While it’s nice to imagine our kids being so enthralled with all their new toys and books that they never utter the words “I’m bored” over winter break, the truth is that at some point, they’re going to want to leave the house—and likely, so will you.
Ticketed events are great, and Toronto is spoiled with kid-friendly shows, but sometimes getting organized for a musical or sports game can be a little challenging. Thankfully the city is also home to plenty of drop-in style programming.
Below we round up 8 activities that are sure to entertain your kids this winter break.
Holiday Animal Enrichment Days
Holiday surprises aren’t only for humans! During the Zoo’s Holiday Animal Enrichment Days, visitors get to watch polar bears, lemurs, and giraffes get special treats and activities while learning more about how the Toronto Zoo’s Behavioural Husbandry Program engages the 5,000+ creatures that call the zoo home. Each day is a little different so be sure to check the calendar to see which animals are focused on when.
Location: Toronto Zoo
Dates: December 26–January 6
Ontario’s largest indoor amusement park, Fantasy Fair, is a great spot to take younger kids for a day of age-appropriate thrills. Attractions include a Ferris wheel, an old-fashion carousel and bumper cars. There’s also a large, three-level play gym that’s perfect for burning off pent-up energy. Ride tickets can be purchased individually or get your kids an unlimited ride pass.
Location: Woodbine Shopping Centre
Dates: Open daily (closed December 25 and January 1); see holiday hours here
Ice Skating at The Bentway
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors! Grab the kids and head down to The Bentway, where you can skate on Toronto’s coolest rink. There’s no admission fee and skate rentals are even free on Thursday evenings. And yes, there is food, drink, and most important, warming lounges on site.
Location: The Bentway Skate Trail, 250 Fort York Blvd., Toronto
Dates: December 20–January 5
The Energy Show
At the Science Centre’s Energy Show, you’ll learn about the different types of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy, through interactive and animated investigation, experimentation and collaboration. Once your kids have had their fill of subatomic particles, explore the rest of the Centre, which is packed with hands-on displays. Need an excuse to sit? Then stop by the IMAX Dome, which over winter break will be screening a films about the Great Bear Rainforest, dogs and there super powers and volcanoes.
Location: Ontario Science Centre
Dates: Daily through January 6 (closed December 25)
Indoor playgrounds are a fantastic way for kids to burn off some energy, but those entrance fees can add up quickly. That’s what’s so great about Playground Paradise, a beautiful, big indoor playground renovated in 2018 that is completely free. That does mean that it can get busy so it’s best to get there as soon as it opens, which is 10 am every day but Thursday (when it opens at 4 pm). On weekends, toddlers get a head start on the crowds with a 9:30 am open time.
Location: Flemingdon Community Centre
Date: Open daily year-round; call ahead for holiday closures
ROM for the Holidays
Starting at 10:00 am each day, ROM for the Holidays gives kids the chance to discover over 30,000 species that feed on blood, explore an extraordinary collection of classic horror and sci-fi movie posters, and catch a glimpse into the world’s most stunning wildlife photography. There’s a lot for families and friends of all ages to explore at the ROM.
Location: Royal Ontario Museum
Dates: December 26–January 5
Twister in Two Ways
In December, the AGO’s Family Sundays focus on spinning tops! Bring your family down to the Weston Family Learning Centre and have your kids join in on a giant floor game of twister and make small “twisty” paper art works.
Location: Art Gallery of Ontario
Dates: December 22 and December 29
Free Events at the Toronto Public Library
In addition to being a valuable resource for an endless flow of books and movies, your neighbourhood library is likely also hosting special, kid-oriented events this winter break. These often free activities include everything from a board game cafe to noon-time New Year’s Eve party (happening at branches across the city!) to making holiday crafts. To find out what’s happening near you, find your local Toronto Public Library branch.
Location: Various TPL branches