Toronto: Your spring break destination
Spring break is upon us, and if you’re not one for sandy beaches, you’re in luck! The perfect spring break getaway is just ninety minutes to the north.
As a parent of teenagers, I sometimes struggle to find travel guides for families with older kids. Thank goodness Tourism Toronto is a fantastic resource for all kinds of fun ways to explore and experience the city. On a recent trip, my seventeen- and nineteen-year-old daughters and I dug deep to pack in as many activities as possible, so rest assured, each of these suggestions come with our personal seal of approval!
Museum of Illusions
A location sure to please any Instagram-savvy kid is The Museum of Illusions. Offering engaging and photo-centric installations, the MoI is designed to photograph well! We found the experience to be fun as a group even without a camera, but this is a place where using your phone is a huge part of the experience.
Walking Food Tour
Walking food tours are a great way to learn about a city’s history and cultures. Toronto is a city packed with international cuisines, so the variety of tours offered by the Culinary Adventure Company is refreshing and exciting! We spent three hours with a small group (led by a knowledgeable guide) visiting some of the most significant and delicious restaurants and food artisans in and around the Kensington Market. Even for food-sophisticated folks, there’s a historic element to the conversation that makes a CAC tour a worthy investment. You’ll want to be sure to schedule your tour ahead, but there isn’t a loser in the bunch. Just check out the number of options available in Toronto alone.
We aren’t big shoppers, but the Yorkdale Shopping Centre is something else. Drake’s boutique (October’s Very Own) along with dozens of other high-end retailers such as Nordstrom, Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and Versace are housed inside this massive and sleek shopping center, replete with the highest ceilings I’ve ever seen in such a location. We were here to enjoy high tea at the Toronto iteration of France’s luxurious and delicious Laduree. An appointment is a good idea, expect to spend about two hours if you go for the full luxe experience. You can find a menu here, at the bottom of the page under Tea Salon. Of course you can stop in and enjoy a simpler offering, like a decadent french toast or other dessert, or even just pick up macaron and tea cakes to go. Yorkdale Shopping Centre also features a movie theatre and several restaurants; ambitious shoppers can make a whole day of it.
The Distillery District is a photogenic historic location sprinkled with cool shops, galleries, and some fun food experiences (like SOMA, the bean-to-bar chocolate maker). You’ll also find a handful of reliable and family-friendly restaurants. Two of our favorites are El Catrin and Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie. El Catrin is a casual Mexican place with a beautiful patio (even in winter), energetic and colorful interior, and an extensive menu of food and drink offerings. Cluny is also a solid choice for a family meal. Its beautiful and casual dining room is large enough for big parties but still feels intimate. The menu offers traditional French fare augmented by great baked goods and an exciting dessert menu.
Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie
If your family is looking for a more intimate, chef-driven dining experience, check out any of the restaurants founded by two of the city’s best chefs: Anthony Rose and Grant Van Gameren. Each of their places is special and unique, sure to provide your clan with a memorable dining experience.
We recommend staying at the Chelsea Hotel. It’s centrally located, affordable, family-friendly, and features an indoor pool (there are actually two pools: one for family’s with kids and one for adults only). The weekend we stayed, the hotel was full to the brim and abuzz with kids and tourists, yet every single staff person we interacted with was incredibly kind, patient, and helpful, a rarity in a hotel of its size.