Just an hour and a half drive north of Toronto, Fern Resort is a quick escape from the city’s bustle where families can drop everything and head to for a weekend or week to kick back and relax. Why take the family to Fern Resort?

Fern Resort is Ontario’s all-inclusive resort, welcoming families and friends for more than 123 years. The resort is owned by the Downing family, and now in its 4th generation of family operation. So the family is committed to providing families a fun family vacation right on the shores of Lake Couchiching.

As the resort is all-inclusive, you don’t have to lug up food, a barbecue, or activities for the kids. Fern provides it all including things to do and three meals a day.

Here are 5 Reasons to Take the Family to Fern Resort.

5 Reasons to Take the Family to Fern Resort

5 Reasons to take the Family to Fern Resort in Ontario ~ amotherworld

The Vibe

The historic charm of Fern Resort is evident around the property. Our room beside the main inn had a balcony overlooking the pool and lake, and had a fireplace. Though the room was a bit dated, it was comfortable for the four of us.

Fern resort felt familiar when I visited, reminding me of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing! The set-up, the activities such as dance lessons, and the evening entertainment reminded me of the “Kellerman Resort” where Baby and Johnny fell in love. The property itself also hasn’t been updated, so the feel of the place will take you back a few decades – but that’s part of Fern’s charm.

There are Jacuzzi units and Edgewater Cottages for couples and families that overlook Lake Couchiching, with Goat, Heron and Garnet Islands. There are also three-room larger cottage-style units for larger families which feature two bedrooms and a living room on the main floor, and an outdoor deck.

5 Reasons to Take the Family to Fern Resort Welcome

Fern Resort Ontario Main Inn Fireside Fern Resort Ontario Fireside Fern Resort Ontario Hearthside 5 Reasons to Take the Family to Fern Resort Main Building

The Lake

Close to two kilometres of Fern waterfront makes much fun to be had on, in and around Lake Couchiching. We enjoyed lounging by the lake, and by the pool overlooking the lake. Watching the sunset was also a treat. For those who are more adventurous, they can explore the lake with a pedal boat, or go water skiing.

Fern Resort Ontario docks Fern Resort Ontario lake dockside Fern Resort Ontario lake view Fern Resort Ontario lake view Fern Resort Ontario Swings by the Lake Fern Resort Ontario view from edge of lake Fern Resort Ontario beachside Fern Resort Ontario View of the lake

The Pools

You could probably spend most of the day by the two pools, both overlooking the lake; one has a small water slide, and the other a diving board. There is also a wading pool, and two hot tubs. There are plenty of lounge chairs, an outdoor bar, and a small beach by the pool area to enjoy.

Fern Resort pool lake view

5 Reasons to Visit Fern Resort - the Pools Fern Resort Pools

The All-Inclusive

The hallmark of a stay at Fern is the dining experience. You’ll have the same table each time you visit the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner, where the menus change on a rotating basis, offering plenty of choice for every palate. The resort was able to accommodate my gluten and soy restrictions too.

For lunch, you have the option of dining at Heritage, or attending their BBQ lunch by the pool and lake. We opted to eat outdoors and enjoy the view.  The outdoor lunch had stations serving all your BBQ faves, including sausages and hot dogs, burgers and veggies burgers,  deli sandwiches (gluten free bread too), French fries and onion rings, pizza, a salad bar, and the popular taco bar and poutine station.  There’s also a dessert bar where you can enjoy ice cream, sundaes, jumbo freezies, and other baked goods like butter tarts.

For dinner, kids can eat from the buffet at 5:30, while dinner begins at 6:00 p.m. in the dining room. Kids also have the option of eating from the breakfast buffet, or ordering from our table.

I had the pizza one night with the gluten-free crust which was pretty good. My husband had the steak, while the boys enjoyed burgers. The gluten-free peach pie was an unfortunate miss; but my family loved the peanut butter pie.

The service in the main dining room was a bit slow for dinner, and a few things we asked for didn’t end up making it to the table. But overall the dining experience was pretty good.

Fern Resort Ontario BBQ Lunch Fern Resort Ontario Breakfast Fern Resort Ontario Burger Gluten Free Pizza at Fern Resort _ amotherworld Fern Resort Ontario Peanut Butter Pie Fern Resort Ontario's All-Inclusive - Steak Dinner

The Activities

There are many activities for all ages. What I appreciated was the resort had a schedule they’d hand out the evening before at dinner so we were able to plan what to do the following day. The activities list is impressive:

  • Two outdoor pools, hot tubs, steam room
  • Water sports including pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, SUP, sail boat, waterskiing (extra fee)
  • Fishing
  • Road hockey
  • Beach volleyball
  • Basketball courts
  • High ropes, rock climbing, low ropes
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Pickle ball
  • Batting cage
  • Archery
  • Axe throwing
  • Paint Ball
  • Mini putt
  • Horseshoes
  • Bocce ball
  • Yoga
  • Indoor pool
  • Fitness centre
  • Children’s Play village
  • Evening entertainment
  • Spa
  • Pool table
  • Video games
  • Ping pong

There are many activities to choose from, so you’ll never hear “I’m bored” from the kids. Parents are able to drop the kids off with their age group, and have some time alone to enjoy the spa or pool. We didn’t have the need to use the service so I can’t review the service. But from what the resort states, the recreation staff guides kids through age-appropriate activity programs.

5 Reasons to Visit Fern Resort - activities Ping Pong match at Fern Resort Reasons to Visit Fern Resort - Pedal Boats Fern Resort Orillia Ontario Hammocks Fern Resort Ontario's All-Inclusive Fishing Fishing at Fern Resort Fern Resort Ontario Bikes

Fern Resort Ontario Entertainment comedian Fern Resort Ontario entertainment Mega Magic

Helpful Tips

If you plan on visiting Fern, bring a lanyard to carry your room keys, as they are actual keys and not card keys. It would’ve been helpful to have somewhere for the boys to keep a key around their neck.

Alcohol is not included in the all-inclusive, so bring your own liquor to keep in your room, or you can go into downtown Orillia (5 minute drive) to pick some up.

Pack some bug spray, especially if you plan to sit by the lake at night.

Don’t bother packing towels; the front desk provides you with towels for the pool or lake!

Love that the resort offers coffee all day in the lobby, as well as water stations throughout the resort. With all the activity, you best keep hydrated!

Bring yoga and/or athletic wear if you plan on taking an outdoor yoga class, or use the fitness room.

Fern Resort Ontario lake view at dusk

Fern Resort Ontario campfire 5 Reasons to Take the Family to Fern Resort - Sunset

Disclosure: We received a complimentary visit at Fern Resort, in exchange for our honest review.  As always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.


Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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