Five family-friendly winter day trip ideas
by Michelle Medford
In the thick of winter, finding fun activities for the kids can be challenging, let alone something that parents can enjoy too without repeating the previous year. Here are a few ideas that keep you close to home while making the best of the season:
Although the zoo is typically associated with summer, the Toronto Zoo is actually open 364 days a year, closed only on Christmas. Animals are all moved to the indoor pavilions so neither visitors nor animals need to brave the cold. Since crowds are less expected, it’s a good opportunity for little ones to spend more time watching animals. It’s also the last chance to see the elephants before their big move this spring to a safer, warmer sanctuary, in large thanks to a visit from Bob Barker. Yes, that Bob Barker.
One of the city’s most popular parks, High Park is just as beautiful in the winter. Pack a thermos with hot chocolate and take a stroll down the paths to check out the snow-covered trees and frozen lake, stopping every so often to play in the snow. It’s also a great place for winter wildlife-watching.
If you’d rather stay indoors on a snowy day, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is a great way to engage kids in Canadian heritage. Located in Kleinburg, the gallery is a 30–45 minute drive away from the city, depending on where you’re coming from. They run several family-friendly activities, including watercolour painting, pottery, live entertainment and more. To top it off, children five and under are free.
Colonel Samuel Smith Skating Trail
If your children already know how to skate, a trip to Colonel Samuel Smith Park’s ice rink trail is a good way to update the winter skating tradition. The trail, which opened just last year, is free and staffed. Open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., you can also opt for a moonlight skate.
Kortright Centre for Conservation
The Kortright Centre is open most days a year and plans programming seasonally. In the winter, activities include nature films, bird feeding, tracking animal prints in the snow, learning about snowflakes and more. It’s located just north of the city in Woodbridge. As an added bonus, children up to the age of 15 are free.