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10 Amazing, Family-Friendly Toronto Summer Attractions

WARM WEATHER BRINGS OUT THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN TORONTO. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TIME IN THE CITY—AND MAKE SOME INDELIBLE MEMORIES WHILE YOU’RE AT IT—BY VISITING THESE UNIQUE SUMMER ATTRACTIONS.  BY CRAIG MOY

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The Evergreen Brick Works offers myriad environmentally focused summer activities (photo: Craig Moy)

THE EVERGREEN BRICK WORKS

5 Unique uses for an Old Factory

The formerly industrial, now eco-conscious heritage site known as the Evergreen Brick Works positively hums with activity.

• Hunt down the venue’s unique art works, from the hard-to-miss “living map” in the Commons to the preserved graffiti in the kilns.
• Take the kids to learn about the environment through outdoor play at the Chimney Court Children’s Garden.
• Trod the trails that wind through the 40-acre greenspace behind the Brick Works. Climb to the lookout for an impressive view of the downtown skyline.
• Enjoy a nourishing gourmet meal—made with local and sustainably harvested ingredients—at Café Belong.
• Peruse farm-fresh produce and more at the farmers’ market every Saturday and Sunday morning.

Summer Attractions Toronto The Beach Volleyball Ashbridges Bay

Catch some beach volleyball at Ashbridges Bay, or take a stroll farther east along The Beach’s boardwalk (photo: Craig Moy)

THE BEACH

Sun and Sand in the Big City

It isn’t summer without a trip to The Beach. Metropolitan Toronto’s far-easterly neighbourhood is popular for its easygoing vibe—and easy access to Lake Ontario’s cool waters. Slather on your sunblock and spend a day strolling the boardwalk (or Queen Street East’s stretch of indie eateries and mom-and-pop shops), playing frisbee or beach volleyball, or dipping your toes in along a more than three kilometre–long stretch of sandy shoreline.

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Booking a table at the CN Tower’s 360 restaurant takes you to the top of Toronto

THE CN TOWER

3 Tips to Shorten your Wait to Elevate

The CN Tower is Canada’s tallest building. It’s also one of its busiest tourist attractions, annually welcoming around 1.5 million visitors from abroad. With so many people, it can be time-consuming to get to the top of the tower. Try these hacks to abbreviate your time in line.

• Avoid the midday crush—arrive before 11 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
• Skip the box-office line by purchasing your tickets online at least 24 hours prior to your visit.
• Dine at the tower’s 360 Restaurarant. You’ll be able to head up directly at your reservation time, and access to the Look Out and Sky Terrace levels is complimentary with your meal purchase.

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The city’s skyline is always attractive from the Toronto Islands (photo: Craig Moy)

THE TORONTO ISLANDS

Escape the Mainland

Like the city’s eastern beaches, the Toronto Islands are an idyllic yet accessible escape for locals and visitors alike. A 15-minute ferry trip takes you from the frenetic downtown core to a life of leisure, where your most important decisions boil down to whether you explore on foot or rent a bicycle, or what plot of grass looks best for a picnic lunch. Once those questions have been answered, you can set to determining which of the three main beaches to check out for some sand and a soak, how long to indulge the kids at Centreville Amusement Park, and if you’re the type of person who plays disc golf non-ironically.

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The jellyfish tanks at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada are a popular photo-op spot (photo: Craig Moy)

RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM OF CANADA

4 Fishy Photo Ops

There are more than 16,000 fish and sea creatures to see at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Try to take too many pictures and you’ll be there forever! Instead, go for quality over quantity by snapping photos at these choice locations.*

• If you have a steady hand, try decreasing your camera’s shutter speed to snap the swirling school of alewives near the aquarium entrance. You’ll be rewarded with some great motion in your shot.
• Looking for a super-saturated photo? The vast Rainbow Reef tank is one of the aquarium’s most vibrant spots.
• The Dangerous Lagoon underwater viewing tunnel is great for capturing the faces of your overawed kids. Step off the moving walkway to allow yourself a steadier shot.
• Shoot the Pacific sea nettle jellyfish tank from a wider angle—with the silhouettes of other viewers in the foreground of your frame. By now it’s become a bit of a clichéd perspective, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less evocative.

*Please remember to be respectful of your fellow visitors when taking pictures at the aquarium—or, for that matter, anywhere else in Toronto.

Summer-Attractions-Toronto-Ontario-Science-Centre

The Ontario Science Centre keeps kids learning during summer vacation

THE ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE

Engineer Some Excitement

The kids may be off school, but learning doesn’t have to go on hiatus. A visit to the Ontario Science Centre is just the thing to keep young minds active and engaged. Ten exhibit halls feature unique and interactive science-and-technology experiences, such as the AstraZeneca Human Edge—with its athletics-oriented displays, it’s perfect for getting pumped for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games—and the limited-run Mythbusters: the Explosive Exhibition, which demystifies the subjects tackled by the popular TV show.

The Leviathan roller-coaster at Canada's Wonderland is a summertime staple for thrill seekers

The Leviathan roller-coaster at Canada’s Wonderland is a summertime staple for thrill seekers

CANADA’S WONDERLAND

3 Thrills to Seek

Has it been a while since you screamed with excitement at Canada’s Wonderland? The past few years have seen even more amazing attractions added to the theme park just north of Toronto.

• That green monster you can spot from miles away? It’s Leviathan, a thrilling ride that’s more than 91 metres high, making it one of the tallest roller coasters in Canada.
• The next-gen theme-park experience is embodied in Wonder Mountain’s Guardian, a coaster-in-the-dark that incorporates 4D animation and interactive gaming elements.
• Wonderland’s Splash Works waterpark has been updated for 2015 with Typhoon—a new slide featuring oscillating funnels and hairpin turns—and the Splash Station children’s zone.

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Spend some tranquil time at lush High Park (photo: Craig Moy)

HIGH PARK

Our Common Love

With warm weather’s arrival, the nearly 400 acres of High Park truly come alive—and we’re not just talking about leaves growing on trees or the blossoming of the park’s ornamental gardens. Every summer, thousands of Torontonians make their way to the west-end green attraction to stroll through its woodlands, relax on its grassy knolls, make use of its recreational facilities and observe the residents of its small zoo.

THE TORONTO ZOO

10 Amazing Animals

The Toronto Zoo is home to a memorable menagerie. Don’t miss your opportunity to observe the fantastic animals pictured above.

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HTO Park is just one of the summer attractions in the harbourfront area (photo: Craig Moy)

THE DOWNTOWN HARBOUR

The Water’s Fine

It would be a mistake to assume that a day by the lake is automatically languid, uneventful by default. There’s definitely excitement to be had at Harbourfront Centre: the shore-side attraction is known for its summer programming of free cultural festivals. Arts lovers are further indulged at The Power Plant contemporary gallery. Athletes, meanwhile, can check out the nearby Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre for kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals, lessons and tours. Of course, there are options if you’re just seeking a bit of solitude: enjoy a quiet constitutional on the winding paths of the Toronto Music Garden or just pull up a Muskoka chair at HTO Park and pass some time watching the boats.

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