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Life with dogs Lifestyle Travel Wellness

A Fall Weekend Getaway to View the Fall Colours in Ontario

If there’s one thing you must do every Fall in Ontario, it’s take a trip to see the changing Fall leaves. The beautiful vibrancy of red, orange, yellow and golden hues is truly a sight to be seen. To celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary and enjoy all that Autumn in Ontario has to offer, we decided to book a weekend getaway at the Trace at Oak Lake in Havelock, ON.

Bright moon overlooking Oak Lake in Havelock, Ontario at The Trace Resort.

The Trace is a dog-friendly, private lakeside wellness and leisure resort, situated on the beautiful Oak Lake. There were a variety of chalets and cabins that you could rent, though to keep our budget in mind, we chose the Queen Studio for the weekend. In the summer months, something that size would have been perfect, since you’d hopefully spend most of your time outdoors anyway. But we ended up with a very chilly weekend (went down to -5 overnight!!), so we definitely wished we picked something with more of a lounge seating area to enjoy. While the property was stunning, our only feedback was the bathroom – it had seen better days, and definitely needed a facelift – at the very least a new tub/shower.

Fall weekend getaway at The Trace in Havelock, Ontario on Oak Lake. Vibrant red and orange leaves overlooking a lake.
Blue Muskoka Chairs on Oak Lake at The Trace wellness and leisure resort in Ontario with Fall leaves in the background.
Blue muskoka chairs around a fire pit in Cottage Country during a fall weekend getaway in Ontario to view the Fall leaves.

While we weren’t able to use all of the amenities like the boat rentals due to how cold it was, we were able to enjoy the outdoor firepit! The blue jays play-off game (the tragedy game…) was playing in the background while we had a fire and it was a really nice! We purchased a s’mores kit and enjoyed a sweet treat.

Oak Lake with Fall coloured leaves in the background.

I found a local Provincial Park to explore that was about a 20 minute drive. We made our way to Petroglyphs Provincial Park, located in Woodview, ON and it ended up being the very last weekend that the trails were open! We hiked the Nanabush Trail, about a 5.5km loop, after visiting the Petroglyph site. It’s the largest known concentration of Indigenous rock carvings in Canada, also known as “The Teaching Rocks”, that are protected in a building where you can view the drawings from a 360 viewing deck. Dogs are not allowed within 100m of the site, so we had to each go individually while the other waited with our dog, Koda. We love to add a little history to our trip, so it was great to learn more about the area and enjoy all of the sights.

Woman enjoying fall hiking trail in Ontario. Best place to view fall colours in Ontario.
Red, orange and yellow bed of leaves on hiking trail at Petroglyphs Provincial Park. Women's hiking shoes with fall leaves.
German Shepherd mix dog enjoying Fall hiking at Petroglyphs Provincial Park with vibrant fall leaves on the ground.

Unfortunately, after the hike we found a tick on our dog, which we were able to brush off, but we did find another one on her about a week later that we had to remove. Just something to keep in mind while hiking in that area – always best to be tick-smart, ensure you’re wearing long clothing and tuck your pants into your socks and always check yourself and your dog after! We have a tick spray called Atlantick that we use, but should have packed it on our hike and reapplied. Next time!

Fall leaves in Havelock Ontario at The Trace Resort

There is so much more we could have explored in cottage country and since it holds a special place in my heart, we’ve decided that each fall we’ll make a weekend or day-trip out of it to take in the fall views!

Here are some of the best hikes to view the Fall colours in Ontario that I’ve done so far:

Can’t wait to add more to this list! What are some of your favourite activities to do in the Fall? Let me know below!

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Life with dogs Lifestyle Travel

Our Trip to Blue Mountain Resort: The Perfect Ontario Winter Getaway

There’s something about a winter trip that I absolutely love! Considering Winter is one of my favourite seasons (I say this as it’s currently snowing in the middle of March here in Ontario while I write this), getting away for a weekend or week vacation is a great way to enjoy what winter has to offer. We have been to Blue Mountain in the Fall for our anniversary and definitely loved being there in the Winter even more!

Even though I’m a fan of winter, I had never been skiing. I had a snowboard when I was young and attempted tobogganing hills… but I honestly don’t think that actually counts. So this year, we decided to jump straight into it. Even if you’re not huge into skiing and snowboarding, there really is something for everyone at Blue Mountain Village (though I’d probably recommend a weekend trip versus an entire week). With all of that being said, here’s a breakdown of our trip!

Day 1

Checked into our dog friendly Airbnb, which was a large chalet just a 3 min drive from the Village. Our chalet had a private hot tub and steam room, which I highly recommend since our muscles were sore after skiing. We headed into the Village for dinner at Northwinds Brewhouse & Kitchen.

There are ski-in and out style condos for rent that are in the village, so if your trip is centred around just skiing and you’re a party of 2-4 people, that could definitely be a good option for you!

Day 2

Took the dogs for a walk around our Chalet and took in the views. The mountains are so beautiful. Unfortunately it rained our entire first day, so we moved our skiing to Day 3 and enjoyed the hot tub, lots of board games and had a really nice day to just relax!

Collingwood was just a short 8 min drive from our Airbnb, so we picked up some groceries the night before and made a big breakfast. We headed into the Village to visit Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and a few clothing stores, including the Christmas Store, of course!

Day 3

Our ski day! Since we had never been skiing before, we opted to do the Newbie Ski and Snowboard Program. Which was a self-guided course, where you followed the signs that showed you instructions and tips. The ticket included rentals and a lift ticket (and definitely more cost effective if you’re learning for the first time).

We picked up our ski rentals from the main office and our experience wasn’t quite what we were expecting… Feedback for Blue – newbie skiers don’t know how things are supposed to fit and we really didn’t feel supported or guided through the process. It felt chaotic and ultimately 3 out of the 4 of us had terrible fitting boots that resulted in slight bruising and blisters by the end of our morning. I will say that although that part was unfortunate, it did not take away from our experience skiing! I would definitely do it again as it made a good intro to skiing, but would opt for an instructor and/or to get my rentals outside of the village so that I could choose my equipment and find something that had more inclusive boot sizing.

If you’re going to do the Newbie Ski program, I highly recommend watching YouTube videos or to bring someone with you who knows what they’re doing. We went early to beat the crowd and didn’t have any staff there to help us other than the people operating the lifts. The goal is to do the newbie hill, then the undergrad hill and then to your first green. Though only my husband made it to the green (yay!) and that’s totally okay – there are plenty more winters to continue to learn. 😉

Yellow box is South Newbie Hills and the purple star is where the main Newbie Hill is (and the one that we did).

We learned at the Newbie hills at the heart of the village, but there are apparently even better circuits on the South side of the hill (yellow box) with more space. Keep that in mind when you’re going! If it didn’t rain the day before, we would have gone to the South side for a 2nd trip out.

We headed to Jozo’s Bar for Après Ski and enjoyed a well-deserved pitcher of beer and food! Then grabbed a Starbucks and headed back to the chalet. We decided to order in pizza for dinner from Firehall Pizza (mmm 🍍 on pizza), hit the hot tub and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Day 4

We checked out the Hike N’ Tube, which we thought was going to be much bigger…if you have a younger family, you will love it, but for the price of $26/adult, we decided it was not worth it. Instead we walked around the village, grabbed a coffee and some beavertails and sat by the fire pits.

In hindsight, we wish we would have brought our skates (we ended up not having room in the car), but will definitely visit the Woodview Mountaintop Skating Trail next time we are there. It’s a 1km loop with a stunning view. We were told to ensure it’s a good day, because the drive up the mountain in bad weather could leave you stranded.

We finished off the night at Rusty’s, a BBQ restaurant, but definitely want to try Magnone’s Italian Kitchen and Twist’s Kitchen and Cocktail next time! View the full list of their eateries here.

Day 5

Packed up and headed home!

Overall it was a really nice getaway and definitely crossed off some items from my bucket list. Though, there are still some things on my list I’d like to check out for next time! The Blue Mountain website breaks down activities to explore in each season, which is really helpful.

Some things I’d like to explore next year:

  • Breakfast/Brunch spots
  • South Hill Skiing
  • Mountaintop Skating
  • Snowshoeing and more hiking.
  • Scandinave Spa – book well in advance for this! We’ve been here before and loved our experience. Would be so nice after a couple days of skiing!

Have you ever been to Blue? If you have what’s your favourite activity there? Let me know in the comments below ❄️!

Categories
Crafts Holidays Life with dogs

7 Last Minute DIY Halloween Dog Costumes

Halloween is right around the corner! Do you and your doggo have a costume yet?  I have loved dressing our dogs up over the years, and creating quick and easy DIY costumes for them to wear on our walk around the neighbourhood on Halloween evening. Plus, it always makes a good photo-opt! 

Whether you’re crafting your own costume for your pup, or buying a last minute costume from your local pet store, here are some of my favourite looks for the spooktacular night. 

Beanie Babies

Red golden retriever dog dressed as a beanie baby for halloween at Toronto Dog Mom halloween event.

The 90’s girl inside me absolutely LOVED this idea when I found it on Pinterest. It was so easy to recreate and highly recommend – everyone loved it. 

Care Bear 

More specifically, Koda is the Cheer Bear this year. We bought a child’s fuzzy sweater with bear ears on the hood from Amazon and created the patch on Canva, then used a hot glue gun to put it all together.

Pennywise 

I mean, perfect for if it’s raining outside too! Grab a balloon and you’re ready to go. 

Ghost

Have an old white sheet hanging around? Turn it into a cute ghost costume. Works for humans too! 

Mummy

While this may not stay on the longest either, it’s super cute and super simple. 

Dobby

German shepherd in a Dobby from Harry Potter Dog Costume on a front lawn decorated in halloween decorations and fallen autumn leaves.

This is what our Koda girl was last year! Super easy and we purchased a t-shirt from the dollar store and tacked a sock onto the front. 

Chewbacca

Couple and their dog dressed in Star Wars Halloween Costumes as Princess Leia, Hans Solo and Chewbacca.
Source: https://pin.it/4PFPwNL

Super cute family costume and fairly easy to DIY if you’re crafty!

Don’t forget to always measure your doggo before making anything and ensure they’re comfortable, whatever it is you’re dressing them up as! 

Have a safe and Happy Halloween! 🎃👻