Category Archives: Out of Town Ideas

Flashback: Storyland

There are so many great posts that still apply. Here is one I wrote last year. My mother in law took her four eldest grandsons (ranging 4-7) there this week again and they had a blast! ~ Lara

by Lara

A few years ago there was a big radio campaign on the radio advertising the last summer of Storyland before they closed down. I immediately knew I wanted to bring Kiernan and put it on our to do list. But it was a crazy summer and we didn’t make it – I was sad.

But here’s the thing – someone bought it, and it never actually closed! (although I’m pretty sure many people think it did)

Last summer, while we were staying at my in-law’s cottage in the Renfrew area, we actually made it over and the kids had a BLAST! (even though I was there with 8 week old twins – that part was more than a little crazy :)

Storyland has been around for a long time, and so have some of their displays.  But the new owners have been working hard to update the place.

The park is located in a mainly wooded area just past Renfrew (tip: a regular stroller would have troubles here so either bring baby carriers or a jogging stroller. I did see some strollers that you could borrow, but a small baby couldn’t be put into them) and you walk through the trails and see a variety of different story displays, petting farm animals, rides, and there is also a theatre area where they put on shows.

There is also a splash pad, a pond, paddle boats, mini golf and inflatable slides and bouncers.  There is enough to keep you busy for a full day!

The cost is $13.50 for everyone over 3 (free for under 3) so it is a lot more affordable than a lot of other amusement parks. It may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but I find most kids don’t need those.  I recommend checking it out and plan to make a day of it some time in August!  Maybe I’ll see you there?

Lara is the mom to 4.5 year old Kiernan and 2 year old twins Quinn and Juliette. You can find her at her blog Gliding Through Motherhood.

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Head out for an a-MAZE-ing time at McMaze!

by Leslie

Just a short hour-long drive from Ottawa through the countryside toward Cornwall takes you to amagical farm, McMaze, with horses, donkeys, pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens, llamasand so much more. We were pleasantly surprised by the laid back atmosphere. There were only ahandful of families there when we went. At times, it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

We tried the duck races to start us off. This event consisted of some PVC pipe and old fashioned waterpumps. Primitive to say the least, but that didn’t stop us from doing it more than once!

There’s a “playhouse” with two long straight tunnel slides. When we tried the first slide, we were a littledisappointed. We travelled quite slowly and inched our way out of the black ridged tunnel. My 9 yearold son insisted on trying the second slide … Good thing he did. This one shot us out like a rocket. It’samazing how a black tube can provide so much fun.

We then attempted the tall grass mazes. They were surrounded by clover and other wild flowersyielding a pleasing, sweet and delicate aroma. Interspersed throughout the maze are some triviaquestions. Answer them all correctly and get entered in a draw. I’m not sure what the draw was forexactly, but it doesn’t really matter.

Off to the corn maze we went. We weren’t checking our watch, but I’m convinced this one took usclose to an hour. The maze is cleverly designed, it’s theme clearly Canadian … and thank goodness theygave us a map! We set off to find all of the trivia questions. We easily found 9 of the 10. The sun wasbeating down, the heat starting to drain our energy. We persevered and found the last clue in the puck… or was it the hockey stick?

Don’t forget to try the door maze. This is exactly as the name suggests – a series of doors that you haveto find your way through. You enter through one door and make your way through door after door(in the semi-dark and really dark) until you come out the “exit” door. My husband and I got stuck and needed to be rescued by a couple of toddlers … seriously!

We went for a ride in trailers pulled behind a Gator. If the adult in you is groaning right now, don’tknock it until you’ve tried it. It was a blast! We zoomed along way faster than we imagined we wouldand circled the tall grass mazes a few times.

We arrived prepared to find a Geocache on-site but we ran out of time. We were all surprised athow quickly and enjoyably time passed. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity. A visit to McMaze is an old-fashioned good time.
P.S. While you are there, don’t miss out on the heavenly treat of homemade ice cream with flavours likechocolate-orange, cookie dough and apple-spice … Mmmm!

Leslie Foster is wife to Dave and mom to a 9 year old boy “Monkey”. She is President of FunatoriumExplorium Inc., a new event management company for family entertainment events based in Ottawa.

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Exploring Montreal’s Biodome

by Amanda

One of your favourite places to visit as a family is the Biodome in Montreal.  We love it so much we actually purchased a family membership this year. At $60 per family for the year we have already been 3 times since January!  Truth be told the husband and I went a few times before babe as well.  Yes, we enjoy it that much.  Well, truth be told I have a thing for the penguins ;)   I could sit and watch them all day! Thankfully they have nice benches there so you can observe comfortably.

The biodome is large enough that it is worthwhile to make the trip from the Ottawa area but is not so big that it’s overwhelming or takes a full day.  Montreal has a special place in our heart so many times we stay over but have made day trips as well. When we day trip we generally leave around 8 in the morning and have been home at dinner time.  We have also made quick stops on the way through Montreal as a way to get out of the car and stretch our legs.  Our last trip to the Biodome with babe was a quick one hour stop. Time for him to run, explore, point at fun animals and watch the penguins swim with his mommy

Enjoy travelling through the various ecosystems and exploring various species, insects, fish and mammals.  Get up close to the birds as some walk right up to you through the Rainforest Ecosystem.  Watch the otter swim and do tricks and then slide down the slide pretending what it would be like to be that otter!

There is a coat check available at the Biodome but do know that it is extremely busy in the winter. We always leave our coats in the car and make the short walk to the entrance with babe wrapped in a blanket in the stroller or in the Ergo.  The few times it has been extremely frigid weather outside my lovely husband has dropped us off right at the door / picked us up so we did not have to wait for the coat check.  The rain forests ecosystem is extremely warm so I highly recommend that you do not wear your coat or have a lot to carry as your travel through.  The sub – arctic is definitely chilly but not anything that is extremely uncomfortable. 

No food or drink are allowed within the ecosystems but there is a large cafeteria and a smaller deli with many tables where you can grab some food or eat any food you have packed.  Meals here can definitely add up with a small family so we tend to bring our lunch with us and then head out for a nicer family meal within Montreal later on.

Weekends are generally busier so we usually bring our Ergo, or another baby carrier, with us when we go with babe.  Navigating a stroller through the narrow pathways with lots of families is definitely a challenge.  September to June weekdays are quiet and there is a lot of room for children to roam and explore.  It is much more stroller friendly during these times for those who want to bring one.  Summer months are hit and miss as daycamps can definitely bring in a lot of children at once.  However, Monday’s seem to be a good day to go as not many daycamps do an outing on their first day of camp.

So the next time you are looking for something fun to do with the family, whether for a day trip or a weekend think about heading to Montreal to explore the Biodome.  Oh and when you are there say hi to my friends the penguins please!

Amanda DeGrace is mom to a 14 month old boy who loves exploring.   As a busy entrepreneur running her companies DeGrace Energetics & Little Lotus Amanda treasures her families time together as they call Montreal a home away from home