Summer time is here and that means pools and splash pads! Forster Park is a nice little neighbourhood park in Oakville with a good playground, splash pad, tennis court and washrooms. There are lots of nice tall trees, shade and a few picnic tables.
We’ve been to this park many times before but this was the first time our kids have ventured into a splash pad. Our previously splash pad hating children finally tried a splash pad!
I loved that the splash pad area was right next to the playground. We set up our blanket on the grassy area in the middle and then didn’t have to exert any energy moving around to different parts of the park 😊 It was a perfect spot for me to be lazy AND have a good view of my kids in each area of the playground.
This was not the ol’ fashioned, trek in the woods, maple-ly experience that I envisioned when I think of ‘maple syrup festival’.
We arrived at the Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival at 2pm on a Saturday during March Break. It cost $17 to get in and we were told the festival closes at 3pm. Really, 3pm? On a Saturday? During March Break? Yes I know I should have planned our arrival time better and the times are clearly displayed on their website….
With the clock ticking, we raced to park in section D which is where the “pancake house” was located.
**EDIT: Please take a look at the comment from Sheila @ Ontario Parks below this post. She offers some good tips to get the most out of this experience!
Maple Syrup Festival – Fantasy vs. Reality
When I think of ‘maple syrup festival’ I imagine:
You park in a bland gravel lot and then walk across a bland field to get to the snack shop which is doubling as the pancake house.
As you come around the corner you see the line up. It’s a long line up, snaking all the way through the building and outside the door.
While you wait in the cold concrete surroundings, you can enjoy the view of the park’s garbage wagon to your left, or the recycling bins to the right.
After 30 minutes, out of our ONE precious hour before closing, we reach one of only TWO cashiers. We paid around $20 for our pancakes, sausages, juice boxes and a hot chocolate.
After ordering you have to endure another line up to get your food. The servers plunked our pancakes and sausages on the plate with about as much enthusiasm that my husband had when arriving for root canal day.
There are two outdoor eating areas with picnic tables (one area was covered) and when we finally sit down to eat we realize we picked up 4 knives and 1 fork. I went back to get some extra napkins and forks only to find that the doors shut and lock behind you. If you want back into the building then you have to go to the main door and squeeze and snake your way past the long line of people…
So how did they taste?
Pancakes were good, sausages were good, syrup was good. Everything was good. But so are the pancakes I make every weekend for about 50 cents worth of ingredients 🙂
Activities For Kids
After the long wait to eat we had to rush to see the rest of the festival. We had to go back across the bland field and get in our car to drive to another parking area.
There were booths selling different items, pony rides (for a fee), maple taffy (or whatever it’s called – for a few and the line up was too long so we didn’t get to try). If you wanted to eat or drink anything, it’s an extra cost. This was a big disappointment.
There is a barn with some old fashioned games, my kids enjoyed (free).
Cows and hay bales to see (free).
There were a couple of gift shops but we didn’t go in them.
My kids enjoyed opening the lids of the maple sap buckets.
The Bottom Line
My kids enjoyed themselves, so I guess that’s all that matters right 😉 But they would have probably enjoyed themselves on any regular day at Bronte Creek Provincial Park as well. I didn’t find this experience to be all that much different from any other day at that park. We showed up right before closing so maybe we missed a number of demonstrations and other events?
My husband and I wanted more of an actual maple syrup festival feel (see images above 🙂 ) and we don’t feel we got that here.
What maple syrup festivals have you been to in the Hamilton/Oakville/Burlington/Milton area? How do they compare?
The park areas we visited were stroller friendly
Washrooms in a few places throughout
Your park entrance fee doesn’t include any of the food or drinks
Pancakes and sausages were good, but nothing spectacular
Free parking with admission
The other park areas, not a part of the festival are still open (play barn, slides)
If you are not quite ready to spend each weekend at a farm and want to head out to a good ol’ fashioned park before the weather turns, you might want to consider Lakeside Park in Oakville. We were pleasantly surprised by Lakeside Park, 6 years in Oakville and this was our first visit!
In our search for nice bike paths for young kids, I thought Lakeside Park and surrounding areas might be a good choice.
Lakeside Park is located at 2 Navy St. in Oakville, and as the name suggests, it’s right beside the lake.
Our Plan: Take the kid’s bikes; go for a short ride and then end up at the playground.
Our Reality: bike chain came off 30 seconds into the trip and we couldn’t get it back on. Kids saw the playground first and didn’t want to leave…so that’s where we spent our time.
There is nothing extraordinary about the playground here, regular swings, slides etc. but what made this a neat park were the small heritage buildings on site.
Oakville Historical buildings FREE to take a look
There are two historical buildings here. Oakville’s first post office and Thomas House (a farm house from 1829). Lakeside Park was not the original location for either; they were moved there by the Oakville Historical Society. https://www.facebook.com/OakvilleHistoricalSociety/
I had no idea these buildings were at the park and I was very excited to take a look! Both are FREE to go in (they are very tiny structures).
The post office has a staff member who can answer questions and provide you with information. There are also plaques along the wall with interesting facts (young kids won’t give a crap about these though J
But they do have a couple of small activities that kids might enjoy. Colouring pages and writing with a feather and ink. My kids really liked this and they seemed to be a natural at it!
Well here we are folks, the eve of pumpkin spice season!
If you happen to be a fern or a hydrangea then you probably loved the summer of 2017. But alas, we now approach Autumn….time for farms, fall leaves, cursing yourself because you’re last minute with Halloween costumes again – even after the fiasco of last year when you swore you were going to be on top of things this time…
To help break up the stress of 5-year-old-halloween-costume-idea-changes every.five.minutes…let’s checkout a farm – Chudleigh’s Farm in Milton!
Towers and slides
A Fun Milton Activity for Toddlers, Kids and the Whole Family
Towers, slides, tire swings, sandbox, animals, nature trail and more….
We haven’t been to too many farms as yet. Last year we started to sample a few of them and this year they seem to appeal to our family a bit more.
Our 3 and 5 year old enjoyed Chudleigh’s Farm and I think it was a good age range for this farm.
We went on a very windy day in August. It was too early for pick-your-own apples or any type of corn or pumpkin activities. But possibly a great time to avoid crowds. I’m not too sure what this farm has in store once Sep/Oct rolls around.
Here’s the rundown.
My 3 year old loved these! There are a few of them here.
Towers and Slides
This is a big attraction here. The slides on each of the towers are wide enough for my bum + my kids to fit comfortably!
These structures are quite tall and some of the slides are pretty steep. My 5 year old was a bit apprehensive at first, but warmed up fairy quickly. At 5 years old, he could climb the latter to the towers and navigate the structures and the slides.
I think they were a touch too big for my 3 year old though. Some of the slides are not as steep, so she was ok with those ones, but she struggled with some of the ladders to get up to the towers – which meant I had to wedge myself up there to help her out.
If you have a 3 year old (or younger) I don’t think they could navigate independently. So be prepared to climb up there yourself, or direct them to one of the many other activities…
Decent size, with a shaded area plus a little ‘house’ and a few sand toys.
I decided to give Shell Park a try based on the description of the flower garden. This is a simple park, no extraordinary attractions here, but it was a decent area for my kids to practice riding their bikes.
It was a mostly pleasant drive across Lakeshore Rd. in Oakville to get to Shell Park (3307 Lakeshore Road West).
I say ‘mostly’ because, we were coming from the east along Lakeshore, meaning we pass Coronation Park.
Meaning my kids saw Coronation Park from the car window.
Meaning they wondered why we weren’t stopping where all the other kids were playing.
Meaning we had to listen to ‘no fair!…’ a hundred times as we drove to our destination. (Repeat the process on the way back home too…)
My kids are fairly new at bike riding so we were looking for a relatively safe, enclosed area for them to take a spin.
There weren’t any formal bike trails here, just a winding road that made it’s way around the different areas of the park. We were there on a hot summer Saturday afternoon and the park was pretty empty.
Although the speed limit was only 10k along the road, it would have been nice if there was a dedicated bike area.
There are many reasons we like LaSalle Park in Burlington. In a nutshell – 6 bucks entertains our kids for a few hours! Specifically, a great wading pool, really nice nature trails with great scenery and a good playground.
LaSalle Park is located at Lasalle Park Rd and North Shore Blvd E.
There is no charge to get into the park , to use the playground or explore the trails. The wading pool has a small fee of $3.35 per child and parents don’t have to pay (bonus)!
Finally, a real wading pool!
My kids hate splash pads. Hate. Back in my day, wading pools were everywhere, but now, not so much. Bronte Provincial Park has a sort-of wading pool, but what I don’t like about that pool is that it starts out shallow and just gets deeper and deeper…
The LaSalle wading pool is a nice sized square pool that is shallow (only goes up to my knees!). There is a lifeguard on duty and even a small splash pad area for normal kids who like that sort of thing 😉
The small pool size + shallow water + lifeguard means us parents can sit back and relax a bit. We can let our kids wade in the pool without having to constantly be right beside them.
They even have some comfy chairs available for lounging – but they are very limited, so I recommend bringing your own folding lawn chairs. The deck around the edge of the pool is cement, but you are free to put a blanket down if you like.
I’m a shade lover, so there is a decent amount of shade from the umbrellas and the trees.
There are signs that say no food or drinks but I see lots of parents feeding their kids so I”m not sure if it’s fully enforced. Outside the pool area there are lots of areas to sit and have a picnic so that’s always an option as well.
Bathrooms – last year they had a portable thing inside the fenced area of the pool. We went there on opening day this year (2017) and it wasnt there. Not sure if it’s will be back, but if not there are bathrooms located at the gazebo/shelter.
The nature trails at LaSalle park are a nice little trek in the ‘woods’. Stroller friendly and very scenic. It usually takes us about 30 minutes to walk the trail. The trail is somewhat of a loop, starting at the main parking lot (if you are facing the playground, the start of the trail will be behind you).
The trail loops around and ends near the boat launch area. You can then walk up the hill (or the stairs) to get back to the shelter/pool area.