The city puts on a fabulous array of special events for children at Harbourfront. In February, there's ALOUD: A Celebration for Young Readers. Come April, Spring Fever welcomes the season with egg decorating, puppet shows, and more; on Saturday mornings in April, the 5-to-12 set enjoys cushion concerts. For information, call tel. 416/973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com.
For more than 30 years, the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People (165 Front St. E., at Sherbourne St.; tel. 416/862-2222 for box office or 416/363-5131 for administration) has been entertaining youngsters. Its season runs from August to May.
The 11th annual Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children screens more than 100 entries from 29 countries. Like the Toronto International Film Festival in September, the screenings, to be held in April, take place around the city. Call tel. 416/968-FILM (416/968-3456) for details or visit www.sprockets.ca.
Help! We've Got Kids is an all-in-one print and online directory for attractions, events, shops, and services appropriate for kids younger than 13 in the greater Toronto area. It doesn't provide a lot of detail about most of the entries, but the listings make a great starting point. Visit www.helpwevegotkids.com.
The best venues (at least, from a kid's point of view) are these:
- Black Creek Pioneer Village: For crafts, costumes, and an entertaining take on history.
- Harbourfront: Kaleidoscope is an ongoing program of creative crafts, active games, and special events on weekends and holidays. There are also a pond, winter ice skating, and a crafts studio.
- Ontario Science Centre: Kids race to be the first at this paradise of hands-on games, experiments, and push-button demonstrations -- 800 of them.
- Toronto Zoo: One of the best in the world, modeled after San Diego's -- the animals in this 284-hectare (702-acre) park really do live in a natural environment.
For more specialized interests:
- Evergreen Brickworks: For hands-on learning experiences in cooking, ecology, markets, and treats.
- Casa Loma: The stables, secret passageway, and fantasy rooms capture children's imaginations.
- CN Tower: Especially the simulator games and the glass floor.
- Fort York: For its reenactments of battle drills, musket and cannon firing, and musical marches with fife and drum.
- High Park: Wide-open spaces, plus the chance to hang out with llamas.
- Hockey Hall of Fame: Who wouldn't want the chance to tend goal against Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky (with a sponge puck), and to practice with the fun and challenging video pucks?
- Royal Ontario Museum: The top hits are the Ancient Egypt Gallery, the Hands-On Biodiversity Gallery, and the Maiasaur Project.
- Toronto Islands-Centreville: Riding a ferry to this turn-of-the-20th-century amusement park is part of the fun.
A Storybook Sanctuary -- The Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books is a treasure trove for bibliophiles of all ages. Located at the Lillian H. Smith Branch of the Toronto Public Library (239 College St.; tel. 416/393-7753), the collection includes a 14th-century manuscript of Aesop's fables, Victorian and Edwardian adventure and fantasy tales, 16th-century schoolbooks, storybooks once owned by British royalty, an array of "penny dreadfuls" (cheap thrillers from the days when a paperback book cost a penny), and Florence Nightingale's childhood library. Special exhibits at the Osborne often feature whimsical subjects. You can visit the library weekdays between 10am and 6pm or Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.