Chillin' in the City: A Toddler's Guide to Fun in the GTA!
When you live in the big city, there are many attractions and places to enjoy. There are a million different places to find fun on any given afternoon or weekend. But what's a toddler to do in this concrete jungle? It can be overwhelming to find the right activity for your wee one... But rest assured, some major attractions have thought of the little ones!
Fun at Major Attractions
CENTREVILLE AMUSEMENT PARK
Centreville, located on the Toronto Islands, is a natural destination for a day trip, especially with younger children in tow. With over 30 rides and attractions, this theme park is a feast of rides for little ones. The majority of the park is dedicated youngsters, keeping them entertained for the entire day - from dry land rides to water rides. There are cars, fire engines, carousels, boats, bumble bees, tea cups, etc. In fact, kids can go on most of the rides by themselves (but adults can ride too). When on the Islands, don't forget to check out the Franklin Children's Garden inspired by Franklin - our favourite Turtle and star of the best-selling books by author Paulette Bourgeois and illustrator Brenda Clark.
Good to Know: Entry to the park is free. You can purchase pay-as-you go tickets for the rides or all day play passes at Centreville. The Franklin Children's Garden is free. You must take the Toronto Islands Ferry to get to the Park and kids under 2 years ride for free.
Fantasy Fair is an indoor haven for kids who love amusements parks. No sunscreen required here! If it's too hot for your little ones, take refuge in Ontario's largest indoor amusement park, located at the Woodbine Shopping Centre. There will be lots to keep them occupied there!
Good to Know: Most rides are kid-friendly though some height restrictions apply so it's best to check their website for ride appropriateness. Parents can ride along kids who are under 36". The Playvillage which is a giant play structure - the highlight of the park - accepts all kids under 60". Adult supervision is required. Entry to the amusement park is free. You can purchase pay-as-you go tickets for the rides or all day play passes which are priced according to the child's height.
KIDSPARK AT ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE
You can't beat a day at Kidspark! It's for all those budding scientists who love to conduct all kinds of experiments and get their tiny hands into everything! This space was specially designed for kids eight and under to enjoy with their parents or caregivers. You can splish, splash, drip, bubble, ripple, and pour in their water play area, build a roller coaster and float balls in mid-air, go shopping at the market, perform in a music studio, cook a make-believe meal in a mini-kitchen, put on a puppet show, llisten to a story in the reading room, and more! Visit the Ontario Science Centre website for frequent workshops and special activities in the Kidspark area - designed just for little ones!
Good to Know: Full amenities for babies and tots. There are baby/toddler friendly washrooms (everything is miniaturized!) and a rest area for babies. Strollers are accepted. Children 2 and under admitted free.
Younger children love to splash too. The Tiny Tots Splash Park at Fallsview Waterpark is their chance to enjoy water streams, mushroom water pods, kiddie slides, soakers, and more. Then head up to the second floor for another dry option, the Jungle Beach Playland. Travel through the jungle and reach the top of the playland to get a great view of the waterpark. Children must be less than 48" in height to enter.
Good to Know: Children under 2 years of age are admitted free. All children who are not toilet trained must wear swim diapers. Swim diapers are available for free at the Guest Services desk. A parent or guardian must supervise toddlers at all time. If you are a hotel guest, beach balls and life jackets are available at no charge.
KIDS ZOO AT TORONTO ZOO
The Toronto Zoo features a Kids Zoo designed for younger children. Enjoy close up encounters with storybook domestic animals like pigs, miniature horses, goats, birds, and skunks! Burrow through a prairie dog tunnel and go nose to nose with the furry inhabitants! Explore a giant aviary, home to wild birds and animals. Dig for dinosaur bones. See the world from the inside of a turtle egg. Play in our two-storey treehouse, swoop down a giant slide, and much more! The Splash Pad is also close by for toddlers to enjoy.
Good to Know: The Toronto Zoo offers a Family Center - a private area for feeding and changing babies. A registered nurse is onsite to help with first aid. Children ages 2 and younger are admitted to the Zoo for free.
AFRICAN LION SAFARI
At African Lion Safari, children can monkey around in the Jungle Playground which features a designated Toddlers' Play Area. Then, kids can cool down in the Misumu Bay Wet Play area. Adult supervision is required.
Good to Know: Stroller rentals are available for a nominal fee - limited numbers are available so rentals are on a first come first served basis. There is a nursing mother facility and first aid care. Children 2 and under are admitted free.
Planet Snoopy is the place to be! The world's most popular beagle and his friends welcome kids of all ages to new rides, daily character meet-and-greets, and live entertainment! Featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, and Linus, Planet Snoopy allows little riders to fly, whirl, dive, and swoop through brand new attractions including the Peanuts 500, Snoopy's Revolution, and Lucy's Tugboat. Younger tots can ceck out KidZville with toddler friendly rides, brightly coloured buildings, and family-friendly restaurants. Plus, enjoy the Town Square and the Maze.
Good to Know: Baby bottles can be warmed up in most of their restaurants as well as their Baby Care Centres located in Kidzville and Medieval Faire. Diaper changing areas and/or family restrooms are also available in the park. Strollers are available for a one-day rental at the Rental Centre located inside the Front Gate. Rentals are on a first come first served basis. Children under the age of 3 do not require an admission ticket.
Some of Our Other Favourite Urban-Style Adventures for Tots!
Keep an eye out for smaller, local, or lesser-known museums in your community, which might not be as intimidating for small children (and usually offer more affordable or even free admission). "Please touch" exhibits are especially child friendly. Call museums ahead and find out if they have activities that are appropriate for toddlers.
Splash Pads and Waterparks
It's a known fact that toddlers love water. Your community park will likely offer a wading pool or splash pad for toddlers. Or, take your toddler to a waterpark to experience some major water thrills! Fear not, most waterparks have designated sections for toddlers. Get the list of splash pads in the GTA.
Playgrounds and Parks
Even the biggest urban jungles have a patch of grass somewhere! Check out your city's or town's website for popular green spaces and playgrounds, then plan a day outing or a picnic! Most parks will be listed along with all their amenities.
Zoos and Petting Zoos
The best way to educate a toddler about nature is taking them to a zoo or petting zoo where they can get up close and personal with animals. At a petting zoo, you might even get the opportunity to feed the animals!
Farms can be wonderful, enriching places for children to visit. Definitely a great hang out for toddlers. Farms have animals to see, playgrounds with slides and swings, haystacks to jump in... Most often, you can take part in educational activities such as milking cows or watching sheep sheering. Remember to wash your toddlers' hands after touching the animals! Far Enough Farm and Riverdale Farm are two great bets for toddlers and both are free.
Did we miss a great toddler outing? Tell us about it and we'll add it to this article!