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Toronto: The Savvy Guide to July

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We are basking in the full glory of summer nostalgia right now. School is out, the pools are open and the days stretch on forever. It’s going to be nothing but picnics, beaches, days in the park, and family road trips. (And, you know, probably a stress-inducing day camp pick-up schedule, but let’s not talk about that.) But it won’t last forever, so here are some tips to help you make the most it.

DO
Register for fall sports and activities
Why? Summer will be over as swiftly as it began and you don’t want to be caught scrambling when the school year starts. Sports leagues and other activities that offer sessions that begin in the fall are registering now. Sign up today so you can enjoy the rest of the summer with the knowledge that everything is in place for next year.

GO
To the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame
Why? You don’t have to be a Leafs fan to appreciate the 100 years of history on display here (though it helps). The brand new exhibit (opens July 1) will swell the heart of any T-dot native and hockey lover. Come ogle the stick Darryl Sittler used in his 10-point game, Bill Barilko’s Stanley Cup-winning OT puck, and Mats Sundin’s jersey from the final game at Maple Leaf Gardens. Score.

GET
Sunscreen you can feel good about
Why? A great summer includes lots and lots of outdoor time, so it’s important to protect our kids’ delicate skin against today’s sunburns and tomorrow’s risk of skin cancer. But it’s also hard to feel good about slathering our children in creams and lotions that contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. This year, we love the Boo Bamboo line of natural, fast absorbing, and water resistant sunscreen. Bonus: they have sunscreen and hair care products for grown-ups, too.

PLAY
Road Trip Bingo
Why? This classic low-tech game helps to keep kids engaged and occupied on long trips. The premise is pretty basic: fill a bingo grid with items you are likely to spot from the highway and have the kids cross them off as they find them. There are lots of printable road trip bingo cards online, or you could easily design your own. You could play for a line, the whole card, or any other pattern (like a T, for example).

READ
Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Why? Jessica Valenti is a modern-day feminist who established herself through her blog Feministing, has written four books, and holds the dubious honour of being the author who received the highest volume of hateful and hostile reader comments on The Guardian. Her new memoir is a dark yet always entertaining account of her own experiences with sexual objectification. This is Valenti’s story, but it really belongs to all of us.

APP
Roadtrippers
Why? When you’re planning a big road trip with your family, the more streamlined your plans are, the better. The long-standing road trip planning website, roadtrippers.com, is now an app for both iOS and Android that helps you keep all your planning power in the palm of your hand. Simply plug in your starting point and destination (including stops along the way) and it generate the best driving route. You can then search for attractions, campsites, restaurants, and more along the way. Never feel lost again.

SURF
BrainPop.com
Why? The summer slide is a real thing and, no, it’s not the tall slide at your local water park. It’s what happens when kids take a full two month off of academics and then find need to relearn things in September. We firmly believe daily reading goes a long way to keeping the brain’s synapses firing. Brain Pop’s website is also an excellent resource for reinforcing the school curriculum from Kindergarten to Grade 12 through fun games and videos. There’s plenty of free content available plus the option to subscribe for even more.

GREEN
Shop your local farmers’ market
Why? Because you finally can, for one thing! In Canada, we really do have to wait until July to find a bounty of locally farmed produce. After a long winter and spring, it is such a pleasure to feast on fresh peas, green beans, peppers, zucchini, lettuce and other greens, and more. Most of us can’t feed a family solely from the farmers’ market, but buy what you can to support local agriculture, reduce the environmental toll of shipping produce across the continent, and enjoy better tasting food.

MAKE
Maple water drinks
Why? Move over coconut water, maple water is the latest thing in natural ‘super’ waters. It’s actually the sap from sugar maples—the same stuff that gets boiled down to make maple syrup—that’s now sold in tetra packs at Whole Foods and many boutique grocery stores. The idea is that it’s a completely natural, mildly sweet and refreshing drink that’s loaded with mineral and nutrients. Enjoy maple water on its own or use it to make naturally sweetened lemonade, cocktails, or smoothies.

HELP
Fund kidney cancer research by going to The Thrill of the Grill and chowing down on some barbeque on Saturday, July 9 from 12-4 pm
Why? Participating restaurants along the Danforth will be serving up ribs, corn and refreshments, and ticket sales from the event benefit Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre. Be sure to check out the Bike Fun Zone for riding, decorating and safety tips.

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