Toronto is a city that caters to almost anyone — it is kid-friendly, multinational, and has a vibrant culture. The capital of Ontario, Toronto, is the most populated city in Canada and the most diverse. Exploring the city is a unique experience, because many neighborhoods host distinctive shops and places to eat, such as Kensington Market. One of the best ways to explore the city is through a free heritage walk or a city-sponsored and themed “discovery walk” around the city.
The city is brimming with activity, and you will not lack for something to see or do. Toronto has a reputation for high-quality, live theatre, and it now boasts the third largest theatre scene in the world.
Of course, there is a lot to like for the sports lovers because Toronto has several professional teams, including baseball’s Blue Jays, the Maple Leafs hockey team, basketball’s Raptors, and soccer’s Toronto FC. The city also has a football team (the Argonauts), a lacrosse team (the Toronto Rock) and a second hockey team (the Marlies) that is affiliated with the Maple Leafs.
In getting around Toronto, it is quite manageable by foot or on public transit. There is also “Bike Share Toronto,” which is similar to New York City’s own bike-sharing program. One of the best resources available while exploring Toronto is the “See Toronto” mobile app, which can be downloaded for free and will list things to see and do while you are there. The app includes easy-to-search listings for events, dining, attractions, and shopping.
A great way to see attractions at a discounted price is to purchase a CityPASS, which is a booklet that will give you admission to five tourist attractions. CityPASS booklets are valid for nine consecutive days, beginning with the first day of use, and it allows you to skip most admission ticket lines. In the booklet, you will find your tickets, detailed attraction information, coupons, and a map.
Shnieka Johnson is an education consultant and freelance writer. She is based in Manhattan, where she resides with her husband and son. Contact her via her website, www.shnie
Black Creek Pioneer Village
[1000 Murray Ross Pkwy., (416) 736–1733, www.blackcreek.ca]
Toronto’s largest outdoor living history museum. Take your family to enjoy a unique experience, and learn what it was like to live in rural Ontario. You can learn about Victorian costumes, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and see the process of making maple syrup using traditional syrup cauldrons.
Hockey Hall of Fame
[30 Yonge St. between Wellington Street W and Front Street E, (416) 360–7735, www.hhof.com]
At 60,000 square feet, the Hall of Fame offers something for every member of the family. The space showcases a collection of hockey artifacts, offers hands-on activities that challenge shooting and goal-keeping skills. There are also themed exhibits dedicated to the game’s greatest players, teams, and achievements. For the tech savvy, you’ll find multimedia stations to further learning about the sport.
[6650 Niagara Pwky., (905) 358–3268, www.niagaraparks.com]
One of the Seven Wonders of the World is just a short drive from Toronto. Experience the power of the Falls and the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
[288 Bremner Blvd. at Lower Simcoe Street, (647) 351–FISH (3474), www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada]
Canada’s largest indoor aquarium, it features extensive exhibits and touch pools for hands-on learning. A very special activity offered at the aquarium is the “Family Sleepover.” (Please note, there is an additional fee to stay overnight.) You and your family can spend the evening exploring the aquarium, participating in hands-on experiences, and learning about the animals, and then tuck into your sleeping bags in the “Dangerous Lagoon” shark tunnel. Upcoming Family Sleepover Dates: May 23, June 13, and June 27.
[55 Centre Ave. between Dundas Street W and Armoury Street, (416) 599–5321, www.textilemuseum.ca/]
The museum houses more than 13,000 textile artifacts, archaeological to contemporary. The museum addresses the nuances of cultures and identities in a global context. Through initiatives like TXTilecity, the museum moves beyond its physical space and merges into the diverse communities that surround it in new ways, and in new spaces.
[301 Front St. W at Lower Simcoe Street, (416) 86–TOWER (868-6937), http://cntower.ca/]
In the heart of the Toronto Entertainment District, Canada’s most celebrated piece of architecture, the CN Tower offers the most spectacular views of Toronto. This is an entertainment and dining destination with two observation levels and an outdoor SkyTerrace.
[1 Austin Terr. at Walmer Road, (416) 923–1171, http://casaloma.org/]
Casa Loma is the only landmark castle in North America. Your family can explore secret passages and tunnels, tour the stables, or view an exhibition of vintage cars from the 1900s. Take a look at the city view from various towers. The castle’s gardens are open May through October.
Ontario Science Center
[770 Don Mills Road between Eglinton Avenue East and Gateway Boulevard, (416) 696–1000, http://ontariosciencecentre.ca/]
The science center boasts interactive experiences, more than 500 exhibits, live demonstrations, a planetarium, and IMAX dome theatre. Your little one will love KidSpark, a playground and learning space for children, ages 1 to 8.
Royal Ontario Museum
[100 Queen’s Park at Bloor Street W and Charles Street W. Main entrance off Bloor Street West in the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, (416) 586–8000, http://www.rom.on.ca/]
This is Canada’s largest museum of natural history and world cultures. Whether your child loves dinosaurs, is interested in history or nature — there’s something exciting for everyone at this museum!
[2000 Meadowvale Rd., Northeast of downtown at Highway 401 and Meadowvale Road (exit 389), (416) 392–5929, http://torontozoo.com/]
The 700-acre zoo showcases more than 5,000 animals, representing 450 species. Learn how the Toronto Zoo is working to protect animals and endangered species at home and abroad. Open year round! Bring the kids in spring, summer, fall, or winter!