48 things to do in Toronto with kids this summer

Toronto is a hub for cultural diversity, music, theatre and all-around fun! Hit up these spots for an amazing summer with the kiddos.

gaming room

Photo: Courtesy of The Rec Room

The Rec Room

Prepare for sensory overload! Located steps from the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and Ripley’s Aquarium, The Rec Room is a rare play space that caters to both adults and kids. The big draw for little ones is the 80+ arcade games—everything from racing games to roller coaster simulators, and everything in between. (Note: Like at all arcades, your kids are likely to walk by shooter games, too.) When you’re all gamed out—or you’ve run out of credits on your pre-loaded card—sit down for a bite to eat at The Rec Room’s restaurant, Three10, where you’ll find delicious Canadian-inspired cuisine, 20 beers on tap for mom and dad, and a surprisingly tasty, but still accessible, menu for little ones (hello, mac & cheese with bacon strips and a side of roasted broccoli with parmesan!). Afterwards, older kids will can enjoy a game of foosball while their parents play pool. If your kids are 10 and up, wrap up the visit with The Rec Room’s virtual reality experience, The Void, where you’ll strap on a proton pack and a VR headset and enter into the world of Ghostbusters, zapping ghouls and attempting to destroy the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man while standing on the edge of a partially destroyed NYC building. It’s an immersive experience that you won’t forget any time soon.

When: Year round
More info: therecroom.com

Volunteer at Toronto Zoo with kids

PHOTO: TORONTO ZOO

Toronto Zoo

There’s tons to do during the summer at the Toronto Zoo, from the Gorilla Climb Ropes Course to Splash Island. But this year, visitors will get to see some baby animals, including two baby rhinos. Cuteness galore! Your family can also spend Canada Day with the Canadian animals at the zoo. Kids can pick up an Xplorers Booklet, which includes fun activities that help kids discover the Canadian creatures at the zoo, at the Parks Canada Front Courtyard Kiosk. A complete booklet earns you a special Parks Canada souvenir. The whole family can also check out special Canadian animal keeper talks and feedings. Free with admission.

When: All summer
More info: torontozoo.com

Photo: Courtesy of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Photo: Courtesy of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Snorkel with the stingrays

Animal lovers can get up close and personal with some of the stars of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Kids ages six and up (accompanied by a Ripley’s diver) can swim and snorkel with the stingrays in Ray Bay. Little divers can make a few fishy friends and may even get a kiss from a southern stingray. The cost is $110 per child from June 30 to September 3 and includes admission to the aquarium, a behind-the-scenes tour, a souvenir backpack and towel and photos on a USB. Swimmers must bring their own swimsuits and register in advance.

When: All summer
More info: ripleyaquariums.com

jellyfish

Photo: Courtesy of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Curious Creatures

Step back in time and sail through the life of Robert Ripley (1890-1949), the iconic “Believe It or Not!” cartoonist, explorer, reporter, adventurer, and collector, who travelled to 201 countries in 35 years, seeking the odd, the unusual, and the unexplained. The exhibit is to celebrate the 100th Oddiversary of Ripley’s first cartoon drawing.

When: All summer
More info: ripleyaquariums.com

kids running the bases

PHOTO: COURTESY OF TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Jr. Jays Sundays & Weekends

Take me out to the ballgame! The Jr. Jays program makes catching a Blue Jays game extra-special for little fans. During Sunday home games (with the exception of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Canada Day), kids can participate in fun activities on the 100, 200 and 500 levels while parents enjoy the game. Fans 14 and under (accompanied by a parent) can also run the bases like their favourite players after the game. Your Jr. Jay may also be randomly selected to participate in some awesome stadium activities, like being the Jr. Jays Announcer for the bottom half of an inning. Lucky fans can also win prizes and be seen on the video board, so be sure to dress up. Included with the price of a ticket.

When: Sundays and some weekends, all summer
More info: toronto.bluejays.mlb.com

DINOSAUR

PHOTO: COURTESY OF Royal Ontario Museum

Dinosaur Gallery

If your little ones love dinosaurs, let them hang out with some prehistoric playmates at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Dinosaur Gallery. With hundreds of specimens to discover, kids can take their pick from unusual dinosaurs to fossilized plants. Little paleontologists can also check out the recently discovered dino Wendiceratops pinhornensis, which lived 79 million years ago and is part of the horned dinosaur family Ceratopsidae. Included with admission.

When: All summer
More info: rom.on.ca

Photo: Courtesy of Evergreen

Photo: Courtesy of Evergreen Brick Works

Evergreen Brick Works Scavenger Hunt

A truly historic site, the Don Valley Brick Works—now the Evergreen Brick Works—was a former quarry that provided bricks for several Toronto landmarks, including Casa Loma. The site was converted into a city park and an environmentally focused community centre. Families can discover the sustainable site and learn about the history of the Don Valley while participating in a fun scavenger hunt. There are two versions: one for ages three to six, and another for ages seven to 10. The hunt is free, but a donation of $2 to $5 is encouraged. Families can also check out the art galleries, yummy food trucks and farmers’ market.

When: All summer
More info: evergreen.ca

Family Sundays at the Gardiner Museum

Sundays are fun days at the Gardiner Museum. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., parents and little artists can enjoy an array of family-friendly activities, such as making sculptures out of clay, painting on ceramic tiles and participating in scavenger hunts. The activities are included with admission; kids under 12 visit for free.

When: Sundays, all summer
More info: gardinermuseum.on.ca

The miniature train at Toronto Railway Museum

Choo-choo, here comes the fun train! At the Toronto Railway Museum, kids can discover the history of rail transportation in Toronto and experience what it’s like to be an engineer in the train simulator, which lets kids use the brakes and blow the horn. The main attraction in the summer is taking a ride on the miniature railway that loops around the park in front of the museum. Tickets for the museum are $5 for ages 14 and older, and $3 for kids. The train ride is an additional $3.50 for older guests and $2.50 for little riders.

When: Museum is open all summer; train rides open weekends in June and daily from July to August
More info: torontorailwaymuseum.com

Murder at the ROM

If you and your family love escape rooms, you have to try this scavenger hunt at the Royal Ontario Museum. A curator has been murdered and there are several suspects. It’s up to you and your team of two to six sleuths to follow the trail of clues throughout the museum and crack the cryptic code to solve the mystery. This murder mystery lets little detectives participate but is best suited to older kids (10+). Tickets are $40 per person and must be purchased in advance. The cost includes admission to the ROM.

When: all summer (mainly weekends)
More info: urbancapers.com

people skating outdoors in summer

PHOTO: Courtesy of Ontario Place

Summer skating

Who says skating has to be a winter sport? This synthetic ice rink is built from a solid polymer material, therefore it does not require it to be cold outside. Located on the helipad at Ontario Place, skate rentals and sharpening facilities are available on site.

When: all summer (Friday to Sunday)
More info: ontarioplace.com

boy playing life-sized chess game

PHOTO: Courtesy of Ontario Place

Imagination Playground

A life-sized chess board and uniquely shaped foam cubes create a world of outdoor fun for kids and parents. Bonus: It’s free! Located in Trillium Park next to the Pavilion this play area will be open on Saturdays and Sundays all summer long.

When: all summer (Saturdays and Sundays)
More info: ontarioplace.com

dog jumping through a tube

PHOTO: COURTESY OF CANADA’S WONDERLAND

The WoofJocks Canine All Stars

Watch these amazing dogs and their feats of athleticism as they perform and splash around the dock and pool. These loveable pups travel across Ontario, wowing audiences with their incredible tricks. Cheer on the canine team, including Abigail the Golden Retriever, Izzy the Shetland Sheepdog, Saba the French Bulldog, and Max the Miniature Schnauzer.

When: May 12 to June 24
More info: canadaswonderland.com

pirates on a boat

PHOTO: Courtesy of Pirate Life

Pirate Life

Shiver me timbers! Book a ride on a pirate ship with the Pirate Life experience, where children’s theatre and boat cruise come together to form something truly wonderful for kids aged 4 to 10. You’ll start by getting in character by dressing up in provided costumes and pirate tattoos. Then, hop aboard the ship for an hour-long interactive show that’ll have kids deciphering maps, blasting bad pirates with water cannons and hauling up loot (they’ll even get something to bring home as souvenir).

When: Daily, July to August; and weekends, May to June and September to October.
More info: piratelife.ca

Pride Toronto

Uniting and empowering people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, this annual festival is the largest Pride celebration in North America. Pride showcases Toronto on the world stage with diversity, inclusion, and vibrant creativity. Kicking off on June 1 is Pride Month, culminating with the 38th annual Pride Parade on Sunday June 24.

When: June 1 to 24
More info: pridetoronto.com

angel in pride parade

PHOTO: COURTESY OF PRIDE TORONTO

Dundas West Fest

Spaninng from Ossington Street to Lansdowne Avenue, this 12-block city street fest brings the community together with 40 licensed patios and more than 200 unique local vendors. Enjoy free music and music lessons, poetry readings, yoga classes, and visual art exhibits.

When: June 1 and 2
More info: dundaswestfest.ca

crowds of people on the streets

PHOTO: DUNDAS WEST FEST

Field Trip Music & Arts Festival

Get ready to dance a day (or two) away with your kids at this music festival, which takes place at Fort York and Garrison Common. It couldn’t be more kid-friendly: Aside from the main stage, delicious food and art-and-design exhibits, Field Trip also features a special kids’ area called TD Day Camp, which is kitted out with a bouncy castle, hula hoops and Ping-Pong tables and will also be the site of performances by Metric, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bahamas and Japandroids, among others. Kids under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder (there’s a max of two kids per adult). A weekend pass is $125.

When: June 2 and 3
More info: fieldtriplife.com 

PHOTO: Royal Ontario Museum

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

Look beyond fashion and explore the endless possibilities that come from interweaving design, art, and technology. Featuring original designs by Dutch designer and couturier, Iris van Herpen, this exhibition explores her 2008-2015 collections that push the boundaries of traditional fashion and craftsmanship.

When: June 2 to October 8
More info: rom.on.ca

dancing

PHOTO: COURTESY OF LUMINATO

Luminato

Dedicated to performance, media and visual arts, and programming that cuts across traditional art form boundaries, this two and a half-week festival works closely with Canadian artists to support the development and creation of distinctive new work, as well as presenting today’s most exciting artists from around the world.

When: June 6 to 24
More info: luminatofestival.com

kids eating cotton candy

PHOTO: STOCK YARDS

Stock Yards Village Discovery Days

The Stock Yards Village is transformed into a playground for two days, complete with obstacle courses, games, face-painting, a scavenger hunt and a drive-in movie theatre. Feeling peckish? Indulge in free popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy or swap recipes and share cooking tips with local vendors.

When: June 9 to 10
More info: stockyardsvillage.com

Family Pride: Summer Disco

Part of the month-long Pride celebration, this weekend event is designed specifically for families with a DJ dance party, water play in the splash pad and a mini-parade around the park. This year’s theme is Summer Disco and attendees are encouraged to get down with their bad selves in their favourite bell bottoms, boogie shoes and big hair styles.

When: June 9
More info: the519.org

Saving Banksy

Expose your little ones to the controversial art of Banksy! The exhibit will showcase exclusive Banksy pieces for sale. In partnership with the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto (StART) Program, local street artists including kevkav, Alexander Bacon, Hello Kirsten, Anthony Ricciardi and Dani Cooperman will display original works as a celebration of the growing street art movement.

When: Opens June 13
More info: banksyexhibit.com

banksy

Photo: COURTESY OF Haight Street Rat

CHIN Picnic

Take the kids to the largest free multicultural picnic in the world, right in the heart of Toronto. CHIN Radio was the first multicultural and multilingual radio station in Ontario, and the CHIN Picnic is a celebration of the diverse cultures in the city. The event includes foods from around the world, games for kids, traditional dancers, fireworks and live performances from local and international artists.

When: June 15 to 17
More info:
 chinradio.com

people dancing in the street

PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHIN RADIO

Lookout Level

The CN Tower’s newly renovated main observation level offers an eye-opening, mind-blowing new perspective on the most spectacular views in Toronto with the CN Tower’s two new floor-to-ceiling panoramic Window Walls. This renovation will bring more panoramic views, new food, and beverage offerings and more.

When: mid-June onwards
More info: cntower.ca 

The Taste of Little Italy

There’s a lot more than spaghetti and meatballs on offer at this popular neighbourhood festival. Treat your little ones to live music, patios, multicultural vendors, yummy food, carnival rides and a learn-to-skate park where children can learn how to scooter and skateboard safely.

When: June 15 to 17
More info: tolittleitaly.com

SPIDER

PHOTO: COURTESY OF Royal Ontario Museum

Spiders: Fear & Fascination

Get face-to-face with over 200 live and preserved specimens, interactive and augmented reality experiences, and even a live venom-milking lab. Ignite your curiosity, conquer your fear, and see spiders in a new light.

When: opens June 16
More info: rom.on.ca

Indigenous Arts Festival

The Indigenous Arts Festival is an annual celebration of traditional and contemporary Indigenous music, dance, theatre, storytelling, film, crafts, and food.

When: June 21 to 24
More info: toronto.ca

massive duck in the lake

PHOTO: COURTESY OF Redpath Waterfront Festival Toronto

Redpath Waterfront Festival Toronto

Celebrate Canada Day weekend by the water at the Redpath Waterfront Festival. There’s something for everyone! Little sailors can check out the fleet of tall ships and their crews. The Royal Canadian Navy will also be joining the fun with the HMCS Oriole, which will make it’s first stop in Lake Ontario in 25 years. Look out for the giant beach ball installation made up of six 6.5 foot beach balls suspended by a and swaying like a pendulum and the aqua cirque show with surfing hula hoop artists, nautical contortionists and H2O themed aerialists who will tell a magical tale about water. There will also be tons of artisanal goods, such as handmade jewellery, and yummy foods like churros and ice cream from local bakers and chefs. Free.

When: June 22 to 24
More info: towaterfrontfest.com

Na-Me-Res Traditional Outdoor PowWow

Na-Me-Res Traditional Outdoor PowWow

This annual powwow at Fort York is a fantastic way to celebrate National Aboriginal Day and the summer solstice. Enjoy performances by more than 100 traditional dancers and drumming from seven aboriginal drum groups. Parents and kids are encouraged to participate in the intertribal dances, and there is a children’s activity area where kids (and adults) can make a craft based on a theme. There will also be bannock, tacos made with fry bread, hot dogs and more to purchase throughout the day (proceeds pay for the cost of holding this free event).

When: June 23
More info: nameres.org

kids playing

PHOTO: COURTESY OF JUNCTION BIA

The Junction Summer Solstice Festival

Make the most of the longest day of the year by hanging out in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. From noon until midnight, there will be plenty for families to do, including checking out buskers, musicians and stilt walkers, participating in kid-friendly art workshops and exploring the area’s laneways on a guided tour. Kids can get their faces painted and try out a “walk-on-water ball”—a human-sized hamster ball that kids can climb into).

When: June 23
More info:
 thejunctionbia.ca

Celebration Canada

This month-long birthday celebration features a spectacular fireworks display on July 1; performances by the West Coast Lumberjacks, who are known for their daredevil skills; Cirque Canadien, a magical display of acrobatics, mystique and athleticism as the performers take you on a journey through the seasons of Canada; the Craz-E-Crew Stunt Team, who perform extreme sports stunts with BMX bikes and incline skating; live music; authentic Canadian food; street performers and more!

When: June 30 to July 31
More info:canadaswonderland.com

kid doing crafts

PHOTO: COURTESY OF TORONTO FRINGE

Kidsfest at the Toronto Fringe Festival

Calling all theatre geeks! This year, take the whole family to Toronto’s Fringe Festival and catch a show. Kidsfest is a special place for kids to play and watch kid-friendly performances. Located at the George Ignatieff Theatre, the club also offers free activities and bouncy castles for young thespians ages three to 12. Kidsfest shows are only $5, and this year’s offerings include Sharnoozle! and the hilarious comedy The Space Chums!

When: July 4 to 15
More info: fringetoronto.com

apple farm festival

PHOTO: Chudleigh’s Farm

Summer Cider Nights

Treat the kids to a wild night of live music, delicious food, wagon rides and apple cider with a night at Chudleigh’s Farm. Beginning July 5th, this fun weekend adventure will take you right into the fall.

When: Fridays and Saturdays in July and August
More info: chudleighs.com

salsa on st. clair

PHOTO: ANGELA D’SOUZA

Salsa in Toronto

Salsa in Toronto started out as a local two-day event called Salsa on St. Clair and quickly grew into one of the largest Latino-themed cultural celebrations in Canada. Salsa on St. Clair (July 7 and 8) is one of the main events of the festival of salsa dancing and Latin American culture. Bring your appetite and enjoy some pupusas, tacos and empanadas packed with fiery flavours. Wear comfortable shoes and be ready to get your groove on with dance lessons and live music. This year’s entertainment includes a Cuban salsa band, Venezuelan folk dancers and a Zumba instructor. Free.

When: July
More info: salsaintoronto.com

Summer Wednesdays

Relax under the Pavilions or bask in the setting sun in the Children’s Garden. Sit back with an ice cold drink, grab a bite of delicious summer fare and make the most of those warm summer evening. For dinner, enjoy gourmet selections from street food trucks or platters of seasonal food and hand-baked bread from the wood-fired oven. Plus, join us for the Live Music Series, presented by Muskoka Brewery, on select dates, where you can enjoy music from local bands, or drop by to shop from makers at the Etsy Market three nights throughout the summer!

When: July to August
More info: evergreen.ca

 

Afrofest

Get your kids moving to the rhythm of over 35 live performances by bands from across the globe. The two-day festival takes place in Woodbine Park to promote African music in Toronto. Head over to The Children’s Creative Village where they can enjoy games, story-telling and art-based activities throughout the day.

When: July 7 and 8
More info: afrofest.ca

Fun Food Fest

This weekend-long festival promises to keep your wee ones entertained with food trucks, a midway, petting zoo and performances from Max and Ruby and Splash’n Boots.

When: July 13 to 15
More info: funfoodfest.ca

Bloor West Street Fest

Hop on the subway and take your kids to this charming street festival between Runnymede and Jane stations. From face painting and a reptile zoo to carnival rides and a rock climbing wall, there’s no shortage of activities to keep them entertained. Don’t feel like making dinner? Grab something from one of the tasty food vendors to-go before you head home.

When: July 14
More info: bloorweststreetfest.com

girls sitting in front of a taco sign

PHOTO: TACO FEST

Taco Fest

What kid doesn’t love delicious food folded into a tortilla? With over a hundred varieties of fillings, you’re sure to find something to excite your tastebuds at this three-day festival. Looking for something sweet? You won’t want to miss the waffle taco from Booyah, which features huge scoops of ice-cream stuffed into a folded waffle. Yum!

When: July 15 to 17
More info: thetacofest.ca

Pizza Fest

Maybe ‘za is more your thing? From Italy to Detroit to Chicago, this festival has got you covered on all things cheesy and crusty. The inaugural year for this festival, expect to be treated to a side of live music with your hearty feast.

When: July 20 to 22
More info: pizzafestival.ca

Muhtadi International Drumming Festival

The only annual festival in North America celebrating drums is sure to entertain the kids and may inspire a little drummer in your family. This year’s theme is South Asian, and performances will include drummers from the South Asian community in Toronto. Kids can try playing different percussion instruments at Drum Village and experimenting with electronic drums at Youth Drum Zone. There’s a beer garden, so parents can have their own fun, too. The event takes place at Woodbine Park and includes delicious cultural food and crafts for sale.

When: July 21 and 22
More info: muhtadidrumfest.com

people drumming

PHOTO: ANDREA LEMIEUX

Taste of the Middle East

Teach your kid what a jalab is or treat them to some grilled halloumi at this drool-inducing festival of food. Celebrating it’s first year, proceeds from this festival go towards Second Harvest.

When: August 4
More info: tasteofthemiddleeast.ca

jerk chicken taco

PHOTO: JERK FEST

Jerk Fest

While you savour Jamaican patties and jerk chicken, your little ones can hang out in the Kid Zone with face painting, balloon characters, inflatable rides, rock climbing, midway rides and more. Past musical guests at this festival have included R&B performers, Brian McKnight and Maxi Priest, so get ready to have the whole family jamming to the beats of the islands.

When: August 9 to 12
More info: jerkfestival.ca

Taste of the Danforth

Taste of the Danforth is Canada’s largest street festival. Located in the heart of Toronto’s Greektown on the Danforth, the event is a celebration of the fun flavours of Greece and summer in the city. Visitors can snack on souvlaki and spanakopita, enter contests and enjoy live music and traditional Greek dancing. There will also be tons of kid-friendly activities, such as face painting, games and sports. Free.

When: August 10 to 12
More info: tasteofthedanforth.com

Sweetery Toronto Food Festival

Get ready to indulge your sweet tooth at Toronto’s first sweets-only food festival. The annual Sweetery Toronto Food Festival aims to bring sweet things and sweet people together at David Pecaut Square, with macaroons, doughnuts and pastries galore, plus tons of activities. In past years, the festival has featured piñatas filled with candy that kids could take a swing at and a scavenger hunt to find the best sweets on offer. Sounds like a sweet deal! Free.

When: August 11 to 12
More info: sweeterytoronto.com

PHOTO: Sweetery Toronto Food Festival

Vegandale

Hey Vegans! We’ve got you. Being plant-based ain’t always easy but this veggie-loving festival is a great way to show your little ones that Meatless Monday doesn’t have to be a bore. Formerly the Vegan Food & Drink Festival, over a hundred vendors will be serving up hot food, drinks and desserts. Yum!

When: August 11 and 12
More info: vegandalefest.com

Pan American Food Festival

Feed your kids’ bellies and minds at this annual festival that highlights food from the 41 countries that make up the Americas (North, Central and South America and the Caribbean). Aside from the delicious fare, there will also be musical performances and a parade that features costumes from 20 Pan-American countries. Plus, there’s plenty of fun designed specifically for kids—in past years, kids had fun crafting and playing in a “World Cup” soccer game, where the little ones got to play on the teams of different countries.

When: August 25 to 26
More info: panamfoodfest.com

PHOTO: CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION

Canadian National Exhibition

Visiting the CNE is a classic end-of-summer activity, and this year’s Ex features all of the kid-friendly favourites you’d expect, including Kids’ World, Pizza Nova pizza-making, character greetings and President’s Choice SuperDogs. A family pass is $59 (for two adults and two kids up to age 13).

When: August 17 to September 3
More info: theex.com

PHOTO: Lacey Davey

Scotiabank Buskerfest

Come see Toronto’s best buskers at North America’s largest street performer festival. There’s tons of entertainment for the whole family! Laugh at the comedians’ jokes, gaze in wonder at the contortionists, believe in the impossible as magicians perform their tricks and dance like nobody’s watching when the musicians play their tunes. The festival also includes face painting, balloon twisting and special workshops for kids. This year, the festival is taking place at Woodbine Beach, so kids can enjoy the sand and water, too. Admission is by donation at the entrance, as well as at each performer’s act.

When: August 31 to September 3
More info: seetorontonow.com

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