12 Things Your Kids Can Do in Sunset Country

The Kids Won't Be Bored!
Gerry Cariou
By Gerry Cariou

Gerry Cariou is the Executive Director of Ontario's Sunset Country.

Last Updated: November 6, 2019

Let Mother Nature Take Over & See What Happens

So you want to visit Ontario's Sunset Country for your next family vacation but you're unsure whether or not there is enough here to keep your kids entertained. Well, you can stop worrying. Not only will your kids find lots of things to do once they get here, but you'll also likely hear that they'd like to come back on the way home when the vacation is over. How's that you say? Well, speaking from experience no matter how wired your kids are, once they get immersed in the wonder of nature - even if reluctantly at first - you'll see a change in them you might not have thought was possible. Boredom and complaining will be nowhere to be found.

Mother Nature has a unique way of mesmerizing a child, of stirring their natural curiosity and desire to explore. Trust me, I've seen this happen before my own eyes with both my kids. Here are a few suggestions of things can plan or do spontaneously that will entertain your kids, allow you to relax and ensure that everyone has a fun time!

The Beach is a great place to start if your looking for something to do with your kids

1. Take Them to the Beach

With over 70,000 lakes, going swimming at the beach may be a self-evident first choice for the kids, but it's also a great choice for mom and dad on a hot July day! We're not kidding when we say almost every community in Ontario's Sunset Country has at least one beach to swim at - Kenora has five! Here's a list

Beaches in Sunset Country
Atikokan - Dawson Trail Campground (Quetico Park) Fort Frances - Point Park 
Rainy River - Hannam Park Beach Emo - Lion's Park Beach
Morson - Oscar's Bay Beach Nestor Falls - Caliper Lake Prov. Park
Sioux Narrows - Sioux Narrows Prov. Park Kenora - Garrow, Anicinabe, Coney, Norman, Keewatin
Dryden - Ghost Lake, Johnson's Landing, Sandy, Aaron Prov. Park Ear Falls - Waterfront Park, Pakwash Prov. Park
Red Lake - Rahill Beach, Keesic Beach Vermilion Bay - Kinsmen Beach, Blue Lake Prov. Park
Ignace - West Beach, Agimak Beach, Sandbar Prov. Park Sioux Lookout - Farlinger Town Beach, Second Sandy, Ojibway Prov. Park
Pickle Lake - Pickle Lake Town Beach Hundreds of wilderness beaches (boat-in)

 

2. Take Them Paddling

There's really no better place for your kid's first paddling experience than Ontario's Sunset Country. You can consider a fully-guided canoe trip or rent a kayak or SUP at a retailer in one of the towns. Our flat water surfaces are great environments to teach kids the basics and possibly, instill a life long passion in them.

3. Take Them to a Pow Wow

Sunset Country has been home to Indigenous people for thousands of years and with that is a history full of unique cultural traditions. During the summer months, the many Indigenous communities in the region host a Pow Wow that is often open to the public. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the vibrant costumes, dances, meet with new people and to teach your children about Indigenous culture and traditions. 

4. Go Camping

While this is more involved than a daytime activity, camping is a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors, the lake and nature. You don't have to rough either. There are full-service campgrounds across the region or you could spend a night in a tent in one of our many Provincial Parks

A night out camping gives you the chance to see the northern lights

5. Take a Kid Fishing

Even if you're not an angler yourself, you and your kids can still enjoy the activity that is the number one reason people visit Sunset Country - fishing! The best option, in this case, is to hire the services of a local fishing guide. Even simpler than that is just buy your kids a couple of fishing rods and go down to the docks in any community and try to catch a fish. It's a really fun way to spend the afternoon.

6. Plan a Houseboat Vacation

Yep, there's a lot more involved when you plan a houseboat vacation but the memories you'll get from a week with your family and friends on the water will last a lifetime! Essentially you're renting a cabin that floats, one you beach every night and enjoy the sunsets from its deck. You can swim, fish and explore the vast waterways on beautiful summer days. We have several houseboat rental operations you can choose from and you can explore Lac Seul or Lake of the Woods!

Needless to say, the kids will have fun on a houseboat

7. Explore a Local Museum

Now you may think you're kids will let out a collective groan when you tell them about your idea to go to the local museum but don't let that stop you. That's because once they actually get inside, what they will see will often mesmerize them. Sunset Country is very well-known for the quality and diversity of the exhibits at its museums. Many offer themed exhibits pertaining to a specific subject. Regardless, almost every town in the region has a museum that tells the story of the local area history. It is a great way to spend a rainy day. 

Museums & Historic Sites in Sunset Country
Atikokan - Centennial Museum Fort Frances - Museum & Hallet Tour
Ignace - Dennis Smyk Heritage Centre Dryden - Dryden District Museum
Ear Falls - Ear Falls & District Museum Red Lake - Heritage Centre
Emo - District Women's Institute & Museum Rainy River - Railroad Heritage Museum
Sioux Lookout - Community Museum Kenora - The Muse
Thunder Bay - Fort William Historical Park 

Stratton - Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung

Sioux Narrows/Nestor Falls - Northern Ontario Sportfishing Centre

 

8. Take Them Foraging

Foraging is simply the act of taking your kids into the woods to collect interesting things. This could include food - e.g. picking wild blueberries - or hunting for shed antlers from deer and moose. With our large population of ungulates (moose and whitetail deer), we have a good supply of shed antlers lying around on the forest floor across the region. Shed antler hunting is a unique and fun activity that with a bit of planning, can be safe and fun for your children to do. It's an activity best suited for Spring when the air is warm but there are still small patches of snow left on the ground. Look for shed antlers in areas where deer or moose bed down and along game trails in the woods. For safety reasons, hiring a guide the first time is a really good idea! Many hunting guides will consider taking a group out for this activity. It can also include activities like rock hunting (the quartz crystals are the most sought after) or looking for certain species of plants or animals. It's a great opportunity to trigger your child's natural sense of exploration while they learn at the same time.

Forage for shed antlers - a unique activity your kids would love!

9. Watersports of All Kinds

So we already talked about swimming but with the thousands of lakes we have, it's worth the effort to rent a boat and actually get out on the water. Boating is an overlooked pleasure and yes, it's a sport. You can also take it a step further with the kids in tow on a tube, waterskis you can even go snorkeling. There's also the multitude of paddling opportunities we've already mentioned and of course, fishing. Kenora, Atikokan, and Dryden also have ski hills where you can go downhill skiing or snowboarding - who says you can't have a good time in the winter! The beauty of the Boreal forest during the winter months is something to behold and you may see wildlife along the trail like a grouse in winter feathers, a fox, and many birds that stay over the winter. 

Water skiing is something kids love and with all our lakes, is a readily available activity.

10. Hiking and Biking

There are a lot of trail systems in Sunset Country and virtually every community has a local system of trails you can hike or bike on. Here is a good read on the places you can go hiking and biking in Ontario's Sunset Country. The benefits of a trail system are the fact you know how long and how difficult the trail is so you can determine if your kids can handle it. Trails here range from easy to difficult so that's something to consider when selecting what trails to go on. 

11. Floatplane & Boat Tours

A super memorable experience for you and your kids involves going up in a floatplane and seeing Sunset Country from the air. Your birds-eye view offers diamond blue lakes, one after the other, studded with emerald green trees and countless islands and bays. You may get a glimpse of wildlife if you're lucky. The same can be said for taking a boat tour. There's even an indigenous guide in Nestor Falls who will take you and your family out on an interpretive boat tour of Crow (Kakagi) Lake. Whether it's from the air or from the water, a floatplane or boat tour is something you should consider! 

A flight-seeing tour of Sunset Country is a must-do!

12. Winter Activities for Kids

Yes, we do get visitors during our long and cold winters and if you happen to be here during this season, you'll discover lots of fun activities you can do with your kids. For starters, you can go ice fishing on one of our many lakes - self or fully-guided it's up to you. Obviously, if you're going to take the kids, make sure you prepare properly and go where you know the ice is safe. For the novice, an experienced guide is highly recommended. In winter, our hiking and biking trails become ski trails and did you know that Ontario has one of the largest and least congested snowmobile trail systems in the world? Atikokan, Dryden, and Kenora also have ski hills offering downhill skiing and snowboarding. You can even go tobogganing!

Start Planning Your Vacation to Sunset Country Today!

So this is only a list of 12 things you can do with your kids while on vacation in Ontario's Sunset Country. You can view our digital travel guide or request a printed copy sent to you in the mail.

Get a copy of the Sunset Country Travel & Vacation Guide & Map