In The City With Kids

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Hidden Gems in Toronto: West End 

Pink, yellow and red tulips at High Park Nature Centre - a favourite hidden gem in Toronto

Wander west of Yonge for nature, culture, tasty food—and magic. Read on for our favourite family-friendly hidden gems in Toronto’s west end.

  1. Lower Simcoe Street Underpass Murals

Street art enlivens our everyday lives in Toronto. Bring the kids to the Lower Simcoe Street Underpass Murals, to admire vivid wall paintings and visual storytelling by Tannis Nielsen and young, local Indigenous artists. The monumental project took two years to complete. One wall celebrates Anishinaabe water activist “Grandma Josephine,” and the other bears 28 10 x 7″ portraits of local elders with their words of wisdom below. 

Simcoe St Tunnel, 160 Front St W 

  1. Sorauren Farmer’s Market

Sorauren Farmer’s Market alternates between Sorauren Park (by the brick pizza oven) in summer and Henderson Brewing Co. (a kid––and dog––friendly indoor venue) in the colder months. While you buy fresh veggies and artisan products from local farmers and food producers, the kids can enjoy live music, games and seasonal activities from egg-dipping to Dia de los Muertos facepainting. The market takes place on Mondays (bi-weekly in winter). 

Henderson Brewing Co, 128A Sterling Rd (winter) and 50 Wabash Ave (summer)

  1. High Park Nature Centre

At High Park Nature Centre, you’ll forget you’re in the city for a few hours. Year-round activities nurture the whole family’s respect for wildlife and the natural world. Join a songs-and-stories circle with a birding theme, make crafts with organic materials or take a guided blossoms walk, depending on the season. 

375 Colborne Lodge Drive, High Park 

  1. Barque Smokehouse

West-end parents love Barque Smokehouse for the friendly vibes, saucy wings and the kids-eat-free-on-school-nights special. The kids’ menu offers easy pleasers like house-made chicken tenders, Caesar salad with candied smoked bacon and a scoop of ice cream for dessert––with a lactose-free option. Kids are treated to a personal tub of Play-Doh, colouring books and crayons on arrival, to keep them busy until the grub arrives. 

299 Roncesvalles Ave 

  1. Curiosa: Purveyors Of Extraordinary Things

Curiosa: Purveyors Of Extraordinary Things will make you feel more like you’re shopping on Diagon Alley than Harbord Street. This spellbinding store, with its sombre-painted walls and gold-adorned ceiling, will keep your junior wizards kitted out in Harry Potter house scarves, magic wands and Quidditch gear. 

320 Harbord St

  1. Isabella’s

Thanks to Isabella’s––the first mochi donut restaurant in Canada––Toronto kids have a new favourite treat. Dainty mochi donuts are crunchy on the outside, sticky on the inside and created in a rotation of 565 whimsical flavours (and counting)––think funfetti, brown sugar milk tea or lychee lavender cream. There are now four Isabella’s locations in the city––west-enders line up enthusiastically at the Bloor-Bathurst and Patrick-Queen locations. 

607 Bloor St W; 4 St Patrick St

Photo: @highparknaturecentre on Instagram

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