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School's Out! Now What?

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Your kids might be excited that school’s out for the summer, but are you? Once your kids are out of school, it can be hard to find enough activities to fill their every waking hour. Plopping your kids in front of a screen all day can be tempting, but when you live in or near Toronto, it isn’t your only option—there are almost too many outdoor and indoor activities to count.

You don’t have to give in to letting technology parent your children! Whether you live in Toronto or the surrounding suburbs, try a trip into the city for fun kid-friendly activities, or enjoy Toronto’s scenic outdoors with easy hiking trips that can be fun for the entire family. Read on to learn more about activities that your entire family can enjoy all summer long.

Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is located just off the freeway, making it easy to access via public transit or car. This Zoo is one of the largest in the world, and will treat your kids to over 5,000 animals from 500 different species.

If you want your kids to be well-educated and while getting enough exercise, the Toronto Zoo is just the place for you: there are over 10 kilometres of walking trails throughout the park that will help your kids get the exercise they need while learning about the animals that populate our fascinating planet.

For kid-specific events, try the Discovery Zone, which caters directly to children with an interactive exhibit, two-acre splash zone, and Waterside Theatre, which shows educational films everyone in the family can enjoy.

If walking around a 710-acre zoo sounds exhausting, consider spending most of your time in one of the Zoo’s seven zoogeographic regions, and visiting several times throughout the summer. The Zoo’s regions include the Canadian Domain, Africa, Australasia, Indo-Malay, Eurasia, the Americas, and the Tundra Trek.

Alternatively, visit the Zoo’s website to learn about their shows and educational programs, or stick to the must-see exhibits:

  • The Xie Shou Giant Panda Experience, which features a Giant Panda Interpretive Centre
  • The Gorilla Rainforest
  • The 10-acre Tundra Trek, with a 5-acre polar bear habitat
  • The Great Barrier Reef exhibit

You can purchase tickets for the Zoo online. Children under two can visit free.

The Royal Ontario Museum

This hundred-year-old museum is the biggest natural history museum in Canada and one of the biggest museums in North America. As such, it features a variety of exhibits, so you can find something each family member will be interested in.

For instance, the museum currently features an exhibit on The Forbidden City, or an inside look at how past Chinese emperors lived; an exhibit of early Islamic costumes and textiles; and The Entire City Project, in which Toronto artist Michael Awad catalogues the museum’s century of history.

For a fun follow-up activity, view the museum’s online activities for children, which offers interactive quizzes and games to help children retain the information they learned at the museum.

You can purchase tickets for individual exhibits or for general admission online. Children three and under are free, and children between four and fourteen can enter at a discounted price. On Best Value Fridays—every Friday of the year from 4:30-8:30 p.m.—you can visit the museum’s permanent collections at a discounted price.

Toronto Hikes

If you want to spend some quality time outdoors, find some family hikes to do outside Toronto. Niagara Falls is located only an hour and a half outside Toronto, which makes it a fun trip. However, there are also over 45 waterfalls in the area with varying levels of accessibility that can provide a fun alternative.

Alternatively, try some walks around town to see Toronto in an entirely new way!

The Toronto Public Library

Not only is the Toronto Public Library a great place to find books for each adult, child, and teen in your family—it also features multiple educational opportunities from author visits and lectures to reading programs and art exhibits.

For instance, this July, the library will hold a class on designing your own maze for children seven years and up. The museum hosts similarly creative and crafty activities at its various branches as well, from Jones to Mount Pleasant, so it’s easy to find activities that could be closer to you than the city’s main library.

Visit the library’s webpage to learn more about specific exhibits and activities for your children and teens.

Centreville Amusement Park

Located on Centre Island, this amusement park is the perfect place for kids to enjoy a day in the sun. Kids can learn about farm animals at the Far Enough Farm, including rabbit, sheep, goats, pigs, cows, horses, and more. They might also see some more exotic species, including llamas, emus, and alpacas.  Alternatively, spend some time on any of the amusement park rides for a fun family outing.

See the amusement park’s website for more information on their season passes and rates.

These are only a few of your endless options for kid-friendly Toronto summer fun. Don’t surrender to the tug of technology—instead, get your kids away from the console or computer screen by engaging in any of these fun summer activities!


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