50 things to do with kids this fall in Toronto
Fall activities for kids in Toronto might be some of the best of any season. Sure the winter holidays can be fun and gift-filled, but for sheer variety and fun it's hard to beat autumn. With the really cold weather on the way, it's nice to be able to get children of all ages outdoors and active.
Here are 50 things to do with kids this fall in Toronto.
Play a round of mini putt
As the weather turns colder, there are still plenty of spots to play mini putt indoors. Dazzle your kids (and yourself) with the glow-in-the-dark courses at the Putting Edge, get serious at the Markham Golf Dome or spend a day at RINX mini golfing and tackling a slew of other activities such as laser tag and bowling.
Groove to live music at Fort York
You're never to young to start loving music festivals. Small World On Common Ground is a free fest at Fort York with a ton of family-friendly tunes, art activities, and more.
Show them the world through photography
If you've exhausted all the exhibitions at the ROM and AGO, try going to a new type of show. Brookfield Place will be home to World Press Photo 15, an exhibition of prize-winning photos, from September 30th to October 20th.
See the fall colours
You don't need to go on a hike to see fall colours in Toronto (though that would be a good idea). There are tons of parks and vantage points from which you can enjoy fall's splendour. Rosedale Valley Road is a gorgeous drive, a picnic in High Park is great on a warm day, and the Leslie Street Spit is great for a bike ride.
Go for a nature ride
The massive Tommy Thompson Park features lush biking trails perfect for bird watching and admiring the fall foliage, but the Don and Humber Valleys are also great. If you're not up for cycling, you can always take a guided nature walk held on weekend mornings.
Go apple picking
Apparently hand-picked apples make the best pies. Test this theory and take a drive outside of the city to Chudleigh's or another nearby spot such as Organics Family Farm or Applewood Farm Winery.
Admire the creativity at Night of Dread
Clay & Paper Theatre host their annual Night of Dread Parade, an evening to call on, mock, and banish our private and collective fears. The dress code is black and white and dreadful on at Dufferin Grove Park. Join musicians, puppeteers, dancers and stilt walkers in taking to the streets to eradicate our nightmares.
Stay up late at Nuit Blanche
While most adults experience Nuit Blanche as a all night art affair, the event starts at sundown, so kids can have a similar if scaled back experience. It's also worth noting that the streets are at their most manageable right when the event kicks off, so it'll be a lot easier to keep track of the little ones as you explore the various installations.
Make a zine
Broken Pencil's Annie Wong, with the help of the Integrated Studios Program at the AGO, will spend the day teaching older kids and teens how to create their very own zines. This workshop is part of Canzine 2015.
Teach your kids about democracy
By now, most kids (and adults) are inundated with political ads. Show them another side of the federal election by taking them to a polling station on October 19. They'll see how easy, and important, it is to vote.
Experience the Diwali Festival of Lights
Check out one of the many celebratory festivals going on in the GTA for Diwali. There will be plenty of lamps, fireworks and bonfires lit in celebration.
Say hi to Elmo
It's always a sunny day when Sesame Street is on the horizon. Take your kids to one of the four performances of Sesame Street Live: Make a New Friend at the Sony Centre and introduce them to their favourite characters in real life.
Make your own hot chocolate tour
While you could plan a hot chocolate hop via the annual Toronto Chocolate Festival, which gets underway October 17, it's also easy to DIY this one. All you need to do is check out our roundup of the best hot chocolate makers above, put on a snug scarf, and head to streets in search of sweet warmth.
Look for clues at Murder at the ROM
Though Murder at the ROM is a recurring event year round, October is the ideal time to take advantage of it. Play a life-sized game of Clue around the museum, hunting for evidence and lining up suspects to catch the culprit. Word to the wise, if your child is on the younger side or scares easily, you may want to skip it.
Pick a pumpkin at a farm
Skip pumpkin shopping at your local Loblaws and instead opt for a day trip beyond city limits. Though not too common in the city, there are plenty of farms on Toronto's outskirts that sell gourds of all shapes and sizes. Markham, Oshawa, and Alliston are just a few options.
Look for ghosts on a haunted walk
If you kid loves all things spooky and supernatural, take then out for a haunted tour. You'll visit the creepiest places in the city and maybe even happen upon a spirit or two.
Try pumpkin bowling at the inaugural PumpkinFest
Pumpkins can be used for much more than crafting the finest Jack-o'-lantern in town. On the second weekend of October, head to Downsview Park for Pumpkinfest. You and your kids can try your hand at bowling and take in all the kid-friendly autumnal attractions on tap.
Go shopping for a Halloween costume
With many empty big box retailers transforming into massive Halloween emporiums at this time of year, finding the perfect costume shouldn't be too difficult. But, you can always get even more creative by DIY-ing your own outfit with vintage or thrift store finds.
Make a haunted gingerbread house
Christmas isn't the only season for gingerbread houses. Swap out your Santas and snowmen for a few ghosts and ghouls and you'll be halloween ready. Amp up the spook factor with a few candy floss spider webs for a little something extra.
Get spooked at a haunted house
You don't need to head to Niagara Falls for a haunted house. Along with Wonderland's annual Halloween Haunt, it hosts Camp Spooky during the day for younger kids. If fear's not a factor for those 10 and older, consider the more terrifying Screemers at Exhibition Place.
Get monster sweaty at the Monster Dash
Prepare for the zombie apocalypse at this Halloween-themed 5 or 10k timed run. It's also kid friendly thanks to a non-competitive "Spooky Mile." Costumes are encouraged for this family-oriented race, which happens on October 25 in Leaside.
Disect a cow's eyeball
This is the ultimate activity for halloween season, providing your child isn't super squeamish. They'll get a hands-on biology lesson while they learn about vision and how eyes work.
Bid goodbye to your jack-o-latern
After the excitement of Halloween has come and gone, celebrate one last time at a pumpkin parade. Sorauren Park's is one of the biggest, but there are now plenty to choose from. On November 1st pumpkin carvers decorate the park paths with their jack-o-lantern masterpieces.
See some waterfalls
If you want to take a family day trip, why not head out of the city to check out some of Mother Nature's best work? Hamilton is your best bet if you want to discover a few, as it boasts over 100 waterfalls.
Attend a book reading and bookplate making workshop
Listen to a reading by award-winning children's author AndrĂŠe Poulin and then create original bookplates. Other fall reading events include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded at the North York Central Library and an All the Libraries talk and colouring event with artist Daniel Rotsztain.
Go on a fall hike
This city is blessed with some absolutely gorgeous ravines peppered with hiking trails. The Don Valley Brick Works and Crothers Woods are two of the finest, but the possibilities stretch all the way to the Humber Valley in the west and the Scarborough Bluffs and Rouge Park in the east.
Visit the Children's Discovery Centre before it closes
The Children's Discovery Centre is open until December 31st, and with the weather getting cold indoor play space is even more precious. The centre is divided into a series of zones, all of which focus on the idea of learning through play, including the boom room where kids can go all out with musical instruments.
Get festive at the Cavalcade of Lights
The Cavalcade of Lights will have you thinking about the holidays, but it's still a fall event -- one that's been going on for 49 years at Nathan Phillips Square. There will be a fantastic fireworks display, the lighting of the city's Christmas tree, and skating at the City Hall rink. Bundle up and enjoy.
See the animals at the Royal Winter Fair
Head to Exhibition Place for a day of animal-filled fun. There will be rabbit jumping, jack russel races, horse shows, and tons more. If you and your kids want to interact with the animals, there will also be a petting farm with llamas, baby goats, and mini donkeys.
Hit the ice
Toronto's outdoor ice rinks typically open in mid to late November, with Nathan Phillips Square leading the pack. If you can't wait that long, arenas like Forest Hill and Leaside run pleasure skating hours so the little ones can get hone their skills before winter arrives in earnest.
Cheer on the Raptors
While the Jays might make the playoffs and the Leafs are always the hottest ticket in town, basketball is likely the most kid friendly spectator sports: the action is constant, the in-game entertainment is typically exciting, and it's not so hard to get tickets. Try a pre-season game if you're looking for a deal.
Visit the AGO for Family Sundays
The AGO is a fantastic place for kids of a wider age range than one might imagine. While touring the galleries with toddlers can be taxing, downstairs there's the Weston Family Learning Centre, which runs family-focused programming between 1pm and 4pm.
Play bows and arrows
If your kid is a fan of The Hunger Games or The Avengers, chances are they'll be stoked to get their hands on a bow and arrow. Let them try their hand at target practice, or if you want to make it a family trip, opt for a game of archery tag and play as a team.
Brave the crowds at the Santa Claus Parade
The 111th Santa Claus Parade goes down on November 15th this, and if you're brave enough it can be a magical experience for the kids (if draining for parents). There is a lot of waiting (and it can be cold), but when Santa comes along in his sled, the joy on kids faces is palpable.
Get creative at 4Cats
Get your creative juices flowing at 4Cats, where you can indulge in arts and crafts of all kinds. A huge plus, going to the studio will squash the chances of PVA glue and acrylic paint getting all over your living room furniture.
Look for owls
While the zoo may be fun, there are plenty of other places in the city to experience wildlife. Head to the Kortright Centre for the Owl Prowl, where you and your kids can hike the grounds in the evening, calling out to the owls - and with some luck - spotting a few.
Nothing builds patience like crafting a crane by carefully folding a piece of paper multiple times. So grab your kid a stack of paper and guidebook and let them go to town. A bonus, this hobby is much more affordable than gymnastics classes.
Treat them to something new at a Toy Fair
With the seasons changing, there's a chance that your child already has Christmas presents on the brain. Even though there's a few months to go, treat your little one with a gift at InToyStellar. A plus, the toy fair also has special guests, tournaments, and is free for kids.
Get them hooked on Crossfit
With the cold weather beginning to roll in, you'll need to find an indoor activity for your child to release some energy. CrossFit Kids is the answer. Plus, with halloween on the horizon it doesn't hurt to do their bodies some good before they start sneaking Snickers bars for breakfast.
Listen to live jazz while you look at sharks
Ripley's Aquarium is always a hit with kids for obvious reasons. If you want to amp up your underwater experience, head there on a Friday night. A jazz band plays takes the stage for an evening performance, making shark spotting even more entertaining.
Celebrate international archeology day at the ROM
Head to the Digging the ROM this October and get your child into archaeology. They'll have the opportunity to hear stories from ROM archaeologists, watch Roman army re-enactors do military drills, and more.
Practice their downward dog
Get your kid into yoga at an early age by signing them up for classes at Spynga. They may not be mastering complex poses like scorpion, but they'll probably ace tree and chair.
Volunteer at a food bank
With Thanksgiving approaching and the holidays around the corner, food banks are usually swamped with donations. Teach your kids the importance of volunteerism and check out organizations like the North York Harvest Food Bank, The Stop Community Food Centre and the Fort York Food Bank for opportunities to help out.
Take them to the symphony
Hear Rick Mercer narrate the orchestral fairytale Peter and The Wolf as he's backed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The program will feature other classical works, such as Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, in this concert that supports SickKids.
Learn about the human body
The Magic School Bus might have taken us all on an animated trip through the human body, but for a more realistic look, check out The Human Body, an IMAX film currently playing at the Ontario Science Centre.
Sing along with Raffi
Join your kids as they belt out classics such as "Baby Beluga" and "Bananaphone" with celebrated children's singer, and Order of Canada Winner, Raffi. Thankfully, this concert will have two matinee showings at Roy Thompson Hall.
Discover a new, favourite comic book
Little Island Comics, a kid friendly graphic novel mecca is a great place to pick out your fall reads. Get your kids hooked on classics like Batman and Captain America, or find a new series you've never heard of.
Make something awesome
With a visit to MakerKids or the soon-to-open STEAMLabs, your kids will learn to start tinkering with a variety of technologies and materials including 3D printing, robotics, woodworking, Arduino and other crafts.
See a play
Toronto is home to incredible children's theatre companies. The Young People's Theatre will open its 50th season on October 5, Solar Stage presents work for kids as young as three and Firebrand Theatre's Dora Award-winning play Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story is on tour. Also check out Theatre Direct and Roseneath Theatre.
Discover the charms of historic Unionville
While strolling down Main Street Unionville, you feel like you've stepped back in time thanks to the charming shops that line both sides of the street. Warm up with hot chocolate from Old Firehall Confectionary, check out an exhibition at the Varley Art Gallery or take a walk around Toogood Pond.
What did we miss? Add your favourite fall kids activities in the comments.
Writing by Alice Prendergast, Amy Grief, and Derek Flack.
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