My husband and our two kids, aged 4 and 5, have started our
summer vacation out with an amazing trip up north to visit Sudbury! Leaving
Cambridge around noon on a Friday, the drive to Sudbury took us about 5 hours, with
a short stop for a bite to eat. I came prepared with several ‘activities’ for the kids to keep them busy on the drive, dry erase activity cards, drawing boards, story stones and new library books were a great investment to help keep them occupied.
Our reservation was for the Hampton Inn Sudbury, which is one of the first hotels you pass as you come into town. It is located approximately 10 minutes from both Science North and Dynamic Earth so the location was great! When we walked inside we were greeted immediately by the friendly front desk staff who checked us in and let us know about all the hotel amenities. We’ve stayed at other Hampton Inn locations, and like all other locations the interiors are bright and welcoming, have a large dining area for their daily hot breakfast, and offer 24 hour coffee, tea and fresh fruit. One thing I love about staying in a Hampton Inn is being able to count on a good breakfast to start the day. With
everything from cereal, toast, yogurt, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, fruit, waffle
station (with whipped cream of course) and chafing dishes of scrambled eggs/omelettes,
and sausages/bacon there is something for everyone. The hotel also had an indoor pool which we
were able to make use of on our last morning.
Checkout at the hotel wasn’t until noon so we decided to take advantage
of this later checkout time and use the swimming pool before we left on Sunday. The pool faced to a patio on one side and the
end wall faced the fitness centre which had the standard treadmill, elliptical
machine and weights. After swimming and packing up our stuff we were a few
minutes past checkout time, the front desk staff was super nice about it
though, it was apparent we were the last people to check out as she knew which
room we were in J
After arriving at the hotel on Friday night we quickly dropped
our bags in our room and were headed out for our next adventure of the weekend
– the IMAX at Science North. With our later arrival time in Sudbury there
was one movie option remaining, Superpower Dogs at 6pm. We got out tickets and settled in for the 45
minute film. For me it’s probably been over 15 years since I’ve seen an IMAX
movie and for the kids this was the first time, this was a perfect movie for
them, a mix of my daughter’s love of Paw Patrol and my son’s love of Avengers!
It was fun to watch the kids experience this type of movie - one kept looking
over their glasses to compare the 3D to the regular view (I admit I’ve done
this too, trying to figure out how it works) and the other on the edge of the seat
the whole time, even forgetting the bag of popcorn sitting beside him! The theatre is located in the lobby of
Science North, so
if you had the time, this could easily be added onto your visit the science
After the movie we headed to Di Gusto Wood Fired Pizza,
Pasta and Wine Bar for a
late dinner. We arrived around 7:30pm and were seated right away, the dining
room was fairly busy with groups ranging from couples on date night out to
large groups and families enjoying some time together. There wasn’t a printed
children’s menu but the waitress let us know they offered child portions of
pizza (cheese or pepperoni) and pasta (spaghetti or penne with tomato sauce and
meatballs or butter). Both kids wanted spaghetti with meatballs which in the
end cost $26 ($8 for the each plate of pasta and $5 for the meatballs). In
hindsight I should have ordered a regular portion of pasta for them to share
for $18 as neither finished their plates as the portions were HUGE (but not
worth paying $13 for a kid’s meal). My
husband and I opted to order a few different things and share so we went with
the Calamari, Caprese Salad and a prosciutto and arugula pizza, all were
delicious, and we ate every last bite! Everything is made in house so the
texture of the pasta is not what you’d get in most places but was quite good.
And the kids thought it was neat to be able to watch the pizzas cooking in the
After breakfast on Saturday morning we made the 40 minute drive north to Capreol to see the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum & Heritage Centre
. As we approached the museum we saw several train cars behind the main building (which a one point was the home of the railroad superintendent), the kids were already excited! I wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t think we would be
there very long, however we easily spent 2 hours seeing everything and playing
at the park. We opted for the guided tour, but I believe you can also look
around on your own if you prefer that. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable
about the history of the railroad and the area (her grandfather used to work
for the railway), she even kept the kids entertained with fun facts about
different pieces of equipment used on the railroad in the past. The house is
set up with each room highlighting a different aspect of history in the area –
logging, railroad, mining and telegraphy - so much history and info in such a
small place. After looking through the rooms we headed outside to what is known as Prescott Park
to see the train engines and cars up close. We were able to go inside 3 train cars, the original engine the museum acquired, a school house train car and the engineer’s sleeping car.
After learning the history of many of these train cars we headed down the street to the Heritage Centre
We got to see a 1928 Godfredson Bickle fire truck, sit in the front of a newer fire truck where the kids were allowed to touch the buttons and turn the flashing lights on.
The last room in the basement was by far the kids favourite, the model train room. A huge room full of scaled down buildings to go along with all the tracks and 2 model trains. This room was a huge bonus to the tour and we all loved watching the trains and looking at the detail of the setup, including a replica of the Railroad Museum.Throughout the museum and heritage centre the
walls are full of old photos with facts about the region’s history. This was
truly an unexpected jem!
After our tour and playtime at the train shaped play
structure we walked down the street to M & R Café for some lunch.
This was a small establishment with a great atmosphere. The
staff were very friendly, service was quick and food was good. Both the kids
and the main menus consisted of basic diner food, sandwiches, burgers, soup etc.
The kids chose chicken fingers and a Pogo dog, both served with fresh cut
fries, and chocolate milk served in fun glass jar with lids.My husband and I
opted for a sandwich as we weren’t too hungry yet after breakfast. The food was
fresh and tasted great. And the bonus, they have a couple shelves of toys for
the kids to play with while they wait for their food, what a great idea!
We kept ourselves quite busy on this trip and headed straight to Science North from Capreol. We arrived around 2:30pm and stayed until closing (or even a few
minutes later…oops) at 6pm and still felt like we hadn’t done everything. This
is definitely an all-day adventure! Before we entered the main areas of the
science centre we explored the Limited Engagement exhibit, Body Worlds Rx.
While this exhibit had a lot of interesting things to see the kids thought it
was too scary so we didn’t spend long looking at it. For the main part of the centre, we decided
to start at the top and work our way down.
We followed the path up to level 4 and saw a huge whale skeleton hanging
from the centre, a neat sight to see how big these mammals can be!
The top floor was full of hands on experiments teaching us
about physics, chemistry, physiology, space, technology and so much more. Some
of our favourite things to play with were the Gravity Well in the Space Place
section where we were able to spin marbles to see how they behave differently
based on their size and how we rolled them, The Speed Park Racetrack where you
could build your own race car and compete against your friends, Body Zone where the kids raced each other on the sprint track, and where we were part of the Ready, SET, MOVE interactive video.
We also tried
to jump marbles through hoops, laid on a bed of nails, created circuits, build
light board cityscapes, made musical instruments from wood pieces and elastics,
created marble runs and learned about sounds waves. And this was only one 1 floor! There was so
much more to do but we wanted to make sure we were able to go through most of
the centre before we left.
The Discovery Theatre is located between floors 3 and 4 and
offered shows available every 30 minutes with different topics and themes, you
could easily stay all day and still not see everything. We were able to catch a
show with chemical reaction explosions, this was a quick 15 minute presentation
but very educational and entertaining.
The third floor was all about animals and nature. There are
several animals who live at Science North and you can watch them in their enclosures,
or every 30 minutes meet a different one up close. We were able to see several
of these as we explored this level. We met a beaver, porcupine, snake and
flying squirrel. There was so many other animals and reptiles to see as well, bees
in their hive, turtles swimming in the water, a nocturnal room with bats, a
skunk and other small creatures. For the kids the highlight of this level was
the huge water/sand “Erosion Table” where the kids were able to experiment with trying to create streams and learning how water causes erosion and changes the land.Again we raced through this level so we would have some time on the 2nd
When we got there we were the only guests around and the
“Bluecoat” who was working in that area let us touch several bugs. We took
turns holding katydids, millipedes, stick bugs and hissing cockroaches.
level is also full of fossils, rocks and other ‘treasures’ as my son calls
them. There is a Fossil table where you
can search for small fossils and take one home if you’re lucky enough to find
one. They also have a neat program called
the “Nature Exchange Program”, a fun point system, where you bring in your
finds – rocks, shells, shark teeth and so on - and you are given a point value
for each item. You can then store your points or trade them in for something in
the bins. Points range from 5pts for a basic rock up to 100 or more for larger
and rare items. This program has been around for years as my husband remembers
participating when he was a kid! Next time we go we’ll bring along some of our
many treasures to try and get something “bigger and better”! With only minutes
to spare before closing time we looked around the corner and found the Butterfly
Gallery, a tropical room filled with all kinds of butterflies, which if you’re
lucky will land on you! Be sure to wear bright clothing if you want to try and
attract a butterfly!
The only thing we saw on the first floor was a cute little
play area for the littlest guests, with no time left we weren’t able to explore
this area but it looked great for kids under age 4. The other thing the centre offers that we
missed seeing was the Planetarium show, but I guess we’ll save that for our
We were going to meet the rest of our travel group at Bell
Park that evening and since there was a music festival going on there as well we
thought we’d try to avoid any possible parking congestion and stay parked at
Science North and walk over. It took us about 25 minutes to walk along the
river to the main beach area, partly over a wooden boardwalk and the rest a
paved pathway, it was a beautiful walk, but a little far for the kids.
up with our friends, played at the playground for a bit, took some pictures in
the beautiful flower gardens and then headed back to the car as we hadn’t had
dinner and it was nearly 8pm.
Even though it wasn’t on our way back to the hotel we
decided to try M.I.C Canadian Eatery http://www.micrestaurant.ca/
for dinner on a recommendation of one of the other families in our group. Their
menu fits their name and is full of Canadian food and Canadian inspired items.
I tried the Lobster and Shrimp Home Loaf which was a fresh home loaf bun full
of lobster and shrimp, with a side of kettle chips. And I tried a “Niagara on
the Lake” - the restaurant’s spin on Sangria - it was served in a measuring cup
with the kids thought was quite funny. My husband tried the ribs with mashed
potatoes (also a hit) with a local craft beer. The kids were happy with their
kids pizza (nothing special but my daughter enjoyed it) and homemade mac and
cheese (so yummy!!)
Sunday morning we headed to Dynamic Earth,
home of the Big Nickel.
We arrived just before 1pm and got our tickets for the 1pm ‘In the Footsteps of
Sudbury's Miners’ Underground Tour so we headed right downstairs. There our
tour guide took the group into a huge glassed in elevator to watch a short film
and go 7 stories underground to the mine opening. Everyone has to wear a hardhat on the tour
and there are sizes for all ages/head sizes, even bike helmets for the littlest
kids. (Some of our travel companions had taken the tour the day before and
warned us the mine is cool and damp so it’s recommended to wear closed toed
shoes and bring a sweater.) The
underground portion of the tour takes you back through time to show you how
mining has changed over the past 100+ years and the advances made to keep
miners safe. Starting with using wax candles for light and doing all the work
by hand, up to today where there is full electrical and lighting throughout the
mine and all the machinery used to do the brunt of the work. There are a couple
parts of the tour that the guide lets the kids ‘help’ with – opening and
closing the airlock, doing a dynamite “demo” and using some heavy equipment to
break apart rock. The tour took about 1 hour and kept the attention of my kids
for almost the entire time, my daughter was getting a little impatient about
10-15 minutes to the end, but that was more that she didn’t really like that it
was fairly dark in the tunnels. When the tour was over we were free to explore the rest of the
centre. There were several rooms
available on two levels with tons of hands on activities. We started upstairs in
the Earth Gallery and learned all about different types of rocks and minerals.
Did some hands on activities while learning about earthquakes. The next room
had some toys trucks for kids to play with, learn about communication and some
other fun things like a VR headset where you can look in and around a mining
site. Dynamic Earth also offers a trade program similar to that at Science
North. After we were done here we headed back downstairs and found the last
area to explore - This area was by far the kids (and my husband’s) favourite
part! Explora Mine is a multi-level play area with foam ore that the kids could
transport up a skip to unload into wheelbarrows, move across the mine and to
send down a chute again. There are stairs to get up and a slide for the kids to
come down. Once they’ve had their fill of the play structure they can pan for
gold and actually find real gold to take home!
In my husband’s words, he had “Gold Fever” and was determined to find
something to take home. The pieces are small, with the largest being the size
of a sesame seed, but once you get the process down seemed to be easy enough to
spot, and I found one after a couple tries!
There are also video type games for
kids a little older than mine that let them try their hand at operating the
Back on the upper level, just outside the Earth Gallery is
the Outdoor Science Park, a huge outdoor playground where they have
incorporated mining equipment (full size and scaled down) into the stations. The last thing to do before we left was take a
picture with the Big Nickle. It was about 5pm when we left and the sun was directly
behind the nickle so we ended up with darker photos, but still a great reminder
of the fun we had.
Overall we had a great trip to Sudbury and plan to return so
we can explore a little more of the area, and spend more time at both Science
North and Dynamic Earth as I know there is a lot more for us to see and learn.
For more photos and perspectives on activities to do in
Sudbury check on #LWABSudbury on social media!