Family Bonding in Burlington

Bonding Time During Our Staycation

We’ve had a big change this past year – our oldest child went away to university and lived in residence in another town. (Click here to see more of this.) bonding

As a very close family, this adjustment was not an easy one for any of us but we survived. Now, after a year of our son being independent, we need to make another adjustment to this adult who came home to live with us for the summer. It’s another big one too.

I have felt a bit of distance between the three of us and my son. He’s grown up so much this past year and we have to figure out our new roles. My husband and I need to learn to become the parents of a young adult and the siblings have to stop long enough in their individual lives to get to know each other again.

That is why I jumped at the chance to take a family “Staycation” recently in Burlington. I fell in love with Burlington last year when I visited to explore some awesome family destinations here and here. It was time for some bonding in Burlington!

This year, the whole family was invited to check things out and for our adventure, the top of the list was the Sound of Music Festival Kick Off Concert – a prelude to the annual 4 days of free concerts over the Father’s Day weekend. This concert happens every year in Burlington, and the bands they bring in are fantastic. There is always the ‘prelude’ concert you can buy tickets for followed by the free series. Click on the link above to find out what talent was in the free series this year – it was a very impressive lineup!   

Getting to know each other again

What a great trip it was. We visited many places as a family and instead of renting a car and having to worry about finding parking, we used Burlington Taxi to get us wherever we needed to be. They were always there on time, had an app for my phone that I could book the rides with, and they knew their way to all the places we were going.

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn where the staff was friendly, helpful and accommodating. The lobby is set out with many seating areas you can enjoy if you are waiting for your ride or you just need to have a few minutes on your own. Plus there is a terrific pool and weight room.

Our room itself was nicely appointed with enough space for the four of us. The beds – so comfortable! 

Play time

Friday night we visited Splitsville Entertainment for a few games of bowling, dinner and laser tag. This facility has recently been renovated and was so fun. We sat on couches while we waited to bowl, although with the advice everyone was handing out we didn’t sit much.

It made me so happy to see the kids talking about different ways to handle the ball, techniques to get a strike and how they encouraged each other. 

Dinner was tasty – pizza, hot and spicy cactus fries, jugs of pop and fries. Friday nights in the summer a stage is placed across a couple of lanes and live bands play. Saturday nights DJ Francis spins as you roll along. Many options to consider for parties or just family fun.

I have to admit that my favourite part of the visit was the laser tag in the City of Ruins. I fear a different side of me was revealed in that place – a much more vicious part previously very well hidden. I LOVED IT! I want more! (Honestly I wouldn’t hurt a fly in real life but here – wow very cathartic.) No family members were injured that night.


In the mornings we had the BEST breakfast with the Hilton Garden Inn’s buffet and made to order eggs. Breads, muffins, pastries, fruit, yogurt, hot dishes, cereals, hot drinks, juices and a waffle maker. Even the picky eater in the family was thrilled with the selection. 



After breakfast we headed downtown to poke through some shops by the waterfront. We stopped at the newest Tamp Coffee location for some bottles of their famous Cold Brew, iced chai latté and fresh baked donuts. I had a delicious iced mocha as well. It was a good chance to sit down and talk about our plans for the day.

The boys played some chess (they always seem to have a game on the go,) and my daughter and I discussed social media updates. It was nice to have actual face time over a table – so often we are running in and out of the house and not able to just sit and ‘be’ together. We decided to check out a few of the very awesome selection of shops downtown before heading back to the waterfront.

Tamp Coffee

We walked on the Burlington Pier to get a good look at Spencer Smith Park where the Sound of Music Festival was setting up. The pier is a great addition to this waterfront space – you can really appreciate the amount of waterfront Burlington has when you are on it. There was a lovely breeze that day too. Another day I’d like to bring a picnic lunch back and enjoy it on the pier.

It was a good time to gaze across the water and reflect about how lucky we were to be there together. It wasn’t an easy thing to with all of us having overlapping schedules and I really appreciated the efforts they went to to make this happen. Both kids are working at a Provincial park for the summer and my husband has most weekends booked with his job. I think right around this time we were all starting to feel relaxed and glad to have taken this three day vacation. This day was all about music and hanging out together and so far I think we were doing a pretty good job. 


Lunch back in town was at a brand new restaurant Boon Burger Café. They have a 100% animal free, plant based menu – their original location in Winnipeg was the world’s first ever vegan burger café. They offer an extensive menu of freshly prepared burgers, chilli, burritos, fries, salads, shakes and soft serve, plus a kid’s menu is available. Also made in store is delicious ‘help yourself’ lemon aid and iced tea. There are two locations in Manitoba, two in Ontario and a new one about to open in Guelph. 

The portions are HUGE as you can see. Everyone in our family was stuffed – including my son who is the opposite of vegetarian. He’d been worried about not having anything to eat but reported to the staff how pleasantly surprised and full he was. 

Boon Burger

Sound of Music Concert

Back to the waterfront and the Sound of Music kick off concerts we found a nice shady spot where we could see the whole stage up close. There were all sorts of food truck vendors and kiosks set up with every imaginable kind of treat. This musical day served as a prelude to the 4 day free concert series taking place the following Thursday to Sunday – just in time for Father’s Day. 

This was the impressive band lineup for the prelude concert, the day we were there:

Chemical Burn

chemical burn


The Watchmen

the Wathcmen

Pop Evil

pop evil

The Glorious Sons

The Glorious Sons



The Cult

The Cult

As we enjoyed each performance, we were able to talk and relax together as a family. It was a hot day but the breeze from the lake removed the humidity and you couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. Throughout the day the crowd was friendly and chatting with everyone – it felt like a big party! 


The bands brought our generations together as some were new and some had been around for a long time. We enjoyed current and new favourites and even managed to get a couple of CDs for the Glorious Sons and Chemical Burn.  

my honey

We took a break from the concert and had dinner nearby at the Paradiso Restaurant. They had a very colourful menu with delicious options including: Honey and Black Pepper Baked Brie, Shaved Beet Salad, Braised Beef Shortribs and the most wonderful Strawberry Bread Pudding I’ve had in a long time. Click the name of the restaurant to go to their website and have a feast with your eyes in the meantime:  bonding


bread pudding

Strawberry Bread Pudding


Royal Botanical Gardens

After a very refreshing sleep and another great breakfast we headed to one of my favourite places the Royal Botanical Gardens. I so loved introducing the family to this special place. My love of plants and flowers drives me to seek our beauty daily, (as you can see on my Instagram account) and my daughter has become quite the photographer too.

royal roses bonding

We were able to appreciate and capture many once in a lifetime images together. I never seem to be able to spend as much time there as I’d like but on this visit, we toured around Hendrie Park and then were able to head in to the Mediterranean Garden and the Cacti and Succulent Collection.

Generations bonding

These sculptures move me so much and inspire me to think of the potential of all of us. This is one of my all time favourite photos now that my kids are in it.

This display named “Generations” was created by Edwin and Veronica Dam de Nogales. I’m so happy my family was able to experience them. One day I’ll go back and see all of it – including the new Rock Garden. bonding

Lunch at the Greenhouse Café rounded up our trip to the Botanical Gardens. The new menu from Executive Chef Stephanie Brewster and her team is so delicious. 

Garden Cafe

tea sandwiches

Ireland House Museum

From there our last visit was to the Ireland House Museum. Our lovely tour guide was very knowledgeable and answered all our questions. They run camps for younger kids in the summer and also host birthday parties.


It is interesting to see how people of that time lived. There are so many things we take for granted like refrigerators and indoor plumbing, walk-in medical clinics and showers. Not to mention zippers and stores! We heard about how every member of the family had numerous jobs regardless of their age. 


I think it’s important to visit museums with your kids. They might not think they’ll be that interested, but every time I’ve taken mine to one they are enthralled. There is much to wrap your head around in terms of not only the historical significance of how far back in time these things happened but also how far we, as a people, have come. I think, overwhelmingly, gratitude for our current times is one of the best results you can have. At the very least it will be easier to get your kids to do their own chores after they see what kids from a century or two ago had to do. 

pretty antiques

And that logs another adventure with the Harris family. Making memories is my favourite hobby. Our goal this weekend was to spend quality time together and get to know each other again after a long year of absence. I think we accomplished that. 

Have you ever been to any of these places? I’d love to hear your stories too! Feel free to leave me a comment below or contact me at 

I’d like to thank Burlington Tourism for inviting us to investigate the places I’ve written about in this post. We did not pay to get in to the places I have written about and received gift cards to help cover the costs of meals – all opinions are genuine and my own.

Burlington has become a favourite destination for us and we plan to visit it many more times. I’d recommend these places to any family looking for time away from home to build memories. There are so many things to do in this town that I guarantee you will find something to appeal to all interests. 


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