From kid-friendly museums and galleries to amusement parks and farms, Toronto is full of family-oriented fun and adventure. A great destination for the whole family, the capital city of Ontario is known for its impressive CN Tower, the interactive exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and Canada's largest aquarium.
Budget-conscious visitors should consider purchasing the Toronto CityPass, which gives you entrance to five citywide attractions. Fortunately, most attractions are easily accessible by foot or public transit, so you won't have to factor in too much cost for travel during your trip.
Get a bird's eye view of the city and surrounding area from the top of the CN Tower, which is accessible with the Toronto Citypass. However, lines are quite long to ride to the top, so be prepared to wait whether you have a pass or not.
At 1,815 feet, the CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere and is located in downtown Toronto. Kids will be awed by the ride up in a glass elevator and will enjoy the pure fun of jumping up and down on the glass floor once they're at the top.
If you would like to skip the line up to get in, consider making reservations at the 360 Restaurant. Meals include the price of admission, so though dining there is relatively expensive, it's worth it if you don't want to wait and can afford to spend a bit on your family meal.
Renovated into a unique, jagged, looming structure, the Royal Ontario Museum's building is a sensation itself, but beyond the bizarre exterior is an incredible collection of exhibits and attractions that provide learning opportunities to guests of all ages.
Popular features of the ROM include an extensive dinosaur skeleton collection, a bat cave simulation, and oodles of other displays of natural and cultural highlights of the world. The museum's discovery gallery and other interactive exhibits help kids stay interested and entertained throughout the experience.
Families should allow at least two hours to spend at the ROM, but its central location makes it an easy trek for the family, especially if you're planning on packing mores sites into your day.
Located on Toronto’s Centre Island, Centreville Amusement Park is reminiscent of the bygone era of simple fun. Featuring pony rides, an antique Ferris wheel, and a colorful carousel, the small amusement park is a great destination for a few hours of entertainment, especially for children younger than 12.
The short ferry ride to get to the island is also an adventure for children itself, but once you're there, the island has loads of green space and bicycle paths plus wading pools for little ones to burn off energy.
Centre Island and the Centreville Amusement Park are open from May through October, but the ferry operates year-round. Catch the ferry—which departs every 15 minutes in the summer but runs less frequently in colder months—from the Toronto Ferry Docks at the foot of Bay Street.
The Ontario Science Centre makes learning fun for kids of all ages because guests of this educational and interactive facility can touch a tornado, listen to a heart murmur, or crawl through a cave—or check out dozens of other interactive exhibits.
Located about 11 kilometers northeast of downtown Toronto, this unique science museum is a bit of a trek but well worth the trip, especially if you have the Toronto CityPass. To get to the Science Centre, take the Yonge Street subway line north to Eglinton Station and transfer to the Eglinton East (Route 34) bus to Don Mills Road.
Especially suitable for kids under 10, the Riverdale Farm is seven and a half acres of green land set in the heart of Toronto. This replica of early 20th century Ontario farm life lets kids step inside a world where cell phones, fast food, and TV do not exist.
Riverdale Farm is located in Old Cabbagetown, a beautifully gentrified and historic part of town that's also worth visiting afterward. Families typically spend around two hours touring the facilities, but some prolong their visit by having a picnic in Riverdale Park West afterward with takeout from nearby restaurants like St. Jamestown Delicatessen, Epicure Shop, or House of Parliament.
If you're traveling with a little hockey fan—or you want to introduce your kids to Canada's favorite sport—the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) is an outstanding facility full of interactive exhibits that put kids and adults in the heart of National Hockey League (NHL) action.
Broadcast pods even let kids call the action of some of the most famous hockey games, including the 1972 Canada and Russia series: "Henderson shoots, he scores!" Also featured are a replica NHL dressing room, a trophy room, and a gift shop.
The Hockey Hall of Fame is open daily except on Induction Day (November 18, 2019), Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. HHOF is located in downtown Toronto at the corner of Front and Yonge streets in the lower concourse level of Brookfield Place. Nearby attractions include the CN Tower, Roger's Centre, and Ripley's Aquarium of Canada.
Animals from all over the world live on 710 acres of the beautiful Rouge Valley in Toronto. Home to over 5,000 individual creatures, the Toronto Zoo is a favorite for locals and visitors alike, offering interactive education and conservation activities for all ages.
The Toronto Zoo is well laid out, with seven different zoological zones each filled with animals from a particular area of the world: Indo-Malaya, Africa, Americas, Tundra Trek, Australasia, Eurasia, and the Canadian Domain. There can be a lot of walking, so bring comfortable shoes and don’t miss the award-winning African safari, the gorilla rainforest, and the interactive kids' zoo.
To get to the Toronto Zoo, guests can take the 86A bus route from Kennedy Station every day during the summer or from Monday to Friday year-round. Alternatively, take the GO Train to Rouge Hill Go Station then board a TTC 85 Sheppard East bus directly to the zoo.
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is Canada's largest aquarium, which opened next to the CN Tower in 2013. The aquarium is a 135,000 square-foot behemoth boasting more than 1.5 million gallons of water, and more than 15,000 animals—including sharks, jellies, rays, and green sea turtles—call the aquarium home.
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is open every day of the year from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is conveniently located in downtown Toronto. Discounts are available if you pair a trip to the top of the CN Tower with your visit by purchasing the Sea the Sky Combo at either location.
Paramount Canada's Wonderland is a bit of a trek, but if you're into theme parks, it's an easy way to keep kids occupied for a day. Known as the most popular and largest theme park in the country, Canada's Wonderland has loads of thrill rides, family rides, live shows, and an adjacent water park known as Splash Works.
Canada's Wonderland is located in Maple, Ontario, just about 35 minutes north of downtown Toronto off of Highway 400 (exit Rutherford Road). While it's easier to access by car, you can also take the TTC Line 1 to its last stop, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) Station, then hop on the Route 20, Jane St. North bus from the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal to Avro Road at the park's eastern border.
Kids can let their imaginations run wild at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto, a scaled-down version of a LEGO theme park. The center has rides, a 4-D movie theater, and 10 different open play areas (with plenty of legos), making it a paradise for parents and their young children.
Located in Vaughan Mills, about 30 to 50 minutes northwest of downtown Toronto, LEGOLAND is easily accessible from the city. Just take the Route 61 Gormley GO bus from the Union Station Bus Terminal to Langstaff Road East at Yonge Street; then take the 760 NB bus to Canada's Wonderland.
With a collection of more than 90,000 works, the Art Gallery of Ontario is a great place to expose young kids to a variety of artworks. Children can also visit the hands-on center, where they can make their own art using different techniques and mediums.
The gallery's permanent collection has a strong focus on Inuit art, but the changing exhibitions run the gamut from Impressionist works to ultra-modern, contemporary artists. While visiting an art gallery may not sound like the best idea with kids, you might be surprised what they'll learn during a two-hour tour of the facility.
Centrally located between Old Toronto, Baldwin Village, and Chinatown, the Art Gallery of Ontario is a great stop while exploring the area and easily accessible from the Osgoode metro station.
Check Out the Toronto Waterfront
The city's waterfront has been redeveloped to highlight the numerous boardwalks and piers and offer public spaces for all sorts of entertainment and leisure. These waterfront spots host a variety of activities for the general public, including public art installations, gardens, and the famed Sugar Beach. It's easy to access CN Tower and Toronto's many ferries from here, as well, or you can stop at a nearby restaurant to have a quick bite with the family.
Covering over 4,500 years of footwear within its collection, the Bata Shoe Museum is a quirky downtown Toronto museum located at the edge of the University of Toronto St. George Campus.
he permanent exhibition, All About Shoes, has a special section just for children. Check the museum's schedule for weekend activities, which can include treasure hunts and arts and crafts workshops, all centered around footwear.
Let the Kids Run Wild at High Park
Toronto's High Park covers nearly 400 acres and has a variety of activities kids will enjoy. The vast playground, designed in part by kids, is the main attraction, but this tremendous green space also houses a zoo, greenhouses, and trails. During the spring, it's popular with visitors hoping the catch of a glimpse of cherry blossoms in bloom.
Travel back in time to learn about Canadian life in the mid-1800s at the Black Creek Pioneer Village. Located in North York, Ontario, the Black Creek Pioneer Village is right off the Pioneer Village stop on Line 1 (Yonge-University).
This open-air historical museum consists of 40 different buildings, along with period-dressed guides who can explain to children how Torontans lived during that period. Hands-on activities for kids include dressing up on their own and learning how to bake as the pioneers did.
Canada's major sporting arena, the Rogers Centre, is home to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Toronto Argonauts, and some of the city's biggest concerts. Even if you're not watching a game or an event, young fans can get a behind the scenes look at the stadium as part of the Rogers Centre Tour Experience, an hour-long tour that includes visits to the press box and a luxury suite.
Rogers Centre is located at the base of the CN Tower opposite Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, just a few minutes from Union Station. Tour hours vary by season and are also available on game days before or after the game depending on the schedule.
Fort York, the site of a significant battle during the War of 1812, is a crucial part of Canadian military history. Today, the 19th-century base is a national historic site. Located right in downtown Toronto, Fort York is open year-round and has a variety of different events open to the public, ranging from general guided tours to exciting cannon firings.
If you're visiting Toronto with your kids this summer, there are plenty of family-friendly activities and events that are great for all ages.
Food and street festivals like the Toronto Food Truck Festival, Taste of the Middle East, and Salsa on St. Clair, as well as numerous outdoor markets like the Toronto Flower Market or Waterfront Night Market, abound this time of year.
If you're more in the mood for relaxation and entertainment, Christie Pits, Harbourfront, and Yonge-Dundas Square all host free movie nights under the stars every summer while Sunnyside Beach offers a great place to soak up the sun and sand for free all season long.