Having little ones, we love day trips, especially ones that are off the beaten track. Things that are unique and fun, but are also less busy than a lot of the more publicized venues. Instead of keeping this list of unique attractions across Ontario to myself, I’m sharing it so you can have a great time, too! Whether you’re planning a family trip or you’re a local looking to keep the gang entertained, here are the best things to do with kids in Ontario.
Remember to check online before you go for any promos, coupons or other discounts to maximize your savings. Attractions Ontario is a great site for discounts & coupons on various activities throughout Ontario! Off we go…
Best Places to Stay in the Toronto, Ontario Area
The hotel choices, even with kids, is practically endless throughout Ontario. If you’re looking to add to your hotel reward points (free hotel room for another trip w out the kiddos?), the Bisha Hotel has a floor designed by Kravitz Designs (hello, Lenny Kravitz!). If you are looking for urban with water views, check out the Delta Hotels and the Harbour Castle.
If no hotel is kid-friendly enough for you, and you need your own house or apartment (mini kitchen? kids get their own bedroom?), Airbnb has some of our all-time favorite spots. The area is vast, so get recs on which specific area you want to spend the night (or one per night). You can stay at the cutest pine cabin in Bracebridge or a box car cottage in Utopia or a 6 bedroom cottage in Innisfil.
How to Get Around Ontario
You can certainly walk around downtown Toronto, especially if you’re staying in the city center, but to day trip around the region you’ll be needing a car. Hertz has pickup locations at the airport and also throughout the city.
Best Experiences in the Toronto Area for Kids
We know you used to enjoy exploring cities at your leisure, but let’s be realistic and accept that you’re with kids and kids need a plan. Put down their tech devices (and yours) and plan a few special experiences that are unique to the region. Everything from a cultural walking tour of Toronto to an animal therapy camp in Utopia to an artisanal 16-course gelato tasting can be booked beforehand.
Region by Region
Windsor Wood Carving Museum in Windsor – Check out this museum’s Kids’ Club for kids 4 years old – 12 years of age! Kids can do all sorts of wood crafts, soap carving, and learn about working with wood. They also tailor a number of activities to reflect the current season. Visits are organized by appointment and admission is via donation.
Windsor Sculpture Park in Windsor – Touring this year-round attraction will leave you in awe as you explore the sculptured animals, dinosaurs and contemporary works of art in this outdoor environment. And the best part? Admission is free to all!
Stones ‘N Bones in Sarnia – You and the kids can explore this exhibition of everything from dinosaurs to gemstones to butterflies and mounted wildlife. You will find artifacts, RCMP memorabilia and a host of other things. Enjoy the museum scavenger hunt that can be printed off ahead of time from home and then put into action upon arrival! Admission for adults is $6 and $3 for children under 12 years of age.
Bingeman’s Funworx Indoor Playground in Kitchener – This indoor playground is huge and has 3 levels! It’s awesome not only for toddlers but also for school-aged kids up to 12 years of age. Admission is $9.95 per child 2 years-12 years and $4.95 for a child under 2 years. If you have a paying sibling, the child under 2 years old is free. Adults are also free.
Snyder’s Farm in Kitchener – This family farm is sure to be a hit with anyone of any age! The best time to visit this venue is in the fall. They have a gigantic corn maze, pumpkin picking, a petting zoo, a train ride around the farm, haunted houses, a straw castle, bouncy castles, a barnyard theatre, mini golf and a whole heck of a lot more! Admission for children ages 3 -12 years, as well as seniors, is $12. Adults are $14, and children 2 years old and under are free.
Storybook Gardens in London – This attraction has been around since 1958 and has something for everyone. Its beautiful gardens are surrounded by a number of activities for kids 2 years and up. The admission price per person 2 years and over is $7.25 each. Children under 2 are free. (Off times are cheaper!) Admission covers all the playground structures, trampoline, the mini village, Old McDonald’s Farm, the splash pad and a myriad of other interactive play areas. There are carnival type rides there as well, which are not included in the entrance fee. Tickets for the rides are $2 each and each ride takes 1 ticket. Check ahead to make sure that rides are open the day you plan to go. During winter months, their little creek is used as a skating trail!
WEST GREATER TORONTO AREA
Wildhagen Greenhouses in Milton – This place is great for younger ones! It features a number of life-sized mossed animals, a play area that includes a Mr. Potato Head section, a stuff animal dog grooming center, a grocery store/market play area, a scavenger hunt, a miniature train and a whole lot more! Admission for kids ages 2-12 years old is $7.99. Visitors 13 years and up is $5. Kids under 2 are free.
Halton County Radial Railway in Milton – Admission to this seasonal historic railway includes unlimited rides on their streetcar trains that chug along 2kms of track. There is a huge trainyard with a variety of old train relics and subway cars. You will find barns which house old fashioned displays like train stations, and an ice cream shop. Kids who adore Thomas the Tank Engine will love this place! If you’re lucky, the conductor will even let your child ding the train bell! Tickets to the Halton County Radial Railway are $13 for adults, $11.50 for seniors and $10 for kids ages 4-17 years old. Children 3 years and under are free.
Chinguacousy Park in Brampton – This free park has beautiful grounds, a large petting zoo, a number of picnic areas, playgrounds and a splash pad! You will also find a tropical greenhouse, paddleboat rentals, mini golf and a slew of other things to do. There are winter activities like tubing here too! (Some fees apply for things like tubing, paddleboat rentals, mini golf, etc)
iFly Toronto in Oakville – This experience is not for the faint of heart, or for those who are afraid of heights. But if you want a skydiving experience without having to jump out of a plane, this is the place for you! This is not a cheap place to visit but it’s definitely unique! Two flights will cost you about $80. Prices vary based on what package you plan to experience.
Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto – This one is not exactly off the beaten path, but it is a very unique attraction that you won’t find anywhere else in Ontario. Amaze yourself and your kids as you check out various aquatic wildlife from Canada and around the world. Large play and exploratory areas abound, along with numerous interactive activities designed to teach and educate everyone on aquatic life! Adults are $29.98, kids ages 6-13 years old/seniors are $19.98 and children 3-5 years are $9.98. Children 2 and under are free.
Riverdale Farm in Toronto – In the heart of downtown Toronto, you will discover this 7 1/2 acre park. There are farm animals, walking trails, barns, historic buildings and even some ruins! They also have a number of seasonal events. And the best part? Admission is free!
Santa’s Village in Bracebridge – This 60-acre Santa crazed place is an amazing place to take kids! It’s like Christmas all year round! Walking through the forest, you hear Christmas music playing throughout the park! There are rides galore designed for the younger ones and many interactive areas, such as the train ride around the park, the boat ride on the Muskoka River, and actually meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus! Each child receives their own Santa’s Village elf hat directly from Santa, and they can wear it while riding in a swan paddle boat. There is a host of things to do here and you should plan to spend the entire day! Admission is $34.95 for anyone 3 of age or older. Children 2 years and under are free.
Elmvale Jungle Zoo in Elmvale (Near Barrie) – This zoo is a great one to take little ones to because it is just the right size to spend a few hours there. There are plenty of animals, reptiles, marsupials and birds to see, along with giraffes and camels. You don’t have to deal with hundreds if not thousands of other tourists like you would at a large urban zoo and you don’t have to walk what seems like 50kms in one day! Admission to this zoo is also a lot cheaper than big city zoos! Adults are $17.50, seniors and youths ages 13-17 years old are $15.50 and children ages 3 years – 12 years are $8.50. Children 2 years and under are free.
Santa Train in Orangeville – This heated coach chugs along the rails for approximately 1 hour while serving gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate! It features a visit from the big man himself, and live music for caroling. Santa will also give each kid a little present and take his picture with you. One word of caution – tickets sell quickly, so be sure to book early! Tickets are $21.50 and children under 1 year of age are free.
Science North in Sudbury – This educational attraction isn’t exactly off the beaten path, but is a great place to visit if you are in the Sudbury area! It’s great for both young and old. Here you will find all sort of science-themed activities and you can check out their flying squirrels. You can also let your toddler go wild in their Toddler Treehouse area, catch an IMAX movie, and watch the stars in their planetarium. You can check out the butterflies in their butterfly gallery, try out the flight simulator and observe the screech owls. And about what seems like a million other things! Dynamic earth is all about mining. After all, Sudbury is not called The Big Nickel by chance! Admission for Science North is $25 for adults, $23 for youth/seniors, and kids ages 3-12 years are $21. Admission for Dynamic Earth is $20 for adults, $18 for youth/seniors, and $16 for kids ages 3-12 years. Kids 2 years and under are free for both. You can also get “Passports” which allow you to combine both experiences for a cheaper rate.
King of The North Dragway in Bonfield (Near North Bay) – This dragway is a hub for drag racing activity and racing enthusiasts! You will see a variety of vehicles being drag raced on their 1/8 mile track. From snowmobiles to cars, trucks, motorcycles, junior dragsters (yep that means kids!) and even the odd transport truck! There are also often specialized racing vehicles that are part of an exhibition show, and this venue also occasionally holds concerts and outdoor movies. Admission varies based on events. Word of caution – this is not the greatest place for kids under 3 years of age due to very loud noise levels when races are on. But bring a set of earplugs for you and your older ones in case you need them. It’s LOUD!
Cedar Meadows Wildlife Tour in Timmins – This guided tour on a tractor driven large open wagon allows people an opportunity to experience and observe the daily feeding of northern Canadian wildlife such as bison, deer, moose and elk. Admission for adults is $12, seniors are $10, students from 13-17 years of age are $8 and children 12 years & under are $6.
EASTERN GREATER TORONTO AREA
Linton Farm Market in Oshawa – This farm market not only sells homegrown produce, but they have a Kid’s Play Area featuring a number of activities such as corn bowling, a tunnel swing, rubber ducky races, a tricycle track, a sandpit and more! During the fall season, they do a pumpkin cannon and offer wagon rides out to their pumpkin patch! Admission for the play area is $2 per child. The wagon ride is included if you are buying a pumpkin, but if you just want a tour then it’s only $2!
Jungle Cat World in Orono (Near Bowmanville) – Jungle Cat World has been around since 1985. They have over 60 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates. Their specialty is large cats and they have a number of them. From tigers to bobcats, lions to leopards and everything in between! They even have a bed and breakfast on site! Adults are $15, youth/seniors are $10 and children ages 2-17 years old are $7.50. Children under 2 are free.
York-Durham Heritage Railway in Uxbridge – Take the kids for a ride on a heritage coach train through the Oak Ridges Moraine. To keep kids entertained on the ride, they have a clown on board, live music and a toy train set to play with. They usually have face painting as well. And they also have a Santa Train! Admission varies based on the event, but would typically be in and around the $15-$20 mark for anyone over 1 year of age.
Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves in Belleville – Explore these caverns and caves with older kids on a guided tour! Check out fossils and cool cave curtains! Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for youth 13–17 years old, $8 for seniors and kids ages 5–12 years old. Children under 5 years of age are free.
Canada’s Penitentiary Museum in Kingston – Check out this museum based on the history of Canada’s federal penitentiaries. Young kids would likely be bored and wreck the place, but your older ones would likely find a lot of this stuff interesting! Plus you can threaten them with jail time next time they don’t clean their room! (Just kidding! LOL)
Indian River Reptile Zoo in Indian River (Near Peterborough) – Search for dinosaur bones and check out their snakes, turtles, crocodiles and more at this non-profit reptile zoo. With over 200 species, including dinosaurs (Ok, they aren’t real!), there is a lot to see and do! Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors/youths and children 3 years and over are $10. Kids under 3 are free. I love that they have a discounted special needs rate of $15!
Saunders Farm in Munster (Near Ottawa) – Explore this 100-acre family run farm with your little ones! During the summer months, there is a splash pad, and in autumn they have their fall festival. All year round they have mazes, puppet shows, playhouses, hayrides, and a whole lot more!
Canadian Aviation & Space Museum in Ottawa – Take the Kids’ Tour and learn about everything aircraft and space geared for them! The Hang Glider Studio is a kids’ section that provides various forms of play. Admission for Adults is $13, seniors and students 13-17 years old are $10 and kids ages 3-12 are $8. Kids 2 and under as well as veterans are free! So if you have a family member who is a veteran, bring them with you not only out of general interest but so that they can take advantage of this interesting freebie!
Pirate Adventures in Ottawa – Take a ride on their 50′ pirate ship & help solve pirate mysteries while defending against enemies using water cannons! Kids can make a pirate walk the plank and use a treasure map, in addition to a number of other fun activities. Admission is $22 per person 3 and up. Children 2 years and under are $12.
Best Things to Pack For a Trip to Ontario:
Nobody packs like us moms do, so if you’re getting the family ready for a Canadian trip, be sure to remember all of the essentials.
My favorite way to pack make-up and toiletries is inside the most durable case ever, the Away Luggage Mini. Perfect for TSA-approved toiletries like the Burt’s Bees Travel Kit for all of us and the Herbivore Hydration Trio for me. A portable, collapsible water bottle is perfect for filling up water wherever I go, whether at the airport, hotel or local food-stop. Feeling the chill while exploring Ontario? My uniform is a bundle of Everlane lightweight cashmere sweaters and relaxed fit jeans. A hoodie jacket and a blanket scarf are always a good idea. Literally half-blanket, half-scarf, this accessory is big enough to warm up both you and a few of your kids. Packing a versatile shoe is also essential; the UGG Heather Boot can transition from hiking to casualwear. And the kids you say? Well, they need packable windbreaker jackets and toasty Ugg boots, too.
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