If you can’t make it to the North Pole this year, there’s plenty of fun going on in the city to keep the kids entertained. From outdoor excursions to keep them moving, to indoor activities that are sneakily educational, get them engaged and unplugged… at least for a little while.
Visit High Park
1873 Bloor St. W.
The crown jewel of Toronto parks, the kids could spend an entire day exploring one of the many trails, nature walks and play areas including the legendary Jamie Bell Adventure Playground. Plus, there’s a zoo which is open year-round, an ice skating rink and a tobogganing hill located at Howard Park and Parkside Drive.
Drive through an art exhibit
Ontario Place, 955 Lakeshore Blvd. W.
Inspired by fire, ice and light, Snow Magic is a drive thru art exhibit running until Jan. 16, featuring 18 fantastical art works created by some of Canada’s most acclaimed artists. Mythical creatures, crystal caves and a forest of light will dazzle the kids, while state of the art pyrotechnics and a soundscape especially created for the show is available through your car’s radio.
Bundle up and get ready for an epic adventure at one of the many hills around Toronto. There are plenty of kid-friendly slopes for every skill level, including the hills at Trinity Bellwoods (790 Queen St. W.), Withrow Park (725 Logan Ave.) and Bickford Parks and Christie Pits (400 Grace St. & 750 Bloor St. W.).
Tour a museum
Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park
Explore the ancient worlds of Greece, Rome and Egypt, feast your eyes on rare and exquisite jewellery in the gem vault or get nose-to-nose with dinosaurs both big and small when you pay a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) this holiday season. Featuring more than 25 galleries for the little ones to check out including the brand new Willner Madge Gallery, Dawn of Life, showcasing nearly 1,000 fossil specimen.
Get your glide on
The skating season is in full-swing, so lace up and visit one of the number of rinks and trails peppered around the city. The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd.), features a 220-metre loop just under the Gardiner Expressway. Lessons and refreshments are also available (yum, hot chocolate!), while the ice rink and skating trail at Dieppe Park (455 Cosburn Ave.) is a popular destination for beginners.
Visit the castle
Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace
For your budding prince or princess, Casa Loma’s Holiday Light Tour runs until Dec. 30 and will see the castle transformed into a dazzling spectacle of lights. Designed as a self-guided tour, guests can wander the property’s grounds including the gardens and tunnels, all while enjoying live performances and activities.
Peruse a market
The Distillery District, 55 Mill St.
Until Dec. 31, visit the historic Distillery District for Winter Village, a holiday market unlike any other in the city. Full of truly picture-perfect moments including a 55-foot Christmas tree decorated with more than 60,000 lights and the LOVE Locks wall, the market will also feature eight vendor and 12 food cabins sure to please even the pickiest palette.
Take a hike
Surprisingly, Toronto has a ton of hiking trails located around the city. Add a little snow, and the trails become more magical. Make sure to start small (1-2 km), layer up and don’t forget to pack the snacks. Tommy Thompson Park (1 Leslie St.) features 10 km of paved trails for walking and cycling, while Cedarville Park (443 Arlington Ave.) is a huge urban green space to take in some nature in the heart of the city.
Smell some flowers
Allen Garden Conservatory, 19 Horticulture Ave.
Thousands of flowering plants and more than 30 varieties of poinsettia are on display at this free show happening at Allen Garden Conservatory until Jan. 9. The indoor botanical garden also features six greenhouses including colourful blooms and lush plants from around the world.
Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd.
Explore a ton of exhibitions, including learning about 80,000 years of the Earth’s icy history with Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages or check out Life of the Earth | Death of the Sun, a massive, immersive multimedia work on now at the Science Centre. There’s also an impressive roster of IMAX Films, live demos and a learn-through-play space where even the youngest science enthusiasts can participate.