Sometimes you just want to get away. School, work, and the day-to-day demands build up to a point where there is no distinction between the weekend and the work week. For our family, that’s a signal that it’s time for a little getaway. But . . .(always a but) leaving Toronto for a quick weekend away often translates into hours of bumper to bumper traffic. By the time we get to our destination, we’ve lost most of the first night and everyone is tired, argumentative and not-having-fun. Honestly, getting away can be as much work as staying home. That’s all about to change!

When is the last time you thought of Burlington? I know. Me too! It’s a great close to home getaway.   One of the key attributes that attracted me to Burlington is that it’s only a 50 minute drive! Even the whiniest kid will not have time to feign starvation during that drive. You can reach Burlington, get settled and still have time for a nice, relaxing family evening.

We stayed at the Toronto West KOA campground, which was a first for us. The campground’s central location and variety of activities made it the perfect base for our weekend. The great thing about the Toronto West KOA is they have a variety of different stay options from tent sites, RV sites, small rustic cabins to luxury two bedroom cabins – something for every budget. We stayed in a beautiful two bedroom cabin. It was nicely laid out and had everything we needed.

If you have never stayed at a KOA property before, one of the perks is the variety of activities offered right on the campground. The Toronto West location is no exception. Some of the activities included: pancake breakfast, educational guest speakers, outdoor movies and more. You can check online to see what’s going on before you visit.

We kicked Saturday morning off learning about raising bees and harvesting honey from the owners (a father and his two sons) of Martin’s Sweet Farms. My kids were full of questions and came away with a lot of new knowledge.

Next up? An afternoon at Springridge Farm. We started off with a delicious farm lunch. My husband and I dug into the Ploughman’s lunch – a spread of delicious meats, cheeses, pickles, applebutter, homemade fruit bread and an apple. The kids got a kick out of their buckets – yes, actual buckets – filled with grilled cheese, veggies, apple juice and a cookie. Of course, no farm lunch would be complete without tarts. Six tarts to be exact – blueberry, pecan, rhubarb custard, raspberry peach, strawberry rhubarb and cherry.

Buzzing around on our sugar high, we explored the farm. The farm is ideal if you have children in the 2-5 year age range. My kids are 7 and 11. While they had a great time, a few years back they would have been in heaven with the car track ride and the ginormous sandbox filled with trucks and diggers. On this visit, my kids had a blast chasing each other and climbing over and through the hay mounds. My favourite activity was the tractor ride. You go to the highest part of the farm where you are met with an astounding view. If the day is clear, you can see the CN tower!

Once we were farmed-out, we headed back to the KOA for a little break and to get ready for our evening. Go on, guess what we did? Give up? We took the kids to the horse races! I know – it never occurred to me either. Honestly, I didn’t know children were allowed at horse tracks. I’m so glad we checked it out.

The Mohawk Race Track is only five minutes from the KOA. Admission is free. We arrived around 6:30 for dinner. We had fantastic balcony seats overlooking the track. I made reservations in advance but, you can always just walk in for dinner.

I started my meal with a gorgeous Caprese salad that was just as tasty as it was stunning. The kids and I all enjoyed burgers for dinner. My husband opted for a brisket sandwich with freshly made kettle chips. What a relaxing evening!

Betting is optional at the track. For amateurs, the track has a lovely man who comes to each table and offers a quick lesson on horse racing and betting. Another amateur-friendly perk is the fact that you can place bets as small as one dollar. My husband and I spent $10 each, betting $2 on each race. We managed to break even. Fist bumps all around. If you decide to visit the Mohawk Race Track with your kids, stop at the Customer Service Desk as soon as you get there and sign up for the “Drive With Us” program. Your kids will get a chance to ride around the track in a cart behind a horse – FREE!

The four of us had a memorable evening. The kids didn’t want to leave! Proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great time.

Come back tomorrow to read about our day two in Burlington.