Fruitlessly fishing for invites to friends’ cottages? Dreaming of long sunny days spent jumping into a cool lake and evenings around a bonfire? Cottage-less friends, this is for you.
Just a short drive from Toronto, on Lake Couchiching, Fern Resort has been serving up fun since 1895. The family-owned-and-operated resort provides exactly what parents and kids are looking for: a relaxed, casual, all-inclusive vacation experience that offers countless opportunities for being active, learning new skills and practicing old ones, making friends, relaxing, doing nothing at all, trying something new, and a safe environment that allows for independence and freedom that’s hard to duplicate in the city.
After spending three nights at Fern Resort our family decided there’s a lot to love.
- The waterfront. There’s a sandy beach for building castles or just lounging in a recliner with a book by the lake. For thrill-seekers or those wanting to learn a new skill make sure to check out the ski dock, staffed with skilled experts ready to take you out on ski runs and offer help and instruction as well. There’s a marina dock with canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, and fishing.
- The swimming pools. There’s a pool for every age and stage at Fern. A tiny wading pool — flanked by adorable mini lounge chairs with baby umbrellas — gently slopes to make toddlers feel like they’re “in the deep”(a quote we actually heard a little one say while we were visiting). The large sundeck houses two pools for older kids and adults and two outdoor hot tubs. For bad weather days or night swims, there is an indoor pool, sauna, steam room, and hot tub as well.
- The activities. There are too many to name and certainly too many to actually do if you’re only staying for a couple of nights, but our kids were crazy about the zip lining, rock climbing, mini golf, trampolines, fishing, outdoor chess, low ropes course, and they even tried zorbing. There is so much more for kids and adults too including a very intimidating “extreme” high ropes area, golf course, spa, tennis, batting cage, yoga, tai chi, arts and crafts, billiards, ball hockey, and ping pong.
- The groups. If your kids are the joining kind you can sign them up with a group of children their age and the staff at Fern will lead them in morning and afternoon fun while parents can get an actual break! There’s even a kids’ dinner buffet at 5:30 p.m. so that kids can refuel and get right back out to evening activities while their parents enjoy a leisurely dinner.
- The food. For anyone on a special diet, with allergies, or dietary restrictions, Fern Resort has, by far, the most accommodating kitchen I have ever encountered. A special shout out to Chef Dawn who is a lovely person, a fantastic chef, and who made our stay more comfortable and delicious than we thought possible. (Note: Fern Resort is not nut-free.)
- The alumni. Speak to a few guests at Fern and you quickly realize that most of them are repeat visitors and many have been coming for years. One family we talked to has been coming since the mom was a little girl and they’ve repeated the tradition with their own children. It’s quite touching to see how much the place means to these alumni and you start to see the magic of it through their eyes.
- The evening entertainment. We enjoyed a water skiing show that, in addition to being way more entertaining than we expected, really put the culture and community that exists at Fern on display. You could feel the history that these guests have with each other as they cheered on the ski show participants (made up of talented Fern staff, former staff, and guests).
- The Playvillage and nursery. For those will little ones (0-6 years old), this fun area is a great place to drop the kids off while you read a book at the pool or have a tennis lesson or, who are we kidding, go take a nap! Did I mention that there are 5 hammocks lining the lakefront?
- The friendly staff. Everyone at Fern is welcoming, and helpful. Becky at the front desk may be the nicest person in the entire world although there were many close runners-up working at the resort.
- The choices. There is always something to do at Fern. It’s impossible to be bored. But there is never an ounce of pressure to do a thing. So you can do exactly as much or as little as you like.
And that’s just summer! Fern is open all year round and promises excellent activities fall, winter, and spring as well. Personally, I’m thinking of heading back in the winter to snowshoe, Nordic ski, skate, try outdoor curling, and more. Who’s with me?
Image courtesy of Fern Resort