A WEEK OFF FROM SCHOOL IS EVERY CHILD’S DREAM, BUT PERHAPS LESS THRILLING FOR PARENTS WHO NEED TO KEEP LITTLE ONES ENTERTAINED AND FROM CRYING OUT “THERE’S NOTHING TO DO” FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME. HERE ARE 16 KID-APPROVED IDEAS FOR HAVING FUN THIS MARCH BREAK IN TORONTO.
Royal Ontario Museum One of the largest museums in North America boasts an expansive collection with more than six million items that includes dinosaur skeletons, mummies, meteorites, and a bat cave. It’s easy to spend an entire day here and not be bored, but from March 12 to 20, the ROM has added interactive activities that are free with admission to the museum. How about learning to dance like a knight or princess at the royal court, acting out a scene from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, or making a paper bag puppet?
100 Queen’s Park, extended hours March 12 to 19 daily 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., general admission $17, child (ages 4-14) $14, students (ages 15-25) $15.50; rom.on.ca
Art Gallery of Ontario The AGO is home to the largest collection of Canadian art, as well as an assemblage of sculptures by Henry Moore, photography and Renaissance and Baroque works. The gallery, which was revitalized nearly a decade ago by architect Frank Gehry has a stunning spiral staircase and a glass and wood façade that overlooks Dundas Street. From March 12 to 20, the AGO embraces a March Break theme of ‘DIY Doodling and Dabbling,’ which encourages kids to explore their creative side through painting, colouring and printmaking. There are also two daily performances in Walker Court from Zero Gravity Circus, plus an activity bag for kids upon their arrival.
317 Dundas St. W., general admission $19.50, students/youth $11, family (2 adults and up to 5 youth) $49; ago.net
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada Always a family-favourite attraction in the city, and it’s no wonder. What kid—or adult for that matter—wouldn’t thrill at seeing more than 13,500 underwater creatures like sea turtles, southern stingrays, unicorn surgeonfish and moon jellies? There are also daily dive shows starting at 11:15 a.m., as well as aquarist talks, and a chance to touch the likes of cownose rays and brownbanded bamboo sharks.
288 Bremner Blvd., open daily, general admission $26.98-$29.98, youth (ages 6-13) $16.98-$19.98, child (ages 3-5) $6.98-$9.98; ripleyaquariums.com/canada
Toronto Zoo Head east of the downtown core to visit the likes of cheetahs, baboons, hyenas, camels and more, who reside in such regional pavilions as the African Rainforest, Eurasia and Malayan Woods. Currently, one of the biggest draw at the zoo is a pair of giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, who are on loan from China until 2017. Last fall, Er Shun gave birth to two cubs, one male and one female—the first time pandas have ever been born in Canada.
361 Old Finch Ave., open daily, general admission $23, children (ages 3-12) $14; torontozoo.com
Hockey Hall of Fame This shrine to Canada’s favourite pastime is a must for any sports fan, taking them behind the scenes and putting them right into the action. Puck heads can go one-on-one against a life-size animated version of Sidney Crosby or Carey Price, as well as try their best sports announcer impression by making the calls on a game in the TSN/RDS Broadcast Zone. The Great Hall is home to the coveted Stanley Cup as well as other NHL trophies for a prime photo op. There is also a replica of the Montreal Canadiens dressing room complete with tributes to some of the Habs’ greatest players.
Brookfield Place, 30 Yonge St., extended hours March 12 to 20 Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., general admission $18, youth (ages 4-13) $12; hhof.com
Legoland Discovery Centre Creative play at its best, this is the only attraction of its kind in Canada. Here, kids (and adults alike—the centre even hosts adults only evenings) can put their engineering skills to use by building all manner of things from vehicles to test on the track or structures that are capable of withstanding an earthquake. Don’t miss Miniland, which took more than half a million Lego blocks to build Toronto’s iconic sites including the CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, Yonge-Dundas Square and the Air Canada Centre. Emmet and his friends from The Lego Movie are also back in a new 4D adventure film.
Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre, 1 Bass Pro Mills Dr., open daily, general admission $22 and up (tickets must be purchased online during March Break); legolanddiscoverycentre.ca
Ontario Science Centre Interactive play and hands-on learning is the mandate at the OSC, where exhibits span from astronomy and technology to geology and the human body. Two special exhibits demonstrate how science is everywhere: Circus explores the physics of a human cannonball, the math behind juggling, and an anatomy lesson explains how contortionists can bend their bodies to fit into small spaces, while Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age examines fossils and real-life replicas of wolly mammoths and dire wolves.
770 Don Mills Rd., open daily, general admission $22, youth (ages 13-17) $16, child (ages 3-12) $13; ontariosciencecentre.ca
digiPlaySpace In its fifth year, this interactive exhibit for kids boasts 25 installations as well as mobile apps created by both Canadian and international artists, and is open at the TIFF Bell Lightbox from March 5 to April 24. Through such activities as video games, robotics and animation, kids use a variety of math, science and language concepts. This year’s line up includes Thymio, a programmable robot, an underwater tour of ocean life with Thebluvr, and an augmented reality sandbox in which kids can dig, sift and sculpt their own topographic environment.
TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., general admission $10, open daily; tiff.net
Black Creek Pioneer Village Step back into the 19th century to see what country life would have been like at more than 40 heritage buildings, including a one-room schoolhouse, a post office, photographer’s shop and a mill. From March 14 to 20, the March Break Mystery Fun takes over this historic attraction. Be Watson to Sherlock Holmes in the Case of the Stolen Sheep: kids can search for clues, question suspects, as well as partake in detective workshops and walk through a maze.
1000 Murray Ross Pkwy., open daily, general admission $15, students (ages 15 and up) $12, child (ages 5-14) $11 but free from March 14 to 20 when accompanied by an adult; blackcreek.ca
Young People’s Theatre Celebrating its 50th year, this performance company specializes in presenting live shows for children. On through March 19, the classic children’s story Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is brought to the stage as a family-friendly musical as the beloved Bunny prepares to hunker down for the night but not before wishing the likes of dancing bears and the Cat and the Fiddle sweet dreams. Kids can enjoy pre-show scavenger hunts and crafts from March 12 to 19.
165 Front St. E., performances at 10:15 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. depending on the date, adults $13-$34, youth (ages 1-18) $13-$29; youngpeoplestheatre.ca
The Second City The famed improv comedy troupe presents Superdude and Doctor Rude from March 14 to 20, a musical in which kids make the rules and triumph over super villains—with a whole lot of jet packs and selfies throughout the show.
51 Mercer St., Monday to Friday 1:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon, tickets $14; secondcity.com
Solar Stage With a mandate for presenting diverse theatrical productions for everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or ability, this theatre company presents Munsch Mash, which runs March 5, 6, and 12 to 20, which incorporates a selection of Canadian author Robert Munsch’s beloved works into one show, including Then He Heard a Sound, Angela’s Airplane, Jonathan Cleaned Up, David’s Father and Pigs.
4950 Yonge St., March 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., March 14 to 18 at 10:30 a.m., 12;30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m., tickets $16; solarstage.on.ca
Disney on Ice’s 100 Years of Magic Join more than 50 friends in a skating spectacular hosted by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. The cast includes such fan favourites as Elsa, Anna and Olaf from Frozen performing a rousing rendition of “Let It Go,” along with characters from The Lion King, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo and Disney princesses like Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Rapunzel and Tiana.
Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, various times, tickets $28 and up; disneyonice.com
Wizard World Fun Park Spend the day at this indoor amusement park, which is open from March 13 to 20. There are more than 25 mechanical rides on site, including bumper cars, trains, mini roller coasters, as well as inflatable slides and courses. There are also petting zoos, pony rides and live entertainment including magic shows, clowns and demonstrations from the Ontario Falconry Centre.
Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., $26.50 for admission with unlimited rides, $8.85 for admission only, family pack (available online only) $96.50 for admission for four with unlimited rides, $65.50 for two admission only and two admission with unlimited rides; wizardworld.ca
Sugar Beach Sugar Shack Head down to the city’s waterfront for a taste of Quebec with traditional offerings like maple taffy on snow and food trucks offering Québécois delicacies like poutine and tortière. There are also ice carving demonstrations, live musical performances, a singalong led by Choir! Choir! Choir, plus skating at nearby Sherbourne Common.
Queens Quay and Jarvis Street, Saturday noon to 10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., free admission; waterfrontoronto.ca
Kortright Centre for Conservation Indulge in a Canadian treat at this environmentally-conscious educational centre, which hosts maple syrup demonstrations daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., along with pancake feasts and wagon rides.
9550 Pine Valley Dr., Woodbridge, March 5 to April 3 open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., general admission $8.85, children (ages 5-14) $5.75, kids age 4 and under free; kortright.org
—Linda Luong Luck