Family Travel: Dynamic Earth, Sudbury, Ontario

I grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and although I didn't appreciate it as much at the time, it is a beautiful city with lots of things to do for families. A five-hour drive from Ottawa's west end, Sudbury offers families a plethora of beaches including Moonlight Beach, Bell Park, and Windy Lake and makes for a great long weekend destination.

FAMILY TRAVEL Sudbury Ontario.png

I now visit Sudbury twice a year, every spring and fall, to spend time with my grandfather. My most recent trip up was with my mom and my ten-year-old daughter. We all thought spring is the perfect time of year to check out one of Sudbury’s most popular tourist destinations, Dynamic Earth.

Of course, there is also Science North, which is known for its Bed of Nails, resident beaver and porcupine, flying squirrels, as well as many other interactive nature and science-related exhibitions. I hope to explore Science North again more when I return in the fall!

In the meantime, if you have never heard of the Bed of Nails before, check out this fun promotional video from Science North:

Dynamic Earth

This trip, we decided to visit Dynamic Earth. I hadn't been "down in the mines" since I was a kid and I was excited to share the Underground Tour experience with my daughter. When you arrive at Dynamic Earth, you are assigned a start time, which is typically every hour on the half hour. We got there 45 minutes before our underground tour started, so we took advantage of the additional exhibitions that are included with admission.

It was a beautiful day so we, of course, took the opportunity to snap pictures of the infamous Big Nickel that stands on the top of the hill at Dynamic Earth. The Big Nickel is a replica of the 1951 Canadian nickel and has been a selfie hotspot since before selfies were a thing! According to the Dynamic Earth website it, “symbolizes the wealth that Sudbury has contributed to the Canadian economy through nickel production.” I love that access to the nickel is barrier-free, which means anyone can walk or use a wheelchair to get up close with the Big Nickel. You may have heard that there were once other large coin monuments that shared space with the Big Nickel… you can learn what happened to them by visiting the Big Nickel, but I still believe the rumour that they rolled away. ;)

The always accessible Big Nickel

The always accessible Big Nickel

After visiting the Big Nickel, my daughter explored the Outdoor Science Park. This park is unlike any other! It features science and mining themed play structures, vehicles and slides safe and fun for kids of all ages. My daughter lived sliding down the “molten slag” slide towards a real slag pot and climbing the net climbing structure.

When we finally ventured back inside, we spent time learning about colour minerals on the mineral wall and playing in the mine training centre downstairs that featured virtual operating equipment such as a rock breaker, excavator and mining drone.  

Dynamic Earth Sudbury Activities.jpg

Of course, the real attraction was the underground tour. The tour starts by taking a big glass-windowed elevator down seven storeys. The guided group tour takes you through their demonstration mines through the ages. During the approximately hour-long underground tour, you learn the evolution of mining in the Sudbury region from the turn of the century to modern mining and also includes a mock-dynamite explosion. It's unlike any other tour I have been on, and I found it very interesting to learn about what went on under the ground all those years of living there. Also, you can purchase a postcard at the gift shop before heading down and mail it in their underground mailbox – a fun way to let others know how much fun you’re having! It’s a very realistic experience and makes you appreciate the dark and damp conditions miners continue to work in every day!

Dynamic Earth Underground Tour.jpg

If you’re planning a family trip to Sudbury, Ontario make sure to include Dynamic Earth! Here are some tips to make the most out of your time there: 

  • Pick up your underground tour pass for the next available tour time as soon as you arrive (you may be tempted to visit the Big Nickel first, but depending on when you arrive there will be plenty of time to do that!).

  • The temperature underground is approximately 13C (55F), so make sure you are dressed for cool and damp conditions by bringing a jacket and wearing running shoes.

  • I recommend the underground tour for children aged three and up, but there are strollers available underground!

  • It is dark when you first get in the elevator and when you first arrive underground. Make sure little ones are prepared by letting them know it will be dark, but also that there will be lights and that they are safe.

  • There are flashing lights.

  • There is a café on site if you want a quick bite to eat as well as numerous bathrooms.

  • Dynamic Earth is typically closed from October to March each year.

  • The Big Nickel is free to visit any time of the year!

For more information on Dynamic Earth, visit: https://sciencenorth.ca/dynamic-earth/.


Disclaimer: I received passes to Dynamic Earth for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are my own.

Family Travel: Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Syracuse, NY

KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  


There are certain attractions that I have seen from roadside billboards, websites or tourism brochures but never had a chance to visit. One such place was Greek Peak Mountain Resort. Located south of Syracuse, New York just off of Interstate 81, we had passed the billboard for Greek Peak numerous times. This time, we decided to stop at the resort and are glad we did.

FAMILY TRAVEL - Greek Peak Mountain Resort .png

It may seem counterintuitive to visit a ski resort in mid-spring, but I checked online and was impressed by the spring and summer activities being offered. What particularly caught my eye and especially our son David’s attention, was the indoor waterpark. After arriving and checking in at the resort, it probably took us about ten minutes to change and hit the waterslides.

Indoor Water Park at Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Indoor Water Park at Greek Peak Mountain Resort

If you are reading this article in Ottawa or the greater area, you know spring has not been especially kind to us this year. Hurtling down the waterslide, it felt like it was mid-July. For the first slide, my son had assured me I would be fine. Ya right! The slide had numerous hairpin turns and drops, ensuring maximum adrenalin for Dad.

The second slide was a joint effort. David and I sat together on the toboggan as we shot off down the tube slide. I added the ballast in the back, ensuring we went extra fast. Sometimes, I do miss taking the little kids waterslide with David.

Greek Peak Mountain Resort Indoor Waterslides

Having had my excitement rush, it was time to relax. My wife, Sandy, David and I went to the indoor/outdoor hot tub and pool. Even though it was only about 13 C outside, we were able to relax in the warm water. We did our Scandinavian spa routine alternating between the hot tub and pool.

Hot Tub at Greek Peak Mountain Resort

We finished our time checking out the whitewater wave pool. David got right to the front of the waves riding them like he was a California surfer.

All of this activity had made us pleasantly tired and hungry. I was happy that our room had a full kitchen. We prepared a home-cooked meal of steak and veggies while saving money in the process.

After our meal, we were energized to go check out more of the lodge. The main area was decorated like a rustic wilderness lodge with wood beams and wood furniture. There was also a huge wood fireplace giving the area an extra cozy feeling.

Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Syracuse, NY

One of the things I love about travelling is the surprises that happen along the way. The weekend we were staying at Greek Peak there was a large wedding party. They were having fun but always respectful. As we were about to turn in for the night, we noticed an impressive fireworks display going off. At first, I ran through my limited knowledge of American holidays. I also considered it was a special promotion being put on by Greek Peak. The red heart-shaped fireworks gave it away. It was part of the wedding celebrations. The show was equally as good as many Canada Day celebrations (excluding Ottawa.) I had to smile when someone asked what they had planned for their first anniversary after such a momentous wedding celebration.

The next day, the smoke had cleared from the fireworks. We wanted to go check out the Greek Peak adventure centre. Various activities were offered ranging from ziplining, aerials rope course and a mountain coaster. We were somewhat short on time, so Sandy and David decided to opt for the mountain coaster. A lift brought Sandy, David and their two-person car to an altitude of 4,300 feet. I stayed at the base of the mountain. This is secondhand from Sandy and David, but both said the ride was awesome. The driver controls the speed of the car, thus allowing you to determine how fast or slow you go. I am sure at points David was asking Sandy to go faster. Both looked like they had a great time.

Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Syracuse, NY rollercoaster

After the coaster, it was time to leave Greek Peak and explore more of New York State. It will certainly not be our last time to the resort, and we will be more open to taking those detours off the main highway.

If you go - Greek Peak Mountain Resort is about 4h 15 minutes south of Ottawa just off Interstate 81. It is an all-season mountain resort, so any time a year is a good time to visit. The surrounding countryside is gorgeous so we would like to return to do some hiking. For more information about the resort visit, www.greekpeak.net.

Disclaimer: Stephen and his family were comped accommodation and activities but as always, all views are his own.

Family Travel: Explore Winnipeg, Manitoba

KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  
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We took a family trip to Saskatchewan this past summer and decided to return to Ottawa by car.  One of our unexpected surprises were all the great family-friendly attractions we found in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here is a list of our favourite attractions we checked out while in Winnipeg.

Assiniboine Park Zoo  -  The zoo has been on my list of must-visit places since they opened their Journey to Churchill exhibit in 2014.  The stars of the show are the polar bears.  It is possible to view the bears through a glass-enclosed tunnel similar to what you find in an aquarium.  The day we visited the bears were in full-performance swimming and generally frolicking about.

Polar Bears at Assiniboine Park Zoo .jpg

There are plenty of things to keep you busy at the zoo.  A few other animals we saw were muskox, timber wolves and harbour seals (thankfully kept away from the polar bears!)  One other feature of the zoo I liked was the indoor polar-themed playground. Our son, David, who is ten was not quite the target audience but we were visiting with friends who had an eight year old and six year old.  They took full advantage of the playground and it brought back memories for me of Cosmic Adventures in Ottawa.

The Forks -  Perhaps the most important and popular destination in Winnipeg is The Forks.  Located in downtown Winnipeg, The Forks are found where the Assiniboine and Red River meet up.   The site has also been a meeting place for the past 6000 years as archaeological digs show it was used by Aboriginal peoples.  More recently, it was a centralized site for fur traders, Metis buffalo hunters, Scottish settlers and everyone else in between!

The Forks - Winnipeg

Today, The Forks mixes in the contemporary with the historic.  You can find the Manitoba Children’s Museum along with numerous displays detailing the history of the area.  For our family, we gravitated towards the Forks Market where you can find numerous restaurant kiosks and vendors selling a variety of products.  Our favourite food stall was Fergie’s Fish ‘n Chips where we appropriately had delicious Fish ‘n Chips wrapped up in newspaper.

We also enjoyed climbing up to the top of a small tower found in the Market.  We were treated to a panoramic view of The Forks and the two rivers.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights -  Opened, in 2014,  the Human Rights museum has helped to put Winnipeg on the map as a tourist destination.  The first thing a visitor will notice is the unique architecture. The curved form blends in seamlessly with the landscape.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The museum might not seem to be the most obvious choice for those with younger children.  The exhibits deal with hard subjects including the Canada’s mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples and the Holocaust.   Our son, David, loves history so really enjoyed the museum. While difficult issues are addressed, the exhibits tell the story from the perspective we can all make a difference in improving human rights.  

A visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Accommodation -  For our time in Winnipeg, we stayed at Delta Hotels by Marriott Winnipeg.  Located right in downtown Winnipeg, it was only about a fifteen minute walk to The Forks and the Human Rights Museum.  Aside from the location, David loved the indoor and rooftop swimming pool. His parents more enjoyed the hot tub after touring around all day!  

The perfect place to start all tour planning to Winnipeg is at www.tourismwinnipeg.com.

Disclaimer: Tourism Winnipeg assisted Stephen with hotel and attractions but all views are his own.

Family Travel: A Trip to Washington DC

KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson.. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

It is impossible to see everything that Washington DC has to offer in one, two or even three trips. The number of museums and historical monuments is simply overwhelming. Our family recently took a trip to DC and here are a few of our tips and highlights to maximize your time.

The best way to get around DC is by metro or bus. The first thing you will want to do is buy a SmarTrip card which you can load up for rides on the Metro or bus. A great way to get around the national mall is by city bus known as the DC circulator. For one dollar, the bus will take you to most of the major sites including the Smithsonian museums and monuments.

For a more in-depth visit to the city, our family would recommend taking the BigBus Washington DC It is a hop-on hop-off bus service that has three routes. We took all three routes and felt we had a much better appreciation of the city. The bus routes are enhanced by audio guides that give an explanation of the sites.

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

Most people visit DC for all the great museums. All of the Smithsonian museums are free and most do not need any advance reservations. We made it to the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. Both museums could warrant an entire day on their own.

We decided to also visit two museums that had an admission fee since they looked so interesting. We started at the Spy Museum which aptly covers all things about spies. The museum presented the material in a fun and hands-on manner making it accessible for all ages. By the end of the visit, I didn’t know who might be watching me!

The second museum we checked out was the Newseum. As you might imagine, the Newseum is all about all things news and how the news is reported. Outside the museum, a visitor is greeted by cover stories from newspapers around the United States and the world. We started our visit by checking out the Berlin Wall display. The exhibit has the largest unaltered portion of the wall outside of Germany. It was a great introduction for our son, David, to history before he was born.

Photo of Berlin Wall at Newseum

Photo of Berlin Wall at Newseum

We then moved on to the terrace that gave a stunning view of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Capital building. The day we visited, there was a vibrant bbq festival taking place on the Avenue reminding us that DC is a city outside of just museums and politics.

Terrace at Newseum

Terrace at Newseum

Other highlights of the Newseum included the Pulitizer Prize Photographs Gallery and the News Corporation News History gallery that gave a chronological overview of how we have collected and shared the news through the centuries.

I would recommend the museum for adults and older children who are interested in current events. David is interested in history and politics thus the Newseum was a perfect fit.

One last tip I will share is eating in the U.S. capital. Near the national mall and the Smithsonian museums, it can be difficult to find an abundance of restaurants. Most museums do have food options but we did not try any. We really liked going to Union Station which is a completely remodelled train station. It has many food and shopping choices plus, it has the splendour of a turn-of-the-century train station.

A great place to start any trip-planning for Washington DC is at Destination DC: www.washington.org

David received assistance from Destination DC for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.

Family Travel: A Road Trip to Lake George, New York

KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

Our son, David, thought Six Flags Great Escape would have to be our next travel destination after seeing the names of a few of the rides.  Roller coasters with monikers like The Steamin’ Demon and The Comet would appeal to almost any nine year old.

With our holiday plans set, we loaded up the car and started making our way to Lake George, New York, home to Six Flags.   Along the route, I wanted to make a pit stop at the Wild Center. Set in the Adirondack forest, the Wild Center is perhaps the best natural history attraction we have ever visited.   There are plenty of interactive exhibits but the most unique feature is the outdoors Wild Walk.  The pathway is elevated nine metres above the ground.  From this perspective, you can see the canopy of the Adirondack forest for kilometres.

Wild Center Adirondack NY

David loved the walk, especially the net that resembled a spider’s web.  David jumped up and down testing its strength. He also enjoyed swinging on the suspension bridges and just generally, making his parents nervous!

After finishing up the Wild Walk, we hit the road and pulled into Six Flags Great Escape Lodge.  The following day, David woke up at the crack of dawn as if it were Christmas and his birthday combined.  We had a quick breakfast and were almost the first people through the gates. The first ride David wanted to check out was a twelve storey mega-coaster called Flashback.  David queued up for the ride and sat down as my wife, Sandy and I held our collective breaths. The ride delivered all the thrills as promised and at the end, David had a look of pure elation. The rest of the morning pretty well followed the same routine with David trying the rides with maximum scare value and Sandy and I trying not to be helicopter parents.

Roller coaster Six Flags Great Escape Lodge

By the afternoon, I had worked up enough courage to try out the a few of the family rides.  I thought I was up to trying the Canyon Blaster coaster and the Raging River whitewater river rafting adventure.  After trying both, it made me yearn for the days when David was three or four and the merry-go-round was a big adventure.  I must give Sandy full credit for having the nerves to try out the Comet wooden roller coaster with David. Part of the famous coaster was built in 1927.  

Six Flags wooden roller coaster

There was plenty of entertainment to keep us busy in between rides including a 50’s musical revue and high-flying divers.  

A full day of rides had made us tired.   After a bite in Lake George, we headed back and checked out the indoor water park at the Great Escape Lodge.   I had a perfect view of David trying out the water slides while I sat in the hot tub.

The following day, we wanted to see more of Lake George.  The town has been a mecca of tourism for a long time. It is easy to understand why with the lakeside location and the surrounding Adirondack mountains.  We started the morning by driving up Prospect Mountain and were treated to a panoramic view of the region. Making our way back into town, we took a stroll along the beautiful lakeside boardwalk.  David saw the Minnie-Ha-Ha Paddlewheeler on Lake George so we decided to check it out.  We took a beautiful one hour cruise on the lake as we learned fascinating information about the area.

Minnie-Ha-Ha Paddlewheeler on Lake George

We finished our day with an activity that made me feel more like we were in Texas than New York State.  We made our way to the Painted Pony Championship rodeo located about ten kilometres outside Lake George.   During the summer season, they hold a full rodeo three times a week.  Of course, nothing goes better with a rodeo than a Texas BBQ. We pulled up to the Painted Pony with the smell of bbq in the air.  I am glad to say that the ribs and chicken tasted as good as they smelled. After eating enough to last us two days, we headed to the rodeo grandstands.  Along the way, I checked the license plates to make sure they read New York state and not Oklahoma or Texas. The rodeo was as good as anything I have ever seen.  We watched bareback bronco riding, bull riding and steer wrestling amongst other events. With our best yee-haw, we finished our time at the rodeo and went back to the lodge.

Painted Pony Championship rodeo

The following day,  we followed the Hudson River all the way to Peekskill New York.  Even though Peekskill is one hour from New York City, it feels like it is a world away.  The charming town has a compact downtown with a number of funky restaurants. We obviously decided to try the tacos.   They were almost as good as Sandy’s, who is from Mexico City. We ended our time in Peekskill taking a boat cruise on the Hudson River.  We knew we were in good hands with Captain Mary Driscoll who had spent eleven years in the United States Coast Guard Reserve and twenty-five years as a ship captain.  She provided us with a lot of information about the Hudson River and surrounding area. Cruising peacefully down a river seemed the perfect way to end our trip after our adrenaline filled roller coaster rides and rodeos.  

For more information about Lake George, check out, www.visitlakegeorge.com   See www.visitwestchesterny.com for more information about the Hudson River area north of New York City.  

Special thanks to Lake George Tourism for providing David for assistance with some attractions for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.