Families: `We're going to Canada with our sons for three weeks in July. What would be a good itinerary for us?

Saturday 05 February 2005 01:02

Q We are taking our two sons (aged 10 and 12) to a family reunion weekend at Lake Rosseau in Muskoka, Canada, at the end of July. We have three weeks' holiday around it and were wondering how best to use the time. We would like to spend a few days camping around the lakes of Algonquin Provincial Park, and also visit Niagara Falls. We were also wondering about driving to Boston, but have no idea how far it is. The children would like to visit a theme park.

R Daley, West Yorkshire

A Ontario offers a wide range of options for a family holiday, from the buzzing city of Toronto to dramatic wilderness areas, there will be plenty to keep you all amused for three weeks. If you decide to head for the US, Boston is 500 miles away so you will need at least a day or two for the journey.

Toronto is a great place to start or end your trip. The Ontario Science Museum (001 416 696 1000; www.ontariosciencecentre.ca) has lots of fun interactive exhibits. The centre opens daily from 10am-5pm and costs C$14 (pounds 5.90) for adults and C$8 (pounds 3.40) for children under 12. About 30 minutes from the city, Paramount Canada's Wonderland (001 905 932 8131; www.canadas-wonderland.com) has multiple rides, roller- coasters and water slides. Throughout July and August it opens from 10am- 10pm daily. Tickets cost C$49.99 (pounds 21.50) for anyone over seven, with a free return visit.

The Muskoka Lakes - there are more than 1,500 of them - are in central Ontario, about 100 miles north of Toronto. With its rugged beauty and dense forests, the region is a popular spot for weekending Torontonians. The whole area is good for swimming, waterskiing, fishing and boating.

East of Muskoka is the Algonquin Provincial Park (001 705 633-5572; www.algonquinpark.on.ca), Ontario's largest, oldest and most celebrated wilderness park. It is the size of North Yorkshire and is home to diverse flora and fauna. There are numerous paths and trails across the park, but the best way to appreciate the spectacular landscape is by canoe.

Over 1,200 miles of canoe routes can be explored and it is possible to navigate them for days without meeting another soul. However, if you prefer to do your paddling accompanied, the outdoor adventure store Algonquin Outfitters (001 705 635 2243, www.algonquinoutfitters.com) organises guided trips. A day's canoeing for the four of you will cost around C$225 (pounds 95), including guide fees and equipment rental.

For a proper taste of the great Canadian outdoors, pitch your tent in one of the park's several campsites. It will cost you around C$25 (pounds 10.50) per night for a spot accessible by car (there are cheaper ones, but they can only be reached by canoe). All the sites are in very high demand in the summer so reservations are essential. These can be made up to five months in advance with Ontario Parks (001 519 826 5290, www.ontarioparks.com), for which there is a C$12 (pounds 5) booking fee.

There are abundant camping facilities in Ontario ranging from the basic (without showers) to the fully equipped (with an on-site swimming-pool and mini golf). See the Ontario Private Campground Association (www.campgrounds.org) and the aforementioned Ontario Parks for listings.

About 80 miles south of Toronto, Niagara Falls (001 905 371 0254; www.niagraparks.com) are Canada's most visited tourist attraction. You can admire the crashing waters from just about every angle via an array of boat trips and cable- car rides. But perhaps the most unusual perspective is provided by the "Journey Behind the Falls" at Table Rock Point. This self-guided walking excursion takes you through tunnels to the other side of the falls for some stunning views. You can take the tour between 9am-10pm daily.

Admission is C$7.50 (pounds 3.20) per adult and C$4 (pounds 1.70) per child (aged six-12) and includes waterproof gear. To dodge the heavier crowds, go early and try to avoid weekends.

For more information about visiting Ontario, call the Ontario Brochure Line on 01622 832 288 or see www.ontariotravel.net.

Send your family travel questions to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail crusoe@ independent.co.uk

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