Tag Archives: Travel

Orillia: A Place to Visit

A few years back, a close friend of mine moved to Orillia for work.  While he often visits Toronto on the weekends, my family and I have also had the added benefit of visiting Orillia as well.  It is only an hour and 15 minutes north of Toronto, or 20 minutes north of Barrie!   While we often take advantage and spend a lot of time lounging around my friend’s pool in the summer, there are also tons of places to go in the area, with plenty of things to do…museums, parks, and farmer’s markets, to name a few.  Orillia is not a summer-only stop!  There is tons to do in all four seasons!

The pool aside, I love going to the local beaches.  The two main beaches are sandy,  have clean water, changeroom facilities and washrooms,  friendly lifeguards and are never unbearably crowded. The parks by the beach have some great playgrounds.  Of course, with lakes on both sides of the city, there are always people going on leisurely boat rides, fishing or just walking.

Looking for other summer activities?  There’s some great hiking trails, a go-kart track between Barrie and Orillia, and a drive-in movie theatre…perfect for a cozy date!

If you are visiting during the cooler months of the year, there are still lots of things to do:  a trip to the sugar bush for maple syrup and pancakes, great hiking trails, treetop trekking and fantastic tobogganing hills.

If eating out is your thing, there are a wide variety of restaurants to experiment with.  Choose from diners, chain restaurants, great independent spots and if that is not enough choice for you, you could always drive 20 minutes south to Barrie! I have to mention the classic:  when you are up in Orillia, you’re only minutes away from Weber’s, the burger joint on Highway 11 that signifies you’ve arrived in cottage country. Head in the opposite direction and you have Casino Rama – a great spot for dining, concerts, shows and gaming.

After your stomach is full, if you want to flex your retail muscle, at more than just your average chain stores, there’s a very robust main street. Of course, you can’t bypass the main street without going to the Mariposa Market for some delicious pastries and baked goods. In the evening, the area comes alive with some bars and restaurants playing live music to make it a lively and fun atmosphere. An opera house regularly has incredible shows and plays.

I often like watching a movie or two up in Orillia, as there’s only one theatre (a sixplex), but because it’s smaller than those in Toronto, it’s usually not as crowded.


Lastly, when you exhaust all that there is to do in Orillia, there are also little day trips you could take, such as driving up to Gravenhurst, Midland, or Port Carling.


Though it’s only a short distance away from Toronto, if you want to get away from the big city and take a break from it all, make Orillia your next stop!

https://www.orillia.ca

 

Add Comment

A Party Down in Pittsburgh

As often as I can, I try to get out of town on long weekends and the recent Victoria Day long weekend was no exception. In fact, this time I turned the three day weekend into a five-day road trip and took my wife and daughter to Pittsburgh.

I haven’t been to Pittsburgh in about 25 years, but remember enjoying my last visit. Initially, we were only going to stay a day or two, go to visit Fallingwater and the Hershey factory, when I realized that Hershey was about three and a half hours in the opposite direction. So we changed our itinerary. It turns out that we had no problem finding tons of things to see and do in Pittsburgh! The city is very vibrant, home to many innovative companies, products and services, has truly fantastic restaurants and plenty of sporting events for the athletic enthusiast. I can honestly say that one out of every four people in Pittsburgh were decked out in black and yellow in an ode to the Pirates, Penguins or their beloved Steelers. This is a city that wears their love of the game on their sleeve…where everyone can see it!

Pittsburgh is a tourist friendly city! When we were trying to find a specific area of a large cemetery, to avoid having us get lost, the groundskeeper gave us an escort over to the exact location… in his cart. The next day, we stopped to ask a police officer how to find the Duquesne Brewery Clock (the largest single face clock in the world – two times the size of Big Ben!). Moments later, we found ourselves with a police escort right to its location!

Over our four day visit, some of our favourite sites included the Heinz Center, the Strip District, Randyland, and Fallingwater.

Of course, during our days of sightseeing we needed energy and found no shortage of great restaurants. For lunch and dinner, whether it was Primanti Bros., an Argentinian steakhouse, or some fun and whimsical donuts at Peace, Love and Little Donuts, you could simply eat your way through the city and walk away a happy camper.

Sports fans, don’t look any further than Pittsburgh, which has an NFL, NHL, and a major league baseball team. During my trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in town, and while they weren’t successful on the field, the ballpark was beautiful to see and it was a beautiful spring night for baseball.

Lastly, I have to mention a one-day excursion down to Fallingwater. Built by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this beautiful country home is about 1.5 hours away from Pittsburgh. It is a a gorgeous drive and should not be missed.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight a few of the places on my trip, but needless to say, if you’re up for a fun and adventurous road trip, Pittsburgh should be next on your list!

 

Add Comment

What’s Hip and Happening around the Holidays

http://festivalstoronto.com/2016/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Christmas-Mrkt.jpg

December is always a cheery time of year! With the holidays just around the corner, more and more holiday-themed activities seem to be popping up around town. Many stores are taking part in holiday festivities, and with no shortage of holiday cheer going around, it’s always nice to engage in one or more activities. Some of the more popular activities, which I enjoy, include:

Toronto Christmas Market – Down in the Distillery District, the iconic Christmas market is on until December 23rd! Enjoy Christmas music, magical lighting, singing, dancing, visits with Santa, and everything to get you into the holiday spirit. Though the experience is purely magical, it’s $6.00 to get in on weekends and lineups can be lengthy.

Starbucks Holiday Cups – I always enjoy the little things that add bits of holiday spirit. Starbucks offers some cool and interesting holiday drinks with a fun design on them. It’s a great pick-me-up, and a great way to warm yourself up. This year’s design encourages customers to colour and draw on the white background of the cups.

Skating at the Harbourfront Centre – Want to do something active, fun, and festive? Skating is the perfect way to engage in holiday cheer while burning some calories at the same time. Visit your local skating rink and rent a pair of skates – or bring your own. The Harbourfront Centre has a beautiful, scenic outdoor skating rink and best of all – admission is free!

Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square – At the heart of downtown Toronto, celebrate winter by shopping in the market, skating, or simply enjoying the view at their annual holiday fair. Until December 23rd, experience different foods, find that perfect gift, and listen to some live Christmas music!

The Nutcracker – Experience the magic firsthand when you see The Nutcracker live in theatre! As an all-time classic, and world-renowned play, the National Ballet of Canada has been performing every year since 2005. It’s an amazing and entertaining family activity, and suitable for all ages. Catch it now until December 30th.

Get Involved with A Charity – Whether it’s helping out at your local food bank, preparing meals for the homeless, running a toy drive, or collecting clothes and personal care products for those in need, getting involved with charities is something that should not be overlooked during this busy and hectic time of year.

Whatever you choose to do, and wherever you choose to go…from all of us at SQM, have a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and a happy and healthy new year!

 

Add Comment

Captain Marvin’s Makes a Splash

Like most Canadians, my family and I like to escape the harsh winter for a couple of weeks, and migrate south to enjoy some sea, sand, and sun.

Over the past few years we have taken a liking to going on all inclusive Caribbean cruises, and while we do love the activities aboard the ship, we equally enjoy setting foot on dry land, and going on some of the shore excursions.

Recently we went on a cruise with one of the ports of call being the Cayman Islands.  I have always loved stopping in the Caymans, as it is known for scuba diving, snorkeling, and especially Sting Ray City.  Since we were taking my daughter on this trip, we decided we would try going snorkeling, and rather then booking directly on-board the cruise ship, based on previous experiences I decided to book the excursion from company itself, known as Captain Marvin’s.

Captain Marvin’s is located only a block away from the pier, so after docking it was just a hop, skip, and a dive before we were at the location and checking in. From there it was just a short, air conditioned bus ride before we were at their boats, all of which are in immaculate condition and well stocked with snacks and drinks.  All of the boats had bathrooms on board and multiple staff members, besides the captain, to keep everyone entertained.

The best part of the whole experience is that Captain Marvin’s actually takes you to two different reefs, allowing you to explore two different underwater habitats each with their own unique flora and fauna. as well as Sing Ray City ( a sand bar, off the coast, where the water is waste high and the stingrays all come up to you to be fed and petted), where other operations simply stop at one reef.

After the stops, on the way back to the pier, the fun continued, with the employees diving down about 15 feet and bringing some starfish onto the boat for the children to hold and take pictures with.  In addition, one of the staff went for a dive, and brought up a couple of conch.  He then proceeded to chopped up some conch to make the freshest sushi I’ve ever eaten, and then gave the shells to a few of the kids.

Captain Marvin’s truly makes snorkeling an easy outing, which can be enjoyed by the whole family.  To them I tip my mask!

Captain Marvin’s
Grand Cayman
1-345-945-6975

 

Add Comment

The Red Caboose- Affordable Family Fun!

Please pardon me while the cold weather in Toronto brings about some of my favorite summer memories…

Whenever I go to Orillia, Ontario with my family, one of our favourite places to visit is The Red Caboose Mini Putt.

The mini putt itself is just like any other mini putt course, with 18 holes and some nice benches to sit and chat at, throughout the course. The Red Caboose restaurant that we eat at after playing is fine too, with rarely any lines, fast and friendly service, and a menu with great such as homemade hamburgers and fresh-cut fries.

However, what makes the Red Caboose my favourite place to visit in Orillia is because it serves Kawartha Diary ice cream.  It’s very tasty ice cream with flavours like Rum Raisin, Moose Tracks and Bear Paws.  It tastes even better when the Red Caboose serves a kid’s scoop for only $1 and an adult scoop for only $1.50!

In fact, the first time I played there and I bought ice cream for me and my family, I thought the employee had accidentally misheard how many scoops of ice cream I wanted because I was holding literally two scoops of ice cream, and it was still just a $1.50.  The amount of ice cream they scooped for us was that generous.

One time I took my family and some friends to play some mini putt.  While we were puttering around, we met another family whom we knew quite well.  After we had all finished playing, I bought ice cream for everyone and I still had change from a $20 dollar bill!

Most stores would charge roughly three or four dollars, so I highly recommend stopping by the The Red Caboose, the next time you’re in the area.

The Red Caboose
705-325-4777
nicole@redcaboose.ca

 

Add Comment