This four-kilometre beach resort on Lake Erie is the most underrated autumn vacation destination less than two hours from Toronto

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This four-kilometre beach resort on Lake Erie is the most underrated autumn vacation destination less than two hours from Toronto

One small silver lining of the pandemic has been how Torontonians have been forced to explore their own backyards, going camping in remote woodlands, driving through picturesque Ontario towns or discovering epic off-the-grid hiking trails. While the chance of scoring a rental cottage was laughable during the summer months, fall offers a renewed opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful colours and refreshingly crisp weather for a mini family vacation—one that doesn’t involve any airport schlepping or excessive packing. Our favourite recommendation for families on the hunt for a peaceful yet entertaining weekend away right now? Sherkston Shores Beach Resort, the often unheard of yet activity-packed stretch of beach near Niagara.

Just a two-hour drive south of the city, the area, which is between Port Colborne and Fort Erie (only 20 minutes from Niagara Falls, ON), consists of a 560-acre resort setting and RV-friendly campground. The scenery is totally unique from other cottage locales in Ontario, as the space is built around four kilometres of sandy beaches that make you feel like you’re visiting the Hamptons. The views look out onto expansive Lake Erie, facing the States, with hardly a body of land in sight. The sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular, with the light turning the water a dreamy shade of turquoise.

For families who crave a bit more stimulation while on holiday, the area offers tons of organized events and activities for all resort guests, many of which are still open (though held outside wherever possible) during Covid. This October, for instance, the calendar boasts aqua zumba in the resort’s pool, sunset stretching and tai chi on the beach, beginner’s yoga on the soccer field and golf cart bingo in a parking lot. On top of that, every stay gives you something called a “FunPlex” pass, with free access to the water park, 18-hole mini golf course, a fish-filled quarry, a skate park and weekly firework shows from Father’s Day until Labour Day. There’s also all manner of sports courts— including tennis, ball hockey, basketball, pickleball and volleyball—for active kids needing to blow off some steam. Although mainly open during the summer months, for those looking for an adrenaline rush, Sherkston Shores Beach Resort also offers Rock Climbing and High Ropes Aerial Course, Bungee Trampoline, Axe Throwing, Paintball, Archery and watersport rentals. Plus, the on-site grocery store ensures you never have to fret about running out of provisions in the middle of a fun-filled weekend; did we mention the on-site grocery store also has an LCBO/Beer Store outlet – you really never have to leave.

When it comes to rental options, there are a variety of choices, most of which you can still snag for a week or weekend this fall. The Luxury Black Diamond lakefront rentals are the slickest of the bunch, accommodating up to six people in a contemporary cabin, equipped with a beautiful rooftop patio which looks out over the lake. Among other high-end amenities, there’s a BBQ, bunk bed room for the kiddos and a fire pit for extending those cozy autumn evenings outdoors. The prices are super-affordable, typically around $200 per night—and you won’t get any seasonal gouging like on other rental sites.

The resort is open until October 31, leaving you plenty of time to hightail it out of the city in favour of gorgeous autumnal colours, outdoorsy exercise and unmatched lakeside views. But if an autumn getaway doesn’t work for you, don’t fret, reservations are open for the 2021 Spring and Summer season. And although the resort reopens May 1, due to sky-high demand for local getaways, we’d start looking for available bookings stat.

For more information, visit www.SherkstonVacations.com