When you’re travelling with kids, itinerary is everything. Even the slightest hint of boredom will set off the “I don’t wanna do this anymore” which inevitably leads to the “I hate this,” followed by “waaaaaaaaaaah!” (usually in a public place). Fortunately for you, the best things to do for families in Toronto check off all the right boxes, and our favourites won’t show up in a typical Toronto guidebook.
Skating at Nathan Phillips Square
Canadians skate. We do it to get through the winter. But at Nathan Phillips Square, we do it for the view and the vibe because it’s one of Toronto’s best venues. This outdoor rink is right in the middle of the city and is surrounded by skyscrapers and streetcars. The ice is always busy, the music’s always playing, and the iconic Toronto sign we got when we hosted the 2015 Pan Am Games is still there shining brightly. Renting skates is easy, and there’s always hot chocolate to warm up. And when the kids get tired you can walk across the street to TOYS TOYS TOYS in the Eaton Centre for some more fun.
An Afternoon at the Theatre
A spectacle for the kiddos. A break for you. Everybody wins. If you’re visiting from November to January, book tickets from Mirvish for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Visiting in the spring? The Sound of Music will be on stage: a singalong hit for the kids. Our suggestion? See a matinée. The tickets will be cheaper, and you can go for burgers at Shoeless Joe’s down the street after the show.
Ferry to Centre Island
Ask a local about local amusement parks and they’ll probably come back with Canada’s Wonderland — which is why it’s always so busy. Is it worth the hour drive from the hotel? Probably. But Centreville on Centre Island is DEFINITELY worth the 10-minute ferry ride. It’s walkable for little legs, and it has ponies, an antique Ferris wheel, a carousel and oh-so-cute pint-size rides. But the best part just might be getting there. You and the littles will love being on the boat, feeling the breeze, and seeing all of the skyscrapers from the water. The ferry dock is minutes from the Radisson Admiral Hotel, the ride is quick, and ferries come and go every half hour, so if you miss one you can relax, get everyone an ice cream, and wait for another.
The Happy Place exhibit at Harbourfront Centre is the most fun pop-up you might ever see in your life. It’s filled with life-size colourful installations like a 20-foot-tall double rainbow and ball pit, multi-sensory immersive rooms including an indoor confetti dome, and tons of other happy creations that send out positive vibes. You can even get a rainbow grilled cheese sandwich, and what kid doesn’t love grilled cheese? Go now if you can: it’s only open until January 1st.
If you want your kids to eat their entire dinner, promise them a visit to the best dessert place in town: Milk Bar Toronto. Don’t be fooled by their name — they serve up much more than milk (their flavoured milks are amazing though). We’re talking creative cakes, pies, cookies, truffles, milkshakes and lattes in a hip space the whole family will love. Our reco? Go for the Cereal Mix Soft Serve Sundae; it tastes just like the milk in a bowl of cornflakes! This place is well worth the trip after dinner or, even better, eat at Noodle Bar downstairs first.
Weekend Ball Game
Looking for something to do on a spring or summer afternoon? Head to the Rogers Centre during Blue Jays season for a weekend home game and Jr. Jays fun. On Saturdays and Sundays, kids under 14 can enjoy pregame stadium activities, have a chance to be selected for the pregame Jr. Jays starting line-up (including announcing the bottom half of the eighth) and, best of all, they get to head out on the field and run the bases after the game.
Crossed all that off your list? Need more? Head over to the Queen’s Quay Terminal and tell them we sent you.