Gifts opened: check
New toys played with: check
Relatives visited: check
Okay… now what? How are we going to keep those littles busy so we can work/relax/recover and enjoy some downtime of our own?
Here are some suggestions for post-holiday fun that won’t break the bank or have you counting the minutes until school resumes.
1. Spiders & dinosaurs & wildlife… (oh my!) at the Royal Ontario Museum
From December 26 to January 6, the ROM will have extended hours filled with live music and dance performances, themed activities, games and crafts. Other highlights include special exhibitions such as Spiders: Fear and Fascination and Zuul: Life of an Armoured Dinosaur. Just a note: special exhibitions are not included in the price of general admission.
2. Let’s all go to the movies
Kid-friendly flicks are always out over the holidays! Little ones will likely love Mary Poppins Returns or Ralph Breaks the Internet. For bigger kids there’s the new Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, Bumblebee and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald.
3. Check out the wildlife at the Toronto Zoo or Ripley’s Aquarium
My family hits the zoo every year during the winter break. I tell the kids it’s to wish the animals Happy New Year but really it’s about getting out of the house for some exercise and fresh air. Toronto Zoo is open 9:30-4:30 daily. Ripley’s has lots for families to do and see at various times. Buy your tickets in advance and get there early to avoid the crowds!
4. Hit up your local pool or skating rink
Get the kids moving inside a nice warm pool or a skating on a chilly rink, depending on your preference (and who has the comfiest chairs for mom!) If your local facility is attached to a public library, grab a hot chocolate after your skate or swim and curl up with a book.
5. Bounce off the walls
With locations in Toronto, Vaughan, Mississauga and Whitby Skyzone Trampoline Parks are a great way to burn off excess energy and introduce the kids to something new in a safe and fun environment. Jump with the kids, join an impromptu dodgeball game, or grab a coffee and watch while your little daredevils flip into foam pits and, literally, bounce off the walls.
6. Snow tubing
Offered at several ski hills north of Toronto, including Snow Valley in Barrie, snow tubing is a great way to experience the outdoors without having to invest in expensive gear, wait for lifts or, well, ski. All you need to join the fun are tubes and helmets, which can be rented on site. Hint: Mid-week is cheaper and tickets can be bought online in advance for extra savings.
7. Check out the Nations Fresh Food Experience
Am I the only one who’d never heard of this place until recently? Nations Fresh Food is part grocery store, part playground, part entertainment complex and all-around mind-boggling experience. Come for the groceries and stay for the 155,000 square feet of dim sum, hot buffets, fish market, arcade, ball pit, butcher, bakery, party rooms and – believe it or not – so much more. Locations in Toronto, Woodbridge, Hamilton are now open.
8. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame
Time is running out to celebrate 125 years of hockey’s greatest treasure with hands-on access to the Stanley Cup! Immerse yourself into the rich history of Hockey’s Holy Grail at the Hockey Hall of Fame until January 6. Plus, you’ll find a stellar line-up of history, artifacts, and interactive games. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto at Yonge and Front St., the Hockey Hall of Fame is easily accessible by GO Train and TTC, and is within walking distance of the Eaton’s Centre, St. Lawrence Market, Air Canada Centre and dozens of family-friendly restaurants.
9. Winter at Ontario Place
Bonfires, movies and skating, oh my! Okay, the skating is on a synthetic rink which might offend some purists but with free admission and lots of other seasonal activities, it’s worth adding Ontario Place to your list of winter outings. Winter at Ontario Place runs through March 17.
10. Stay put
And on the seventh day, they rested. Not up for an outing or just want to stay in your jammies all day? Keep cabin fever at bay with board games, DIY mani-pedis and facials, and baking contests. Showcase your mad fort-building skills and have a Star Wars marathon in the living room, or have kids choose old clothes and toys to donate. Make a chore list and set some simple, achievable family resolutions to get the new year started on the right foot.