The outdoor enthusiasts at Play Hard Niagara outfit visitors for romps on the water, beach, and street. Gear rentals ranging from sit-on-top kayaks to bikes equip explorers for adventures throughout the Port Colborne area, including trips along the old canal and Lake Erie shoreline. For a small fee, Play Hard's staff delivers equipment to nearby locations for full-day rentals. Back in Crystal Beach, the shop displays a multitude of recreational equipment, ranging from land-bound scooters to surf gear that stands ready to skim over a cresting wave or through layers of the upper atmosphere.
At Puck’s Farm, visitors can bond with 180 acres of the natural environment by learning about harvest-time chores and activities or scheduling weddings and events year-round on the open grounds. Guests of the farm can meet its animal residents, including emus, llamas, and a farm cat, which is much friendlier than a farm puma. For an even more interactive experience with fauna, Puck’s offers pony rides and the opportunity to milk cows and churn butter. Wooded trails traverse the expanse and present one of the many places on the farm where guests can delight in the changing of the seasons. Fall, for example, offers a variety of seasonal activities: visitors can get lost in corn mazes, pick ripened pumpkins, ride in horse-drawn wagons, and stroll through trails speckled with changing leaves. Autumn months also see pigs and goats building their nests for the winter ahead. An onsite snack bar serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and french fries enables guests to refuel for full days of farm activities.
At Fieldgate Stables Ltd., mother-daughter team Susan Coxhead and Michelle Vaillancourt promote horsemanship for riders of various skill levels. Their quiet and well-schooled horses carry students during lessons in various riding disciplines including dressage, hunter, jumper, and cross-country. With detailed, one-on-one coaching, students are encouraged to progress at their own pace and riders are paired with horses based on careful consideration of their temperaments, skill levels, and the compatibility of their star signs. Lessons also teach participants to untack and cool out their four-hooved friends, which keeps them from sweating through the tuxedos they change into post-workout.
For more than 40 years, DiveAqua has taught novice divers across Canada the subaquatic ropes. The staff's specialty is a comprehensive curriculum of skills and certification instruction that commences in the classroom, where students learn about diving safety and how to use equipment. Afterward, they gear up and head to the indoor pool to learn proper snorkeling and scuba-diving skills while becoming comfortable with the equipment in the gravity-defying environment. Divers opting for the certification participate in open-water dive sessions before receiving their certification card, which allows them to dive anywhere in the world. In addition to conducting instructional classes, DiveAqua offers a variety of professional diving gear, available to rent or own. At each store location, staff members stand by to outfit divers in wetsuits, tanks, and regulators.
As the American Hockey League affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Marlies take to the ice with a roster of young skaters on their way to an NHL career. Named after a legendary (but since dissolved) Junior A team, the Toronto Marlboros, the Marlies have had their share of success since their move to the city in 2005, including a 2011–2012 campaign in which they captured the Western Conference title and nearly hoisted the league's hallowed Calder Cup. Crowds of up to 8,200 fans cheer the Marlies on from their home at Ricoh Coliseum, where team mascot Duke the Dog—his own name an homage to the Duke of Marlborough—dances in the stands.
Though it teemed with overgrown plants and weeds, the property that eventually became Edwards Gardens satisfied Toronto businessman Rupert Edwards's dreams of living in the country. The addition of one of Canada's largest rockeries and a private 9-hole golf course helped rejuvenate the once unruly land, which Edwards converted into a public park in 1956. These days, themed gardens sprawl across the award-winning facility's nearly four acres, where guests can pass through aromatic plant displays and pick up tips and techniques for their own gardening. Elsewhere, the sloping green roof and 5,000-square-foot glass pavilion of The George and Kathy Dembroski Centre for Horticulture shelters guests as they learn about the gardens' numerous green initiatives. Lectures, workshops, special events, and children's education programs further enrich each visitor's horticultural knowledge, as do Weston Family Library's nearly 10,000 books, periodicals, and tell-all memoirs penned by the ivy that's decorated area mansions for generations.