Enjoy a Winter Wonderland in Ontario Lake Country!

Enjoy a Winter Wonderland in Ontario Lake Country!
17 Mar 2017

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Ontario’s Lake Country has so much to offer for winter fun. From great outdoor winter activities, to fun things to do indoors, there is something to do for everyone. Great family getaways, guys/girls weekends, or just some rest and relaxation, this winter wonderland has what you are looking for.

On a recent trip north with some friends, I got to sample some of the unique experiences in Ontario’s Lake Country.

winter wonderland shaws sugar bush

Shaw’s Sugar Bush

The Shaw family has been tapping the trees in their forest since 1904. Many of the original trees are still producing sap for maple syrup. From mid February through mid April (weather dependent), families can visit Shaw’s for a walk through the bush, and horse-drawn wagon rides (weekends only). There is an on-site store that carries fresh baked goods, maple syrup, and maple BBQ sauce.

winter wonderland maple tap

Tours will educate the visitors on how the Shaw family processes the liquid gold we have grown to love. About 160,000 litres of watery maple sap is collected from the 4000 trees in the sugar bush each season. The 6000 taps on those trees are all connected with special tubing, that all lead into a pump house to be boiled down into maple syrup. It takes about 40 litres of sap to produce 1 litre of maple syrup.

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The correct temperature is essential. A warm day of +3 degrees celsius followed by a frosty night of below -3 degrees celsius will get the sap flowing.

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Once you are finished exploring the sugar bush, you can go to the Pancake House to warm off. On the menu are pancakes and french toast, with sausages, and fresh maple syrup. Capping off their menu is Shaw’s signature maple baked beans, and freshly baked goods.

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The weather has to be just right for the sap evaporation and wagon rides to happen. Best to call (705) 325-4347 ahead of time.


Shaw’s Sugar Bush
493 Oro-Medonte Line 14 RR#1
Hawkestone, ON L3V 6H1
Kitchen & BBQ Pick-up: 705-325-4347
Office & Booking: 705-327-3311

There is lots of parking. Be sure to have appropriate footwear, as it can be muddy in some areas.

Horseshoe Valley Resort

Fat Biking

I have only ever gone cycling in the warmer months, and on dry pavement. The odd time, I would venture off onto dirt trails through the forest near out house.

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Riding a bike on snow paths at Horseshoe Resort was completely out of my comfort zone.

After getting suited up with a helmet and a Norco Bigfoot aluminum frame Fat Bike, and an overview of what to do and what not to do, we hit the trails with our guide from Ride Guides. I was able to catch it all on my handlebar mounted GoPro HERO4 Session.

Riding a fat bike through the Horseshoe Nordic Adventure Park truly was a unique experience!

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If a more leisurely walk to take in some great scenery is something you fancy, snowshoeing is the winter activity for you. Horseshoe Resort has lots of great paths to explore.


A fun way to speed down snowy hills without being on skiis is laying back on a tube – all thrill, no skill! The 4 tube lanes at Horseshoe Resort provide hours of fun for the whole family.


Horseshoe Resort
1101 Horseshoe Valley Road West
Barrie, ON L4M 4Y8
Main: 705-835-2790
Reservations: 1-800-461-5627

Mount St. Louis Moonstone

Mount St. Louis Moonstone will always hold a special place in my heart. It was on a weekend skiing trip there in 2001 that I proposed to Wendy.

winter wonderland craig wendy

With some of the best ski runs in the area, Mount St. Louis Moonstone is a fun winter destination. Don’t know how to ski? That’s okay. They have pro instructors that will teach you everything you need to know. Ski rentals are available.


Mount St. Louis Moonstone
24 Mount St. Louis Road, RR#4
Coldwater, ON L0K 1E0
Main: 1-877-835-2112
Local: 705-835-2112

Orillia Museum

Too cold outside? A visit to the Orillia Museum is in order. Be inspired by the rich history and the artistic creativity that is present in the Sir Samuel Memorial Building in in the heart of Orillia’s Peter Street Arts District.

Available at Orillia Museum are: art classes, hand building with clay, storytelling, after school art classes, life drawing, weaving workshop, lunch and learns, and family drop ins. A list of activities is available on the Orillia Museum website.

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Down in the basement of the museum lies the old jail, where the archives still reside. You can see glimpses from the past on the ceilings of the jail cells. Historians will marvel at the collection of artifacts found on the shelves.

Back on the main floor, the gallery showcases the work of many artists. We had the pleasure of viewing the 21st annual “International Women’s Day Art Show: Renewal” while there.

If you are in the Orillia area, be sure to stop in.


Mount St. Louis Moonstone
30 Peter St. South
Orillia, ON L3V 5A9
Main: 705-326-2159

winter wonderland spa entrance

Balance in Life Spa

What’s a great way to relax after a day of winter sports and viewing art? A spa treatment at Balance In Life Spa. Just a short 10 minute drive from Orillia, Balance In Life Spa is located on the third floor of Casino Rama Resort.

The spa is open to the public, not just those staying at the hotel. You can enjoy just your spa treatment, or stay for the day and enjoy the salt water pool, hot tub, sauna, eucalyptus steam room, and adult-only fitness facilities.

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The salt water pool is so relaxing. It is a consistent depth throughout, and an inviting warm temperature. You can swim laps, float, or just hang out and chat with friends and family. There are several chairs, couches, and lounge chairs surrounding the pool, and a really nice patio for the warmer months. Towels are available, so no need to bring your own.

One thing that really relaxes me is a good pedicure. I try to go for one every few months. I should probably go for them more often, but I often get too busy and forget to. My feet are often sore, and I forget how good my feet feel after I get a pedicure.

winter wonderland spa services

As well as amazing pedicures, they also offer therapeutic massages, facials, manicures, and seasonally themed organic signature treatments. You can view the spa menu here.

Balance In Life Spa is one of the best spas I have ever been to. From their friendly staff to their ambient lighting and music, Balance In Life Spa was the perfect getaway for the “me” time I needed.


Balance In Life Spa at Casino Rama Resort
5899 Rama Rd
Rama, ON L3V 6H6
Spa: (705) 238-5933
Customer Service: 1-800-832-7529 or (705) 329-3325

Balance In Life Spa is open 9am to 9pm daily.

winter wonderland great indoors casino pic

Casino Rama

If you like to game, Casino Rama is where it’s at. More than 2500 Slots, 100 game tables, and a 12 table poker room… the “Great Indoors” has it all.

winter wonderland blackjack

Table games include: Baccarat – midi & mini, Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, Casino War, Craps, Free Bet Blackjack, High Card Flush, Mississippi Stud, 5 Card Hand Bonus Progressive, Pai Gow Poker, Poker, Pai Gow Tiles, Roulette, Spanish 21, Sic Bo, Texas Hold’Em Bonus Poker, and Three Card Poker. You can view all of the table games here.

winter wonderland slots

Slots include: 88 Fortunes, Aftershock Rumble, Aftershock Rumble, Birds of Pay, Black Gold On the Double, Buffalo Stampede, Double Jackpot Triple Blazing 7’s, Game of Thrones, Golden Prosperity, Golden Zodiac, House of Cards, Lucky Larry’s Loberstermania 3, Northern Treasure, Pirates Loot, Quick Hit, Rising Fire Dragon, Ruby Star, Sphinx 3D, Triple Blazing 7s On the Double, Triple Quick Hit Black Gold, Ultra Stack Dragon, Ultra Stack Vampire, and Wonder Woman Gold. You can view all of the slot games here.

There are lots of games to play, and some great places to eat as well. You can go for a couple hours, or spend the day.

Responsible Gaming and Self Exclusion

“Casino Rama Resort is committed to delivering its products and services in a socially responsible manner. As a part of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s “RG Code of Conduct” on Responsible Gaming, Casino Rama Resort, through a series of initiatives, promises to strengthen its corporate commitment, enhance customer information and education programs and develop programs and policies that improve the gaming environment.”

“The Responsible Gaming Resource Centre (RGRC) provides patrons and employees with information on safer gambling practices as well as assistance and local referrals for help with gambling-related problems. Operated by the Responsible Gambling Council of Ontario, the RGRC is independent and information provided to the RGRC is confidential. The RGRC at Casino Rama Resort is located in the Bus Entrance of our venue.”

“Every casino (commercial and charity), and slot facility in Ontario complies with The Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s (OLG’s) Policy on Responsible Gaming, including participation in the “Self-Exclusion Program“, in which individuals request to have themselves placed on a “list” of self-excluded persons and refrain from visiting any property under OLG jurisdiction. A Self-Exclusion applies to all OLG gaming facilities, including commercial casinos, slot facilities, and charity casinos. Click on Casino Rama Resort’s Self-Exclusion Brochure to find out more about the Self-Exclusion Program available at Casino Rama Resort.” (from: Casino Rama)


Casino Rama Resort
5899 Rama Rd
Rama, ON L3V 6H6
Customer Service: 1-800-832-7529 or (705) 329-3325

A Winter Wonderland Awaits

When the hustle and bustle of big city life has got you yearning for some fun, escape to Ontario’s Lake Country. There is so much to do, so many great places to eat, and it’s not too far from Toronto.

Big Daddy

Disclaimer: I was invited to Ontario’s Lake Country. The winter activities were complimentary. All opinions are my own.

If you would like me to review your service, product, restaurant, or travel destination, please send me an email at craig@bigdaddykreativ.ca or tweet me @BigDaddyKreativ

Craig Silva

Craig is a husband, father, team leader, travel and food writer, senior youth group coordinator, designer, brander, community builder, volunteer, and social media strategist. He likes to travel, go camping, go on road trips, watch movies, build stuff, operate the grill, and sing with his band. Craig is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada. If you are a PR agency or brand and would like Craig to review a travel destination, vehicle, restaurant, product or service, please send him an email.


  1. Although we all traveled on the same trip, I love this post because it captures the different ways in which each of us actually saw or experienced our time in Ontario’s Lake Country!

  2. […] Enjoy a Winter Wonderland in @OntLakeCountry #LetsGoMaple by Craig […]

  3. […] Enjoy a Winter Wonderland in @OntLakeCountry #LetsGoMaple by Craig of Big Daddy Kreativ […]

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