Family time. I don’t know about you guys, but I just can’t seem to get enough of it. So when the holidays come around, I make it a priority to spend as much time as I possibly can with those I love. That doesn’t mean we hibernate and scroll through our phones on the sofa — nope. We like to actually DO STUFF. Because we truly believe that experiences shape who we are and leave us with the best memories. And now that we have a little man in our lives, we’ve made it even more of a priority to show him our beautiful planet. This is our very first winter as a family so we were thrilled to partner with Attractions Ontario to celebrate the holidays in Waterloo Region (where both hubster and I were raised). Here’s how we spent the weekend:
Lunch At Jacobs Grill
We kicked off our trip in St. Jacobs (which was recently ranked #3 small town in Canada) at a restaurant called Jacobs Grill. The casual, family-friendly resto is popular amongst locals and one I’ve been dining at for years. I love how down-to-earth their servers are — very friendly and attentive. Although the price points on the menu are a bit high, they do serve up quality dishes using fresh ingredients so it’s definitely worth it. The portions are also generous. The Cedar Plank Brie (topped with pear chutney), Jacob’s Smokin’ Burger (topped with smoked cheddar, deep friend jalapeños, crispy onions and sweet BBQ sauce) and the Mac’n’Cheese (perfectly-cooked noodles topped with aged cheddar and asiago) were the standouts…
St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway
12 000 hours. That’s how long it took the founders to get this model railway up and running. And after seeing the unique display, I can understand why: not one detail has been overlooked. The handcrafted landscapes, buildings and people are truly remarkable. The entire model railway even lights up during the sunset/night scene to showcase it in a completely different way. If you look closely you’ll see that each building has a story — I personally loved Union Station and the wedding scene! Oh, and the trains have people inside!! Incredible. This was Little L’s first visit at 9 months old (he LOVES trains) and certainly won’t be his last. It’s the kind of place that captures the imagination of those young and old.
Polar Express On Waterloo Central Railway
Magic. Pure Magic. I just may have been the most excited passenger on the Polar Express (big kid right here). There wasn’t a single person that stepped off the train without a smile on their face. That’s because there was music, performances, hot chocolate, cookies, presents… I mean, what else could we ask for?!? Oh yah: a personal visit from Santa?! Yup, that happened too. This was Little L’s very first train ride and I’m convinced the trip to the North Pole will never be topped. If you have kids (or you are one like me), I highly recommend booking your seats on this magical train. It’s a very popular experience offered by Waterloo Central Railway so make sure to buy tickets WELL in advance as they do sell out. And for good reason…it’s an unforgettable journey…
Dinner At Boston Pizza
While there are a ton of amazing, independently-owned restos in KW, we were in the mood for pizza and since we’ve never dined at Boston Pizza (yup, NEVER) we decided to give it a shot. The resto is huge, the service is friendly and the menu has something for everyone. We ordered the Tuscan pizza, Hawaiian pizza, New Memphis wings (which was our fave dish) and a caesar salad to balance out the carbs LOL. Bonus: Bingemans has a Boston Pizza Gift of Lights package ($40 + tax) that is perfect for families who want to eat and play.
Bingemans Gift Of Lights
We’ve been visiting Bingemans since we were kids so we were looking forward to seeing it all lit up during their annual Gift Of Lights celebration. Stretching over the course of 2 kms, we took in over 1 million dazzling lights as we drove through the property in our warm, cozy car and blasted holiday tunes. I really loved the combination of traditional and modern displays. The light tunnels were my fave! The holiday experience runs until January 6th so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy it with the family…
Hotel Stay At Inn Of Waterloo
I think everyone who has lived in Waterloo Region has made a memory or two at this hotel (my most recent one is from Oktoberfest festivities), but I had no idea that it’s under new ownership! This totally explains the new look: many of the rooms at The Inn Of Waterloo have been renovated as has the lobby, indoor saltwater pool and conference rooms. The result is a brighter, more modern hotel. We had a great stay and would definitely recommend this property to any families visiting the region. Our suite was GINORMOUS (the kind you can do cartwheels in) — the bed, the living room area, the washroom…all of it!
Breakfast At Angie’s Waterloo
We walked into this diner not knowing what to expect and walked out wanting to tell the world about it. Yes, the food is fantastic (there’s a reason Chef Lynn Crawford included them in her Great Canadian Cookbook), but this place goes beyond that. It’s a true family-run restaurant. Not just literally (it’s been passed from generation to generation since opening in 1962), but in the way they make you feel. As soon as we stepped foot inside, we felt like we were adopted into the family. Every inch of the space pulsed with warm hospitality as if we were getting a big hug from everyone who’s been involved in making Bill and Angie’s dream a reality. Bookmark this diner and visit the next time you’re in Waterloo Region — you will leave with your stomachs and hearts full.
Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory
Imagine this: 1000’s of free-flying butterflies from all around the globe, reflecting pools, lush plants, waterfalls and streams… All of these features make the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory the perfect place to escape from the cold. But that doesn’t mean it’s not festive: in fact, they currently have a truly unique holiday exhibit called the Flight of White (runs until Jan 31st 2018). The conservatory is filled with white poinsettias, sparkling lights and Rice Paper butterflies that float throughout the space like snowflakes. An enchanting sight that had our little man mesmerized…
If you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway with the family, I recommend spending some time during the holidays in Waterloo Region. There’s so much to do, eat and see! And don’t hesitate to message me on social media or shoot me an email if you want local tips. I love K-W and think it’s a fab place to explore during any season!