Toronto March break vacation

Toronto March break vacation

We’ve been waiting since Christmas to take this trip. This year we surprised everyone with tickets to see a Toronto Raptors game over March Break. This may just become new tradition. We haven’t really done anything big for March break before, but this ended up being a great vacation.

We debated for a short bit about flying but just too expensive so we did our usual road trip. We broke up the drive over a few days and were able to see friends along the way. We drove to Northern New Brunswick the first night and stayed with friends there who we don’t get to see nearly enough and we stayed on the way back as well. Next we headed to Montreal for a night.

Montreal

In Montreal we were able to meet up with a couple co-workers from my team Jupiter! They met us at the Montreal Science Centre which was fun and a good way to stretch our legs for a while.

Since we were in Montreal we figured we should have some real poutine as well. The locals humoured us and came along too. There were so many other people that I’d love to have seen a long the way but our dates and plans were kind of up in the air until the last minute. One of the benefits and downfalls of working in a distributed company, you know people everywhere, but on short trips it can be a challenge to take advantage of that.

CN Tower

Though the main point of the trip was to see the Toronto Raptors play when in Toronto for the first time as a family we had to do some of the other tourist things a well. We spent pretty much the whole day on Monday in Toronto and first hit up the CN Tower. There were some impressive views. Noah was pretty hesitant to go up and buried his head into me the whole elevator ride up, but once we were there he loved it. Even out on the glass floor jumping up and down. Caile and I on the other had almost didn’t go out onto it. Last minute right before we left we finally went out, slowly and tentatively.

Ripley’s Aquarium

We had heard from many people that the Aquarium was a must see. Everyone has really enjoyed on all the ones we have visited over the years and this one is right up there for sure.

Toronto Raptors Game

After the aquarium we walked to get something to eat at Jen’s favourite restaurant Wahlburgers. The burgers are pretty good, but it’s her love of Donnie Wahlberg and NKOTB that makes it for her.

Timing the whole day worked out really well and we made it back to Scotiabank Arena with just a bit of a wait before the doors opened. While in line we saw two people from here in Nova Scotia going to the game a well. Earlier on our way to the CN Tower we ran into one of Jen’s friends from school as well. There were other people of we knew of who were at the same game as us but we didn’t see them.

The game ended up being fantastic, though not really suspenseful. They beat the Knicks 128 – 92. Seeing an NBA game live regardless was a lot of fun and it was great to see them win.

Going into the game we were a little nervous. There were a bunch of players that we might not be able to see play. It was the second night of a back to back game which meant we were pretty sure Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t play and that was right. Serge Ibaka was out due to a suspension and both Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet had been out some games due to injury so we were hoping they would be back. Thankfully they both played, though Kyle was re-injured in the third quarter and hasn’t been back yet.

Danny Green and Pascal Siakam are both favourites in our house and being there early we were able to get down close and see them both warming up before things got underway. One of the other big highlights for me was seeing Fred VanVleet get his first ever NBA double double. He’s one of my favourite players, if you’re not familiar with him this is a great article written last year.

Everyone had a lot of fun and is looking forward to our next opportunity to see a game, maybe next March break again.

Escape Room

One of the things we talked about on the drive to do an Escape Room. I’ve done a couple on work trips, but no one else had. We tried to find one to break up one of our drive days but it never worked out. One day after shopping at the Eaton’s Centre we intended to head to the Ontario Science Centre but realized it was too close to closing time. So we were trying to find something else to do and Ella thought of an Escape Room. We found a good family friendly one we were able to book last minute.

It was a Christmas themed one where we had to help an elf save the Christmas Spirit. It was a lot of fun solving all the clues and puzzles. Everyone was involved and together we escaped the room and ended up with some snow on us as a result.

Toronto Zoo

The whole trip we were watching the weather both for our drives and because we knew we wanted to go to the zoo. We timed it well because we had a lovely day for it. It was the first day of Spring and it even felt like it.

There was weather in the forecast for our scheduled drive home though so we called the trip a day short. We hit the zoo first thing when it opened and pretty much had it to ourselves. Once we were done we hit the road on our way home.

Day Nine – Starting Home

Vacation is starting to wrap up. We left the awesome B&B and started the drive back home. On the drive we changed up plans. We were going to drive around NYC but changed it up so we went straight through instead. There was certainly a lot more traffic than we were used to but Jen sailed through no problem. 

The reason we changed was so we could head over to Point Pleasant Beach on New Jersey. We didn’t go onto the beach though we checked out the Jenkins Aquarium there instead. The beach looked amazing though and I was tempted to go spend some time there. The plan is also to go to Hampton Beach on the way home though so I resisted.

The reviews we read about it were bang on. It was small and quick to go through but it was really nice as well. It was a great way to break up our drive and the cost wasn’t as high as some of the larger aquariums. The kids loved seeing the penguins get fed. The sharks were swimming all around and the seals as well. 

The one thing we ran into was parking there. Of course it was a Sunday on a Holiday weekend but some places were charging $25 and up to $60. If we were heading to the beach all day $25 would be fine but we were only stopping for a bit. We ended up finding parking for $2 at the train station. It was a bit of a walk but not too far at all. Well I actually paid $4 because I chose two days instead of one. 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

2014 Family Vacation

2014 Family Vacation

We made it through our big family vacation this year. I figured I’d try to write out a bit of an overview of what we did. There was so much packed into a short time that it could be easy to forget if I don’t get it down somewhere.

Day 1 – Traveling Day

I wrote a bit about this already in this post Traveling Day.

Day 2 – Shopping and Getting Settled

As we got in so late the night before we decided to take it fairly easy on this day. We didn’t even really get a chance to see the cottage and yard we were staying in.

So slept in a bit and took our time in the morning.

The backyard is beautiful right on an inlet in the Ocean making it almost like a lake. The kids had a great surprise when they were outside and a couple of swans swam right up and came out of the water to see them.

I loved the fact that there was a hammock already setup so I could sit and relax watching them play around.

Wareham MA, where we were staying had a bit of an outlet shopping so we also headed in there to get some things for the kids and also some much needed groceries.

Day 3 – Rhode Island

None of us had ever been to Rhode Island before. We were a bit worried about rain so my wife found us a Natural History Museum which had a planetarium inside for us to visit and explore. It is right in the middle of Roger Williams Park in Providence. We were lucky that it didn’t rain so we could explore this park a bit. It’s pretty amazing. Our first stop was a playground sponsored by Hasbro. We were greeted by a Mister Potato Head which the kids loved. They also had a mini Candy Land path you could hop along. Probably their favourite thing in the playground though was a slide made out of rollers.

The park was huge and we didn’t see all of it, but we did drive through and took a walk through parts of it. It was very well maintained and picturesque.

Day 4 – Boston

Boston is one of my favourite cities that I’ve ever visited. So when ever we go back I always enjoy it. My sister was a little nervous about driving into the city and being able to follow us to where we were going. Luckily my wife discovered a commuter ferry that goes between Hingham MA and Boston. It just so happens that Hingham is the location of Wahlburgers. My wife might have been a little obsessed with Donnie Wahlberg and so we were planning a trip there to eat anyway.

We had a rough time finding the ferry at first, but we made it and it was a great way to get into the city. The kids loved the boat ride and I loved the view coming in.

Once we got in we started walking towards the Boston Common. We happened on to a group of street performers just getting ready to perform their dance / comedy routine. My girls all love dance so we stayed to watch. They were very impressive and funny as well.

Once in the Common and Public Gardens we played in frog pond for a while and took a ride on the carousel. The swan boat ride is always a favourite thing to do so we made our way there as well.

It was kind of a whirlwind stop in the city so we didn’t stay long at any one place. From the Common we walked back down to the waterfront and went to the Children’s Museum. We’d been once before years ago but it was still fun to go through again.

Once we were done we hopped back on the ferry back to Hingham and we went to get supper at Wahlburgers. It was pretty neat to be eating in a restaurant owned by the Wahlberg’s and featured in their reality TV show. But the best part was that the burgers were actually really good as well.

Jen decided to remember the experience by picking up a Wahlburgers iPhone case, and of course lots of pictures.

Day 5 – New Hampshire

Today was supposed to be our New York City day. However as you can read about in the post Going with the Flow, that didn’t end up happening.

We decided 3.5 hours driving, with no traffic, and then a 40 minute train ride into New York, spending a few hours in the city, then taking the same route back to our cottage again wasn’t going to work.

We started by looking to see if we could find a place relatively affordable for us all to stay the night, but finding a last minute deal for 10 people isn’t easy so we called it off and started making other plans.

We decided we would head into New Hampshire and take the kids to a water park and then to my wife’s favourite place, Hampton Beach. After the traffic we ran into and the amount of time that we driving just to New Hampshire we were very glad that we didn’t try to drive into NYC.

We found Water Country which is very close to Hampton Beach and even found a pretty good deal online for the entrance cost. So we went and found some time there going on rides and getting wet.

We left there in time to go get some supper and then off to Hampton Beach to spend a bit of time before packing up the kids and heading back to the cottage for the night.

Day 6 – Connecticut

Connecticut is also a State that none of us had ever been in before this trip. We knew we wanted to take the kids to an Aquarium of some sort during this trip and after looking at a bunch with the kids they chose the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.

We’ve been to a few aquarium’s over the years, but this one was great. Probably the kids favourites would be the Beluga Whales, the Sea Lion show, and the Penguin area. We loved how the Sea Lion show was inside in an theater setting and they actually put on a skit with humans and the Sea Lions as the show.

The Beluga Whales were the biggest creatures in the aquarium and it was great seeing them from above and below the water. The kids loved being right up the glass and having them come right up and stare at them.

Penguins have always been my middle daughters favourite animal. So for her getting to be that close to them was very exciting.

Some of my favourites would be the sharks, the sting ray touch tank, different types of jelly fish, and the octopus. There were all kinds of other creatures, it was well worth the trip to explore.

Day 7 – Starting Home

We had to get off to an early start for starting our journey home. We left the cottage by 5:30 am hoping to avoid rush hour traffic as we drove past Boston on our way to our friends in New Brunswick. They were kind enough to offer to put us all up for the night and give us supper and we wanted to be able to spend at least some time with them. We were pretty lucky and Jen found a route that went out a little further past Boston, but we really avoided most of the traffic.

This was going to be a long day of traveling and we knew we would have to make some stops on the way, but we wanted to just hurry up and get there so we tried to keep the stops down.

On the drive we were talking about the vacation and how great it was, but also how we were disappointed we didn’t make it into New York. We started planning next years vacation already. In fact Jen booked our first place to stay in Washington DC to make sure we will have a great place to stay for our whole family at a good cost.

As one of the stops Jen looked up a playground. It sounded really cool having a maze and castle like towers for the kids to play in. Shortly before we made it there she did some more reading about it and discovered that it was no longer there. It was at a school though so we kept going figuring the school would still have a playground for the kids to play in. When we arrived there was a playground and there was a day camp there playing on it. The kids were excited because in the yard right beside us there was construction going on with big excavators and heavy equipment.

As the kids were going down the slide the group leader from the day camp came over and told us that the construction was just getting ready to do blasting. It was no big deal just that it was going to be loud so be prepared. They had been doing it all week and the campers were used to it. Right after that the construction crew told us that no we would have to evacuate the playground for safety. This didn’t sit well with kids who had been trapped in the car for quite a while already. What are the chances of this happening?

We did good for a while more but then found another park with a playground in it for the kids to play in. We also ate lunch at the same time as there was a nice picnic area.

In the end we made it across the border and to our friends house shortly before supper and ended up getting to take the kids to the community pool for an evening swim. It was a great way to cool off and release some energy before bed after being in the car all day.

 

Day 8 – The final leg

My sister had to have her kids home for a wedding they were part of later this day. So we had another early morning and this time were on the road by 5:00am to make sure we would have enough time.

We went for 3 hours before we stopped and got breakfast and stretched our legs which was great to get that good a start on the day.

We decided to split off and let my sister head home while we did a bit more shopping with the kids who had some money left over, and to stop at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park on the way home.

It was weird when we did split off. It had been days of having my sister in the car behind us for many hours. To not have to worry about not losing someone made the drive seem that much less stressful.

We made it home in time to make supper, get things cleaned up and unpacked and get the kids to bed.

It was a fantastic vacation but it was also great to be home and climb into my own bed at the end of the day. Can’t wait til our vacation next year, which is already shaping up quite nicely.