Littered with billboards and dilapidated shacks, the abandoned 6-acre gravel pit looked like the last place you'd want to plant a garden. But from 1930 to 1931, the Royal Botanical Gardens transformed the area by arranging weathered limestone rocks from nearby quarries into linked paths and staircases winding around ponds and waterfalls. Since then, the 2,700-acre nonprofit facility has continued to display approximately 40,000 plants and 50 living plant collections in its five gardens.
The property also hosts three nature sanctuaries. The largest, Cootes Paradise, encompasses 16 creeks and a 320-hectacre river-mouth marsh on more than 600 hectares of land. Visitors can explore stream crossings or check out the gardens from above on 31 scenic trails that range across more than 21 kilometres with more than 20 lookouts. After long expeditions, visitors can make their way to the three onsite restaurants, browse gardening tools in the shop, or attend one of the garden's many monthly events.
Every year since its founding in 2006, more than 20,000 players arrive at Paintball Nation's three locations to playfully trade paint across outdoor battlefields or among towering indoor obstacles. Sniper towers overlook Mississauga's urban scenario field, where misfired paintballs splatter against trucks, tires, and wooden boxes. At Burlington, players hide behind plastic barrel towers as they compete in three zones encompassing a total of 20,000 square feet. During summer months, Brampton's outdoor facility hosts paintball squadrons as they launch technicolor salvos amid fresh air and sunlight.
Whether games take place indoors or out, Paintball Nation's referees make sure simulated battles remain safe and good-natured. To that end, they brief every visitor on field rules and etiquette, such as never using nonfield paint or unlicensed Blackhawk helicopters.
It's a good thing Cedar Springs Health Racquet & Sportsclub is open 24 hours a day, because it takes a long time to explore everything it has to offer. Fresh off a two-million-dollar? renovation, the Burlington location measures in at 200,000 square feet, including seven swimming pools, four water slides, courts for tennis, squash, and racquetball, a 24-hour gymnasium, and even an onsite restaurant. Classes operate more than 12 hours a day, and range from the strength-building Group Power program to the Latin dance?inspired Zumba class. Thanks to an assessment by a professional trainer, tennis and racquetball players can be paired with opponents of appropriate skill.
At 10,000 square feet, the Ancaster location is considerably more compact, but it still manages to house plenty of exercise equipment and host lots of spin, Zumba, and other group exercise classes.
DivaGirl Fitness melds the polar opposites of exercise and sexiness to offer an array of women's-only fitness classes. With this deal, guests can choose five one-hour classes (most classes are a $15 value for drop-ins). Unleash the fine-stepping footwork of American pop group Pussycat Dolls with the Calling All Pussy Cats! class, get the muscle conditioning and cardio workout long associated with Hera in the Sexy Goddess Workout, or tone and make glisten your muscles to the sultry beats of Latin music in Zumba. The Strip to Fit class combines elements of strip aerobics, yoga, Pilates, and jazz dance into an exotic stew of sultry sexiness, and Sexy Bollywood brings together Indian and western dance styles to shake off saris of slim hips. Classes are offered throughout the week at several Toronto-area locations—use DivaGirl Fitness's list of participating locations to find a class near you.
Now in its 38th year of performance, the charming "Symphony on the Bay" exudes a passion for music and community, offering a bevy of concerts to please young, old, and canine listeners alike. "Celebrating Fifteen" honors James R. McKay's 15 years as Symphony Hamilton's music director. In addition to conducting the community-based volunteer symphonic orchestra, the maestro stays active as a bassoonist, acoustic researcher, and university teacher. "A Family Christmas" will offer a slew of traditional Christmas songs featuring mezzo-soprano Sophie Roland and a mandatory Christmas-carol sing-along. "Beethoven's Heroines and Emperors" will contain classics such as the Leonore Overture No. 3 and Symphony No. 3, "Eroica." "Film and Symphonic Classics" will feature pieces by Mozart, Barber, and Dvorak, as well as John Williams' Schindler's List and The Imperial March from Star Wars Suite. Guest conductor Pratik Gandhi will lead "Music Through the Ages" with numbers from Holst, Mozart, and J.C. Bach.
Expansive fairways are cleaved through groves of mature oak trees, creating verdant alleyways for golfers to swing past windswept rough and dense forest as they navigate Dragon’s Fire Golf Club, named a Best New Course in Canada by Golf Digest in 2009. Architect Boris Danoff sculpted the course from a former tree farm into the rolling countryside, seamlessly incorporating the natural lay of the land into a compelling design. Depending on their skill level or which Brady Bunch child they’re choosing to play as, golfers can play the course from six tee boxes that range from 5,085 yards from the red tees up to a daunting 7,202 yards from the tips.
Club Car Champion carts escort players around the course's 80 bunkers and nine distinctly shaped ponds. True to its name, the course can be monstrous and unforgiving, as showcased on the course's most difficult hole, the 633-yard par 5 13th, a grassy monolith with fairway bunkers and massive trees in play that obstruct several paths to the green. After putting out on the 528-yard par 5 18th hole, a demanding dogleg-right with ample water and sand, golfers can retire to the clubhouse's outdoor patio for drinks and snacks or head to the pro shop to replace their pitching wedge that mysteriously snapped in half.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Total length of 7,202 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 73 from the back tees
Course slope of 131 from the back tees
Six sets of tees per hole