Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life

TORONTO FUN BLOG

March Break 2014 in Toronto

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My pick of the crop

Already popular attractions get even busier during March Break. So if you want to beat the crowd, you can either go for a walk on a trail in any of the places described in the Nature's Call section of our home page, or focus on fun craft activities with the kids (check our Pinterest board Clever DIY fun for kids for a pletora of ideas). Or you can be a sport, bite the bullet, arrive early, bring snacks and water to avoid the line-ups and enjoy the March Break fun places have prepared for you.

Here are a few which caught my attention.

1) Attractions with a mystery theme

The "Sneaking Around event at the Bata Shoe Museum seems like good fun (and what a great name for an activity in this attraction!). Then, there's the Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Black Creek Pioneer Village. I've been to both places during school-off events and found that the crowd spread nicely all over the premises.

Royal_Ontario_Museum_futurist_chairs2) Bargains

The Gardiner Museum of offering FREE admission on March 8 and 9 because they are celebrating their 30th anniversary. Families will want to attend on Sunday March 9 when the museum features its monthly Family Friendly activities.

The TIFF has an amazing line-up of FREE activities during its Bell FREE Weekend on March 15 and 16, with activities starting at 10 a.m. (including cool options such as puppet shadow making in the dark cinema, stop-motion animation done with vessels created by the kids, series of shorts and a full feature film). Note that the special exhibition digiPlayspace (not included in the Bell FREE Weekend) seems quite fascinating and will be going on until April 21st.

The ROM will have extended hours from March 8 to 15, clising at 8:30 p.m. Visitors arriving between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. will benefit from a discount admission fee of $10/adult and $7/kid 4-14 years old. Note that the special March Break activities will be offered only until 4 p.m. daily but the ROM in itself is interesting enough not to need the bells and whistles of March Break to make it a fantastic family outing.

The Spring Flower Show is going on at Allan Gardens. It's FREE, smells wonderful, ofers a touch of colour to chase the winter blues and you can combine it with a stop at the Chew Chew Diner (an all-day breakfast place with cool train mural on the outside and booths with window-like frames in the inside).

3) End March Break with a parade!

The St. Patrick's Day Parade will be on Sunday March 16th at 12 noon, running along Bloor, Yonge and Queen.

 LIKE Toronto Fun Places on Facebook for more updates and fun bits!

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St. Patrick's Parade: Perfect hat for the occasion

Around subway stations | For artsy kids | Fun winter

alphamom.com_paperplatehats_3St. Patrick's Day Parade 2015 in Toronto will be on Sunday March 15, starting at 12 noon.

The route for this free parade passes by many Toronto subway stations: St. George, Bloor & Yonge, Wellesley, College, Dundas and Queen.

I found this fun and clever way to show your colour green at the coming parade: a hat made out of a simple paper plate. Check the instructions on alphamom.com! Invite friends to join you at the parade, make hats for everyone, pass on the bag of green jujubes, and you have a winning activity, at minimal cost.

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Tobogganing March Break 2014

Today (March 6, 2014), I went to visit two of my favourite tobogganing slopes in Toronto, Riverdale Park East and Riverdale Park West on each side of the Don Valley Parkway. I wanted to check if there was still enough snow to slide down the hill. 

The good news: Riverdale Park West is still covered with snow, and I found that Riverdale Park East was fit for tobogganing but only on its second half. More good news: they don't forecast rain during the March Break.

The bad news: They predict the weather will go a few degrees above zero on many days, with sub-zero temperature at night, which means the slopes will get icy.

Riverdale Park East

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The park runs along Broadview Avenue, north of Gerrard Street.

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On Thursday March 6, 2014, the top half of the hill showed patches of grass.

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The bottom half of the slope still offers good snow which will probably get icy this coming week.

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A view of the southern part of the park.

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The Rooster Coffee House open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Across from the café is the more gentle slope of the park.

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Riverdale Park West

To get to Riverdale Park West, you can walk down Riverdale Park East and cross the pedestrian bridge over the Don Valley Parkway (don't forget to admire the view!). Or you can take a 5-minute drive. Riverdale Park West in located in Cabbagetown, a 5-minute walk from Riverdale Farm.

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The northern part of Riverdale Park West is as challenging as Riverdale East. If you walk down the southern part of the park, along the trees, you get ot a much gentler slope perfect for younger kids.

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TO-10 March Break crafts and games

For artsy kids | TOP fun lists

March Break week and nothing special planned for the occasion? Join the club!

These are my TOP-10 craft or game ideas found on Pinterest that you might have time to try during the March Break. You'll find them (and more) with links to the source website with instructions on my Clever DIY fun for kids Pinterest board:

Toilet roll French knitting, Ball catcher, personalized pegs, cardboard doll (or monkey) bed, personalized Monopoly game, hilarious games, ice sculptures, cool scrapbook and tube sculpture for marbles... 

Enjoy!

TOP-10_March_Break_ideas_torontofunplaces.com

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How to use Toronto Fun Places

How to use the guide | TOP fun lists

How_to_use_the_guide_Toronto_Fun_Places_torontofunplaces.com_copy

Kid_choosing_a_family_activity_torontofunplaces.comFollow the (paper) guide on family activities!

Toronto Fun Places, the guidebook behind this website is currently in its 5th edition (sold in bookstores around the Greater Toronto Area and on Amazon). Here's how to get the most out of this 480-page resource for families and anyone with kids in their life. Most mothers who took the time to send me feedback (thanks so much!) told me that their favourite part is the TIPS section, where I offer tips from a mother's point of view.

A good way to involve kids in family activities: Flipping through a paper guide is still faster than navigating on a website. I've heard of many parents who ask their kids to mark with stickers in the book the places they'd like to see this year. Many parenting experts point out the benefits of involving the kids in that kind of family decisions. It really gets them excited about the next adventure.

To find out family activities by city: You can look for the city nam in the location index at the end of the guide. To find out outings by interest: Consult the table of contents to choose from 13 categories divided into 96 sub-categories.

The closest to the CN Tower: For each attraction, I give the driving time estimate... from the CN Tower. Everyone knows where the CN Tower is, so I figured it would be a good starting point. In each chapter in Toronto Fun Places, the first etry os the closest to the CN Tower while the last one is the furthest.

Going carless? There's a full chapter in Toronto Fun Places on things to do and see within a 10-min. walk of each Toronto Subway Station.

About age recommendations: I give my own age recommendations, regardless of what the attraction advertises. 

Check the symbols: In the information box on every page, I use symbols for quick reference about the attraction to indicate if it offers birthday packages, enough indoor activities for a cold or rainy day, a good choice when kids have energy to burn, nice fall colours, Halloween, Christmas or Easter activities, more fun or extended schedule on March Break. I also include a stroller symbol to indicate if the attraction is stroller accessible and if it is served by the TTC system.

To find out family activities by city: You can look for the city nam in the location index at the end of the guide. 

To find out outings by interest: Consult the table of contents to choose from thirteen categories divided into 96 sub-categories.

A great complement to your favourite website with a calendar of family events: I've personally visited all the attractions and events described in my guide and offer tips and nearby activity recommendations for each of them. I like to consult littlepaper.com,  kidsaroundcanada.com, helpwevegotkids.com and yummymummyclub.ca to remind me of the best time to visit a place. (Creating an exhaustive calendar of event is really time consuming and there are already many great options so I've decided not to include one in my website.)

Once you've found an attraction you'd like to try in your favourite calendar of events, I suggest you consult the index in my guide to locate this family outing to see what I wrote about it. 

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Buy the book Toronto Street Art Strolls

Nathalie's tips for a smooth outing

After years of doing all kinds of outings with my children, I can assure you the secret to a perfect outing lies in the details, not the destination.

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