Toronto is a town with plenty of great family attractions, from the idiosyncratic Ontario Science Centre to Paramount Canada’s Wonderland theme park to the Toronto Zoo, one of the great zoos of the world. Following are our recommended suggestions for family fun and kid-oriented entertainment in Toronto:
- Harbourfront: Kaleidoscope is an ongoing program of creative crafts, active games, and special events on weekends and holidays. It also has 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.
- Evergreen Brick Works: 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 58-second ride to the top in the glass-floor elevator.
- Fort York: For its reenactments of battle drills, musket and cannon firing, and musical marches with fife and drum.
- High Park: Wide-open spaces, a fairy-tale kingdom–inspired playground, 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? See p. ###.
- * Riverdale Farm: A working farm in the heart of the city flanked by a park and knotting trails that wind through wildlife-rich ravines.
- Ripley’s Aquarium: Budding Jacque Cousteaus can see sea critters from around the world. The Pacific octopus is often shy, but his shark friends in the Dangerous Lagoon exhibit are more than keen to flash a jagged smile as they sail past.
- Royal Ontario Museum: The top hits are the Ancient Egypt Gallery featuring a real live (well, real dead) mummy and the Hands-On Biodiversity Gallery.
- Toronto Islands–Centreville: Riding a ferry to this turn-of-the-20th-century amusement park is part of the fun.
Sleeping with the Fishes—Pack your PJs and grab your sleeping bag for a unique sleepover opportunity under the cover of 2.9 million liters (766,100 gallons) of water at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. The Overnight Reef Adventures are fun for the whole family. The experience starts with fish-themed craft-making, followed by a scavenger hunt through the aquarium, and then a round of underwater "Jeopardy." After a late-night snack, the crew hunkers down for the night in the Dangerous Lagoon’s shark tunnel. Watch with awe as the ocean’s most prolific predators soar across the ceiling. After a night of fish-filled dreams, wake up to breakfast with more time to explore the exhibits.
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. Check website for hours.
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.