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Hi everyone -- it's 6:15 pm and time to chat.
I’m Richard Bloom, managing editor of CityNews.ca . Thanks for joining us for this live chat with Helen Lovekin of Ontario Tourism. Tonight, we’ll be talking about March Break staycation ideas – so, if your kids are already getting anxious at home, we’ll help out with some ideas.
Helen will be online with us from until 7 pm for the live chat – and she’s able to answer questions and comments you may have. She’s an expert in event, attractions and day trips, so don’t hold back.
And, anything she can’t answer, we’ll be sure to find answers to after this chat.
Firstly, let me remind you that this is a moderated chat and we’ll do our best to publish as many questions and comments as possible.
With that, Helen: thanks for joining us.
@citynews Thanks Richard - great to be with you!
We’ve got some questions and comments already coming in via twitter, facebook and this chat, but loet me start by asking the first question: We all know about the CN tower and eaton centre – but what are some of YOUR favourite attractions here in Toronto for families this time of year?
Toronto is a wonderful town for discovering things you thought you knew, but didn't. For example, I love to go to the Guildwood Sculpture Garden. It has all these wonderful bits and pieces of architecture, just sitting in the middle of a large garden on the edge of Lake Ontario
And what about for the family that doesn’t like to do the traditional touristy stuff? What recommendations do you have?
If you were NOT able to get away to the tropics why not take the family to a Costa Rican Cloud Forest -- on the corner of Bay & Richmond. Or you could take them to the Butterfly Conservancy in Niagara Falls, which is also pretty tropical, or you could visit the majestic gorillas at the Metro Zoo and share their tropical bioshpere for a few hours.
@JP There are something like 3,000 Ontario Parks and many of them are open to visitors all year, including the icon of them all, Algonquin. This time of year you can go winter camping in a yurt -- I think they rent for about $20 a night
@MikeWong Great Wolf in Niagara gets you and your family out of the house withoutout having to get out of the province! It has HUGE water slides, pools and lots of things for all those water babies to play at while Mum & Dad catch a break
@GraceRoberts Why not take the kids back through time and visit the Enoch Turner School House, down near King and Parliament . Or take them on an art exploration at the wonderful Art Gallery of Hamilton, which has lots of programming for March Break
I'm going to throw this one out there to the folks on the chat: What are YOUR favourite places to hit during March Break?
@john If you want to take a drive to Midland, at the very southern tip of Georgian Bay, you'll find Wye Marsh, a remarkable nature conservancey filled with swans -- who will just be returning about now -- owls, hiking trails, and lots of daily activities.
@Helen: What recommendations do you have for places to learn about all the ideas happening across the region? Any go-to websites?
The #1 go-to site is www.ontariotravel.net
My brother took his kids down to Niagara Falls for a few days over March break. He got an amazing deal for hotel and attractions too. And while we often hear about Florida or Mexico as destinations, what do you know about people choosing to forgo the plane and take a day trip in the car?
Whew! That depends on what you like to take pictures of: I suggest you check out the Toronto Parks Discovery Walks and they will lead you through hidden creeks, architectural delights, quiet ravines ... and lots of urban wildlife.
@richard For a 90km radius you can check out Niagara Falls, the traditional Mennonite Markets in St Jacobs, go horseback riding on Oakville or Newcastle, or stay up late and watch the Milky Way in the Torrence Barrens Dark Sky Preserve.
A good question just came into me via twitter: any cooking or food-related events?
5 minute warning everyone! We'll be wrapping up soon, so please get your questions and comments in now!
@Cindy Perhaps you would like to recharge your batteries at a day spa. Perhaps you want to take a peak at another word and go to the Treasures of the Maharaja at the Art Gallery of Ontario. There are lots of great cooking classes to explore, and this is a great time to learn how to salsa dance because the competitions are on!
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the weather is improving...and this could be a great time to just get outdoors. Now, the outdoor skating rinks may be closed but surely there are some sporting events families can do to make the most of the melting snow.
Toronto = Food: There are cooking events everywhere pretty much all the time. Have you explored the Wychwood Barns Market, for example? The producers are so passionate about what they do, and the Barns themselves have a kitchen, cafe, art gallery and a playground
What about the suburbs? Any hot recommendations for those in the 905?
@richard Yes! Klienburg is just nearby: Go to the Kortright Conservation Centre -- it is time for their maple sugar bush. Or you could go across the road and visit the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and check out the Group of Seven masterpieces. If you bring kids with you there is a special gallery where they can create their own masterpieces.
Well, as we approach the top of the hour, I'd like to thank you Helen for participating tonight in our special live chat. Lots of great ideas here that are sure to keep the kids entertained. Moms and dads: you have no excuses for not getting out there.
@richard Thanks so much for inviting me! If anyone wants to explore these ideas further check www.ontariotravel.net or show us YOUR Ontario by going to www.facebook.com/OntarioTravel. Enjoy the Break, HL