Frank Russo - Couple w/kids over 10
I was born and raised in: Winnipeg, and met my wife Mila at university in Toronto (she convinced me to stay)
How I make a buck: I'm a real estate lawyer; my wife is an elementary school teacher.
My favorite activities include: In my dreams: golf; but right now quality time with my family is all I could ever ask for.
3 things I love about the Stratford Area:
It's so easy to get around and to see and do everything on each of our agendas. There are unique highlights here to keep each one of us occupied. We can trust that it's a safe and friendly place for our kids to practice being on their own for a few minutes without us having to worry.
3 Favorite local hidden treasures you shouldn't miss:
Family & Company Wow! The first thing you need to do upon entering this toy-topia is bend down and pick up your jaw from the floor, because you've never seen anything like this place. They advertise that they are "the coolest toy store on the planet"; and I know this is a kid's store, but it can truly bring out the kid in anyone. More than toys, they have magic shows, a "Tropical Soda Bar", and their staff, all of whom are toy "experts", are playing right along with the kids, so its all around joy.
McCully's Hill Farm Horse drawn, or tractor pulled hayrides of the Sugar Shack, and traditional syrup making demonstrations are exhilarating-and sweet. For my kids, who think that our food simply comes from the supermarket, it's a fabulous place for them to gain an honest awareness in a fun and natural environment. There is also a farm market featuring over 18 unique maple products to bring back home.
Avon Boat Rentals Is the perfect place to go to have a great water experience right downtown Stratford! You can rent canoes, kayaks and even paddleboats for the kids to explore the Avon River. My wife and I don't necessarily have to join in the splashing and can take a scenic tour on a covered pontoon or enjoy a quiet moment to ourselves on the riverside patio.
My perfect day spent in the Stratford Area:
First of all there is so much to do here that it would take at least a weekend. Having said that, a perfect day for us would start off early-there's no sleeping in-with a family breakfast at Madelyn's Diner. It's the perfect starting point for us and I would take a few of their famous buttertarts for later that afternoon. After a delicious breakfast I would take the kids to the third largest Costume Warehouse in the world for a 45 minute tour of hundreds of props and thousands of costumes of the past fifty plus years of the Stratford Festival. They can try on Shakespearean attire, and really have fun imagining and becoming the characters that they see on the stage. (We took some priceless photos of my son dressed up as Falstaff.)
Afterwards we'd head downtown to explore in amazement the Family & Company toy store. We could spend all afternoon there, and if we weren't going to see a show, we just might. Instead, we stop in at Small-Mart General Mercantile to pick up some quirky keepsakes for the kids. A few steps away are great restaurant take-out options, where we choose from a selection of fresh and hearty options then picnic by the swans along the Avon river. For added interest, both Stratford Tourism and the York Street Information Centres have swan food for sale. Or hop in the car and visit Demetre's Family Eatery, Stratford's favorite family restaurant. Now if we weren't seeing a show, I'd like to drive out to St. Marys to McCully's Hill Farm, because I want them to have a better appreciation of the things that we take for granted in the city. If it's a nice day, I'd like to then go for a dip in the St. Marys Quarry. Billed as "Canada's largest outdoor swimming pool"-it's a gorgeous spot, and perfect for families with kids our age. Finally, I'd take us back to our hotel, so that daddy can take a nap.