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Family Wonder at its finest

Make some family memories on St. Joseph Island. • Credit: Algoma Country
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Family Wonder at its finest

St. Joseph Island is great place for families with small children

Travel enlightens and educates. Located just 2 hours from my home is an island I had yet to discover. Last month, with three children in tow, we made our way to this little island, located just 40 minutes outside of Sault Ste. Marie. What I ended up discovering was an island full of educational attractions and rich in history.

hilton beach inn st joseph islandOur first stop -- Hilton Beach Inn.

Located steps from the dock, the Hilton Beach Inn is a quaint family-owned inn located steps from the Hilton Beach Marina. The rooms at the inn are cozy and slightly rustic with modern touches throughout. Our room suite was located on the upper floor of the inn and offered two floors of home comforts. A queen-size bed, pull-out sofa and full kitchen were located on the upper level, overlooking the dock. The massive windows provided plenty of sun and beautiful views. Downstairs you had a sauna and Jacuzzi tub with a separate entrance. Space and overall layout were so ideal for families that my husband and I are discussing a quick weekend getaway for the upcoming winter months as the island is open year-round!

Dinner was served downstairs in the Island Bar and Grill. The menu consists of Fish and Chips made with whitefish caught fresh from the island as well as burgers and other grill-side options.

hilton beach marinaHilton Beach Marina is a park-like environment with a scenic one-mile-long boardwalk and many picnic tables and fragrant flowering crab apple trees.

We had a relaxing afternoon and evening at Hilton Beach. Walking by the docks, along the beach and playing at the playground after enjoying an ice cream treat. It was the perfect beginning to an adventure that was about to unfold.

The next day, we started off bright and early to Richards Landing. Located on the opposite side of the island, this little town is just 15 minutes from Hilton Beach. While studying a local map the previous night, I saw the mention of the Children's Library. I was intrigued. What I had expected to be a little library with some toys, turned out to be a magical place that moved me from the core.

childrenslibrary richardslandingMemorabilia and artifacts line the walls of this historic building, from the bear rugs to Chinese wedding dolls, to antique books.

Built in 1934, this historic building was founded by a woman in Michigan who used to visit Richards Landing every year during the summer months. Her passion for literacy and love for children is evident. After reading, playing and making some crafts in the craft room upstairs, my children were determined to stay all day, however, we had additional sights to see and I had to literally tear them away for the next adventure.

adcockswoodlandgardens stjosephislandYou can enjoy the gardens from spring to fall; wander the paths surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees.

On our way to Fort St. Joseph, you'll pass by Adcocks' Woodland Gardens. This beautiful property was created from the dreams of Russell and Eleanor Adcock. The couple has since passed but their son keeps the grounds meticulous and beautiful. All sorts of trees, flowers, shrubs and other natural wonders can be here. The kids were intrigued by the turtles and frogs located in the lily pad pond. It feels as if the gardens come straight out of a storybook. Admission is free and the property is run on donations only. A really beautiful spot!

fortstjosephThe ruins at Fort St. Joseph are an important Canadian archaeological site.

It's a national historic site of Canada and full of history it is indeed! Tour the original relics from the military and see where they slept, ate and stored all of their goods. You can even spot Michigan from the hill! Keep in mind you will not have any cell service at the Fort as it's so close to Michigan. Once we made our way back to the main building, we were treated to all sorts of interactive displays. My kids were fascinated with this little history lesson and still find it hard to believe there were no computers 'back then'. Along with the many relics and artifacts are traditional outfits worn by the soldiers. These are available for you or the kids to try on! For hours and admission prices, please visit Fort St. Joseph.

I had a moment on Fort St. Joseph when I was looking out over the edge towards Michigan. My youngest two were playing in the grass and I was among some of the relics from 1812. We had just finished two full, exciting and happy days on the island and there was no service on my cell phone as it was picking up signals from the United States on the precipice. My children had been asking questions about the attractions we had visited, they were excited and bubbling with all of the new information they learned on this picturesque island and that's when it hit me.

This is what family travel is all about. It's about making memories and learning together. Discovering new and exciting places whether they be the ones you find in guidebooks or the hidden gems off the beaten path.

(Photo credits: Nadia Carriere)

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