Known for sprawling ski resorts and sandy beaches, Barrie sits on the west shore of Lake Simcoe, an hour or so north of Toronto. The waterfront is a popular year-round gathering spot, filled with bustling restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and bars. In summer, check out classic car shows at Barrie Centennial Park, rent a kayak for a peaceful paddle on the lake, or pay a visit to the Spirit Catcher, a permanent birdlike sculpture that was commissioned for Vancouver Expo ’86 and donated to the city by the artist. In the winter, Barrie transforms into a paradise for skiers, thanks to the myriad runs and more than 100 inches of snow a year. Enjoy alpine and Nordic skiing conditions all winter long at Hardwood Ski and Bike, Horseshoe Resort, Mount St. Louis, and Snow Valley Resort. Afterward, take the kids to admire the holiday lights in the winter wonderland of Heritage Park.
History buffs will particularly enjoy the tribute to firefighters of yore at the Fire Station 1 heritage museum, or the armoured vehicles that date back to the First World War at the Major-General Worthington Memorial Park. If spectator sports are more to your liking, catch a Barrie Baycats Game at Coates Stadium or cheer on OHL team Barrie Colts at the Barrie Molson Centre.