Maybe it was the weather or that the masses were likely across the street at the ROM, but we were pleasantly surprised to encounter a calm quiet space. It was a perfect environment to spend a couple of hours and get creative. For Family Day on Sundays, a table is set up in the lobby for hands-on activities. Clay (the real sculpting deal) and painting on tiles alternate with changing themes each week. After the kids (and you – adults are welcome to participate) complete your project, you can wander the two floors of permanent collections (and exhibition if one is on display) or explore with the scavenger hunt. For kids with a longer attention span, there is also a two-hour drop-in clay class at 1pm.
As this was a four-year-old and mom date, the collections and scavenger hunt provided some good conversation (length of time depends on your child.) There is nothing to engage the toddler age (again depending on your child) but should you have the wee ones in TOw, know that most of the collections is behind glass. Bull in china shop averted.
Getting there: Driving, there isn’t much for paid street parking unless you score a spot on Charles St. W or on Harbord by U of T. Lots of parkades. Best option, front door service with the TTC – Museum Subway stop east side exit.
It’s free: Well, kids under 12 are always free with a paying adult ($12.) Of course, you can get the whole family in for free when you buy a membership. Also check out a family pass with the Museum + Arts Pass through your participating local library. Half-price admission every Friday from 4-9pm. Every third Friday of the month is free from 4-9pm. Post-secondary students (with valid ID) are free every Tuesday.
Go on a Sunday: Family Day is every Sunday with kid-friendly activities from 11am – 4pm. The theme du jour is usually posted online.
Clay: Kids’ clay classes for 7-12-yrs-old. There are also two-hour drop-in clay classes three times a week ($5 for children under 12 with $5 firing cost per item). Sign up 30 min prior to the start of the class.
Getting around: Complimentary coat check. With only two floors of galleries, kids should be able to walk it. Lots of room for strollers. However you may be asked to park larger ones and use a smaller complimentary stroller during your visit. Lots of benches if you need a break. Baby change tables in the washrooms.
Food: The Gardiner Bistro on the 3rd floor is a beautiful spot. A bit swank with kids in TOw but they are happy to make a kid-friendly meal upon request and there are high chairs. If you bring your own snacks, please munch in the lobby only.