My husband was a presenter at this year’s OPA Conference, so Elowyn and I came along and we made it a family adventure to remember! The conference was held at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville Ontario. The resort has fantastic programming for children year-round and offers luxurious amenities. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Toronto and we stayed for one night in a beautiful condo suite.
We left home around 7:45am on route to Algonquin Provincial Park. Our goal was to get to the park as early as possible to maximize our chances of seeing moose! Thankfully, Elowyn slept most of the way there which helped us make great time. Upon arrival we were greeted by predator mosquitos (that stop at nothing until they get a taste of you) and we realized we had forgotten our bug-spray! Luckily the information desk had some for sale otherwise there’s no way we would have lasted the day. We completed a challenging 11km hike, the Mizzy Lake trail and the short and scenic Hardwood Lookout trail. We spent around 6 hours at the park and had lots of time on the trails to practice Dave’s presentation. By the end of our hike we had successfully helped him feel ready for the big day! Follow the above trail links to read all about our hiking adventures and wildlife encounters. Spoiler alert: We did see moose!!
We checked into Deerhurst Resort around 5:30pm and had worked up quite an appetite on the trails! There are four restaurants on the resort and we chose the Antler Steakhouse for dinner. I made reservations online and called to make sure they had a booster chair for Elowyn.
We stopped to freshen up in our condo and were blown away by how spacious and bright the space was; the balcony views were amazing! We had a powder room, full-bathroom, kitchen, huge dining room table, fire-place, living room, tv, balcony with a patio table and chairs, and the best part: a king-size bed and a whirlpool tub in the bedroom!
The loghouse restaurant overlooks the historic canal between Fairy and Peninsula Lakes. It’s a fine-dining experience with friendly servers and laid-back customers who accept your spirited toddler. We had an epic post-hike feast. For an Appetizer we shared the Alaskan Crabcake. Our Mains were the Braised Short-rib and Ribeye and for Dessert we had Creme Brûlée and the Mini Maple Doughnuts.
My first bite of the very tender fall-off-the-bone Braised Short-rib was unforgettable.
It was the perfect meal after a full day on our feet.
After dinner, my husband met with his boss to go over their presentation. Elowyn and I decided to check out the pool! I thought we would spend most of our time in the children’s wading pool but when Elowyn saw the giant pool she kept climbing out of the shallow pool and trying to jump into the big one. I was happy to see they had life-jackets, even ones Elowyn’s size, which made swimming together in the adult pool a much more pleasant experience. I was feeling a little full from the steakhouse but with Elowyn in a life-jacket I was still able to enjoy swimming. We sung songs, Elowyn worked on her assisted back-crawl and front-crawl and she liked splashing where the pool lights were reflecting on the water. Our bedroom had a large whirl-pool tub and after our swim we enjoyed a bonus relaxing bath before bed.
On Friday morning, we woke up early to have breakfast at Eclipse with my husband before his presentation. Dave was too nervous to eat much, Elowyn devoured the home-fries and I had the multi-grain crunchy french toast (which was coated in cereal). It wasn’t the meal I was expecting; the french-toast on the menu promised to be a brioche french toast topped with berry compote. Despite my meal not being the greatest, the service was once again exceptional.
We had a very friendly server who kindly made me a much needed iced latte despite it not being on the menu.
After breakfast, Elowyn and I spent some time in our beautiful condo while Dave presented at the conference. We got everything ready for check-out at 11:00am and still had time to take in the balcony views. I’m happy to report that Dave’s presentation went well, I guess all that rehearsing in the wilderness paid off!
Indoor Play Area
We checked out and took Elowyn to the indoor toddler play area while we discussed our game-plan for the rest of the day. We wanted to head-home before rush hour traffic but we decided there was enough time for some paddle-boating or canoeing. The activity desk coordinator let us know it was first come first serve for the boat rentals but that it was complimentary for resort guests. When we got there, Elowyn had her eye on the canoe!
We weren’t sure how it would go with me holding her in the front while Dave paddled with a kayak paddle from the back-seat. At first Elowyn wanted to escape my lap and go into the water. It might have been confusing since last time she was in a life-jacket we were swimming in a pool together and the lake did kind of look like a giant pool. But with some singing and distracting questions like, “Do you see the bird?” “Do you see the fishy?” we were able to spend almost an hour out on the water.
Lunch was a picnic on the beach. Elowyn saw a hole she was certain was an Ermine’s lair, “Ermine where are you?!” There was also an especially persistent seagull that wanted some of Elowyn’s discarded sandwich bread. You’ll see him later in the video! After lunch, it was time to get started on our journey home. Deerhurst was hard to leave and we agreed it would make the perfect destination for an annual family getaway.
We made a quick stop in downtown Huntsville for some anti-itch cream, iced coffee, and to give Elowyn a chance to play in the playground before the long drive back to Toronto. Once again she slept almost the entire way home. If you’re considering a family ski, golf, or hiking trip not too far from Toronto, I would definitely recommend Deerhurst. There are countless amenities for all ages. Even though we were only there for one night I feel like we did so much!
For a tour of our amazing accommodations and a glimpse of our adventures: