10 iconic things to do in Toronto with kids

Planning a trip to Toronto? Make sure these family-friendly activities—loved by visitors and locals alike—are on your vacation checklist.

 

CN Tower Toronto
Photo: Jason Baker via Flickr

1. Step out on the glass floor of the CN Tower

For a one-of-a-kind thrill, step onto the glass floor at the CN Tower, Toronto’s tallest and best-known landmark, and look straight down—1,122 feet! Squeamish about heights? Don’t worry—the floor is strong enough to support the weight of 35 moose, and the glass panels are tested annually for safety. Stick around for the CN Tower’s other fun features: the LookOut Level and its amazing views of the city, the SkyPod observation platform (33 storeys higher than the LookOut—note, it’s an additional fee) and VUE Bistros, 3 new bistros where you can grab a bite while taking in the sights.

More info: cntower.ca

Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto
Photo: goaliej54 via Flickr

2. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame is packed with rare memorabilia, and it’s the home of the Stanley Cup, but that’s not all. You’ll also find interactive games and jaw-dropping exhibits, all celebrating Canada’s national sport. Kids can test the speed and accuracy of their slap shot or play goalie against video versions of big-name stars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Check out the replica Montreal Canadiens dressing room and catch a screening of the 3D film Stanley’s Game Seven at the slick new TSN Theatre. Outside, snap a family selfie with “Our Game,” the 17-foot bronze sculpture that captures the excitement of a young hockey team.

More info: hhof.com 

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto
Photo: Payton Chung via Flickr

3. Lunch at St. Lawrence Market

This vibrant, bustling marketplace is bursting with flavours from around the globe. In the South Market, more than 120 vendors—many of them family businesses—sell everything from coffee beans and baked goods to smoked salmon and tropical fruits. Everyone can choose their own tasty lunch and then grab a table (if it’s busy, look for more seating downstairs). Popular picks include lobster rolls, veal sandwiches, vegetarian wraps and pierogi. If you’re visiting on a Saturday, check out the North Market, where a farmers’ market does brisk business (we love the fresh-baked pies). It’s easy to see why National Geographic named St. Lawrence the world’s best food market.

More info: stlawrencemarket.com 

Chinatown Toronto
Chinatown. Photo: Oliver Mallich via Flickr

4. Walk through Kensington Market and Chinatown 

These two downtown neighbourhoods, located side by side, are among Toronto’s most historic sites—and they’re terrific places to explore. Kensington Market is tucked away on side streets, giving it the cozy feel of a village. Waves of immigrants have left their mark on this colourful neighbourhood over the decades, but today you’ll find shops selling arts and crafts, vintage clothing, jewellery, fresh produce, baked goods and health foods, as well as eclectic restaurants and indie coffee shops. Chinatown, which radiates outward from the intersection of Dundas and Spadina, offers dozens of restaurants (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and more), plus Chinese bakeries, bubble tea shops, grocers, herbalists and assorted retailers.

More info: kensingtonmarketbia.com and chinatownbia.com 

Photo: Robert Taylor
Photo: Robert Taylor via Flickr

5. Ride the 501 streetcar along Queen Street West

Queen Street West is where the young and hip hang out, and the world is taking notice: Vogue says it’s one of the planet’s coolest neighbourhoods. Conveniently, the Toronto Transit Commission’s 501 streetcar route—named the world’s best trolley ride by National Geographic—takes you past notable neighbourhoods (Parkdale, the Fashion District, Downtown, Riverdale, Leslieville, East Toronto and the Beach) and attractions—shopping along Queen West, Toronto’s old and new city halls and Nathan Phillips Square, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the Toronto Eaton Centre. From end to end, the trip takes one and a half hours (longer during rush hour—but it’s best to avoid that time because the streetcar is packed). The fare is free for kids 12 and under, $2 for seniors and students 13 to 19, and just $3.25 for adults.

More info: ttc.ca 

Photo via Flickr
Photo via Flickr

6. Take a picture with the Toronto sign at city hall

Locals and tourists both love Toronto’s colourful 3D name sign at Nathan Phillips Square. It’s parked beside the skating rink (or reflecting pool, depending on the time of year), and city hall rises up right behind it. It’s the perfect spot for a souvenir selfie. The city created the three-metre-tall sign for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, and it became an instant icon. Fun fact: Each letter has LED lights than can change to more than 200 million colours, controlled by Wi-Fi.

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Photo via Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

7. See the shark tunnel at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Kids of all ages will marvel at the amazing creatures at this popular attraction, located at the base of the CN Tower. Tropical fish, octopuses, turtles and jellyfish are just a few of the intriguing residents here. Catch a dive show or an aquarist talk, and visit the Discovery Centre’s touch pool to say hello to the horseshoe crabs. The aquarium’s stand-out feature is the Dangerous Lagoon, a long, winding tunnel that takes you through the heart of a giant tank of fish, stingrays and—gulp!—enormous sharks, swimming around and above you.

More info: ripleyaquariums.com/canada

ROM Toronto dinosaur exhibit
Photo: ErasingScott via Flickr

8. Visit the dinosaurs at the Royal Ontario Museum

Take the kids back in time—waaaay back, about 200 million years—to the age of the dinosaurs. They can explore the ROM’s fascinating skeletons, fossils and other artifacts from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, learn about the discovery of a new dinosaur and check out a gallery of early mammals (including the mastodon and sabre-toothed cat). Together, these displays help us understand how ancient creatures and humans fit into the bigger picture of biodiversity. Cool fact: Archaeologists unearthed many of the museum’s massive dino skeletons in Alberta. There’s tons more to see at the ROM, including the bat cave, the gallery of birds and artifacts from around the world.

More info: rom.on.ca 

Basketball player for the Toronto Raptors
Photo: Mark Runyon via Flickr

9. Cheer on the Toronto Raptors at the Scotiabank Arena 

From October to April, catch Canada’s only NBA team in action at the Scotiabank Arena, in the heart of downtown Toronto. Raptors games are nonstop fun for fans in the stands, from the North Side dance crew and everyone’s favourite dino mascot, to the always-exciting basketball games themselves. And for families with younger kids who might not be ready for the loud noise and late nights, try a Raptors 905 game. This minor league team plays from November to April at their home arena in Mississauga, but check their schedule online for special games played at the Scotiabank Arena throughout the season

More info: nba.com/raptors 

Casa Loma Toronto
Photo: Chris Lee via Flickr

10. Climb the towers at Casa Loma

Did you know that Toronto has a castle? Built by businessman Sir Henry Pellatt in the early 1900s, Casa Loma was an extravagant project that cost $3.5 million, a kingly sum at the time. Sir Henry went broke within a decade and lost his prized mansion, but it remains a popular family attraction, and the exhibits offer a glimpse into Toronto’s past. Explore the richly decorated rooms, scale the spiral staircases up the towers, and venture down into the 800-foot tunnel that leads to the stables. Sir Henry, ever the dreamer, even had secret passageways installed—see if you can spot them!

More info: casaloma.org

Updated on February 27, 2019

 


 

Starting March 9, kids 12 and under can ride free on all GO trains and GO buses. That means more adventures for you and your family!

Plan your trip at gotransit.com/KidsGOFree

No Comments