Kids in TOw or not, Evergreen Brick Works in the heart of Toronto’s Don Valley has something for everyone, especially nature-lovers who know you don’t have to leave the city to enjoy the outdoors. Open year-round, the restored heritage buildings and surrounding park offer tons of free and paid activities geared for families and kids.
For the full (and busier) experience, plan your trip for a weekend or holiday. The Children’s Garden in Chimney Court is always swarming with very happy kids (and parents) watering plants, building forts, exploring the yurt and creating themed eco-crafts. For indoor adventuring, check out the three tunnel kilns (now a vast open event space and art gallery) to teach your tots about brick making. (The brickyard was in operation for almost 100 years until the 1980s.)
For quiet(er) exploration, visit on a weekday. Although Chimney Court is closed, the Don Valley Brick Works Park, the 40 acres surrounding the Brick Works, offers tons of touring options: boardwalks, trails overlooking the restored quarry ponds, and access into the Don Valley ravines. Great for snail and turtle spotting. We even saw someone fishing at the pond.
These are only a few options, so go online for more activities for Kids & Families.
Driving and parking: Well-marked signage off Bayview Ave. There are two large paid (and paperless — remember your license plate when you go to pay) parking lots. Cost: $1.50 for 1/2 hr; $6 max on weekdays; $8 max on weekends and holidays. Very busy during Saturday’s market. Some fearless market-goers parked outside the site along Bayview Ave.
Hike it: One option is to get yourself to the Chorley Park in Rosedale and have a beautiful walk down. (We did the loop from the Brick Works – an amazing hour-or-so hike with kids and stroller.) Or get there by foot from Broadview Ave.
Bike it: Lots of routes!
Market/Marché Time: The Brick Works Farmers’ Market runs from 8 am – 1 pm on Saturdays from May to November with 80-plus vendors. The market moves indoors from 9 am – 1 pm starting November 9th until end of April with about 40 vendors. The Sunday Marché is on until November 3rd from 11 am to 3 pm.
Play Time: The Children’s Garden in Chimney Court on north side ($5 suggested donation) will never disappoint, though it’s only open on weekends and holidays from 10 am – 4 pm. Accessible year-round is The Scace Family Toddler’s Garden (small play space on south side near entrance to Young Welcome Centre.) Nearby, kids will love Watershed Consciousness by Ferruccio Sardella, a giant sculptural map of Toronto’s watershed with running water.
Eat: Sure, bring a snack and picnic. But don’t forget extra cash on Saturdays – can’t say no to the amazing local and organic offerings and chefs serving up delicious bites. The Children’s Garden also hosts food activities. During a spring visit we cooked bannock on the fire pit and other times enjoyed pizza ($3 per slice and $2 for organic lemonade) from the on-site wood oven. (And here’s to the return of Family Pizza Night during the summer months.) Café Belong, resident restaurant (with a great patio) serves a local, sustainable and organic menu. High chairs available and the chefs are open to providing kid-sized dishes upon request. There is also a selection of to-go items great for picnicking.
Stroller-friendly: Most trails and outside play areas are fairly accessible if you’re okay with a slightly bumpy ride.
Potty Time: Yes. There are change tables in the family washrooms in the Young Welcome Centre, as well as in the washrooms outside of Café Belong.
Lace up: Keep an eye on the What’s On calendar for the opening of the outdoor ice trail – a must-visit winter destination.