What can you see and do with a day in Toronto with kids? We visited Toronto with a toddler and a 4-year-old: these are our favourite things to do in Toronto with kids, favourite family friendly hotel and Toronto with children highlight.
Until the moment it entered my window-seat field of vision, Ontario had been, for me, the stuff of dreams.
I first learned its name on the Risk board, along equally evocative names such as ‘Kamchatka peninsula’ and I could hardly believe that now we were only minutes away from landing beside its shores.
Toronto airport was now in sight and the waters of Lake Ontario were shining in the late afternoon sun, as if beckoning to us!
Toronto wasn’t our final destination.
We had about 2 day there and we decided to spend one day in Toronto City and one day visiting Niagara Falls, nearby.
You can read about our day trip to Niagara Falls from Toronto here. In this post, we look at our day in Toronto with kids!
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Where to stay in Toronto with kids: our hotel
We got to Pearson international airport in the evening and we immediately got a cab to out hotel.
We don’t often stay in big hotels, as a family, but for Toronto, we made an exception and booked a room at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel, Canada’s largest hotel right in the centre of the city, between Gerrard street and Yonge street.
We found the hotel online and we were attracted the the many family friendly facilities.
A good hotel is key to a successful city break with kids and this one ticked more boxes that we could dream of.
The site promised a kids’ playroom, a children friendly pool and family rooms and a very child friendly, warm atmosphere is exactly what welcomed us on arrival.
The Eaton Chelsea has a vast, luxurious lobby complete with bars, restaurants and fluffy sofas.
Cranky children and fancy hotels are not often a good match and it was with some apprehension that we joined the line of air hostesses checking in ahead of us.
But our fears were misplaced.
As soon as we joined the line, the reception staff came to us with a present for the kids: each of them got rubber duckies and a book, a precious possession they are still fond of and that made the check in procedure pleasant and straightforward!
The hotel was all we had hoped for and provided us the perfect base for our urban adventure.
We got to Toronto in the evening, so our first expedition out was for FOOD.
Toronto has an amazing food scene and our central location made us spoilt for choice.
Walking down Yonge street, skyscrapers towering over us, we could choose between fine dining, burger joints, sandwich bar and watering holes popular with the after work crowd.
Venturing into the smaller side streets, the choice widened, with ethnic restaurants to quit all tastes. In our time in Toronto, we sampled several places, including Mr Green jeans, in busy Eaton Centre, where we had a juicy and very generous burgers (and lovely dessert).
One day in Toronto with kids: itinerary
Morning strolling around Toronto City center with kids
Toronto is a big city but it is possible to get the first glimpse of some of its main landmarks on foot.
The next morning, we ventured into the bright sunny day and started following the shiny top of the CN tower, visible ahead of us, towering over all other buildings.
The tower is indeed very impressive and on a clear day the views from its top deck promised to be amazing but being short on time in the city, we decided to skip the long queue.
The sign telling us it would take at least two hours to get to the lift spoke straight to our hearts.
The kids would never accept such a long wait and we were better off enjoying the tower from below, trying to catch its reflection in the nearby buildings!
It turns out, catching reflections of the tower got the kids busy for a while: we got some good ones and it was a fun way to get them to walk without complaints!
The tower is part of a wide complex that includes the Rogers centre, the big Toronto stadium that boasts a fully retractable dome roof (we saw it opening later in the day: the kids couldn’t believe their eyes!).
Football and baseball are played in the stadium and while there was no match on, we could still feel the unmistakable buzz of the sports enthusiasts visiting their sports temple.
From there, it is just a short walk to the pier and ferries to the islands, which is where we spent the rest of the day and ended up being where our fondest Canadian memories were built.
Good to know! The ferry crossing is super easy and great fun for kids. The crossing is short and the views of Toronto wonderful – one of our favorite moments of our family day in Toronto!
Lunch and afternoon Centre island, Toronto’s most family-friendly attraction
The queue at the pier was long but swift and in less than 10 minutes we found ourselves aboard a ferry across lake Ontario, on the short ride to centre island.
The cheerful crowd of families with cooler bags and shorts told us we had picked the right destination: the island is a family paradise!
The main attraction for the kids there was the theme park Centreville amusement park .
Built like an old town, complete with replica steam trains, a farm and western-style post office, the park has rides for all ages, most of them accessible also to little children.
Centreville amusement park, on centre island, was what our kids loved the most about our stay in Toronto thanks to the ferry ride, the beach and of course the many rides of the amusement park, also suitable for little kids
The many restaurants offer from burger to pizza and the ice cream shops dot the place.
As well as the park, the island has access to the lake, in the form of a beautiful beach.
On this gorgeous days, families were swimming and dipping in and out of the water.
The strong sun made me think of joining them, but all it took was to dip a toe in the water to change my mind: used to the Mediterranean, I classified lake Ontario as ‘freezing cold’ and retracted, defeated, to its beautiful golden shores!
Dinner in Toronto
After the long say sightseeing and playing, we needed an easy dinner and this is when the fantastic Toronto food scene came into its own.
Staying in the city center meant we had an endless choice of places to choose from and we noticed with pleasure that everywhere seemed well equipped and open to serving small kids.
Our choice fell on a Japanese restasurant and their delicious miso soup was the tonic we needed to have a restful night before the exciting destination we had in store for our second day: Niagara Falls!