Normally we go on a big family vacation during March Break, but this year, we decided to take a Staycation in Toronto. It’s been a much-needed rest and a time for discovering some of the free stuff to do around the city. And as much as I detest the cold, I announced to my family on a blustery winter day that we were going to get bundled up to go to the beach.
Yes, the beach in March in Toronto is where everyone wants to be. And of course, I had picked the one day during the break with strong winds. The outing was short, but everyone had a great time at WinterStations at Woodbine Beach. The art pieces helped to brighten up the stark and almost-desolate beach, although really, my kids just enjoyed running around in the wide-open space.
WinterStations is an annual international art competition. While this was a new event to our family, it is actually in its fourth year. The annual design competition attracts submissions from all around the world. Competitors have to incorporate the permanent lifeguard stands into their temporary art installations. The designs not only have to integrate this year’s theme, RIOT, but also have to bring joy to visitors while withstanding the winter weather in Toronto.
This year, there are seven sculptures spread across the waterfront. Each piece is interactive – we could touch the pieces and even climb on them. There were art installations that involved turning a handle to make siren noise, another piece that was like a maze, and yet another that let us step inside to warm up before moving on down the beach. For us non-artistic-types, there were signs that taught us how to interpret the intent behind each piece of art.
Besides the art pieces, the beach at this time of year is surprisingly fun (and peaceful)! The kids kept asking if they could stop to build sandcastles. If it hadn’t been for the chilly winds, we would have definitely said yes. Nevertheless, the kids had a great time daring each other to touch the icy cold lake. They also enjoyed looking for rocks and driftwood. Halfway during our walk down the beach, my son started slowing his pace. Turns out he had filled all his pockets with “treasures” he’d been picking up along the way.
There are also two playgrounds nearby that kept beckoning to our kids. They looked like fun and made me wish we had come on a sunnier and less-windy day so they could’ve played for a while. The outing was a success. It was definitely a parenting win – “teaching” my kids about art while getting fresh air, and best of all, they loved it.
Location: Woodbine Beach
Parking: Free (the lots are free between in the winter months (until May) – closest spots are just East of the Tim Hortons off of Lakeshore.
Dates: February 19 – April 1, 2018
TIPS AND TRICKS
Go now! The art installations are only on until April 1.
Bring some sand toys if you don’t mind the cold. If it weren’t for the strong winds, we probably would’ve been convinced by our kids to stay awhile to build a castle or two.
Read the signs for each art piece. The one sign I did read had some interesting tidbits about the art pieces. I was too cold to read the rest of them but now I wish I had.
Consider eating nearby. There’s a Tim Horton’s (as well as a Fish & Chips spot and a pub) at the beach, but there were also many cool little places on Queen Street East that I would’ve stopped at if we had planned better.
Play the piano. It’s not a part of the WinterStations, but it looks like an art installation.