub.

10. Funky Monkey Party Bar and Discotheque
115 George St.
Hamilton, Ontario
905 524-5111
In the heart of Hamilton's Hess Village, the Funky Munky is an eclectic nightspot offering three distinct areas on the main floor. There's a cozy spacious solarium for get togethers, and the club's SW section houses the largest of the four bars. Upstairs, it's the one and only Funky Monkey Disco with light show, boom stereo system and bar.

Best Winter Recreation

1. Downhill skiing @ Blue Mountain Resort
R.R. #3, Collingwood
1.877.445.0231/ 416-869-3799
Whisk up one of the 13 lifts and down one of the 34 runs by ski or snowboard. Remember to try other activities at this onhill playground. Try tubing and ice-skating at the newly opened rink but bring your own skates.

2. Snow shoeing - Scenic Caves Nordic Centre
Scenic Caves Road
The Blue Mountains (10 km west of Collingwood, along Mountain Rd)
Perched on the summit of the Niagara escarpment surrounded by 200-year-old red oaks overlooking the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, this piece of heaven slices through 500 acres of private property with dramatic views of icy cliff outcroppings. Snowshoe the 7 km trails through this wilderness paradise and test your snow shoeing skills across Ontario's longest suspension footbridge. Eco buff Rob Thorburn has a reserve of snowshoes for rent at reasonable rates.

3. Dog Sledding - Highland Wilderness Tours
239 East Lake Road, Box 211
Maynooth, Ontario
3 hours
Adrenaline junkies pump up your metal. Ace dogsledding outfitter duo Matt and Penny Nicol are providing a musher's paradise with your very own team of Alaskan huskies. Test your might on the 2-hour dog-sledding trip for $100 per person. Undeniably the fastest growing sport in Ontario.

4. Cross Country Skiing - Nordic Centre Scenic Caves Rd
The Blue Mountains (10 km west of Collingwood, along Mountain Rd)
Through this patch of ancient Carolinian forests cross-country skiers can easily soak in the rustic wilderness of this ecoadventure. Like a Group of Seven portrait, Mother Nature doesn't get any better than this. Lots of snowcapped pines, snow covered trunks and groomed 16 km trails.

5. Ice Fishing
Cannings Fish Hut Rentals & Ice Cream Parlour
46 White Oaks Road, Barrie
Phone: (705) 721-8500
Retired ice fishing guru, Clarence Canning knows a good ice fishing hut when he says one. In the business for 34 years, his 25 little wooden barns come insulated with heated propane stove inside. There are 2-man, 4-man, and 6-man huts. Mid week prices are $25 per person, half price for children 12 and under and on weekends it's $30 per person. Included in the price are hut, heat, transportation & bait.

6. Snowboarding - Mount Saint Louis Moonstone
#24 Mt. St. Louis Rd. RR #4
Coldwater, Ontario
(705) 835-2112/ (416) 368-6900
Rated as one of the best snowboard parks in Ontario, be sure to whoosh down the newest addition, Super Parks equipped with two super pipes, 400 and 450 feet long and two terrain parks with 30 different rails, loaded with spines, gap jumps and press boxes.

7. Snowmobile Tours 239 East Lake Road
Maynooth, Ontario
3 hours
The word from the woods is the snow is packey, deep and perfect for blazing the snowmobile trails. Owners Matt and Penny say they are all about freedom and comfort. The heated handgrips, thumb warmers and room for two in the Arctic Cats and Skidoos. Speed through Algonquin Park. Rates are as low as $33.33 per hour.

8. Ski Galore - Horseshoe Valley
1101 Horseshoe Valley Rd Comp 10, R.R. #1
Barrie, Ontario
(416) 283-2988/1-800-461-5627
One and a half hour drive north of Toronto, Horseshoe Resort guarantees snow throughout the ski season and is one of the few resorts to offer snowboarding, tubing, cross-country and downhill skiing trails and facilities. The resort has 23 alpine runs, 15 of them are lit for night skiing and served by seven lifts. The vertical drop is only 308 feet, but several of the runs are rated for advanced skiers.

9. Horseback Riding
Highland Wilderness Tours
239 East Lake Road
Maynooth, Ontario
1-613-338-2330/ 1-866-RYD-WILD
Always wanted to trot in the freshly fallen snow with a beautiful white Appaloosa horse? Well, the folks at Highland Wilderness Tours can fulfill your dream on the couple's 134-acred property. Prices are reasonable at $35/hour for adults and children. A guide leads children under 10. Don't worry about the conditions. Penny says you only go out for an hour. Book in advance. It's popular.

10. Friday Nights are Family Ski and Snowboard Nights
Hockley Valley Resort
RR #1 Orangeville, Ontario
(519) 942-0754/(416) 363-5490
45 minutes from Toronto's Pearson Airport, there's no excuse to miss the slopes with this quick ski/snowboard getaway situated on the Adamo family's 135 acred property. A perfect family outing on Friday nights, enjoy the 8 fully lit ski runs and their terrain park for only $42. (excluding equipment rental).

Best Adult Only / Romantic

1. Couples Resort
P. O. Box 310, Galeairy Lake Road
Whitney (Algonquin Park)
3.5 hours NE
Get wild in the wild. Algonquin Park is the backyard playground to this exclusive couples retreat. Nestled on the Galeairy Lake and the Madawaska River, Couples Resort is a family run operation loaded with free activities like skiing on majestic trails, snow shoeing through fresh powder or skating under the stars. New to the scene is International Chef Ronnie Coppens who hails from Belgium.

2. The Benmiller Inn
Goderich, Ontario
Tel: 1 800 265 1711
3 hours west
The Benmiller Inn is offering a midweek getaway special, the Winter Welcome Package where canoodling couples stay overnight, enjoy a candlelight dinner and feast on a hearty Huron country breakfast in the luxurious property steeped in history. Price is from $279 per couple and expires May 30/2005.

3. Sentineal Carriages: 30 minute Horse and Carriage Ride
(905) 468-4943 (Call ahead for reservations)
1.5 hours
Explore the prettiest town of Niagara-on-the-lake by a romantic caleche ride through historic King Street then trot on by the wispy frozen waterfront and back through the old town. A perfect retreat for a romantic half hour. Price: $50

4. The Briars
55 Hedge Road, RR1
Jackson's Point, Ontario
There's new meaning to "side by side" when you and your paramour experience the Briar's "Side By Side" body treatment that includes one of the following: Reflexology, Swedish or Aromatherapy Massage in an intimate backdrop setting.

5. Elora Mill Country Inn's "Romance Package"
77 Mill Street West
Elora, Ontario
519-846-9118 or 1-866-713-5672
1 hour
Overlooking the Elora Gorge off Grand River, the Elora Mill Country Inn and Restaurant is one of Canada's premier country inns that packs in romantic scenery, cozy rooms loaded with handmade quilts and four-poster beds. Their midweek Romance Package includes one night stay, candlelight dinner, breakfast, a bottle of champagne and truffles for $305.

6. Tulip Inn
211 Arrowhead Park Road
Huntsville, Ontario
1-800-565-4001/ 1-705-789-4001
2 hours
On the footsteps of Arrowhead Park, nestled on 11 acres of woodland, this pet friendly retreat recently underwent room renovations. A charming blend of modern and country, the Tulip Inn is budding as a couple's hideway.

7. The Glenerin Inn
1695 The Collegeway
Mississauga, Ontario
Innkeeper Maurizio Cimini promises that his inn will make you and your spouse feel like you've just entered the world of an olde English manor house. Couples can enjoy the "Scenic Winter Getaway" package that includes a one-night stay, followed by a full continental buffet breakfast from $129 per couple.

8. Inn On The Harbour
202 Main Street
Port Stanley, Ontario
2 ½ hours
An inviting Maritime feel happens when you walk inside this 12-room inn overlooking the snow covered harbour. When you book their Romance for Two package you'll receive a gift basket, relax in the Jacuzzi and afterwards snuggle by the fireplace. Package includes one night's accommodation, breakfast and gift basket from $140.00 to $215.00 for two persons.

9. The Westover Inn
300 Thomas Street
St. Marys, Ontario
1 hr 45 min
In the heart of this dreamy sleepy hamlet lies this limestone Victorian mansion that accentuates old style luxury. Currently, couples can enjoy an all-inclusive Romantic One Night Weekend Package in this fairytale setting. Prices are from $282 per couple and include overnight accommodation (Friday or Saturday night), roses on your pillow, inn-made truffles and handcrafted soaps. In the evening there's a four-course a la carte dinner by candlelight and the morning gets you a full breakfast.

10. Trinity House Inn
90 Stone Street South
Gananoque, Ontario
(613) 382-8383/1-800-265-4871
3 hours
Completely restored, Trinity House Inn offers the beauty of yesteryear with all the convenience of modern day gadgets and gizmos. To spice up your life, indulge in their Romantic Gourmet Escape. It's a Gourmet weekend package that includes two nights, breakfast & dinner each night with a new culinary theme every weekend. You will feel like you've gone to New Orleans, Morocco or Spain without the jet lag. From $299 per couple.

Best Value Packages

1. Wigamog Inn Resort
R.R. #2
Haliburton, Ontario
In this classic country inn setting deep in the heart of Haliburton, there are currently winter weekend packages from $99 per person and the kids get to stay and eat for free. There are plenty of free activities from tobogganing to snowshoes to horse drawn sleigh rides to hot tubs, including reasonable rental rates on cross-country skis, dogsledding and snowmobiles. No wonder this wigamog is rated Ontario's best resort value.

2. Bayview Wildwood Resort's Tuesdays are Free
1500 Port Stanton Pkwy, RR 1
Severn Bridge, Ont
For mid-week stays Sundays through Thursday nights (excluding March school breaks), Bayview-Wildwood is offering its popular - Tuesdays are Free - package. The folks at Bayview say when you book a three night midweek stay, which must include the Tuesday night; you'll get that Tuesday night completely free. Package includes two daily meals and use of recreation facilities and services. Three-Night Mid-Week Stay prices are from $196 per adult.

3. Mountain Springs Lodge
796468 Grey County Road 19, RR3
Collingwood, Ontario
2 hours
Previously named after Crazy Canuck, Todd Brooker, three-time world cup downhill winner, the Mountain Springs Lodge is conveniently located at the base of Blue Mountain. Right now, the popular ski lodge has a sackful of specialty ski packages during the mid week, which is less crowded and better on the pocketbook. There's a midweek ski/snowboard package for $89, which includes accommodation and an unlimited day lift ticket for Blue Mountain. For $56 per person, there's the midweek Nordic Ski or snowshoe package and includes accommodation and a day trail pass for Nordic Adventures (Scenic Caves). Kids stay free. And yes, Todd is known to occasionally come by.

4. Bancroft's annual "Frosty Frolics"
Dungannon Recreation Centre
Hwy 62 South (about 7km south of Bancroft)
February 19 Bancroft
About 3.5 hour drive from Toronto
PRICE FREE Get three free thrills. This Saturday is Bancroft's annual Frosty Frolics Festival finale. There's a major 55-mile Mid Distance Dog Sled Race which attracts teams from Ontario, Quebec and the north eastern US, then there are shorter sprint dog sled races starting at 2pm and free skating. An annual event that's as old as them-thar-hills, Bancroft's mushers will hit the trails in search of its best. This not-to-be-missed race attracts outdoor enthusiasts seen rubbing their hands by the positioned fire pits, cheering on their favorite team. The winner will qualify for the Ontario Dog Sled Federation Quad Championships.

5. Blue Mountain Resort
R.R. #3, Collingwood, Ontario
Check the upcoming Coors Light Women's Week scheduled February 28 - March 4, 2005. Package includes Day/night lift ticket for all women for $33 CDN plus half price on ski rentals. For March Break, there's the Pepsi March Break Students' Week package scheduled March 14 - 18 & March 21 - 25, 2005 which includes day/night lift ticket for all students with proof of full time enrolment $33 CDN

6. Westwind Inn on the Lake
Box 91, Buckhorn, Ontario
2 hours
For this two night special, couples can kick back and enjoy a three course dinner and two breakfasts not to mention getting a dose of Mother Nature herself. By day, explore the great outdoors with free snowshoes, cross country skis or bring your skates for some spin practicing. By night, unwind by the outdoor hot tub overlooking the lake or cuddle by the fireplace and watch the starry night unfold. It can't get any better. Prices are $99 per person per night.

7. Halimar Resort
2 ½ hours
"Ski for Free" mid-week packages $169-$239 (minimum two nights required) At this winter wonderland getaway, you can take your pick and choose from downhill skiing (available Wednesday through Friday) or cross-country skiing anytime. The "Ski for Free" package gets you one-day free lift ticket for Sir Sams nearby or one day free cross country trail pass. Price per person includes two nights accommodation, dinner and breakfast.

8. Shamrock Lodge
Winter Rates from $175 per adult and under 10 children stay free
P.O. Box 160 Port Carling, Ontario
In the heart of the Muskokas, this summer retreat transforms into a winter getaway for sledders, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. Special winter rates include two nights accommodation, two breakfasts, one box lunch and use of on site facilities (ice rink, indoor swimming pool, hot tub and sauna and more)

9. Nottawasaga Inn Resort's The Great Escape
6015 Highway 89
Alliston, Ontario
1-800-669-5501/ 416-364-5068
45 minutes
Surrounded by 575 acres of rolling hills, there's a tranquil setting ready to help you and your loved ones unwind. The Great Escape includes accommodation, dinner and breakfast for two and guaranteed good times. Bring your skates and tobaggon. Facilities include an 18-hole indoor mini golf, a games room, a children's Nic Nac supervised child centre. The Great Escape is from $199 per couple/night with minimum two-night stay. Children 16 and under sleep free.

10. Blue Mountain's Tube Park
R.R. #3 Collingwood, Ontario
2 hours
By Blue's South Base Lodge everyone is tubing down the icy run on a huge inflatable rubber tire. There's the $22 Day Pass for unlimited runs, $18 unlimited run night pass where lights illuminate the tubers. Otherwise, $3 gets you a cheap thrill that you're sure to remember as you warm your hands by the fire pit located at the entrance.

Best Spas

1. Spa on the Twenty
3845 Main Street
Jordan, Ontario
1 800-701-8074/1 905-562-7313
Excellent personal service combined with first class treatments give you the glow you've been searching for all winter long. Neutral tones, flickering votive candles and soft muzak are the calming factors surrounding this off-the-beaten path destination that is really only an hour's drive from Toronto. One of their popular elixirs is the Wine Country Wrap body treatment where two layers of soothing ointments coupled with the secret juices from grapeseed oil slick you up head to toe. Definitely an intoxifying feeling.

2. The Spa at White Oaks Resort
253 Taylor Road
905-641-2599/1-800-263-5766 (ext.1502)
In Niagara's wine country, this spa's elixir has a secret blend of grape, wine and honey in their signature body treatment called "Nectar of Niagara Wrap." Conveniently located off the QEW, the spa is Ontario's only combined four-diamond five star resort that's been setting the standard in the latest holistic spa services.

3. Resort Tapatoo
P.O. Box 384
Parry Sound, Ontario
3 hours north
Reminiscent of a German alpine lodge but with a native name, this eclectic family operated lodge opened since 1985 offers the latest spa treatments using a German healing therapy program introduced last year. Originating in a small German village over 170 years ago by Johann Schroth, "The Schrothkur" method is not for the faint of heart but more for serious health buffs or those who want to revolutionize their health and diet through an intensive two and three week treatment.

4. The Avalon Spa at Christie's Mill
The Inn at Christie's Mill
263 Port Severn Road North
Box 125, Port Severn
At the Avalon Spa, the Muskokas natural energies of water, fresh air, and spectacular nature combine to form a serenity now experience. The accent is on personal service as you are invited to personalize your session by selecting your own blend of natural products.

5. Eganridge Inn & Spa
26 Country Club Drive, RR 3
Fenelon Falls, Ontario
An oasis of modern elegance and comfort, the Eganridge Spa rates supreme for its holistic healing approach. Steeped in the rustic beauty of Fenelon Falls, the calming property of this historic hamlet adds to the whole spa experience. With seven categories of treatments including, body polishes, body wraps, Swiss shower cure and hydrotherapy among them, it's difficult to choose a favorite.

6. The Spa at Cranberry
Cranberry Golf Resort & Conference Center
19 Keith Avenue
Collingwood, Ontario
800-465-9077 Ext. 591/ 705-445-6433T
90 minutes north
Open to guests and the public, this unisex spa facility promises that you'll leave all your stresses and worries behind. Experience the long menu of 14 different services ranging from facials to footcare to their 2 hour Dream Weaver special that combines a facial and massage. Return to your dreams.

7. Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa
RR #3
Cambridge, Ontario
N3H 4R8
1 hour
This refurbished American Federal Revival estate is surrounded by 200 acres of Carolinian woodlands. The newly reopened spa offers a long menu of facials, hydrotherapy, body wraps and the growing popular gentlemen's menu. Try the Cleopatra Wrap, a decadent Langdon Hall signature treatment using tons of aromatic oils and violet clay that balances body energy.

8. Blue Mountain Inn Spa
Blue Mountain Resort
R.R. #3 Collingwood
(705) 445-0231 ext. 6471
Need a muscle relaxing massage after a day of tubing, skiing or snowboarding? At Blue Mountain, the magical fingers of a licensed certified aromatherapist would certainly do the trick. Lie back, smell the therapeutic fragrances of roses and indulge in a well-priced Swedish massage (30 minutes for $50).

9. The Benmiller Inn
Goderich, Ontario
Tel: 1 800 265 1711
2.5 hours west
The newly renovated spa facilities at Benmiller Inn give tired urban souls an oasis of calm. Certified aestheticians and registered massage therapists deliver the latest techniques using Aveda, OPI and Gehwol spa products through a variety of treatments.

10. The Oakwood Inn Resort, Golf and Spa
Box 400 Grand Bend, Ontario
2.5 hours from Toronto
Escape from the grind at this no-nonsense spa facility offers slat scrubs and glows, facials, massages, body treatments and other spa packages.

Best Accomodation

1. Riverbend Inn & Vineyard
16104 Niagara River Parkway
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
tel: 905-468-8866/1-888-955-5553
1.5 hours
Surrounded by its own private vineyard, this Georgian-style mansion situated off the Niagara Parkway is minutes from one of Canada's prettiest towns known for its boutiques and antique shops. Hotel Maverick John Wiens from Prince of Wales Hotel fame has transformed the former digs of the Afrukhteh Niagara Fine Art Gallery to its former grandeur. Dark woods, fireplaces and rich tones of golden and wine add to the upscale elegance of Niagara's first country inn.

2. Glen House Resort
1000 Islands Parkway
(800) 268-4536/(613)659-2204
On the banks of the St. Lawrence River by 1000 island country, the Glen House Resort provides country style suites romantic jacuzzis and fireplaces overlooking the winter wonderland. Facilities include indoor pool, sauna, exercise room, games room, cross country and ski trails.

3. Sunset Cove Lodge
RR#1, Sunset Cove Road
Callander, Ontario POH 1H0
705-752-2820/ 1-800-563-4395
3 ½ hours
Perfect sunsets, hearty German food and 14 winterized cottages make this place a not-to-miss off-the-beaten path getaway. It's loaded with outdoor adventure from snowmobiling to skiing to snow-shoeing to even ice-fishing.

4. Algonquin Inn
4382 Hwy # 60
Dwight, Ontario
2 ½ hours north
This small lakefront resort 7 km from Algonquin Park caters to adults who want a peaceful paradise. Overlooking Ox Tongue Lake, the 19-room inn is quaint, cozy yet offers all the state-of-the-art amenities (TVs, VCRs, DVDs) at this secluded getaway.

5. Drew House
120 Mill Street
Elora, Ontario
Phone: 519-846-2226
1.5 hours
Dynamic B&B duo, Kathleen Stanley and Roger Dufau have captured the essence of early Ontario by converting the historic childhood home of Ontario premier George Drew into a quaint B&B situated in the sleepy hamlet of Elora. Chef Roger who hails from the south of France near Biarritz known as the playground of the rich and famous plays up a great breakfast and never does anything small. Great accommodation, fun couple with rooms reasonably priced from $85 per night. Who can beat it?

6. Tally-Ho Inn Resort
Hwy 60
Huntsville Ontario
1-800-461-4232/(705) 635-2281
2 1/2 hours
This pet friendly facility has 27 accommodations from rooms to cottages located on Peninsula Lake close to Huntsville and Algonquin Park. The Main Lodge houses the dining room, living room with fireplace and piano, snooker table, whirlpool and sauna while their Recreation Hall has a Ping Pong table.

7. The Gananoque Inn
550 Stone Street South
Gananoque, Ontario
Tel: 613.382.2165/1.800.465.3101
2.5 hours east
Nestled on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, this historic carriage house has always been a great place to unwind. Built around the 1880s, the collection of buildings houses the main hotel, cottage and other heritage properties overlooking the 1000 islands.

8. Sir Sam's Inn
Eagle Lake, Ontario
2.5 hours
In winter, the historic Sir Sam's Inn transforms into a winter wonderland providing 12 downhill runs, snowmobile packages with dogsled tours and cross country ski trails nearby. Beautifully restored rooms and intimate chalet accommodations along the lake accentuate the rustic wilderness. Most rooms have a relaxing whirlpool and cozy fireplace.

9. Highfields Country Inn
11570 Concession 3, RR #1
Zephyr, Ontario
1 hour
It's pure country style at Highfields where the dining room is situated in a converted century barn with a ceiling high fieldstone fireplace overlooking Oak Ridges Moraine. There are eight country-style rooms heavy on pine, hunter green and burgundies including a 10-room spa facility with over 40 different services.

10. Westwind Inn on the Lake
Box 91, Buckhorn, Ontario
1.5 hours NE of Toronto
A family owned and operated 31-room inn, the Jensen family has transformed this 60-acred forested estate property in the Kawarthas into a wilderness getaway. Try their hot tub, sauna, free skiing, free skating and free snowshoeing.

Best Kid Friendly

1. Bayview Wildwood Resort
1500 Port Stanton Pkwy, RR 1
Severn Bridge, Ontario
Great winter activities for kids at one resort: tobogganing, broomball, skating etc. This family friendly resort in the business since 1898 knows how to ensure your kids have a good time. With daily weekend programs, the kids can trail blaze on cross-country skis, snowshoe and toboggan down the snow-covered hills. Afterwards, it's indoor fun with story telling, musical performances and loads of other surprises. When you book your stay, you can enjoy the many complimentary facilities and services. From horse drawn sleigh or wagon rides for the family to complimentary equipment, your hosts the Stanton family will ensure your kids have the time of their life.

2. Great Kids Ski Programs - Talisman Mountain Resort
150 Talisman Drive
Kimberley, Ontario
Nestled at the base of Mount Talisman in the heart of Beaver Valley is the Tyrolean-inspired Talisman Mountain Resort. Families like the resort for its popular Kids Klub program which puts children based on age into ski groups called Little Braves, Warriors and Big Chiefs for daily ski activities. Afterwards, the kids receive awards. As Southern Ontario's second highest vertical (600 feet) for a public resort, the Talisman offers 18 runs serviced by seven ski lifts perfect for ski vets and beginners.

3. Ski Friendly - Mount Saint Louis Moonstone
Mount St. Louis Moonstone
#24 Mt. St. Louis Rd, RR #4
Coldwater, Ontario
(705) 835-2112/(416) 368-6900
For 40 years the Huter family has created great family fun. It's loaded with kid friendly options like their Ski Hearts geared for children three to five years and Junior Ski programs for kids 6-12 years. Inquire about their seven S.T.E.P program for kids where instructors from the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance teach them the ropes. It's a great way for the tikes to interact with others along the two red magic carpets.

4. Great kids ski programs - Horseshoe Valley
1101 Horseshoe Valley Rd Comp 10, R.R. #1
Barrie, Ontario
(416) 283-2988/1-800-461-5627
The Resort's Kids Korral is a popular kiddy's ski program for half and full day for children 4-12 years old. Lessons and kid-friendly facilities have made this one of Southern Ontario's best exclusive kid facilities. March Break plans include different themes, a personalized report card and a group shot for the memory box. Snow sports school, tube park, cross-country skiing rentals are part of the fun.

5. Dog Sledding - Highland Wilderness Tours
Box 211 Maynooth, Ontario
A kid friendly delightful intro to the winter wonderland, dogsledding 101 has just been made simple by ace outfitter duo Matt and Ontario Federation of Sled Dog Sports OFSS gold medallist, Penny Nicol. Perfect for all ages but especially the kids. Try their 1-hour primer for $60 for a ride of a lifetime. Kids 10 and up can easily pilot their own sled.

6. Butterfly Conservatory
2405 Niagara River Parkway
Niagara Falls, Ontario
1-877-NIA-PARK (642-7275)
Wander through the thick steamy foliage of this butterfly sanctuary and view the rainbowed beauties flutter before your eyes. A great place to test the kid's silence since the quieter they are the better chance the butterflies will land on top their heads.

7. Journey Behind The Falls
6650 Niagara River Parkway
Niagara Falls, Ontario
(905) 371-0254
1-877-NIA-PARK (642-7275)
You hear the mighty thunderous roar before the sheet of icy water plummets in front of you. Descend 13 stories to see this not-to-be-missed year round attraction that looks even more dramatic in winter.

8. Niagara Aviary
5651 River Road
Niagara Falls, Ontario
toll free:1-866-994-0090
Rated as Niagara Falls Tourism's top attraction, this tropical jungle of over 300 birds won't feel like a bad Hitchcock movie, "The Birds" but seems more like another world. Opened since May 2003, it's the newest Niagara attraction.

9. Luging - Mineral Capital Luge Club
51 Pine Ridge. Bancroft
Bonafide Luge expert Lynda Ives who has been running the Olympic style sport in Bancroft for the last 17 years is a local icon. Inspired from the popular sport imported from Europe, this winter phenomenon is best described as bobsledding with a toboggan barreling down an icy hill on your back. The Mineral Capital Luge Club gives beginners a short lesson too. Suitable for kids five and up only. Call for reservations.

10. Sudbury's Science North
100 chemin du lac Ramsey Lake Road Sudbury, Ontario
1-800-461-4898 outside Greater Sudbury
4 hours
Next time your kid asks "How fast" or "How big" take them to the Nickel Belt's Science North for an eye-opening experience. With literally hundreds of attractions, this is the only place where a heaping hunk of change aptly called, "The Big Nickel," a mound of nickel waits for a photo op. Afterwards, curl up in the plush seats of the Science North Imax Theatre and watch the film, Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa. Starting March 5th, Science North's newest special exhibition, Speed will showcase racecars and roller coasters.


Photos: Stephen Smith

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