A diverse metropolis of three million people, or six million if you count the greater metropolitan area, Toronto is Canada’s largest city — though not its capital (neighboring Ottawa has that honor). On the northern shore of Lake Ontario, just across the water from New York state, Toronto’s history spans from its early settlement by First Nation communities to its rise during the Victorian era to now as a hub of arts and entertainment, business and industry, and more. The city has also long been celebrated for its multiculturalism, with some 200 languages (!) spoken in the area.
This rich history, diversity of culture and food, green spaces and parks, and numerous museums, not to mention the famed CN Tower, make the city a great destination to explore with kids in tow. It doesn’t hurt that the locals are reliably friendly and relaxed either.
Favorite Things to Do in Toronto with Kids
Debuted in 1976 at 1,815 feet, the CN Tower is a symbol of Canadian ingenuity and national pride. It was partly built to solve the communication and broadcast issues that arose as Toronto transformed from a city of low-rise buildings to skyscrapers in the 1960s. A quick 58-second elevator ride takes families and visitors up to the LookOut Level, where they can gaze at the city skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows. Other attractions include a glass floor that you can walk, sit and even jump on while peering down to the street level, as well as newly introduced Edgewalk, which is a wide ledge circling the tower that visitors can walk along while securely harnessed. Not for the faint of heart!
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Blue Jays Baseball Game
Adjacent to the CN Tower, the Roger Centre is home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, which competes as a member of MLB (Major League Baseball). The impressive stadium boasts a retractable roof and 50,000 seats. Like most kids, ours loved the whole ballgame experience, from watching the players slide into home plate to eating popcorn and candy to hearing the national anthem, O Canada.
The day we spent at Centreville Theme Park on Centre Island, a quick ferry ride from downtown, may easily have been the kids’ favorite of the trip. The rides skew a tad younger, which was perfect for our 3- and 7-year-olds and their cousins. From twirling teacups to bumper boats to a sky lift (which even the adults enjoyed), the rides were all a hit. With lots of greenery and picnic spots, it’s easy to see why the island is a favorite summertime destination.
Ontario Science Centre
Dating back to 1969, the Science Centre is a quick 15-ride from downtown, just on the outskirts of the city. From a planetarium to a rainforest space, complete with poison dart frogs, the Science Centre offers so much to see and do. We spent a lot of time in the KidSpark section, which features several stations for younger kids to learn through play, too.
These are the attractions we chose to hit during our weeklong Toronto and Niagara Falls trip, but there were several we skipped, including the Toronto Zoo, Casa Loma and the Royal Ontario Museum. The city is having a foodie moment for sure — not the focus of our trip, but we managed to take in pizza from Descendant one night (delish!) and dine at RosaLinda on chilaquiles and churros our last evening. We spent one evening walking Little India and grabbing dosas for dinner.
We also did a quick stroll through the St. Lawrence Market, a historic food hall, taking in the sights and smells of summer produce, baked goods and more. On our way back from the market, we happened to walk past the dog fountain in Berzcy Park, which features 27 cast-iron dogs that spit out water … a big hit with the kids, especially our 7-year-old, who is pleading heavily for a four-legged friend. I had no idea this fountain had just debuted a year earlier and probably wouldn’t have sought it out, but it became part of our best memories from the trip. It was a relevant reminder of the beauty of travel and serendipity that comes with it.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Tanvi Chheda except where noted.