Are you ready for an awesome round up of all the awesome things to do in Toronto with kids? How have I not written this before?!
We have lived in Toronto for over twenty years and I have raised 2 kids living in Toronto. So, this means that I know all the best places to visit with kids…seriously. Yes, I know it says it is only 20 things to do, but SURPRISE I’ve included more than 20 things. In reality, the list is endless. Toronto is a hustling, bustling city. Depending on the age and interests of your family there really is something for everyone.
10 Awesome Things to do in Toronto with Kids
CN Tower – Okay, I’m starting my list at the ultimate place to start when visiting Toronto. Head to the CN Tower and get a unique perspective on the city. Brave folks might want to take on the Edge Walk – you know, walking on the edge of the freaking tower! If you aren’t quite that brave (crazy) taking a walk on the glass floor might be more your speed. It truly is a uniquely Toronto experience.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – At the base of the CN Tower you will find Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – which is a blast for kids of all ages. Hang out in the underwater gallery with the sharks, sea turtles and saw fish. Experience a beautiful sensory trip through the jelly fish gallery. The kids can get hands on with sting rays in Ray Bay. Both of the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium suggest visitors book advanced tickets – be sure to book in advance. There is even a discounted combo ticket for both attractions.
Baseball? Hockey? Football? Basketball? Soccer? – Toronto has a booming sports scene. If you are looking for a sporting adventure, anytime of the year, you will find a game to see. Let’s see – the Toronto Blue Jays, the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto FC, the Toronto Argonauts, etc. If you weren’t able to get tickets to the big game, not to worry. Head to the Hockey Hall of Fame to see the Stanley Cup and more hockey memorabilia than you can handle. Grab a bite to eat at Wayne Gretzky’s sports bar or get the full on sports viewing experience at Real Sports Bar & Grill. Sports fans will not be disappointed when visiting Toronto.
Toronto Islands – Okay, let’s take it outside. Did you even know that Toronto had islands? I like to think of the Toronto Islands as our Central Park…but, better. The best thing about our beautiful islands is how inexpensive they are to explore. Pack a picnic, take a trip on the ferry and hit one of the Toronto Island beaches. If relaxing on the beach isn’t for you, take the kids to Centreville Amusement Park. Rent a four seater bike and ride from one end of the islands to the other. We love stopping at the Ward’s Island Cafe for ice cream before taking the ferry back to the city.
ROM – The Royal Ontario Museum is the largest museum in Canada and is home to a tremendous collection of art, world culture and natural history – and a whole lot of dinosaurs! Families will get lost checking out all of the hands on displays and activities. A visit to the bat cave is an absolute must. Here’s a little insider tip – across the street from the ROM is the Gardiner Museum – home to ceramics, textiles and jewelry. The Gardiner Museum offers kid friendly workshops on weekends, so be sure to check what is on schedule while you’re visiting.
Kensington Market – And now for something completely different. If you have tweens and teens then you have to head to the quirky Kensington Market neighbourhood. On Sunday’s in the summer this are is a car-free zone, pedestrians take over. Foodies and fashionistas will fall in love with everything this community has to offer. This truly is a unique, artistic and creative area of the city where families can stroll the day away – bouncing from coffee shop to taco bar to vintage clothing shop. The kids will love a visit to the Blue Banana Market and Wanda’s Pie in the Sky pies are THE BEST!
High Park – Travel to the west end of Toronto and take in the beauty of High Park. The giant castle playground is a kid’s dream come true. There’s a little zoo and a city run swimming pool. The park is a wonderful place to hike and explore. Depending on the time of year you are visiting you can take in a variety of events. Join a guided tour with the High Park Nature group and learn about the wildlife living in the park. Spring brings the cherry tree festival and Shakespeare takes over the park in the summer.
Nathan Phillip Square – Another iconic Toronto building can be found in Nathan Philips Square. Home to one of Toronto’s city halls (ya, we have 2), Nathan Philip Square is a bustling gathering spot. In the winter you can rent skates and take to the ice. In the summer, there is a different festival in the square every weekend. You can also take an Instagram-worthy picture with the Toronto sign.
The Beach – Okay, I’m kinda partial to this one…this is where I live. Ride the streetcar as far east as you can go and you’ll find yourself in the Beach neighbourhood. If you’re visiting in the summer don’t forget your sunblock and your beach towels. Woodbine Beach is one of the most popular spots to hang out on a hot summer day. Bring along a volleyball and play a game on the beach volley ball courts. Take a dip in the elevated, Olympic sized Donald Summerville pool…it’s free! Be sure to take the kids to play in the castle park playground in Kew Gardens. You’ll find plenty of ice cream shoppes and places to eat along Queen Street East. If you’re planning your trip in July – be sure to check out the International Jazz Festival…a bopping and hopping music music festival that takes the music to the parks and the streets.
Evergreen Brick Works and Don Valley Trails – A major geographic feature of Toronto is the lush Don Valley. While most visitors soley associate the valley with the major thurway, the Don Valley Parkway, there is a hidden gem in our valley. The Evergreen Brick Works is a space like no other in our city. Go for a hike along the winding trails, go turtle spotting in the ponds or climb to the top of the valley. There is always something happening in the children’s garden – a space where kids can explore, play, make crafts and help cook food in the outdoor oven. Weekends are a busy time at the Brick Works – farmers’ markets, festivals and tours can be found. Be sure to grab a bite to eat at Cafe Belong – seasonal, rustic meals and delicious baked goods. Now, you can take transit to the Brick Works (there is a shuttle bus from Broadview subway station) or you can bike your way along the Don Valley bike trails. Bike enthusiasts will love taking the 32 km winding, paved and well maintained trails from the Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine in the north. A truly beautiful way to see the city.
A city of neighbourhoods – I’m sure you’ve heard that Toronto is a diverse city – a city of neighbourhoods. This is where your creativity kicks in. As a visitor, what part of Toronto and thus the world would you like to explore? You will find a different pocket of our city for every part of the world. From Chinatown, Little India, Greektown, Koreatown, Portugal Village to Little Poland – you can travel the world in a streetcar. Which leads to my next suggestion…
Harbourfront Centre – I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest that you visit Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre and the surrounding stretch of the lakeshore. All year round the Centre features a different cultural festival or event. Skate in the winter or go for a canoe ride in the summer. Visit the music garden, designed by Yo Yo Ma. Take in a concert at the amphitheatre. Discover a new artist at the Power Plant art gallery. There really are endless things to do in and around the Harbourfront Centre.
I could keep on listing things to do in Toronto. I haven’t even touched on the inspiring Art Gallery of Ontario, the shopping mecca The Eaton Centre, Yonge and Dundas Square or every kids’ dream – a trip to the Ontario Science Centre. Hipsters won’t want to miss shopping along Queen Street, West or people watching in Yorkville. When I visit new cities I like to make a trip to the city’s libraries and Toronto’s branches don’t disappoint. The Lillian H. Smith Library is beautiful and our Toronto Reference Library was even featured in The Weeknd’s music video – it’s pretty cool.
Did your favourite spot to visit make my list? Share it in the comments below.
I love the city I live in and I hope during your visit to Toronto you come to love our city too.
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