Spring is in the air, which means summer is just around the corner. Hopefully 2021 brings the opportunity to get out and explore (safely, that is, and likely still locally). If you’re like us, then you’re itching for something fun and exciting to do with friends and family this year when the weather gets warmer. Well, true to our nature, we humbly suggest an adventure that is above and beyond your run-of-the-mill getaway… as if you expected anything less from your friends at YDH! Check out these unique experiences, and consider planning your next epic getaway with us in York Durham Headwaters.
15580 10th Concession, Schomberg
How many people can say that they’ve vacationed at a working thoroughbred horse farm? Owners Emma Jones and Brett Delmas breed and race horses, and have owned Jecara Farms for 17 years—the name Jecara actually comes from the first two letters of their children’s names: Jesse, Carver and Raven. This working farm, which won the 2007 Environmental Giants award for water conservation, offers three rustic cabins and a studio apartment for you to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. This summer, the family has plans to add a yurt to their complement of accommodations, too.
“I think people are excited that the cabins are off the grid, and in a farm setting,” says Emma. “We have fields and forests and paths throughout the property, and guests can come up to the paddocks and barn and see the animals.” With each cabin situated a respectable distance from one another, guests enjoy full privacy—with or without the family pets (a big draw for visitors who don’t want to leave their fur-babies behind). Each cabin is on the water and has an outdoor fire pit, an indoor woodstove, an indoor composting toilet, and power generated by solar panels and a small wind turbine.
Jecara Farms is open year-round, and surprisingly winter is a very busy time… or maybe that’s not surprising here in Canada. With wood stove heat and back-to-basics living, this is the kind of getaway people are looking for even in the cold months. “Guests can skate on the ponds, snowshoe, cross-country ski, or stay inside the cozy cabins,” Emma explains. “We have hosted a few weddings, and have had a few commercials and videos filmed here too. We would like to start some annual events, some ideas we talk about are Easter egg hunts, Santa at the cabin, yoga on the dock… the options are endless.”
For more on Jecara Farms, see article below.
20237 Kennedy Rd., Sharon
Bare Oaks is many things—a park, a campground, a restaurant, a holiday destination, a country club, and a day-use attraction, to name just a few of its facets. But what makes this park different from anything else you’re likely to find is that it is a naturist park. Be gone, pesky clothing. Brush off your birthday suit. Patrons of Bare Oaks enjoy their getaway as nature intended.
To those unfamiliar with the concept, naturism is a respected way of life. Though uninformed impressions of the movement may lead one to misinterpret what naturism is at its core, let us be clear: naturism is a value system that is about accepting oneself as they truly are, with the recognition that all bodies are unique. “Naturism is about accepting others as they are and showing them respect by presenting your true authentic self,” says owner and operator Stephane Deschenes. “It’s about living in a more natural way. Being clothing-free may not be normal, but it is natural. That’s why our tagline is: traditional naturist values in a modern setting.”
While Bare Oaks is open all year, most of the activities centre on the warmer months for obvious reasons. And because the park’s clientele varies in so many ways, there is no typical visit as people find their preferred type and level of activity. Stephane says, “For some, it is floating alone in the lake while others prefer the social aspect of a drink with friends at the Bare Bistro. There are a variety of options if a person is looking to be more occupied and we organize special events to further enhance that experience.” For the sports-oriented, there are ongoing volleyball games and two major tournaments. There is also the annual nude 5K run that makes it on many people’s bucket list. For the younger set, a family weekend is organized where the schedule is aimed at children. And every Saturday there is the Big Rock Kids’ Club—fun for the kids and a break for the parents.
For more on Bare Oaks, see article below.
18692 Hurontario St., Caledon Village
Instead of traditional camping this summer, we think you should try glamping! Camp in style and luxury at Alabaster Acres, a retreat on a working farm in Caledon Village. In 2018, owner Aimee Alabaster developed her glamping experience so that visitors could enjoy farm life as much (or as little) as they want. A 150-year-old heritage house and a stable full of adorable animals make this agricultural retreat something truly special.
Guests can select from one of two luxury tents, each of which can host up to four people with king-size beds and lounge spaces. For chilly nights, there are wood stoves and several duvets to make things cozy. Cook on a private barbecue with your own food and beverages, and enjoy your elegantly rustic (or is it rustically elegant?) front porch, private hammock and fire pit. Additional amenities include an upscale outhouse, an open-air shower, and a private outdoor clawfoot bathtub. “This gorgeous farm is not far from the city, yet it’s far enough that we can see the stars every night and the crickets are louder than the traffic,” says Aimee, who once worked in the corporate sector in Toronto but gave it all up for farm life.
If you’re feeling social and inquisitive, check out Alabaster Acres’ private workshops, where participants can learn about farm life and sustainable farming practices. Learn how to preserve food, garden, or raise backyard chickens. Enjoy activities like goat yoga and group geocaching adventures. But above all, do it in luxury and style!
For more on Alabaster Acres, see article below.
638135 Prince of Wales Rd. W., Mulmur
Enjoy wide-open spaces, fresh are, blue skies… and a good day’s work of herding cattle on horseback. At Rawhide Adventures, you can be a rancher for a few days. Peace Valley Ranch in Mulmur has been in the free-range beef farming business since 1965, and has been led by Carl Cosack and his wife, Natalie Kotyck, for nearly forty-five years since they took over the family business.
Since the mid-nineties, this unique business has also offered an epic ranching experience for those wanting a taste of this simpler way of life. “We have quite a few acres here,” Natalie says. “Being out with the horses allows you to simply feel and be, and to sweat a little. The biggest thing people tell us is that it’s so quiet up here. Without the disruption of games and cell phones and Netflix, that really makes all the difference to being able to commit fully to this way of life for a while.”
For a basic taste of the ranch, you can book a good old-fashioned private trail ride that starts at two hours, in which you learn how to trail ride properly. From there, you can Cowboy Up with a two-hour trail ride and a home-cooked meal at the ranch. Or if you’re looking for an all-day adventure, the Wranglers Day package is a four-hour ride and a meal at the ranch. “Instead of putting together a foursome of golf, why not put together a foursome for horseback riding?” Natalie suggests.
Then there is the Range Riders Night. Stay overnight at Peace Valley Ranch and camp out amongst the stars after spending four blissful hours on horseback. After a hearty cowboy’s breakfast the next morning, finish your adventure with another two-hour ride back to the ranch. If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, take the Days in the Life Of challenge. Get involved in the life of a ranch wrangler for a few days, or even a week or two, and learn everything about working the land including fence checking, rotational grazing and, depending on when you come, even calf sorting.
During COVID-19, we encourage all interested parties to check the websites of our unique getaways to learn about the specific health and safety measures in place, and to confirm which experiences and packages are available.
For more on Rawhide Adventures, see article below.
Story by Katherine Ryalen