Toronto is a vibrant metropolis welcoming visitors from all over the world. There is no shortage of kid friendly activities to enjoy on your Toronto family vacation, even with young kids. The list below is organized between Indoor and Outdoor options as weather in Toronto changes on a dime so one should always be prepared to adjust plans quickly.
Tip: Don’t let weather forecasts deter you, it may say 50% rain the entire day, but will end up being perfectly sunny until 4pm and next thing you know you have wasted a lovely day INSIDE. We were foolish to let this happen to us. Do as much outdoor as you can until the weather turns.
Traffic is horrendous in and around Toronto. We booked lodging outside the city and learned to check Google maps drive time estimates by changing the “leave at” setting. Usually we could wait 30 minutes in the morning and get downtown at the same time as if we had left and sat in the peak of traffic.
We ended up gridlocked for an hour near the harbor front, so if you visit make sure to avoid driving at peak times.
Included in this post:
- Outdoor Activities for Your Toronto Family Vacation
- Indoor Activities for Your Toronto Family Vacation
- Travelling by Car to Your Toronto Family Vacation?
Outdoor Activities for Your Toronto Family Vacation
Located in Scarborough Heights, Bluffers Beach is a sprawling, clean beach on Lake Ontario with towering bluffs surrounding it. It is an ideal spot for young kids to swim because it stays shallow quite far out and has lifeguards on duty. The lifeguards are staffed only in certain sections of the beach, so watch for their signs indicating the section of the beach that is supervised.
Parking here is a challenge on summer days, so park by 9:30am for any hope to get a spot in the adjacent lot. Otherwise, unload your supplies and send one person to park in the next lot which is about 15 minute’s walk up the road.
Next to the parking lot there are bathrooms and an outdoor shower to rinse off. There are plentiful of trash receptacles on the beach.
Grab a Bite in the Distillery District
Low key eats are just what families crave in the midst of a busy day sightseeing. The Distillery District was once a large whiskey distillery. It’s cobblestone streets are now lined with shops, art installations, eateries, and bars. Grab lunch to-go and dine al fresco while listening to a street performance.
Street parking seemed plentiful around the pedestrian only quadrant.
Contributed by Nina of Nina Out and About
The Toronto Islands are a great place for kids of all ages. There are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, from swimming and picnicking to exploring the island’s many trails.
The best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is warmest. It’s also when Centre Island is open – an amusement park that’s underrated next to Wonderland. It’s got classic fair rides, carnival games, and even a petting zoo!
The best thing to do with kids is take them on a tandem kayak ride through the archipelago of the islands. This is best for kids who know how to swim – and is even better if they can stay up to watch the sunset over the Toronto skyline.
It only costs $8.70 for adults and $4.10 for kids to take the ferry ride from downtown for this epic kid friendly day trip.
For little kids, check out Franklin Children’s Garden and the beach.
The Railway Museum has both outdoor (free) and indoor (paid tickets required) exhibits. We felt the outdoor Vintage trains were enough to squelch our little train lovers’ appetites. Parking nearby was at a premium, ($5 per half hour!) so we didn’t stay long at the harbor front.
Meander Quirky Neighborhoods
Queen Street and Kensington Market are worth 1-2 hours each to wander, grab a bite, shop, or people watch. We enjoyed our Indian lunch at Rikki Tikki and devoured gourmet croissants from Little Pebble Café. I also enjoyed the thrift shopping in Kesington Market.
Visit Webster Falls
About an hour southwest of the city, you can find absolutely jaw dropping waterfalls. Chase them when you need a break from the bustle of the city.
During peak season, online reservations are required to see Webster Falls. It is part of the Spencer Gorge and Webster Falls Conservation Area. There are dozens more noteworthy waterfalls to discover in the Spencer Recreation area if you’re visiting in the summer and have some time to spend outside the city.
The Toronto Zoo is famous in North America and one of the animals I was most excited to see were their white lions.
Even though our home zoo membership was from the USA, the AZA reciprocity offers a 50% discount on admission at the Toronto Zoo.
Burn Energy at High Park & High Park Zoo
High Park is a sprawling public space and free zoo perfect for burning energy and waiting for traffic to die down. If you have little kids, High Park might be a money saving alternative to Toronto Zoo. There are bunnies and llamas to pet at High Park Zoo and some more “exotic” animals too like reindeer and capybara.
My kids are still too small to enjoy mega Amusement Parks, but Canada’s Wonderland might be a great attraction for your big kid to get their thrills! It is about $45 for a daily pass.
Indoor Activities for Your Toronto Family Vacation
Get Hands On at the Ontario Science Museum
The Ontario Science Museum was first on our list of rainy day options because of the sheer number of interactive exhibits they advertised. We spent two hours here and our young boys most enjoyed the KidSpark space which is ideal for kids under 8.
Useful info: Parking is $12 and sometimes there is quite a line to get into the lot (no prepay option). The main entrance is currently closed so from the parking lot you will take a shuttle to the alternate entrance.
Cost: Free with ASTC membership or $22 for adults, $13 ages 3-12
Contributed by Marisa of The Daydream Diaries
Ripley’s is one of the most kid friendly places and attractions in Toronto! It features over 135,000 square feet of fun and you can expect to see lots of sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, “Nemos” and a whole slew of other colorful fish!
To avoid the crowds, make sure to visit first thing in the morning if you head there on a weekend. During the week it is more quiet, but the afternoons can sometimes be busy with school trips.
If you have kids aged 4 and up, they will absolutely love it. There are many interactive activities along the path inside. If you have kids that are younger they may get a bit tired so I recommend bringing a stroller.
Ticket Prices: $44 for Adults, $29 for Youth (6-13), and $12.50 for Children (3-5)
Cheer for the Maple Leafs Hockey Team
Nothing screams “Canada” like Hockey + Maple. The Maple Leafs Hockey Team are an NHL team based in Toronto and their season runs late September till Mid-April.
Gawk at the Collections Inside Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
The Royal Ontario Museum was on our radar from our sons’ favorite show, Dino Dana. Several of the episodes were filled in or outside of this iconic museum. The kids loved being up close and personal with the same dinosaurs that Dino Dana “brought to life.”
The ROM is Canada’s largest museum and has a staggering collection filling 40 gallery spaces. Beyond dinosaurs, my kids liked inspecting the animal species by region and stared wide-eyed at glittering minerals.
Cost: The ROM is in the ASTC network, so if your home museum has reciprocity you can get in free. Otherwise, tickets are $23 for adults and $14 for ages 4-14.
Catch a Young People’s Theater Performance
Young People’s Theater performances will captivate audiences of all ages making this the perfect activity if your Toronto Family Vacation falls in the winter or spring months. Their season runs from October through May.
Wander and Shop the PATH
The PATH is a vast network of underground pedestrian walkways connecting 70+ buildings in the downtown area. There are over 18 miles worth of walkways (30km). This helps the city thrive year long. This is just something to keep in your back pocket if you need to escape inclement weather or need a place to push the kids for a stroller nap .
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
We didn’t make it to the Discovery Centre during our stay, but these are excellent indoor activities in any city should the weather turn on you.
Money Saving Tip: Sign your child(ren) up for the free Lego Magazine. Inside, there is a coupon for a free child entry to almost any Discovery Centre with the purchase of an adult ticket! That is a $27 savings at the Toronto location!
I normally wouldn’t recommend mansion or castle walkthroughs with little kids who want to touch everything in sight, or middle schoolers who’d would be yawning through most of it. Casa Loma though, has Immersive Escape Rooms that I’d love to return and check out when my toddlers are a tad older.
Defining the Toronto Skyline, it is the most iconic structure in the city. Kids love it because first the elevator is like riding a rocket ship and then they can stare down at bug-sized people and cars. A few years ago, they updated the LookOut Floor to feature floor-to-ceiling windows which made it much more kid friendly. During high wait times, a magician entertains the queue.
CN Tower pricing is a bit steep in my opinion if you’re booking it individually, but if you plan to visit other attractions in the CityPass, it is worth the money.
CN Tower pricing: $43 per adult, $30 Ages 6-13, $14 Ages 3-5
CityPass Pricing: $84 per adult, $58 Ages 4-12
There you have it! 18 experiences that will make your Toronto Family Vacation an unforgettable one!
Travelling by Car to Your Toronto Family Vacation?
To The West
Stop at one of the many U-Pick Farms. We really enjoyed our afternoon at Park’s where we picked blueberries. Upon arrival, they had us try three varietals to decide which we wanted to pick and then pointed us in the right direction in the field. A tractor is available too should you want a ride out and back.
Don’t leave without stopping at their hot lunch cafeteria and fresh bakery.
To The South
If you’re heading south, consider spending time in Niagara or in the Finger Lakes, NY area with your family. Check out our post, 10 Remarkable Spots for Your Finger Lakes Family Vacation.
Save for later!