hanging out with kids in Toronto

This will be my last post on our visit to Toronto. We did do a bit of research before we left but it was such a hurried trip that we missed some big stuff. Like the Harbourfront for one. It was down the street from us and could have cooled us down and entertained us on many a hot day or night. But we’ll save that for our next visit. What we did discover was pretty amazing though. You’ll have to forgive the camera phone shots. It was a bit tough carrying a camera and all of our gear so I often left it behind. A good point and shoot would have been a good investment.

I would say the most amazing place we went was the Royal Ontario Museum. The kids had such a good time in the interactive kids area where they were able to try on real chain mail and get a chance to be paleontologists. Seeing a t-rex skeleton and an Egyptian mummy were pretty big highlights too. We could have spent two days there and still not seen all of it.

Riverdale farm was a great place to run around and interact with farm animals. It’s right in the inner city so you do have to watch a bit that you plan your route carefully. We ended up in a colourful neighbourhood on the way there but thanks to a few kind people we were redirected and found beautiful, historic Cabbagetown on the way home.

Centre Island was another favourite. The Centreville amusement park rides were about the right size for our guys. The ferry to and from the island was quaint and a nice rest from the heat too. Next time I would pack a picnic though because there was pretty much just fast food available.

Trinity Bellwoods Park was such a nice place to take the kids. It’s very walkable. There is a nice splash pad and a great playground.

We also went to the Toronto Zoo which left me with mixed feelings. It was great to see so many different animals up close but you always wonder if they are happy in a confined space. The water park there is pretty amazing though and the kids had a great time splashing around.

We did a day trip to Niagara Falls and as cheesy as it seems, the Maid of the Mist is truly worth the long line up. We all got soaked and cooled off despite our plastic ponchos and it wasn’t until we were right up close to the falls that their true awesomeness really came through. I think that is one experience we will not forget.

One evening William and I were lucky to see a stage production of the Railway Children with a working train. It was extremely well done and it was perfect for his first real theatre experience.

A couple of things I learned about travelling with kids in Toronto. There are coupons for everything. We used citypass for a lot of things and then just stumbled upon coupons for almost everything else. This made a huge difference in what we were able to do. Often the discounts were considerable.

Even though it seems big, we discovered that downtown Toronto is actually quite walkable. With a stroller for the little guy we could manage much better by walking than by trying to take subways and street cars. I’m afraid it’s not a very accessible city compared to Vancouver.

Always bring swimsuits and a towel for the kids. Splash pads are everywhere and they are a great distraction from the trials of street cars and subways. By breaking up the day with short splash pad visits we beat the heat and re-energized for our next adventure.

We feel so fortunate to have had this time in Toronto. I don’t think it would have occurred to us to travel there on our own. It’s a pretty good city for traveling with kids too but I’m so happy to be home again. Just nine more sleeps until we are all together again.

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