Thursday, July 3, 2008

TOP TEN: Fun Family Activites for Summer in Toronto

Is it just me or do the long days make weekends seem even longer? Like a lot of busy, working moms, I try to make the most of the season by cramming Saturdays and Sundays with fun activities for the kids: there is nothing worse than seeing my guys camped out on the couch when it's gorgeous outside. The challenge, however, is finding family-friendly attractions and events that we'll all enjoy, that aren't hours away, and that won't break the bank!

Luckily for me, John Symon wrote an excellent family guide for Montreal, Quebec. Take a look at John's book Exploring Montreal with Kids and keep checking our blog to read his top suggestions for summer fun in Montreal!

But why stop at Montreal? We checked in with the authors of our family travel guide series and asked them what the top ten summer activities in each of their cities would be. We'll post a new top ten list every few days, including the best family attractions in San Francisco, New Orleans, Halifax, and more - great for residents and for visitors! Let's kick off the summer fun with Toronto, Ontario!

-Stephanie Hindley, Director of Marketing

by Natalie Anne Comeau, author of the Lobster Kids' Guide to Exploring Toronto

  1. Toronto Zoo – One of the world’s largest zoos, the Toronto Zoo boasts more than 5,000 animals displayed in indoor tropical pavilions and outdoor naturalistic environments. Must-sees include the award winning African Savannah and Gorilla Rainforest, the new Great Barrier Reef, and Stingray Bay where visitors can reach out and touch the stingrays. For younger guests, the Zellers Discovery Zone features a Kids’ Zoo, Waterside Theatre and Splash Island.

  2. Canada’s Wonderland – Featuring over 200 attractions and more than 65 rides, including Canada’s only flying coaster, Canada’s longest wooden coaster, and the brand new Behemoth – Canada’s biggest, tallest, and fastest rollercoaster. Lots of rides for the little ones, as well as daily live shows, dining and shopping. Be sure to pack your swimsuits for a visit to SplashWorks, the 20-acre water park.

  3. Toronto Island – Accessible only via ferry from the docks at the foot of Bay Street, Toronto Island is actually a series of small islands connected by pedestrian bridges. The automobile-free islands feature bicycle trails, bike and boat rentals, wading pools, a playground, tennis courts, volleyball courts, beaches, a disc golf course, and the old-fashioned Centreville amusement park ( Pack a picnic and stay for the day.

  4. Royal Ontario Museum – Housing one of Canada’s largest permanent collections of dinosaurs, the ROM has a wealth of family-friendly programs. Friday nights offer half-price admission, and weekends feature free programming, music and special events. There is also a summer day camp, the popular Saturday Morning Club, and ROMkids - a series of ongoing educational programs designed for kids up to 16-years of age.

  5. Rouge Park – One of the world’s largest urban parks, Rouge Park offers hiking, fishing, swimming and picnicking – or bring your own canoe and enjoy a leisurely paddle. Also features the only campground in the city of Toronto – just a transit stop away.

  6. Ontario Science Centre – Having recently undergone a major renovation, the Ontario Science Centre offers live demonstrations and hands-on activities that make science fun. The multi-level centre has nine exhibition halls, including the new Weston Family Innovation Centre and the IMAX Dome Theatre. A special Mars exhibit will be running throughout the month of July. The OSC also offers a summer day camp and ‘Sci-Fri’ Friday Nights especially for teens.

  7. Black Creek Pioneer Village immerses visitors in the lifestyles and customs of 1800’s – A living history museum, Black Creek Pioneer VillageOntario. Interpreters and trades people in authentic period dress welcome guests to the many historical buildings and farmyards on the 30-acre property. At the Hands on History Centre, kids can experience traditional trades and pioneer survival skills like building a log cabin, making a bucket, or weaving cloth.

  8. Ontario Place – This internationally acclaimed cultural and leisure park, located on three man-made islands on the shores of Lake Ontario, features Canada’s largest outdoor soft-play climbing structure, midway rides, mini-golf, pedal boats, hoops, an arcade, bumper boats, the F/X Adventure Theatre motion simulator, and Soak City - Toronto’s only downtown water park.

  9. High Park – This 161-hectare park features a petting zoo, an adventure playground, cycling and nature trails, a trackless train, tennis courts, a swimming pool and plenty of spots to stop for a picnic. Sign up for the Eco day camp, or take part in the many drop-in programs offered by The Children’s Garden and Exploring Toronto, including hands-on gardening and nature exploration, cooking, nature crafts and eco games. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, drop into Colborne Lodge historic house and museum.

  10. Canadian National Exhibition – Toronto’s traditional end-of-summer celebration (August 15 – September 1), the Ex features agricultural exhibitions, a daily parade, midway rides and games. Thrilling shows include the RCMP Musical Ride, the Iams SuperDogs, and the Canadian International Air Show. The Horse Show runs from July 22-August 14.

Do you have more ideas for fun family activities in Toronto? In your home city? Leave us a comment with your suggestions or e-mail them to so we can share them on our blog!

Be on the look-out for more Top Ten Fun Family Activities in Montreal ...Vancouver ...and more!

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