So we’ve made it this far. Since we’ve last posted, Toronto and its residents have gone through Stage 2, Stage 3 and about a million emotions on how we’re suppose to navigate this new reality with our families. And now with a few weeks of summer left, we are bracing ourselves for a back-to-school like we have never imagined.
The usual summer full of experiences, day camps, sleepaway camps, festivals, farmers markets and attractions have been shuttered or reimagined in order to safely engage with our kids. From virtual and distanced small outdoor camps to long days of unstructured play (and screen time) while parents patter and chatter away at laptops, families have had to be creative and extra patient with the new life with kids in TOw.
Truthfully, I’ve been both overwhelmed and unmotivated to find new ways to add our usual fun to summer. We’ve roadtripped and we’ve rediscovered our own backyard. And now we’re finally feeling inspired to take advantage of the last bit of summer that remains.
If you’re fresh out of ideas, we hope you’ll find some ideas here.
End of summer 2020 bucket list:
CAMP AT THE TORONTO ZOO: It you haven’t been able to secure one of these beautiful campsites in Ontario, there is family-friendly BYOT (Tent) camping at the Toronto Zoo. If you’re your more into daytime, one-time experiences, the Zoo is open for by-foot and by-car Scenic Safari visits.
FAMILY FRIDAYS AT EVERGREEN BRICK WORKS: Every Friday, you can explore nature in the city with family-friendly bike rides and hikes with Evergreen’s outdoor educators. The guided tours are approximately 1.5 hours. The site itself is open for wandering. ICYMI – a modified Saturdays Farmers Market and Sunday Artisan Market is also back.
LIVE THEATRE ON SCREEN: The Young People’s Theatre presents a live virtual performance of The Water Gun Song on Friday, August 14, 2020 at 7 p.m. The short play – a Canadian premiere – explores a Black parent navigating a conversation about race with their happy and eager seven-year-old child. It is followed by a Q&A facilitated by Kearie Daniel, creator of Woke Mommy Chatter and Parents of Black Children co-founder.
PLAYGROUNDS, SPLASH PADS AND POOL PLAY: Not everyone has bounced back to playing in playgrounds. As of July 31, 2020, the City’s 800 playgrounds and play structures have been reopened since end of July (here is there a list of guidelines on how to stay safe) as have City-operated outdoor swimming pools. The new swim experience is on-the-hour 45-minute swim times with lower capacity. It’s actually a really civilized swimming experience given the lower number of people allowed in the pools.
TRIP TIP: Depending on the pool, you may need to get in line early to secure a spot. Face coverings are required as you walk indoors through the facility.
SUP AND KAYAK LAKE ONTARIO: While some beaches have been getting a bad rap lately (because of some strange and bad behaviour), it is really the summer of experiencing Toronto’s shores and waters. The Beach in the east end is filled with families (physically distanced) and dotted with SUP and kayaks. There are some small containers renting SUP boards and kayaks by the hour.
DRIVE-IN MOVIES: The City has created some temporary drive-in entertainment experiences. There are currently four drive-in movie locations, with some family-friendly options: Ontario Place Drive-In at Ontario Place, Cityview Drive-In at Polson Pier (mostly concerts and film festivals), CF Sherway Gardens Movie Nights in Etobicoke and Downsview Park Friday Night Lights in North York.
STORYTIME: Book lovers, the amazing folks at Word on the Street is hosting a Summer Spectacular in August, a free virtual festival of storytelling. Full line up workshops, author readings and activities are here. The Children’s Book Bank is hosting free weekly Playtime Patio on Wednesdays between 2 – 4 p.m. in their stroller parking area.
ISLAND TIME: The Toronto Island has also reopened with reduced ferry service (5,000 people per day.) Lots of space to be physically distant and explore the outdoors. Centreville is closed but it’s restaurant options are open. What to do? Toronto Island SUP has been ‘physically distancing since 2014.) It’s an unforgettable experience paddle boarding around the Island.
ROAD TRIPPING: Treetop trekking was on our to-do list pre-COVID and their parks have reopened with new health and safety measures in place. There are a number of locations a short drive from Toronto. Here are a few more get-out-of-town adventurous ideas.