As the sun rises over Caledon’s rolling hills, the horses of Forest Hill Training Centre Inc. whinny impatiently in their stables. In just a few hours, the clopping of their hooves will echo across the facility’s arena as instructors lead new riders through private or semi-private lessons. Anchored to a rural patch of land on Toronto’s outskirts, the facility, which opened in 2009, attracts plenty of city dwellers with dreams of galloping through open fields. Those who make the 30-minute drive from the city will find a riding experience tailored to suit their goals and abilities.
If Forest Hill’s instructors seem uncommonly skilled at the reins, they have Scott and Dee Walker, who have been active professionals since 1989, to thank. The couple opened their first state-of-the-art “show barn” in 1992, and they have since developed a highly successful system of helping riders of all levels achieve their potential. Whether you hope to compete on the professional circuit or simply want to take advantage of the Horses Only parking space at work, they can tweak the training program to fit your needs. In addition, the facility offers horse-showing lessons and camps.
The beaming, barky face of 16-foot-high Trevor the Tree greets youngsters as they scamper into Kin-R-Gee's storybook-themed play structure. After clambering through tubes and obstacle courses, tykes can return to terra firma by racing their playmates down a two-storey projection waterfall slide. Elsewhere, toddlers can explore the Three Bears Garden and Sprouts Patch, an area full of age appropriate treats like toy cars, building blocks, and action figures.
In between sliding and block building sessions, kids can refuel with tasty treats at Kin-R-Gee Café, where parents can likewise lounge with a latte while keeping an eye on their whippersnappers in the play area. Parents also barely move a muscle during Kin-R-Gee birthday parties, whose packages and supplies—built around themes such as create your own teddy bear and create your own surveillance cameras for teddy poachers—ensure a stress-free celebration. Along with open playing and partying, Kin-R-Gee educates children with a wealth of classes and programs geared toward enriching tots aged two-and-a-half to six through such activities as sports instruction and day camp.
Ten thousand square feet provides a lot of room to run, and at Koala Kidz, the staff makes the most of it. The space holds activities aplenty for kids to burn off steam, with mini soccer and basketball sets, and an area dedicated to toddlers complete with padded flooring and toys. Wee ones flock to the exploration area, a 3,000-square-foot structure, with twisting tube slides for whizzing, tunnels for wiggling, and a ball pit for practising the backstroke.
In the middle of the space, a rainbow-coloured row of six slides ripples to the ground, while on top a giant koala head disguises spying children who peek through its eyes to get a look at their surroundings. Younger tots can cruise on kiddy rides, while their older siblings take on the arcade games. After, kids can refuel at the Koala Kafe, while parents take advantage of free WiFi. The staff draws return visits by declaring themed days?such as pyjama day or funny-hat day?and arranging visits from beloved cartoon characters.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection was set in motion in 1952, when Robert and Signe McMichael purchased the property and, inspired by their surroundings, began collecting artworks of similar beauty. Today, the museum—which is built of fieldstone and hand-hewn logs—remains enveloped by 100 acres of conservation land, and houses a permanent collection of nearly 6,000 pieces devoted solely to Canadian artists. Its 13 galleries showcase ongoing exhibitions, including a tribute to the McMichael legacy. The facility's floor-to-ceiling windows look out upon the surrounding Humber River Valley, where dense woodlands and oaks sporting powdered wigs influenced many of the collection's works. In addition to its permanent displays, the McMichael frequently hosts internationally acclaimed touring exhibitions, as well as lectures, musical performances, and workshops for aspiring creators.
An ancient world collides with the future inside the 5,000-square-foot arena of DP Lazer Maze Inc. Cloudy with smoke and aglow with neon lighting, the space has elements of both a prehistoric jungle?complete with a giant dinosaur?and a sci-fi military base. As players dodge incoming lasers and fire beams of their own at the opposing team, trained Game Marshals oversee each round to ensure fair play among participants, all of whom must be at least 42 inches tall to don a DP vest.
Massive as the arena is, it's only a portion of the 9,000-square-foot facility. Elsewhere, big-screen TVs air the latest news and sports, arcade games emit blips, bleeps, and the tortured screams of Pac-Man, while the staff at the Maze Caf? staff doles out coffee and snacks. DP also hosts plenty of birthday parties and team meetings, accompanied by laser tag and catered feasts.
Vaughan Paintball invites paintslingers of all ages and skill levels to dodge pellets and tag opponents in a fun and safe environment. They have two separate arenas encompassing multiple styles of play. First is the facility's signature border crossing field, which pits rival teams against each other in games of strategy and team-on-team combat. It has a post-apocalyptic setting in which society has crumbled, justice is dictated by brute force, and paint kills you for some reason. Squads of warriors are also free to duke it out on the speedball arena, a grassy, enclosed zone full of obstacles. Its close-quarters design is ideal for practices and quick matches. Click here for hours of operation.