Every year I secretly look forward to a list that Sarah over at Solo Mom Takes Flight does. Basically she plans out my summer for me when it comes to entertaining the kids. Well it dropped finally and I love it. But after reading it, I had a lot of my own suggestions that did not make her list, so, I figured, let’s go for 100.
Don’t get me wrong, so many of Sarah’s ideas are great and if you follow her on Instagram, you know she loves visiting every part of Toronto. I can only strive to do the same.
Every thing she suggested made me think of a few more. I started remembering when I had the kids all summer a few years ago and all the places we went. It’s exciting.
Toronto is such a great city, especially in the summer. You never have to leave. You can find something fun to do every day and in all price ranges.
So, thanks for the inspiration Sarah. Please visit her blog and read about where in the world she is with her kids.
100 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer in Toronto
1. Ride a streetcar and see the city. It’s a super cheap way to see Toronto as kids ride for free. The Queen and Dundas cars give you lots to look at.
2. Visit Nathan Phillips square. Those giant TORONTO letters seem to be the cool thing to do in the city. Go hang by the fountain and well, be cool.
3. Check out the Evergreen Brickworks. For our kids, this means the green bus from Broadview station. Great place for kids to roam free and be in touch with nature. They also have a sandbox. The children’s garden on the weekend is a lot of fun as well.
4. Wander High Park. I have a soft spot for High Park. So it’s only natural I want to take the boys there as much as I can. I suggest riding the train at least once.
5. Sit on a patio. We all need to take a breather. A patio provides it all. Sun, scenery and drinks that cater to the kids and the adults. Ones on the sidewalks are better to keep the kids interested. College Street in the summer always comes to mind for us. As for the back patios, those are fun too. Queen West or Roncy are cool.
6. Go up the CN Tower. Yes, I have never taken the boys UP it yet. We see it from everywhere. It’s on the list to do this summer. Learn about everything the CN Tower offers before you go.
7. Check out Harbourfront Centre. The paddle boats, the french fries, the boardwalk. Lots to do down there. It is also a great spot to watch the planes come and go from Billy Bishop Airport.
8. Swim at Sunnyside pool. We discovered this last summer. Harry really took to loving swimming there. It’s outside, not that busy and has lifeguards.
9. Relax at Scarborough bluffs. I really enjoyed our day way out east. The bluffs are great to climb up. The beach we found was great for digging deep holes. We did get lost a few times walking around, but it was fun.
10. Go to a Blue Jays game. Seems obvious. But it is a must with kids. Hot dogs and cracker jack and all that jazz. Jr. Jays Saturdays also have some free perks even if you don’t go to the game. Let’s play ball.
11. Pandas (that don’t know Kung fu) are at the Toronto Zoo. Those panda bears are still here. Take a few days and do the Zoo. It’s a no brainer to entertain the kids.
12. Case Loma. I went there for the first time last year. The tunnels are pretty cool.
13. Medieval Times. After a hot day in the sun, retire to the coliseum for some knights and giant chicken legs. Our boys loved the night.
14. Toronto Island. One of my fave places to go in the summer. You can do whatever you want. Picnic, amusement park, beach etc. The view of the city on the way back is worth it. Go early though, the lines are long.
15. Giant Summerhill LCBO. Turn getting wine into a fun adventure for the kids. This LCBO is amazing to look at. Plus there are a few parks nearby.
16. Humber River walk. People who are not out that way forget how nice it is to walk around. Go west my friends.
17. Children’s Discovery Centre. Toronto’s only children’s museum designed by a team of early childhood development professionals, specifically for kids aged 0 to 6 years, to play, create, explore and use their imagination.
18. Sunnyside Bike Park. When you want to let your kids go crazy on the bikes. Numerous ramps for all risk levels. Don’t forget those helmets. See for yourself on their website.
19. CN Railway museum. This is down by the Rogers Centre, or for the adults, Steam Whistle. There are a handful of trains to climb on and let your kids feel like they are actually in Sodor.
20. Ripley’s Aquarium. Tourist alert. But you have to go at least once. It is 100% designed for kids. The playground in the middle and the sharks! Oh those sharks swimming over your head. Don’t go on a weekend.
21. Street festivals in your hood. Every part of town as a street fest of some kind. Local businesses have balloons, treats, petting zoos and other kid-friendly fun. We always hit the Polish Festival on Roncy. Dundas West and Bloor West Village put on good ones as well.
22. Dufferin Grove. After High Park, this is where we love to be on a hot, summer day. The play area is fully shaded with 100-year-old trees and there is a cool adventure area to just build.
23. Skyzone. All you need to say to the kids is trampoline park. That’s it. This place will put the bounce in your day for sure. It’s a little outside the city but worth the trip.
24. Lunch on Roncy. This used to be our neighbourhood, so I am bias. Lots of little places to grab a bite with the kids. Most of the establishments have a kid-friendly environment. Our boys love Loons of all places.
25. Ride the UP train. Probably not one you would consider, but with prices dropping, it is now an affordable adventure even if you don’t have a flight to catch. You can hop on at Union Station or Dundas West and head out to the airport to watch the planes. You can’t go wrong with kids and trains.
26. Hockey Hall of Fame. Kids can get bummed when hockey season is over, especially for those who cheer for the Leafs. Thankfully there is a building full of history and memorabilia all year long.
27. China Town for Pokemon stuff (thanks for that tip Sarah). I will have to check this out as Harry is addicted to Pokemon.
28. Visit your local library. It’s free, it’s probably cold and there is one near you. Our boys love books, so it’s a must stop at least once a week. There are also drop-in programs all summer.
29. Sugar Beach. For when you are downtown and still want the beach experience. It’s on the waterfront near that shiny Corus building.
30. Cool off with a movie. Yes, not super Toronto-centric, but a movie is a great way to spend the afternoon. Try a new theatre. Maybe in the Beaches, or up at Yonge and Eglinton. Pete’s Dragon comes out in August.
31. ROM. That’s the Royal Ontario Museum for out of towners. Again, it can be touristy, but it’s still pretty fascinating and educational.
32. Air Combat Zone. Do you or the kids have a need for speed? Have you ever showed them Top Gun? For over 10 years Air Combat Zone has provided the general public an exclusive opportunity to get behind the controls of high performance F/A-18 flight simulators and experience live head-to-head modern air combat.
33. AGO. Art Gallery of Ontario. See No. 31. Same deal. Lots of cool stuff to look at. Consider getting one of those head set tours. I think it is better than one of the group tours. Plus kids find voices on head phones cool right?
34. Go to Parkdale for an ice cream treat. That’s our new part of town. We can’t wait to go to Boreal Gelato for a cold treat. If not Parkdale, there are so many great ice cream places waiting for you.
35. LEGOLAND Discovery Centre. Yes a whole building dedicated to LEGO. Great for everyone. The space in the middle for building is perfect for both kids and parents. It’s a trip if you are in the core, but it is worth it.
36. Canada’s Wonderland. I don’t need to sell this. Okay I will. We went there a few summers ago. It’s a great place to go at least once per summer. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
37. Ontario Science Centre. We tend to go during the cold months, but it still is a great option that is fun, educational and air conditioned. The pretend grocery store is a lot of fun. June is environment month just to give you the head’s up for planning.
38. Play in a splash pad. They are everywhere. We like Withrow Park. They are slow to get going, so don’t show up too early. Man that water is bone-chilling.
39. Riverdale Farm. I don’t know how much longer it will be there, so go. Perfect for the smaller kids. They can see farm animals and enjoy the fresh air.
40. Visit Old Fort York. It’s more than just the grounds for the Toronto Beer Festival. Yeah, no kids there. But it is a fort. Who doesn’t love a fort?
41. Go to the CNE. It’s the official way to wrap up the summer for so many. Funnel cake people.
42. Toronto FC. Right in the middle of the CNE is the home to the Toronto FC. Harry and I went last summer and it was a blast. A more affordable option for pro sports in Toronto.
43. Black Creek Village. It’s not boring! It’s all about learning where we came from. Become immersed in the lifestyles, customs, and surroundings of early residents who built the foundations for modern Toronto and Ontario at the typical crossroads community village found in the Toronto area during the 1800’s.
44. Wander Queen Street West. I used to do this a lot back in my single days. Now I do it with the kids. Every single time they are amazed at the car sticking out of the side of 299 QSW. Who knows who you will see.
45. Curry’s Art supplies. Another local fave we have just discovered. The art supplies are more for adults and professionals, but it’s a fun store to walk around. It is just west of Ossington on Queen.
46. Bike riding in laneways. If you are lucky enough to live on a laneway, I don’t need to tell you this. If you don’t, hop on the bikes and go exploring. Last summer we loved it and can’t wait for this summer.
47. Go on one of the boats. Down at the waterfront there are numerous boats to go on whether you are going to the island or just touring the lake.
48. Little India. Hit Gerrard Street and head east. The food alone makes this Toronto experience a must for any visitor. You’ll find a mix of eateries featuring delicacies from North and South India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
49. Old historic properties. The Distillery District gets a lot of love at Christmas, but it is still a cool place to go in the summer. I agree, it is better to go without the kids, but sometimes, you don’t have the choice.
50. Bata Shoe Museum. Definitely different. Go take a look at over 1,000 pairs of shoes and get an idea of where those Air Jordans came from.
51. Kensington Market. Just like going to China Town, Kensington Market has something for everyone.
52. Dufferin Mall. When you are hot and need to cool off, why not check out the Duffy. There is a Toys R Us and Dufferin Grove Park is just across the road.
53. Pride parade. What a blast for kids. The colours, the excitement and the fun this parade provides.
54. Go to a flea market. They are everywhere. I like it because the boys will find something cool and it does not cost a lot to get. Parkdale has a great one. So does Trinity Bellwoods.
55. Trinity Bellwoods Park. Very cool park to hang out in. There is playground, a Starbucks nearby and you can be sure to find every type of dog you can imagine.
56. Rouge Valley. Take the kids for an urban hike. You may even see a bunny or ten. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.
57. Go to the Beaches. Hit the Queen car and keep going East. The Beaches is a world like no other in Toronto. The vibe, the people and of course the beach. The boardwalk is fun and there is a free outdoor pool for kids who don’t like the lake.
58. Eat streetmeat or at another food truck. I love Toronto street meat. Kids love hot dogs. Seems like a match made in heaven. Plus there are so many different types of food trucks now, especially outside City Hall.
59. International Air Show. Look up. If you don’t see the planes, I bet you will hear them. The Air Show is a great way to end the summer before the kids go back to school.
60. Clay Emporium. Our kids love clay. The texture, the smell and of course what you can create. The Clay Emporium in the east end is perfect for your clay lovers.
61. Watch some footie. Did you know this summer is Euro 2016? That means the best or European soccer. There are thousands of kids playing soccer this summer. Take them out to watch a game at one of the many pubs. Just make sure you pick the right one depending on who you are cheering for. I highly recommend the Danforth even if you are not backing the Greeks.
62. Tim Hortons Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. Like boats with dragon heads? I bet your kids will. Head over to Toronto Island on June 18th and 19th and please ignore that it is technically not summer yet.
63. TD Canada Trust Jazz Festival. Kids and jazz don’t generally go together. But being outside in the summer with music does. From June 24th to July 3rd, introduce your young ones to some amazing jazz.
64. Canada Day. Take your pick at what you do, but get outside and celebrate this great country and great city.
65. Walk or bike the waterfront. I have not been to that many places around the world but I can’t imagine a better waterfront than Toronto has. You can bike or walk most of it without being stopped. If you are a family who bikes together, you can start at the bottom of High Park and end up all the way down to Sugar Beach and beyond. Please stop for refreshing drinks.
66. Taste of the Danforth. I will be the first to say that this weekend has gotten out of hand, but it is still a lot of fun if you can tolerate the crowds. The food is the selling point for me. There is a lot for the kids as well. Many local businesses have activities for all. It used to be Friday night was the best time, but now there is really no down time. Also, don’t bring the SUV stroller, and do bring cash. It’s usually end of July/beginning of August.
67. Grab some pierogies in the BWV. The mix of Polish and Ukraine in the Bloor West Village means great food. In particular the pierogi. It’s a cool strip to walk, window shop and have a tasty treat. Plus it’s very TTC friendly to get there. I only wish the Chapters was still there.
68. Hang out at Dundas Square. During the summer, there is always something going on here in this awesome open and free spaces. The large digital billboards are eye candy for kids and there is always a drink or snack close by. Just sit and relax and let the kids wander around (well not that far). Also very TTC friendly.
69. Toronto International Buskerfest. End August with the buskerfest that runs all along Yonge Street.
70. Do some gardening. Every day can’t be a big adventure. But you can still be outside. Take the kids to a local garden centre, get some plants, seeds or bulbs and work on a garden. Or just give them the hose to take care of the watering. It accomplishes outdoor time, learning to do chores and developing a green thumb for later in life.
71. Join a team on Toronto Parks and Rec. Okay, this is only if you were lucky enough to get what you wanted in the spring. Regardless, organized sports is a fun activity to do with the kids. Go and watch their games, volunteer or be the snack person. We have always done soccer, but this year we will try out Tee-Ball at Christie Pitts.
72. Watch something on Netflix together. You don’t have to be in Toronto for this, but I think it’s still important to take breaks. Netflix is perfect. No commercials and the shows are done quicker so everyone can get back outside. Don’t overdo it though. Hey I am on the #streamteam I had to mention it.
73. Have a water gun fight. Popular here for sure. We hit one of the big Toronto Dollar Stores and load up on water shooting devices. This summer I think we will have to invest in some of those large squirting tubes. I always just stick to using the hose, as that always wins.
74. Go to a subway stop you have never been to before. I will never understand how a kid can have their face buried in a game on the subway. It is a train underground going fast. They don’t have the fun sucked out of it by going to work Monday to Friday. It is fun. Our boys LOVE the subway and do everything in their power to stand at the front. Did I mention it is free for them? Take a ride to a stop you have never been to.
75. Go to a park you have never been to before. There are so many, you will never run out. I am not just talking about the big ones. There are some tiny gems that are perfect for kids. But you need to look hard because residents like to keep them a secret. For example off of Roncy, there is one called Ritchie Park that our boys love. There is probably one like it near you, so go for a walk and find it.
76. Have a BBQ. Well this one is for me mostly, but the boys like the results. Take them to a local butcher shop, let them pick out the meat and odds are high they will eat it. Have you been to Custodio’s Meats and Eats on Roncesvalles?
77. Go to an open field and fly a plane. We have different sizes of gliders and those little styrofoam planes. A schoolyard like Howard Junior School on the weekend is a nice open space to throw as far as you can.
78. Get a small pool for the back yard. Best idea ever for a hot day. Most of us in the downtown core of Toronto don’t have room for a real pool, so a little kid pool is perfect. You can still have a rink, while being on lifeguard duty Hasselhoff style.
79. Camp in the back yard. Our kids are not at the age yet where we want to attempt real camping, so for us urban dwellers, setting up a tent in the backyard does the trick. You can plug in and walk in the house when you need to pee. Good training for roughing it one day.
80. Build a fort in your house. There will be a few rainy days during a Toronto summer, so instead of camping outside, build a fort inside. Couch cushions and blankets will do the trick. Build it good enough and you may not see your kids for days.
81. Find a cool place to watch the subway trains. When we first moved back to Toronto, our boys could do this all day. We used to go to Keele Station where the trains come outside for a few moments and you can get really close. Where do you like to watch the trains zoom by?
82. Walk around Honest Ed’s before it’s gone. Yes it is basically a giant dollar store, but it is iconic for anyone who lives or grew up in Toronto. If your kids have never been, you need to go. It’s amazing at all the stuff crammed into that place. Our boys could spend all day at Honest Ed’s.
83. Try out a new grocery store. Have you even gone to Whole Foods? The Big Carrot on the Danforth? One of the many ethnic grocery stores that make Toronto so tasty. It can really break up the usual grind. It costs more but it has a lot of organic and high-end treats. Don’t worry I did not forget the fancy one one Carlton, it’s below.
84. Go see what all the fuss is about in Leslieville. I kid, it is nice neighbourhood. Great for a summer walk.
85. Listen to live music. There is always live music outdoors during the summer in Toronto. There is also a lot of free music. If your kids just like to have space to dance, it’s a match made in heaven. Check out events at the waterfront, Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square in particular.
86. Eaton Centre. Touristy yes. But we all need to shop. The Eaton Centre can be an adventure and serve a purpose all at once. Our kids love the giant geese hanging from above. The Indigo on the top floor is also very kid friendly.
87. St. Lawrence Market. If you can check out the Market on a week day, do it. If you have to go on the weekend, go early. It can be crazy busy and if you have small kids, that can be hard. There is so much to see, buy and experience here. I always buy sausage rolls if possible and the kids like the free samples of pepperoni that is usually out. I went there once for a Ford event and found a secret place to eat lunch that is not busy. But I can’t share that can I.
88. Go for haircuts. The summer haircut is a must. Keeps you cool. Easier to manage. Fun to get done. Do you have little ones that don’t like getting their hair cut? Have you tried Melon Head. There is one on the Danforth that we have been to before. The kids can sit in a plane or a train or other cool chairs. The whole place is kid friendly, but you will pay a little extra. Our boys, they prefer the barber.
89. Walk the Danforth. Hey I just mentioned the Danforth. We were lucky enough to spend the summer of 2014 living there and the boys and I walked it almost every day. So much to see, nice wide sidewalks and there are parks to play in everywhere. There is even a stinky cheese store that is fun to walk by.
90. Blow bubbles. Grab the bubbles and go to the park. Sit under a tree and see how many bubbles you can get into the air. See how big a bubble you can make. If you don’t have time to go to the park, use the yard if you have one. Regardless of where you do it, blowing bubbles will make everyone feel like a kid again.
91. Watch the Summer Olympics and cheer Canada on. If the Pan Am Games were any indication, there will be some entertainment going on in the city somewhere. Go Canada Go in Rio.
92. Ride a Pirate ship. You don’t even have to walk the plank. Head out to Toronto Island and look for Pirate Life. In 2015 they went on over 3,000 adventures.
93. Watch a construction site. If there is one certainty in Toronto every summer, it is construction. Whether it is road work, condo development or whatever that giant hole on Queen West is, kids love watching it. It’s like a real life Mighty Machines in front of their eyes.
94. University of Toronto. Walk the campus of one of the oldest schools in Canada. While you are at it, get an idea what courses your kids want to take when they go in many years. The renovation at Varsity Stadium is pretty cool.
95. HTO Park. Another Urban beach for those who just want to sit back and relax after showing the kids the amazing waterfront of Toronto. The yellow umbrellas can be seen from all the skyscrapers overlooking the water.
96. Canoe Landing Park. Have your kids spotted the giant canoe when you are buzzing down the Gardiner? Probably. So why not go and get a closer look? The famous red canoe is by Douglas Coupland.
97. Grocery shopping at the old Maple Leaf Gardens. You can’t have a summer in Toronto without eating. So shake up the grocery shopping routine and check out the amazing Loblaws inside the old Maple Leaf Gardens. Sure, it’s too hot out to be thinking hockey, but it’s more exciting than going to the No Frills you usually go to.
98. Don Valley. Walk the Don as they say. It’s beautiful down there and there is plenty to see for the kids. I already mentioned the Brickworks above and the kids can just watch the subway go back and forth over their heads. You don’t have to do all 32 kilometres in one day because there is always next time.
99. Get your art on. Fusion Artz Cafe on Avenue road is great for painting your own pottery and other cool stuff. For the parents, I believe there is coffee on site.
100. Do any of the previous 99 again. Take someone new. Invite friends and more kids. The truly sad part about summer in Toronto is that it seems to go away too fast. Back to school will be here in a blink of an eye.
What did I miss? There are literally thousands of things to do in Toronto in the summer. Please share your ideas and experiences.
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