Who knew that the largest city in Canada could also be such a fun weekend getaway for young kids? I certainly did not. Toronto is chock full of entertaining and educational activities for an enriching family weekend, with amazing weather to boot!
Where to stay in Toronto
The Eaton Chelsea is conveniently located right in downtown Toronto and is a quick cab ride from the airport and an easy walk to train or bus stations. The Eaton Chelsea (formally Delta Chelsea) boasts 1,590 rooms and suites and is super kid-friendly. I can honestly say we’ve never stayed anywhere with an indoor water slide! After an afternoon of travel, the boys were thrilled to get a welcome gift of little toys and I pepped up from hearing the live music playing in the nearby hotel pub.
The hotel was almost a little TOO kid-friendly… I didn’t think I was ever going to pull them away from that four-story water slide!
What to do with kids in Toronto
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, located right in downtown Toronto, celebrated opening day earlier this month. We were not only amazed by the sheer amount of aquatic life, but also by the wide variety of hands-on activities. We had an absolute blast exploring underwater tunnels, touching sea creatures, learning about conservation and best of all, taking the moving sidewalk through the “viewing bubble” to get a closer look at marine life.
If you’re feeling adventurous — or are an extreme panda lover — you will want to make the trek outside of Old Toronto to The Toronto Zoo, located a couple of borough’s over in Scarborough (about a 30 minute cab ride). The boys loved meeting Er Shun and Da Mao, in the Giant Panda Experience — who wouldn’t! — and taking a mobile tour of the seven zoo-geographic regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Eurasia, Canadian Domain and the Tundra Trek. There is also an outdoor water play area that had just been closed for the season.
Legoland Discovery Centre
The boys thought they hit the jackpot by way of the Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills mall about 45 minutes outside of downtown Toronto. We built racer Legos and zoomed them down fun ramps, watched a 4-D movie, enjoyed thrill rides (OK, not THAT thrilling to me, but totally thrilling to young kids!) and saw an amazing replica of Toronto made completely out of Legos! This was seriously a little boys dream.
Probably the coolest experience of all (for me, at least) was dining at 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower, the distinctive tower in downtown Toronto. Not only do you get to enjoy a fancy, but still family-friendly dining experience, the restaurant rotates to give you a full 360 degree view of Toronto during the course of an hour. Super cool, huh? Even getting there was a fun ride in a fast, open-view elevator. Oh, and the food? Delectable!
Where to eat in Toronto
A locals favorite — as I was to discover — is a dish called Poutin. And apparently there is no better poutin than the Poutin Pizza at Bannock’s! Fries, gravy and cheese curds never looked so elegant. Bannock’s is a celebration of Canadian comfort food and rustic decor. I loved the farm-fresh menu and laid-back vibe of the wait staff. I will definitely be back to try out the griddled octopus dish.
Gladstone Hotel Cafe
In the up-and-coming neighborhood of West Queen’s West is the artsy Gladstone Hotel. Inside the hotel is the Hotel Cafe, featuring live bluegrass and a brunch buffet every Sunday. It was a feast for the eyes, ears and palate with good food, great music and colorful art pieces. An awesome way to spend a Sunday morning!
We had a fantastic weekend exploring, learning and eating. There are still so many things to do with kids in Toronto and I would love to go again. If you go to Toronto in the fall, plan to stay a little longer and get in some color-spotting at Conservation Park, explore the Ontario Science Center or even take a stroll through Riverdale Farm.
For more information on the things to do and places to go in Toronto, visit SeeTorontoNow.com.
A portion of this trip was paid for by Tourism Toronto. All opinions are my own.
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