With some time left in summer, here’s a guide to get the most out of those precious weeks with your little ones, toddlers and infants.
Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester Street)
Riverdale Farm is free and open from January to December so it’s worth checking out. There are ample activities for little ones whether it’s the multi-level Francey Barn, the pig and poultry barn, or the duck pond. There are also summer camps available for a variety of ages. It’s refreshing to see something so rustic in the midst of such a bustling metropolis.
Regent Park Aquatic Centre (640 Dundas Street East)
Although this writer still prefers using his inflatable water wings in the shallow end of pools, the Regent Park Aquatic Centre is the place for small children and swimming. There are several levels for young children, with “preschool swim” divvied up from Penguin and Stingray through to slightly more advanced levels like Otter and Dolphin. There are also preschool “leisure swim” classes available a few times each week.
High Park (1873 Bloor Street West)
High Park contains a train ride and a zoo, giving toddlers plenty of stimulus and fun. Yet as great as those two assets are, the biggest draw for youngsters would be the Jamie Bell Adventure Park, dubbed the “largest outdoor playground in Ontario.” The zoo is also a plus, although feeding the animals is definitely frowned upon.
Little Faces, Little Feet (183 Avenue Road)
This Toronto institute has been going for almost four decades now, and like its core audience, still has boundless energy. Whether piano classes, field trips or any other activity mixing fun and learning, Little Faces, Little Feet knows what works. Pre-kindergarten, junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten schedules and classes are available. According to its site, the teachers combined speak nine languages making it like the United Nations (of toddlers).
Sproutkids (183 Carlaw Ave.)
Sproutkids is another highly effective, smoothly-run site for ones full of energy. From a large-sized playground area which is safe and secure to a “Budding Sprouts” program for preschoolers, Sproutkids enables little ones to be “given the gift of time to gain confidence and become independent learners and thinkers. Programs include a “Move Baby” and “Baby Gym” depending on age to a “Mommy & Me Ballet.”
Kidstown — Water Park (3159 Birchmount Road)
Scarborough’s Kidstown is home to plenty of cooling off areas with its water park. While there are plenty of activities for the entire family, little ones can enjoy ample spots around the site. From spray rings and splash pads to “squirting aquatic animals,” there is more than enough here to keep your preschoolers cool and happy.
Fun With Music Together (multiple Toronto locations)
Fun With Music Together has eight locations around the GTA devoted to music, fun, and learning infants and toddlers. They learn basic things like clapping and chanting, with their parents with them every step of the way. The parent/child dynamic makes for a relaxing and entertaining atmosphere in groups anywhere from six to 12 youngsters.
Toddler Town (CNE, Exhibition Place)
It might be known for its rides and ridiculously-sized plush dolls but the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) will have lots of things for preschoolers and little ones to do at Toddler Town. This year’s version includes a Kids’ World as well as an array of stage shows by the likes of Barney and Dora The Explorer. Oh and kids under 13 get in for $2 Aug. 24 and Aug. 31!
Stars And Strollers (Various Cinemas)
The humidity and heat might not be continuous, but for those days you and your little guy or gal need to stay cool, you could do far worse than this growing trend at Cineplex cinemas. With eight new movies each month devoted to parents and their infants or toddlers, Stars and Strollers cater to an important demographic. The “baby-friendly” environment includes changing tables and reduced volumes.
Buskerfest (Various Toronto locations)
This year’s Buskerfest features a family zone for the first time between College and Gerrard streets. Other youngsters can enjoy daily workshops, face painting, balloon creations and a myriad of buskers all for free!
(Photo by Wayne Silver via Flickr)