With our summer adventures in the rearview mirror, it had been a while since our little family took a break from day-to-day life in Ottawa. So naturally, our girls were thrilled when their dad announced we had enough Marriott hotel points for a free stay at a Toronto hotel (the silver lining to his frequent work trips). Enter the mini vacay…the perfect antidote to the November doldrums.
While making our plans, we debated whether to book our stay at a downtown hotel or at a suburban location. With limited time during a two-day weekend – which also included visiting some relatives in suburban Toronto – we figured we wouldn’t get the chance to see too many downtown sites this time around. That meant that our biggest requirement was a pool for the kids to enjoy – as well as proximity to some family-friendly restaurants. So we opted to stay at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Vaughan.
After making the four-hour drive from Ottawa, we checked in to the hotel and continued a small family tradition: letting the kids take off their shoes and jump up and down on the bed. The novelty of hotel stays has not yet worn off for our girls, so this is their way of kicking off the party. As a parent, I’m thrilled to let them do it, as I relish in the fact that I won’t be the one making that bed all weekend!
While it didn’t exactly offer a spectacular view – we overlooked the parking lots of IKEA and Dave & Buster’s Restaurant – the hotel totally delivered for us. The front desk staff were friendly, the room was spacious and immaculate, and the pool was a great temperature for the kids to swim. Soon after checking in, we went for a family swim and subsequent hot tub soak. After working up an appetite, we started looking for supper options.
Sticking with the suburban theme of big-box convenience, we decided to try out Dave & Buster’s, which was a short walk from the hotel. While my husband was familiar with the U.S.-based restaurant/entertainment chain, I had never heard of it and was a bit curious to check it out.
My initial impression of Dave & Buster’s was that the place is absolutely cavernous (remember, the theme of all things Americana is “the bigger the better!”). This was probably heightened by the fact that we were four of about 25 people in the entire place, which felt more than a little strange. Nevertheless, we sat down at a booth in the vast dining room and perused the menu for supper. From the family perspective, I have to give them credit – they have a pretty extensive kids’ menu that pleased our girls; the highlight of the night being their thick, frosty milkshakes.
After we finished eating, we walked down the hall from the dining room to the games room – which was essentially a massive arcade. We bought a swipe card for $20 worth of games, then strolled around till we found games we wanted to try. Our five-year-old loved the Ice Age ‘Ice Breaker’ game (which was basically a modified version of Whack-a-Mole), while our eight-year-old tried out an interactive motorcycle racing game. But the best memory of the evening may have been our whole family going head-to-head at good, old-fashioned Skee ball. Things started off a bit shaky for the kids – who had never played before – balls were flying up in the air and landing in totally different lanes. But after an introductory lesson from Dad, the girls improved immensely; especially Elissa, who was thrilled to see her score increase with each round.
As we left the arcade, we noticed a huge line of people waiting to buy passes, and groups of people streamed in as we walked out the front doors. So it would seem that Dave & Buster’s is a pretty popular spot after all; as a mom to young kids, I sometimes forget that most people don’t choose to call it a night at 9 p.m.
After a full day of driving, swimming and arcade fun, we were all grateful for our comfy beds. The girls shared the pull-out couch, while Ian and I felt downright posh sleeping on a king-sized bed with a pillow-topped mattress. After all, sometimes the simplest indulgences are the best – made sweeter by the fact that you can share them with the ones you love the most.