When we first moved to Toronto almost four and a half years ago, we didn’t even know where to shop let alone where to entertain mini humans (admittedly this wasn’t quite on our radar at that time!)
Then the Lord arrived and we continued our trudge up and down Yonge Street, enjoying lunch pretty much whenever we fancied it. As any parent of a toddler knows this peaceful yummy-mummy phase is short-lived (my goodness, I’d make so much more of this time if I could be a first time mum again!)
Our little man-cub was a very early walker (10 months old) so sitting still for any length of time became an impossibility much sooner than we anticipated. Because of this, we had to quickly find ‘mobile’ things to do with him.
Now, we have two energetic firecrackers who want to run, walk, touch, climb, crawl, you name it ALL. THE. TIME! So here is my week-long survival guide to life in Toronto with two toddlers!
My advice is to get there early to get a decent parking spot, particularly on a weekend. The Centre itself opens at 10am but you can access the building and car park from 9:30am so park up, grab a coffee and let the kids play among the lockers and run the length of the concourse while you wait for the doors to formally open. Don’t be afraid to stray from the Kidspark area and explore the ‘grown up’ zones. There are many interactive things to entertain kids of all ages.
We are big fans of the Toronto Public Libraries. They are welcoming, child-friendly places and many of them run free children’s story and song times. There are also a few dotted around the city which house KidsStop – extra-large children’s libraries with interactive displays and quiet play areas. Even if you are just a visitor to this lovely city, it could still be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Yonge Street (and great on rainy days)
This may sound like a strange one but we frequently visit our local IKEA store when it’s wet or too hot. This is strictly a weekday jaunt (unless you enjoy crowds of dawdling old people and fractious young couples!) The Lord is just about old enough to enjoy a simple treasure hunt while the General hides behind every curtain and opens all the cupboard doors. The kids’ department is geared towards munchkins with display toys to play with and fun room sets to explore. Most stores also have a Småland play area where kids can enjoy some parent-free time! And we can’t forget to mention the meatballs and frozen yoghurt!
Toronto is awash with amazing parks, ravines, play areas and walks. We are Midtown dwellers so our personal favourites are Sherwood Park, Eglinton Park, Kay Gardner Beltline (great for train fans – watch the subway trains come in and out of Davisville Station) and the Moor Park Ravine (this runs past the Evergreen Brickworks – see Sunday!)
Check out the fantastic splash pads during the peak summer months…a great way to exhaust your kids and cool down too.
Toronto is a fairly busy city but travel just 15 minutes away via ferry and you arrive at the most idyllic gem in Toronto’s crown. Visit Toronto Islands and you will feel like you’re a thousand miles from the city (apart from the amazing views of the city skyline).
Centre Island is a fantastic place for mini humans with fairground rides (summer season only), Far Enough Farm and a lovely sandy beach.
Ward’s Island is a bohemian community of quirky houses, another great beach and the Island Cafe serving great food and booze! If you’re feeling a little rudey nudey then visit Hanlan’s Point clothing-optional beach too!
Saturday for us is Daddy fun day (not necessarily solo Daddy!) so we tend to do activities that require more than one pair of hands. The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is flooded with amazing indoor play areas. We’ve tried a few but FUNtastic FOREST is our favourite!
It’s clean, spacious and has a great area for the littlest explorers too. As with any place like this, it can get busy and at times the bigger kids can be boisterous. Get there early so the kiddies find their feet before it gets busier.
Ahhh…Sundays. The day of rest, the day of hangovers, the day of dreading Mondays. These days Sunday is just another day but with Daddy around – yay! We sometimes go swimming (Toronto Parks and Recreation has free public swimming – amazing!) but if we fancy venturing slightly further afield then we will trek down the Moor Park Ravine to the Evergreen Brickworks. This place is fabulous. It has a great Children’s Garden, marshy lands to spot lots of wildlife and a farmer’s market on Sundays (oh, and the café does amazing brownies!)
Phew…that was a busy week! If that’s not enough to keep you occupied why not try these other fun places!
River dale Farm. This is run by Toronto Parks and Recreation and is FREE! A great little gem hidden in a quirky part of the city.
Toronto Zoo. Avoid this place when the schools are out…but any other time it is a fantastic day out
Royal Ontario Museum. The ROM is another gem in the city. It’s big, spacious and has a great children’s area. We always take the subway down to give the mini dudes a much-loved ride on the trains too!