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While most moms appreciate all the love and acknowledgement from the family for all that they do, she definitely wouldn’t mind some Mother’s Day gifts either! Better yet, some practical Mother’s Day gifts that she will not only enjoy but actually use.

Sure, there are things that mom really want for Mother’s Day that don’t cost anything, like some quiet time for herself or a quality time with the family. But who can say no to a gift? Here are some practical Mother’s Day gift ideas for mom this Mother’s Day.

Practical Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Yoga mat and bolster by b, half moon

As b, halfmoon says, “fall in love with the art of relaxation.” Yoga and meditation have become a daily practice for me and I highly recommend it to everyone – especially moms who are juggling so much every day. Yoga and meditation have a positive effect on the central nervous and immune systems, and can improve our mental health including reducing anxiety symptoms

If you need more comfort and padding when you’re practicing yoga like I do, the b, mat impact is thick, durable, and supportive on the wrists and knees with its extra cushioning. You can use indoors and bring outdoors too, and comfy enough for a long Savasana. Pair it with one of their beautiful meditation bolsters in rose clay linen to support you however you need – for opening up the heart, sitting up for meditation, and my favourite, supported bridge pose.  

b, mat impact $98
linen mod meditation cushion $118

Naomi sunglasses by Sol Kyst 

As we are finally seeing the sun again (hello sunshine!), it’s the perfect excuse for a new pair of sunnies! A gorgeous pair of sunglasses is the accessory that makes an outfit – and can give you confidence boost and make you look like a million bucks. Sol Kyst is a Canadian sunglasses and eyewear brand with size inclusive eyewear, fitting and flattering different face shapes. With three sizes of designs – the Mini, Midi and Wide, you’ll be able to find a shape and size that best suits your face.

The Naomi has a sleek, classic style with a high-quality and sturdy frame that pairs well with most outfits.They have UV 400 protection, scratch resistant coating and polarized nylon lenses. I’m wearing the Midi size.

Naomi sunglasses by Sol Kyst  $140

Lighthouse Clothing’s Iona Long Raincoat

Springtime can still be a little chilly, especially in the mornings when taking out the dog. The temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. So you need a good waterproof rain jacket and I love this Iona Long Raincoat from Lighthouse Clothing. Lighthouse is a UK company and with the amount of rain they’re used to, you can bet their jackets hold up well!

Call it a warm jacket or light coat, the Iona is padded waterproof and windproof with a soft jersey striped lining and hood. It has a roomy A-line cut which means you can layer up on those chilling days. Also has two front zipped pockets and is machine washable. Pair it with the Causeway Breton navy stripe top, jeans, and Hunter rainboots – don’t forget the umbrella!

Iona Long Raincoat $135
Causeway Breton Top – Navy Stripe $79

 

Practical Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Vegamour’s HYRD-8 and GLO

Something happens when you reach a certain age and you may notice your hair becoming more lifeless and limp. Vegamour is line of holistic hair products that uses plant-based ingredients that can make your hair thicker and fuller – yes! If you have dry hair like me, you’ll love the HYDR-8 Deep Moisture Repair Mask which is formulated to provide intensive moisture, reduce frizz and renew shine in just five minutes. You’ll also find the Leave-In Conditioner a great lightweight spray that also hydrates, detangles and reduces frizz. It also have heat protection so it can help protect your hair from the damage caused the blow dryer and hair straightener.

If you notice your lashes are disappearing and brows are thinning, you must try the bestselling GRO Lash and Brow Kit. Each serum revitalizes your lash and brow roots. These plant-based serums are formulated with clean and vegan ingredients. Most people notice a different between four to eight weeks.

HYDR-8 Deep Moisture Repair Mask  $46
HYDR-8 Leave-In Conditioner $34
GRO Lash and Brow Kit  $122

Practical Mother's Day Gift Ideas Vegamour

HeLa Nutrition Organic Plant Protein

A lot of protein powders are loaded with artificial and allergenic ingredients, plus other supplements that might not be suitable for your diet. I myself can’t have gluten, soy or dairy and many of the protein powder options have all of those! I also have tried many brands with pea protein which don’t taste the greatest.

That’s what makes HeLa Nutrition’s Organic Plant Protein powder a winner – it has just a few wholesome and organic ingredients like easily digested sprouted peas, hemp, pumpkin seeds, basil seeds, and chia seeds – high in protein and fibre. It’s also sweetened with naturally sweet monk fruit. Bonus is that it’s vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, grain and nut free, organic, kosher, and non-GMO – and Canadian! Hela’s Organic Plant Protein come in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Natural flavours. With 22g of protein, 5g of fibre, 9 essential amino acids and only 5g net carbs per scoop.

Hela’s Organic Plant Protein  $59.99

Practical Mother's Day Gift Ideas Hela Nutrition

The Nurture Bundle by Consonant Skin + Care

As we emerge from the cocoon of cold, rainy days, the warmth of spring beckons us to take care of our skin!  Consonant Skin + Care creates 100% natural skin care products rooted in science, made in Canada! As one of the originals in natural skin care, they have been redefining how Canadians care for their skin for over 15 years. The Nurture Bundle is a lovely and affordable gift for Mom this Mother’s Day. The trio of body soaps are scented with 100% natural essential oils and smell divine. The Mint Soap Bar, Tangerine Soap Bar, and Mojito Soap Bar won’t strip the skin’s natural oils. Pair that with the Pure Unscented Body Lotion, which is non-greasy and loaded with organic botanicals that will absorb into the deeper layers of skin to improve texture and hydration. 

The Nurture Bundle $29.99

Practical Mother's Day gifts

For the new mom in your life…

Of course I could not include a copy of my book, “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year” published by Familius. There are plenty of books and resources about how to properly care for your new baby, but what about caring for yourself? My book outlines the “proper care and feeding” of mothers during their baby’s first year with honesty and humor. From the physical and emotional changes a new mom will undergo to rekindling intimacy with her partner, my book keeps the focus on moms—because you can’t draw water (or breastmilk, for that matter) from an empty well!

Oh Baby! A Mom's Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year: Because Moms Need a Little TLC, Too!


ENTER TO WIN

One lucky mom will win a Mother’s Day Prize Pack which includes:

  • Yoga mat and bolster by b, half moon $226

  • $150 gift certificate for a pair of Sol Kyst sunglasses (your choice!)

  • HeLa Nutrition Organic Plant Protein $59.99

Good luck and Happy Mother’s Day!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Mother's Day

One of the best things about the Spring season is seeing spring buds develop and some early flowers start to bloom – including of course, cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms in Ontario are beautiful – but the season is so short so get out there to see them.

Cherry blossoms bloom in gorgeous hues of pink and white in late April to early May. Because it’s such a short blossom time, it’s worth a drive to one of these places in Ontario to see the cherry blossoms!

The cherry blossom, or sakura, is the flower of trees in in the flowering plant family Rosaceae .”Sakura” usually refers to flowers of ornamental cherry trees. While the cherry trees are common in East Asia, especially Japan, they are also widely sprinkled throughout the North  America.

These delicate pink flowers have a cultural significance that has been celebrated for centuries in Japan. The blossoms bloom for only a short time, signifying the beauty and fragility of life and the transience of human existence. The custom, called Hanami, encourages people to come together to appreciate the present moment and find beauty in the passing of time. It’s a moment to savour, surrounded by friends and family amid the delicate petals.

Many of the cherry trees in Ontario were donated by through the Sakura Project, which saw 3,082 trees planted at 58 locations across the province as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. 

Here are the best spots to see cherry blossoms in Ontario.

Toronto

High Park is probably the most well-known spot to view the cherry blossoms, and it’s busy!  The stunning Sakura trees line along the High Park Trail and around the Grenadier Pond. The trees were given as a gift from Tokyo’s citizens to Toronto for their support of Japanese-Canadian refugees after the Second World War in 1959. There is no access by car through High Park on the weekends so surrounding areas fill up quickly.

Trinity Bellwoods, one of the biggest green areas downtown, is a favorite among picnickers, dog owners, and sports enthusiasts. Out of the around 400 trees in the park, 70 are Sakura trees, located in the southern section. When these trees bloom, it creates a breathtaking sight, especially with the CN Tower in the background.

The beautiful cherry tree canopy at Exhibition Place is a sight to behold and tends to be less crowded than High Park and Trinity Bellwoods. You can find the cherry trees near the Princess Margaret Fountain and just north of the Princes’ Gate.

Centennial Park in Etobicoke has the second-largest cherry blossom tree collection in Ontario. There are about 460 trees that can be enjoyed along Rathburn Road, Centennial Park Boulevard and northeast of Centennial Park Conservatory. There is free parking in Centennial Park, and you can walk to view the trees however there are no paved pathways. Most of the cherry blossom trees in the Northeast corner.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Ida Purwanto (@daepurwanto)

Peel Region

To avoid the crowds in nearby Toronto, head west to Mississauga’s Kariya Park which boasts 65 cherry blossom trees. Named in honour of Kariya, Mississauga’s sister city in central Japan, Kariya Park is a serene Japanese-inspired garden featuring a pond, boardwalk and pavilion. With two sides, one for Mississauga and the other for Kariya, the pavilion stands as a symbol of the friendship between the two cities. The bridge over a pond is a sweet spot for pictures, giving you a great view of the pavilion, pond, and trees. You’ll also find red Japanese maples, hyacinths and tulips in spring bloom, a marsh containing Japanese irises, rhododendrons, and magnolia trees. There are different flowers in bloom so there’s always something new to see when visiting. Make sure to also see the Friendship Bell, a gift from Kariya which is between both sides of the pavilion. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by City of Mississauga (@citymississauga)

Niagara Region

There are a few places to delight in the blooming of cherry blossom trees. The Botanical Gardens in Niagara boast meticulously tended gardens, a lovely Victorian rose garden, and an extensive herb section. There are also magnolia trees that you may be able to enjoy right before the cherry blossoms. Linked to the Niagara River Recreation Trail, McFarland Park offers a walking trail, playground, and picnic pavilion. McFarland House, one of the region’s oldest buildings, is a charming tearoom to visit and admire the cherry blossoms. 

You can also see cherry blossoms along the Niagara Parkway, throughout the charming Niagara-on-the-Lake, at The Gardens at Pillar and Post and outside of the Prince of Wales Hotel. There are also some cherry blossoms in front of the Laura Secord Monument and near the Queenston Heights Restaurant.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sun-Ray Orchards (@sunrayorchards)

https://www.instagram.com/p/CdbI1wzDi1r/ 

Ottawa

In Ottawa, the Dominion Arboretum is a lovely spot to see the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms. These fragile trees adorn the Arboretum with their pink and white fluffy flowers along Prince of Wales Drive. On the east side of Confederation Park, nestled between the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal, there is a small grove of cherry blossom trees to admire. It’s worth a visit along with the numerous sculptures and monuments. If you happen to cross the Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River and stop at Jacques Cartier Park on the border of Ontario and Quebec, you’ll be able to view the Sakura trees while listening to the soothing sound of flowing water. Ahhh such zen! 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Nick Tritchew (@nicktritchew)

Hamilton, Halton, and Brant

Hamilton, Halton, and Brant regions are celebrated for their abundance of waterfalls and scenic nature trails along the Niagara Escarpment. Each spring, folks can also revel in the sight of cherry tree blossoms at various parks and gardens in the area.

Spencer Smith Park boasts 50 cherry trees generously donated by Itabashi, Burlington’s sister city in Japan. These trees are strategically planted to create a cool tunnel effect along the walking path. The park overlooks Lake Ontario and the downtown shoreline, making it an enchanting spot for photo opps. The area is worth a visit to enjoy Sakura trees while exploring the boardwalk, pier, playground, and Japanese-inspired garden. 

The Royal Botanical Gardens’ Arboretum hosts the largest collection of flowering cherry trees, located just south of the lilac dell. The Sakura cherry blossoms can also be found at the Rock Garden and scattered throughout the terraces of Laking Garden overlooking Grindstone Creek. In addition to cherry blossoms, the gardens boast crabapples, lilacs, and magnolias.

Flowering Cherry at RBG

The entrance walkway of Bayfront Park in Hamilton is lined with majestic cherry blossom trees, a gift from Japan to the city. Locals and visitors alike are drawn here to stroll among the delicate white blooms. Gage Park is another spot for a spring outing, featuring several mature cherry blossom trees near the Tropical Greenhouse.  You could also check out Centennial Park, adorned with nearly 40 cherry trees, courtesy of a generous donation from the Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin School in Japan. The park attracts locals and visitors alike, eager to witness the brief yet beautiful blooms of these cherry trees.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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pink cherry blossoms

Did you keep a diary when you were young? I recall having a cute pink book with a mini lock and I would write down my daily happenings at elementary school like drama with friends and crushes on boys. But now as an adult, how to journal?

Journaling as an adult is a therapeutic way to express your innermost thoughts and emotions. For just 10 to 20 minutes a day, writing down your thoughts on paper (or even typed out) can have many benefits. Some people swear by journaling to manage stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and set new goals. So how to journal and why it’s good for you? Let’s get into it.

How to journal and why it’s good for you

If you aren’t convinced that journaling could be a healthy habit for you, consider the not-so-comforting alternatives. You could keep all your thoughts and ideas jumbled up in your mind. That alone seems a bit overwhelming, but the reality is that it can leave you unfocused and distracted for most of the day.

Anxiety and depression may remain a constant in your life and can worsen, if that is something that you are struggling with. With no creative outlet, you may feel stifled or just like you are constantly in a funk. That’s exhausting!

Often, people decide to journal for multiple reasons – and end up finding several benefits once they get started. Here are some common reasons why people like to journal every day and how to journal:

Set (and achieve) goals – 2 in 1!

Write down all the short-term and long-term goals you hope you achieve in your journal. This keeps them in one place to refer back to as needed.

Journal a plan for each goal with specific steps and deadlines to meet. These details can be very enlightening to your mental health and keep you motivated to move forward in life. There’s no better feeling than looking back and seeing the progress physically, but also being able to cross out goals once you’ve achieved them!

Journaling helps you track your progress and growth

No matter what the goals are that you are striving to accomplish, journaling can help you monitor your progress. Did you lose 5 pounds in the last month? Discuss how you did it in your journal. Feel less depressed over a bad situation? Do a brain dump of your feelings on that and why you think you’re growing and healing.

Seeing how far you have come overtime is very uplifting and oftentimes snowballs into more growth. You can go back and read over your progress and reflect on it in future journal entries.

Record your big ideas through journaling

If your mind is full of things you want to do, you need to get them down on paper! Your journal can be a great resource for lists that you can later look back on. Make a list of places you’d like to travel to, create a 30 before 30 bucket list, or just jot down your favorite motivational quotes for future inspiration. Vision boards are all the rage, why not make a mini one you can refer to in your journal?

Evaluate your day-to-day life through your journal

If you feel like you could be more productive with your days, journal your daily routine for an entire week. This allows you to see where your time is being spent. With this information, you can revamp your daily routines for a more productive lifestyle. Maybe you spend time on something that doesn’t have value to you the way it used to. Swap this for something you’re more passionate about. Create a habit and routine and do this regularly to continue working on being the best YOU you can be.

Improve your communication skills by journaling

Sometimes it is difficult for us to verbally say how we are feeling. The words just don’t seem to come when we are talking with a trusted friend or family member, even if we do want to share.

Some people find it easier to communicate their thoughts by writing them out. Journaling regularly can help you improve on your communication with others. The more you find the words to explain how you feel, the easier it gets to share.

Alongside this, it becomes a good and healthy outlet when you feel there is no one to turn to.

Manage your problems and find solutions through your journal

When problems live only in our mind, they can be dangerous. They may feel bigger than they are and take away mental focus we need for other areas of our lives.

By journaling, you can get the issues out of your head and onto paper. Then, you can brainstorm ways to solve the problems. Lightening the burden on your mind allows for clarity to easily find solutions to things that are bothering you.

Journaling reduces anxiety and depression

Journaling has been known to greatly help those that suffer from anxiety and/or depression. When your daily thoughts are out on paper, you can begin to notice triggers that cause you to feel a certain way. This way, you can keep progress in overcoming those anxieties and also avoiding situations that give you unnecessary anxiety.

Maybe you have a fear of public speaking but have to talk in work meetings regularly. Left in your mind, the fear can blossom into anxiety that cripples you anytime you have to talk to someone you don’t know well. Having it constantly on your mind can grow the anxiety, making it worse rather than rationalizing and overcoming it.

On the other hand, identifying what is causing your anxiety and how it makes you feel lets you come up with possible solutions. You can practice speaking in front of your friends or even the bathroom mirror.

Journaling is a creative outlet for your mind

Sometimes journaling can just be a way to express yourself in a creative sense. Not everyone has the knack for drawing or creating visually artistic works. Getting creative through the written word may be more your speed.

Use your journal to share stories or create funny characters. If you’re struggling with what to write, or are experiencing writer’s block, one quick google search can give you hundreds of amazing prompts. Whatever strikes you to pick up your pen and write, use that!

As you can see, there are many great reasons you should start journaling. If nothing else, it gives you a place to put down your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams. The more you do it, the more you still start to reap the benefits of your writing habit.

How to journal and why journaling is good for you

For Canadians and Americans seeking affordable places to travel for March break, there are several options that offer both value and enjoyable experiences. The lower overall costs of living in places like Eastern Europe and Central America compared to major cities in North America and Western Europe means more affordable accommodations, dining options, and activities for travelers.

Here are some great affordable March break destinations to consider for your next trip!

Top Affordable Places to Travel for March Break

Affordable Places to Travel Deerfield Beach FL
Photo by Benjamin Basch on Unsplash

Deerfield Beach Florida

Looking for a quieter place on Florida’s coasts? Deerfield Beach is the perfect place to experience South Florida’s stunning beaches without the large crowds, and it’s an affordable place to travel. The small town of Deerfield Beach is situated between Boca Raton and Pompano Beach. It’s a slice of beachy paradise without all the hustle and bustle in other areas like Miami or Clearwater.

Deerfield Beach is a quaint little town with a fishing pier that stretches almost a thousand feet. It has an award-winning “Blue Wave” beach which means it is one of the cleanest and most environmentally safe beaches in the U.S. If you enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, camping, water skiing, surfing, wakeboarding, or paddleboarding, Deerfield Beach should be on your radar.

After you’ve had your fill of adventures, swing by the Historic Butler House for a tour and peek into the Deerfield Beach Historical Society Museum for a bit of local history.

Where to stay? The Embassy Suites by Hilton Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa has lovely views of the Atlantic. This boutique resort offers a complimentary made-to-order breakfast and evening reception at the on-site Beach Terrace Restaurant. Families can enjoy Spring Break savings using the Stay Longer & Save promotion – save 10% off one night, 20% off two nights or 30% off three nights on travel booked through April 2024. Affordable rates start at $200 per night!

Photo courtesy of Embassy Suites by Hilton Deerfield Beach Resort & Spa

Shores & Islands Ohio

Who said road trip? Shores & Islands Ohio is one of the top affordable places to travel for March break for Canadians and Americans. It’s especially a great option for families with younger children. It’s centrally located in the Midwest and an easy drive around Lake Erie from Ontario.

The region is home to three indoor water park resorts – Castaway Bay, Great Wolf Lodge, and Kalahari Resorts & Conventions. They’re all-under-one-roof getaways for the family located in Sandusky, Ohio.

Castaway Bay’s tropical theme makes guests feel like they have just landed on an island paradise. It boasts a 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark loaded with water activities for all ages, including a 100,000 gallon wave pool and 10 water slides. 

Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky is a popular family vacation destination located midway between Cleveland and Toledo. This 33,000 square-foot indoor water park is maintained at a 84 degrees year-round. It also has other exciting local attractions and events, diverse dining options to satisfy every palate, and more all under one roof. 

Kalahari is the mid-west’s largest indoor waterpark America’s with an array of activities for children of all ages. There are water slides, tube slides that multiple people can ride together, a wave simulator for surfing, a splash pad area for little kids, a multi-level water playground, and a wave pool. Guests can also enjoy the arcade, escape room, mini-golf, laser tag a safari adventure with up-close animal encounters, and more.  

Outside of the resorts, there is a Cheers Trail with more than 20 wineries, breweries, and distilleries, fantastic dining options (Sandusky Restaurant Week is March 4-10), a number of local museums, and fun family amusements.

Affordable places to travel for march break Kalahari
Photo courtesy of Kalahari Resort

Montreal, Quebec

Bonjour Montreal! Montreal is a vibrant city with a rich cultural scene and a European feel. Montreal has affordable accommodations, delicious food, and plenty of attractions to explore. You can do a lot of site-seeing on foot and what’s best? It can be free or low cost. Visitors can explore Old Montreal and  public parks like Mount Royal Park. There are plenty of cultural events and festivals. Many museums and galleries offer discounted admission on certain days or during specific times.

While March in Montreal can still be chilly, it’s generally considered off-peak tourist season compared to the summer months. Accommodation prices may be more affordable, and attractions may be less crowded.

In addition to the site-seeing and bustling nightlife, Montreal is known for its diverse culinary scene. There are many dining options to suit various budgets. From casual eateries like the famous Schwartz’s Deli and food trucks to affordable bistros and cafes, travelers can enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank. Make sure to grab some bagels and cannoli before heading home!

Photo: amotherworld.com
Top Affordable Places to Travel for March Break - Montreal
Photo: amotherworld.com

Costa Rica

Known for its lush rainforests, diverse wildlife, and eco-friendly tourism, Costa Rica is one of the top affordable places to travel, though it’s becoming more popular (which means more expensive). But Costa Rica still offers affordable accommodations and plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, zip-lining, and wildlife tours. March is typically towards the end of the dry season in Costa Rica, which means it’s still a popular time to visit, but it’s slightly off-peak compared to the peak tourist season from December to February. During off-peak times, you may find lower prices for accommodations and activities.

Many of Costa Rica’s natural attractions like their beaches, waterfalls, hiking trails, and national parks, are free or have low admission prices. Enjoy time in nature by doing outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and  watching wildlife, all of which can be both affordable and memorable too! Costa Rica does have many budget-friendly activities such as snorkeling, surfing, zip-lining, and hot spring visits. Look for discounted packages or deals offered by tour operators to save money on these experiences. Costa Rica has a thriving hostel and guesthouse scene, especially in popular tourist destinations like San José, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, and La Fortuna.

Photo: amotherworld.com

Nicaragua

If you’re like adventure and exploring places that aren’t overrun by tourists, Nicaragua should be on your radar. Nicaragua is one of the most affordable places to visit for March break and other times of the year too! It has affordable accommodations with access to breathtaking beaches and volcano treks. 

When it comes to budget travel, Nicaragua’s a winner; it’s in the top 25% for affordability worldwide. There are budget-friendly hostels and cozy family guesthouses to fancy eco-friendly resorts that won’t break the bank. Getting around won’t cost you an arm and a leg either with their busses. And you can chow down on street food, hit up local eateries, or splurge on fine dining too.

Nicaragua’s slowly but surely getting on the map for adventurous surfers and backpackers. They’re loving the low prices, local vibe, and the eco-friendly adventures it offers. Whether you’re shredding waves in San Juan, paddling around Ometepe Island on Lake Nicaragua, or zooming down the slopes of an active volcano (yep, you read that right!), Nicaragua’s got something for every active traveler out there.

If relaxing is more your vibe, Ometepe Island offers tranquility too. You can rent a motorbike or scooter to explore the island. Visit San Ramon Waterfalls and Ojo de Agua which is like nature’s own gem, tucked away in the most stunning surroundings, with lush tropical plants all around. People say its water has some magical healing powers and it’s as clear as crystal.

Punta Jesus Maria is the hotspot on Ometepe, known far and wide for its stunning beach vibes. This point juts out into the lake, splitting it in two and treating visitors to jaw-dropping views of Ometepe’s twin volcanoes. It’s the go-to spot for catching the most mesmerizing sunsets on the island.

Affordable Places to Travel - Nicaragua
Photo by Ale Romo on Unsplash

Eastern Europe

Wanting to escape North America and travel to Europe? Eastern European countries like Hungary (especially Budapest), Poland (Krakow and Warsaw), and the Czech Republic (Prague) offer vibrant history, and breathtaking architecture and best of all – affordability. In these charming cities, you’ll find a range of accommodations to suit your budget. From cozy guesthouses to budget-friendly hotels, all accommodations are priced quite lower than their Western counterparts. Plus, with Airbnb options aplenty, you can snag affordable and one-of-a-kind lodging experiences.

Choosing where to go is difficult! The architecture of Budapest is stunning as is the picturesque landscapes of the Czech Republic and Poland. Regardless of where you choose, you’ll find rich history, diverse cultures, and captivating traditions. Whether it’s strolling along the Danube River or hiking in the Tatra Mountains, there are plenty of things to do and see.

Many attractions offer free admission or charge only nominal fees. Site-seeing on foot is the best way to explore and discover. Wander through cobblestone streets and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the neighbourhoods. Public transportation is efficient and budget-friendly too (compared to Toronto!) so navigating these cities is easy. You can get around well without worrying about expensive fares. Eastern Europe beckons with boundless adventures and unforgettable experiences that won’t cost you a fortune.

Photo by Ouael Ben Salah on Unsplash    

Top Affordable Places to Travel for March Break
Photo by Byron Castillo on Unsplash

Happy New Year! 

Do you make resolutions for the new year? Do you have a word for 2024? I’m not one of those people. In recent years, I’ve adopted the practice of selecting a personal “word of the year” for myself, a theme word that best describes where I am or where I want and need to be.

During the holidays, I like to reflect on the previous year, both its trials and tribulations, and the small victories. With all of the learning and observations from that year, I prefer to choose one word to represent my aspirations for the coming year. Because one simple word can help you focus your intentions more easily, it can also serve as your mantra when you get off track or lose focus.

Here’s a look back at some of my theme words over the past 10 years:

2014 – flourish
2015 – focus, be, leisure
2016 – nurture
2017 – manifest
2018 – clarify, courage, celebration
2019 – pivot
2020 – open
2021 – grounding
2022 –  grounding* though I didn’t write a new word, the word ‘grounding’ trickled into 2022
2023 –
cultivate

How to choose a theme word of the year?

I find it always a challenge to come up with one word that best sums up what you aspire to be, do, and accomplish. What is one word that you can use to describe the general theme of feeling you hope to have for 2024? If you reflect long enough, I’m sure you can find one… or even three, as I did in 2018.

Take some time to think about your personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. Reflect on the emotions and feelings you want to cultivate in the coming year. Do you find a recurring theme or pattern that stands out?
 
Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you want to focus on joy, resilience, growth, or gratitude? Choose a word that encapsulates the emotional tone you aim for. Picture yourself achieving your goals and embodying the qualities associated with your theme word. Sitting or lying down and doing some deep breathing and visualizing where you see yourself can also help allow the word to pop into your mind’s eye.
 
What you want to achieve? What are some experiences you hope to have? Habits you want to form and/or break? What principles are most important to you? Your theme word should align with these values and reflect the kind of person you want to be. At the same time, allow yourself the flexibility to adapt your theme word as the year unfolds. Nothing is permanent and things are always changing. Your priorities or circumstances may shift, so be open to adjusting your focus.
 

Once you’ve chosen your theme word, create a visual reminder such as a vision board or a desktop wallpaper on your computer, with the word prominently displayed. Or you can simply add a reminder on your phone every morning with your word and an additional inspirational/motivational message if it fits. These little reminders can help reinforce your commitment to your theme word of the year, and keep your focus on track.

What is my word for 2024? 

My theme word for 2023 was “cultivate”. But I didn’t have the opportunity to cultivate – my professional life anyway – in 2023. My life was put on a huge pause because of personal reasons… my father’s health issues suddenly became worse literally overnight, and his health deteriorated within weeks. Within a few months, my father was gone.

The grief process is ongoing and I’m sure will never have an end date. I’m still learning to cope with the huge loss. I’m still learning to get used to the ‘new normal’, whatever that is as it varies from day to day. The mind also plays tricks on us in some ways with timelines and memories, and shifting from sadness to hopefulness.

So I don’t have a new word for 2024 and I don’t think I will other than the word “healing” is all I can manage right now. I’m trying to focus on the good memories rather than be consumed by the grief. I’m trying to find a little bit of joy every day where I can and practice gratitude as often as I can. 

What is your word for 2024?

Word for 2023

Get ready to lace up your skates and dive into frosty adventures as we unveil the best skating trails Ontario. From the enchanting Woodview Mountaintop Skating Trail in Collingwood’s Blue Mountain Resort to the magical Cranberry Marsh Ice Trail in Bala, Muskoka, and the record-breaking Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, journey through a winter wonderland like no other. Whether you’re twirling beneath tiki torches at Arrowhead Provincial Park, gliding (maybe with a skating aide!) through the urban vibes of the Bentway Skating Trail in Toronto, or soaking up the scenery at LV Four Seasons Trail, the Ontario skating trails saga is one wild ride!

So grab your mittens, cue the twinkling lights and join us as we take you on a tour of fun skating trails in the heart of Ontario.

Arrowhead Provincial Park

Embark on a wintery adventure at Arrowhead Provincial Park, home to one of Ontario’s best skating trails in the  Muskoka region. This 1.3 km icy wonder which isn’t just a trail; it’s a journey through what’s like a fairy-tale evergreen forest. You absolutely need to have this on your winter bucket list.

For something extra, time your visit for the Fire and Ice Nights at Arrowhead Provincial Park.  Picture the trail as a dreamy wonderland, lit by hundreds of tiki torches… it’s a date night dream!

If you can make it happen, avoid the weekend hustle and bustle by visiting during the week. Guarantee a spot by snagging an Advanced Daily Vehicle permit. The Arrowhead skating trail is open from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm when the sun is shining. But the real magic unfolds during the Fire and Ice Nights, kicking off from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Your admission covers access, and if you’re sans skates, no worries—rentals are available at the park office.

Don’t miss the opportunity to glide through this winter wonderland in Muskoka, Ontario. Find out more about the Fire and Ice Nights. Your icy adventure awaits!  Visit Arrowhead Provincial Park – Fire and Ice Nights

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Bentway Skating Trail

Dive into the cool groove of Ontario skating trails right in the heart of Toronto at the Bentway Skating Trail. Since its debut in 2018, this 1.75-kilometer marvel beneath the Gardiner Expressway has has redefined winter in the city and adds a vibrancy to the Toronto waterfront.

Glide along the 220m figure-eight skate trail, surrounded by woven arches that’ll make you feel like you’re skating under the northern lights. And here’s the best part—it won’t cost you a dime! Free skating, plus extra goodies like hot chocolate on Mondays and free skate rentals on Fridays. It’s a winter dream come true!

Experience the essence of Ontario skating trails at The Bentway. For all the details, head over to their website… your icy adventure is just a skate away! Visit The Bentway.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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MacGregor Point

Explore the diverse natural beauty of MacGregor Point Provincial Park along Lake Huron’s shoreline. This all-season park, located just south of Port Elgin, boasts a seven-kilometer stretch of coast, offering a complex ecosystem to discover.

Find yourself amidst the stunning waterfront snowshoeing routes and a winter bird-filled marsh walk. But the highlight is the 400-meter skating trail at MacGregor Point. It is shorter than some of Ontario skating trails but the trail’s picturesque scenery adds a special charm to the winter experience. MacGregor Point also offers skiing, snowshoeing, camping and other winter fun while you’re visiting.

Under the right conditions, the 400-meter skating trail at MacGregor Point becomes a magical outdoor experience, lit up for evening skating until 10:00 p.m. daily. It’s open from dusk till dawn, weather permitting. Access to the skating trail is included in the park admission. Take a day trip if you can to enjoy this Ontario skating trails at MacGregor Point.  Visit MacGregor Point.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cranberry Marsh Ice Trail

Skating with cranberries?  Yes, you can! Experience a unique blend of nature and winter fun at the Cranberry Marsh Ice Trail in Bala, Muskoka.

You can skate a 1.2 km loop around 12 acres of cranberries! The loop is surrounded by a picturesque landscape of forest on one side and cranberry beds on the other. This one-of-a-kind skating trail is a delightful addition to the Ontario skating trails scene.

Once your toes and nose turn numb, warm up at the Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery with hot mulled wine or hot cran-apple cider sourced directly from the farm. Don’t miss the torchlight skating every Saturday night from 6 pm – 9 pm, weather permitting, adding a magical touch to your skating experience.

There is also torchlight skating every Saturday night from 6 pm – 9 pm (weather permitting). While you’re visiting, check out the Guided Farm Tour or hike the snowshoe trails. There are also tutored wine tasting, or sip on wine at your own pace while nibbling on cheese on the fireside patio.

Immerse yourself in the charm of skating trails in Ontario at the Cranberry Marsh Ice Trail in Bala.

Visit Johnstons Cranberry Marsh Ice Trail.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Gage Park, Brampton

Gear up for some frosty fun at Gage Park’s Ontario Skating Trails—it’s like stepping into a winter wonderland right in downtown Brampton! Picture this: a skating trail adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, a charming gazebo, and the cozy vibe of small-town charm.

But it gets better! This year, Gage Park is turning up the heat with a DJ spinning tracks on Friday and Saturday nights, plus Sunday afternoons. The City of Brampton has your winter warmth covered with a crackling fire pit. And for those hunger pangs, there’s a food truck dishing out delights. Forgot your skates and helmet? No worries—they have rentals.

The skating trail extravaganza kicks off Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays, the party stays alive until 11 p.m. 

Gage Park is one of the ultimate Ontario skating trails hotspot. It’s at Main St. South and Wellington St. West in Downtown Brampton. Don’t miss out on this magical winter experience as one of the best skating trails Ontario. Visit Gage Park.

 
 
 
 
 
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Woodview Mountaintop Skating Trail

Get ready for a frosty adventure at Collingwood’s Blue Mountain Resort, the ultimate winter wonderland! It’s not just about epic skiing; they’ve got dining, cozy accommodations, and, wait for it… one of Ontario’s best skating trails!

The Woodview Mountaintop Skating Trail, a 1.1-kilometer loop, weaves through a snowy forest with sneak peeks of breathtaking views from the Niagara Escarpment overlooking Georgian Bay.

Slide into this icy paradise via Scenic Caves Road, typically open for skating fun from January to early March. For an extra dose of enchantment, hit the trail at night and bask in the magic of twinkling lights hanging over the skating surface. Grey County showers it with snow, creating a winter fairy tale you won’t want to miss.

To access the Woodview Mountaintop Skating trail, you’ll need to grab a Blue Mountain Play All Day ticket. It gives you unlimited, single-day access to the winter attractions to slide, skate, or snowshoe the day away. This includes Woodview Mountaintop Skating, snowshoe trail access at Scenic Caves Adventures, Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, Hike n’ Tube, and Plunge! Aquatic Centre.

While you’re in the area, why not or explore the charming town of Collingwood? The options for frosty fun are endless! Lace-up and let the Ontario skating trails magic unfold.

Need skates? No worries – skate rentals and skate aids are right on-site.  Visit Woodview Mountaintop Skating Trail.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Laurentian Valley Skating Trail

Dive into winter magic at the LV Four Seasons Trail, your go-to spot for Ontario Skating Trails fun! Picture this: a 1.5 km granular surfaced trail winding through a wooded wonderland. But, hold onto your skates—when winter arrives, this trail transforms into a breathtaking natural ice surface!

Guess what? Walking or skating here won’t cost you a dime during operating hours donations, big or small, are like snowflakes—unique and welcomed! The trail’s dedicated volunteers work hard to create and maintain this enchanting trail, and your donations keep the magic alive.

Feeling adventurous? There are several km’s of snowshoe trails too! Two different routes, because why settle for just one path? And here’s the secret: those snowshoe trails double up as hiking trails in the summer months. Talk about a year-round adventure!

Mark your calendar because this winter wonderland typically opens its gates in January and bids adieu in March, weather permitting (check the website for official opening). Skates are usually from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily but there are also night skates every Thursday and Saturday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, lit up by charming lamp posts and string lights.

Picture this: over 1,000 skaters under the starry sky at each event! It’s become the hottest ticket in town. So, lace-up, grab your gear, and join the fun at the LV Four Seasons Trail—it’s where Ontario Skating Trails meet pure winter enchantment! Visit Laurentian Valley Skating Trail.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Rideau Canal Skateway

Get ready for the ultimate frosty fiesta on the Rideau Canal, the granddaddy of Ontario Skating Trails! Ottawa proudly boasts the world’s largest natural ice rink—oh yes, Guinness World Records certified! From January to February, the picturesque Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, freezes over, turning into a winter wonderland that draws thrill-seekers from across the globe.

The Rideau Canal Skateway is a whopping 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles) of icy bliss, stretching from downtown Ottawa’s heart to the sprawling Dows Lake. It’s not just a skating trail; it’s practically a winter festival of its own!

In the bustling downtown, you’ll stumble upon food and beverage havens, skate rentals, and toasty warming stations—like a winter carnival right on the ice. As you venture further, they might be a tad sparse, but fear not, the essentials are still sprinkled along this Ontario Skating Trail.

The Rideau Skating Trail is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to winter fun on the Rideau River. Brace yourselves because this frosty paradise typically opens its gates mid-January, weather playing along. And guess what? Zero admission fee to bask in the icy glory! Need skates? They have all sizes, and if you’re feeling fancy, there are kicksleds and support bars for beginner skaters.

If you find yourself in Ottawa during winter, this is THE activity you don’t want to miss!

Glide, twirl, and dance your way through the Rideau Canal Skateway—it’s where Ontario Skating Trails meet winter extravaganza!  Visit Rideau Canal Skateway.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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9-8-8 is Canada’s new Suicide Crisis Helpline for anyone who is
thinking about suicide or worried about someone they know.  
For more information, call or text 9-8-8.
Visit 988.ca to learn more.


Guest post by Alexandra Wyman

The following is an excerpt from “The Suicide Club: What to Do When Someone You Love Chooses Death” (Houndstooth Press / November 21, 2022 / $5.99)

No matter what happens, please just always let our son
know how much I love him and always take care of him. I love you.

My soulmate, the man of my dreams, the man I waited so long to meet, my everything, my better half, my penguin, my love—with one single action, he blew up my life, and it would never be the same. My husband went up to the mountains and shot himself. What the fuck is happening? How am I supposed to do this on my own and raise this kid? What did I do to deserve this? This was not part of the deal. How in God’s name am I supposed to get out of bed today?

Grief doesn’t happen the same way twice. There’s no predictability to it. It’s just like our son’s first experience using a pen to draw on paper. Nothing is legible about what he drew, and yet the only real part of his drawing is the ink. The fact that I am grieving is recognizable, but its order and legibility are a complete mystery. Grief’s unpredictability is challenging to manage. At times, I could tell my nieces a fun story about Uncle Shawn or play one of his favorite games without even flinching, and other times, I had to excuse myself for a quick sob in the bathroom.

In the beginning weeks after Shawn died, I reserved time every night to turn on a hot shower and weep. I made sure my son was down for the night and then stifled my sobs so as not to wake him. From the day Shawn died, for a couple of months, my son and I did not live at home. We moved into my parents’ basement; I am grateful we had the option to do so. With time to heal, I now know there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Whether you are a public or private griever, it is right. Whether you wear sunglasses all the time to hide your puffy, red, bloodshot eyes, or you look like a mad person in your car while screaming at your steering wheel, it’s all correct. If you beat the shit out of your Tempur-Pedic pillow while listening to “Flower” by Moby, it’s okay. If you choose to book a Rage Room for twenty minutes of uninhibited rage colliding with a steel bat, taking out furniture and household items, it is exactly what you need to do. What is not okay is holding it in. Finding excuses to not deal with grief, or finding distractions in your life to hold off the inevitable of the individualized grief process coming your way, can ultimately be unhealthy and prolong the process.

One of my therapists early on asked me if Shawn had a sense of humor. “Yes!” I said emphatically. All sorts of moments brought a little laughter to us amid the grief. You will find some too, and it is absolutely okay to chuckle, even if it leads to another sob session. It is said that laughter is the best medicine, and I truly believe that. Although I have had many challenges in losing Shawn, a small part of me recognizes that he is okay where he is, and he would want us to enjoy the funny moments—even if there are only a few.

Getting to a point of peace in my grief process is tough and still very much a part of my journey. Facing death, embracing time, and rediscovering joy and love are all components of the process—a process that cannot be rushed nor skipped over. I have peace knowing his soul is in a place where there is no pain or sorrow. He can rest. It has taken soul-searching in all of my being to realize my purpose in all of this was to love Shawn unconditionally and to bear our son. For these things, I am grateful. I am grateful I met him, knew him, loved him, laughed with him, hugged him, planned with him, and shared a son with him. As awful as this experience has been, I would do it all again if it meant knowing this man. My time with Shawn was a gift, and this tragedy will lead me somewhere. My life is better because I knew him.

How to Grieve: 4 Tips for going through the grief process:

  1. Strategies can change daily. Collect different tools that can help- meditating, journaling, screaming, exercising, seeing a therapist- so you have multiple things to choose from depending on how you are feeling.
  2. Find something to anchor to. It is the one thing that will motivate you to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you are experiencing the hardest days.
  3. Grief is unpredictable. What is predictable is how we respond and can trust ourselves to handle whatever life and grief hands us. Trust yourself that you can get through this. It takes work but it is possible to get through the hard days and horrible feelings.
  4. Grief from a big loss will be with us. There is no finish line. As we heal and grow, so does our grief morph and change. It is helpful to surrender to this idea.

 

Alexandra Wyman is an advocate and public speaker for resources in the aftermath of suicide. After she lost her husband to suicide in August of 2020, Alexandra found a need to change the language around suicide, and decided to write about it. Her memoir, The Suicide Club: What To Do When Someone You Love Chooses Death is an Amazon best seller. She has spoken at a variety of conferences including Bridging the Divide Suicide Prevention and Awareness Summit 2022, 2023 Northwest Conference on Childhood Grief, and has been accepted to present at the 2023 Military Social Work & Behavioral Health Conference and the International Association of Suicide Prevention Conference 2023 in Piran, Slovenia. Alexandra has also been a guest on a variety of podcasts including The Unlock Moment, Author Hour, Resilience Unravelled, She Persisted, and My Wake Up Call with Dr. Mark Goulston. Alexandra has her own podcast called The Widow’s Club, as well. She practices pediatric occupational therapy and lives in Colorado with her son. To learn more about Alexandra and her work, visit her website at www.forwardtojoy.com.

 

Ontario is beautiful in fall so why not embark on a vibrant autumn adventure? There are so many beautiful places to see fall colours… but we are exploring the BEST places to see fall colours in Ontario.

Explore the best places to see fall colours in Ontario, from the iconic Algonquin Provincial Park to Hamilton’s Dundas Peak and the picturesque Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island. Soak up the  landscapes of Sault Ste. Marie’s Agawa Canyon or Norfolk County’s scenic drives. Explore the captivating Belfountain Conservation Area, and embrace the fall charm at Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area. Dive into the heart of the Thousand Islands archipelago and witness the beauty of Ball’s Falls Conservation Area in the Niagara Escarpment.

Here are the top 10 places to see fall colours in Ontario.

1. Muskoka Region & Algonquin Park 

Muskoka is known for its spectacular fall foliage with its diverse forests and gorgeous landscapes. The area’s many lakes such as Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph, reflect the rich colours, creating a stunning mirror image. The scenic drive on Highway 169 and Highway 118 wind through dense forests with stunning views at every turn. Muskoka has a few must-see lookout points such as Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower, located in the Algonquin Highlands.

Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario is a prime destination for witnessing the fall colours in Ontario. Algonquin Park is committed to environmental preservation and ensures the health of its trees. Another great location to enjoy the fall colours in Ontario is Lions Lookout in Huntsville. It’s worth a visit as the lookout gives you a breathtaking view of Hunter’s Bay. If you’re not up for a longer hike, the Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail is a relatively short one and leads to a granite bluff with stunning views of Lake Muskoka. Another option is Hardy Lake Provincial Park which also has lookout points along its hiking trails, allowing visitors to enjoy the seasonal colours reflecting off the lake. 

No matter where you visit in the Muskoka area during autumn, you’ll get to enjoy the fall foliage! 

Photo by Juan Rojas on Unsplash

2. Thousand Islands Tower

The Thousand Islands Tower is in the heart of the picturesque Thousand Islands region in eastern Ontario. Situated atop Hill Island, the tower provides panoramic views of the Thousand Islands archipelago as it transforms into an artist’s canvas of fall colours. Enjoy the fall foliage against the backdrop of the St. Lawrence River. The surrounding islands are adorned with their own unique blend of autumn hues. You can enjoy them from the tower’s observation deck. You can also explore Thousand Islands National Park and take a boat tour along the river.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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3. Dundas Trail and Dundas Peak in Hamilton

Dundas Trail and Dundas Peak in Hamilton are one of the best places to see fall colours in Ontario. The trail, nestled within the stunning Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, offers a picturesque journey through dense forests adorned with maple and oak trees that burst into hues of red, orange, and gold. Hike the trail and climb to Dundas Peak for panoramic views of the surrounding Dundas Valley, where the brilliant fall colours.

Webster Falls is nearby and stands as one of the area’s most picturesque waterfalls. Adjacent to it, Tews Falls, within the same hiking area, holds the distinction of being Hamilton’s tallest waterfall, cascading impressively from a height of 41 meters.

Photo by Denley Photography on Unsplash

4. Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island is also one of the best places to see fall colours in Ontario. The waterfall is framed by the lush forest, giving you a picturesque scene with brilliant hues of autumn. The vivid shades of red, orange, and gold surround the falls, making it a great backdrop for your Insta-worthy pics! 

Nearby, there are several spots that have beautiful views of fall foliage too. Cup and Saucer Trail is a renowned hiking destination and has panoramic views of the island’s dense forests. Providence Bay Beach has a gorgeous setting where the golden foliage compliments the sandy shoreline. Misery Bay Provincial Park is also a great spot to see stunning fall colours on their trails.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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5. Ball’s Falls Conservation Area

Ball’s Falls Conservation Area is nestled in the heart of the Niagara Escarpment. Explore numerous hiking trails, like the Bruce Trail. The historic Ball’s Falls, set against the backdrop of fall hues, adds to the scenic charm. Also, the area features charming heritage buildings and farmer’s market, creating that small-town Hallmark type of ambiance.

Located near the quaint town of Jordan in the Twenty Valley, Ball’s Falls Conservation Area is a great spot to enjoy fall colours. Be sure to make a stop in Niagara-on-the-Lake if you have time, and drive along Niagara Parkway which also has some of the best fall colours in Canada.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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6. Agawa Canyon, Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie, particularly renowned for the iconic Agawa Canyon Tour Train, is a fantastic place to witness the breathtaking fall colours of Ontario. The train journey takes passengers on a scenic ride through the Algoma District. As the train winds its way through the rugged landscapes, travelers are treated to a spectacular display of reds, oranges, and golds as maple and birch trees transform the surroundings into a picturesque canvas. One of the must-visit locations along the route is Agawa Canyon, where visitors can disembark and explore the canyon’s trails and waterfalls.

Hiawatha Highlands is a popular spot featuring hiking trails and scenic lookouts, providing stunning views of the changing leaves against the backdrop of Superior’s shores. Kinsmen Park, located near the waterfront, is another great spot where locals and tourists gather to admire the fall foliage while enjoying a relaxing day outdoors. Explore the scenic drives along Highway 17 and the St. Mary’s River Scenic Drive to enjoy the vibrant autumn palette. These locations, in and around Sault Ste. Marie, offer great views for experiencing the beauty of fall in Northern Ontario.

Going out in style

7. Norfolk County

Norfolk County, situated in southwestern Ontario, is a splendid region to witness the enchanting fall colours. With its diverse landscapes comprising forests, farmlands, and water bodies, Norfolk County offers a rich tapestry of autumn hues. Take a scenic drive along Norfolk County’s back roads, where winding country lanes are fringed with trees. Long Point Provincial Park along the shores of Lake Erie provides stunning views of fall foliage against the backdrop of the lake.

Turkey Point Provincial Park is also a great spot to stop, known for its hiking trails. Apple picking farms such as Great Lakes Farms in Port Stanley and Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association are popular spots where visitors can enjoy the crisp fall air while picking a variety of apples. Additionally, families and friends can get lost in the fun-filled corn maze at Hanes Corn Maze in Dundas, and visit the Tiny Shop Bakery for a sweet treat afterwards.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
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8. Belfountain Conservation Area

Belfountain Conservation Area, nestled in the heart of Caledon, Ontario, is also one of the best places to see fall colours in Ontario. Explore the serene beauty of the Credit River Valley alongside the picturesque Belfountain Falls. The scenic lookout points, such as Evelyn’s Lookout, offer breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscape.

The quaint village of Belfountain itself provides a charming backdrop, with tree-lined streets showcasing the vivid colors of the season. Make a stop at Cheltenham Badlands with its exposed red hills, offering a captivating geological spectacle perfect for Instagram-worthy poses. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes for hiking, of course!

Nearby, visit the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park to explore scenic trails tracing the Credit River. The Caledon Trailway is ideal for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding, and winds through the region’s natural beauty. The quaint village of Caledon is also worth a visit with its historic buildings, boutique shops, and art galleries.

Belfountain swing bridge

9. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario is another destination to witness the vibrant fall colours of Ontario. Rattlesnake Point offers breathtaking scenic lookouts, such as the Nassagaweya Canyon Lookout. Buffalo Crag Lookout has panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside and the changing fall foliage. Walk through dense forests, limestone cliffs and unique rock formations. Visitors can explore the park’s extensive trail system, including the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail and Vista Adventure Trail.

Treetops of sky

10. The Kawartha Lakes region

The Kawartha Lakes region makes the list as one of the best places to see fall colours in Ontario. Explore iconic spots such as Rice Lake, where the foliage reflects in the calm waters. Ganaraska Forest, one of the largest blocks of forested land in Southern Ontario, has extensive trails to enjoy autumn’s beauty.

Also, Balsam Lake Provincial Park and Petroglyphs Provincial Park both offer excellent opportunities for hiking amidst the vibrant foliage. The charming towns of Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls have tree-lined streets showcasing the vivid hues of fall, making the Kawartha area a must-visit destination for fall foliage enthusiasts.

Best Places to See Fall Colours in Ontario

Photo by Haikang Z on Unsplash

See Ontario Park’s Fall Colour Report at OntarioParks.com!

Best Places to See Fall Colours in Ontario

Welcome to the vibrant autumn season in Canada! As the leaves change colours, the country transforms into a breathtaking landscape of yellows, oranges, and reds. If you’re looking to discover the the best places to visit in fall Canada, here are the best places to visit in fall in Canada for beautiful colours. These  must-see destinations are the best places where you can experience the magic of fall foliage.

The Best Places to Visit in Fall Canada for Beautiful Colours

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Discover one of the best places to visit in fall Canada at Moraine Lake in Alberta’s Banff National Park. Immerse yourself in the stunning fall foliage of the Rocky Mountains, with vibrant hues of yellow aspens and red sub-alpine larch trees. Hike the Banff Legacy Trail, go mountain biking, or enjoy a scenic dinner train ride through the colorful trees. Don’t miss the breathtaking views from the Banff Gondola, showcasing the golden, yellow, and green colors of the season.

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Algonquin Provincial Park offers a picturesque landscape with colorful forests, rolling hills, and serene lakes. Visit between late September and early October to witness the trees bursting into brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow. Lose yourself in the wilderness, surrounded by the songs of birds and the rustling of leaves.

Photo by Jaime Dantas on Unsplash

Niagara Parkway, Ontario

Drive along the historic Niagara Parkway, one of the best places to visit in the Fall in Canada, following the curves of the Niagara River. Experience a gallery of Impressionist paintings with maple trees creating a changing panorama of gold, orange, and red. Stop at Heights Park in Queenston for an impressive vista of the river and Lake Ontario.

Photo by Susan Flynn on Unsplash

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Victoria’s Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island is a serene oasis showcasing vibrant maples and golden chrysanthemums. Visit between late September and mid-October to enjoy the garden’s Japanese section, bursting with color. Explore nearby Pacific Rim National Park for outdoor adventures amidst the autumn foliage.

Photo Credit

Laurentian Mountains, Quebec

During the first half of October, indulge in the breathtaking autumn scenery in the heart of Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. Locals affectionately call this season “les couleurs,” which translates to “the colors” in French, reflecting their awe at the dazzling hues created by the golden birch trees and sugar maples.

The majestic mountains, rolling hills, and serene lakes of Mont Tremblant offer an ideal backdrop for outdoor adventures such as hiking and paddling. Escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the natural splendor of fall. Additionally, the region’s diverse culture ensures you’ll find a variety of delectable cuisines to fuel your explorations. Come and experience the vibrant tapestry of colors in Mont Tremblant, a true gem of fall foliage in Quebec, Canada.

Photo by Anaïs kowalczyk on Unsplash

Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick

Experience the diverse colors of New Brunswick’s trees along the Fundy Coastal Drive, one of the best places to visit in the Fall in Canada. Witness shades of yellow, orange, and red along the coast, complemented by some of the highest tides on the planet. Enjoy a maritime leaf-peeping adventure in this picturesque setting.

Photo by Abhimanyu Sarkar on Unsplash

Newfoundland and Labrador

Explore the dramatic forest-covered mountains, freshwater fjords, and rugged shorelines of Gros Morne National Park, a top place to visit in the Fall in Canada. Witness the striking colors of autumn, with reds among the yellow moss and moose roaming the land. Hike the Baker’s Brook Falls or Western Brook Pond trails or experience the canopy of color from a zip-line with Marble Zip Tours.

Photo credit

Confederation Trail, Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island offers a prolonged fall foliage period due to its moderate climate, making it one of the best places to visit in Canada in the Fall. Enjoy vibrant apricot-orange sugar maples, red cherry trees, and yellow beech and birch trees. Explore the colors while hiking the Confederation Trail and savor the beauty of the season.

Photo by

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Embark on a scenic road trip along Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail, one of the best places to enjoy fall colours in Canada. Marvel at the breathtaking vistas from multiple lookout points and hiking trails in Highlands National Park. Experience the unique Gaelic culture and lively pub atmosphere, making your fall journey unforgettable.

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore these enchanting destinations and immerse yourself in the beauty of Canada’s fall foliage. Happy leaf-peeping!

 

Is your child starting university? My child is starting university and I’m emotional! Parents, you are feeling so many different emotions right now as your child goes off to college or university. I didn’t have a chance to write this last year, when my son was about to start the first year of university… and as I watch others see their first child going to university or college, I’m reminded of our journey.

You’ll find yourself filled with a mix of emotions about this new phase of life for you, as well as the adventure your child is about to embark on. Whether your child is going to university or college and will live on campus, or will remain living at home and commuting, your experience may be similar. One thing is certain; you’ll be reflecting on all you’ve done to raise your child to get to this pivotal point in their lives, this remarkable milestone of entering college/university years.

My Child is Starting University! Did I do enough?

As you both enter this new phase of life, you may be left highly emotional and asking yourself:

Have I prepared them for being on their own?

Have I given enough guidance for them? To make their own good decisions? To distinguish right from wrong?

Have I instilled values and principles that truly matter?

Will they make wise choices?

Are they responsible, resilient, and self-sufficient?

Have all the lessons we’ve given taken root?

Did we raise them well enough for them to face all that university life will present?

All the emotions coming rushing.

It’s only natural to feel emotional when your child is starting university or going away to college. Now, I feel lucky (selfishly) that my son accepted an offer from the University of Toronto, which means he is living at home and commuting. Had he chosen a different program, he may have opted to attend a university away from home but what he’s studying makes the most sense to remain in Toronto. So I can only imagine the additional feelings of moving your child into a dorm room, miles away with likely no new friends (yet), having to say goodbye and then leaving them behind as you drive home.

Though excited and thrilled for him, I’d also be devastated to be apart. I’d feel like a huge part of my heart was living outside of my body until the next long weekend where we’d be reunited.

Feelings of loss.

No matter how positive you try to be, parents are going to experience feelings of loss; a life change you know one day would come, but you never can fully prepare for until you experience it first-hand.  

What strikes parents the most is that overpowering thought that “nothing will ever be the same again.” Sure, your child will return home for weekends and holidays, but they’ll forever be departing once more. The newly gained independence into adulthood is so enticing that they may never go back to living under their parents’ roof. That probable reality can be overwhelming because you’re one step closer to having an empty nest… and then the feelings of “where did the time go” take over.

While we experience moments of nostalgia and sadness as our children grow older, we are equally excited to witness them embrace this thrilling chapter of their lives. They’ll be forging new friendships, gaining cool experiences, and assuming greater independence and responsibility.

Also feeling concerned.

And yet as parents, it’s only natural to also harbor concerns. University represents a pivotal social stage in a young adult’s life. Alongside huge academic pressures, there are peer influences and increased responsibilities. The teenage years can be a challenging and awkward phase. Teenagers crave acceptance, freedom, and independence, but they can also succumb to peer pressure and stumble into adult situations they might not be prepared for. 

Our kids will eventually encounter the stark realities of the adult world… and as parents, we worry! No matter how much you prepare, you’re never quite ready for them to leave behind their youth under your guidance. To parents, it feels like their childhood has sped by so quickly. We wish we had more time to revel in the carefree days before watching our young adults grapple with the academic pressures of university, hunting for part-time jobs, and moving further into adulthood.

For me personally, I often yearn for more moments together as mom and son. If only time could stand still for a while. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was his age, embarking on my own university journey?

Go off and explore, child.

Alas, it’s now his turn… to get out into the world as a young adult and embark on his own adventures and experiences. I’m proud to say that I believe my child is far more prepared for university than I was. He is armed with the skills and knowledge he needs to thrive in this new chapter of his life.

Go off, my child, and have the best time… enjoy your youth, be smart and have fun. You can do whatever you set your mind to do… work hard, be good to others and gentle with yourself, and you will succeed. The world is your oyster!

 

My Child is Starting University and Here’s Why I’m Emotional!

My Child is Starting University and Here's Why I'm Emotional!