Since the middle of March 2020, the world officially started shutting down borders and stopped all non-essential travel. The world we knew with the freedom to be able to travel whenever we wanted was gone. As more and more people started to show symptoms of the Covid-19 virus, social distancing began to come into effect. Schools began to close for the long term, travel plans changed or cancelled, governments started to request that people stay home and self-isolate. Businesses began to close to help prevent the spread of this terrible disease. The Covid-19 virus was now considered a world pandemic and started to bring the world around us to a halt.
Now that we are slowly seeing a decline throughout the world of new Covid-19 cases, many people are starting to wonder when they will be able to travel. Myself included. As the local economies are slowly opening up, I thought I would share a few places to visit right in our own backyard.
Scuba diving and snorkelling in the Fathom Five National Marine Park
Located in the Georgian Bay part of Lake Huron on the Bruce Peninsula, a four-hour drive from Toro
nto, near the full-service town of Tobermory, is Canada’s first National Marine Park & Conservation area. In 1987, the Fathom 5 national marine park was established, and it was the first national marine park in Canada. With a freshwater ecosystem, boasting dolomites that are 420 million years old and ancient rock formations, cliff-edge forests, and 22 shipwrecks to dive/snorkel and rare orchid species. The Fathom five is equal parts mystery and recreation, ecology and culture, which offers an escape like no other.
A visit to the Fathom 5 Marine park is defiantly something you don’t want to miss, it is also recommended to stay more than 1 day, as there is so much more to see and do. Take a stroll through the town of Tobermory; you will find stores filled with unique pieces of home décor, which will sure to be a conversation starter, or perhaps a gift for even the hardest person to shop for. OR spend a day at the Little Cove Adventures – Aerial Park. This adventure park offers a unique outdoor activity that is sure to bring you excitement and adventure. One thing you will not want to miss is Flower Pot Island. Flowerpot Island is famous for its natural sea stacks, which look like “flowerpots.” The island also offers visitors the opportunity to explore natural caves, hiking trails and more. The only way to reach the island is by boat, and it is the only island in the Fathom Five National Marine Park with campsites and hiking trails. NO matter what you choose to do while visiting the Fathom Five National Marine Park, you are sure to have a great time.
For more information about Fathom Five National Marine Park visit the official website here
Visit the Lions at African Lions Safari
Have you ever wanted to get up and personal to giraffes? See a lion watching over his pride? Maybe viewing animals that are native to the Americas are more your style? Located approx. 1 hour west of Toronto on Cooper Road in Hamilton; African Lions Safari has something for just about every animal lover and is a beautiful way to spend a day.
At African Lions Safari, you won’t be viewing the animals thru glass or from a distance. No, here you can take a bus ride along the 9 kilometres of trail, seeing animals from the 7 vast Game Reserves. Featuring Nairobi Sanctuary, Simba Lion Country, Timbavati Lion Country, Wankie Bushland Trail, Rocky Ridge Veldt, Australasia and The Americas. If you prefer, you can drive your personal vehicle along the trail. However, be forewarned the many curious baboons may decide to hop on your car and fiddle with windshield wipers and peer in at passengers.
African Lions Safari has so much more to offer from cruising on the African Queen River cruise to the petting zoo’s discovery center. It makes visiting a fun-filled day for people of all ages. I’m looking forward to taking my 5-year-old nephew to the park. Keep your eyes open for a blog post about our day at African Lions Safari!
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
Any fan of books must visit the Thomas Fisher Rare Book library at 120 St George Street, Toronto. The Library holds around 700,000 volumes and 3,000 meters of manuscripts, and other materials, and the University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services.
(Image of Rare books at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
The current building was named in honour of Thomas Fisher (1792-1874); Thomas was a prominent businessman who arrived in Upper Canada in 1821 from Yorkshire. He built a successful gristmill business along the banks of the Humber River. Throughout his life, Fisher performed several public duties. He was an officer of the West York militia and was appointed to the Court of Requests in 1836. In 1837, he became a Justice of the Peace and a coroner in 1838. In 1972 great-grandson Sidney T. Fisher donated the Library to the University of Toronto.
Are you a fan of Lewis Carroll? You will be delighted to know the Library has a treasure trove of beautiful Alice in Wonderland editions; perhaps you prefer the works of William Shakespeare? Numerous historical printings of Shakespeare’s works are on display. Or for the ultimate rare book lover/collector, you will enjoy viewing the small cache of ancient papyrus writings that the Library has as part of its collection. The Library strives to preserve these collections while making them entirely accessible to the public – any visitor may request to personally view and handle the Library’s holdings.
Visiting the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library certainly is a must for any fan of rare books and manuscripts.
Did you know Toronto has its very own Castle? It’s true. Built on top of a large hill is a 98-room castle that once belonged to Sir Henry Mill Pellatt – the founder of the Toronto Electric Light Company. He was the chairman of 21 companies, owned railroads, generated electricity from Niagara Falls, and was knighted for his military service. In 1911 Henry Mill Pellatt decided to build his very own Castle. Casa Loma cost $3.5 million to build, $50,000 a year for 40 live-in staff and, $250,000 to put the names of his horses on 18-carat gold nameplates. Making his dream home all but bankrupt the once savvy financer. Today (2020), Casa Loma is owned by the City of Toronto Government.
Casa Loma is also a prevalent location for movies & television shoots (Goosebumps, Reign) and very popular for weddings with a minimum 15-month waiting list. That’s not all. Throughout the year, Casa Loma offers several special exhibits that are open to the public. From Afternoon Tea at the Castle to Just for Laughs’ Comedy at the Castle to the Nutcracker to a Thanksgiving Brunch to Legends of Horror at Casa Loma. There is always something new to see and do.
Bata Shoe Museum
Love shoes? Then you will want to visit the Bata Shoe Museum. With a display of over 12,000 shoes ranging from the everyday shoe to the well more unique pair. Sonja Bata, the founder of the Bata Shoe Museum, has been collecting shoes since the 1940s. This hobby started while she was accompanying her husband on business trips around the world.
Located at 327 Bloor St. West in Toronto, Ontario, this museum is unique, to say the least. You will see the different types of footwear throughout the ages, from shoes worn by royals to boots worn by the Inuit people. I have heard that the museum has shoes such as John Lennon’s Beatle boot and shoes donated to them by Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber.
The Bonnechere Caves
Eganville, Ontario, has been welcoming visitors to one of mother nature’s geological gems for 55 years. Located on the fourth chute road along the Bonnechere River in the beautiful Ottawa Valley, you will find the ancient Bonnechere Caves. Experts believe the caves were formed from limestone at the bottom of what was a tropical sea approx. 500 million years ago.
As you descend into the caves, you will start to notice the well preserved prehistoric fossils, stalactites, coral, and ancient sea creatures are all easily observed. The deeper into the caves you go, the more you will see. Guided tours leave every twenty to thirty minutes except for weekdays in September when the tours start at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm and lasts approximately 1 hour. The caves are also very cool, even on the hottest days of the summer, so it is advised that you take a sweater.
The caves aren’t the only thing to enjoy here; There is a scenic trail that passes a sinkhole, and the Fourth Chute Falls are right beside the Bonnechere Caves picnic area. Follow the paths, and you will find plenty of flat rocks to sit on and enjoy the falls and the scenery.
I would love to hear what locations are you looking forward to visiting when travel restrictions have been lifted – share them in the comment section below
Until next time stay safe, stay healthy
Mary – The Traveling Baroness