Like all big cities, Toronto can be an expensive place to visit. When you need to pay admission for the whole family, costs can really add up fast. We have compiled our list of fun things to do with kids in Toronto on a budget. As an added bonus many of the things on this list are free!
The St. Lawrence Market is a great place to start your day out as a savvy tourist. Tour the Market, then buy an infamous peameal sandwich from the Carousel Bakery for breakfast.
Take the opportunity to buy ingredients for a picnic lunch by grabbing some fresh bread at one of the bakeries, some freshly sliced lunch meats from the butchers and some fruit from a veggie stand.
Prefer to have your sandwich already made? The Italian family food bar in the basement makes a mean Chicken Parmesan on a bun.
We also love to hit up the bulk food store way in the back of the basement for a few sweet treats.
St. Lawrence “south” Market is open Tuesday thru Saturday. Every Saturday morning is the Farmer’s Market, which is temporarily relocated south of the ‘south’ Market. Make sense?
Savvy Tip: If you’re traveling by car, there is an enormous municipal ‘Green P’ parking lot, set back from The Esplanade to the south. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, parking is is only $1/hour for the first two hours.
Toronto island is a definite favourite with kids. The adventures start with a 10-minute ferry boat ride to Centre Island that is sure to please any little adventurer.
The options of things to see and do on the island are endless. There is Centreville Amusement Park if the kids want to go on rides. There is a petting zoo, playgrounds, splash pad, life-size maze and beaches galore! Bicycle rentals are available for exploring the island.
Cost: Price of return-trip Toronto Island ferry tickets, which are $7.50 per adult and $3.65 per child (age 2-13). After that, you can spend as much or little as you like!
Savvy Tip: On summer weekends, Toronto Island is very popular. Skip the lines by buying your ferry tickets in advance on-line.
Allan Gardens is one of Toronto’s oldest parks, located in the heart of the city at Jarvis Carlton, just a short walk from the Eaton Centre. The centrepiece of Allan Gardens is the large indoor botanical conservatory, which features various flower shows throughout the year, along with a permanent collection. The kids will enjoy a playground and any canine companions will like the two fenced off-leash areas for dogs.
Its like a little oasis is the middle of a busy city. Best of all the park and conservatory is free!
Queens Park is home to Ontario’s legislative buildings. There are free tours of the building and the grounds that are offered year round. Check out the The Legislative Assembly of Ontario for more information.
If you are visiting on Friday’s in the summer with kids ages 6 to 12 check out their Family Fun Fridays.
For those who love trains, look no further than the Toronto Railway Museum, located in Roundhouse Park at the base of the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and the Rogers Centre. Kids will love checking out all of the restored trains both inside the museum and outside in the park. There is also a play ground for kids to blow off some stem.
Entrance to the museum is $5 for adults and $3 for children. There is also a miniature train that young and old can ride on for an additional small fee.
While you are there, consider taking an educational tour of Steam Whistle Brewery. The kids will love watching the bottling production line and the adults will love the included samples of beer!
Go to the Beach
Toronto has some great beaches right in the city. The closest beach to downtown is Cherry Beach. You can easily get there by taking a street car.
Go Ice Skating
Toronto has a lot of outdoor skating rinks in the winter. Two downtown are Nathan Phillips Square (city hall) and Harbourfront Centre. Both places turn into a fun family friendly party in the evening with music playing.
Don’t worry if you haven’t brought your skates or helmet. You can rent them for a low price at both locations.
Savvy Tip: Consider checking Groupon for special deals on kids activities.
Looking for accommodations during your stay in Toronto? Check out our picks for the Top Toronto Hotels for Families