Written by Sara-Lynne Levine, Macaroni Kid – visit their site at www.ottawacapitalregion.macaronikid.com
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Last week our family spent some quality time in Brockville. I didn’t know a lot about the small town, other than it had a well-known fish ‘n chips place. After spending a few days vacationing there, I was pleasantly surprised by how pretty it was, how easy it was to get to, and how much there was to do.
We were lucky to be guests of Maplehurst Manor & Carriage House, a beautiful Georgian style manor offering Victorian style decor. This was a real treat for the boys who are used to staying in traditional hotels. Our two rooms were connected by a fully renovated bathroom (a great set up for families). Central air and wifi were modern contrasts to the traditional furnishings, and antique furniture, but quite welcome. The Manor also zzzincluded access to two sitting rooms, one on the main floor and one of the second floor landing. Both areas were stocked with books and board games. Plenty of outside seating was also available.
A hearty hot breakfast was included (baked french toast one morning and a baked egg style frittata the second morning)and served in a lovely room on “fancy” china. The room rental is $250 for two rooms and the shared bath. Quite reasonable for a family of four including a full breakfast. Staying at Maplehurst was a nice change from a boring hotel and a great way to show your kids the benefits of staying at a bed and breakfast.
Our visit into the city provided us with gorgeous views of the St. Lawrence, complete with beachfront access and lots of boating opportunities, including our tour with Rockport Cruises along the river. The local cruise line offers a variety of sightseeing tours, dinner tours and castle tours. We enjoyed a tour that showcased the many islands, gorgeous homes and stop at the famous Boldt Castle. The kids loved seeing the different homes and “cottages”, all the boats, jet skis, and swimmers, and beautiful views.
Boldt Castle is a testament to true love. Built in 1900 as a gift to his wife, George Boldt stopped construction on the over 100 room home months before its completion, when his wife suddenly passed away. For seventy years the home remained empty and unattended. In the late 1970s theThousand Islands Bridge Authority began the process of renovating the home back to its original splendor. We all loved seeing the before and after photos, renovated rooms, gorgeous architecture and other amenities on the island. Definitely worth the trip. NOTE: The castle is in New York state and passports are required.
Brockville has a well developed and active main street that offered lots of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants. Beautiful hanging baskets, original architecture and a picturesque main street. Stoic statues and a courthouse, completed the image of a well-kept and busy bustling downtown. There was lots of complimentary parking and free wifi, especially along the waterfront.
One of the newest attractions to open in the area is the Aquatarium. Part museum, part learning center, part aquarium, this site offers something for kids and adults. Located close to the waterfront, this attraction encourages you to touch, play and enjoy learning about the St. Lawrence and its inhabitants in and around the area. I loved seeing the otters swimming about in their habitat, while my boys loved the ropes course and “Aqua drop”. There are play areas with water tables for toddlers, lots of fish swimming about, boat simulations and information and a chance to “sail” your sailboat into a wind wall. This interactive centre offers a variety of educational activities and lots of hands-on fun.
Our last stop was a National Historic Site at Fort Wellington. This British military fort was used during the War of 1812 and again during the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions of 1837-38. The fort depicts life when soldiers and their families lived at the fort during this time. Our wonderful tour guide showed us the barracks, quarters and latrines, we watch a rifle demonstration and the kids were able to try on soldiers uniforms, sleeping quarters, and visit various security points. Upon arrival, both kids were given activity books, calling attention to various points of interest during the tour. This is a great way to get kids excited about history and was a great way to end our trip on a high note.
We had a few yummy meals during our trip including an Italian meal at a beautiful old historic building called The Mill, delicious fish and chips from Don’s and coffee, pastries and sandwiches from Cafe Boboli.
While we only had two days for our visit, there were other family-fun activities offered including:
This fall (September 16-18), the Tall Ships Brockville Festival will welcome ships from around the world. Activities include nautical demonstrations, vendors, entertainment, re-enactments, historic encampments and evening fireworks.
If you are looking for a family fun vacation, not too far from Ottawa, then consider Brockville. Check out our photo gallery for pictures from our trip.
Disclaimer: We were hosted by some of the locations we visited but opinions expressed are my own.