It’s here – summer vacation. Since my son just completed his first year in school, this is our first official “summer off”. Before this, summer just melted into every other season without as much anticipation. Being a stay-at-home mom, the weekends didn’t have as much excitement as they do now – my husband works long hours, what can I say. But now we can fully appreciate the weekends again. I’m not sure who’s happier about summer vacation, although I’m pretty sure it’s me. Schedules can relax a bit, no more fake smiling with all the other mommies (not all the other mommies, just the ones that I have nothing in common with), and no more driving back and forth.
When I was young, because my dad owned his own business and worked very long hours, we very rarely went anywhere during the summer. Although I do fondly remember long drives with seven people (five kids) crammed into our baby blue thunderbird with the white pleather seats. Good times. I, however, love to get out of town even if its just for the day – it helps break up the monotony don’t you think? So, I’ve been trying to come up with lots of excursions, day trips, weekend trips and a week-long trip that we can take the kids on to make sure their summer is filled with new experiences. The little man has definitely voice his opinions on places he absolutely must visit this summer, so we are taking those into consideration of course. And yes, I realize this list is a highly optimistic list, but you have to start somewhere. I figure if I make this list, I can cross it off as we go, feel like I’ve given my kids the best summer that I could, all while we make it exciting for the little people at the same time.
- Playing at our two local favorite parks, one of which just installed a splash pad
- Visiting the farmer’s market for fresh veggies/fruits/flowers and then heading down to the waterfront to feed the ducks
- Visiting the antique market for treasures, as my son likes to call them.
- Checking out the local festivals: Buskers Festival, Jazz Festival, Ethnic/Waterfront Festival
- Movies in the City Square every Thursday evening – we just grab a chair and some treats and enjoy the show
- Hit the beach on some beautiful days to play in the sand like the Picton Sandbanks to play in the sand dunes
- Taking the ferry over to Wolfe Island for an ice cream cone and a walk
- Indoor activities for those rainy days like bowling (a family favorite)
- Local Tourist Attractions like the Marine Museum, Woodworking Museum and Fort Henry to watch the sunset ceremony
- Taking the kid’s to the movies for the summer releases: UP!, Night at the Museum 2, Ice Age 3
Day Trips/Weekend Trips:
Ottawa: We LOVE Ottawa – there are several attractions there that we have seen many times, but the kids still beg us to take them back. This is definitely an overnight trip.
- Valleyview Animal Farm – Great place for both our kids with tons to do. They love to feed the animals, play on the play structure, take the train ride, and watch the puppet show.
- Museum of Civilization – Children’s Museum – This is another very popular place for my kids. My son adores it – he begs to go everytime he hears the word Ottawa. I am a frazzled mess when we leave this place, but they love it so its nothing a little Starbucks can’t fix.
- Museum of Nature – We haven’t been here in a while and they’ve recently completed their renovations I believe, so its on the list this time.
- Saunders Farm – I heard about this place through the grapevine, and its supposed to be great fun. They have these huge mazes, a water park, wagon rides, play structures, and ice cream. My child’s dream.
- Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill – The last time we saw this, I was pregnant with my daughter, and my then 2 1/2 year old son thought it was the coolest thing ever. So, I think it will be worth seeing it again, if only for a great picture.
- Byward Market & IKEA – a little shopping to keep Mommy sane.
Toronto Overnight Trip – We also LOVE Toronto, and have been there hundreds of times over the years. We have not seen some attractions yet however, so these are on the list this time around.
- Canada’s Wonderland – this could be a crap shoot really, based on the weather, the lineups and availability of rides for a 5 year old and a 2 year old. I’m hoping for the best.
- Toronto Island – My husband has been bugging me to go here forever, so its on the list.
- High Park – I think the kids would love the Adventure Playground, which is supposed to be awesome. (No, I’m not too old to say awesome).
- Walking the Danforth and stopping for Dinner at Meze – Great Greek Food.
- Yorkville & Yorkdale shopping (again for Mommy’s sanity)
We are also planning a week long trip to the U.S. to either the Washington D.C. area or New York City. The thing is we can’t decide which one would be better to do with two small kids in tow. I’ve started a Pros/Cons list to help:
- Pros: Staying with family means no accomodation costs; first time visit; tons to see and do
- Cons: Staying with family for a week means we may try to maim each other at some point; still pricey; kids might get bored?
New York City
- Pros: Been there, LOVE IT; tons to do; shorter drive; no family obligations; might see Jeffrey Dean Morgan
- Cons: More expensive trip (hotel, etc), hard to navigate subways with two kids, husband’s wallet and head may explode; can’t see a broadway show with little people; no break from kids for entire trip.
So here’s where I need you. Let me know what you think – I need your advice about which place we should choose and why. Should I just avoid both and hit Philly (another thought in my head) instead? Will I survive a week with my husband and two kids in either place, let alone the 8 hour drive to get there? Feel free to also give me ideas about summer fun closer to home – I need to keep my hyenas at bay, or they may eat me alive!!