With many fun adventures to choose from – from riding an elevator to the top of the tallest freestanding structure in the world to petting a friendly shark – Toronto makes for a great long weekend family escape. As Canada’s largest city and cultural and entertainment hub, there is no shortage of things to do. Here are six must-dos for families visiting our northern neighbor.
Pet a Shark at Ripley’s Aquarium. More than 16,000 marine animals live in this brand new 135,000-square-foot aquarium at the base of the CN Tower. This is your chance to get up close and personal with marine life: pet a friendly shark, watch jellyfish magically change colors, and crawl through an “underwater” tube where you’re surrounded by sea life. Be sure to catch one of the live shows at the Ray Bay and Rainbow Reef, where a diver inside the habitat and an educator outside the habitat provide a great opportunity to learn more about the animals in each area and their care. Check the daily program calendar for show times.
Tour Toronto by Double-Decker Bus. One of the best ways to acquaint yourself with Toronto is by hopping on a double-decker bus tour with Toronto City Sightseeing (Tel. (416) 410.0536) You’ll enjoy fun and informative commentary with a live guide aboard an antique British double-decker. Hop on and off at 21 official stops and explore Toronto at your own pace. Your pass will be valid for 3 consecutive days.
Indulge in Poutine. Poutine is perhaps Canada’s most iconic dish and the ultimate comfort food. Savory french fries topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds will fill both your belly and your soul. Pay a visit to Poutini’s House of Poutine (1112 Queen West West), where you’ll find a variety of inspired poutines: from Vegan Poutine to Bacon Poutine, there’s a poutine to fit the tastes of everyone in your family.
Zoom up to the Top of the CN Tower. The CN Tower defines the Toronto skyline. Ride the elevator to the top and under ideal conditions you’ll be able to see 100 miles away to Niagara Falls and New York State. The CN Tower is also now home to one of the biggest urban adventures in the world, EdgeWalk: Participants are whisked 116 stories off the ground via elevator, where they don orange jumpsuits and bright yellow harnesses and walk, hands-free, along the edge of the CN Tower, 1,136 feet above the ground. Edge walkers must be at least 13 years of age.
Enjoy an Acoustic Brunch at the Gladstone Hotel. The Gladstone Hotel is an art-focused, historic boutique hotel, centered in funky West Queen West neighborhood. Every Sunday the hotel’s hip Melody Bar features an Acoustic Family Brunch from 10am to 2pm. Dine on pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon – all the best brunch fixins’ – while you enjoy some of the finest bluegrass musicians in town at a kid-friendly volume. Dancing encouraged!
Meet the Pandas. The Toronto Zoo is Canada’s premier zoo, known for its interactive education and conservation activities. Divided into seven geographic regions, you’ll find animals both indoors in tropical pavilions and outdoors in naturalistic environments. Explore the Discovery Zone, featuring the Kids Zoo, a dynamic and interactive children’s wildlife experience. Don’t forget to say hello to the zoo’s two latest guests from China: Er Shun and Da Mao are a delightful panda duo that you can meet and greet at the state-of-the-art Panda Interpretive Center.
Where to Stay We stayed at the centrally located Eaton Chelsea, where the magnificent views and comfy beds suited our family perfectly. The kids especially loved the Eaton Chelsea’s Family Fun Zone, which features an indoor family pool and a 130 ft. corkscrew waterslide. Check out the in-hotel restaurant, Market Garden, for a quick and healthy breakfast.
For more information on travel to Toronto, visit seetorontonow.com.