You don’t have to spend a ton of cash to plan a special day with Dad. There are plenty of inexpensive and even free things to do on Father’s Day. From hikes and road trips, to beer tasting and barbeques, there are plenty of ways to show Dad you care without breaking the bank.
Here are some inexpensive ways to celebrate Father’s Day in Toronto.
1. Throw a backyard bash.
Dads love outdoor time, especially when the grill is involved. Bust out the barbeque and make Dad the best backyard meal he’s ever eaten. (Read up on healthy and safe grilling and impress Dad with your grill skills!) Cook his entire lunch or dinner and serve him as the guest of honour. Just make sure you also do the cleanup afterwards, so Dad can keep relaxing.
2. Camp out under the stars.
Grab your tent and marshmallows and head to a nearby campground (or Dad’s favourite spot) for some much needed quiet time, and maybe even a little fishing. You can send Dad all by himself if he needs some alone time, or bring the whole gang for some family fun.
Alternatively, just set up the tent in your yard, string up a hammock, and have a staycation.
3. Eat local.
Head to one of the great farmers’ markets in the GTA to try some delicious local treats, and find the perfect homemade gift for Dad. This is a great way to support local businesses and artisans, and also spend a day browsing and sampling.
4. Have a picnic.
If you don’t have a yard, the best way to spend a beautiful, sunny Father’s Day afternoon is to prepare a picnic of all Dad’s favourite foods and head to a nearby park. You could stop by a local market (see #3) on your way and let Dad choose his own treats, or have everything prepared ahead of time.
Make sure you bring some lawn games, like bocce ball, croquet, Frisbee, or beanbag toss, to keep everyone busy and entertained.
5. Head to a festival.
June is the start of festival season in Toronto, so there are plenty of fun (and free!) festivals that Dad will love. See our events calendar for a full list.
6. Organize a beer tasting.
Toronto is craft beer crazy, so there are many ways to go about this. You can send Dad out on his very own brewery hop by making him a map of local spots (consult the Ontario Beer Network) to stop and taste, which also means he’ll be outside walking around and experiencing the neighbourhood.
Or you can bring the beer to him and serve him a sample flight of great local beers, along with some delicious snacks that you prepared ahead. This idea works even better if you get a bunch of dads together to partake!
7. Go to a car show.
On Father’s Day, head to Yorkville for the 7th Annual Exotic Car Show. Dads can get up close and personal with some amazing cars, including classics and brand new designs. The show is free and lasts all afternoon.
8. Take a road trip.
Take advantage of the amazing June weather and head someplace with oodles of natureal beauty or find a family-friendly weekend destination. Have somebody else drive (unless Dad loves being at the wheel) and take the family to the beach, a local conservation area, or one of the many stunning Ontario lakes.
9. Write him a book.
No matter how old you are, homemade gifts never go out of style, and are a great way to save money while still showing how much you care. Little ones can draw cute pictures to be bound together into a book, while older kids can use their imaginations to come up with exciting mysteries and thrilling adventure stories that Dad will love. Bonus points if you write Dad in as a main character!
10. Plan a scavenger hunt.
Scavenger hunts are fun, challenging, and can be a great way to get the whole family involved. If planning an entire scavenger hunt seems daunting, there are tons of great resources online (like this nature scavenger hunt) that will point you in the right direction.
You can make the hunt nice and easy by leaving the clues around the house and yard, or you can get your friends and family involved and take the hunt to the streets.
11. Go for a hike.
Many dads spend all week at work and don’t get enough fresh air, so head for the great outdoors this Father’s Day for a nice long hike. There are plenty of great hiking spots nearby in conservation areas or at points along the Bruce Trail—or even within the city limits on Discovery Walks (Don Valley trails, Humber River trail, and more) or in High Park. Don’t forget your water, sunscreen, bug spray, and snacks!
12. Make a movie.
This is a fairly easy project; kids not only love being silly for the camera, but dads love watching the footage later! This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, you can just use your phone to film the kids having fun, talking to Dad, or acting out a little skit. Older kids can read Dad heartfelt letters or write a script with dialogue and action.
After you present your movie to Dad, pull out any other home videos and enjoy some afternoon nostalgia. Or make it an event by borrowing or renting a projector and screening the films in the backyard!
13. Learn the history of Dad.
Take a tour around his hometown, stopping at all the places he loved as a kid, and encourage him to share as many stories as possible. Start by looking at old photographs, to get some context for the places you’re going to visit.
This is a great way to bond together and learn some family history. It’s also fun for kids to learn what their dad was like when he was their age.
14. Experience some culture.
Toronto has many amazing art galleries and museums that are great for families. This year on Father’s Day try a Family Funday at the ROM or see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the AGO (and visit the Kids’ Gallery).
You can visit your favourite museum for free with the Museum + Arts Pass Program at the Toronto Public Library. Using only your library card, you can borrow family passes (for two adults and up to five kids) to the Ontario Science Centre, the ROM, the AGO, the Toronto Zoo, and many more amazing locations. Check in at your local library branch for more information.
15. Honour Canada’s history.
Enjoy a weekend of war reenactments and military encampments at the Battle of Black Creek at Black Creek Pioneer Village—free this year to celebrate Canada 150! Crack spy codes, learn how a musket works, and see how casualties are treated. Kids can run drills while Dad heads to the Historic Brewery for some tasty samples.
See our events calendar for upcoming family-friendly events in Toronto and the GTA.