I’ve been spoiled. I’ve lived in and around Toronto my entire life, so I often forget just how amazing it is. The vibe, the culture, the food, the arts… I could go on.
(Did I mention the diehard Leafs fans? Yeah, the dream just won’t die.)
Of course, when visiting a world-class city like Toronto, there’s no shortage of things to do. And if you’re visiting my fair city, you’re in luck – from thrill rides to theatre shows, sports to scenic tours, Toronto offers the best in family entertainment!
Turn your trip to Toronto into jam-packed days of discovery by partaking in these fun-filled attractions and activities – targeted toward school-aged children, but guaranteed to please kids (and kids at heart) of all ages.
1. The CN Tower
It’s no secret – children like to climb to the top of things (and the taller, the better). Mini daredevils can enjoy a bird’s eye view of Toronto and surrounding area from the observation deck at the CN Tower, the tallest free standing structure in the world. Take an adrenaline-pumping ride up in a glass elevator and capture the heart-stopping moment when your child jumps on the glass floor.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre. Bordered by Yonge, Carlton, Church and Wood Streets, Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre is in the centre of it all. Some of the finest shopping venues in the world such as the Toronto Eaton Centre, the shops at Yorkville, Holt Renfrew, The Bay, Winners, Marshall’s and Bed Bath and Beyond are only minutes from its doorstep.
The entrance to the Yonge/College Subway line, part of Toronto’s famous TTC, and the main artery of the city, is less than a block from the hotel, providing immediate access to all attractions, shopping, dining, hospitals, theatres and the financial district. Jump aboard and visit The CN Tower, Art Gallery of Ontario, Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, Dundas Square, Ripley’s Aquarium and more.
2. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Canada’s largest aquarium opened in 2013 within steps of the CN Tower, making it the perfect continuation after a morning visit to the tower. The aquarium covers 135,000 square-feet and boasts more than 5.7 million litres of water home to 15,000 animals, including sharks, jellies, rays, and green sea turtles. Set aside time to discover Dangerous Lagoon, where a moving sidewalk, the longest of its kind in North America, allows guests to see marine life up close.
Where to Stay: InterContinental Toronto Centre. InterContinental Toronto Centre is designed to fulfill the global traveller’s every need. The AAA Four Diamond hotel merges affordable luxury, ideal location, state of the art technology, meeting facilities and personalised customer service. Located on Front Street and attached to Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the hotel features 586 spacious guestrooms and suites, exclusive Club InterContinental floors, the exceptional Azure Restaurant & Bar, and Spa InterContinental, an AVEDA concept.
3. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
Turn a day of discovery into a day of learning at this essential tourist destination. Of special interest to children is the popular Earth Rangers Animal Show: awaken your wild side and learn about the diversity of animal life, including incredible insects, magnificent mammals, rockin’ reptiles and more. Don’t forget to check out the ROM’s famous Bat Cave and meet live bats and owls!
Where to Stay: InterContinental Toronto Yorkville. Luxury Toronto hotel in the exclusive downtown Yorkville neighbourhood. Steps away from high-end restaurants, boutiques and art galleries, as well as the University of Toronto and major museums such as the Royal Ontario Museum. Superior facilities include an award-winning restaurant, Signatures; exclusive and newly renovated vodka bar, Proof; a fabulous outdoor patio, SkyLounge; and 7,000 square feet of recently renovated meeting venues that boast natural light and pillar free space.
4. Centre Island / Centreville Amusement Park
Located on Toronto’s Centre Island (taking the ferry ride to the island is half the fun!), Centreville Amusement Park is reminiscent of simpler times and features pony rides, an antique ferris wheel and carousel. While most rides are geared to children ages 12 and under, the whole family can enjoy a lazy summer day on the island. Pack a picnic and spread out on the lush green spaces. Cool off in the wading pools or rent bicycles for fun family fitness.
Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Express Toronto Downtown. Enjoy an ideal location at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel – Downtown Toronto. The hotel’s location is near Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Toronto Island Airport (YTZ), Toronto Union Train Station and the underground shopping/walking paths, which makes it easy to navigate Toronto.
5. The Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo is Canada’s premier zoo with over 5,000 animals representing 484 species in various Regions and Pavilions. Although there is a lot of ground to cover, the Zoo is divided into seven zoogeographic regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas (North & South America), Eurasia, the Tundra and Australasia. Animals are displayed indoors in tropical pavilions and outdoors in naturalistic environments, with barrier-free viewing at many levels. Don’t miss the award winning African Safari, the Gorilla Rainforest and the Interactive Kids Zoo.
Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Express Toronto East – Scarborough. Located in the heart of Scarborough, the Holiday Inn Express Toronto East hotel is located near Centennial College and the University of Toronto-Scarborough Campus. Visit the famous Metro Toronto Zoo, home of the giant Pandas, the Ontario Science Centre, the Edwards Botanical Gardens. Shop’til you drop at the Scarborough Town Centre, the Fairview Mall, the Pickering Town Centre and the Pacific Mall. Try your luck at the Casino Blue Heron and Bingo Halls.
The 40,000 sq. ft. indoor complex features more than 200 high-tech attractions, rides and simulators. During your next visit check out the MaxFlight Roller Coaster Simulator or Laser Maze. Also check out dozens of NEW video and redemption games including SnoCross, Dark Escape 4D, Connect 4 and Big Buck Hunter HD! And if you’re visiting in the summer months, Playdium has an 11-acre out-door park featuring one of Canada’s longest Go-Kart tracks. Other outdoor attractions include mini golf, bungee trampoline and Water Wars where you catapult water balloons and try to soak your opponents.
Where to Stay: Staybridge Suites Toronto Mississauga. Located near the 401 at Hurontario; 10 minutes from Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario. Staybridge Suites offers near proximity to the AMCPlaza, Hershey Center, Toronto Downtown, Powerade Center, Mississauga Convention Center, and Square One Mall. Staybridge Suites offers apartment like suites with all the conveniences of home to suit your extended stay or short term hotel needs. The pet friendly hotel offers suites with fully-equipped kitchens, 42″ LED TV with DVD, free wired & wireless Internet and direct dial phone number with personalized voicemail.
7. Paramount Canada’s Wonderland
Although it’s a bit of a hike from the downtown core (30 minutes by car or 60 minutes by public transit), no visit to Toronto is complete without taking in the thrill rides, family rides, live shows, and incredible water park at Canada’s Wonderland. Bonus: One admission covers all the entertainment. 2014 saw the debut of Wonder Mountain’s Guardian, an innovative ride that combines the excitement of a roller coaster, 3D animation and an interactive gaming experience.
Where to Stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Vaughan-Southwest. Treat your family to a fun-filled time at this Toronto area hotel, located at Highways 7 and 27. The hotel offers convenient access to numerous Toronto attractions, including Canada’s Wonderland theme park, Wild Water Kingdom and the Ontario Science Centre. The Vaughan hotel is in close proximity to other attractions such as Chateau Le Jardin and Da Vinci Banquet Hall, Black Creek Pioneer Village and the Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre.
You may have noticed that my hotel selections are all part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), with good reason. IHG offers the world’s first and largest hotel loyalty program with over 82 million members worldwide: www.ihgrewardsclub.com. Earn points when you stay at ANY of their 4,700 hotels (that’s 697,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries), or make use of their promotions and partners. Since your points don’t expire, they aren’t going anywhere but up.
(In fact, at a recent stay at the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville, my room was booked using IHG Rewards points!)
The program was relaunched in July 2013, offering enhanced benefits for members including free internet across all hotels, globally. Hence, with every stay, you can rack up the points and set your sights on a reward of your choice. InterContinental Hotels Group is a leading, Global Hotel Company.