Back to School Toronto

A last-minute trip to Toronto is the perfect way to get the kids (and yourself) ready for a new school year.

by Heather Greenwood Davis

Updated August 2015


While there isn’t ever a bad time to visit Toronto, there’s no denying that late summer/early fall is one of the best. The temperature is perfect for taking advantage of restaurant patios and early evening strolls, festivals and open-air concerts abound and the city feels optimistic and fresh.

It’s also the perfect place for a last summer hurrah before the hustle and bustle of a new school year sets in. Whether you’re coming in by plane, train or automobile, grab the kids and head for the city to tackle this summer checklist of family-friendly must-dos.

Grab a Back-to-School Bargain

Toronto was made for scoring a shopping deal. Head to the city’s largest mall, The Eaton Centre, for the brands you know, or pop over to designer-friendly Yorkdale for the newest trends. Seeking some urban up and comers? You’ll find them at Square One, and if you prefer your shopping in a big box format with outlet prices, Vaughan Mills won’t disappoint.

Going home with bags full of bargains? Check!

Get Active

Who says a few days in Toronto can’t be as good for your limbs as it is for your family’s morale? Cheer each other on as you attempt the ropes obstacle course at Treetop Trekking in Brampton. Get the adrenaline pumping on some of the world’s highest roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland. Stretch your legs while taking in the Toronto skyline on a bicycle tour of Toronto Island.

Souvenir sore limbs and throats that hurt from screaming? Check!

Make Learning Fun

Sure the kids should be getting their brains back into book-mode but who says that can’t be fun? Help them stretch their creativity with a trip to Legoland, introduce them to some facts about their favourite animals at The Toronto Zoo, discover the hair-raising options at the Ontario Science Centre or get closer than ever to the sharks in the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

Having so much fun they forgot they were learning? Check!

Stay Out Later

Family travel is at its best when it brings you closer together. Take advantage of summer nights to cheer at a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game , cuddle up at a movie in Mississauga’s Celebration Square or spread a picnic blanket in High Park for a pay-what-you-can Shakespearean play. As the sun goes down, the fun comes up in so many Toronto neighbourhoods. Make memories that will last long after the trip is over.

Summer nights filled with giggles? Check!

Check Out TIFF

Toronto hosts the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) every September. Celebrities, paparazzi, film fanatics and curious onlookers all flock out to the city’s theatres to take in the world’s most promising films. I assumed that the TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre – TIFF’s new corporate headquarters – was built for them. I was wrong. What a surprise to find a space that not only offered innovative play (Dreamed of making your own video games? Ready to transport yourself via green screen to some of your favourite movies? This is your spot), but a fully integrated, multi-sensory film experience as well. Throughout, the staff is friendly and kids are welcome. But what I loved most is that families aren’t just tolerated, they’re encouraged. The experience was so good that the kids each took home handfuls of pamphlets to start planning our next visit.


Tip: Want to save money on some of Toronto’s best offers? Buy a CityPass and you’ll save up to 45% on some of the city’s most popular attractions.

About the Author

Heather Greenwood Davis is a family travel writer based in Toronto. Read more about her family’s exploits at home and away at