This post was updated in February 2020.
A guest post by Erin of Little Miss Kate & Co. Erin has lived in Brampton, a lovely suburb of Toronto her entire life. She loves the fact that she and her family can commute to the city in only 45 minutes and enjoy the vibrant city lifestyle and everything Toronto has to offer.
In this Toronto itinerary, she shares her insider knowledge and tips to help you plan the perfect family trip.
This post contains affiliate links.
Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
In this post you can find:
- Why you should visit Toronto with your family
- Attractions to visit on a Toronto family trip
- Best places to eat with kids in Toronto
- Best places to stay with kids in Toronto
- How to get around Toronto
Why you should make a family trip to Toronto
Toronto is the capital city of Ontario and a great place to expose your children to Canadian life. This busy city is full of attractions and events for families with children to explore.
You could easily spend weeks or even months discovering all of the different things to do in Toronto. However, if you only have a couple of days and want to make the most of your Toronto family vacation, follow the recommendations below. These are some of my favorite ways to explore Toronto with kids!
Toronto always offers new entertainment attractions, local events and festivals to explore and enjoy with your kids! In fact, Toronto is known for hosting many summer events that are great for families including the Mac and Cheese Festival, Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) and Toronto Buskerfest.
The best things to do in Toronto with kids
Take in a Major League Game of the sport of your choice
Toronto is known for professional sports teams and most recently known for the Toronto Raptors who won Canada’s first NBA Championship back in June 2019.
Toronto is home to many major sports teams including the Raptors (NBA Basketball), Blue Jays (MLB Baseball), Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL Hockey), Toronto FC (MLS Soccer), Toronto Argonauts (CFL Football), Toronto Rock (NLL Lacrosse), Toronto Marlies (AHL Hockey), and Toronto Wolf Pack (Rugby).
With so many professional sports teams in Toronto, there are many opportunities to take the kids to a game to check out the action! Many of the venues also offer behind the scenes tours before game time.
Sports are alive and fans are vibrant in the city all year long as the seasons overlap each other. So no matter when you visit Toronto, there is likely to be a sporting event going on somewhere!
Toronto’s major sports venues include Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field, Rico Coliseum, Rogers Centre and Lamport Stadium. If you’re looking for sporting gear, make sure you check out Real Sports Apparel which carries all must-have game gear and is great for sports souvenirs.
Visit aquatic animals under the sea at Ripley’s Aquarium
Take the whole family to enjoy the 16.000 animals, 100 interactive displays and three hands in touch pools including sting rays, sharks and horseshoe crabs at this one of a kind aquarium located in the heart of Toronto.
A leisurely visit to the aquarium takes about 2-2.5 hours to explore all of the exhibits. The exhibits are sorted into the following zones:
- Canadian Waters
- Rainbow Reef
- Dangerous Lagoon
- Discovery Centre
- Ray Bay
- Curious Creatures
- Planet Jellies
- Shoreline Gallery
Insider advice: the best time to visit is after 2pm on weekdays and before 11am or after 3pm on weekends as it’s less crowded.
The aquarium also has a great indoor playground for the kids to play on while waiting for lunch or a snack from the small cafeteria called Ripley’s Café which serves wraps, hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and more for a fast lunch. Also, don’t forget to visit Cargo Hold Gift shop for marine-themed gifts and souvenirs.
Take in the rides at Wonderland
Experience roller coasters, thrill rides, kids rides and Splash Works waterslides and lazy river at Canada’s premier amusement park. Home to Canada’s most outrageous roller coasters Leviathan, Behemoth and the new world record breaker Yukon Striker which holds records for being the fastest, longest and tallest dive coaster.
No worries if you’re visiting with little kids as there are two kids’ sections: KidZville and Planet Snoopy which have more than 25 attractions, plus meet and greets with Snoopy and the gang.
While the summer is prime time, they also hold seasonal events including Halloween Haunt and a Christmas Event Winter Fest premiering in Nov 2019.
Face your fear of heights at the CN Tower
Enjoy Canada’s most well known architectural building that includes two observation floors, a word famous glass floor and an outdoor sky terrace.
For adults looking for a thrill, you can check out CN Tower Edge Walk and walk the outside rim. The CN tower gives you the best views of the city as you can see 360 degrees around the entire building.
Escape the urban hustle and bustle at High Park
Visit Toronto’s largest public park and explore the gardens, playground, beautiful lakefront, mini zoo, and great picnic spots while still being in the Urban Jungle of Toronto.
High Park is also home to many amazing hiking trails and is very stroller friendly around the park.
Explore science and encourage curiosity at the Ontario Science Centre
In 2019 the museum celebrates 50 years of Science, so there are lots of great events and attractions. Ontario science center is home to many amazing exhibits including space exploration, living earth, science arcade, human body, Canadian women in space and much more.
Kids park is the ultimate hands-on playground for children to explore and interact with science and is the ideal space for children under 8. It even includes a toddler and baby zone!
Learn about animals at the Toronto Zoo
Canada’s largest premier zoo that is 287 hectares and home to more than 5,000 animals. It is divided into seven zoogeographic regions:
- Tundra Trek
- Canadian Domain
Toronto Zoo also has a great splash pad and several places to eat, such as the Simba Safari Lodge, the Caribou Café and the BeaverTails Lodge.
An easy money-saving tip for your Toronto family trip
Consider getting a Toronto CityPASS if you are going to visit the attractions listed in this post. The CityPASSpass is good for up to 9 days, admission includes:
Family-friendly places to eat in Toronto
The Old Spaghetti Factory
Families will love this Italian eatery that is family-friendly and has a menu full of pasta options and more that the kids are sure to love. While waiting for food to arrive check out the 100-year-old carousel or call ahead a book a table in a streetcar.
For $9 kids get the full meal deal including minestrone soup, garden salad or veggies and dip, main entree, ice cream, and a small drink.
The Old Spaghetti Factory is located at 54 The Esplanade in Toronto.
Check the website.
Barque Smokehouse is known as a refined BBQ and combines traditional southern meat smoking and modern cooking, paired with fresh sides made from local ingredients.
Barque offer stroller parking and kids receive a coloring book, crayons and play dough to keep them busy.
For $11 (at dinner time), kids get to choose two delights, a drink, and a dessert. Delights include Mac and Cheese, salad, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken tenders, ribs and much more.
Barque Smokehouse is located at 287 Roncesvalles in Toronto.
Check the website.
Date night at O’Noir (without kids)
Special tip from Erin: if you can find a babysitter for the kids then I highly suggest having a date night at O’Noir!
This dining experience is unique as you eat dinner entirely in the dark and enjoy the flavors of a 3-course French Italian dinner served by waiters who are blind. The entire meal takes about 2 hours and is a totally sensory experience.
O’Noir is located at 620 Church Street in Toronto.
Check the website.
Family-friendly hotels in Toronto
Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel
If you are looking for a unique sports experience then the Marriott is a great location to stay because the Toronto Marriott has stadium view rooms…
These rooms are more expensive than traditional rooms, but allow you to see right into the sporting event during the game so you can watch the game live in action through the window!
If your kids love to swim then definitely consider staying at the Chelsea Hotel. This hotel has a 130-foot corkscrew slide that loops around the hotel (including outside) and ends with a splash into the indoor heated pool just for kids!
How to get around in Toronto
As Toronto is a super busy city that is always full of events, traffic can be a major issue in the city. If you are staying right in the core of Toronto, I always recommend using public transit.
Toronto Transit: TTC Subway, Buses, and Street Cars
In Toronto, we have the TTC Subway line which is very easy to navigate compared to other major cities as we only have 2 major lines and 2 smaller lines. The two major lines that run through the city are the Yonge-University Line and the Bloor Danforth line.
Toronto Street Cars and buses are a great way to avoid the anxiety and stress of driving in downtown Toronto. They also allow you to access many locations that are not directly located at subway stops.
Read more on the TTC website.
Go Transit buses and trains
The Go Transit System Hub is located in Union Station and allows you to connect to many neighboring cities in the Greater Toronto Area.
Read more on the Go Transit website.
This is the fastest way from Toronto Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto as the train connects the airport to Union Station (the main transit hub in Toronto). The UP Express is North America’s first dedicated air-rail transportation that takes only 25 minutes from door to door no matter the traffic or weather.
Read more on the UP Express.
Toronto with kids: in conclusion
I hope you have enjoyed this guest post about visiting Toronto as a family and can use Erin’s advice to make the most of your Toronto family vacation. Also read my other posts about family travel and traveling in Canada: