Toronto Summer Family Fun Guide
It’s summer in Toronto and we’ve assembled our seasonal Family Fun Guide so you can find the perfect pleasure based on your budget, mood, patience and location. If you haven’t been outside of Toronto lately, your FOMO is real because Canada’s Wonderland is calling. Covering everything from this prestige park to playgrounds, museums and aquariums, we’ve got a list to keep parents proudly in the loop and loving life, factoring in cost, age of your little ones and how many family members will be along for the adventure. We’ve rated the cost (FREE, $ affordable or $$ moderate) to help you navigate because we’re all a bit budget-conscious right now.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Lift your mood, let go of stress and fulfill that fantasy of soaring through the air with your little leapers. This indoor trampoline park is the next best thing to growing wings, serving up one of the greatest, and yes safest, workouts for busy parents (hello cardio) while totally enthralling the kiddos. Here you can experience unabashed WOW: the weightlessness of bouncing, flipping and landing in a pit filled with 10,000 foam cubes. Yes, please! Jump every day for 2 hours with a membership better than any gym..
$$ 6 and under jump for $19.99
Just outside of Toronto, here’s the ultimate destination for a sun-scorched afternoon with the whole family, especially thrill-seeking teenagers. Split up and take the babies to idyllic Swan Lake for a leisurely boat ride, or to Beagle Brigade Airfield where an old-fashioned aeroplane will take you up, up and away. Then set out to find Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts Gang in Planet Snoopy. Wonderland lives up to its name with 17 mind-blowing coasters, 70 rides, more than 200 attractions and a 20-acre water park. Splash Works is seriously a wonderland in its own right. End the adventure reunited over dinner and fireworks popping over Wonder Mountain. Pro tip: A Fast Lane Plus wristband lets your older kids bypass the lines on 21 rides and attractions, including the too-popular Yukon Striker, Leviathan and Behemoth.
$$$ From $39.99
Centreville Amusement Park
Centreville is uniquely chill. Specially created for babies and toddlers, this little paradise has a slower pace with classic attractions like a ferris wheel, mini golf, bumper cars, haunted house, swan ride and antique horse carousel. It’s expectedly dappled with restaurants and fast food stands serving up grilled hot dogs, cotton candy and ice cream, making this the ultimate day of “luxury” for your littles. Not exactly like a spa day for you, but there is plenty of relaxation to be had on the log ride and you don’t have to pack that lunch.
$$$ From $35
Butterfly-watching, beach-hopping, hiking, picnicking. Put your phone away but don’t leave it in the car because you’ll need it for the spectacular views. The 11 parks making up Scarborough Bluffs have a little bit of everything for outdoorsy types and you won’t want to miss a beat. The rugged vistas of the bluffs (steep, rounded cliffs that rise above the lakeshore) will thrust you right into the moment to just breathe and feel your baby’s little heartbeat against yours. There’s a photo op around every corner. Check out the white sand beach, Bluffer’s Park, for hiking, sailing or paddleboarding or just to take a dip in the waters of Lake Ontario.
One of the largest in the world, Toronto Zoo proudly boasts 6 miles of walking trails spread over 700 acres with 5,000 animals representing more than 450 species. So much to see and feel and learn and do. Things that rock an ordinary day: the indoor gorilla exhibit, Gorilla Rainforest, which is the largest in North America; Discovery Zone water play area; the ropes course; and a Zoomobile Ride, which takes you through the parks regions, including Africa, the Americas and, of course, Canada.
$$ Adults $27.99 Children $18.30
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
Riveting tales of evolution and humanity are told here in a number of unique ways combining the fields of archaeology, geology, paleontology and zoology. Very scholarly, but hardly a snooze, Canada's legendary museum is a hit with the kids. It’s the largest museum to explore both the natural world and our cultural past, housing world-renowned collections and, oh yeah, dinosaurs.
$$ Adult $23 Child Aged 4-14 $14
Ontario Science Centre
Escape the Earth by way of imagination via power-planetarium, the domed IMAX theatre at the Ontario Science Centre that’s by far our favourite reminder in life to look up. This feat is hard to beat, but once you’ve soaked up the stars, meander through a rainforest to hear waterfalls gush and spot the poison dart frogs. Pop questions to live presenters, play games in the Science Arcade and learn about 150 years of Canadian natural history from so many installations and exhibits it will boggle your mind and encourage questions from the kiddos for days on end.
$$ Adult $22 Children under 3 free
Choose your own Evergreen Brickworks adventure, you can’t go wrong when you wander. With a rich history, this unique public space promises markets, art exhibitions and events focusing on sustainability, recreation and education. It was once the site of a quarry and brick-making factory called the Don Valley Brick Works. The lush landscape is ideal for an afternoon of exploration.
At former industrial lands Corktown Commons the kids can run circles giddy and wet, and they’re sure to get a good night’s sleep after all the action. Wetland ponds and sheltered lawns make up this spectacular playground where parents can just kick-back. It’s honestly everything you could ask for: plenty of clean sand, quality changing tables, picnic tables, plus a rubbery, padded ground cover that feels like you’re in a living cartoon and brilliantly keeps scrapes and cuts at bay. The water play area is perfection: nozzles and fountains jet and spray water in endless shapes to keep the little ones entertained for hours, for free.
A believe-it-or-not experience of the real-life oceanic variety. Ripley's supports a vast ecosystem that requires more than 1.5 million gallons of carefully treated water, which is incredible in itself. Go nose-to-nose with 16,000 of the most colourful aquatic wonders at Canada's largest indoor aquarium, home-to-touch exhibits, educational talks, live dive shows and more than 100 interactive displays. Rainbow Reef promises batfish, unicorn surgeonfish and Picasso triggerfish. Depending on your pace and whether you’re pushing a stroller or chasing a wild one, fully exploring each gallery will take two hours or more so plan accordingly.
$$$ Adult $44 Child 3-5 $12.50 Youth 6-13 $29
A real 20th century castle your little princess will never forget (and letting them dress the part never hurt). This historic and majestic site was once owned by a Canadian soldier and financier, who used his fortune to build himself a castle, harnessing the strength of 300 men and swiftly going bankrupt. In its glory day, it had three indoor bowling alleys, a rifle range, two secret passageways, 30 bathrooms and an unfinished swimming pool. The city-owned space now hosts curious visitors who wander up and down the 5 acres of gardens and winding rooms, plus a 10,000-book library and 60-foot-tall Great Hall adorned.
$$$ Adults $40 Children 4-13 $20 Youth 14-17 $35
Andrew’s Scenic Acres
A farm with endless fun (and a winery). About an hour from Toronto, and worth the drive, this tranquil destination has become so much more than a pick-your-own berry farm. Enjoy guided tours of the vineyard, gardens, apple orchard and cidery as well as a corn maze and animal corral for kids. There are bales of hay to climb, wildflower meadows, endless sunflowers fields, and the gorgeous Niagara Escarpment to adore. The farm store sells fresh pies and delectable eats, plus you can pick your own wild dahlias and peonies to take home. BYOB – bring your own basket!
$$ Season Pass $75 Rental baskets $1
The cure for the common weekday: slather on some SPF and head for the water. Despite its history, Cherry Beach (aka Clarke Beach) is now a gloriously sandy, safe, friendly, welcoming, wonderful place for kite-surfing, swimming, walking, summer BBQs and off-leash dog walking. It’s also home to the “Promise Cherry Beach” music festival every summer (on the weekends).
Toronto Walking Tour
Whether you’re a local or just want to feel like one, walking Toronto is one of the best ways to cultivate a slow and soothing Sunday. The Waterfront features cool retail spaces and pop-up cafes, vintage cinemas and bars for grabbing a glass of wine. It’s an easygoing daytime spot and a bustling hub after sunset. Look for landmarks Yonge-Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square. Hip neighbourhood Trinity Bellwoods Park is also worth a picnic or stroll with your dog. People come to lounge in the grass for hours and then head to vibrant Ossington Avenue to dine. Head a block or two north to Little Italy, and then east to Kensington Market for a boho vibe.
When it comes to marathon shopping, there’s no place like iconic Kensington Market, one of the most diverse, unique and photographed areas in the city. Rooted in immigrant communities, their shops and their impressive workspaces, the market has a boho-eclectic vibe matched by its array of vintage goodies. Partake of a progressive dinner by popping into one international restaurant for drinks, one for dinner and another for dessert. There are trendy bars, bakeries, cheese shops and specialty grocers galore.