This is a guest post from Corinne McDermott, the Founder of Have Baby Will Travel. Corinne specializes in tips and advice for travel with babies and toddlers. Considering she has one of each – a 5 month old and 3 year old – Corinne knows what works and what doesn’t with kids that age. She’s on twitter @hvbabywilltrvl. Thanks for the Toronto tips Corinne!
Toronto is fun, Toronto is clean, and (in spite of what Vancouverites might say! ;), Toronto is friendly. As a native Torontonian, I can think of no better place to live and raise my kids, and my transplanted Westerner-of-a-husband begrudgingly agrees.
Summer is hot and humid, spring and fall are typically lovely. Our winters can be quite harsh, but there’s usually no major snow on the ground until December, so as long as you’re bundled you can still enjoy the outdoors. There’s plenty to enjoy indoors anyway!
The Art Gallery of Ontario is newly renovated with spaces designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. The collections are impressive, but on weekends it’s all about Off The Wall: The Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre. With over 1800 square feet of play space, Off The Wall encourages the AGO’s youngest visitors (aged 2-10) to draw, sculpt, and create their own masterpieces. Group of Seven beware!
The Royal Ontario Museum is located in the tony Yorkville area of Toronto. Try to drag the kids away from the Chanel boutique to explore the many hands-on exhibits and a most impressive collection of dinosaur skeletons. It’s hard to know if mommy will prefer the mummies, the real, live, bat cave (not of the Christian Slater variety), shrunken heads, samurai warrior armor, the lunar meteorite, the kids will love the hands-on Gallery of Biodiversity where they can try on field gear and handle specimens of flora and fauna.
Riverdale Farm is open every day except Christmas, it’s one of our favourite places to visit. It’s a tiny working farm in the middle of the city where you can watch a cow being milked, count the goats, spy on the chickens, and set your toddler free to run with the herd of other kids enjoying freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies. Maintained by the city, Riverdale Farm is always free, and there’s a weekly farmer’s market on Tuesday afternoons. In summer months, the park outside the farm has a city-run wading pool open – clean and fun for a splash but absolutely, bone-chillingly freezing!
Centre Island is another of our favourites during the summer months, though you can visit year-round. Catch the ferry and from the dock it’s a quick stroll to Centreville – a little amusement park perfect for pint-sized patrons. I loved it as a child and love that my daughter loves it now too. Toddler-appropriate rides are plentiful and there’s a little farm to explore as well. If you’ve had your fill of Centreville (or it’s past Labour Day), rent a bike (standard, tandem or quad) and explore the greenspace at your own pace.
The Toronto Zoo is world-renowned and is well worth the trip to the burbs – there are good transit links to and from downtown. Stroller rental is reasonable, there are lots of great spots for a picnic lunch (should you pack your own) and a great splash park open in the summer. The Children’s discovery zone offers a fantastic sandbox where kids can dig up dinosaur bones, plus icky things that they can touch if they want to (hand sanitizer provided!) The grounds are huge and this is truly a day trip. Plot your day in advance and if you need to skip a section, make it the Canadian Domain. Not to diss my home and native land, but I can show you bigger raccoons in my backyard, and the hill to/from is an absolute killer – especially if it’s hot.
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