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Things to do with kids in Toronto – here’s how to fill 7 epic days

This isn’t just any city, this is Toronto! The greatest city in North America IMO - especially if you’re a curious family looking for a holiday packed with diverse experiences and adventures. And you love the great outdoors. There are tons of things to do with kids in Toronto.

This is why we (we being myself, the hubby and our two kids - Ted 11, & Ferne 8) choose to move here from the UK in 2021 - and right now I’m sitting on my porch, on a balmy summer’s eve (26 degrees at 7 pm), with a glass of chilled white wine from the Niagara region, writing this very detailed insiders’ guide to an epic Toronto holiday for families, leaning on all my knowledge and our family adventures.

This article, which covers so many things to do with kids in Toronto is long, and it’s detailed - if you need some serious steer on exactly what to do on a Toronto holiday and how to do it, and you want to experience Toronto like a local, it’s worth the 15-minute read.

At the very bottom of this article in this things to do with kids in Toronto article is a Handy Links list. There’s also a link to a Google Map whereby I’ve taken the time to plot everything I’ve included in this article, to give you some perspective and hopefully help you plan.

I’ve got two very different points of view when it comes to a holidays and things to do with kids in Toronto. One, as a resident of one of Toronto’s hippest family neighbourhoods. And two, as someone who was tasked with promoting the top attractions and reasons to visit for anyone coming here from the UK. I worked for Ontario’s tourism board long before moving here was even a consideration. In fact, it’s all down to my construction engineer of a husband that we find ourselves living out this adventure in one of the world’s most incredible cities.

Anyway, if Canada is on your family holiday bucket list and you are looking for things to do with kids in Toronto and you’re looking for a holiday destination that promises a kaleidoscope of adventures for all the family, the frills and spills of a big city (and then some) and the excitement that comes with travelling to another continent, all without the hassle of mega-long flights, lengthy transfers and too many hours spent at the wheel of a car, read on…

My suggestions for how to fill seven days (below) combine those ‘must-dos’ with some of the cool, under-the-radar stuff that we love doing as a family. And these are jam-packed days - you could easily spread my recommendations over 10 days or more if you want to holiday at a slower pace and enjoy more of the beach, parks and pools in Toronto.

August 31, 2022


Why Toronto for an epic family holiday?

The city of Toronto (Canada’s largest city), a bit like New York, Chicago, Boston etc - is positioned as a North American short city break destination in the EST time zone (Eastern standard time - five hours behind the UK).

Toronto is also a popular beginning and end to fly-drive and motorhome holidays across the province of Ontario and beyond.

But you don’t need the expense of hire car, certainly not for your time in and around Toronto. And, IMO, you really can’t do Toronto justice in three or four days, especially as a family.

This city more than packs a punch as a longer-stay destination because it offers so much more than your typical city. Toronto is perched on Lake Ontario, which is 193 miles long, and boasts sandy beaches where sunbathing, swimming, beach BBQs and beach volleyball come and standard, along with kayak and SUP hire - just a short tram ride from downtown Toronto.

TOP TIP - if you want to swim in Lake Ontario - plan to visit at the back end of the summer - August and September ideally - it takes the water months to heat up after long, cold winters.

Toronto is the world’s most multi-cultural and ethnically diverse city on the planet. Fact. Over 55% of the five million people who live here were born outside of Canada. One of the reasons we wanted to move from a little middle-class WASP-y village in Yorkshire, UK to this melting pot of a city was because we wanted our kids to effortlessly integrate into a society of multiculturalism as standard. There’s no dominant culture here in Toronto. The foundations of this city and built on the ideology of equality.

Each neighbourhood embodies a distinct culture - nowhere else can you begin your day with a stroll through Little Italy slurping on an Italian coffee, eat gyros on The Danforth (Greek Town) for lunch, nibble on a custard tart in Little Portugal, and finish the day with authentic Chinese food in Chinatown. And if you’re here over the summer on a Toronto holiday, it’s likely you’ll find yourself in the middle of a cultural festival - so far this year we’ve had a right old ball at AfroFest, RibFest, Pride and the Toronto Caribbean Festival. Toronto Dragon Festival and Salsa in Toronto Festival are on my to-do list too.

Like any major city, unfortunately, you’re going to see homeless people asleep on the streets, living in tents in parks and pushing their worldly belongings around in shopping trollies. You’re going to see intoxicated people, some evidently struggling with their mental health - but please don’t allow yourself to feel uncomfortable. These people make up the tapestry of any major city, and we have never ONCE felt threatened or intimidated in Toronto, even in the early hours.

You’ll also wander alongside people exercising their right to be who they want to be and dress how they want to dress with no one batting an eyelid. Here in Toronto, everyone is celebrated for expressing their individuality, courage and diversity. So embark on your Toronto holiday open-minded and embrace the wonderful people of Toronto. It’s no surprise that Toronto hosts one of the world’s top 10 Pride festivals every year and it’s absolutely incredible.

THIS is all that I love about Toronto. And THIS is the Toronto I want you to experience.

You’re going to see all sorts of diverse and colourful people. You’re going to see some of the most incredible urban art, and if you time it right, you’re going to find yourself in the middle of world-class festivals and events. And that’s just the start...

Things to do with kids in Toronto - getting around and about

Getting around Toronto on a Toronto holiday is so easy. Streetcars (trams), buses and bikes will get you from A to B. It’s a brilliant city to wander around on foot, and there is something around every corner to distract little people from whinging and whining. There is plenty of things to do with kids in Toronto!

Things to do with kids in Toronto includes lots of cycling. As a family, we happily bike downtown and all over the city (we live three miles east of Downtown in Leslieville). Downtown Toronto is nowhere near as crazy as some of England’s major cities - vehicles are very respectful of cyclists, roads are super wide, and most major have cycle lanes. Dedicated cycle paths also run parallel with parts of Lake Ontario. The streetcar system (trams) also slows the traffic down and you can easily get from one side of Toronto to another on a street car, and kids travel free!

INSIDER TIP - You’ll need exact change to travel on a street car, or you can purchase a Presto card and tap to travel - a bit like London’s Oyster card - see the link in the Handy Links section for info on where to purchase a Presto card.

Toronto Bike Share is HUGE - there are over 600 stations across the city so you’re never far from a station. These bikes are for 16 years plus, so if you have younger kids and want to explore the city on two wheels, you’ll need to hire kids' bikes from a private bike hire company. Wheel Excitement on Queen Quay West (1.3km south of Union Station) rents bikes from $15 CAD an hour, plus $5 CAD thereafter.

Taxis are plenty, you can hail one down and pay by debit or credit card if needed. It’s good form to add a tip in the region of 15%.

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Welcome to Toronto - check in, un-pack and find your feet

Getting to Downtown Toronto from Toronto Pearson Airport on a Toronto holiday is super easy. Blowing $70 bucks on a taxi and sitting in the city’s traffic really isn’t necessary when you can jump straight on the UP Express from Toronto Pearson airport and be right in the heart of Downtown Toronto within 25 minutes for just $27.50 for a one-way family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 guests 19 years of age and under).

There’s no shortage of hotels in Toronto for a Toronto holiday as a family. For ease, comfort and location, families can’t go wrong with The Delta. This upmarket tourist class hotel (by Marriott) is a hop, skip and jump from Union Station, (Toronto’s Paddington Station equivalent) where you’ll jump off the UP Express. And possibly back on it to return to the airport after your Toronto holiday.

There are cheaper hotel alternatives depending on your budget, and it’s also worth looking into renting an Airbnb or similar. And there's are a ton of downtown condos available for short-term rental. (Condo is the North American term for apartment).

You’re going to fall head over heels in love with Toronto as soon as you walk out of the front entrance of Union Station onto Front Street Plaza on your Toronto holiday. Especially if you’re visiting over the summer holidays. You can’t help but get high on the energy, the colours, the vivid blue skies, and the romance and elegance of the Fairmont Royal York (Toronto’s version of The Savoy) which is directly opposite Union Station - also a pretty impressive building - inside and out.

And right through to the end of August, expect to see Front Street Plaza alive with live entertainment, quirky food vendors and plenty of fun in the sun.

Also, expect to be hit by the heat over the summer months. With highs of 35 degrees, and humidity levels exceeding 80%, Toronto’s summer weather is consistent and HOT! Toronto is on the same latitude as the south of France, so don’t bother packaging your jeans and jumpers - you won’t need them. Pack a pakamac though, Toronto is partial to the odd flash flood storm in late summer. But they are over and done with in a jiffy for the most part. the rain doesn't need to impact of things to do with kids in Toronto.

If you want to splash out on a hotel on your Toronto holiday where you can cool off and the kids can splash around in an outdoor pool, Toronto has a handful of hotels with really cool rooftop pools (see the Handy Links section), but, in my opinion, there’s no need to splash more cash on fancy pools, Toronto has dozens of outdoor public swimming pools across the city, which you can visit for free! Plus, there’s a plethora of splash pads in parks all over town so always take a towel and the kids’ swimsuits out with you on your Toronto holiday when exploring the city, because it’s likely you’ll stumble upon one of these splash pads - a great way to cool down. And of course I absolutely recommend a day on one of Toronto’s beaches.

There’s a distinct NYC feel to Downtown Toronto, certainly when you look up. At eye level, admire the beautiful floral displays, art installations and pop-ups, incredible urban graffiti art, and the quirky and colourful Muskoka chairs that line the streets. And of course, you can’t miss the CN Tower, which rises above the city - 554 meters to be exact.

It’s likely you’ll be landing in Canada mid-afternoon on your Toronto holiday. Most flights from the UK land between 2 pm and 6 pm EST- your body clock will be telling you it’s much later as there is a minus five hour time difference so you’re all going to be feeling the onset of tiredness mixed with the excitement that emanates from a city like Toronto on a Toronto holiday.

Check into your chosen hotel downtown, freshen up, and head back out for a bite to eat before bed. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Toronto. This city offers every type of cuisine. And then some. Further down this article I’ve listed some of our favourite places to wine and dine as a family on a Toronto holiday.

Tipping culture on a Toronto holiday - you’ll be prompted to tip by most card machines handed to you if you’re using plastic to pay, especially if you’re purchasing food and drink. You’ll be pushed to add 15%, 18% or 20%! As a tight Northerner, I never tip more than 15% (unless I've had too much to drink and really like the waiter ) . Also, bear in mind that HST tax will be added to your bill too so always allow for this (13% on top of your bill).
Many places across Toronto are cashless and only accept plastic so don’t bother getting hundreds of pounds of money exchanged for dollars.

INSIDER TIP - I only tip if there is table service - so if I pop into a shop to buy a takeout coffee, for example, I say no to the tip request.

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Things to do with kids in Toronto - seven fun-packed days for all the family in Toronto

Below are my suggestions for things to do with kids in Toronto on a Toronto family holiday:

1 - Downtown - Old Toronto - The CN Tower, a Blue Jays baseball game at The Rogers Center and The Rec Room

2 - Downtown West - Kensington Market, The AGO, Grange Park, China Town, Graffiti Alley, Queen Street West

3 - Downtown East - St. Lawrence Market, St. James’ Park, Sugar Beach, The Distillery District

4 - Downtown Core - The Eaton Centre, Dundas Square, Nathan Phillips Square, The Theatre District

5 - Toronto Islands

6 - High Park & dinner in Little Italy in Toronto’s West End

7 - Woodbine Beach & dinner in Toronto’s East End (or BBQ on the beach).


The CN Tower, Let’s Go Blue Jays & The Rec Room

1) Get high at The CN Tower
Pretty much wherever you go in Toronto, you can see the CN Tower towering above you. And if you look closely, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the crazy people who embark on The Edgewalk - a full-circle, hands-free journey around the exterior of the Tower's main pod, 116 storeys above the ground! I’m one of those crazy people, in fact, I had my go just after it opened in 2011 and to this day, I’m not entirely sure how my work colleagues at Ontario Tourism got me up there. But, if you’re a sucker for a big thrill, your kids are over the age of 13 and you’re accompanying them, then, as bragging rights go, hanging off the top of the CN Tower is up there with any other batsh*t crazy activity.

For the less adventurous on a Toronto holiday, take Le Tour and jump in the partial glass lift and zip up to the SkyPod - the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere, 447 meters above the ground. Tickets to visit the SkyPod are $35 per adult and $25 per child (see Handy Link for more information).

There are a couple of dining options, including revolving fine-dining Restaurant 360. I’ve included more info in the Where to Eat section below.


2) The Rec Room - Gaming mayhem and Margaritas
Right opposite the CN Tower is The Rec Room. Conveniently located for a pre or post-visit after your visit to the CN Tower, or a Blue Jays baseball game at The Rogers Center. Also opposite the CN Tower.

From ping pong to pool, and video and redemption games (win tickets, get prizes), when I ask my kids where they would like to go for a treat night, without hesitation it’s always the Rec Room.

It's one of the top things to do with kids in Toronto according to Ted and Ferne. It’s my idea of hell, made slightly bearable by the huge bar that dominates the venue. I like to perch on a stool at the bar, sip on a Margherita, and leave my kids to play video games and attempt to win prizes from the prize shop. Which, in fairness, as prizes go for this type of thing, are decent quality and imaginative. But before I allow them to do their thing, we have a bite to eat on the huge patio outside in the summer.


3) Let’s Go Blue Jays! So much more than a baseball game
When my husband told me he had purchased us tickets for a baseball game at The Rogers Center soon after we moved to Toronto I was more than a little bit perplexed. I don’t play sport, I don’t watch sport, I don’t like sport and the idea of sitting for three hours watching baseball, well, tattooing my eyeballs felt like it might have been a less painful activity.

Boy was I wrong!

I can’t pretend I watched much of the game, but I sank a few beers, ate a giant hotdog and we made plenty of new friends. The atmosphere is absolutely awesome - the comradery, the Mexican waves, the big screen fun and games, the mascots - a baseball game is a brilliant experience for families on a Toronto holiday - the game is very much a family affair and both my kids love going.

Nearly every Sunday Home Game is Junior Jays Sunday - kids 14 and under can visit the Jr. Jays Zones on the 100, 200 and 500 levels to take part in many fun games and activities. Plus they get to run the bases at the end of the game - if you can be bothered to queue.

Make sure you head to Guest Services at 100 level and claim your first game certificate.

500-level tickets are the cheapest at as little as $16 each, but you’re high up and if it’s a hot day, the stadium's retractable roof will be open so depending on your seats, you might end up sitting directly in the scorching sun. Take sunscreen and hats, better still buy Blue Jays caps in one of the many Blue Jays retail shops. Your tickets are rarely checked once you’re in the stadium. We tend to buy cheap tickets and then move into a lower zone depending on the availability of seats. The best seats are on levels 100 and 200.

A baseball game is definitely one of many fun things to do with kids in Toronto.


Downtown West - art, shopping & splash-park fun

Like any other major city, Toronto is awash with museums, galleries, and theatres (the third largest theatre district in the world after Broadway NY, and West End London may I add). But if you’re kids are anything like mine, dragging them around a museum will be like pulling teeth.

However, if you’re into your art, the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is a must-visit on a Toronto holiday and one of the fun cultural things to do with kids in Toronto. You can bribe your brood into doing a morning inside the museum, in exchange for an afternoon in the adventure playground and splash pad in the grounds of Grange Park right outside.

The AGO on Dundas Street West takes up 45,000 square meters of space, making it one of the largest museums in North America. And the building itself is an architectural marvel.

Grange Park is a lovely green space, and a perfect picnic, spot in the summer.

Whilst you’re in this part of town on your Toronto holiday, take some time to visit Kensington Market. West of Chinatown and just a 10-minute walk from the AGO - a bohemian neighbourhood with a multicultural mix of street food, hole-in-the-wall boutiques and vintage clothing stores.

My kids love routing through the racks of second-hand vintage sports tops, crystals and tie-die, and we love sitting on one of the many patios, enjoying a cheap beer or three in the sunshine, with a backdrop of eccentrically decorated facades of Victorian houses, the smell of pot (it’s legal here in Toronto), and the sounds of the guitars and harmonicas from local street buskers.

Kensington Market is Toronto’s answer to Camden Market and the best time to really enjoy Kensington Market on a Toronto holiday is on a Sunday afternoon when the streets are closed to vehicles for pedestrians only.

Spanning Queen Street West, Richmond Street West and Spadina Avenue, make some time to wander along Graffiti Ally. It’s a little stinky, but if you can focus on the actual talent of the people who have quite obviously spent a lot of time and energy spray-painting the most incredible huge pieces of urban art onto the walls of buildings that line each side of the mile-long back street, it’s worth a visit. In fact, you’ll come across so much street art in Toronto - just one of the many elements that bring this city to life and adds to the extensive colour pops across Toronto on your Toronto family holiday.

Queen Street West is also great for shopping and if you’re visiting Graffiti Alley then head back onto Queen Street West and wander west. Quirky boutiques, some bigger brands such as MAC, Adidas & H&M, vintage, high-end furniture and cool independents selling everything from vinyl to collectables and everything in between, sit side-by-side with cool patio bars and restaurants, coffee shops, juice bars, ice cream parlours and more incredible street art. And when the sun goes down, Queen West’s club scene kicks in. Shame we now have kids. Toronto's club scene is another blog completely.

Queen Street West is one of my favourite parts of Toronto. It’s edgy, eclectic, bold and busy. The further west up Queen you go, the more salubrious the restaurants, bars and patios become. But appreciative the grittiness of this part of town because, well, I love it,


The Distillery District

The Distillery District is a pedestrian-only restored Victorian-era industrial area that’s been converted into a really cool dining and shopping village. It’s hip, and cool, and draws parallels with New York City’s SoHo district. It’s a 20-minute walk from Union Station, East of St. Lawrence Market. We love this place most in the winter months because they absolutely go to town on the Christmas decorations and it’s like something out of a Charles Dickens novel. It’s definitely worth a visit in the summer months if you’re up this end of town, if only for a mooch around the one-of-a-kind stores, shops, galleries, studios, restaurants and cafes. Just like anywhere in Toronto, there’s always something going on.


Toronto Islands

If you’ve been to the top of the CN Tower, you will have seen Toronto’s Islands from above - a car-free oasis where many go to escape the city -just a 13-minute ferry ride from Harbourfront.

We love the tranquillity of the Islands in the summer, There’s so much to see and do including beautiful swimming beaches (including a nudist beach at Hanlan's Point), sports facilities, bike, canoe and kayak rentals, a boating marina, large grassy fields for picnics, a theatre, nature paths, and an amusement park with rides, a petting zoo and a splash pad.

There are lockers at several busy locations, a pier, boardwalk, formal gardens, playgrounds, fountains, more splash pads, and various places to grab a bite and beer including the beach bar on Central Island beach.

Ferries depart from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the foot of Bay St. and Queen's Quay every 30 mins from 10.30 am right through to 11.30 pm throughout the day in summer, taking passengers to Central Island. You can rock up and purchase a ticket from the terminal (see Handy Links).


High Park - 45 minutes west of Downtown Toronto

High Park's 399 acres in the middle of Toronto is an excellent day out for families, especially over the summer. We absolutely love this park, and IMO, Toronto’s High Park beats any London park hands down. Not least because this park boasts a huge outdoor swimming pool, which is free to visit.

High Park is easily reached by street car - jump on the 505 on Dundas and head west. The last stop on this route is the High Park Loop, which takes you into the park and drops you just a short walk north of Jamie Bell adventure park - there’s a giant wooden fort with slides, multi-story towers, winding staircases and lookouts, and plenty of picnic tables.

Just outside the adventure park is a park train stop. This 30-minute scenic ride weaves through the park, picking up other passengers along the way. ($3 dollars per kid, $4 per adult - cash only).

The trackless train takes you past the park’s huge outdoor public swimming pool, then onto and a fantastic splash park, wading pool, another adventure playground and Grenadier cafe - a great spot for lunch.

The outdoor swimming pool - as with all outdoor public swimming pools in Toronto - opens from 1st July through to Labour Day on 1st Monday in September. This pool area includes a water slide, splash pad, and wading areas. It's free to use and open all week, plus it's supervised by lifeguards at all times during opening hours (the pool is open for leisure swimming from 12pm to 7pm).

High Park is also home to a small zoo, which sits at the bottom of Deer Pen Road with animals such as yak, llamas, and bison.

When we head west to High Park, we always take the opportunity to stop off in Little Italy for dinner on the way home. Jump back on the 505 for sixteen stops and jump off the tram at Ossington Avenue and walk north up Ossington for about 700 meters and you’ll hit the North side of Little Italy on College Street. Wander east down College Street and you’re spoilt for choice for Italian restaurants, bistros, and cafes.


Woodbine Beach - 45 minutes East of Downtown Toronto

My hood, where we spent every opportunity we’ve had over the summer, cycling along the beach-side cycle path, walking along the two-mile beach boardwalk, kayaking, bbq-ing, playing volleyball, and around now (late August), when the water is warm enough, swimming in the lake.

On a weekend, and during the evenings, The Beaches (as the local area is called) - made up of Woodbine Beach and Balmy Beach, is a hive of entertainment. With beautiful parks with free public BBQs and plenty of picnic benches and Muskoka chairs, several adventure playgrounds, tennis courts, beach volleyball pitches, changing rooms, a beachfront cafe and an ice cream parlour - is buzzing with brilliant summer vibes.

Hire paddle boards and kayaks from WSUP, just by the tennis courts of Balmy Beach (link in Handy Links) and choose between the sand or more shaded areas on the grass to pitch yourself up for a day of lakeside fun in sun.

Take the 501 (Neville Park) street car East on Queen. Jump off at Bellefair Avenue in The Beaches neighbourhood, and walk down through Kew Gardens, past the adventure playground and you’ll see the beach ahead of you.

Take a picnic, or a portable BBQ, alternatively, there are some great restaurants along Queen East for brunch, lunch or dinner. Many with wonderful patios. Hit the link in Handy Links for the best restaurants in The Beaches neighbourhood.

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Where to eat in Toronto - our family recommendations

There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants around Union Station. I recommend Kelly’s Landing right across the road from the station for ease on your arrival day. Decent North American grub such as burgers, salads and tacos are served on a patio that promises interesting people-watching and dramatic downtown city views. Plus a huge air-conditioned indoor restaurant with sports screens and a fun vibe if you can’t bag a table outside.

Wander east along Front Street East from Union Station and you’ll stumble on some cute patios. From charming French bistros such as Biffs Bistro with a very Parisian patio ambience to Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill - great for delicious pasta and wood-fired pizza.

Wander a little further along Front Street East on another day, and you’ll stumble upon St. Lawrence Market (closed on Sundays and Mondays). And if you’re a foodie like me, pop in (closes at 5pm) and meander around the 200-plus vendors selling everything from every type of fruit and veg imaginable to live lobsters, French cheeses, artisan chocolates, baked goods, dozens of varieties of olives and tons of charcuterie. Head down to the lower ground to the juice bar for the most amazing fresh fruit smoothies.

There’s a whole area inside St. Lawrence Market that serves hot and cold food to go (head to the back from the main entrance). So if you’re around this area up until 5 pm when the market closes, these food vendors are a great alternative for delicious, great value food without the faff and ceremony of a restaurant. Fresh, well-prices dishes from vendors such as Busters Sea Cove for Lobster rolls with fries (and every other fish dish imaginable), St. Urbain Bagles for ‘The best Montreal-style bagels outside of Montreal’, and Paddington’s Pump for all-day breakfasts from Eggs Benedict, buttermilk pancake stacks and steak and eggs.

Carousel Bakery in the market serves possibly the most famous sarnie in Toronto - the peameal bacon sandwich. It’s got quite the reputation - people from all over the world come here to sample this sandwich. Traditionally served with sweet mustard (you can have brown sauce if you prefer), it’s the closest thing you’re going to get to a good old English bacon butty and it’s delicious.

There’s plenty of outdoor seating right outside on the market’s huge patio so grab whatever takes your fancy and have lunch alfresco.

St. Lawrence Market is also a great place to purchase some provisions for a picnic in one of the many pretty picnic spots across town, whether it be in a park, or down on the harbourfront, there’s no shortage of places to lay a blanket down and soak up the sunshine and summer vibes. And if you haven’t got a blanket, don’t worry, there’s plenty of free seating to be had.


4 kid-friendly picnic spot suggestions close to St. Lawrence Market:
Berczy Park - If you’re a family of dog lovers, you’ll love Berczy Park, which is just a hop, skip and jump from St. Lawrence Market on the other side of Front Street East. Head back West towards Union Station and you’ll stumble upon the most incredible fountain. This whimsical fountain pays tribute to Toronto's four-legged friends and the park is a beautiful spot for a picnic, with plenty of public seating, a lovely grassy area, and views of some of the most incredible floral displays that adorn the sidewalk along this stretch of Front Street. It’s a popular place for buskers and street artists and looks out for the two pussy cats too. On Wednesdays, throughout the summer there is planned live music at lunchtime.

St. James’ Park - take a short six-minute walk (400 m) north up Jarvis Street (Jarvis Street is right outside St, Lawrence Market) and you’ll stumble upon St. James’ Park. Wander through the formal flower gardens featuring beautiful blooms and shaded areas - and for the little ones - a food market-inspired adventure playground featuring stacked towers, ice cream cone sculptures, a giant asparagus climber and a carrot balance beam promises hours of outdoor fun.

Sugar Beach - Relax in a Muskoka chair under a pink parasol and dip your toes in the white sand on Sugar Beach with views over Lake Ontario (no water access). This is a man-made urban beach so expect urban views. It’s very novel and there’s a small splash pad too. It’s an eight-minute walk south of St. Lawrence Market on Harbour Front.

Harbour Square Park - A little further west along the harbour front is Harbour Square Park - another wonderful spot with views over the lake and lots of green space. There are plenty of benches, picnic tables and Muskoka chairs, and it’s a great spot for plane spotting too.


Some of our favourite family-friendly places to dine

La Carnita for the best and most creative tacos & Sweet Jesus for afters

Tacos are life in Toronto - you’re never too far away from a taco in Toronto. Fancy plays on Tacos in fine-dining restaurants. Cheap, delicious and authentic tacos from pop-ups and food vans, and then there are the basic, average, and nothing-to-write-home-about tacos. I’ve consumed my share of tacos in Toronto and the stand-out winners have to be at La Carnita. And there are four restaurants across the city - the nearest one to Union Station is St. John Street, and conveniently, it’s right next door to Sweet Jesus - my daughter’s favourite soft scoop take out. So head here for a Crusty the Cone of a Red Rapture for afters.


Fresh on Spadina for your 5-a-day all-in-one go (plant-based).

There are only so many burgers and fries and bowls of cheesy pasta and nachos I’ll let my kids east before I insist that if we are dining out, we’re dining out at Fresh on Spadina - not least for the dreamy interior. I’m not a vegetarian and neither are my kids, but Fresh is one of our favourite restaurants in the city. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it.

Spadina is one of Toronto’s most prominent streets, and at over 50m wide. The 510 streetcar departs regularly from Union Station, heading west, and the last stop is Spadina on King West. Fresh is a four-minute walk north up Spadina from here.


Dinner with a view at the top of the CN Tower - a whopping 550 meters above sea level

For a special treat and the most incredible views of Toronto, book a table at Restaurant 360 at the top of Toronto’s world-famous CN Tower - book well in advance to avoid disappointment and if you can, book for around 7pm, that way you’ll get the witness the most incredible sunset over the summer (if there are no clouds).

Dinner here is something we love doing as a family, especially when we have visitors from afar. Whilst it’s not cheap, it’s better value to dine at Restaurant 360 than to just purchase tickets to travel up to the viewing pod. The restaurant boasts a good fixed-price menu, which includes steak and fries as standard on the kids section, plus a more pricey al-la-carte menu.

Tuck into delicious Canadian dishes whilst you slowly revolve and witness incredible views stretching all the way across Lake Ontario. (To book your table - link in Handy Links).


The Deck - the Rec Room’s patio

The hidden oasis is decked out with lush greenery and canopies and features unobstructed views of the city. With its own outdoor kitchen, the Deck’s menu includes shareable options such we smoky BBQ braised pulled pork sliders and crispy tortilla chips dipped in mango, avocado and shrimp salsa. The sangria and a mango-lime rum punch go down a treat in the sunshine and depending on when you visit, there’s live music, lawn games such as giant Jenga and cornhole - always a winner with the kids.


Cafe Diplomatico - Little Italy

Our favourite family-friendly and great-value Italian in Little Italy is Cafe Diplomatico, not least for its amazing streetside patio. The pizzas are huge and delicious, and we love the ‘create your own pasta’ menu - choose your fresh pasta and select your sauce from a whopping 22 different sauces. I can absolutely recommend the Truffle Portobello Mushroom Cream Sauce. The menu stretches way beyond pasta and pizza, with an extensive antipasti menu, burgers, fish, chicken, steak, salads and paninis. Expect big portions and bigger Italian personalities. Expect Italian football to be playing on the TV screens and neighbourhood locals slurping expressos.


Toronto Islands BBQ & Beer Co.

Located on the Toronto Islands, Toronto Islands BBQ & Beer Co is a great place to enjoy some tasty grub in the sun after a day of fun on the Islands. The views of Toronto’s skyline are spectacular - try and time it so you can watch the sunset whilst sipping on a local craft brew. The low and slow BBQ menu features all the favourites such as baby-back ribs, pulled port and smoke pit sausages.

My final piece of advice to you - ALWAYS wander beyond the shiny city centre whenever you explore a new city because only then do you see the true beauty and magic of a destination and the people who call it home.

And if you’ve got any questions about things to do with kids in Toronto, don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll do all I can to help you plan a holiday of dreams here in Ontario.

And finally, give me a follow on Instagram - as it’s very likely I’ll stumble upon more hidden gems that you can include in your itinerary and this is where you’ll find them. @Girlabout.toronto

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Point of reference map of Toronto

I've taken the time to plot all the businesses I mention in this article on a Google map, so you can get some perspective on the city and the locations of the businesses and experiences I recommend. Click on the More Info link below to access the map. There's plenty of things to do with kids in Toronto on this map.

Niagara Falls - you must add a night in Niagara onto your trip

If you’re visiting Toronto, then you have to allocate some more time to visit Niagara Falls, which we love doing by bus from Toronto’s Harbourfront district. It’s dead easy, cost-effective, and takes just 90 minutes from Downtown Toronto into Downtown Niagara. IMO, one night is more than enough in Niagara Falls for families so just add an extra night and day onto your stay. If you’re kid-free, take a few more days so you can visit picture-perfect Niagara on the Lake and tour some of the 70-plus wineries.

Logistically, if you’re taking the bus, you might need to return to Toronto and overnight here in the city before heading to the airport, or, another option is to return to Toronto by bus, and jump back on the UP Express and overnight in an airport hotel. Either way, it’s pretty easy. We always use FlixBus (link in Handy Links at the bottom of this article). The coaches are comfortable, and air-conditioned with reclining seats and you can have a drink or three in Niagara and not have to worry.

Beyond Toronto - come for longer, experience even more

You could also add on a week in Ontario’s lakes. David and Victoria Beckham holidayed in Muskoka this year, and so did we!

If a week on a lake, jumping off a jetty, swimming, chilling, and having lots of fun sounds good, renting a cottage, or staying in a lake-side hotel is an add-on option that promises even more amazing memories. You’ll need to hire a car or motor home, but if you’re up for it, time spent in Muskoka (a three-hour drive north of Toronto) is what dreams are made of.

Another add-on option, certainly for very active and adventurous families, is Blue Mountain Village resort, which is a two-hour drive north of Toronto on Georgian Bay. A popular ski resort over winter, this all-season resort is Toronto’s answer to Centre Parcs, with a lot of the activities and adventures built around the mountain - so brilliant hiking trails accessed by ski lifts, a mountain coaster ride, high ropes, zip lines, outdoor swimming pool, and more.

Read more of my blogs and articles

August 31, 2022