We love when the city’s buildings and businesses swing open their doors and invite us in for free. So we are always happy to get wandering when the annual Doors Open Toronto weekend arrives.
But as much as I want my kids to discover and appreciate all that makes Toronto shine, not all of the 155 sites (55 new ones this year) are fit for kids in TOw. And hey, most kids aren’t keen to wait in line and walk through crowds to see the city’s latest architectural or historic gem either.
With that in mind, here are five family-friendlier spots that may interest the youngest urban explorers.
This eastend TTC facility services the Bloor-Danforth line’s subway vehicles. On Saturday only (11am to 5pm), the public enjoy a train ride through the subway vehicle “car wash” and wander through the yard. There is also children’s activity area and a BBQ for the United Way of Greater Toronto.
One of Toronto waterfront’s last surviving industries, Redpath Sugar receives and processes thousands of tons of the sweet stuff every day. On Saturday (10am to 5pm) and Sunday (10am to 4pm), the public can check out the sugar museum and the massive raw sugar shed where Redpath keeps its product prior to processing. Not your cup of tea in the end? Then hang out at Sugar Beach or Sherbourne Common afterwards.
This 28,000 sq. ft. of indoor skateboarding space boasts bowls, mini ramps, vertical ramps and a street area featuring a replica of an outdoor skate park. On Saturday and Sunday (10am to 5pm), the public can watch sk8ters, scooter riders and in-line and quad sk8ters in action from the park’s gallery sections or even rent equipment and try it out themselves.
This former site for aircraft assembly and repair is now a 45,000-square-metre multi-purpose recreational facility. Soccer and ultimate fields make up the main part of The Hanger, but there is also rock climbing, go-kart racing and squash. The public can participate in free activities Saturday and Sunday (10am to 5pm).
As you browse the sites, you’ll notice there is a special sports theme in honour of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. If you have little athletes in TOw, be sure to add a few more these private and public recreation venues such as BMO Field and Sunnyside Bike Park. The soccer organization Little Kickers (geared for children aged 18 months to 7 years) is hosting free morning and afternoon sessions at seven different locations across the city.
Option for the climbers in TOw:
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse (pictured above)
Not every kid in TOw can go up 90 steps, but it’s worth a try to check out the view of Toronto Islands from the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Built in 1808, it’s the second oldest lighthouse in Canada and the oldest on the Great Lakes and has remained essentially unchanged since it was finished in 1808. (PS – the lighthouse has become notorious due to the disappearance of its first keeper whose ghost is rumoured to haunt the tower.) If it’s a miss, well, at least you can enjoy some Centre Island fun.