13 awesome things to do in the GTA with kids this summer

Looking for fun GTA events for your kids this summer? We’ve rounded up some of the best ones!

Photo Photo: Bakht Sajid

1. Richmond Hill Live Steamers Calling all train fans! As part of Whitchurch-Stouffville's Doors Open Ontario event, Richmond Hill Live Steamers, a club of model-train enthusiasts, will be letting the public explore its privately owned miniature train collection. It all takes place at the club’s facility in Ballantrae, Ont., near Stouffville, an hour’s drive from Toronto. Visitors of all ages will get to ride on one of three miniature railways and find out how railways worked in the past. And all of this is free (donations welcome, though).

When: June 4 More info:


2. Kite Festival Get ready for some gorgeous sights in the sky at the 25th annual Kite Festival at Brant Hills Park in Burlington, Ont. This free event features kite building (materials are provided while supplies last), music, juggling, face painting and balloon animals. You’re also welcome to bring your own kite to fly. It’s a great chance to see some fantastic flying action from guests who really know their way around the art of getting their kites to dance in the air.

When: June 5 More info:



3. Movies Under the Stars The only thing better than going to see a movie is watching one outside. Kids will love the City of Burlington’s outdoor movie nights, which take place at parks throughout the city on Thursdays from July 7 to August 18. Everything kicks off with a showing of Minions at Nelson Park and wraps up with The Good Dinosaur at Spencer Smith Park. Come early to reserve a spot and bring your own blanket or lawn chairs. Movies start at 9 p.m., so this event is probably better for older kids.

When: Thursdays, July 7 to August 18 More info:

bollywood-gta Photo: Jaime Espinoza

4. Bollywood Monster Mashup The largest South Asian festival in Canada takes places this year at Celebration Square in Mississauga, Ont. Packed with plenty of singing, dancing, food and shopping, Bollywood Monster Mashup will definitely keep your kids entertained. They’ll especially love Bollywood Monster KidZone, which is open on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and features free Bollywood dance lessons, a mini-car driving area, activities like hula hooping, arts and crafts and more!

When: July 22 to 23 More info:


5. Ice Cream Carnival A cold serving of ice cream is a great way to get respite from a hot summer’s day, so be sure to visit this carnival at Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton, Ont., to get your fix. You’ll find hand-cranked ice-cream-making demonstrations (with sampling, of course), Edwardian carnival games, music, food and more at this special event at this historical village northwest of Hamilton. Tickets must be purchased in advance, but admission is free for kids under six.

When: July 31 to August 1 More info:


6. Amazing Things to Do Before You’re 12 Spark your kids’ interest in nature with this fun event, which is being held in two locations: Mountsberg Conservation Area in Campbellville, Ont., and Crawford Lake Conservation Area in Milton, Ont. Staff members will lead everyone through classic summer activities like skipping stones, holding snakes and starting a fire without matches. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and each family will leave with a list of 50 more things to do so they can keep the fun going on their own. There will also be a Mud Pie Kitchen, which is a mud-based play area where your little ones can make and bake their favourite pretend pies. This is a drop-in event that takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is included with the entry fee. Kids four and under are free.


When: August 13 to 14 More info: Crawford Lake: Mountsberg:


7. Port Credit Busker Fest For three days, the village of Port Credit transforms into a stage for street performers from all over the world. On Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., the gazebo at Memorial Park is the site of Kidz Zone. Here, you’ll find performances geared to the littlest ones, plus roving characters and tons of activities, including juggling workshops, face painting, dance parties, a chalk art area and balloon sculptures. All of this is free, though it’s suggested that audience members tip the performers. 

When: August 19 to 21 More info:



8. Children’s Festival On August 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park becomes the site of the 25th annual Children’s Festival! There will be live entertainment, play zones complete with inflatables, crafts and a kids’ marketplace. And the park is located right on the waterfront, so the breeze off of Lake Ontario will keep the late-August temps down a bit.

When: August 21 More info:

pow-wow Photo: David Moses

9. Three Fires Homecoming Pow Wow and Traditional Gathering This year marks the 30th annual Three Fires Homecoming Pow Wow and Traditional Gathering, which is held on the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Reserve near Hagersville, Ont. (about 40 kilometres south of Hamilton). Aside from enjoying the drummers’ and dancers’ performances, visitors are encouraged to dance during intertribal songs. Kids will get to make their own creation at the craft station—last year, children created leather bookmarks. Arts and crafts from First Nations traders will be on sale, and there will also be plenty to eat, too, including traditional foods like corn soup and bison burgers, as well as hot dogs, fries and more. Admission is $5 per day, but children ages six and under are free.

When: August 27 to 28 More info:

Photo: Whittamore’s Farm Photo: Whittamore’s Farm

10. Fruit and veggie picking It’s going to be a great strawberry season thanks to the cool spring, so this would be the perfect year to take your brood strawberry picking starting in mid- to late June. There are a number of pick-your-own spots just a short drive from Toronto, including Andrews’ Scenic Acres in Milton, Ont., Organics Family Farm in Markham, Ont., and Whittamore’s Farm in Markham, Ont., which also boasts a two-storey tree fort with a slide, wagon rides and much more. And strawberries are just the beginning, as you can visit throughout the summer to pick raspberries, sweet corn and even flowers!

When: All summer More info: Whittamore’s Farm: Andrews’ Scenic Acres: Organics Family Farm:


11. Fresh City Farms’ Open Farm: Season Launch Party Many city kids have little idea about how food is grown or the people who grow their food. Help celebrate the start of the growing season and connect your family with farm life with a party at this produce farm in the city (at Downsview Park, specifically). Everyone is welcome at this open house, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. and features tours of the facilities, a kid-friendly pollinator craft, live music, by-donation workshops led by farmers and a pop-up market where you can buy food and more from local businesses. This event is free, though organizers request that you RSVP through the Fresh City Farms site.


When: June 26 More info:

Toronto_ Botanical-gardens-Sleepover

12. Toronto Botanical Garden Sleep under the stars and among the flowers in Toronto Botanical Garden’s Teaching Garden at its annual Garden Sleepover. There will be a pizza dinner, bat and moth hunts, games, marshmallow roasting, storytelling around a campfire and more! The cost for a family of four is $260 (with a maximum of two adults), or $68 per individual. Note: Bring your own tent.

When: July 16 to July 17 (rain date July 23) at 5 p.m. More info:

Art gallery of Ontario/Grange Park playground Photo: Earthscape Play


13. Grange Park Playground This park will definitely be a go-to spot for the summer. Tucked right beside the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in downtown Toronto, kids will enjoy playing and climbing on the new playground's structures. But, it's not just any playground—it's meant to draw elements from an artist's studio. Kids aren't just sliding down a slide, they're sliding down a box of pencils; they're not just going through a tunnel, they're going through a squished paint tube.

When: All summer long More info:

What did we miss? Tell us about the can’t-miss summer events in your city by emailing us at

Read more: 7 best outdoor pools in the GTA 5 family-friendly water parks in Toronto and the GTA 5 family-friendly beaches in Toronto and the GTA

This article was originally published on May 30, 2016

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Alex is a Toronto-based writer and editor. She currently works as a managing editor for Mind Over Matter magazine. Her work can also be found in publications like The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, and The Walrus.