Stellar Family Vacations: Experiencing Toronto
Why one of the world’s most diverse cities should be on every family’s list of vacation spots
Experiencing Toronto is a highlight for families, couples, and single travlers.
It’s a funny time of year in Toronto. Spring hasn’t fully arrived (oh hey, April snow, nice to see you again, please leave) and summer doesn’t yet feel like it’s around the corner.
Rest assured that it is coming. Your next block of vacation time will be here before you know it. So if you’re wondering where to take the kids for your next vacation or living here doing the staycation thing, LifeTales has you covered.
Remember your vacation, no matter where you go
Vacations almost always feel too short, but the memories they create can last forever—provided you jot the details down while they’re fresh
LifeTales Collections are the perfect perfect way to:
- Share your vacation memories with family and friends.
- Duplicate those stories to your child’s special Child Journal collection. That way, you don’t have to upload everything twice. Add a few private moments here to capture personal details about your child’s experience that you might not want to share with everyone.
- Collaborate with your family to effortlessly build a shared album of your adventures that you can all keep, share and enjoy. Here’s an example that our team member Aaron created with his mom and brother after their trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in December 2018.
Anyway, back to Toronto spots you won’t want to miss.
So, why Toronto?
Okay, we admit it. We’re completely biased. Toronto’s undeniably one of the coolest cities in the world (even the New York Times says so). Whether you’re visiting in winter or summer, Toronto has a huge range of activities to offer to families with kids of all ages.
We asked our team to kick in ideas for some fantastic Toronto family destinations, some mainstream and some a little off kilter. Here’s what they said.
Warm-weather activities: The Usual Suspects
So let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way:
- The CN Tower—get your freak on with the EdgeWalk if you’ve got the stomach for it. Our CEO, Harvey Beck, tried it and survived.
- Ride the coasters at Canada’s Wonderland. The Yukon Striker is their new ride and it looks suitably terrifying.
- Experience the Ontario Science Centre, which is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2019.
- Watch some aquatic friends at Ripley’s Aquarium. We recommend the yoga experience.
- Get your dinosaur fix at the Royal Ontario Museum.
- Check out the new permanent Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibit at The Art Gallery of Ontario (opens to the public May 25, 2019).
- Pet the animals and have a picnic at Riverdale Farm.
- Have a safari-like experience at African Lion Safari. Fair warning: the monkeys are fond of peeling metal accents from cars, so maybe not a good place to drive the Bugatti.
- Catch a Blue Jays game or hop on the ferry to see the Toronto islands. At less than $10 a ticket, it’s the cheapest water tour in town and will give you a gorgeous view of the city.
- Check out some of Toronto’s boutique museums, such as the Bata Shoe Muesum, The Aga Khan or the Gardiner Museum.
- Summerlicious, the city’s annual food celebration, provides an excellent crib sheet for some of the best places to eat.
Experience a neighbourhood
You can’t visit Toronto without experiencing a neighborhood.
- The Beaches in the city’s east end. Enjoy a family stroll along the boardwalk. If you’ve got older, thrill-seeking kids, check out the Donald D. Summerville Olympic pool. Jump off the 10 metre diving platform if you dare!
- The Annex, Kensington Village and Chinatown—a classic neighborhood cluster featuring old and new architecture, shops and markets. Check out official walking tours like Frommer’s, go with a local tour group, or wander. Near the Annex, Wychwood has a beautiful public park perfect for late evening strolls.
- Queen West is home to great fashion, a slew of shops and restaurants, and many companies in Toronto’s growing tech sector. It also houses Graffiti Alley. In spring, visit Trinity Bellwoods Park to see some spectacular cherry blossom trees. For a peak experience, grab a cone at la Diperie, bring a picnic blanket and watch the trendy dog-walking, baby-toting masses. Bonus points for spotting the park’s infamous white squirrel.
- Blood West Village’s High Park, Toronto’s Central Park, also has spectacular cherry blossom trees and formal gardens. If visiting during blossom season, be prepared for crowds. In July, the park hosts Shakespeare performances. For kids under 10, you’ll want to check out the petting zoo and Jamie Bell Adventure Park. The castle structure’s extremely popular with kids, but the poor sight lines make it a uniquely stressful Toronto experience. Grab coffee at Grenadier Cafe and embrace your inner helicopter parent.
- St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District are great places to stroll. They’re popular with condo-dwelling families, young professionals and some of Toronto’s happening art scene.
Get rolling on a bicycle
In spite of its hectic car traffic, Toronto has an ardent and growing cycling community. If you’re coming in from out of town, there are many places to rent bikes and gear.
Areas we recommend include:
- Don Valley ravine system
- Humber Valley ravine system
- High Park—the ring road is very popular with cyclists, although the car traffic is heavy in summer. If you venture on the walking trials, be prepared for some steep hills.
- The city’s Waterfront trail, which is broken into several pieces.
- The Scarborough Bluffs also have spectacular views and some of the parks have cycling trails.
- Tommy Thompson waterfront park, also known as the Leslie Street Spit, is widely considered one of the best places to watch birds and other wildlife. It’s named for the Group of Seven artist Tom Thompson.
The skiing north of Toronto won’t impress visitors more accustomed to the Rocky Mountains or other notable mountain ranges. But, the hills in Barrie and Collingwood are as good as it gets for Southern Ontario. They’re perfect places to learn for kids and teens increasing their skills. Check out Blue Mountain, Mount St. Louis Moonstone and Horseshoe Valley. The resorts also offer warm-weather activities like hiking and golf.
Don’t enjoy hurtling down a steep pitch on two fibreglass planks? No problem. Ontario’s ski destinations also provide cold-weather alternatives. Snow Valley has a tubing course. Blue Mountain has a figure skating ring at the top of the mountain through a wooded trail. And, you can opt for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, weather permitting.
Albion Hills is also within day-trip distance of Toronto. The conversation area is known for its cross-country trails.
Season depending, you can also try the skating trail under the Gardiner Expressway, check out the holiday lights at Ontario Place or visit the Christmas Market in the Distillery District (December only).
Nah, I’d rather be warm, thanks
More of an indoor person? We get it.
Visit Toronto in late January and early February during Winterlicious. You can eat your way through the best restaurants the city has to offer as part of this annual gastronomic celebration.
Missing summer days in the water? Try your Tarzan skills with the rope swing at the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre (also known as the Regent Park pool).
Got stories? Get in touch
Want more suggestions for experiencing Toronto? BlogTO has a great list to get you started.
Have more suggestions? Get in touch at email@example.com. We’d love to feature your vacation destination or hear about other topics we should explore.