Not all thrill seekers want to risk their neck paddling through river rapids, scaling difficult mountains, or getting up close and personal with a bear (unless you’re Buster Keaton). Some of us prefer a smaller adrenaline boost and don’t want to suffer muscle aches or bear repellent. Resorts of Ontario offer thrills of all shapes and sizes, but we’ve made a special list just for you, the laidback thrill seeker (totally a thing). Lively but relaxing exploits like ATV and sea plane journeys, gondola rides, helicopter and wine tours await. This is also the moment when you discover what Zorbing is and wonder why it took so long for someone to invent something so deliriously fun.
Explore Wine Country by Bike or Helicopter at White Oaks Resort and Spa
White Oaks Resort and Spa combines an opulent spa with state-of-the-art sports facilities in the beautiful natural surroundings of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The spa features world-class massages, facials, and body wraps for those who want to indulge, practice self-care, or both. The fitness club features advanced weight and cardio equipment, climate-controlled tennis courts as well as squash and racquetball facilities. Additionally, the resort offers some of the most challenging and charming putting greens in Canada.
White Oaks’ vacation packages can be personalized to help make everyone’s stay both relaxing and memorable, but its location in the heart of the Niagara Wine Country will tempt visitors to explore beyond the resort grounds. The world-famous Niagara Wine Route offers ample opportunities for adventure. Local winery partners include Jackson Triggs, Ravine, Pellar Estates, Trius and Reif Winery. And they often host complimentary tastings at the resort. Once you and your fellow travellers decide on a favourite wine, the concierge team at White Oaks will be happy to arrange your tour of the wine country, including private transportation. Visitors can also explore the region by bicycle, following the trail of the Niagara Wine Route and exploring the unique, Victorian-style downtown district of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Unique architecture, art, and shopping opportunities await.
Stunning Niagara Falls is only a short drive from the resort. Visitors can experience the natural majesty of the world’s most famous waterfall by boat with Hornblower Niagara Cruises, from within the cliff face of the waterfall with a Journey Behind the Falls tour, or from the air with a Niagara Helicopter tour. The helicopter tour follows the Niagara River from the Whirlpool area, over the rapids and the Rainbow Bridge, continues over the natural beauty of Queen Victoria Park, and then the American Falls and Skylon Tower. The chopper then changes direction and follows the curve of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Watch in amazement as the sun shines through the mist created by the falling water, enveloping the helicopter in the reflected rainbow colours!
Discover Personal Water Craft, Gondolas, and Scenic Caves at Blue Mountain Resort
Blue Mountain Resort’s mountain village resort offers its guests plenty of lively activities in addition to a busy schedule of concerts, festivals, and special events. While the resort offers a selection of available water craft like kayaks and canoes, visitors can also experience the thrill of jet skis. Visitors are invited to drive to the adjacent docks on Georgian Bay where an experienced instructor will guide them on the finer points of traversing the waters on their personal water craft. There’s nothing like skimming across the surface of the bay on a jet-propelled vehicle. Jet skis combine the best things about snowmobiles (the speed, the thrill, the independence) and transfer it onto the water.
For those visitors who would rather stay on dry land, Blue Mountain Resort’s hiking trails offer a range of difficulty options and reward every hiker with views of the surrounding vistas and wilderness in the Niagara Escarpment. The Escarpment contains the oldest forest ecosystem and trees in eastern North America and has been declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Formed in the bedrock of the Great Lakes Basin, you can explore its natural beauty on self-guided hikes or join one of the resort’s complimentary guided hikes each morning.
In addition to hiking, visitors to Blue Mountain Resort can take a gondola ride to the top of the mountain and explore its scenic caves. This guided tour of caves and crevices, some up to 70 feet deep, lets you tour the subterranean labyrinth that has been called one of Canada’s “great natural wonders.” These caverns were carved by glacial ice millions of years ago and offer panoramic views of Georgian Bay as well as eighteen unique geological features, satisfying rock collectors, amateur geologists and those who enjoy a beautiful view. Cool off in the “Refrigerator Cave,” a crevasse so deep that snow and ice often remain undisturbed inside its depths even in summer. Or challenge your gut-sucking prowess by attempting to squeeze through a crevice appropriately called “Fat Man’s Misery.”
Excel in Zorbing and Rope Courses at Fern Resort
On the surface, the Fern Resort’s two kilometres of waterfront and numerous comforts make it seem like a traditional getaway spot for families, groups, and couples. It’s true that the scenic shores and crystal-clear waters of Lake Couchiching let visitors enjoy water skiing, sunset cruises, and fishing, and the resort’s Fishing Dock Gazebo lets you try your hand at sailing, kayaking, and canoeing. You can even rent a boat from the marina dock and go on a private sunset cruise and fishing expedition. But it’s the variety of unique activities in its Extreme Park that will have and your family talking about your last summer vacation through the fall and winter.
First, let’s introduce a new word into your summer vocabulary: zorbing. Also known as globe-riding, sphering, or orbing, zorbing is a recreational sport that involves participants entering a large inflatable sphere. The sphere allows the person inside of it to walk across the surface of a body of water. The giant ball is about two metres in diameter and has a zippered entrance for easy entry and exit. Explore Lake Couchiching as a Zorbonaut and tell all your friends about this unique activity – part water sport, part unique thrill, you can tell everyone you walked on water this summer.
In addition to the wide and challenging selection of water activities, Fern Resort’s Extreme Park lets visitors test their skills and challenge themselves in exciting new ways. There are two rope courses: the high ropes for those thrill seekers who wish to scale the surrounding land and view it from a high vantage point, and low rope courses designed to challenge visitors lower to the ground. You can also relive past summer camp memories with the archery range.
Survey the Wilderness by ATV and Sea Plane at Rocky Crest Golf Resort
Rocky Crest Golf Resort’s onsite ClubLink affiliated golf course and the pristine shores of sparkling Lake Joseph have plenty to offer guests. Certified as an LGBT-friendly business by the Pink Pages Directory, the resort grounds and surrounding area offer plenty of opportunities for memorable capers.
The forest that makes up the resort property, containing wetlands and many species of animals, will give you a taste for exploration. Luckily, the resort’s unique location on the outcroppings of the Canadian shield also provide opportunities to explore the great outdoors by way of sea plane, ATV, or both on the same afternoon.
Nearby Bear Claw Tours arranges half-day adventures of three to four hours. Guests are provided their own fully automatic Honda 4 x 4 ATVs as well as the requisite helmets, boots, and gloves. The experienced guides will ensure both safety and fun as you master your all-terrain-vehicle on a 1000-acre private trail, which includes picture-perfect scenery of the Canadian Shield. The Shield’s exposed metamorphic and igneous rocks reveal the area’s long volcanic history. The ATV adventure can be combined with a sea plane flight from local Georgian Bay Airways in their Fly and Ride promotion. Flying in on one of the airline’s modern fleet of seaplanes, you’ll take off from the Parry Sound harbour with a rare view of the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay below until you arrive at the glacier-sculpted Haines Lake. There you’ll be provided with your own ATV as well as beverages and snacks to explore the Ontario wilderness on four wheels before you’re flown back.
The resort is also adjacent to the Park-to-Park Trail, a 230 km, multi-use trail system that connects Killbear Provincial Park to Algonquin Provincial Park as well as the many lakes, rivers, and wetlands in between. Visitors have a chance to catch a glimpse of the many species of wildlife that call such varied terrain their home. The trail also encompasses historic colonization and logging roads, former rail beds and early settlement villages. It can be hiked on foot or explored on ATV. The geology of the Canadian Shield is on full display on the Park-to-Park trail, including granite bedrock imprinted with the markings of the ancient glaciers which sculpted this region.
Between bouncing on the water trampoline or horseback riding at the nearby stables, there are lighthearted adventure options for every member of the family at Lumina Resort. Lake of Bays is made up of many smaller bays and contains a number of small islands which can be explored by kayak, paddle boat or, on windy days, by sailboat or windsurfer. There are also water skiing lessons to teach you the finer points of staying afloat or, for the more advanced students, riding backwards, doing a flip, or doing a flip backwards.
Located inside of Algonquin Park, visitors to Killarney Lodge can hike through the natural surroundings on leisurely strolls or raise the difficulty setting to ‘ambitious’ on one of its 15 designated trails. Each trail is marked for easy navigation and offers ample opportunities to spot one of the park’s many native wildlife species, including moose and white-tailed deer. There are also two bicycle paths for the two-wheeled enthusiast: the rugged Minnesing Trail and the abandoned railway bed on Mew Lake.
Ontario resorts offer so many unique opportunities for adventure it’s hard to choose only one. Perhaps this will be the summer when your love of water sports expands beyond your sail boat to include racing jet skis, doing flips on water skis or walking on the surface of the water in a giant sphere. Maybe you’ll find that between hiking, sea planes, and ATVs you uncovered more of the Ontario wilderness than ever before, or view Niagara Falls in a new light after surveying its majesty in a helicopter. Ontario resorts offer bountiful opportunities for the laidback thrill seeker and all manner of explorer and adventurer.