The school break continues long after the gifts are opened, and keeping the kids occupied at home can be a challenge. Keep that holiday feeling going and head out to Hamilton Halton Brant. Try one of these six ideas for family-inspired day trips and excursions:
Do a Day Trip
We’ve got plenty of ways to please the day trip desires of toddlers, ‘tweens and teens. The younger set will enjoy a visit to Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, home to three separate train attractions running until January 6 — The Escarpment Train, a “G scale” model train experience, the Botanical Train Display, constructed from over seven tons of cedar slabs, 3,000 pounds of rock and 250 feet of track, and the kid-sized RBG Express that offers rides through the winter beauty of Hendrie Park. The Hamilton Children’s Museum offers Winter Whimsy, December 27-30, when families can visit the museum galleries and enjoy a variety of crafts and activities each day of the winter school break.
For the tween or teen in your life, head to iFly Toronto in Oakville for high-flying thrills. This indoor sky diving experience is perfect for when the weather outside is frightful – inside, in a safe, supervised environment, your family can get a taste of the feeling that skydivers experience during the free-fall portion of their skydiving jump. If your kids are music fans, don’t miss the Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball exhibit, a Canadian premiere from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland at the Joseph Brant Museum in Burlington. Check out rock-themed, playable pinball machines alongside merchandise and artefacts related to artists and bands through January 12.
Cash in on Gift Cards
Instead of shopping for the kids, shop with the kids. Kids who think shopping is torture often change their tune when they have gift cards or cash they received as presents to spend. Find some bargains during the Boxing Week sales at Toronto Premium Outlets. This prime shopping destination boasts more than 150 stores at savings of 25% to 65% everyday, including teen faves Nike, Puma, West 49, Zumiez and Aritzia. If you have younger ones along, the centre has a free activity centre play area to give families a break while shopping.
Festive light shows are a tradition that let you stretch the holiday spirit through to the New Year, and you’ll find them at three bright and brilliant venues. Winter Lights at the Rock at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington runs through January 2 and is a ticketed event that includes strolling through the dramatically lit Rock Garden and the Escarpment Train Exhibit. The Lights at Glenhyrst in Brantford transforms the beautiful gardens at Glenhyrst Art Gallery into a majestic winter wonderland until January 1. The Lakeside Festival of Lights at Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park has 60 magical lighting displays, with extended hours on New Year’s Eve.
Have an Ice Day
Upgrade from public skating at the local arena and practice your moves at a picturesque fresh air rink in Hamilton Halton Brant. At the Pier 8 Hamilton Waterfront Outdoor Rink the skating is free and rentals are available. The public is also welcome at Harmony Square in Brantford for outdoor skating. For something truly different, try the Waterdown Rotary Memorial Park Ice Loop. The skating loop is 230-metres long and five feet wide, and stays frozen in weather below 6C.
Schedule Some Showtime
Our performing arts centres are the place for family-friendly shows that will keep them entertained. In Brantford, the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts presents the Mini Pop Kids, Canada’s best-selling kids music group, on January 4. As they perform the year’s biggest hits, your kids can sing and dance along to songs by Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, The Jonas Brothers, and Taylor Swift. On the same day in Oakville, the Jungle Book comes to the Centre for the Performing Arts. This new theatrical adaptation boasts immersive sound, eye-popping video, shadow play and original music, designed to create the magical experience of stepping into a beautifully illustrated children’s storybook.
Ring in the New Year
New Year celebrations and special events are often adults-only activities, but Hamilton Halton Brant has plenty of kid-approved options if you’re looking for a new tradition that the whole family can be part of. On New Year’s Eve day, take the kids to Blue Year’s Eve at the Hamilton Children’s Museum, where they can visit all three galleries and join in on six “count-downs” throughout the day. A special New Year’s Eve performance of Outerbridge – Clockwork Mysteries: Grand Masters of Illusion at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts is designed to take the 8 years and up crowd on a fascinating journey through time with a high-energy magical adventure. Oakville is also the place for the New Year’s Eve Coyote Howl at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Head into the woods with Park Rangers where a chorus of coyotes will hopefully howl in response to participants’ calls, and enjoy a kid’s countdown bonfire after your guided hike. Nature loving families will also want to take part in the Bruce Trail New Year’s Day Hike at Dundas Valley Conservation Area.