up north

Tala was bouncing off the walls this morning, so we went to Jack Darling Park, the best dog park in Mississauga. It was very convenient to our old place in Port Credit, now it's a bit of a drive, but the dogs love it, and we do, too.

Walking the park's trail loop with a friendly dog-mom, we heard about the famous off-leash area in Wasaga Beach. This made me think we should do that overnight we've been talking about, take the dogs to a cabin (although I guess I have to call it a cottage now) for a day or two.

This used to be much more important. Living in New York, our annual week (and once, a month) upstate were very special times. Now, having a backyard, much of what we went upstate for, we have every day. (Wow!)

But I still want to enjoy more outdoors time in Ontario, and I want to know more of the province than the GTA. We haven't been doing very well with my resolution to go hiking more often. In fact, we haven't been since our first spring hike in early May. I have a very low melting point, and don't at all enjoy being outside in hot weather. And between writing deadlines and my job search, it hasn't been easy to make time.

However... I see some Red Sox nights off on the September horizon, and I want to make plans.

I went to the Wasaga Beach website, but as I click around, I'm not sure it's our kind of place. We're not beach people. When it comes to outdoors, we're more woods and lake people. I know the beach in this case is a lake, but as far as I can tell online, the environment seems more of a family beach resort kind of place.

So, for all of you experienced in these matters, is that the correct impression? Or perhaps there's more to it than I'm seeing? (Always a strong possibility.)

Can you recommend other towns to look into? We want a small, simple, clean cottage that allows dogs, is not too far from hiking trails, and if those trails included a place Tala could get wet and splash around, that would be extra great.


L-girl said...

Also, it doesn't have to be some place popular and well known. In fact, we prefer just the opposite, if you know of any.

Kate said...

We love the Wasaga Beach dog play area. It's much, much less crowded than the rest of the beach, and the water is shallow quite a way out, so it's great for romping around. There are pictures up at flickr of our last Wasaga trip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katemusgrove/ if you're interested.

James said...

Wasaga Beach -- at least, last time I was there, which was a while ago -- is very much an amusement park beach. You know, a midway, carnies, that sort of thing. Though I always did like the Nancy.

But there are lots of areas around SW Ontario that would be good. Some of the smaller lakes, like Scugog or (further afield) Muskoka, probably have dog-friendly places.

There's the Red Umbrella Inn", which is near Haliburton -- we've heard good things about that, though never tried it.

Pet Friendly has info on pet-friendly places all over Canada.

L-girl said...

Thank you, Kate! Do you live nearby? Is the beach crowded in general (in the non-dog area)?

Walter is adorable. What a face.

L-girl said...

very much an amusement park beach. You know, a midway, carnies, that sort of thing

I had that impression. I've done quite a lot of that in my time, "down the shore," as the beaches in south Jersey are called. It's definitely not what we look for these days.

We want to rent a cabin or cottage, not stay in an inn that allows dogs - but I see that the Red Umbrella has those, too. Thanks for the link. But can we stay in a town called Halliburton? :) Every time I hear that name on the news, I flinch.

Kate said...

We're in Toronto. Last time we drove up to Wasaga was a weekday, and it took about an hour and a half. (The same drive on a weekend can take three hours). What James says is true -- there's a whole amusement park section of the beach which should be skipped (in my opinion) -- but there is much more privacy (and much less people) in the dog play area.

We've never stayed over night at the beach, only gone for day trips, so I can't really recommend any cabins or the like. I have heard amazing things about Sauble Beach, though, which is a bit further north: http://www.saublebeach.com/.

L-girl said...

Excellent info, thank you again. We're fortunate in that we would only ever be going on a weekday. Working weekends is great for missing crowds and traffic!

Your name sounds so familiar. I keep thinking we know each other from somwhere.

Kate said...

You are so right about the weekend traffic -- my husband works as an air-traffic controller, so his schedule varies from the norm, and I'm freelancing right now, so we have gotten really lucky off-peak excursions this summer.

You might remember me from some emailing we did last year -- I was actually going to come to the WMTC Party and then work came up, so I had to decline. So we know each other a little, but we've never met. I am American by birth, married to a Canadian, and I landed (as a permanent resident) last year.

James said...

Urban Dog has fliers for Lake Edge Cottages, up in the Kawarthas, which also look good.

mister anchovy said...

If you don't mind a longish drive, consider the Bruce Peninsula. You can find nice cabins in areas around Wiarton or Lion's Head and you can hike the Bruce Trail. Cypress Lake area has especially excellent hiking. I see somebody suggested the Haliburton area, and I can say it is very pretty around there + there are a lot of trails that have been cut for snowmobilers, and I'm sure you can get some good directions up there for excellent hikes.

L-girl said...

James, Lake Edge Cottages looks really nice, and may be more our speed than the Red Umbrella. (RU looked fabulous, but more than we need for a short stay.)

Mr Anchovy, how nice to see you here! I'd love to go up to the Bruce Peninsula. I'm glad you mentioned a few towns/areas, it gives me something to look up.

For this upcoming trip in Sept, we probably won't go that far. But I'd like to get up there, maybe next year.

Scott M. said...

How far would you be willing to drive?

There are a lot of private cottages in the Muskoka Lakes, the Kawarthas and the Haliburton Highlands where you have your own property with dock and often boat on a lake. Is that what you're looking for? Or are you looking for more of a commercial establishment with hiking trails around and shared area?

L-girl said...

Since for now we're only talking about one night, I can't see driving too far. We don't want to spend the better part of a day driving, then turn around the next day and do it again.

We generally look for a place that operates like a motel but rents cottages (cabins, in NY lingo) instead of rooms. We have rented private homes, too, but we would only do that if we were going for a long time, like 2 weeks or a month.

I can't see us renting a cottage for a week or 2 weeks anymore, now that the dogs have their own backyard. Time and money being what they are, we'd be much more likely to travel, whether that be sightseeing or visiting folks in the old country.

loneprimate said...

I'd suggest the Grand River around Wellington County and Kitchen-Waterloo... especially the Elora Gorge. It's only an hour or so away, and it's a terrific mix of the urban and rural.

loneprimate said...

Er, Kitchener-Waterloo, that is. Long day. :D

L-girl said...

Thanks, LP. Many people have mentioned the Elora Gorge for walks and hikes, but not for staying over. That would be very close for an overnight. I'll check it out online.

M@ said...

SuMei and I took our silly dogs to Red Umbrella for a weekend a couple of years ago. It was quite nice; they do rent cabins (I think we were in a stand-alone two-bedroom) and they have a nice water area and beach for the dogs to splash around in.

I'm not sure about trails in the area but there surely must be some.

It was all quite nice. Of course, we had to be very careful about letting the beagles off the leash, and Scout was afraid of the water, but we did have a good time going for long walks in the relatively clean outdoors.

Incidentally, Haliburton does spell its name differently, is a rather nice little town (we always check out the art galleries when we're in the area), and has a much nicer history than certain two-L Haliburtons we all know... :)

L-girl said...

SuMei and I took our silly dogs to Red Umbrella for a weekend a couple of years ago.

Neat, sounds nice. (And I'll remember that about one-L vs two.)

Red Umbrella looked amazing on the website. More on this soon.