As much as I love sunshine, hammocks and blender drinks, there are a lot of things I find difficult about summer.
Extreme heat and trying to keep the kids entertained are at the top of that list. As moms, we know that summer isn’t really a break, it’s just a chance to be run ragged planning activities, child care, and entertainment, while the kids complain about not being allowed to go to Camp Awesome AF like all their friends.
Or, if you’re like me, your kids are REFUSING to go to Camp Awesome AF because they “hate camp.”
Summer is awesome but it has its challenges. Fortunately, there are a lot of things to do around the Greater Toronto Area that don’t require a bank loan or huge time commitment. If you want to maximize your time while minimizing the planning and effort you need to pull it off, check out this list of affordable family attractions in and around the city.
Evergreen Brick Works
There’s no shortage of nature-based, fun things to do at Evergreen Brick Works. This includes the children’s garden and shopping at the year-round farmer’s market and the garden market. Hike to the top of the Lookout Path to spot the CN Tower or take advantage of the many bike trails and pathways. No bike? No problem. Rent from Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop right on-site. Parents can enjoy a cold adult beverage from the Sipping Container, or grab some local, organic and sustainably-sourced treats from Café Belong before heading home. Be sure to check the website for market days and times, and for information on other special events.
550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto. evergreen.ca
Corktown Common mixes stunning design and simple, family-focused functionality, all in the heart of downtown Toronto. With fantastic views of the city skyline, it’s a fun, yet serene place to relax on a summer day. Spot the ducks around the wetland ponds before acting like one at the water play area and sponge-floor playground. Unisex change rooms (with changing tables!) water fountains, picnic tables, and a public fireplace are all on-site.
155 Bayview Avenue, Toronto toronto.ca
Greenwood Park Outdoor Pool
Cheap and cheerful, Greenwood Park outdoor pool is the best of no-frills summer fun. It’s a great place to drop the teenagers off for the afternoon or bring the littles. Supervise a game of Marco Polo from the large concrete deck, or take them to the kids’ water park and playground. Even the furry friends can come along to enjoy the contained off-leash area.
150 Greenwood Ave., Toronto toronto.ca
Timber Creek Golf
Looking for nature AND activity? North and slightly east of downtown, you’ll find a 35-hectare park boasting 37 holes of miniature golf, a driving range, batting cages and jumping castle (with slide!). You know, just like Mother Nature intended! Take a walk around the picturesque pond before hitting the air-conditioned clubhouse for some chow. Stroller and wheelchair accessible, Timber Creek is also open late (10:30 p.m.) through August.
12772 Ninth Line, Whitchurch-Stouffville timbercreekgolf.ca
Toronto’s largest public park is a summer must-do. The park covers 161 hectares and includes a zoo, hiking trails, tennis courts, playgrounds, and greenhouses. Parking is convenient, as is access to public transit. The large grassy areas are perfect for playing Frisbee or having a picnic. Afterward, take a stroll around Grenadier Pond and check out the ducks, geese, and frogs from the observation deck by Hillside Gardens.
Lake Wilcox Park
Lake Wilcox is located in the Oak Ridges community of Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto. The town’s recent shoreline makeover included the development of new amenities including a waterfront promenade, splash pad, playground and picnic area. The lake itself is home to a variety of wildlife and fish, and while non-motorized boating is permitted, swimming is not.
Richmond Hill richmondhill.ca
Kidstown – Water Park
Pre-school and elementary-age kids especially will love the abundance of water features here, including squirting animals, a slide, wading pool, and splash pad. Pack a lunch or snack and enjoy the grassy picnic area. Entrance is FREE and the water park is open until the Sunday of Labour Day weekend (closed Labour Day).
3159 Birchmount Rd., Scarborough toronto.ca
Country meets the city at Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown where three newborn baby lambs have been capturing the hearts of Torontonians since their birth in April. The farm sits on more than seven acres of land and is also home to other farm animals including roosters and pigs. Kids can chat with the farmers as they go about their daily chores before touring the wooded areas and ponds. Admission is free and parking is limited to nearby residential streets.
201 Winchester Street, Toronto toronto.ca