Family Vacations to Toronto, Canada

Toronto Lights Up the Night, Toronto, Canada
Toronto Lights Up the Night (PhotoDisc)

Toronto Family Travel Tips

  • Walk through a bat cave and see an Egyptian mummy at the Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Use DNA to catch a criminal at the hands-on Ontario Science Centre.
  • See gorillas and giraffes and splash through fountains at the Toronto Zoo.
  • Test your long jump and go on a virtual bobsled ride at Olympic Spirit Toronto.
  • Time travel back to the 19th century at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Located on Lake Ontario's northern shore, Toronto, Canada's most populous city, sparkles with exciting museums, interesting neighborhoods, good theater, and a lively waterfront. From the 1,815-foot CN Tower, a Toronto icon, the views are spectacular. Children especially like the glass floor, located at 1,122 feet, which allows them to feel as if they are floating atop the city.

The Royal Ontario Museum, one of Canada's largest museums, focuses on world culture and natural history. And as part of a $215 million renovation, the facility opened ten new galleries in spring 2006, including ones devoted to the art, sculpture, and ceramics of Japan, China, and Canada's First Peoples. In summer 2006 a new wing debuts with additional exhibit and restaurant space. Although the popular dinosaur displays won't reappear until 2007, kids can explore the new galleries, walk through a bat cave, see an Egyptian mummy, try on armor, dig for dino bones in the CIBC Discovery Room, and peer at frogs and fish in the Hands-on Biodiversity Gallery.

The Ontario Science Centre is famous for its more than 600 interactive exhibits. Float weightlessly in a rocket chair at the Space Hall, wander through a creature-infested rainforest, climb a rock wall, and use DNA to catch a criminal. At the new Weston Family Innovation Centre, older kids find out about the latest science news, and at the expanded KidSpark, younger ones can create shapes with magnets, stage a puppet show, and float boats and splash as part of water play.

The Olympic Spirit Toronto pays tribute to athletes and their dreams while energizing kids with interactive exhibits. Future Olympians can ride a virtual bobsled, sprint alongside a champion, and test their long jump.

The Toronto Zoo is Canada's premier zoo. Highlights include gorillas, African Savanna's ostriches and giraffes, and Zellers Discovery Zone, home to the Kids Zoo and Splash Island, two acres of spurting fountains great for cooling off under and burning off any excess energy.

For more play, head to lakefront Ontario Place. Try the pedal boats, putt through miniature golf, get shot out of a tube of water, and zip down water slides and float on rafts at the Soak City water park. Lakeside Harbourfront Centre has craft and art galleries, performance venues, and restaurants. With young kids, take the ferry across the harbor to Centre Island's Centreville, an amusement park with a carousel, Ferris wheel, and pony rides. 'Tweens and teens can get dropped 230 feet, swung upside down, and tossed and twirled on coasters and spin rides at Paramount Canada's Wonderland, a theme park about 30 minutes from downtown.

For time travel to the 19th-century, visit Black Creek Pioneer Village, a re-constructed, mid-19th-century village where interpreters in period clothing demonstrate such skills as broom-making, weaving, baking, and tinsmithing. The village features more than 40 restored homes as well as chicken, sheep, and Clydesdale horses.

Tip: With Toronto's City Pass ( you get to go to the head of the line and save money on admission at six attractions, including the CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, and the zoo.

Recommended Side Trips: Ottawa, Montréal, Niagara Falls, Detroit's resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 2 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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