Blogmas | Free & Cheap festive things to do in TO

Toronto is a great city and there are no end to the fun, festive and free things to do around the city during the holiday season!  Be sure to bundle up and be sure to check out the list below on some ideas on how to enjoy the season (on a budget)! 

*NOTE* images are not mine and have been referenced below.

Distillery District

The last time I went to the Winter Village was 2019, and the photographer in me wants to re-create this magic through my lens! This place is full of beautiful sights (every corner is perfect for a selfie) and tastes (thank you coffee and chocolate)! Entrance is free on weeknights before Dec 27th + children under 9 are free of charge!

Image from BlogTO

Holiday Yorkville Village

Yorkville is beautiful any time of year, but having it all lit up makes it amazing. The best photo op would be in the light tunnel! And the christmas tree totally gives Rockefeller Center vibes!

Image from BlogTO

Skating at Nathan Phillips Square

This rink is ALWAYS jam packed so keep the little ones close to you and on the edge of the rink. The best part about skating here (other than – it’s FREE as long as you bring your own skates and snacks) is the MUSIC. Whether it’s 90s christmas pop or top 40, you’ll have a great time whipping across :)

Image from Curiocity

Hudson’s Bay & Fairmount Royal York Hotel Windows

Miniature displays and twinkling lights? Sign me up! I’ve yet to check our the Royal York windows but I’ve heard that they are enchanting. Grab your mocha or hot chocolate and enjoy the stroll past these beautiful displays!

Image from Torontoist

Want more? Follow my Blogmas 2022 journey here!

Blogmas | Las Vegas

We recently went to Las Vegas!  This is actually my 5th trip to sincity (and 3rd trip with at least 1 kiddo!)

We tried to do some new things this time.  So sharing some of what we got up to!  All activities are family friendly (aka dooable for the kidos and the grandparents!

Hike in Zion National Park

After our Banff Trip, we knew our kids enjoyed hiking in nature.  So we weren’t going to let a 3hr drive stop us from experience that is Zion National Park.  There is a variety of hikes for all level of hikers but of course we stuck to the easy paved hikes.  I would have loved to spend another day or two there but doing the lower Emrald pools hike was a great taste of Zion. The views are breath taking.  And going in November meant you weren’t dealing with the desert heat.  

Venice Gondola Ride

This quick copy cat ride of the famous gondola experience in Venice is a great activity for any age. This is my 3rd ride, but my youngest one did this for the first time when she was 5 months old!
Although the ride is super quick (under 15 min) there is an opportunity to learn about vegas, hear a beautiful serenade and enjoy some time in a boat on the water (always relaxing)!

Flamingo Habitat

This place is a vibe!  In the middle of the Las Vegas strip is a gorgeous outdoor setting with palm, trees, waterfalls and cute animals!  This completely free activity is like a trip to a mini zoo.  Kids of all ages will love the animals and watching the fishes (which are mesmerizing to watch on the bridge).  

Seven Magic Mountains

7MM is an outdoor art display of stacked colourful boulders. It’s a great place to do an IG transition and they are even safe enough to climb (carefully ofcourse! for the perfect shot)
I did read if you got at 9am, you’ll beat the crowds, but we went mid afternoon to get the most sunshine!

Cereal Killersz

The Cereal Killerz Kitchen is actually a Cereal Bar. They have every cereal ever made + some rare ones that were only available for a short time and then of course some you haven’t head of! The best part was that they have alternative milk options! You can a classic cereal and milk bowl, or a millkshake. I would definite go back here next time!

Want more? Continue reading my Blogmas 2022 adventure here!

FOUR experiences not to miss on your trip to Banff

It’s been about 4 weeks since we got back from our trip to Calgary & BC (more lovingly known by most as “the Banff trip”)

I’ve yet to go through all my photos, but I figured this would be a good way to start. I read a lot of travel guides and blog posts ahead of our trip about what to see and do on #TheBanffTrip.

So I figure it only fair that I share my tips too! (my way of paying it forward). And nooo this list does not include Lake Louise (a bit of let down in my opinion!).

I’m sharing FOUR experiences that you can’t miss when in Calgary & BC (aka on your own Banff trip). These are great options to add to your itinerary if you are travelling with family/kids or if you want to try things off the beaten path (without the need to extensive gear or training!)

I should say that most of these attractions technically are in BC but considering how close everything is to each other, most people would still consider these things on their Banff Trip.

I’ve also shared our travel vlog – hopefully it provides some inspiration for a future trip.

  • Glacier (paid) Tour

Most people will tell you to check out the Glacier field by taking a small hike to the base of the glacier (aka the snout…just doesn’t sound nice). If you just see the base, you will not get the magnificent views, history/information and fresh (drinkable) glacier water. This can only be experienced by paying for the tour.

  • Peyto Lake

A moderate hike uphill and you get views of a turquoise lake surrounded by mountains (both with trees and snow peaks). And although there were crowds, it was way better here than to be herded like cattle between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Make sure to detour and check out this lake.

  • Takakkaw Falls

This is an easy-moderate hike with a surprise ending! The cool (read: cold) spray from the waterfall. Getting to most waterfalls can be a trek, but this is mostly paved which made it easier for my kids.

  • Jasper Gondola

We didn’t do the popular Banff Gondola (to be honest didn’t even want to). I found this attraction by a simple google search …and I honestly think this was way better. The views are stunning and you can even hike further up the summit. It was windy up there so be sure to bring a touq and some layers. The mountains in the distance look unreal!

Summer cottage getaway

With lockdown measures still in place, no vacation destinations requiring air travel are being planned – the next best thing is vacationing in your own backyard.  The best way to do that in Ontario? Camping or for the camping-averse Cottaging!

TLY_Cottage_2

A cottage is a great way to embrace the great outdoors, picturesque sunsets, time on the water and a change of scenery but still with the conveniences of home (sleeping on a bed, private bathrooms and better weather protection).

TLY_cottage_9

Camping is the same flavour but a lot more planning is required – in a good way because it offers an even more outdoor, nature filled experience.

TLY_cottage_001 TLY_cottage_004

That said, I am not yet ready for camping, maybe in a few years when the girls are little older and more able to help so for now we’ll take the cottage.  We don’t have a cottage in our family, so we usually rent one or find a house near a lake.

TLY_cottage_015

Here are some tips I’ve picked up overt the last few years of cottaging!

Preparing for your cottage:
– plan your days as much as you can including travelling to and from, meals/groceries, packing and activities
– if travelling with other families, divide up grocery shopping and cooking
– pack for the elements (even if you have a house to escape not ideal weather from, you may still want to enjoy the cooler evenings and rainy mornings)

When you are there:
– spend as much time as you can on the water & drag your kids out as much as possible
– let the kids run free (safely)
– eat every meal OUTSIDE
– take lots of pictures & video of the grounds and all of the activities
– Find any reason to celebrate ;)

Before you leave:
– leave the cottage in the same condition you found it (especially the kitchen!)
– make sure to put away any boating equipment (these are more likely to get stolen which means you don’t want to get caught paying for replacements)

TLY_cottage_007 TLY_cottage_006 TLY_cottage_005

TLY_cottage_08 TLY_cottage_010 TLY_cottage_012 TLY_cottage_014

Season of rest

We’ve been in this for over a year now. Take this as your sign.

It is okay to have a season of rest.

It’s okay to be feelings orientated if you need a break from being results orientated (or vice versa).

iPhone Reminder, Media, Creative, Season of Rest, Goal Setting, Self care

In the old time, the future seemed multifaceted. We had careers, families, personal aspirations, places to go, friends to see, bucket lists – the hum of human dreams we took for granted.

But we were sleepwalking, just one step away from trading all those possible futures for the shared fate of the Freeze.

// Monologue by Melanie Cavill of Snowpiercer

Exploring Glen Stewart Ravine

The last few months of the shelter in place with the people in your own household was challenging and rewarding experience.  On one hand, we were with each other all the time without the help of our village and on the other hand we got to spend all this time together that I always felt we were missing out.

Glen Stewart Ravine, Explore Toronto, Family Travel

When some of the restrictions lifted it was nice to enjoy the warm weather which worked really well as some of the first areas to open for public use were golf courses, open space parks and trails.

We have some great friends and family who made plans / did the research to figure out where to go and what to see (Nokiidaa Trail, Moccasin Trail and Wahoosh Falls) and then finally got out of my energy rut and found Glen Stewart Ravine and knew we had to check it out.

Glen Stewart Ravine, Explore Toronto, Family Travel

Glen Stewart Ravine is a lush, deep forest albeit short trail walk in the middle of the city is pure magic.  There are number of streams, downed logs for seating and lots of shade.

Glen Stewart Ravine, Explore Toronto, Family Travel

There are a few different entrances (Beech St, Glen Manor Dr and Kingston Rd), we came in from Kingston and there were a few 100 stairs to make it down.  We managed to see the cute stream (pictured below) and then found a cute shaded area to eat lunch (pictured above).

Glen Stewart Ravine, Explore Toronto, Family Travel

The middle of the trail is the entrance from Beech and it literally looked like we were in Hawaii!

Glen Stewart Ravine, Explore Toronto, Family Travel

Glen Stewart Ravine, Explore Toronto, Family Travel

The trail is not stroller friendly so keep babies in a carrier and leave the bikes/scooters at home.  The air is fresh and the way the sun pours in through the trees is amazing – you’ll just wish the trail was much longer :)