Lit up Toronto sign

Things to consider when planning a family holiday to Toronto

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In 2006 I visited Toronto for the very first time. I was 20, hated my job and had just broken up with my boyfriend at the time. I had friends in Toronto thanks to an online game I’d been playing for years and so, one day on my lunch break I went to the travel agents and booked some flights. I went back to work and handed them my notice too. Crazy, I know, and I don’t really recommend doing such impulsive things now.

I fell in love with Toronto immediately, so much so that I went back from March 2007 to March 2008 on a working holiday visa. I can’t quite believe that it was 13 years ago now as sometimes it only feels like yesterday. As Toronto has been somewhere that has meant so much to me, I would love to go back with John and Erin so I could show them some of my favourite places.


Recently, I have been doing some research into going back to Toronto for a family holiday, instead of being on my own. The first thing to think about is when we would like to go as this could have a big impact on us booking flights to Toronto. Travelling as a family, with Erin now in infant school, means that we are restricted to school holidays and this will affect the price of flights. Canadian Affair say that high season in Toronto is during the summer months of June, July and August and the flights are likely to be more expensive then. November and December are much quieter months when it comes to tourists but remember, a Canadian winter can be very different to ours.

Flight times are roughly 7-8 hours depending on where you fly from this take this into consideration when booking your trip. Your first and last days are going to be travel days to be sure to book enough ‘fun’ days in the middle, especially if you have a good list of things you want to do.

Where to stay

Unlike before where I was lucky to stay with people I knew, I wouldn’t want to do that when travelling with John and Erin. If you want to be right in the heart of Toronto then Downtown is the place to be. There are plenty of options for hotels and this will mean that you are able to get to lots of different places easily. Within minutes you could have walked to the CN Tower, gone to a market or a huge shopping center.

Downtown Toronto

Things to do

One of the biggest things to think about when booking a holiday with children is considering what you want to do while you’re there. Toronto has loads of great options for families and something for everyone to enjoy. From experience these are some of the places that I would be really excited about taking Erin:

  • CN Tower – This is an absolute must when visiting Toronto. Get the elevator up to the highest point, stand on the glass floor and maybe even have a meal in the revolving restaurant.
  • Casa Loma – I couldn’t believe it when I found out there was a castle right in downtown Toronto. I’m sure most children would be excited about having a look around somewhere like this.
  • Go see a game (depending on the season) – Canada, obviously well-known for ice hockey has other sports that you can go and watch as well, such as baseball or basketball but this will really depend on when you visit.
  • Hockey Hall of Fame – I think some people will be more interested in the one than others. You’ll find out lots of information about a sport so popular in Canada and see loads of cool things like different uniforms.
  • Toronto Zoo – this is the largest zoo in Canada and has over 5,000 animals representing over 450 species. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as the zoo is huge and you’ll need a whole day to visit.
  • Ontario Science Center – I love a science center and this one has been one of my favourites. There is so much to do and learn, for both adults and children, and it’s such a fun place to spend some time.
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – I’m not sure this place existed when I was last in Toronto but we all love an aquarium so this would suit us all.
  • Niagara Falls – so, not in Toronto but it’s not too far away and it would be a real shame to miss out on visiting somewhere like this when you’ve already travelled so far.

Niagara Falls

What to eat

Some of my favourite memories of being Toronto was when I was eating! There are some dishes that Canada is famous for and some that I just absolutely loved to eat while I was there. Here are some ideas of what you might like to eat during your holiday to Toronto:

  • Poutine – You cannot go to Canada without getting a poutine. This is a bowl of fries with cheese curds and gravy on top. It ends up as a melty pot of amazing fries and I love them!
  • Street meat – I was pretty broke when I lived in Toronto and sometimes while exploring I had to eat somewhere cheap. There are ‘street meat’ stalls dotted all over the place downtown, known for their hot dogs and sausages. Years ago, a hot dog would cost me $1.50 and it was the best hot dog I have ever had. I’ve still not found anything better.
  • Chicken tenders with fries and plum sauce – Now I know this one sounds really basic but the best bit is the sauce. I had never heard of this before being in Toronto but the sweet, sticky plum sauce is PERFECT for chicken tenders and fries and this is something kids will really love.
  • Tim Hortons – the place to go for coffee or a ‘TimBit’. These are small balls of doughnuts, often likened to what the inside of a ring doughnut would be. Delicious!
  • Anything with maple syrup, maybe pancakes for breakfast!
  • Chicken from Swiss Chalet – this chain sells rotisserie chicken dinners that come with a classic bread roll on the side and amazing Swiss Chalet dipping sauce. This was a particular favourite of mine and something I am desperate to have again.

Enjoying a poutine from a food truck

Obviously, there is so much more to the Toronto food scene than these few things I have mentioned. Toronto is very well-known for being really diverse and having lots of options from various cultures and communities. For example, a meal in Chinatown is NOTHING like what you’d get from a Chinese takeaway here.

Toronto is such a great city break destination for families and there’s so much to experience. It will certainly be an unforgettable holiday!


Things to consider when planning a family holiday to Toronto

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