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The Thursday Review, Top Tens/Lists

Top 10 Cheap Family Friendly Places in Toronto

This is the second part of my top ten things to do with the kids, so if you missed it, check last Thursday’s post to see the first five (or click on the category The Thursday Review).

6. Toronto Botanical Gardens



You can’t go wrong with these beautiful gardens and trails. Located at Lawrence and Don Mills, the gardens have free parking, washrooms, and even a Farmer’s Market on certain days during the summer.

There is something for everyone, whether you like flowers, trees, waterfalls, ducks, squirrels, rivers, vegetables, art installations and more.

They are very good about labelling all the plants in case you see something you like. They also provide educational information. For instance, in the herb gardens there are plaques explaining all about the herbs origin and what people use them for.

There are water fountains in case you get thirsty or you can grab a coffee at their little cafe.


If you are more into nature, the trails connect up to the city’s larger paths including the Don Valley Trail if you want to go far.

Lots of fun for everyone!

7. Vaughan Mills Mall

Yes I know malls can be a money waster, but if you only window show they are not so bad.

I particularly like Vaughan Mills for a few reasons.

First, it’s an outlet mall so you cam get some great deals on your favourite brands like Nike, Gap, and Tommy Hilfiger (should you decide to shop).

Secondly, maybe it’s just when I go, or because the mall is so big, but it never seems busy.


Thirdly, they have car buggies you can rent and the kids love to ride around in them.

Fourth, they have lots of free parking, washrooms and even nursing lounges (if you are shy).

Fifth, Sawyer loves the Bass Pro Mills store! With the fish pond, aquarium and animals he is always entertained.


7. Centre Island


That’s right. Toronto’s island is a great fun day with the family. There is lots to see and do from the petting zoo to bike trails and gardens.

To get there you will have to take the ferry across lake Ontario, which is so much fun. Yes, there is a fee but it is completely reasonable. You can also bring bikes, wagons and strollers across no problem.


There is a great petting zoo with all sorts of animals and you can’t beat the view from the waterfront.

If you want to spend some money, there are restaurants, bike rentals and even carnival rides as well.


I enjoy cooling off in one of the many splash pads πŸ™‚

8. High Park


High Park is one of the largest urban parks in Ontario. Spanning acres it has everything from gardens and trails to a zoo to a humongous playground castle built by none other than Mike Holmes.

Parking is free and there are washrooms and food stops.


Feed the ducks at the duck pond or take in the breathtaking view across the water.

The zoo is free as well, and its much more than a regular petting zoo. They have capybaras, bison, camels and much more.

If you go during the spring you can also take part in the wonderful cherry blossom festival.

9. Public Library

Yes, I kind of mentioned this one,.but I thought it was worth mentioning again.

Every neighborhood has a library and while many of the books may be dated, the programs are fabulous.

There is usually parking, family friendly washrooms, and I think there is something to be said about encouraging a life long love of reading. If you get your kids excited when they are young they will thank you later. Plus borrowing books saves you money and teaches them about taking care of things that don’t belong to them.

10. Tim Hortons


I had to say it. Yeah, this isn’t much of an activity, but I felt it was worth an honourable mention since I go there almost every day with the kids πŸ™‚ They do have healthy affordable options, and dollar drink days. WiFi, washrooms and most importantly, COFFEE! LOL

Good luck, and if anyone else has any city treasures they would like to share feel free to comment below.


About Shannon

I am a university educated full-time working mother of four children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.


11 thoughts on “Top 10 Cheap Family Friendly Places in Toronto

  1. Here is another thing to do. So much to see and smell, and taste! πŸ˜‰

    Posted by Sarah | June 13, 2013, 12:32 pm
  2. The botanical gardens and high park look like lovely places to run around in πŸ™‚

    Posted by mummyshymz | June 13, 2013, 1:49 pm
  3. This is a great post! We live in Vancouver and I think I’m going to borrow your idea for this post. My wife and I have found a lot of free or cheap things to do with our kids

    Posted by iamthemark | June 18, 2013, 8:52 pm
    • Thanks! Go for it. I thought everyone would know about these things but since people in my groups kept asking I realized they don’t. On my FB page I also talk about Garden Centres (kiddy wonderlands) and Farmer’s Markets (fun and healthy). Feel free to use those πŸ™‚

      Posted by Shannon | June 18, 2013, 9:19 pm


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