In The City With Kids

4 min Read

A Torontonian’s Guide to the City 

A photo of a Torontonian's favourite spot in the city: Bluffer's Park and Beach, a limestone cliffside beach with cerulean blue water off Lake Ontario.

Toronto is rife with things to do. We love a classic tourist attraction, but we also know that Torontonians know best when it comes to exploring the city like a pro.

So you’re planning a trip to Toronto? Ontario’s capital is a bustling metropolis of fun, food and culture that’s worthy of exploration. The tourist spots are easy to find and fun to visit, but if you want to experience Toronto like a local, keep reading for some exciting, family-friendly spots in the city. 

Bluffer’s Park and Beach

1 Brimley Rd S, Scarborough 

No joke, the Scarborough bluffs look like they belong in a fantasy novel. The towering cliffs stand guard over the sandy beach, which has a large parking lot, picnic areas, hiking trails, a boardwalk, washrooms and a snack bar. The neighbourhood of Guildwood is nearby (driveable versus walkable) where you can see breathtaking views of Lake Ontario from atop the bluffs and explore nearby Guild Park and Gardens, which is a historic (and some say haunted!) site with stunning gardens and sculptures.  

Art Gallery of Ontario

317 Dundas St W

Believe it or not, locals do actually love to spend time at the world-class museums and art galleries the city has to offer. (Many of us have memberships so we can go whenever we want!) You might not think the Art Gallery of Ontario would be particularly appealing to kids, but you’d be wrong. The internationally acclaimed venue is home to the Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre for kids and families, and as well as regularly hosting events for all ages. The AGO is also an awesome place to shop for an artsy souvenir of your time in the city. The gift shop is full of gorgeous art, prints, books and more. 

The art gallery of ontario entrance with the letters ago in deep red. A beloved torontonian destination.

Kensington Market

Kensington Market is world-famous as a hotspot for culture, food and fun. It’s about a 10-block radius in the heart of downtown and feels like a throwback to simpler times with low-traffic streets, a surplus of small shops, fruit stands, music and sights. You could truly spend all day here, but we recommend combing street by street. Grab a bite at one of the many small restaurants—Fresco’s Fish and Chips is iconic—or grab a souvenir at Blue Banana Market, before taking a break at Bellevue Square Park’s playground. Pedestrian Sundays start in May and are fun for the whole family.

Gardiner Museum

111 Queens Park 

Small but mighty, Gardiner Museum houses a surplus of incredible ceramic art from European pottery to ancient American artifacts. But what’s really special about this spot is the in-house ceramics studio. Check their website for drop-in classes. In-house Clay Restaurant dovetails the ceramic theme with a seasonal menu that utilizes fresh ingredients. This museum is also a short walk from the Royal Ontario Museum and the Bata Shoe Museum, so if your family is game for a big day of exploring, stick to Yorkville. 

The gardiner museum entrance, with a large head statue at the front of the building, and green trees behind it.

Ripley’s Aquarium Sharks After Dark

288 Bremner Blvd 

Okay, so the aquarium is probably a no-brainer (sharks! jellyfish! sea-themed indoor playground!), but if you want to avoid the daytime crowds, this ticket is the one you want. Enjoy everything the aquarium has to offer from 5pm to close, at a discounted price. We don’t need to tell you that this attraction gets very busy, so this is a great way to see the renowned underwater world with a little less hustle and bustle. We’re all about taking kids for a post-dinner, pre-bedtime tour through the exhibits, to (hopefully) tire them out before hitting the hay. 

WORTH-THE-HYPE ATTRACTIONS 

The tourists are onto something with these iconic can’t-miss attractions, don’t skip them: 

  • The Royal Ontario Museum | 100 Queens Park 
  • Toronto Zoo | 2000 Meadowvale Rd 
  • Casa Loma | 1 Austin Terrace 
  • Ontario Science Centre | 70 Don Mills Rd 
Casa loma, a large castle structure in the middle of toronto, with a blue fountain, a bed of flowers, and trees in front of it.
Photo: Tommao Wang on Unsplash

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