Getting out and about with the kids in Toronto can get pretty expensive. Many of the theme parks, exhibitions, and water-related attractions cost a pretty penny. So, what to do when you want to treat them to a fun day but not break the bank?
Whether you want to beat the heat, hide from the rain, or take advantage of the last few sunny weeks of Summer, here are just some of the great things to do in Toronto for under $10.
The Allan Gardens Conservatory brings a floral paradise to the heart of downtown. The iron and glass conservatory was built in 1910 and houses a permanent collection of exotic plants. It also hosts seasonal flower shows, including the Summer Show’s annuals, running until September, and the Fall Chrysanthemum Exhibition and Christmas Flower Show.Free; open daily 10 am–5 pm
They’re never too young to learn about art! The Art Gallery of Ontario is a fabulous place to discover the many different styles and genres of artistic expression. Wednesdays evenings from 6 to 9 pm are free at the AGO and you can get free Museum + Arts passes from select Toronto Public Library Branches for a free visit at other times.Free Wed. 6–9 pm or with Toronto Public Library Museum + Arts Pass
A variety of beautiful gardens, including the Kitchen and Herb Garden, the Teaching Garden, and the Terraced Garden awaits your family’s discovery at Toronto Botanical Garden and Edwards Gardens. Explore them on your own, or take a 90-minute free summer garden tour with a TBG volunteer tour guide and learn more about the plants, natural landscapes, and garden design.Free; open daily dawn–dusk; tours in summer, Tue. at 10 am and Thu. at 6 pm
You and the kids can see Mr. Dressup’s Tickle Trunk, view excerpts from famous CBC shows, and enjoy many other archival materials that date all the way back to the beginning of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, at the CBC Museum. Discover the CBC’s past and future as you check out sneak previews of upcoming CBC programming at The Graham Spry Theatre, just adjacent to the museum.Free; open weekdays 9–5
Once the summer fun is fading, the cheaper outing options seem to dwindle. But the Canadian Opera Company offers the opportunity to experience some world-class talent in their Free Concert Series, from September to June. Held in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, concerts are given in vocal, piano, jazz, dance, and chamber and world music series.Free; most Tue. and Thu. at noon, some Wed. at noon or 5:30 pm
If you’ve got some sporty kids (or just want to tire them out before bedtime), hit Diamond Beach, in Etobicoke’s Centennial Park. The Diamond Beach Sports Complex features volleyball on their sand courts, lit Slo-Pitch diamonds and lit horseshoe pits, and outdoor batting cages. For a few dollars, you can try your luck at hitting a softball or hardball. They supply the bats and helmets while you try and hit pitches from 20 mph to 65 mph.Batting cages $3 per 20 piches; open weekdays noon–9 pm, weekends and holidays 10 am–8 pm
Take your pick from a multitude of activities. Summer Wednesdays are on every week in July and August and feature food trucks, a wood-fired oven, live artist performances, and cold drinks. The Bike Obstacle Course happens every Wednesday until the end of August and is open to everyone age 3 and up. You can bring your own bike or borrow theirs to hit the ramps and wind your way through the cone course. Helmets are available for all ages. Kids ages 3–10 can also try out the scavenger hunt. Just ask at the welcome desk inside the Young Welcome Centre.Admission free; $5 suggested donation for Bike Obstacle Course, $2–$5 suggested donation for scavenger hunt; check the What’s On schedule for more free upcoming events
Perfect for a rainy day, this indoor playground has a 15-foot play structure, giant jumping castle, dress-up corner, air hockey, foosball, and basketball nets and more inside a 5,500 square foot space.$8 per child, $6 per sibling; open weekdays 10 am–2 pm.Find more indoor playgrounds in Toronto; typical admission fee at each is $8–$10 per child.
Fun, free activities take place nearly every weekend at the Harbourfront Centre well into September. Take the family down to the lakefront, enjoy the cool breeze off the water, and check out something a bit different like Summer Music in the Garden free concerts; Dancing on the Pier dance lessons in a variety of styles, with a live band; and different free festivals every weekend until September 10.Free; Summer Music in the Garden Thu. at 7 pm and Sun. at 4 pm through Sept. 17; Dancing on the Pier Thu. at 7 pm through Aug. 31; see the schedule to find what’s on now
Just For Fun is a 13,000-square foot play centre for kids up to age 17. They have several play zones for age-appropriate play and there seems to be something for everyone. Just For Fun features a laser tag arena, glow-in-the-dark mini putt, trampolines, 16-foot slides, toddler climbers, foosball, air hockey, and arcade basketball games, and a dance room.$2–$8 per child; open Mon.–Thu. 10 am–7 pm, Fri. 10 am–6 pm, weekends 9:30 am–6 pm
Kidnetix refers to its indoor play centre as an interactive, educational and creative environment for the entire family. It features climbers, a ball pit, toddler ride-on toys, rock-climbing walls, a Lego wall, arcade games, an inflatable bouncer, and more.$8 per child; open Mon.–Thu. and weekends 10 am–5 pm, Fri. 10 am–3 pm
Live Outdoor Music
Yonge-Dundas Square hosts a couple of free concert series that are sure to get everyone in the family tapping their toes. Lunchtime Live concerts are a diverse selection of musical acts, from jazz to “electronic-tribal” to world music. Indie Fridays may be a bit more raucous (with a beer garden that opens three hours before the concerts begin), but still provide a great range of music, with roots rockers, alternative country, reggae, and more all represented.Free; Lunchtime Live Sept. 4–Oct. 2, Mon. 12:30 pm–1:30 pm; Indie Fridays at 8 pm through Sept. 8.
Keep the kids up late and watch a film for free! Grab your popcorn and a blanket and enjoy a walk-in movie in downtown Toronto. Catch Free Flicks with the family at the Concert Stage at Harbourfront Centre. This 1,300-seat outdoor venue has a transparent roof, so no need to cancel for a little rain. Yonge-Dundas Square also hosts a City Cinema movie night. Their Canucks, Comedy, and (John) Candy theme is sure to bring the late-night laughs.Free; Free Flicks Wed. at 9 pm; City Cinema Tue. at sunset.Browse “Movies” in our events calendar for more outdoor family movies in Toronto.
This indoor play space is for children up to age 12, but probably more suitable for younger kids. Inside the Flemingdon Community Centre in East York, it features a two-storey play structure, spiral slide, track ride, cargo elevator, and the ubiquitous ball pit. Playground Paradise will close for renovations September 4 until winter 2018.$2.50 per child for 2 hours; open Mon., Wed., Fri. and weekends; hours vary—check the schedule.
To help build kids’ art appreciation, expose them to as much art as possible. The Power Plant Gallery at Harbourfront is always free and features new exhibitions every few months, plus free Power Kids workshops for ages 7–12, with hands-on activities based on current exhibitions. Registration is required for workshops.Free; Tue., Wed. and holiday Mondays 10 am–5 pm, Thu. 10 am–8 pm, Fri.–Sun. 10 am–6 pm; find upcoming Power Kids workshops
Riverdale Farm is a great way to introduce your city kid to rural living without leaving the metropolitan area. Kids can get up close to, and discover more about, farm animals like sheep, cows, turkeys, rabbits, and more. They can chat with a farmer and explore the 7.5 acres of woods, ponds, and gardens.Free; open daily 9 am–5 pm
Finally open to the public after a very soggy spring, the Toronto Islands have an abundance of fun things to do. Centreville Amusement Park rides, bike and boat rentals, and walking tours are all available for an extra cost, but you can pay under $10 to simply board the ferry, travel to the islands, and enjoy the beauty of the three islands, including Franklin Children’s Gardens, several beaches, and a wonderful view of the city skyline. Have a picnic, bring your bike, take a swim—all for free!Ferry $7.71 per adult, $3.75 for kids under 14, free for kids under 2; ferries run frequently from 6:30 am–11:15 pm through Sept. 4, less frequently in fall; buy ferry tickets online to avoid a wait
Check out vintage police cars, uniforms, artifacts, and memorabilia at the Toronto Police Museum and Discovery Centre. Offering a blend of new and old policing items and information, the museum also features interactive displays and a gift shop. Visits must be booked ahead of time by calling 416-808-7020 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.By donation; open weekdays 8:30 am–4 pm
A great way to cool down in summer or stay active year-round is to lace up your skates and hit the ice indoors! Centennial Recreation Centre offers a variety of drop-in leisure skate times at its indoor rink, for free. Bring the family and improve your skating skills.Free; Mon., Fri. and Sat. skating hours—check the schedule for times
No matter the weather, you can enjoy a swim with your family in one of the many public pools in the city. Indoor and outdoor pools have varied leisure swim times available, so you should always be able to splash around.Free; find a pool near you for swim times