Toronto is Canada’s largest city, and home to some famous landmarks, and the headquarters, skyscrapers, condos, and the famous CN Tower. It’s also the most multicultural city in the world. Yes, Toronto is kid-friendly! It has a lot or families with kids – from exciting attractions, unique, walkable neighbourhoods and a stroller-friendly downtown core.
Being Toronto born, Toronto will always feel like ‘home’ to me. I’ve either lived either right in the city, or nearby for all my life. I’ve visited countless times alone and with kids over the years, but there’s something new to see with kids – during the summer or in winter.
We’re going to go over everything you need to know about getting around Toronto, places to avoid, and things to do in Toronto with kids. By the end, you should feel fully prepared to enjoy a fun, kid-friendly trip to Toronto.
Is Toronto Safe?
Toronto has been rated the 2nd safest city in the world by the Economic Safety Index, which is impressive considering it is Canada’s largest city (at 6 million people.) Toronto is even safer statistically than Vancouver, Thunder Bay, and Ottawa in some respects, which is impressive considering its size. It would be lying to say that crime in Toronto hasn’t been on the increase for the past few years (it has. )But as far as danger goes, most crimes in Toronto are drug or gang related. If you’re a tourist, you’ll be spending most of your time in the downtown area, where the crime is rare.
In terms of places to avoid, there aren’t any specific ‘bad’ neighbourhoods in Toronto, but crime is generally higher in the outskirts of the city. The Jane and Finch intersection has been notorious for crime my whole life. However, as a tourist, this isn’t an area you’re going to be frequenting.
Regardless of where you go in Toronto, just exercise the same caution as you would in any other major city. Keep valuables secured and out of reach, and know the emergency number (9-1-1) which is good to know, even though its likely you won’t need it.
19 Things to Do in Toronto With Kids
Here are the best things to do in Toronto with kids. I will likely keep adding to this list over time, because I’m always discovering new things to do in the city with kids !
1. Explore Casa Loma
Casa Loma is Canada’s only castle. A man named Sir William built this castle for his wife but the construction stopped because of World War I. Sir Henry had trouble keeping up the payments after that, and eventually, the government seized the castle in 1924, before Sir Henry was finished building it.
However, Casa Loma is now owned by the City of Toronto and is a popular attraction for tourists and locals, and an upscale venue for weddings, and other events. I’ve visited Casa Loma as a child myself, and as an adult with kids. It’s an interesting place to walk around and explore and makes for some conversations as a family too.
You get to explore all three floors of Casa Loma at your own pace, as its all self guided. You can also take an elevator that takes you below the ground where they have a dragon’s den. They have a dragon (not real of course) sitting in there.
There’s a café onsite at Casa Loma to buy breakfast or lunch, called Liberté cafe. It sells snacks like granola bars, cookies and muffins, baked goods, salads, paninis, and sandwiches.
Casa Loma Address and How to Get There With Kids:
Casa Loma is located at 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, Ontario. To get to Casa Loma, take the subway to St. Clair West station. From there, it’s about a 20 min walk to the castle. You’ll walk along St. Clair West towards Spadina, turn right and then keep walking about 15 minutes south to the castle. You can’t miss it!
2. See Sea Creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium
Ripley’s Aquarium is right beside the CN Tower, which is very convenient if you’re hoping to see the CN Tower as well. Ripley’s can take 2.5 hours to get through, and the CN Tower could take at least another hour and a half. So, seeing them both in one day can absolutely be done, and the Sea The Sky pass allows you to see them both the CN Tower and Ripleys a package deal!
Ripley’s Aquarium will take you through several exhibits, my personal favourite being the tunnel where you can see fish, turtles and sharks swimming all around you. The main aquarium is a stunning wall-sized view of colourful fish, sharks and other sea creatures. This is also a popular place for people to propose.
The busiest times at Ripley’s Aquarium are during the March break (usually the middle week of March) Christmas break, and summer weekends. It can get pretty crowded at those times with both tourists and locals, so try to visit outside of that time – ideally on a weekday. Strollers are permitted inside Ripley’s Aquarium, and it is stroller-friendly.
Pro Tip: You can save time at the door if you buy your tickets to Ripley’s online. Simply show your tickets on your smartphone when you arrive.
Ripley’s Address and How to Get Here With Kids:
Ripley’s Aquarium is located at 288 Bremner Blvd, Toronto. The easiest way to get here with kids is to take the TTC to Union Station. From there, its a 10-minute walk to the aquarium.
TIP: Buy a “Sea the Sky” pass online to see both CN Tower and Ripley’s together!
3. Soar High in the CN Tower
The CN Tower was once the tallest free-standing structure in the world, but now it is beat out even by some of the condos that have recently popped up over the years in Toronto. However, the CN Tower offers a spectacular view of the city and Lake Ontario and is well worth a visit with kids.
You’ll take the elevator to the top, where they have a restaurant, gift shop, and a glass floor that you can stand on (currently closed as of March 2023 – will update as I learn more.)
At night time, check out the CN tower from anywhere in the city to see it illuminated in different colours. They have a special illumination schedule that they follow to honour a different charity, cause or action every day of the year. See the lighting schedule here.
CN Tower Address and How to Get Here With Kids
The CN Tower is located at 290 Bremner Blvd, Toronto. The easiest way to get here with kids is to take the TTC to Union Station. From there, its a 10-minute walk to the aquarium.
TIP: Save on CN Tower tickets with the City Pass
4. Get a view of the Toronto City Skyline
There are a few ways to take a boat across the lake to Centre Island, in order to get that skyline view. One is to take a ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. What I prefer to do is take a Water Taxi, which can be found right at the harbour front at Pier 6. (There’s also a Beaver Tails there.)
The ride from the Toronto Harbour to the island is very short, maybe about 5 minutes.
5. Take a day trip to Centre Island
Centre Island does not have a lot of buildings. It has a lot of parks, gardens and landscaped grounds. Its a nice place to visit with kids; great for a day out or a picnic. And you can get family-photos with the skyline in the background.
Some of the attractions on Centre Island are Manitou Beach, and Centreville Amusement Park which has fair rides. There are also some fast-food options; Pizza Pizza, Subway and Beaver Tails. You’ll see some food options at the ferry dock where you arrive, and the rest are near Manitou Beach.
Good to Know: When you first get off the ferry, you will see a washroom building, a Pizza Pizza and a Subway. There is also a pub with a patio that overlooks the skyline. There are many picnic tables to eat some food in the surrounding parks.
Regardless of the season you go to Centre Island, you’ll be outside for the whole time, so be sure to dress for the weather.
Centre Island Address and How to Get Here with Kids
You can take a water taxi across to Centre Island, found at Pier 6 at the Toronto harbour front. Another option is to go to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, located at 9 Queen’s Quay West. Ferry tickets for the ferry are available through them, and can be bought online.
6. Hockey Hall of Fame
This is especially fun if you have kids who like or play hockey. Hockey is Canada’s most popular sport, and the Hockey Hall of Fame is a tribute to Canada’s hockey history. Its like a museum with artifacts, interesting details about the NHL.
Get Your Tickets for Hockey Hall of Fame Here
Hockey Hall of Fame Address and How to Get Here with Kids
Hockey Hall of Fame is located at 30 Young St. Toronto, right in Toronto’s Old Town. You can walk there from Union Station in about 10 minutes.
7. Canada’s Wonderland
Canada’s Wonderland has record-breaking rollercoasters, themed rides for all ages, arcades, and a splash park to cool off in, and even a Kidszville – geared at toddlers. Its open from May until October, and opens again in November for their annual Winterfest.
There rides ranging from high-thrill to very low key. The rides your children can go on will depend on their height. When you first arrive at the park, you will go to a stand which will measure them and give them a coloured wristband which corresponds to which rides they’re ok to go on. (A huge line up for this often forms, so try to get there early to get your kids measured!)
Pro Tip: You are not allowed to bring any outside food into Canada’s Wonderland, as they would prefer you spend money on their dining options. If you’re travelling by car, you can leave food in a cooler in your car, and leave the park to have a picnic and return when you’re done. They will make an exception for babies eating puréed food.
Canada’s Wonderland Address and How to Get Here with Kids
Canada’s Wonderland is located at 1 Canada’s Wonderland Drive, Vaughan. A popular way to get here is to drive; there is an extensive parking lot, and it costs an extra $25 per day to use their parking lot.
To get to Canada’s Wonderland by public transit easily with kids, take the TTC (subway) to Vaughan Metropolitan Station. From there, you’ll need to take the Route 20 York Region Bus to Wonderland.
8. Royal Ontario Museum
Frequently referred to by locals as simply the “ROM,” the museum is a must in Toronto with kids. Its the largest museum in North America, and includes exhibits from countries and time periods from around the world.
The ROM is a very popular place for school field trips, so its geared towards being engaging and kid-friendly. The tickets for the ROM can be booked online .
ROM Address and How to Get Here with Kids
Royal Ontario Museum is located at 100 Queens Park, Toronto. The easiest way to get here is to take the subway to St. George station. From there, its a 5-minute walk to the ROM.
9. Bata Shoe Museum
The Bata is one of my personal favourite museums of all time. Its a museum about history, different cultures and civilizations from the beginning of human time until now – but focused just on their footwear. Its surprising how much you can learn about a culture or society through what they wear on their feet. Their shoes say so much about their lifestyle, interests and priorities. I enjoyed coming here as a child, and I still enjoy it as an adult, with my own children.
Bata Shoe Museum Address and How to Get Here with Kids
The Bata Shoe museum is located at 327 Bloor St W, Toronto. The easiest way to get here is to take the subway to St. George station. From there, its a 1-minute walk to the museum.
10. Black Creek Pioneer Village
Like the ROM, Black Creek Pioneer Village is also very popular for school field trips and tourists alike. At Blackcreek, you can learn all about life in a past era; how pioneers lived and worked, and how they made everything from scratch. There are houses, a church, farms, parks – its set up to look exactly like a typical pioneering town. A walk through Blackcreek doesn’t seem like its Toronto, because it has such a rural and small town feel to it.
Black Creek Address and How to Get Here with Kids
Blackcreek Pioneer Village is located at 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy, Toronto. You’ll need to pay extra to park here. You can also take the subway to Pioneer Village. From there, its about a 15 minute walk to Black Creek.
11. Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo has botanic gardens, aquariums, and exhibits from 7 different geographic regions. There are some indoor areas with aquariums, reptiles, and insects. Outdoor exhibits include elephants, tigers, lions, hippos, polar bears among others. You could probably get through the zoo in just a few hours, however, if you have younger kids, it could be longer, with more breaks and stops needed. I would budget a full day for the zoo. Avoid the peak hours (11 am – 3 pm) by going early.
Toronto Zoo Address and How to Get Here with Kids
The Toronto Zoo is located at 2000 Meadowvale Rd, Toronto. You can drive, but it will cost an extra $15 to park. To get to the Toronto Zoo via TTC, take the subway either to Don Mills, Kennedy or Rouge Hill station. From there, there are buses that service the Toronto Zoo
Pro Tip: Looking for a smaller zoo? Jungle Cat World is just an hour east of Toronto
12. Science Centre
Growing up, we always went to the Science Centre for field trips, and to this day – the science centre is still a popular field trip destination, and there’s a reason for that – its so engaging for kids, and maybe even more so, for adults.
Science Centre Address and How to Get Here with Kids
The science Centre is located in the northeast of Toronto. A Science Centre station for public transit is in the works, but isn’t finished being built yet. The easiest way to get here is to drive, or go to the Eglington subway station and take the # 34 Eglington East bus.
FREE Things To Do in Toronto that are Kid-Friendly
Here are some more things to do in Toronto with kids – the only difference is that these are free activities
13. Nathan Phillips Square – Old City Hall and the famous ‘TORONTO’ Sign
You’ll definitely want to get your family and kid photos in front of the Toronto sign. Nathan Phillip’s Square is a festive place during the Christmas season, as it turns into an ice rink for public skating, its all lit up and beautiful at night, and there’s also a Christmas market. During the rest of the year, the rink is gone, but its still a nice place to visit and get some fun photos. Regardless of the time of year, the sign is always lit up at night.
Address and How to Get Here with Kids
Nathan Phillip’s Square is located at 100 Queen st. West. Take the TTC to Queen St. West, and from there its a 1-minute walk to the square.
14. Burn off some energy at the parks
There are hundreds of parks in Toronto to stop and take a break in. There are playgrounds, fountains, hiking trails, benches, ponds, courtyards, gardens, and large mature trees so you can cool off on a hot day. One of my favourite parks in Toronto is called Berczy Park, because it has a fountain with a bunch of dogs – kids will get a kick out of that.
Berczy Park is also right across from the St. Lawrence Market, so its a nice pit stop with kids while you’re there!
Address and How to Get Here with Kids
Berczy Park in Toronto is located at 35 Wellington St. E. For a full list of Toronto’s parks and playgrounds, click here.
15. Distillery District
Visit the Distillery District, an enclosed, car-free Victorian-era neighbourhood in Toronto’s east end, for a glimpse into Toronto’s history. We are so lucky to have this little gem downtown because there’s been a lot of urbanization surrounding it, but the Distillery District has been declared a historic site and has been protected since the 1970s.
Inside you’ll find cobblestone streets, lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. Check out Bergo Designs, a unique store where you can find imaginative toys for children, and some useful and interesting finds for adults too. We can never visit the Distillery District without going into this store.
Our personal favourite restaurant in the Distillery District (especially for going there with kids) is Mill st. Brewery – either the pub, or the beer hall. Their menu is extensive, with something to please everyone -vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, and kid’s items. The food’s always delicious.
Address and How to Get Here with Kids
The best way to get to the Distillery District with kids is to take the TTC to Union station, board the 504 King street East streetcar, and then ride it to the Distillery Loop.
16. Dundas Square and The Eaton’s Centre
Dundas Square is like Toronto’s mini version of Times Square in New York. With big screens, street vendors, community celebrations, and concerts, there’s a lot to look at in this completely accessible public space. Visit the calendar to see whats happening during your visit.
Dundas Square is right beside Eaton’s Centre, which is the largest mall in Canada, and a tourist attraction in itself. Four floors, and 235 stores!
You can get right into the subway from the Eaton Centre. I would walk around Dundas square first and see if anything interests you, and then head into the mall after.
Address and How to Get Here with Kids:
Dundas Square is located at 1 Dundas Street East, Toronto. To get to Dundas square/the Eaton Centre, take the subway line and get off at Dundas.
17. Admire the street art and colours at Kensington Market
Despite the name, Kensington isn’t so much a market, but more of a neighbourhood – and a personal favourite of mine! Kensington is a small, walkable district downtown with a very bohemian vibe. You’ll see colourful buildings, graffiti and artwork, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and specialty grocers. It draws foodies, students, artists and tourists.
Parents and kids will both be intrigued by a walk-through here, at all the art painted on the buildings, the markets spilling into the streets and the colourful buildings. It feels like a separate little community from the rest of Toronto.
Check out the Blue Banana Market for cool gadgets, and unique, useful gifts. Drop into Bunner’s for a sweet treat! There are also of ethnic restaurants in the Kensington market; Mexican, Indian and Vietnamese.
Kensington Market Address and How to Get Here
There are a few subway stations that could bring you to the Kensington Market, but the closest one is Spadina station. From there, take the 510 Streetcar heading south, get off at Baldwin street, and then continue walking west to the market.
Pro Tip: Kensington Market is right beside Chinatown, so its very easy to check them both out in an afternoon by foot.
Chinatown is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Toronto, and like Kensington, it’s always nice for a walk-through. In Toronto’s Chinatown, you’ll find markets pouring into the streets selling fruits, vegetables, clothing, and purses, Chinese restaurants and many food stands. You can easily walk into Chinatown if you’re already in the Kensington market.
Toronto Chinatown Address and How to Get Here with Kids:
If you’re not already in Kensington market, then you can still take public transit to Chinatown. Take the subway to St. Patrick’s station, and then walk two blocks along Dundas West street.
19. St. Lawrence Market
St. Lawrence Market is a completely indoor market in a large historic building in downtown Toronto on Front and Market street. The building itself was Toronto’s City Hall and Jail in the late 1800s. It has been a market since, originally focusing more on meat, but now it has a variety of food and other items.
The lower floor has food items as well, but also some souvenir shops. You’ll see several aisles with stalls and vendors. On the upper floor, you’ll find all the vendors selling food products – fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. There are hundreds of food vendors to choose from.
Good to know: The top floor is accessible by elevator, so the St. Lawrence Market is completely stroller friendly.
Something important to keep in mind – all vendors at St. Lawrence Market accept cash, but they may not all take credit cards or debit cards. St. Lawrence market is open from 9 am – 7 pm Tuesday to Friday, Saturday 7 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.
Where to Stay in Toronto with Kids
The easiest place to stay in Toronto with kids is in one of the hotels near Union Station. Union station is located in the Business District (pictured below) and from there you can walk to many of the attractions mentioned above – the harbour front, St. Lawrence Market, Hockey Hall of Fame, CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, and more.
When you’re close to Union Station, you can also get anywhere in the city easily, and you have access to trains and buses that take you to destinations outside of the city.
Where to Eat in Toronto With Kids
Toronto, being the most multicultural city in the world, is home to some of the most diverse, ethnic food you’ll find, as well as mainstream North American eats.
If you’re visiting Toronto as a tourist, you’ll be mainly staying in the downtown area, and there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants there. Not all of them have kids menus (most restaurants don’t have kids menus unless its a chain) however, the restaurants on that link have been selected for their great options for kids, and having family-friendly accommodations, like high chairs.
One of the most popular places to visit with kids in Toronto is the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. These two attractions are right beside each other, and there are a hand full of family-friendly restaurants to eat within a 5-minute walk of them.
Day Trips from Toronto with Kids
Toronto’s a large city, but there are so many great day-trips that allow you to spend time in nature.
Here are some day-trips you could consider taking from Toronto with kids:
- The most obvious one is Niagara Falls; its practically geared to kids, and great for any age.
- Algonquin Provincial Park, largest piece of protected land in Ontario. If you go to Algonquin in fall, you’re in for a real treat!
- Many Torontonians enjoy heading up to the Bruce Peninsula with their kids, to visit Tobermory, which is a great adult holiday, but suitable for kids and babies as well. From Tobermory, you can take the ferry to Manitoulin Island – great for camping, or sightseeing.
- Many people enjoy escaping the city to go hiking in Forks of the Credit, or Algonquin Provincial Park, which is especially beautiful in fall
- Muskoka is our ‘cottage country’, popular in the summer. You can rent cottages, visit small quaint towns, or check out the artist Screaming Heads (its not as scary as it sounds)
- If you enjoyed the Toronto Zoo, and want to see more animals, you could consider the African Lion Safari
How to Get Around Toronto with Kids
The downtown core of Toronto is very walkable, but its a fairly big city stretching 43 km (26.5 miles) from east to west. Here are the best ways to navigate getting around Toronto with kids
Use Toronto’s convenient UP Express train to get to or from the airport right to the downtown area in 20 minutes. This is a long awaited, affordable train is a game-changer for getting into the city quickly right after you land.
The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) includes the subway and streetcars . Its efficient and easy to use. If you plan to visit Toronto frequently, then its worth it to have your own Presto card. You can also get day passes to use the TTC, which are $13.50 for an adult, or monthly passes.
In order to ride the TTC, you need to find one of these machines that you see above at any subway station, and follow the self-directed prompts to get either a Presto card or a pass. If you’re getting a Presto card, you’ll be asked how much money you’d like to load onto it. Keep in mind that a one way trip is $3.20.
If you’re only buying a single ride, or a day pass, then you’ll be given a small white card that you’ll need to keep safe, because you’ll need to scan it every time you want to ride the TTC (whether its the subway or a streetcar.)
The subway stations are stroller friendly. They often have flights of stairs, but there’s always an elevator option too. If you take the subway to any given place, then you have a free transfer onto the streetcar if you need to use one.
There are several taxi companies in Toronto, however Uber is also widely used and is cheaper than paying for a taxi.
Toronto’s neighbourhoods are walkable, and stroller friendly. It would not be feasible to try to see all of Toronto by foot, especially not with small children; but if you organize your stay, you could clump activities together that are close to each other so that you can walk between them.
Conclusion: Is Toronto a Kid-Friendly City?
Toronto is a kid-friendly city, because its stroller friendly, relatively safe, with many engaging activities for kids and adults. There are so many activities and attractions in Toronto that would appeal to the whole family, which provides lots of opportunities to have fun, learn new things and bond as a family.