Author Topic: Toronto help?  (Read 733 times)

I'm a red panda

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Toronto help?
« on: September 10, 2018, 12:29:42 PM »
We are planning to go to Toronto in early November with our not quite 2 year old.
Right now are plans are a bike tour of the city (yes, we know it will be cold, we aren't booking ahead in case there is a lot of snow); a food tour, a trip to the zoo, maybe the science center, the royal ontario museum, just walking around.

Can anyone give me some help on focusing what area of the city we want to stay in?
I assume that Toronto has good public transportation, so I don't need to worry about renting a car or getting around much.  (That's been my experience in other Canadian cities.)

I'd also love any other family-friendly suggestions you might have.  We've talked a lot about a daytrip to Niagra, but I think due to weather we are likely to skip it.

KS

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2018, 10:49:03 PM »
Ha! We just got back from a brief visit with our nearly-3 year old, she loved it and has been asking to go back. :) Weather totally different, but hot and humid might have had us indoors almost as much as snow would. We visited the aquarium which wasn't on your list but was pretty fun, and another cool option for a quick cheap visit if it's open when you're there is the railway museum across the street from aquarium. Bunch of old railcars outside you can look at for free, and a little tiny mini train you can ride around that is $3 a ticket and very fun for the little ones.

We stayed in an Airbnb condo right next to (actually overlooking) Union station and it was really convenient to the stuff we wanted to do for kiddo as well as the hockey hall of fame for my husband. Plus if you're flying in and/or out of Toronto Pearson there is a great direct train that runs every 15 min so having a short walk with all our gear was very helpful. We could also see the ferry to the nearby islands so that was presumably walkable too though we weren't staying long enough to visit them (one of them, think it's called center island, looked like it had a lot of kid stuff to do.) So, we were happy with staying in vicinity of Union station for sure. But we didn't do a lot of the things on your list so I'd check to make sure they're convenient! They also have a network of underground/over-road tunnels you can walk through called PATH that might be good to study up on before you go in case it's very snowy... It seems like a very nice option and Google maps kept telling us to take it but we hadn't heard of it and were very confused until we did more research. Often not obvious to a newbie where the entrances are to get into it!

Freedomin5

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 07:35:49 AM »
You will want to stay downtown, on a subway line. Try to stay west of Yonge St. (east of Yonge downtown is kind of sketchy). But not too far west because that gets sketchy too. The Yonge St. corridor is where I would stay if I had to live downtown. Bloor St. west is also a good bet. Lots of shops and good restaurants around there. Union station, as mentioned by the previous poster is also convenient.

The tourist destinations you named is all over the city. The zoo is way out in the east. I donít think you can get there by subway, and itís a friggin long bus ride out to the zoo from downtown. Center Island is vey nice in the summer. I donít know how it will be like in the winter (November) but there is a petting zoo there and Centreville with fun kiddie rides and a beach and bike rentals. I have no idea whether any of that will be open in November so youíll have to check the website.

Science Center is also fun, but itís in mid-town. I canít remember whether theyíve opened a subway line there but in the past it was only accessible by bus 

Fantasy Fair at Woodbine Centre is another fun indoor option, if itís too cold to hang out outside. Itís far, and best reached with a car.

Also a trip up the CN tower might be fun if itís a clear day.

If itís snowing, then ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square might be fun.

A lot of the options you mentioned are quite pricey. I doubt your not-yet-two year old would remember any of it. When DD was under two, and we went home to Toronto in the summer, we just brought her to the nearest playground and let her toddle around picking up leaves and sticks. She definitely did not remember the zoo. I think we paid over $100 for admission tickets and she was awake for only the morning (around 3 hours) and then took a 2 hour nap, thereby pretty much wasting half the day. And she canít remember any of it now.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 07:36:55 AM »
Thanks for the reply @KS
The aquarium was something we were thinking about, and the railcar museum sounds cool. She just likes to walk around and look at stuff.  We figure as long as it is above 0C we can easily spend a good portion of the day walking around outside. (They take the kids outside at daycare until that threshold.)  Since we will be there the first week of November, it sounds unlikey to be very snowy- but if it is, we'll figure out plans. We get very snowy here too :)

I'll look at the Union station area for an airBnB (we definitely want a seperate room for her), and compare it to the places we were thinking about going.  Is there any chance you would message me the link to the one you used?

I'm a red panda

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2018, 07:42:55 AM »
You will want to stay downtown, on a subway line. Try to stay west of Yonge St. (east of Yonge downtown is kind of sketchy). But not too far west because that gets sketchy too. The Yonge St. corridor is where I would stay if I had to live downtown. Bloor St. west is also a good bet. Lots of shops and good restaurants around there. Union station, as mentioned by the previous poster is also convenient.

The tourist destinations you named is all over the city. The zoo is way out in the east. I donít think you can get there by subway, and itís a friggin long bus ride out to the zoo from downtown. Center Island is vey nice in the summer. I donít know how it will be like in the winter (November) but there is a petting zoo there and Centreville with fun kiddie rides and a beach and bike rentals. I have no idea whether any of that will be open in November so youíll have to check the website.

Science Center is also fun, but itís in mid-town. I canít remember whether theyíve opened a subway line there but in the past it was only accessible by bus 

Fantasy Fair at Woodbine Centre is another fun indoor option, if itís too cold to hang out outside. Itís far, and best reached with a car.

Also a trip up the CN tower might be fun if itís a clear day.

If itís snowing, then ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square might be fun.

A lot of the options you mentioned are quite pricey. I doubt your not-yet-two year old would remember any of it. When DD was under two, and we went home to Toronto in the summer, we just brought her to the nearest playground and let her toddle around picking up leaves and sticks. She definitely did not remember the zoo. I think we paid over $100 for admission tickets and she was awake for only the morning (around 3 hours) and then took a 2 hour nap, thereby pretty much wasting half the day. And she canít remember any of it now.

Thanks for the suggestions of where to stay, and some information about the public transportation. That's very helpful.

The zoo trip is really more for us; it's something we really like to do. She's free, so it is just our tickets.
Thanks for the Fantasy Fair suggestion, I'll have to look at transportation options, as we won't have a car.
 
I'd love to go ice skating, but having taught toddlers skating for years- I think she's a bit too young. Some 2 year olds could do it, but they really do better at 3; I don't think she would have the motor skills at not quite 2. That's actually the reason we decided on Toronto instead of Ottawa later in the winter. I dream of skating some of the Rideau Canal - and want her to be old enough to do it with me, so I'll wait until she's school aged.

KS

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2018, 07:38:48 PM »
Thanks for the reply @KS
The aquarium was something we were thinking about, and the railcar museum sounds cool. She just likes to walk around and look at stuff.  We figure as long as it is above 0C we can easily spend a good portion of the day walking around outside. (They take the kids outside at daycare until that threshold.)  Since we will be there the first week of November, it sounds unlikey to be very snowy- but if it is, we'll figure out plans. We get very snowy here too :)

I'll look at the Union station area for an airBnB (we definitely want a seperate room for her), and compare it to the places we were thinking about going.  Is there any chance you would message me the link to the one you used?

Will do! Also forgot to mention a big hit with our kid and lots of other kids who stopped by, Berczy Park (easy walk from where we stayed) has a fountain that's all dogs. Google will show you better than I can describe it haha. Anyway random but she got a kick out of it and went to sit on and/or pet all the dogs. Another easy free way to spend a little time and has some cute photo ops!

I'm a red panda

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2018, 07:45:43 PM »
The dog fountain sounds adorable! Thanks for the tidbit!
She would recognize dogs and loves to say woof woof. (She also roars at the Lions at the zoo...but right now her vocals are limited.)

okits

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2018, 08:52:09 PM »
I posted this for CM*TO 2018, so not everything is kid-focused, but maybe still useful:

Quote
For those with a little extra time before or after camp, and who are staying in Toronto, a few ideas of things to do.

10 Amazing Things You Can Do in Toronto For Under $10

#1 Cloud Garden
#2 Ferry to Toronto Island
#4 St. Lawrence Market (a number of years back, voted one of the best food markets in the world)
#5 Walking tour (a bunch of years ago I did a walking tour with this company - Jason was a fun and entertaining guide!)

These are all right in the downtown core (Union Station area) or a very short walk (15 mins).

#3 Board Game at Snakes & Lattes
#6 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
#7 Graffiti Alley
#8 Kensington Market
#9 Tilt Arcade Bar
#10 Trivia at Drake Hotel

These are all a bit further out bit still considered "downtown" and are transit-accessible.

Walking around the Distillery District is lovely; cobblestone streets, some cool stores, hip restaurants, and a brew pub.  About 1.7km (1 mile) if walking from Union Station.

Getting places by public transit:
- zoo: will involve GO train or subway plus a bus (buses are hit and miss)
- Science Centre: subway & bus but the bus route is heavily serviced so this won't be terrible
- Royal Ontario Museum & Aquarium: downtown and by subway station

The Toronto Transit Commission has a trip planner that is useful. 

If the weather isn't terrible, there are lots of playgrounds around town.  Free and an easy way for kiddo to burn off some energy.  You may also find it useful to know where the nearby libraries are, in case you need a place to duck into for warmth or to calm your toddler down with some books and quiet.
 
There are also lots of Mustachians in Toronto and our usual MMMeet up is to congregate in an empty (public) sitting area in the office complex by Union station in the evening.  If you're game to bring kiddo (or leave your DH at the AirBnB to watch her) we could organize a MMMeet up so we can meet you/you can meet us.  :)))

I'm a red panda

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2018, 07:16:35 AM »
@okits - Thanks so much! That's really helpful.

When you say buses are hit or miss- does that just meant they don't necessarily run on schedule, or is there a chance that if a bus is supposed to come every 20 minutes it might never show up at all?   It seemed like we were going to have to rely on buses to get to a number of places we wanted to go...
The zoo looks like it will be a terrible pain to get to, but one of the main draws for us, so we are going to just have to plan a 2-hour treck, and call it part of the adventure. 


Does anyone know anything about the greeters program?  Looks like they do a free 2 hour tour. Worth signing up for?

okits

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Re: Toronto help?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2018, 10:42:00 AM »
When you say buses are hit or miss- does that just meant they don't necessarily run on schedule, or is there a chance that if a bus is supposed to come every 20 minutes it might never show up at all?   

Both. :P  IME you'll have better luck taking a bus starting from its origin point (subway station); won't have had a chance to get caught in traffic.  Generally speaking, I prefer subway over buses for reliability.