Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the fifth largest in North America, so you could easily spend many days exploring this bustling city and not run out of fun things to do in Toronto with kids. However, if you are just visiting for a long weekend, you will want to pick a few top attractions to get a feel for the city and its unique multiculturalism.
As the second stop on our Canadian road trip, we had two days to explore Toronto between Niagara Falls and Montreal. I knew we would never fit everything in so we had to pick and choose (sorry mom, we had to skip the BATA Shoe Museum!) If you are also wondering what to squeeze into your visit, these were our top picks!
Best Things to do in Toronto with Kids
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If you plan on visiting quite a few attractions in Toronto, I’d recommend looking into getting a Toronto CityPASS for the family to potentially save some money on admission.
You can’t leave town without going to the observation deck at Toronto’s most famous landmark, the CN Tower. After a renovation in 2018, the Main Observation Level features floor-to-ceiling glass walls, offering seamless panoramic views of Toronto. Sadly, the Outdoor Terrace Level and original glass floor are not open to guests at this time due to renovations, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the views.
Guests can buy timed-entry tickets up to 30 days in advance for the Main Observation level, which is 1,136 feet up. To get even higher, you can book a ticket to the SkyPod, which is 1,465 feet above the city, making it one of the highest observation platforms in the world.
If you don’t want to wait in lines, there is even a premier VIP level, which gives you priority access to elevators and observation levels, including SkyPod with front-of-the-line check-in, an exclusive (private) elevator up, the next available SkyPod time slot, and a priority elevator down.
For thrill-seeking teens, you may want to look into The Edgewalk. You need to be at least 13 years old and weigh at least 75 lbs. (and 13-17-year-olds need to be accompanied by an adult) but this harnesses you in to walk along the outside of CN Tower from 116 stories up. It is the world’s highest full-circle hands-free walk and the first of its kind in North America. I don’t know about you, but it looks pretty terrifying to me!
A much more chill way to enjoy the view is by dining at 360 The Restaurant at CN Tower. Just keep in mind that 360 guests must spend a minimum of $75.00 on food per person (excluding children 12 and under), but this includes access to the CN Tower’s Main Observation Level following your meal.
If you are just visiting the Main Observation Level, still plan on spending at least an hour at the CN Tower.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
If you have time after the CN Tower, head right next door to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Just keep in mind that it helps to buy timed-entry tickets online to save time and ensure entrance at the time you want. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is home to over 20,000 aquatic animals, North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel, and more than 100 interactive opportunities including the opportunity to have an in-water interaction with Sting Rays.
This area by the CN Tower is really packed with attractions. If you have train enthusiasts, take a little time to also check out Roundhouse Park. The park is home to a live steam miniature railway and other outdoor exhibits illustrating Toronto’s railway heritage, along with the original, fully restored, and operational 120-foot-long locomotive turntable.
St. Lawrence Market
One of my favorite stops was St. Lawrence Market, which National Geographic named the number one food market in the world. With older kids, it would be fun to take a food tour, but it was still a fun place to explore. Since we went early in the morning, we picked up bagels at the bakery and crepes at a stand downstairs. To see more, I’d visit a little later to try more of the ethnic markets and food stands.
If you haven’t been to some of the big food markets in Europe (like La Boqueria in Barcelona), it is great for kids to get to see the amazing fresh produce, butcher counters, and fish markets.
Hockey Hall of Fame
If you are traveling with hockey fans (and do they let you into Canada if you don’t love hockey?), then a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame is another must-do when visiting Toronto with kids. We were able to print off some coupons for discounted admission from the Attractions Ontario website (and even saved at the Spirit of Hockey store.)
Throughout the exhibits, I had to endure the battle between the Bruins fan and the Islanders fan and seemingly endless fawning over the Stanley Cup (I was more interested in the architecture of the room in which it was kept.)
However, even I perked up when we got to the interactive exhibits. Kids and adults alike enjoy a chance to try their hand at goalie or take some slap shots against virtual players. They can also try out video hockey games, as well as explore a mock-up of a locker room.
Even though I’m not a hockey fan, I still thought it was a very cool experience. I’ve now been to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield MA and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. One of these days we will finally get to Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame too.
Yonge-Dundas and Nathan Phillips Squares
We explored more of the city by checking out Yonge-Dundas and Nathan Phillips Squares. Yonge-Dundas Square is a bit like a small Times Square, but with a large outdoor space with outdoor tables for relaxing and fountains, which were irresistible, even on a chilly day. It is also an outdoor event space and while we were there they were setting up for an evening movie screening.
Nathan Phillips Square is in the heart of the city, located right next to the City Hall building. It is a good spot for people watching and photos with the Toronto sign. In the winter, Nathan Phillips Square has an outdoor ice skating rink and there are free events and concerts in the summer.
Blue Jays Game at Rogers Centre
We lucked out by timing our visit when our home team the Boston Red Sox was playing the Toronto Blue Jays. My die-hard Sox fan just had to go (she made a poster and everything!) My fears about getting dirty looks (or worse) for supporting the Sox were unfounded. I was surprised by how many fans travel to Toronto to come to the game. It seemed like at least a quarter of the people there had on Red Sox gear.
It was a great experience (in addition to the fact that they won). Watching a game under a dome was a new experience and the stadium was incredibly clean and well-equipped. The little one thought it would be a great idea to get a room in the attached hotel and watch the game from our room next time.
Harbourfront Centre is located right next to the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel and not far from the CN Tower and Roger Centre. With lots of green space to run around, along with a playground and wading pools, this is a great spot for kids to take a city break. There is also an outdoor ice skating rink in the winter. From here, you can catch the ferry to the Toronto Islands.
If You Have More Time
If you have more than two days to spend in Toronto with kids, there is still plenty to do. Some you can find in other places, but others are unique to Toronto. Here are just a few:
- Casa Loma – kids might be surprised to see a Gothic Revival, castle-style mansion in the center of Toronto. This landmark is one of Toronto’s most popular attractions so be sure to reserve tickets online in advance.
- Ontario Science Centre – this interactive science museum is not located downtown, but is worth the drive to spark your kid’s imagination and curiosity.
- Royal Ontario Museum– showcasing art, culture, and natural history from around the world. It is one of the largest museums in North America and the largest in Canada.
- Toronto Zoo – the largest zoo in Canada with animals from seven zoogeographic regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, Americas, Tundra Trek, Australasia, Eurasia, and Canada.
- Ferry to the Toronto Islands to bike, kayak, or relax on the beach on Centre Island. You can also visit the Centreville Amusement Park. You can also take a Harbor Cruise.
- LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto
- You can also take day trips to Niagara Falls, the beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, or Stratford for the Shakespeare Festival.
Where to Stay in Toronto with Kids
We stayed at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel and while the service was a little spotty, we did get upgraded to lake-view rooms. I do love this location when visiting Toronto with kids because you are right on Lake Ontario next to Harbour Square Park. This gives plenty of room to play, beautiful views, and easy access to ferries to the islands if you want to hit one of the beaches.
Find a hotel in Toronto
No surprise given its size, Toronto is a noisy and congested city, in a constant state of growth and construction. But what surprised us were the number of outdoor cafes and colorful flowers that seemed to bring a burst of color and life into the city. We hope to return someday to explore more!
Where to Eat
Toronto is a very diverse city and if you have time to visit some of the neighborhoods and enclaves, you will eat very well. In fact, if I was visiting with older kids I’d definitely book a Secret Food Tour or a tour of Kensington Market and Chinatown. However, with younger kids, you probably want something convenient and family-friendly. A couple of options that we enjoyed are:
- Amsterdam Brewhouse is conveniently located on the Harbourfront near the Westin.
- Before the baseball game, we stopped for a delicious tapas dinner at the beautiful Patria restaurant before heading over to the stadium.