From the sparkling waters of the Great Lakes to the buzzing metropolis of Toronto, Ontario is a province of varied landscapes, vibrant cities, and ample opportunities for fun and learning. If you’re planning a family vacation with toddlers, this Canadian province offers a wealth of destinations perfectly tailored for the youngest explorers. This detailed travel guide showcases some of the best places in Ontario where you and your little ones can create lifelong memories.
Best places to travel with toddlers in Ontario
1. Toronto Zoo, Toronto
Begin your Ontario adventure in its largest city, Toronto, home to the Toronto Zoo. With over 5,000 animals representing more than 500 species, the zoo offers toddlers a unique opportunity to get up close to fascinating wildlife from around the world.
From the African Savannah to the Tundra Trek, each geographic section is an adventure on its own. The Kids Zoo section allows for interactive learning, and the zoo’s Splash Island is the perfect spot to cool off in the summer months.
2. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto
After exploring the animal kingdom, dive into history and culture at the ROM. This world-renowned museum makes learning fun with its dedicated hands-on gallery for children – the CIBC Discovery Gallery.
Here, your toddlers can touch fossils, inspect insects, construct eco-friendly buildings, or even try on costumes from around the world. ROM’s dinosaur exhibits are always a hit with young children.
3. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Toronto
Located near the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium is another must-visit attraction in Toronto. Home to over 20,000 aquatic animals, the aquarium’s highlights include a walk-through tunnel with a moving sidewalk, where sharks and rays glide overhead – a truly mesmerizing sight for toddlers. The interactive touch pool, Shoreline Gallery, allows little ones to touch horseshoe crabs and cleaner shrimps.
4. Ontario Science Centre, Toronto
Science has never been more fun than at the Ontario Science Centre. The KidSpark area is specifically designed for children aged eight and under. Here, toddlers can explore, play, and learn about science and technology through hands-on exhibits.
Whether they’re learning about the human body, light and sound, construction, or music, the Science Centre provides an engaging and educational experience.
5. Toronto Islands
Take a ferry ride across Lake Ontario to reach the Toronto Islands, an excellent outdoor spot for toddlers. Centre Island features Centreville Amusement Park, which boasts over 30 rides and attractions suitable for young children, like the Centreville Train and the Antique Carousel.
Enjoy a picnic, explore the Franklin Children’s Garden, or simply take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the stunning views of the Toronto skyline.
6. Canada’s Wonderland, Vaughan
For a day of thrill and fun, head to Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, just outside Toronto. The park features two sections specifically designed for younger children – KidZville and Planet Snoopy, offering over 25 rides and attractions suitable for toddlers. The park also features a 20-acre water park, Splash Works, with a dedicated children’s area.
7. African Lion Safari, Hamilton
Travel a little further west to Hamilton, where your toddlers can have a safari experience at the African Lion Safari. Drive through the game reserves to see animals like lions, giraffes, and elephants up close from your car. The park also offers a water play area, Misumu Bay Wet Play, a perfect way to cool down during hot summer days.
8. Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Falls
Finally, no trip to Ontario would be complete without a visit to Niagara Falls. While the Falls themselves are a spectacle to behold, the Butterfly Conservatory on the Niagara Parks grounds offers an enchanting experience for little ones.
With over 2,000 colorful butterflies freely floating in a lush, tropical environment, it’s like stepping into a fairytale. The Caterpillar Corner exhibit educates children about the lifecycle of a butterfly, adding an educational touch to the visit.
9. Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls
Clifton Hill, located just a short walk from the Falls, is an exciting area filled with family-friendly attractions. The Fun House and the Niagara SkyWheel are big hits among toddlers. Additionally, the Dinosaur Adventure Golf – a mini-golf course featuring life-size dinosaurs – promises a roaring good time.
10. Storybook Gardens, London
Located in London, Ontario, Storybook Gardens is a storybook-themed outdoor park that provides a unique setting for children to play and learn. From a Pirate’s Island to the Old Woman’s Shoe, the park is filled with familiar characters from children’s stories. The park also offers a splash pad, puppet shows, and even has its own ‘storybook’ animals.
11. Playtrium, Kingston
If you are venturing towards Eastern Ontario, don’t miss out on visiting Playtrium in Kingston. This indoor play center is packed with multi-level play structures, ball pits, and slides, making it a perfect spot for toddlers to burn off some energy, no matter the weather.
12. Ottawa Children’s Museum, Ottawa
Finally, finish your tour in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. The Children’s Museum, located within the Canadian Museum of History, offers a multitude of hands-on exhibits that allow children to see, touch, and explore.
They can step into different roles in the Great Adventure exhibit, learn about different cultures in Passport to the World, or unleash their creativity in the ‘Building Works’ exhibit.
Ontario, with its blend of natural wonders, world-class cities, and a plethora of attractions, offers an abundance of family-friendly destinations that both entertain and educate young children. This guide showcases some of the best spots to consider when traveling with toddlers in Ontario.
Remember, when traveling with little ones, always allow for downtime, and don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks, water, and a change of clothes. The key to a successful family vacation is to keep the journey as exciting as the destination. Happy travels!
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