You may be tempted to hibernate under a duvet in front of the TV in winter, but first off, children’s energy levels won’t allow it and besides, with all the things to do in Toronto and nearby, there’s no excuse not to get out there and make the best of the season.
Better yet, relish in it! Toronto has some great places to skate, sled, ski, and play in the snow. Once everyone is all bundled up properly, spending time outdoors in winter can be a lot of fun. Bonus: Afterward, you’ve never deserved the hot cocoa more!
Here’s our master list of cold-weather activities to keep the kiddos busy this winter in Toronto.
It’s a no-brainer on a snowy day. Head out early when the sun is shining and finish up with hot cocoa, of course! See our list of the best toboggan hills in Toronto by neighbourhood.
Head to an indoor playground.
Sometimes your own home is just too small to contain the energy! There are indoor playgrounds for kids in every corner of the city and the GTA, ranging from single-room play areas with soft structures ideal for babies and toddlers to huge complexes with ball pits, twisty slides, laser tag, and arcade games.
See a movie.
It’s not exactly active, but it does count as getting out of the house! Take kids to the newest blockbusters this winter like Mary Poppins Returns (December 19, 2018), The Lego Movie 2 (February 8) or How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (February 22) or check out a second-run film at Cineplex Family Favourites $3 movies every Saturday at 11 am at participating theatres.
There aren’t as many local bowling alleys in Toronto as there used to be—and one of the classics, Bathurst Bowlerama, closed in December. But you can still find a few open lanes for old-school family-friendly fun—whether five- or ten-pin is your game. See a list of Toronto and GTA bowling alleys.
Sign up for an after-school activity.
Since kids can’t spend time as much time at the park or biking after school, sign them up for any program that involves running around. Plus, registering for something gives you that extra incentive to actually stick to getting out of the house. Find classes and programs in Toronto and the GTA.
Take a trip to a museum.
Most museums and galleries have free entry at times and many have ongoing or special exhibits for kids and families. Family Sunday activities, with crafts and workshops for kids, are popular at museums during the winter, too. Find museums and other attractions in Toronto and the GTA.
Visit your local library.
When is the last time you patronized your local library? Check for special programs like storytelling or workshops for kids. Or just let kids browse for books and movies and magazines. Best of all—it’s free! Find a Toronto Public Library location (with map).
There is something delicious about swimming in a heated pool while you know it’s snowing outside! Search out the best indoor swimming pools in your area (or even a wave pool) and pack your beach towel.
Collect old winter coats, hats, mitts, scarves and boots from family members and neighbours and donate them to a local charity. Or find other ways to volunteer or give back.
Go ice skating.
Roller skating is a classic—and depending on your tolerance for the cold, you can ice-skate indoors or out. Here are some of the best ice-skating rinks in the city.
Practice your ball skills.
Find a place to do baseball batting practice, shoot hoops, or do soccer drills inside. Most community centres have open gym times for kids and some entertainment complexes have
Trampoline parks are a great way to blow off some steam—for you and the kids. You probably already know about Sky Zone, but here are other trampoline gyms you may not have heard of.
Play laser tag.
For kids who turn any household object into something that shoots (sigh) or who just love a physical challenge, laser tag is a great outlet. There are huge dedicated laser tag centres in the GTA plus entertainment centres and indoor playgrounds that have laser tag along with tamer attractions like ball pits and arcades.
Solve an escape room.
The popularity of escape rooms shows no signs of slowing down. The basic premise: you and your teammates (the group you book with) work together finding and solving clues and puzzles that progressively move you toward your goal: to solve the mystery and escape the room! Not all escape rooms are suitable for kids, but we’ve got a list of eight family-friendly escape rooms.
Play board games at a café.
Take family game night out of the house and to one of Toronto’s many board game cafés. They are stocked with all kinds of games for all ages, from old-school games like Hungry Hippos and Trivial Pursuit to all the German-style strategy games you could imagine. (Catan, anyone?)
Take a walk outside!
Mother Nature is amazing. Appreciate where you live by bundling up and taking a walk in the snow at High Park, Downsview Park, the Humber River Trail, the Don Valley Trail, the Beltline, the Glen Stewart Ravine, or at the wonderful Rouge National Urban Park.
Take a family exercise class or yoga class.
You probably knew about “mommy and me” and stroller-cize classes when you had a tiny tot, but there are family classes open to older kids too. Many kid-friendly karate (and other martial arts) studios and yoga studios offer at least one family class for moms/dads and kids together. See these family-friendly yoga classes in Toronto.
Make some art.
Pottery painting studios like Crock-A-Doodle and Glaze Craze allow kids to get artistic on a whim. But many art studios with registered classes for kids also schedule one-off workshops on weekends.
See a play or musical.
Theatres are full steam ahead in the winter months with plays, musicals, puppet shows, and concerts. Check what’s on at Young People’s Theatre downtown, Solar Stage children’s theatre (Wychwood Barns), Lower Ossington Theatre on the west end, and others. See what’s on in our events calendar, updated daily.
Root for the home team.
Sporting events don’t just include the huge pro games like the Raptors and Maple Leafs, where tickets can be pricey or even impossible to get. You can also have a blast cheering on The Toronto Rock (lacrosse), Toronto Marlies (AHL hockey), Toronto Furies and Markham Thunder (women’s pro hockey), Ryerson Rams basketball and hockey, Mississauga Steelheads (junior hockey), the Brampton Beast (ECHL hockey), the KW Titans (basketball), and others.
Visit a sugar shack.
‘Tis the season for maple tapping! At least once this winter, you must get to a maple farm for pancake breakfasts, fresh maple taffy, and horse-drawn wagon rides. See a list of Toronto-area sugar shacks and maple farms.
Strap on some skis.
You don’t have to trek up to Blue Mountain to go downhill skiing or snowboarding. There are smaller hills close to Toronto, including at Earl Bales Park in North York. They may not be mighty, but they’re mighty fun for little learners. Cross-country skiing is a fun way to spend some time in winter, too. Find local cross-country ski trails that offer rentals.
Drop in and play.
Drop-in programs, many of them free or low-cost, exist in every corner of the city—some, like the EarlyON centre drop-ins are specifically for little children (ages 0–6), but others serve kids of different ages. Find a City of Toronto drop-in near you or check out local JCCs (open to everyone) or Ontario Community Health Centre locations.