6 Things to See and Do in Uruguay

It is South America’s smallest country and has flown well under the radar for a long time in terms of tourism, but this year it is shaping up to be one of the hot spots to travel to. Think moments not made for tourists, the longest running Carnaval in the world, boutique wineries to explore and more. From learning how to dance the tango to soaking up the sun on the beach to exploring cobble street towns, here are our favorite six things to do in this tiny, but a fun-filled country of Uruguay.

6. Learn the Tango

Uruguay claims to be one of the capitals of the Tango and it’s hard to dispute that claim, seeing as in the city of Montevideo, the tango was danced for the first time. In the Old City, about 150 years ago the streets teemed with immigrant workers from Europe, freed slaves and fortune seekers who frequented neighborhood brothels and bars.

It is here where the tango emerged, a combination of African rhythms, Italian opera and a touch of polka thrown in. Today the Old City remains a mecca for the tango and although it’s a nocturnal business, visitors who are just learning can join lessons early in the evening before hitting the dance floor.

5. Attend the Carnaval

Carnaval is celebrated around the world but no one celebrates it like the country of Uruguay, who celebrates it for a whopping 40 days! From the end of January to mid-March, the country is decked out in costume parades, satirical comedies in the streets and contests for artists.

Montevideo is the best place to get involved as it hosts the most parades, the biggest drums, and incredible activities to join in on. The Llamadas is the two-night parade that is absolutely one of the highlights of the carnival, as are the tablado shows. Depending on when you go will depend on what you see but you can guarantee that it won’t disappoint.

4. Tour the Wineries

This country is the fourth-largest producer of wine in South America and it pays to check out some of the incredible wineries while you are here. A budding new wine route features over 15 small boutique wineries, a welcome change to the mass producers that are often seen around the world. Visitors are welcomed to these wineries with open arms, with owners taking great care to offer fabulous wines to taste, fabulous on-site restaurants and behind the scenes tours.

Make sure to check out the 15-acre Vinedo de Los Vientos where guests are treated to high-quality wines paired with lamb and beef cuts. More boutique and sophisticated is Bodega Bouza which overlooks the white sands of Punta del Este, one of South America’s hippest beach resort towns. Each bottle they produce lists the wine’s vintage, number of barrels used in the marking and quantity of bottles produced.

3. Explore Colonia del Sacramento

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of old colonial buildings, cobbled streets and quaint restaurants. Exploring the town only takes about a day and can easily be done on foot, although there are many shops that rent bicycles and scooters. The main attraction here is most definitely the historic center and the eight small museums you can visit for just one price.

Make sure to check out the Museo Municipal for its electric collection of treasures including a scale model of Colonia and a whale skeleton. One of the favorite things to do in this town is eat, due to the high number of restaurants that offer spectacular local food. One of the best places is Buen Suspiro, a cozy spot that specializes in local wines and cheese. In the winter cozy up beside the fire or in the summer grab a table on the back patio, we suggest reserving ahead for either.

2. Hit the Beach in Punta del Diablo

The former fishing village of Punta del Diablo is one of the greatest spots to be in this country, especially if you are planning on hitting the beach. Don’t expect high rise hotels, ATM’s or flashy things here; instead, you will find a laid-back surfer lifestyle where time is spent on the beach, day and night. If you wanted to learn how to surf it is easy to grab a board and an instructor from a local shop, or if waves aren’t your thing, sit back on the soft sand and soak in the sun.

Horseback riding is popular in off months to enjoy the awesome sunsets and many visitors choose to play in the large sand dunes. A dozen small bars and restaurants line the city, most only operational during the peak summer season and a handful of hostels, hotels and campgrounds are available for visitors.

1. Stay in an Estancia

Visiting and staying at an Estancia is Uruguay is about learning the history and culture of the country, it means unplugging and heading out to the country to experience typical rural life. If visitors are looking to do a little something different, this would be it.

Seeking out a traditional estancia is important and be prepared to switch off and join in the family life as this is no party place or entertainment venue, it is indeed a real South American Ranch. Join the ranchers on horseback as you learn about sheep herding, de-worming, branding and more. Eat traditional meals, sleep by candlelight and truly immerse yourself in the way of life for rural folk in this country.

10 Canadian Attractions Every Kid Should Experience

Canada is loaded with both adult and kid-friendly attractions from coast to coast and whether you live in this beautiful country or are just here for a visit, there are a few key ones not to miss. From the highest point in Toronto to the red sands in Prince Edward Island to the frozen city of Quebec, here are 10 Canadian attraction that every kid should experience in their lifetime.

10. The Carnaval, Quebec City, Quebec

If there is a winter experience that every kid should have in Canada it would be the Carnaval that takes place every year in Quebec City. Every year thousands of visitors flock to this cold weather event which plays host to a slew of activities including snow sculptures, human foosball, snow slides, night parades, outdoor dance parties, sleigh rides, skating and more.

Kids love to meet the mascot of the Carnaval, Bonhomme-the giant real-life snowman who loves to meet with the kids. Make sure to visit him in his epic Ice Palace that is created especially for him and serves as a focal point for several of the activities. Visit a traditional sugar shack, watch as brave men and women frolic in the snow in only their bathing suits at the snow bath and take in one of the family-friendly shows. Whatever you do, make sure you bundle up!

9. Green Gables, Cavendish, P.E.I

Every year hundreds of thousands of people come to the tiny island of Prince Edward Island to visit the site that inspired L.M. Montgomery’s famous Anne of Green Gables novel. This is the perfect place to take the kids and one of the most famed attractions across the country. Located in the popular town of Cavendish visitors to the site will have the opportunity to tour the house and take part in interpretation programs, as well as a stroll through the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails as found in the book.

Head down to Avonlea Village, a recreated rural community based on the village where Anne lived. Here you can enjoy a children’s music show, browse electric shops and join an authentic PEI kitchen dance party with the kids. Don’t miss the chance to let the kids dress up as Anne at Gateway Village where they can get a replica photo taken, memories that will certainly last a lifetime.

8. Santa’s Village, Bracebridge, Ontario

This 60-acre family entertainment park is nestled in a beautiful setting on the Muskoka River in Bracebridge, Ontario, just a couple short hours from Toronto. It was established in 1955 and this particular location was chosen, as it is exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole, a place where Santa chooses to spend his warm months. This park is only open in the summer and plan on getting there early in the morning to enjoy breakfast with Santa, every day between 9:30-10:30.

Younger ones will love the rides such as swan paddleboats, air bouncers, a miniature Santa roller coaster and more. The splash pad feature giant water buckets that tip and towering candy cane fountains. Come decorate your Christmas cookies at the bake shop, head to Santa’s cabin to grab a photo or visit the farm where there are plenty of deer, sheep, and goat. It is truly Christmas in July here at this unique Canadian attraction.

Via Groupon

7. Algonquin Park, Ontario

If you are looking to get outdoors in the summer and hit the campgrounds there is no better place than Algonquin Park in Ontario. Let’s face it, as much work as it is for parents to take their kids camping, kids absolutely love being able to explore the outdoors. A canoe ride in this park should be on anyone’s bucket list, slicing over the still water with an expanse of water, rock and pine trees in the distance.

Although this park offers a ton of backcountry experiences, they have also made it extremely family friendly with kid-friendly camping areas, rentals on-site and recommended short canoe trips. There is no shortage of beaches to explore, hiking trails, wildlife and enough room for any kid to run around until they can run no more. Hey, maybe they might even sleep in past 7 am.

6. Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, Ontario

With a name like that, it’s hard to write this list without recommending that this Canadian attraction is visited. The CNE, also known as The Ex is an annual event that takes place for 18 days leading up to an including Canadian Labour Day. Activities here range from an incredible air show, rides, and games, a farm, special kids world, talent shows, special demonstrations and foods that kids will go crazy for.

Every year there is one day during the event that has super discounted prices for kids with the purchase of adult admission. It is here where you will find sing-along with Dora, meet and greets with your kid’s favorite characters, art studios, toy workshops and enough activities to keep you busy for days. Bring a stroller for the wee ones though as it does require a lot of walking.

5. West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Alberta

It is the largest shopping mall in North America and absolutely littered with things to see and do, from amusement parks to theatres to an indoor water park. Galaxyland, the indoor amusement park features 24 rides and attractions including roller coasters and thrilling launch rides. World Waterpark is the second largest indoor waterpark and features the world’s largest indoor wave pool and towering twisting waterslides.

The Ice Palace invites skaters of all levels to skate on this scaled down version of an NHL ice rink in the center of the mall. Other exciting things to do here with the kids is indoor mini-golf, an arcade, bowling alley, indoor skate park and explore the theme areas throughout. We promise you could spend 5 days here and still not run out of things to do.

4. CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario

It is Toronto’s most famous landmark and going to the top as a kid is absolutely one of the most memorable moments. For a long time this city attraction was the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and although it lost that title in 2010 it still remains a popular tourist attraction. Kids will love riding in the glass-fronted and glass-floored elevator up to the SkyPod for fantastic views over the city, especially if the kids are a little older to appreciate just how high up they actually are.

The lookout level offers the chance for kids to step out onto the glass floor and really feel like they are floating. If you have kids under the age you will want to make your way to the KidZone, a recent addition to the CN tower which features over 1,500 square feet of space for kids to play. Kids also happen to love the short 14-minute film that features streetcars and propels the audience through the city. Fun for both kids and adults, visit this iconic landmark next time you are in Toronto.

3. Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alberta

This annual rodeo, exhibition and festival is held every July in Calgary, Alberta and calls itself the greatest outdoor show on earth. Kids love the chance to get up close and personal with the animals at the Stampede including cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, dogs and more. Captivating shows such as superdogs, acrodunk, Thomas and friends, Dora the Explorer and more happen throughout the festival.

Fun interactive activities and rides are located throughout the park, along with enough deep-fried chocolate treats to keep them going all day long. With a midway, market, one epic parade, the rodeo and plenty of parties; the time is now to put on those cowboy boots and hit this epic Canadian attraction with the kids.

2. Canada’s Wonderland, Toronto, Ontario

It is one of the best theme parks in Canada and the largest, opened in 19981 and improving each year that passes. Located in the north of Toronto, it is the perfect day trip for families with kids of all ages. Open daily from May to September and then weekends only until November your best bet to avoid lines is to go during the week before school is out for the summer. Featuring 16 roller coasters, a waterpark, many thrill rides and a special kids-only zone; this park has something for everyone.

Planet Snoopy and Kidzville is perfect the wee ones in your life and features character meet and greets, miniature roller coasters, live entertainment, bumper cars, train rides, swings and more. If you have older kids you won’t want to miss the Halloween Haunt where the park transforms into one giant spooktacular experience complete with rides, mazes and scare zones with live actors throughout the park.

1. Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario

It is well known that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is far prettier than the American, but truth be told how many kids really care about that. Sure they love to see the gushing waterfalls but what makes this attraction really awesome in Canada is the amount of kid-friendly attractions near the falls.

The best-known attraction has to be the Maid of the Mist boat cruise which takes passengers into the rapids immediately below the falls, an exciting experience for all ages. Lundy’s Lane is where the kids will want to head in this town as it offers activities such as bowling, arcades, mini-putt, haunted houses, laser tag and an indoor waterpark. Watch the fireworks over the falls during the summer, grab a bite to eat and wander alongside the impressive thundering falls.