Views of Toronto from aboard the Pirate Life boat ride. (Photo: Torontonian / Alamy)
Keeping the kids occupied and entertained on vacation can be a struggle for even the most creative parents. So, where to go when you’ve hit the usual sightseeing standbys in Toronto?
A Hero’s Quest in Downtown Toronto
Transform a trip to Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) into an exciting quest through time and alternate dimensions when you download AGO’s “Time Tremors” interactive app. Your family works as a team, partnering with heroes Max and Medie, to demolish the greatest evil force in the universe: Terrifying teacher Miss Bugly.
Choose from four themed adventures, each one leading you on a hunt for ancient relics among AGO’s more than 80,000-piece collection. The app shares secrets and fascinating facts about the museum’s works, so in addition to having a blast, it’s a cool way for you and the kids to learn more about the artifacts housed in this downtown museum.
A Working Farm in the Middle of Downtown
Leave your cell phone behind and visit a little-known pastoral gem in the heart of the city’s Cabbagetown. As one of the most unique family activities in Toronto, Riverdale Farm spans more than seven acres and recreates late 19th-century farm life year-round.
Your family can roam through wooded areas and past ponds to spy butterfly, herb, flower, and vegetable gardens and witness rare heritage farm animal breeds. Nibble homemade goodies from the kitchen and chat with farmers as they perform daily chores.
In keeping with the historic atmosphere, vehicles and bicycles aren’t permitted, so you’ll need to park on a side street. Depending on when you visit, you may witness horses getting their hooves trimmed or sheep getting sheared. You may even be lucky enough to witness a baby animal’s first steps.
It’s a Pirate’s Life for Ye and Yer Lot
Ahoy matey! Pirate Life wants your family to put on your scurviest pirate gear (or you can borrow some of theirs) and join them on Centre Island, a short ferry ride from your downtown Toronto hotel. From May through October, set sail from the island aboard the 45-foot pirate ship, Island Rogue.
The crew will help complete your family’s transformation into full-fledged crew members by painting faces with curling mustaches and 5 o’clock shadow, and adding a fearsome tat or two to bulging biceps. You’ll learn the seafarin’ way of life as you fire water cannons at the enemy, witness a thrilling sword fight and haul up sunken treasure (if yer lucky!). Be sure ye don’t end up marooned and make reservations ahead of time. Arrghh! Who knew history could be so much fun?