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5 family-friendly activities to do in Ontario

October is a busy month with Halloween activities, family Thanksgiving gatherings, lingering back-to-school excitement, and release of pumpkin-spiced everything. But as soon as November rolls around, it can be quite gloomy with no inherent November qualities to keep you chipper.

Here are 5 unique activities to do with the whole family, as a date with your significant other, or with your coolest friends to spice up your weekends before the Christmas holidays.

Riding ‘Gypsy’ the Water Buffalo

The Ontario Water Buffalo Company

A big trend that I am an advocate of is supporting local businesses. I stumbled across one of the most unique farms, located just a few hours away, in Stirling, Ontario. Most customers make the trek to purchase authentic water buffalo meat, milk or cheese. Yes, I am a cheese lover, surprisingly though, my favorite part was interacting with the buffalos!

You can pet them from calf to adult, and if you are really lucky, you might get a chance to ride them! To watch my fun day at the farm, where I learn more about the history, and almost fall off a water buffalo into a mud pool, check it out at Mellie Telly.

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Lorikeet Landing at Bird Kingdom

Bird Kingdom

Walk into a 45,000 square foot tropical birdhouse. This factory repurposed to a museum and now a bird paradise, is the largest indoor free-flying aviary in the world! It hosts over 400 birds from 80 species of numerous shapes, sizes, and colour. You can walk behind a 40-foot tall waterfall, become a landing post at Lorikeet Landing, and gaze at an original Javanese tea house.

The main aviary is not the only fascinating part of this Niagara falls based tourist attraction; they have a nocturnal section filled with spiders, skunks, frogs, and my favourite, bats! If that was not enough, there is a secondary aviary for the smaller birds that would be too difficult to spot in the main aviary.

A unique part of the experience is the encounters room that houses reptiles, tortoises, and playful interactive parrots. Here they focus on conservation and educating people on why these exotic animals should remain in the wild and not as your pet. For a more in-depth flight experience, check out this video.

Becoming Ariel at Aqua Mermaid

Become a Mermaid

They do exist! Thanks to Aqua Mermaid, a Montreal company that has now expanded to 10 locations across North America, you can swim with a tail. Dive in, find your inner Ariel and learn how to swim with a fin. They offer private lessons, group classes, bookings for parties, and at this moment they have a Groupon.

I tried the 1-hour class (watch here) and got an amazing core workout. In this session, they teach you fun tricks like the Dolphin kick and mermaid high five, have you swim through hoops (literally), and give you a taste of synchronized swimming, all while looking fabulous with a vibrant coloured tail. There is even scheduled time for photos. Proof that you’ve grown scales!

‘Tank’ a Sub-Arctic Great Horned Owl at Hawkeye

Hawkeye

Interact and expand your knowledge with Birds of Prey. At Hawkeye, based in Acton, Ontario. You can walk through the premises and meet their birds, ranging from Owls to hawks, to the majestic bald eagle. This educational experience gives you the once in a lifetime opportunity to have hawks fly to and from your arm (like they did here).

You get close enough to see the tiny hairs of their shiny feathers, learn about conservation, gain interesting bird facts that you would not have known beforehand, and get to touch dried up pellets – if you want.

Dan Frankian, the creator, has an impressive portfolio which includes working both nationally and internationally. Dan is often seen speaking at events worldwide, on issues such as bird and animal control, bird removal, on numerous environmental issues and renewable natural resources. You may also recognize some of his birds, as they have appeared in various commercials and movies like Harry Potter!

‘Stevie’, The Fruit Bat at the Toronto Zoo

Zoo Events

The Toronto Zoo now holds special events for all ages, all year round! Of course on my Birthday they were having a special after-hours bat night so I HAD to go. It included a walk around the premises with a bat detector, an information session, free time to chill at the arctic section, meeting a bat up close and personal (SOOO cute), accompanied by drinks and snacks on the “Batio.”

You may have to wait until the summer for another bat night (sigh, where did the warm weather go?) as they are likely all hibernating now, instead you can attend one of their other events!

This month they have a paint night and Carnivore enrichment feedings, but soon they will be launching their anticipated Terra Lumina night walk, a 45 to 60-minute unique experience on their property, with lights, music, video and more interactive technologies. This 1.5 km walking path will transport you to the future and back!              

With the Christmas season not yet starting to ramp up, these activities should keep your upcoming weekends busy, instead of cooped up inside avoiding the prematurely dark evenings and crisp cold weather (thanks a lot Jack Frost).  

Melissa is an avid travel blogger, YouTuber (Mellie Telly), and Toronto based actress. Her career experience has included performing in over 20 plays, along with commercials and television, coupled with over a decade of working behind the scenes in TV and theatre production.

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