When we remember a place, it’s the details that shape the memory. The feel of waxy apple skins when you went orchard picking. The press of wind against your cheeks as you skydived from the clouds. And the scratchy powder dusting your fingertips as you rock climbed to the peak.
As part of our Travel Sensations series, we asked 1,200 Canadians about their favourite hands-on experiences. With answers ranging from animal encounters to interactive exhibits to food tours, we knew a guide to the best hands-on experiences was in order!
Like a whisper tapping on your skin, the pads of butterfly feet on your arm is a unique sensation. A little tickling and endearing, it’s unlike anything else. Feel it yourself at the top-rated Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.
As you thumb the waxy apple skins, you can discern which are the juiciest fruits you want to pick. All you need is the perfect place to find the crisp treasures, and that means a trip to Apple Land Station in Dorchester. Feel the weight of fruit in your palm before sinking in your incisors for a bite.
Surfboard wax under your toes gives you the sticky grip you need as the brisk waves wash over your feet and lap at your ankles. Make a date at the popular East Coast Surf School and start hanging ten.
You haven’t had a yoga session like this before. While you’re in lotus position at Grotto Gardens, wiry-haired goats meander around you, looking for love. Give these funny creatures a scratch and they may even press their cold nose to your face.
With strong willow reeds in your hands, you can learn how to weave them into baskets and art pieces. The Branch Ranch grows their own willows and offers on-site workshops throughout the year. Let your hands thread the scratchy willows into your own creation.
Sitting in the mouth of a waterslide, with the rush of water beneath you and the hard plastic encasing you, you might feel some nerves. But once you let go and your body turns into a torpedo, you’ll want to do it all over again. For the best slides, go to Calypso Waterpark, the largest waterpark in in the country.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame offers the chance to experience the sports world in an immersive way. Sit in the interactive wheelchair model where you try to beat Chantal Petitclerc’s record by rolling the wheels at top speeds. You can also learn how to contort your body like ski jumpers through the ski simulation.
Petting zoos are quintessential to childhood. You and the kids will light up when you run your hands along puffs of lamb wool, the short pelts of rabbits, and coarse goat hair of at The10 Acre Woods.
Gripping your hands on the steering wheel and feeling the vibrations of an exotic car beneath you is a game-changing sensation. At Toronto Motorsports Park, you can test drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or Porsche on the race track. Let those rumbles make their way through your body as you cross the finish line.
Slicing through the air as you fall to earth belongs on your bucket list. Skydive South Sask helps you suit up and cut through the atmosphere. The rush of oxygen tingling your face will perk you up like nothing else.
If your favourite museum doesn’t include the sensation of smooth chocolate on the tongue, you might want to rethink your priorities. The Chocolate Museum offers a tasting station, where you can feel the textures of different chocolates in your mouth before they melt into rich syrup.
The Ingenium Museum is home to a world of science and innovation as far as the eye can see. But it gives you something for your hands, too. Snap together LEGO® into pieces of art, ride the bicycle simulators, climb the mini rock wall, and slot together materials to make robots.
With dusted hands, the pads of your fingers will seek the jagged, hard rocks as you pull yourself up to the summit. Rock climbing is a full-body experience of arms and legs and ballet-precise toes. Squamish has some of the best routes in the country, with climbs on Shannon Falls and Smoke Bluffs.
Photo via @browniephoto
With smooth silks wrapped around your torso and arms, you’ll float above the ground. Or, perhaps you’d prefer to fly, as you grab hold of the swinging metal bars of a trapeze. However it is you want to twist and lift your body, workshops at Kingston Circus Arts will leave you feeling weightless.