Gone are the days of museums and galleries being rigid, stuffy places where nothing is to be touched. Now, most Toronto museums feature at least one gallery or exhibition designed to engage with kids on a hands-on, interactive level.
Toronto is home to several such museums and galleries. All of them are great places for educating and entertaining your kids, especially during the cold winter months. Below we round up our favourite such spots. We’ve included what days these attractions are open but be sure to head online and confirm operating hours as these can change. Many of these attractions also host travelling/temporary exhibits and organize special events that might wow your kids so be sure to keep an eye out for news about those experiences.
A Look at Toronto Museums for Kids
77 Wynford Drive, Toronto
Providing a window into the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations, the Aga Khan Museum houses over 1,000 objects including rare masterpieces that represent more than eleven centuries of human history and a geographic area. The stunning facilities are best enjoyed on a sunny day and the museum offers a free family exploration kit to help kids and adults learn about the works of art together. The Aga Khan museum is still limiting the number of visitors inside through the use of timed-entry ticketing. Reserve your spots online. Adults are $20, children 6-13 are $10, seniors and youths 14-17 are $15. Kids five and under are free.
317 Dundas St. W., Toronto
True, the city’s largest art gallery isn’t a completely kid-friendly space but there’s actually a fair amount for little ones to enjoy at the AGO. Kids who love boats and models will be enthralled by the museum’s extensive model ship collection while its contemporary collection will connect with artistically-minded children, especially Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored room. But the main attraction is the Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre, where children toddler-age and up can experiment with art supplies, dress up in costume, and play with a wide range of creativity-encouraging toys. The museum is also located next to the fabulous Grange Park. Anyone age 25 and under can attend the AGO for free while those over that age need to pay $25, or they can upgrade to an annual pass for an additional $10.
327 Bloor St. W, Toronto
Yes, a museum devoted to shoes can be kid-friendly! While this Toronto museum’s fantastic and comprehensive collection of shoes is available for viewing seven days a week, on Saturdays between 11am and 3pm, it unveils its Hands-On Collection, which will let your kids (and you!) “examine objects up close while experienced guides explain the fascinating stories behind the shoes.” The museum also regularly hosts special kid-friendly activities and crafts. Admission starts at $5, with kids under five being free.
1000 Murray Ross Pkwy., Toronto
Open Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday during the winter
Think of Black Creek Pioneer Village as a living museum, one that uses actors to help bring the past – in this case Toronto of the 1860s – to life before your very eyes. Explore various recreated period buildings, including a blacksmith shop, a general store and of course a school; meet live farm animals and even grab a bite to eat. The Village frequently hosts special events and activities designed to help immerse your family even further into Toronto’s history. Access to the Village starts at $11.76, and kids who are three and under are free.
Across Toronto & the GTA
Days vary by location, but most spots are open Wednesday-Sunday
Did you know that the City runs 10 distinctive historical spaces that have been repurposed into museums or galleries that your family can check out? Wander through North York’s Gibson House, where your family can see and feel what it was like to live in the 1850s. Dance in the ballroom of Montgomery’s Inn, the 19th century hotel, where you can sometimes even test taste food, depending on what’s on the schedule. Or learn about Toronto’s Indigenous history as well as the history of Scarborough at the appropriately named Scarborough Museum. General admission to these Toronto museums is usually free but special events may require an entry fee.
111 Queens Park, Toronto
A museum devoted to ceramics may not sound like the most kid-friendly place but hear us out. The Gardiner’s permanent collection will appeal to school-aged kids with an eye for colour and creativity while even preschoolers will enjoy the museum’s hands-on clay crafting experiences where they can turn their imagination into a 3D creation. The Gardiner also regularly hosts family-focused days and events that get your whole family creating. The museum is free for everyone under 18 while admission for adults is $15.
30 Yonge St., Toronto
Yes, of course this place counts as a museum, it’s home to the world’s largest collection of hockey-related items after all. But this space is a lot more than just memorabilia and artifacts. It’s filled with hands-on and interactive displays, such as a virtual shootout game. There are also two theatres, the official Hockey Hall of Fame and the sport’s most impressive trophies, including the Stanley Cup, which yes, your family can pose with. Admission to the Hall starts at $15, with kids ages three and under being free.
10 Dundas St. E., Toronto
Want to take your kids on a tour of Canada but running a little short on time and budget? Then head downtown to Little Canada where your family can explore a miniaturized version of our country. Described as, “an immersive 90-minute experience through the sights, sounds and little stories of Canada in miniature scale,” this unique spot will be captivating to kids who love LEGO, buildings and discovering new things. Pricing starts at $22, and kids ages three and under are free.
132 Front St. E, Toronto
Now here’s a museum that’s unlike any other attraction in the city. The Museum of Illusions features over 15 installations and rooms designed to challenge your sense of perception. Make your way through the vortex tunnel, pose in the anti-gravity room, and even walk on a ceiling (kind of). Best suited for kids preschool age and up, this museum is one of those rare spaces
that will even impress teens. It’s also packed with photo opportunities so make sure you come with a fully charged phone. Tickets start at $19,50 and a four-person family pack is available for $93. Note that kids three and under are free.
770 Don Mills Rd., Toronto
Besides being home to all things science-related, this attraction also houses a giant IMAX screen that shows a variety of educational, but also entertaining, films. The Centre’s permanent exhibits are designed to be enjoyed by all ages however, kids will likely enjoy the KidSpark area the most. This hands-on heavy area lets kids try such fun challenges as building a roller coaster. The Centre also contains exhibits on everything from the human body to space to coral reefs. Tickets start at $13, with admission to the IMAX theatre being extra, and kids under three are free.
100 Queens Park, Toronto
You can’t have a list of the city’s best, family-friendly museums and galleries and not include the Royal Museum of Ontario, better known as the ROM. As Canada’s largest museum, the ROM has a little bit of everything. But your kids will likely be most interested in the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity, which features thousands of animal specimens, the James and Louise
Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs, which features dinosaur fossils and of course the Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity, better known as the ROM’s kid zone. There your kids can touch, climb, crawl, and learn from the gallery’s kid-friendly facilitators. Oh, and let’s not forget the Bat Cave, which is always a thrill for the little ones. Tickets start at $18 and note that any special exhibits are usually extra.