Parents’ guide to family-friendly attractions in Toronto

posted December 19, 2018


Family fun

Read Time: 8 minutes

Toronto is a city replete with family-friendly attractions and activities. If you visit this incredibly popular part of Canada, you will be truly spoiled for choice upon arrival. Discover everything from world-famous natural attractions to wildlife highlights and exciting theme parks. There’s a lot to consider with a family holiday to Toronto, so that’s why we are here to help. In our guide, we’ll run through some of the highlights of Toronto’s family scene and let you know what’s available, as well as some tips for what to see and do while visiting.

If this is your first time on our blog, we’ve got tons of helpful guides and articles, including this article on Free things to do in Toronto. Take a look and explore more of our blog to help you prepare for your dream Canadian getaway. Keep an eye out throughout this guide for other Toronto articles to dive into!

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada 2

Located near the CN Tower (not the last time you will be hearing about this iconic landmark in this guide), Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is truly one of the must-visit family-friendly attractions in Toronto. The aquarium here is much beloved and is, in fact, the largest indoor aquarium in all of Canada. Kids and parents alike will love the myriad marine and freshwater habitats located within, as well as a host of exciting exhibits. One of the notable highlights is certainly Dangerous Lagoon – an underwater tunnel which families can traverse while experiencing spectacular views of some of the oceans’ most impressive inhabitants.

Yashy Murphy, of the inspirational family travel blog Baby & Life, knows the delights of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada well and has offered a few tips for parents while visiting:

“This indoor attraction is fun and educational to visit with kids of all ages. For the younger ones, there’s a play area and they will be able to touch the stingrays. For the older kids, there’s a behind-the-scenes tour where they will learn about the various species and can even enjoy a sleepover.”

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada told us that, “while providing fun and entertainment for locals and tourists of all ages, we also educate and inspire our guests to respect and protect the waters of the world.” The Aquarium also made sure to offer some top tips for potential family visits:

“The best advice we have for parents is to plan ahead. We offer online tickets so that you can skip the purchase line upon arrival. We also recommend avoiding the peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm, especially during the holidays. To avoid any crowds and to have a quieter underwater adventure it’s best to visit right when the Aquarium opens at 9 am or just after 4 pm.”

Highlights

• Dangerous Lagoon

• Marine and freshwater habitats

• Dive shows

• Behind the scenes tour

• Sleepover opportunities

Discover Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

While there is plenty to see and do for families in Toronto proper, you would be remiss if you didn’t spend a day out at nearby Niagara Falls – truly one of the brightest gems Canada has to offer. This stunning natural attraction is located just 75 miles south of Toronto and will prove to be a memorable experience for the entire family. These waterfalls have been seen by many of us on TV and film but there is nothing quite like being there in person. Kids will get a big kick out of journeying behind the falls themselves (plenty of splashing involved!) and there is even the thrilling Whirlpool Jet Boat tour to enjoy in the rapids down-river. At Niagara Falls, there’s a lot to be excited by.

Canadian Lindsay Davies from the travel blog I’ve Been Bit, is very fond of Niagara Falls herself and discussed her love of the attraction with us, as well as offering some tips for visiting:

“Niagara Falls is a great destination for families as it truly has so much to offer for kids and adults alike all year round. Get up close and personal with the Horseshoe Falls on the Hornblower Cruise as well as Journey Behind the Falls in the summer months or take in the beautiful sights of the Winter Festival of Lights in the winter. No matter what time of year you visit, families can enjoy a number of incredible attractions that will leave them wanting to return!

“My top tips would be to travel in the off-season if possible. While it may be cooler, this means families can save big on top attractions as well as accommodation. It also means fewer crowds so shorter wait times and more time to explore! Families can also take advantage of great off-season packages which include vouchers for arcades, restaurants and more. For more insider tips, you can visit my website.”

Highlights

• Stunning natural beauty

• Behind the falls experience

• Whirlpool Jet Boat tours

• IMAX cinema experience

• Voyage to the falls

 

SEE ALSO: Top things to do at Niagara Falls

Canada’s Wonderland

Canada's Wonderland

If excitement is the name of the game for your upcoming family trip, you won’t want to miss out on the thrills at Canada’s Wonderland. This 134-hectare theme park (the largest in Canada) is located just 40km north of downtown Toronto and will certainly provide a whole dose of fun for the entire family. There are big thrills on offer, with an exhilarating assortment of rides and roller coasters. The bravest among your troop will certainly want to try the Yukon striker, the world’s fastest, longest, and tallest dive coaster. There is also a purpose-built kids’ area, which features two family-friendly areas and more than 25 rides and attractions just for the little ones. Additionally, there are 20 whole acres of water-based fun to be had with a collection of slides, wave pools and play areas.

A spokesperson from Canada’s Wonderland let us in on their future plans: “Canada’s Wonderland is the perfect place for families because the park has something for everyone, and as of 2019, we will be a four-season amusement park! We’ll have 17 roller coasters – with the addition of record-breaking dive coaster Yukon Striker – and dozens of other thrill rides for those looking to test their limits.

“In 2019, we’ll be open in the spring, summer (don’t miss Splash Works, our 20-acre water park), fall with Halloween Haunt and Camp Spooky, as well for the first time, we’ll be open during the winter with our new immersive holiday event WinterFest.”

Canada's Wonderland

Image credit: Canada’s Wonderland

Canada’s Wonderland also offered some top tips for parents to get the best out of their family visit:

“Plan ahead by looking on our website or mobile app for showtimes so you can be where you need to be.

“Come to the park early – most of the park isn’t open until 10 am, but our gates open at 9:30 am with access to International Street where you can grab a coffee or snack before heading to the rides.

“Grab a park map and make note of the baby changing stations if you require them, height check stations, and stroller and locker rentals.

“And new for 2019 we’ll have a Gold season pass which gets you unlimited visits to the park, Splash Works, Halloween Haunt and WinterFest!”

Highlights

• The largest theme park in Canada

• Fastest dive coaster in the world

• 25 kids’ rides and attractions

• Multiple play areas

• 20-acre water park

CN Tower EdgeWalk

When you picture the Toronto skyline, we bet the CN Tower comes instantly to mind. This massive 1,815-foot-tall structure certainly dominates its surroundings, but the CN Tower isn’t just an impressive architectural feat. It is also a must-visit attraction for families during their Toronto holiday (if you are not afraid of heights that is!). One thing that families have to try is the CN Tower EdgeWalk – the highest hands-free tethered walk in the world. Once you journey up the tower, people aged 13 and above can step out onto a five-foot ledge around the circumference of the main pod and experience a sensation you will never forget. The CN Tower EdgeWalk is without question one of the biggest thrills on offer in the city.

Claudia of the family travel blog The Travelling Mom gave us her thoughts on visiting CN Tower EdgeWalk: “The EdgeWalk experience at the CN Tower is a thrilling, one-of-kind experience that is not for the faint-at-heart. Guests are safely tethered to the Tower with a safety harness and can walk around the Tower’s main pod hands-free to enjoy the magnificent view of the city and Lake Ontario. Pose for a picture as you lean out over nothing but air, 116 storeys (356 m) above the ground.”

No matter if you are a thrill-seeker or not, or if you happen to be younger than 13-years-old, you will find something to enjoy. Kids will absolutely love the floor to ceiling windows at CN Tower with the spectacular views they provide. You will also have the opportunity to step on the glass floor of the tower which in itself is quite the experience! CN Tower is truly a Toronto attraction for everyone to enjoy.

Highlights

• 1,815-foot tall iconic skyscraper

• Highest tethered walk in the world

• Incredible views

• 360 Restaurant

 

SEE ALSO: Where to Stay in Toronto

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

If you and your family are interested in indulging in a little history during your trip to Toronto or are after something just a bit spooky on your holiday, heading down to Casa Loma will prove to be tremendous fun. With Casa Loma, Toronto boasts its very own castle. Built in the Gothic revival style, this historic house and museum is well used to entertaining locals and visitors alike. At Casa Loma, families can look forward to one of the most visually exciting attractions in the city, allowing visitors to travel back to a time of splendour and explore the many secret passages, tunnels, towers and impressive five-acre estate gardens.

Visiting Casa Loma in winter is also a must for families with the attraction going all out for Christmas, proving children with the opportunity to see Santa himself! For a unique Toronto experience during your holiday, Casa Loma should certainly be on the list.

Casa Loma Christmas

Image credit: Casa Loma

Highlights

• Authentic castle experience

• Secret passageways

• Tunnels

• Gothic architecture

• Beautiful estate gardens

Ontario Science Centre

Ontario Science Centre

One of the many great things about Toronto is the sheer diversity of attractions available. There truly is something for everyone and this includes some enthralling educational attractions like the Ontario Science Centre. This huge family favourite has a plethora of hands-on exhibits that both adults and children will enjoy getting involved with. There’s enormous fun to be had while learning at Ontario Science Centre, not least with the ability to explore a rainforest, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and the chance for kids to build their own roller coaster! You won’t be short of things to see and do at the Science Centre, that’s for sure. You can explore their full ‘what’s on’ list over at the centre’s website.

Highlights

• Hands-on exhibits

• Rainforest exhibit

• Planetarium

• Roller coaster building

 

SEE ALSO: 5 must-have experiences on holiday in Toronto

Family-friendly attractions in Toronto

Toronto skyline

• Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

• Discover Niagara Falls

• CN Tower EdgeWalk

• Casa Loma

• Canada’s Wonderland

• Ontario Science Centre

We hope you have enjoyed this peek into the wonderful world of family-friendly attractions in Toronto. We have no doubt that you and your family have much to look forward to, no matter your taste, style, or age.

Don’t forget to discover all the delights of visiting Canada by exploring the many fascinating and informative articles available on our blog.

Before you leave us, make sure to take a look at some of the unforgettable Toronto holidays we have available so that you can make sure your next family adventure is one to savour.

 

Image Credit: Priscilla Jordão, Jeremy Thompson, Dennis Jarvis, Jeff Hitchcock

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