As one of Canada’s major cities, it’s no surprise that Toronto has a huge variety of things to see and do for both kids and teenagers. Air Canada’s Ireland Sales Manager Bláithín O’Donnell recently visited Toronto with her husband Ed and two daughters Róisín and Órla, then aged 12 and nine, and has shared her recommended things to do with kids and teenagers alike.
Bláithín and her family flew to Toronto with Air Canada. Air Canada flies year-round from Dublin to Toronto, but also operates seasonal services with flights from Dublin to Vancouver and Dublin to Montreal from May to October. Air Canada has many helpful policies for families including free advanced seat selection, onboard kids’ activity packs, kids’ and infants’ meals, entertainment systems with kids’ movies and programs and much more. See aircanada.com for more information.
In terms of getting from the airport to downtown Toronto, Bláithín recommends the UP Express connecting Toronto Pearson Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto. An adult fare is just over CAD$12 one way, while kids under 12 are free. A Family ticket for two adults and two teens is just under CAD$26. You can buy tickets online in advance or at the station. See upexpress.com for more information.
Things to see and do
The CN Tower is 553.3 meters tall and makes for a great observation point of the city. Be sure to book ahead online and skip the long queues for the CN Tower if you are travelling in peak summer months. If you have any adrenaline junkie teens you can also book the EdgeWalk which is the hands-free walk (with safety harnesses) on a ledge outside the CN Tower, but it may not be for the faint hearted! You can book great value combination and family tickets for The CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium, which is just beside the tower. The Toronto CityPASS includes both attractions and three other attractions – Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma and either the Ontario Science Centre or Toronto Zoo. Ticket prices start from CAD$38 for adults and CAD$28 for kids under 12. Cost of the EdgeWalk is CAD$195 plus tax and you must be aged 13 or over. See cntower.ca for more information. For more information on the Official Toronto CityPASS, see citypass.com/Toronto.
Take a day trip to Toronto Island in Lake Ontario from the Ferry Terminal on Queen’s Quay. Ferries run every 15 minutes during the peak daytime period. The journey is only 15 minutes long and ferry boats go to three different islands – Centre Island, Hanlan’s Island and Ward’s Island. The islands are all connected, so you can walk from one to another. There are great views of the Toronto skyline from the island, and the main attractions and majority of children’s‘ activities are on Centre Island. You can rent a bike on the island and cycle around easily but it’s also small enough to walk around. There are sandy beaches, a few cafes and of course the amusement park, Centreville Park. Lots of families take a picnic so stock up downtown in your favourite deli before you hop on the ferry. Tickets at the Queen’s Quay Ferry Terminal available for CAD$8 return for adults and CAD$4 for children under the age of 14. For more information see torontoisland.com. For tickets and information on Centreville Park, see centreisland.ca.
For kids and teens that can’t get enough of rollercoasters, thrilling rides and aquatic attractions, Canada’s Wonderland is the place for them. Located in Vaughan, a suburb 45km north of downtown Toronto, this is a perfect day trip. New for 2019 is the Yukon Striker ride which will be the world’s fastest, longest, tallest dive coaster. Complete with areas for younger kids and on-site dining options, it is certainly a must visit. For more information see canadaswonderland.com
Right behind Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport in downtown Toronto, on the aptly named Eireann Quay, is Ireland Park. The park houses the sister statues to those on Dublin’s quayside depicting the famine in Ireland. The statues look out onto Toronto’s skyline and symbolise the hope of the newly arrived immigrants. The statues in Toronto are named The Arrival and depict the arrival of those who left Ireland during the famine years. Many visiting families have interesting conversations about famine, emigration and Ireland’s historic and current connections with North America. For more information see irelandparkfoundation.com.
Book ahead if you want to get tickets for a Blue Jay’s game, Toronto’s home baseball team at the Rogers Centre. The Maple Leafs, Toronto’s ice hockey team (or just hockey to Canadians) at the Scotiabank Arena is also a popular option. You can book single event tickets for these games on ticketmaster.com.
Food and dining
Toronto is a foodie lover’s heaven. With districts like Chinatown, Greektown and Little Italy, your kids and teens will have plenty to choose from in terms of cuisine. For quick snacks and coffee to keep the jet lag at bay, Canadian institution Tim Horton’s are on every few streets in Toronto. Your kids will love the mini Timbits donuts sold here. Although a Quebec dish, there are plenty of places to sample Poutine – that’s chips with cheese curds and gravy to you and me. Don’t forget to have a slap–up Canadian breakfast or brunch in a diner. Sunset grill has a few locations in Toronto and the portions are huge so come with an empty stomach. For fussy kids and teens or families with different tastes try the Marché Mövenpick restaurant at Brookfield Place. In addition, St Lawrence Market is great for picking up snacks and seasonal food for a picnic on Toronto Island, but bear in mind that the market is closed Mondays.
Trips out of Toronto
A trip to Toronto wouldn’t be complete without experiencing Niagara Falls. You can take a day trip to the falls, as it is approximately a two-hour drive from downtown, but most families will spend a night or two there or nearby. It is best to get to the falls early to beat the queues. Thrill seeking teens can even go zip-lining by the falls. If you have a car you can stay in one of the many hotels in the Niagara region. The Hilton Garden Inn Niagara on the lake is only a 15-minute drive from the falls and is within throwing distance of the Niagara shopping outlet. Don’t forget to try out the old-fashioned bakeries and ice cream shops in Niagara on the Lake, a quaint historic town and there is also a branch of Sunset Grill here. To plan your trip, view combination passes and for more information see niagarafallstourism.com.
The great Canadian outdoors
If your kids and teens are nature lovers, they will want to experience the Canadian wilderness. Canada has a vast network of national parks and Canadians love to get outdoors on the weekends and holidays. One of the most popular ones is Algonquin, a three-hour drive from Toronto. You’ll want to spend a few days here to take in all the park has on offer. Why not stay in a log cabin resort and go canoeing or hiking? There are three lodges in the park you can stay in which are well worth looking in to. For more information on Algonquin see algonquinpark.on.ca.