JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa
The grande dame of Muskoka resorts, this sprawling property overlooking Lake Rosseau is a favourite with well-heeled families. Bike rentals, canoes, paddle boats, kayaks and scavenger hunts (natch) are included in your stay, and the menu of activities (some with extra fees) includes everything from a birdhouse decorating class to kite building. Toddlers can splash around in a special wading pool made just for them while their older siblings rock their best front crawl in one of several pools (including an indoor/outdoor one). Mini-chefs will love trying their hand at making s’mores down at the bonfire, and the whole fam can recover from an exhausting day by hunkering down in front of nightly family-friendly movies. Other strenuous pursuits include strolling around the wetland trail and cuddling up by the indoor fireplace. Intrepid explorers will love the Discover the Night Nature Walk, where guides take you on an after-dark wildlife tour of the property, complete with headlamps and a meeting with a bear! (Okay, a bear pelt, but still.) Food is extra, and generally not cheap, but parents will love the “This+That+The Other” $10 kids 3-course lunch and dinner menu, which lets even the pickiest eaters find their perfect combo from a healthy selection of kiddie classics. All the rooms comes with kitchenettes, too. Paignton House rooms are closer to the beach, main lodge rooms are closer to the pools and the restaurant.
If you want the all-inclusive experience without the airfare, then this old-school Orillia spot is for you. This longtime family resort, located just an hour-and-a-half outside of Toronto, is so chockablock with things to do it almost seems intimidating. Fern is especially popular with multi-generational groups because the extensive programming means that Bubbi can play bingo while Mom hits the yoga mat and the kids have the time of their lives being entertained by a cheery army of recreational staff. Families can hang around the pretty pools or make sandcastles on the beach together (a swing set that overlooks the lake is a particularly nice touch), but the real appeal of this joint is that the Kids Club is included (including dinner hour babysitting, hallelujah!). The three-to six-year-olds won’t ever want to leave Playvillage, where they can ride the Honey Bee Express hay wagon, tootle around on battery-powered mini-jeeps, flop in the ball pit, ride ponies and jump on trampolines. Babies and toddlers will be having their own fun in the nursery, while older kids can enjoy rock and rope climbing, fishing, or getting some hands-on experience with a visiting crew of exotic animals.
Rocky Crest Golf Resort
This all-suite (hellooo, kitchenettes!) joint on Lake Joseph is about way more than just golf. Come summer, it’s crawling with families who come to take advantage of the roomy accommodations, heated pools, basketball and tennis courts, supervised half or full-day kids’ programs from newborn to age 12 (for an extra fee) and pet-friendly policy (cats, too!). The kids’ club has it’s own pool and a playground nestled in a sand play area for sunny days, and a room full of crafts and activities—which kids can also use for free if accompanied by a parent—for rainy ones. Pick up groceries in nearby Port Carling or Gravenhurst and eat in, or a kids’ menu is also available at all three of the on-site restaurants. Kayaks, canoes, pedal boats and stand-up paddle boards are included with your stay, and little swimmers will love clambering all over the inflatable climbers, slide and trampoline in the lake.
Fiddler Lake Resort
An enclave of cutesy wooden chalets, Fiddler Lake Resort is the ultimate family retreat. It’s got a recreation center, indoor and outdoor heated pools, plus a brand new playground. Some cabins are even decked out with their own hot tub, sauna and heated pool! Fiddler Lake itself is a 2.8 km stretch of crystal clear water, ideal for canoeing and paddle boating. Anchoring the lake are acres of pristine forest ripe for hiking, biking and rousing games of hide-and-seek.
Not only is this Eastern Township treasure conveniently located next to Mont-Orford National Park, it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive from Montreal. Set snugly in the woods, a variety of cottages run the gamut from one to 18-bedrooms, making this an ideal spot for family reunions. Best is that this resort has an all-inclusive option, with activities and gourmet meals. Half-day supervised activities for the kids and drop-in daycare for children under three years old make parents never want to leave.
Village Vacances Petit-Saguenay
Imagine settling into a chalet overlooking a fjord, as beluga whales gracefully swim by. Daydreams are turned into reality at Village Vacances Petit-Saguenay. Bed down in either in a fully equipped chalet or at the full service campsite. Opt to have your meals included or go for the self-catering option. Parents can hike and picnic along the cliffs overlooking the fjord, while kids join their camp leaders for non-stop fun activities. While this is a francophone environment, don’t fret if you don’t parlez le francais. Many of the staff and camp counsellors are bilingual.
The Algonquin Resort
St. Andrews is your quintessential seaside resort town and The Algonquin Resort is set majestically upon a hill overlooking it all. The kids will be wowed upon first sight of this Tudor-like castle, but all that grandeur will soon fade away once they barrel down the indoor three-storey waterslide. Try to coax them to the outdoor pool (so you can be served drinks) or challenge them to an old-school board game in the cozy lounge where a fire roars every day of the year. Swap off with your partner to take advantage of the spa and the stunning, reasonably priced golf course.
The Inn at Whale Cove Cottages, Grand Manan
An affordable escape is found just off the southern coast of New Brunswick on Grand Manan Island. The Inn at Whale Cove Cottages offers a wide variety of accommodations for daily and weekly rentals. Take a whale watching tour to get up close and personal with minke whales, seals and porpoises. Or stick closer to shore and hit up the heritage trails and footpaths or go beach combing along secluded pebble shores.
White Point Beach Resort
One of the Maritimes oldest coastal resorts, this classic beach retreat boasts a summer surf camp, plus oodles of activities to keep the troops occupied from dawn till dusk. Seriously! Their daily, complimentary children’s programming has kids hopping (just like those resident bunnies) from 9:30 a.m. till 9 p.m. Beware; you may need to book an appointment to get your kids to hang out with you.
Pictou Lodge Beach Resort
This restful, rural retreat sports a host of activities included at no charge for guests. Begin your stay with beach and wildlife scavenger hunts to explore the area, before branching out to beach parties, boating and stand up paddling. With access to a pool as well as the ocean, you’ll find water activities all abilities can enjoy. Not so outdoorsy? Participate in craft and culinary sessions, or simply watch a movie under the stars.
Larinda’s Landing Oceanfront Cottages
Located along the famed lighthouse route, these oceanfront cottages make an ideal base from which to explore historic seaside villages and the Annapolis Valley (which includes the Bay of Fundy). Fully equipped two- and three-bedroom cottages overlooking the water are ship-shape for families wanting to hunker down and make their meals. Since you’re in the Maritimes, make a point to use your spacious deck for a traditional lobster boil, since all accoutrements are provided.
Dalvay by the Sea
You won’t be the only one enchanted by this seaside enclave. Both William and Kate and the island’s red-headed ambassador were charmed by this 19th century summer home (dubbed the White Sands Hotel in the Anne of Green Gables movie). Just as Anne experienced, there are no TVs or telephones here, but afternoon tea is a treat any generation can appreciate. Stroll along endless miles of beach, cycle the extensive trail system or take a paddleboat out for a spin on the resort’s lake. There are also several complimentary, family programs at nearby Brackley Beach offered by Parks Canada, including Sensational Sandcastles, led by a master sculptor.
The Rock never looks as dazzling as it does from the Piper’s Hole River Valley. A true Canadiana experience awaits intrepid families who don’t mind spending their nights in pine log cottages overlooking the mountains and river estuary. Though the cabins are fully-equipped for self-catering, you won’t really be roughing it, not with a heated outdoor pool and Wi-Fi. Still, your brood can get back to nature fishing for salmon, strolling through the forest and kayaking.