Summer is here and there’s no better way to enjoy a city break than a day at one of these famous theme parks in Toronto or at a water park with your friends or loved ones.
Ontario is home to some of the best theme parks and water parks in the entire country, making it the ideal place to get your kicks by barrelling down a water slide at an indoor water park or hurtling through the air on a roller coaster.
For those who have already worked through this guide to day trips and weekend getaways from Vancouver, and are ready to embark on more adventures in Canada, here’s a handy list of top spots, ranging from thrill-seeking adventure parks to child-friendly day trips from Toronto city.
Though some of these sites may be closed due to COVID-19, others remain open and ready for action. If you want to enjoy a good time but still minimize the risk of contracting or passing on the virus, make the most of this now-viral (no, the other kind of viral) advice courtesy of Fuji-Q Highland, one of the top theme parks in Japan: wear a mask, and “please scream inside your heart.”
1. Canada’s Wonderland: One of the most iconic theme parks in Toronto
Every person who grew up in Toronto holds an almost reverential affection for Canada’s Wonderland, and it’s easy to see why. This sprawling adventure park is perfect for the young and the young-at-heart alike.
With dozens of rides suitable for people of all ages and heights, Canada’s Wonderland is abundant with roller coasters, adrenaline-pumping attractions, and family-friendly rides. It’s renowned for several world record-breaking rides including the Yukon Striker, the world’s fastest, longest, and tallest dive coaster that drops its riders a dizzying 75 meters (245 feet) at 130 km/h (80 mph), and the Leviathan, Canada’s tallest and fastest roller coaster.
If you need to catch your breath between rides, make use of the variety of entertainment areas which include a skate park, the Canterbury and Playhouse Theatres, and more.
Though still temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Canada’s Wonderland has found an innovative way to bring the fun directly to your home. The official website offers a range of virtual rides on some of the website’s most popular attractions, with accompanying instructions for how to set up your home for the optimum experience. For families who are grasping for an incentive for their high-energy children to sit still, this is certainly a must!
Insider tip: For those who prefer a little pumpkin spice over a watermelon slice, Canada’s Wonderland hosts excellent events year-round – a top pick being the Halloween Haunt in October.
2. Double the fun at Splash Island by visiting the Toronto Zoo
If there is such a thing as universal truth, we can all agree it is this: children love zoos… but sometimes, not even the zoo can overcome a short attention span.
Get more bang for your buck on your next trip to the Toronto Zoo by taking a detour from the monkeys and meerkats and visiting Splash Island, one of the best water parks in Toronto. It just so happens to come free with the price of admission to the Toronto Zoo.
The perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day, Splash Island is awash with water slides, swimming pools, fountains, and tipping buckets. To keep children learning whilst they play, Splash Island also contains subtle educational information about Canada’s marine life – just subtle enough that the children won’t even notice the fun is also educational.
Splash Island remains open daily until September, so make some unforgettable memories with your family this summer by pre-booking your ticket today.
3. Good times – rain, hail, or shine – at Fantasy Fair
Fantasy Fair is one of the most popular theme parks in Toronto and has proudly amused and entertained over 8 million people since it opened in 1985. The perfect destination for small kids up to pre-teens, Fantasy Fair offers 12 child-friendly rides and a number of arcade games.
Take a jaunt through history with a turn on the Antique Carousel, still spinning since it was first built in 1911. With 44 jumping horses, 8 stationary horses, and 4 chariots on a 54-foot deck, the carousel has been optimized for 21st-century safety standards, whilst still retaining its historical charm. The Dreamer’s Play Village is a three-story adventure playground guaranteed to entertain your little one for hours. With three curving slides, a designated area for toddlers, and plenty of interactive tactile areas, the only limit to this Play Village is, quite literally, your imagination.
For more adventurous children, the Rock’n’Climb climbing wall is a surefire way to spark a passion in your child for one of the healthiest hobbies there is! Each climber is set up with appropriate safety harnesses and a helmet, and a scramble up the wall provides views of the park that can only be beaten from the top of the Crystal Kaleidoscope-indoor Ferris Wheel.
If you’d prefer some excitement a little closer to the ground, the XD Simulator offers an incredible family-themed 6D ride experience – all from the safety of your (admittedly, a little bumpy!) seat.
Because Fantasy Fair is one of the only fully-indoor theme parks in Toronto and offers free entrance and parking, it’s a great destination year-round.
4. Sail across Lake Ontario to Centreville Island Amusement Park
Get your sailor’s cap on and hop on a ferry to Centreville Island Amusement Park, the perfect day trip from Toronto, without having to leave Toronto.
Surrounded by 600 acres of parkland, Centreville Amusement Park offers some 30 rides and attractions and 14 delicious food outlets, making it the ultimate summer destination for families with small children. Go for a spin on the Twirling Teacups, take a spooky jaunt through the Haunted Barrel Works, or a ride on the back of a real-life pony. Don’t miss the splashtastic Log Flume ride or a chance to sink a few holes at the miniature golf course.
A stone’s throw away on the same island is Far Away Farm, the number one destination to meet some of Toronto’s cutest and cuddliest animals up close.
5. A perfect afternoon for your little ones awaits at Kidstown Water Park
Kidstown Water Park is a cherished spot for families, as well as being the only water park in Toronto that is owned and operated by the City of Toronto.
This free-to-access park is the perfect setting for preschool and grade-school-aged children to make friends and enjoy some age-appropriate paddling. Kidstown offers all the trustiest water park staples: tipping buckets, spray rings, wading pools, splash pads, and squirting marine animals.
Smear some sunscreen on your children’s faces, and splay a picnic rug beside the play area and soak up the summer sunshine and fresh air. Special picnic areas are available for booking for birthdays and other special occasions. You can book your designated area through the City of Toronto website, under the ‘Picnics and Fire Pits’ tab.
6. Choose your adventure and leave the ordinary behind by escaping Casa Loma
Watch out, Old Guard – new, immersive theme parks in Toronto are coming!
For those who have enjoyed all the iconic amusement parks and carnivals in Toronto, the Casa Loma Escape Series is a modern twist on the classic adventure park.
Around the world, escape rooms have become a beloved and brain-teasing day out, and Casa Loma – a Gothic Revival mansion in midtown Toronto – offers the perfect combination of beauty, brains, and adventure in its Escape Series, which has been going strong since 2015.
Stroll through this historic manor to drink in the ambiance before making your way to one of the five escape rooms, situated in various locations around Casa Loma ranging from the stable-house gardens and manor tower to the dark tunnels underground.
Gather a group of your three to five closest friends and take a brief trip into an alternate story, from a medieval quest to 1920s bootlegging Toronto, where the stakes have never been higher.
Do you have what it takes to unravel the clues and puzzle your way to freedom before the clock runs out? There’s only one way to find out.
Insider tip: For those who succeed in escaping the room (or at least succeed in not losing your cool with that one friend who is terrible at logic games), celebrate with a victory dinner at the Casa Loma Blueblood Steakhouse, one of the finest – and fanciest – establishments for you to raise a toast to your shared victory.
7. The indoor water park that bests them all: Don’t miss Fallsview Indoor Water Park
Niagara Falls needs no embellishment, but if you’re looking for the cherry on top, Fallsview Indoor Water Park is the spot.
Round out your Toronto city break to Niagara Falls (and nix any ideas your kids might have about going down them in a barrel) with a day at this indoor water park. Standing eight stories high, the Fallsview Indoor Water Park is an extravaganza of some of the tallest, twistiest, and most exhilarating water slides in the country. There’s also a giant wave pool that will entertain your children for hours.
As little ones splash around in the Tiny Tots Splash Park, parents can luxuriate in one of the two over-sized, adults-only Jacuzzis or lounge in the chairs at the climate-controlled Fallsview Beach. It may not do much for your tan, but who can complain when it’s snowing outside and you’re rocking a bikini?
For those looking for a little more caviar-and-diamonds to their vacation, luxury cabanas are available for hire with patio seating for up to six people behind a generous fence for your privacy. Cabanas are equipped with two lounges for sunbathing and accompanied by a 25% VIP discount on food and complimentary chilled bottled water. Best of all, the Fallsview cabana lives up to its title, providing an incomparable view of Niagara Falls.
Make the most out of your stay by bundling your trip to the park with one of the hotel packages offered at the four on-site resorts. The options suit a range of budgets and include handy indoor connections directly to the water park, so you can stroll straight from your front door to the splash zone.
8. Karting, batting, gaming, and mini-golfing galore at Playdium
Though a little further from central Toronto than some of the other places mentioned here, Playdium’s sheer size makes it well worth the visit. This 40,000 square-foot indoor amusement park in Toronto offers every arcade game and attraction you can imagine – and, with over 200 high-tech attractions and simulators, maybe even a few you didn’t even think of.
Playdium is the perfect place to take your thrill-seeking teenagers or unlock your inner adrenaline-bandit. Go hurtling around the go-kart track or apply some elbow grease to hit a home run at the baseball batting cages. Try not to get too competitive with your friends and family at mini-golf (seriously, why is it always mini-golf?). And don’t forget to try out the race pods, defeat zombies, and generally go crazy at the sprawling arcade.
9. Endless summer fun at Wet’n’Wild Toronto
Wet’n’Wild is one of the most trusted water park franchises in the world, and for good reason. In 2017, Wet’n’Wild Toronto enjoyed an enormous $25 million investment for a range of new rides, and the fun abounds today with a selection of Canada’s most exhilarating, enjoyable, and elaborate rides – most of which are named in homage to the country, for good measure.
Scream your heart out (in your heart!) on the Oh Canada! as the floor of your sky-high capsule gives out, sending you through a near-vertical freefall into a spiraling, 360-degree loop; or grab some friends and for the five-person Krazy Kanuck, a back-to-back series of drops, curves, and vortex loops that defy the once-eternal water park law of ‘one-person per ride’.
Ride the waves in the Big Surf pool or get lost in the famous Bermuda Triangle: enter through one of three entangled slides, and end up somewhere completely unexpected! Race your friends down the Klondike Express on ultra-aerodynamic plastic mats and survey your new kingdom from the sky on the Jet Stream Zip Line.
If you prefer a little less wet and a little less wild, go tubing around the park on the Muskoka Soakah, where you can lounge under the sun while floating gently down the stream.
10. Theme parks in Toronto of a different kind? Try Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Why is it that children have iron stomachs but squirm away from eating Brussel sprouts?
This is just one of the many questions that will likely flit through your mind as you watch your little ones flip through the air at Sky Zone Trampoline Park. In this indoor wonderland of stretchy plastic, the laws of gravity are suspended and not even the sky is the limit.
Though not exactly a quintessential theme park, Sky Zone offers lifetime value in stoking a love of fun and fitness in adults and children alike, not to mention ample repeat value for regular visitors.
Soar like Jordan at the Skyslam Basketball hoop and fly without fear of a hard landing at the extra-cushioned Foam Zone. Challenge your friends to see who can make it the farthest up the frustratingly fidgety Skyladder, or, for those of us who remember the bronze, body-building excitement of the television show Gladiators, harken back to the eternal battle for glory with a joust on the Battle Beam.
Sky Zone also hosts a range of exciting competitions, tournaments, and camps, with Trampoline Dodgeball leagues for adults and children, day-camps during school holidays, safe and secure Toddler Time for the cheerleading tumblers of tomorrow, and Glow, a laser-lit, after-dark jumping dance club.