Summer Fun // Our Fave Baby + Tot Friendly Activities

Matt and I are self-proclaimed adventurers, taking every opportunity to explore new places both near and far from the comfort of our home. Last summer, I was a new mom, both over-tired and on the mend from delivering my son via emergency c-section. Even though I was stuck inside more than I would have liked, we made incredible memories as a family, and eventually headed outdoors once I was strong enough.

This list is a mixture of our favourites from last summer (with a newborn), and what we've tackled so far this year with our one year old explorer (in no particular order). 

Parks.

You're probably thinking "well duh" but I had to mention it because the park can easily be overlooked as boring or overdone, or we automatically think of playgrounds instead of larger parks with walking trials. Sometimes we just need to see the space in a new light.

Whether it's a neighbourhood playground, a city park or provincial park, parks are the place to be with little ones. Make the most out of them with picnics, walks, lawn games, and full out family playground time. Confession: last summer we were also avid Pokémon Go players. This was amazing on walks (and on car rides to and from the park if Orson was sleeping or attempting to sleep). 

Summer 2016 Photo: We love trail walking with the fam jam. This is one of my parent's favourite places to walk @ Millrace Trail, St. Jacobs. 

Summer 2016 Photo: We love trail walking with the fam jam. This is one of my parent's favourite places to walk @ Millrace Trail, St. Jacobs. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Beautiful views and awesome trails @ Huron Natural Area, Kitchener. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Beautiful views and awesome trails @ Huron Natural Area, Kitchener. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Multi-tasking at it's finest. Family walk + Pokemon go all at once @ Riverside Park, Guelph.

Summer 2016 Photo: Multi-tasking at it's finest. Family walk + Pokemon go all at once @ Riverside Park, Guelph.

Summer 2017 Photo: Orson in his favourite play tunnel @ Victoria Park, Kitchener.

Summer 2017 Photo: Orson in his favourite play tunnel @ Victoria Park, Kitchener.

Swimming.

I was a waterlogged child back in the day. I still love pool time tremendously! If we didn't have copious amounts of large old trees in our current backyard, I would likely insist that we put in a pool ASAP. Until then, pool time is a special treat for us.

My favourite summer pool is the Plunge Pool at Blue Mountain Resort that we get to enjoy during our annual Sider family summer vacation!

One of our favourite beaches is at Grand Bend. We also love their dog-friendly portion of the beach when we have Whiskey with us. Bonus parenting points if you successfully survive a beach day without your baby eating sand.

Summer 2016 Photo: Plunge Pool @ Blue Mountain Resort.  You can't tell from this pic, but inside the yellow building is more pool and an amazing indoor splash pad and climbing area for tots. Did I mention it's also heated?! 

Summer 2016 Photo: Plunge Pool @ Blue Mountain Resort.  You can't tell from this pic, but inside the yellow building is more pool and an amazing indoor splash pad and climbing area for tots. Did I mention it's also heated?! 

Summer 2015 Photo: Beach @ Grand Bend.

Summer 2015 Photo: Beach @ Grand Bend.

The Drive-In.

In our pre-baby days, we went to the movies all the time. During the Academy Awards season, we would always make a point of seeing all nominated films. The only reason I find myself in an actual movie theatre (since Orson's birth) is for Stars & Strollers Screenings at Cineplex (even then you don't fully enjoy the movie quite the same). Orson's first drive-in movie was last summer, the opening night of Finding Dory, and he wasn't even a month old yet! This summer we've been super busy so we haven't went as often as we hoped, but so far we've seen Wonder Woman & Baby Driver.

We are pretty fortunate to be within close distance to a number of Ontario Drive-Ins. Close enough that we usually browse what movies are playing and where, and then just drive out for the night to the best one. The following are personal faves: 

Guelph Mustang Drive-In (this is technically the closest to us so it makes the favourites list for that reason. It's also a really big screen). 

Hamilton Starlite Drive-In (this theatre has 3 screens which gives you 6 different movie options for the evening. Insert all the praise hand emojis). 

Grand Bend Starlite Drive-In (best vintage vibes at this theatre. They even boast a 25 cent refill on drinks & popcorn).

Summer 2017 Photo: Hamilton Starlite Drive-In.

Summer 2017 Photo: Hamilton Starlite Drive-In.

Summer 2017 Photo: Orson loving the drive-in vibes. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Orson loving the drive-in vibes. 

Local Hot Spots & Events.

We absolutely love our developing city. We live close enough to the downtown core that we can go anywhere within walking distance and find instant fun or delicious food. If you're from our neck of the woods, check out our favourites below. If not, research your city/town/area. You'll be surprised to find a variety of cheap or free family summer fun. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Canada Day downtown Kitchener (view  from City Centre Condos). 

Summer 2016 Photo: Canada Day downtown Kitchener (view  from City Centre Condos). 

Summer 2017 Photo: Our favourite vinyl store, X Disc C Kitchener. Matt browses for his albums while Orson and I hunt for the gems like Raffi & Fred Penner. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Our favourite vinyl store, X Disc C Kitchener. Matt browses for his albums while Orson and I hunt for the gems like Raffi & Fred Penner. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Orson napping outside Yeti Cafe, my personal favourite spot for summer drinks & food (they even have paleo options). 

Summer 2016 Photo: Orson napping outside Yeti Cafe, my personal favourite spot for summer drinks & food (they even have paleo options). 

Summer 2016 Photo: Another summer favourite. Coffee for mom and Iced Tea for me from Matter of Taste. We like to drink our bevvies and chat up a storm while watching the fountain @ Kitchener City Hall. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Another summer favourite. Coffee for mom and Iced Tea for me from Matter of Taste. We like to drink our bevvies and chat up a storm while watching the fountain @ Kitchener City Hall. 

Summer 2016 Photo: City Centre Balcony view of Summer Lights Festival, downtown Kitchener. 

Summer 2016 Photo: City Centre Balcony view of Summer Lights Festival, downtown Kitchener. 

Summer 2016 Photo: Balcony view of Crusin' on King Vintage Car Show, downtown Kitchener.

Summer 2016 Photo: Balcony view of Crusin' on King Vintage Car Show, downtown Kitchener.

Summer 2017 Photo: Kitchener Ribfest. Indulging our carnivorious sides. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Kitchener Ribfest. Indulging our carnivorious sides. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Neighbourhood Porch Party! 

Summer 2017 Photo: Neighbourhood Porch Party! 

Anything with Animals :) 

Do I really need to explain this further!? This summer our home away from home is the African Lion Safari. It's a 30 minute drive to get there, but so well worth it. Orson loves the animal shows, train & boat rides, giant splash pad, and of course petting the animals. If you don't have anything like this where you live, look for a local zoo, or visitor friendly farm. Later this summer we are going to take Orson to the local donkey sanctuary. Animal ideas are endless! 

Summer 2016 Photo: African Lion Safari  

Summer 2016 Photo: African Lion Safari  

Elephants @ African Lion Safari

Elephants @ African Lion Safari

Donkeys @ Donkey Sanctuary (taken from my last visit in 2015 just before Orson). We plan on visiting again before this summer is over.

Donkeys @ Donkey Sanctuary (taken from my last visit in 2015 just before Orson). We plan on visiting again before this summer is over.

Summer 2017 Photo: Petting zoo @ African Lion Safari. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Petting zoo @ African Lion Safari. 

Day Trips (Close to Home) 

We love a good day trip. Thankfully, we live close to many cute and fun places both near and far.  We love venturing out to new towns, cities, and places. Of course we have our favourites too. Google what's near you or activities for babies and tots near you. You'll be surprised! 

Summer 2017 Photo: This summer we ventured to Toronto a few times, and will certainly be back before the summer is over. There are endless day trip activities, and it's perfect for a short or long stay-cation too!

Summer 2017 Photo: This summer we ventured to Toronto a few times, and will certainly be back before the summer is over. There are endless day trip activities, and it's perfect for a short or long stay-cation too!

Summer 2017 Photo: Total relaxation at the Alt Hotel

Summer 2017 Photo: Total relaxation at the Alt Hotel

Summer 2017 Photo: Canada 150 in Toronto 

Summer 2017 Photo: Canada 150 in Toronto 

Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip reality with a toddler = living out of your trunk. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip reality with a toddler = living out of your trunk. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Making sweet memories at  Ripley's Aquarium Canada. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Making sweet memories at  Ripley's Aquarium Canada. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip shopping and exploring Elora, ON. 

Summer 2017 Photo: Day trip shopping and exploring Elora, ON. 

It's hard taking photos of busy tots! 

It's hard taking photos of busy tots! 

Cute little details in Elora. 

Cute little details in Elora. 

That' wraps it up for now! We are excited to add and discover more exciting activities for littles in the very near future. Until then, please feel free to add your local tips and favourites so we can try them out too! Not from our area?! That's okay. We may visit yours someday so we'd love to hear from you!