Embrace the last days of snow with a Horseshoe Resort family vacation

Embrace the last days of snow with a Horseshoe Resort family vacation

The winter of 2015 will go down in history as the year my family finally embraced the snow and found an abundance of activities to make us enjoy the winter weather. No matter how cold it was outside, we skied, we snowshoed, we went tubing, we skated. We did it all. If it involved snow, we tried it. And we loved it. Winter may be almost over now, but there are still a couple weeks left to fit in some snowy family adventures of your own. With spring right around the corner, a winter family vacation is a perfect way to make the most of the last few days of the cold and snow. And if you live in Toronto or surrounding areas, we know just the place to do it: Horseshoe Resort. We’ve already filled you in on all the amazing activities for families at Horseshoe Resort in the summer, and I’m happy to report that the winter adventures are just as thrilling.

There really is something for everyone at Horseshoe in the winter.

Horseshoe Resort

horseshoe-resort Where: Barrie, Ontario Who: Family of five, kids aged 10, 7, 4 When: Winter Activities:  Cross-country skiing, tubing, swimming, skating, snowshoeing, spas, and more


As soon as we arrived, we took our kids directly to the tubing hill. They had never been tubing before and to say they loved it would be an understatement. Though there is no age minimum for tubing, riders go in their own tubes and need to be at least 42” tall to participate. Then, after a ride to the top of the hill on the magic carpet, there are all kinds of options for the ride down: solo, or in any combination of family members, including an entire family together. Tubes connect when riders hold the handles of neighbouring tubes, then a Horseshoe employee gives the group a spin (which the kids loved and the adults graciously tolerated) and everyone flies down the hill. You know something’s fun when kids are willing to do it in spite of an extreme cold weather warning. It just so happened, we were at Horseshoe for some of the coldest days of the winter.

horseshow-winter_ski-lessonsKids Korral kids’ camp and ski lessons

Kids Korral is Horseshoe Resort’s kids’ camp. Our kids went for a day and loved every second of it. Because our youngest is only 4, we registered him for the morning only, but kids from ages 3-12 (as long as they’re toilet trained) can go for half- or full-day options any day of the week. The focus at Kids Korral in the winter is learning how to ski or snowboard. Because the camp was fairly quiet on the day we were there (insider tip: go on a weekday) our kids had private or near-private instruction, though even on a busy day the instructor-to-student ratio is low. It was an exceptionally cold day for skiing, so the kids came in for regular breaks and hot chocolate. The teachers were in tune with the kids’ energy levels and abilities, knowing when it was time to take these little breaks. All three of my children loved Kids Korral and developed incredible ski skills while there. As a testament to the wonderful time they had, they are all now asking how soon we can return. Once you’ve got a pass for the day, a huge benefit of skiing at Horseshoe is that they have night skiing. We were able to bring the kids inside for a bit, relax, eat dinner, and then those who still had energy to do it could go back out on the hills for a couple hours. They loved having the hills to themselves on the ice cold nights we were there. For parents of children with disabilities, Horseshoe has an adaptive ski and snowboard program run jointly by Horseshoe and the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing. Demand for this program is high and there is a waitlist, but interested families can contact Brooke Lidstone, who is the Ski School Director, directly at 705-835-2790 ext 1179 or [email protected] to learn more about the program for next year.

horseshow-winter_cross-countryCross country skiing

While our kids were at Kids Korral, my husband I ventured over to the cross country ski trails for a lesson of our own. After we were outfitted with skis, boots, and poles, we headed out on the trails with our amazing instructor. As newbies to the world of classic cross country skiing, she taught us how to put on our skis, how to get up from a fall (a skill I’m pleased to report we only needed once or twice), and, of course, how to ski. She took us on flat terrain, and showed us how to go up hills and down. In under an hour, we’d learned so much (she really was an excellent teacher) that she sent us out on the trails on our own. Horseshoe Resort has over 40km of groomed track for classic and skate skiing, so it was easy to keep going and going until it was time to pick up the kids (who we brought back the next day for more cross country skiing). We were so inspired by our lesson that we even headed back the next weekend without the kids to try a moonlight ski – an event Horseshoe hosts several evenings each season where skiers enjoy the trails lit by lanterns and the occasional bonfire. I highly recommend the experience. It was beautiful.

horseshow-winter_playingSwimming, skating, snowshoeing, spas, playing, bonfires, and even biking (yes, biking!)

There’s more than skiing and tubing at Horseshoe Resort. There’s an indoor pool, outdoor skating on the pond, snowshoeing on the trails, a luxurious spa (we parents work pretty hard on these adventure vacations – a massage or a pedicure is a well-deserved treat and trust me when I tell you this spa is well worth a visit), snow tunnels built into hills in the Adventure Park, outdoor bonfires, and fat biking. Never heard of fat biking? Though my family didn’t get to try it on this vacation, it looks like so much fun: mountain biking on the trails with a bike that has extra-fat wheels. Definitely a sport to watch for next winter. As an added bonus, I love that bigger families are easily accommodated at Horseshoe Resort. Family-sized suites are modern and spacious, offering plenty of space for my family of five, with room to spare. Restaurants have options that appeal to all kinds of eaters (my kids were big fans of the breakfast buffet) and there are even pet-friendly rooms available with a little welcome package for your pet.

horseshoe-winter_fireFinal thoughts

The vibe at Horseshoe Resort is welcoming and family-friendly. We were made to feel like we belonged from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. The staff are extremely cheerful, always going above and beyond to be accommodating. And the atmosphere is calm and relaxed: everyone is smiling and always helpful. My kids haven’t stopped talking about how much fun we had. In fact, the 4-year-old will tell anyone who will listen about how he went tubing all by himself and how he learned to ski. That pride he has from his accomplishments shows from head to toe and he’s often asking when we can go back. Lucky for him, the rest of us feel the very same way. Make your way to Horseshoe Resort soon before the winter activities close for the season. Don’t forget that Grade 4s and 5s can ski (almost) free with the SnowPass. And if you’re not near Horseshoe, but want to try skiing with the kids, check out Ski Canada for somewhere near you. Our review was made possible thanks to Skyline Hotels & Resorts which provided accommodations, experiences, lift passes, lessons, rentals, and meals.

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