Toronto, Canada, a Destination for All Seasons and Reasons

View of Toronto from Billy Bishop Island Airport, home of Porter Airlines
View of Toronto from Billy Bishop Island Airport, home of Porter Airlines

How to Plan a Family Vacation to Toronto

By Oscar Davis

So, how do you plan a successful family vacation? That’s easy: go to a place everyone will consider fun, one where there is something for everyone.

In other words, find a place that has something for every family member to cherish as a lifelong memory. Toronto fits this basic criterion perfectly.

Our family–my wife Heather, and my two sons, Chris and Geoff, recently experienced a trip to Toronto and took in just about all of the sites.

Kids playing at the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada.
Kids playing at the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada.

Even in the depths of winter, this city with so many underground tunnels and subterranean malls makes the cold problem go away.

Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Like other major Canadian cities, this metropolis has soaring skyscrapers, open green spaces, and plenty of places to go and things to do.

During our trip to Toronto, one thing we loved was being able to get around the city in comfort, with  Limo Service Toronto to visit landmarks like the CN Tower, Queen’s Park, and High Park.  Having a driver who knew just where to go and where to park made our trip much more fun.

CN Tower is the 9th largest free-standing structure in the world; Queen’s Park is a historic urban park in the downtown that was opened in 1860 by Prince Edward of Wales in honor of Queen Victoria; and High Park, a 400-acre area with hiking trails, a delightful zoo, gardens, playgrounds, and educational, cultural, and sporting facilities.

Why Toronto is a Great Place for a Family Vacation

While Toronto has much to fascinate grown-ups, it is also a kid-friendly place, because it has an abundance of beaches, cultural attractions, and amusement parks that your children will love.

Here is a short list of some of the different things we did and what we saw with our kids while we were in Toronto:

CN-Tower Toronto: if you are daring enough, you can hang off the edge like these guys are doing!
CN-Tower: if you are daring enough, you can hang off the edge like these guys are doing!

The CN Tower

At 1,815 feet, CN Tower offers a bird’s eye view of the city. A glass elevator will take you and your family up, which can be slightly unnerving should your children jump on the glass floor when you get to the top.

You can also skip the line if you get a reservation to dine at the 360 Restaurant, where meals include the admission price.

You’ll enjoy the panoramic view while enjoying an excellent meal.

Museum, Galleries, and Exhibits.

The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada features marine species, the Royal Ontario Museum offers a range of culture and nature exhibits, and the large Toronto Zoo has thousands of animals.

Visiting Niagara Falls is not complete without riding the Maid of the Mist boat, soaking in the mist and cheering at the rainbows, with Toronto skyline in the background! Trupti
Visiting Niagara Falls is not complete without riding the Maid of the Mist boat, soaking in the mist and cheering at the rainbows, with the city skyline in the background!

If your kids are into science, the Ontario Science Center is a kid-friendly museum with hands-on exhibits, and if your family loves art, the Art Gallery of Ontario has illustrious Canadian art, as well as Gehry renovation.

Gardens & Beaches

Canada is well-known for its beautiful gardens and beaches. Some popular gardens to visit are Casa Loma, a grand castle with seasonal gardens; High Park, an urban green space and trails; Edward Gardens, a capacious space with cultivated blooms, Rouge National Urban Park, a collection of wild, diverse landscapes; and Allan Gardens, a collection of exotic plants located in a historic building.

And some popular Toronto beaches include Toronto Islands, Sunnypoint, Hanlan’s Point Beach (the city’s only nude beach),  and Sugar Beach.

Amusement Parks

Da Mao is one of the pandas who live at the Toronto Zoo, who are leaving in March 2018 to return to China. Toronto Zoo photo.
Da Mao is one of the pandas who live at the Toronto Zoo, who are leaving in March 2018 to return to China. Toronto Zoo photo.

If your kids are interested in amusement parks some interesting places to visit would be: Canada’s Wonderland, an immense amusement park with roller coasters, and Centreville Amusement ParkFamily, a fun place for younger kids with rides and farm animals.  Our sons especially enjoyed the roller coasters and the treats they found at Centreville.

Shopping

Toronto has a wide selection of shopping districts and malls, and some fun place to visit might be:

  • Toronto Eaton Centre, an urban mall.
  • St. Lawrence Market South Vast, a selection of artisans and food merchant shops.
  • Kensington Market, an arty place with vintage shops.
  • Chinatown, with exotic Asian restaurants and ethnic food markets.
  • Queen Street West, a place to buy beautiful art.

Where to Stay in Toronto

The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto. Stephen Hartshorne photo.
The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto. Stephen Hartshorne photo.

When deciding where to stay, you shouldn’t be too preoccupied with the location, since it’s easy to get access to most places by public transit. It’s better to focus on the type of accommodation you’d prefer.

If you’re looking to pay as little as possible in some good locations, then you may want to consider budget hotels. Another popular option, for many families, is to rent an apartment or a house using Airbnb, or another site like Flipkey or VRBO.

Toronto also offers a variety of trendy hotels, spa hotels, all-suite hotels, family hotels, and Bed & Breakfasts.

The Best Times to Visit

The best times to visit are April through to May or September through October.

The Perfect Family Vacation

It’s no secret that family vacations can be challenging because not everyone agrees on where to go and what to do.

Since Toronto offers such a wide range of choices–from gardens to nature trails, from art shows to museums, from historic sites to amusement parks, and from restaurants to theaters–it should be easy to find something to delight every family member.

Oscar Davis    Oscar Davis is a freelance writer focusing on family travel based in Detroit, Michigan.

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