The gift of experience is one of our favourites – whether we’re giving or receiving. If you are searching for a special treat for the kids or an exciting excursion for the whole family, you’ll find lots of options in the GTA that will please almost every personality. Here is a gift guide with some fun get-out-and-explore activities for the busy bodies on your list.
Theatre and dance: It is amazing how little bums can stay in seats for the duration of a live show. (Really, this is the gift for the adults in TOw!) Over the holidays, The Ross Petty Production of Cinderella (on until January 4, 2015) will have the whole family laughing. For the blooming ballerinas, hurry and book tickets for The National Ballet of Canada’s very popular The Nutcracker (December 13, 2014 to January 3, 2015.) (Keep them busy with this special activity sheet online.)
If you’re booking for the new year, browse the line up from the Young People’s Theatre. In February they present Snow Angel, plus a special “relaxed performance” on February 18th (specifically designed for young people with autism spectrum disorder.) The Solar Stage Children’s Theatre has a super selection of shows for the 3-10 age range.
Sleepovers: Send your sleeper on an overnight adventure. The ROM (currently booking for April 2015), the Ontario Science Centre (booking for February with IMAX included) and the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada (sleep in the shark tunnel!) have spend-the-night options with fun activities for kids (and the accompanying adults.)
If the little ones can hold out until the summer, have them look forward to an outdoor adventure. The Toronto Zoo offers the Serengeti Bush Camp Overnight Experience (for all ages) and the Toronto Botanical Garden has a Night Critter Sleepover in the Children’s Garden (bring your own tent.)
Music: Raise some classical music lovers with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Young Peoples’ Concerts, a special series designed for kids. (There are three more in the new year.) If your children’s music tastes are more developed, try the Light Classics Series, a selection of “greatest hits” from well-known classical composers. (Next performances are in January.)
Totsapalooza is back for number 7 with live music by indie-rockers Communism, kid-friendly activities, and the world premiere of Dennis Lee’s new collection of poems for children. This usually sells out. Early bird tickets on sale now.
Memberships: Gotta love the gifts that give all year-round. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada doesn’t have family memberships yet but offer 20% off if you buy three memberships at the same time.
For the nature-lovers, Toronto & Region Conservation Authority has a family membership that includes free admission to their six parks (plus cross-country ski trail at Albion Hills), as well as some of their seasonal events.
For the skiers and snowboarders, there are full, daytime or night time snow passes for City of Toronto Centennial and Earl Bales Ski & Snowboard Centres.
Gift of adventure: For those even more adventurous, escape the city and head to the Scenic Caves in Collingwood. A gift certificate can be redeemed any season – — zip lining and cavern-exploring in the summer and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter. And then some.
Ever been family dog sledding? Toronto Adventures offers day dog sledding trips (those under 16 can ride as passengers.) They also have stand up paddleboarding and hiking excursions in the summer.
Maybe you’re into less active but equally exciting travel. The Ontario Science Centre’s IMAX theatre has on-screen adventures to Madagascar, Jerusalem and under the sea swimming with sharks.