Toronto with a Toddler

A few weekends ago we spontaneously packed up the car and headed to another country for the weekend…Canada! We just received Max’s passport in the mail so we wanted to take it for a trial run.

We left Friday afternoon to head to Toronto for a long weekend. I grew up going to Toronto for vacation. It’s such an easy drive from the metro Detroit area and there is a ton to see and do.  My husband has really only driven through, so I was excited to show both him and Max all the fun Toronto has to offer.
Here are the toddler-friendly highlights from the:
We stayed downtown at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. It was a great location. Our room overlooked Nathan Phillips Square.  There has been an ongoing art show there (Nuit Blanche Toronto exhibit) and in the center of the square, as part of the art show, there was a large white ball that changed colors at night. My son was obsessed with this, and is still talking about it as his favorite thing from Toronto. The hotel had 2 different late night stores open that we had to use to get milk for Max. They also had a coffee shop inside, serving Starbucks – great for early morning wake ups!
Saturday we got up early, grabbed some Tim Horton’s, and explored Nathan Phillips Square. We then made our way to the Ripley’s Aquariumand were one of the first families through the door that AM.
This is a fun place to visit with kids (or no kids!). I haven’t been to a lot of aquariums, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but I thought that all of their exhibits were well set up with lots of walking and viewing room, and were spread out enough to give kids room to run.  There was one portion that went through a long tunnel tank, with several sharks swimming next you and overhead. I was so creeped out by seeing shark teeth up close and personal!

They also had a huge ‘playground’ inside, or as Max likes to call it, the ‘fishy play place.’ This was right next to a café where food and drinks were served. There was also a water play section where kids could touch and play with sea life (safely, of course). They also had a crawling tunnel that when through a huge tank, that kids could crawl through. Max probably played at the ‘fishy play place’ for an hour, and when we left the aquarium, he feel asleep within minutes in his stroller.

Toronto Zoo
We’ve been to a lot of zoos, and so far, this is on the top of our favorite list. We were the first ones through the gate and went straight for the Tim Horton’s right inside the front gate (bonus points for that!). Once we got our coffees we headed to the main exhibit, the twin Panda Cubs, Jia Panpan & Jia Yueyue’s, 1st birthday celebration!

The pandas were so stinkin’ cute. I just wanted to cuddle them. Apparently 2015 was a busy year for the zoo animals, because there were also baby polar bears, lions and rhinos! I really thought that all of the exhibits were set up so well. We saw most of the animals really close up.

The jaguar and baboons were two of our favorites. The jaguar laid right up against the glass and was in a deep sleep the whole time, and the baboons were pressed up against the glass and were cleaning each other, clearly putting on a show for us viewers.

About half of the food stands were closed for the season, but they still had Tim’s, Subway and a few other hot dog-type stands. You can also bring your own food and snacks into the zoo. We saw a lot of people camping out on the grass with lunch.

The only bummer is it’s about a 30 minute drive outside of the city (about an hour and 15 minutes via mass transit). It’s totally worth the drive, just make sure to drive during non rush-hour times.

Jamie Bell Playground at High Park
Max loves a good playground these days. So, we searched for the best playgrounds in Toronto and came across the Jamie Bell playground at High Park. We drove here after the zoo and Max wore himself out running around this massive structure for an hour or two. There were slides, wooden castle structures, swings, bridges and more. It was really sunny out so it was packed with families trying to enjoy the last nice days of Fall.

We had one of the best breakfasts ever at Lady Marmalade. They are known for their ‘Bennies,’ aka, eggs benedict. My husband ordered the brie, avocado and bacon Bennie, and I think Max and I ate most of it. They also have a bin full of kids toys you can borrow during meal time, and a chalk board wall kids can write on their way out.

We had several meals at the hotel restaurant BnB and thought they were all extremely good! Most were room service orders. Their sweet potato fries were amazing.

For dessert, you need to check out Sweet Jesus ice cream shops around the city. They have extremely unique flavors and mixes. The ‘Sweet Baby Jesus’ is the most popular and best!

Last, but not least, there is a Tim Horton’s on what seemed like every corner of Toronto. Dream come true! All in all, Toronto is an amazing and fun city, for both adults and kids! We didn’t even put a dent into everything there is to see! I’d love to hear your must-see’s for Toronto – what should we check out when we go back? 

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