Treewalk Village Stouffville

We love this place. Been there 3 times now. The kids always want to go. There is a ground level ‘obstacle course’ for the smallest ones, a hobbit-like set of tunnels and a bunch of tree houses with rope bridges beteeen them. 

A ton of fun. The shade is wonderful on hot days. No sunscreen needed! The brush is removed and the three times we visited we had no issues with mosquitoes. 

It’s expensive ($20 per kid – $7 per supervising adult for two hours) and quite a trek (a 35 min drive from downtown Toronto in ideal driving conditions) but worth it for the occasional treat. 

Aside from traffic, plan at least 15 extra minutes for all the form/liability waiver filling in. Thankfully the forms are much shorter than they were in prior years. But when it’s busy there can be quite a wait at the checkin due to all the paperwork. 
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High Park Splash Pad, Wading Pool and Playground

Just a five minute walk from the High Park subway station, the new splashpad (finished in 2016) at High Park sits beside the older wading pool and playground.

The spashpad is terrific. There are several different splash pad features – see pics – operated by two buttons. There is also a water jug refill station. Sadly no public toilets on site. Lots of trees and shrubs around if needs be.

The wading pool is old-school ho-hum.

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Pottery Playground

A quaint, tree-lined North York playground for younger children. Tucked away off Merton, between Mount Pleasant and Bayview on the North side Mount Pleasant Cemetary.

Small and almost hidden like the Hideaway Park Playground. Safely fenced-in on all sides and wonderfully shaded. Contains a 4-feature splash pad, small sandbox, a plethora of abandoned slides, scattered riding and other toys, a drinking fountain, one toddler swing and one handicapped swing. No regular swings or toilets though there are shrubs in the summer that the young ones could disappear behind if needs be.

The play structure is older but still fun.

It’s not at all convenient to get to by public transit but easily accessible by car. Look out for it while driving by Merton because, like the Pirate Ship Park, it’s easy to miss while driving by. Continue reading “Pottery Playground”

Woburn Avenue Playground

A terrific North York playground. Located a 3 minute walk from the Lawrence subway station – North West of Yonge and Lawrence (see map below).

Nicely landscaped, safely fenced in on all sides and wonderfully shaded. Complete with a wading pool, sandbox, abandoned scattered riding and other toys, swings and clean toilets with change tables. A completely original set of play structures with the rubbery floor (which I always prefer over sand or wood chips).

The only thing missing is a water jug refill station – though they can be refilled by the bathroom taps.

I wish I had discovered this one years ago.

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Parent Resources Drop In Centre

I have blogged quite a bit about commercial drop-ins but the free Parent Resources Drop In Centre at 173A Front St. E. and Lower Sherbourne (behind Rabba and beside the library) has been one of the two most important resources we’ve used when raising our two children. This is one of two Parent Resources locations. The other is at 1117 Gerrard St. East, east of Jones Ave.

It offers an unstructured environment for kids from 0-6 to play and socialize. They provide free, healthy snacks around 10:45 followed by a circle time of songs and stories. This site has:

  • Really nice facilitators with lots of good parenting advice – only if you request it
  • A kitchen
  • High chairs for lunches
  • A bathroom with change table.
  • A ton of toys and books for kids 0 to 6.
  • Craft table in the early hours
  • Dress-up costumes
  • Pretend Kitchen (pictured above)
  • Slide, parachute, crawling tunnel
  • Stamps and stickers on way out

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Hands On Centre at the Art Gallery of Ontario

The Dr. Mariano Elia Hands on Center at the Art Gallery of Ontario is a terrific place to take kids. As you can see in the pictures there are a ton of mostly arts and crafts-centric games and supplies for kids to play/be creative with.

We have gone three times. The prior two times the kids were mostly indifferent to it. We lasted at most an hour. But this time, at ages 3 and almost 5 we hit the sweet spot as the kids loved it and we spent the entire Sunday afternoon there.
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Oscar 2017 Thoughts Mini-Reviews

Below are the thoughts I posted on Facebook about each of the Best Picture nominees for the 89th Annual Academy Awards. They are listed in the reverse order that I watched them.

My favorite is Lion. This was definitely a weak year with only a few nominees worthy of a Best Picture nomination let alone a win. No great movies here. After seeing all 10, Lion is still my personal favorite of the nominees. The picture I enjoyed the most on 2016 was Star Trek Beyond. But, hey! Sci-fi movies need not apply for Oscars right!? 🙂 At least we have the dresses to look forward to tonight.

Until 30 minutes in, I almost abandoned the movie. It got better. As usual Viola Davis was a tour-de-force. Yet another tough movie to watch. I guess Denzel played the ultimate self-centered cad well enough. I’ve had my fill of Denzel. I wanted to dislike this movie – especially given the first 30 minutes but ended up liking it. Oscar-worthy. I don’t know. If you have 10 slots to fill maybe. But, as with my comments elsewhere I strongly suspect this nomination too was a direct result of last years protests.

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Sky Zone Trampoline Park

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Sky Zone Trampoline Park is open for toddlers and preschoolers up to 40″ tall from 9-11:30am and 1-2:30pm. IT’S SUPER FUN!!!

$10 for the first kid, $6 for second plus $2.25 per kid for SkySocks. They can be used again on future visits.

Along with the trampolines, as you can see in the pictures, there is a huge foam cube pit.

SkySock wearing Parents can go on to trampolines but (for kids safety) they are not permitted to jump.

The ‘no jumping’ for parents limitation is the only downside to this place. While I don’t particularly need/want to jump for my own sake, it would be nice to be able to show my kids moves/jumps they could try. No other trampoline park that I’m aware of prohibits adults from jumping with kids. I’d be happy to pay an extra fee to be permitted to jump with my kids. I suspect that is the true reason for the rule.

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Jellybeenz Indoor Playground (Brampton)

Jellybeenz is one of my 4 or 5 favorite indoor playgrounds in the Greater Toronto area. A 33 minute drive from downtown Toronto in good traffic. Certainly worth visiting if you are in the area or live in Brampton.

It has a terrific set of climbing structures and toys perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, a kick-@ss train set, air hockey and a dance floor that is open on Fridays.

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Monkey McGoos Indoor Playground

[August 2017 Update: This place closed in late spring 2017. Given my update below I am not surprised. Too bad. It once was the best drop-in in town :(]

[Nov 2016 Update: I can no longer recommend this place for casual dropins. It’s now closed entirely from 1pm to 3pm Mon to Thurs – precisely when we used it the most. The new management has made what I used to recommend as the best commercial drop-in within the city limits, unusable. I highly recommend Kids Fun Town in its place. It’s only a few minutes away by car and keeps getting better each time we go. Sad :(]

Until the recent changes by the new owner (see below), I considered Monkey McGoos the best commercial drop-in in the city for toddlers and pre-schoolers. There is tons for the kids to do. Slide and ball pool. Tons of cars to drive, plastic castles to climb, costumes to wear etc. Free coffee, tea and wifi. A 14 minute drive from downtown in no traffic. One block east of Victoria Park at 1212 Kingston Rd. $7.91 for first child. $5.50 for the second. Or buy a pass for 10 visits for $55. That’s what we do. This used to be Zach’s first choice when asked what he wants to do.

BUT … as of February 2016 the new owner changed the drop in schedule. We usually went between 11am and 4pm Monday through Friday. But now, its closed from 1 to 3pm every day. To say we are disappointed is an understatement!!!!!!

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Playtown Indoor Playground (Mississauga)

Playtown is one of the best indoor playgrounds in Metro. It’s. 28 min drive away from downtown Toronto in Mississauga. Similar to the Children’s Discovery Centre but cheaper. $12 for kids and no charge for adults. 8 differently themed rooms (race tack, kitchen, construction site, theatre, fire hall, grocery store, beauty salon, animal hospital). Free wifi. Terrific family bathrooms. Not freezing cold. No stupid rules. Bring your own snacks if you want. Will ABSOLUTELY come back again.

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Kids Paradise Playground (Mississauga)

Kids Paradise Playground isn’t! Someone on Google reviewed this place as ‘…the best playground in GTA’. This person clearly hasn’t been around. Monkey McGoos (Scarborough), Amazon (Etobicoke) and Jellybeenz (Brampton), to name a few, are far far superior indoor playgrounds to this empty place.

The owner was nice. It’s clean. But aside from the few standalone riding things you see on their website pictures, there are no toys here at all. You can see a plastic kitchen play centre in the back corner of the picture above, but there are zero toy plates, food etc. that kids would need to play with it.

The play structure is nice but after s few trips up and down my 4 and 2 year olds were bored. We lasted 30 minutes – with me trying everything to stretch it out including snack time. And at $20 for two kids (no discount for second child like virtually every other commercial playground in the GTA), it’s almost the most expensive of these places I’ve taken them to. And for what?

I have been to perhaps 20 indoor playgrounds in greater Toronto and this one is the most empty place there is. Sad because the proprietor was really nice.

Amazon Indoor Playground (Etobicoke)

 Amazon Indoor Playground has become a new favorite.  We have gone three times and each time the kids had a blast.  Big play structure like Monkey McGoos. Comfy leather couches for adults (not that I had a chance to sit in them). Trampoline and the usual assortment of toys. No crazy rules. Two clean bathrooms with change tables. Twisty slide in to ball pit. Free WiFi. Will definitely return.

$10 first kid. $7 second. Free strip mall parking. Yay!  Pizza place just around the Corner in the strip mall

25 min drive from downtown (in good traffic) but worth it. 1500 Royal York south of Dixon (see map below).

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Kids Fun Town

Kids Fun Town is a terrific commercial drop in. My kids have had a blast every time we have gone.  It is run by a nice immigrant owner with a child of his own. Among other things it has a ball pit, a climbing structure and a large Bouncy Castle with slide. $7.50 for first child. $6.50 for second. 10 passes for $55 (with no expiration). Free wifi, coffee and tea. Nice clean bathroom and change station in basement. Their focus is on safety. Beyond that they don’t have a ton of silly rules like other places. As of March 2016 it and Amazon are my favorite places within the Metro Toronto borders – Monkey McGoos having fallen out of favor with drop-in hours changes made by its new owner.

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Jamie Bell Adventure Playground (High Park)

[Updated August 2017 to add summertime pics.]

High Park’s Jamie Bell Adventure Playground is (to my knowledge) the biggest playground structure in the city and certainly one of the best (lots more pics here). Insanely busy in the summer but completely empty (except for us) on this warm November Day. As very young children our kids hated his place when it was swarming with kids in the summer. But they loved it today. They particularly love bouncing up and down on the rubber Bruges (see pic below) especially when dad makes it bounce.

[August 2017 Update: At 5 and 3.5 years old they loved it on a busy summer day.]

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Corktown Common

While admittedly pretty and new, in my opinion, Corktown Common is the most overrated park in the city. It gets almost universal acclaim yet it has very few play structures for kids. A big slide, a smaller slide, a teeter totter, some swings, a water faucet to get them dirty  (Ugh!) and a cool splash pad (open only from end of June till Labour Day). That’s pretty much it. It’s stroller unfriendly.  There is ZERO shade for hot days – hence we go on cloudy days.

One thing I do like, however is there is a large public raspberry bush that you can pick raspberries from in June and July. It also has terrific bathrooms when open (was open at lunch time on Oct 20 but drinking fountains were shut off).

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Evergreen Brickworks Nature Trail

 Dani and I and the kids had a wonderful afternoon walk at the Evergreen Brick Works nature trail last weekend. It’s free to access the trails but parking is pretty expensive ($10 for two hours). The trails are on the north side of the brick works buildings. This is located Bayview about a 10 minute drive from downtown. Highly recommend it for kids of all ages – especially at this time of year. Watch out for the bridges. They don’t have guards on one side (see pics) Presumably this is to permit easy viewing of all the fish – and we saw a lot of fish. But it sure was disconcerting as a dad.

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Rosedale Park Playground

The playground at Rosedale Park is one of the nicer outdoor community playgrounds in terms of facilities. It’s located in a swanky neighborhood, a half mile north east of Bloor and Sherburne – a 10 minute drive in no traffic from downtown. There are no free floating toys. There are public bathrooms immediately beside but they were closed at 6pm on Oct 13. I’ve never seem a train like they have here in a Toronto park nor such a large interactive wall with as many options (see pics below). It also has the highest slide I’ve found yet in a public Toronto park. Like many Toronto parks, it has a splash pad (that’s only open from end of June to Labour Day). Unlike most parks, it has a nice gazebo that was handy when it started raining and would be nice to eat your lunch under.

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The Oxbow Trail

A terrific walk for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s behind Todmorden Mills (see smokestack pic below) at 67 Pottery Road just off Bayview. An adult could walk it in 7 minutes but it’s a good hour with toddlers. A perfect fall walk. Cool little talking stations (see pic below) that tell you what you are looking at with a push of a button. My kids pushed them often 🙂 it’s a 10 minute drive from our building with no traffic. Access to trail is at the very end of the long parking lot. There is one stair with about 8 wooden steps. Otherwise you can push a stroller around it freely.

Below is what it says about getting their by TTC. The walk down the hill would be great.

“By transit, take any TTC bus north from Broadview Station on the Bloor-Danforth line, get off at Pottery Road and walk 5 minutes down the hill”

The walk back up at the end will be pretty tough as its a very big hill!!!

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Glen Steward Ravine / Ivan Forrest Gardens

Glen Steward Ravine/Ivan Forrest Gardens is a Beaches nature treasure. Confusingly this park/trail is named Ivan Forrest Gardens on the south side and Glen Steward Ravine in the northern section. The two parks are really one skinny park/nature trail stretching from Queen St to Kingston Rd. (See map below)

It’s a perfect walk for toddlers and pre-schoolers complete with trees, streams squirrels and birds. As you can see from the photos it’s a beautiful nature trail – especially the northern part. In the summer you wouldn’t even know you were smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

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Playground at Hideaway Park

The playground at Hideaway Park is one of my personal favorite outdoor playgrounds in the city. It has a nice play structure, sandbox, wading pool, nice treed green space, toys strewn around including riding toys. It’s tranquil and never very busy. It’s a tad south and east from Pape & Dundas and only accessible from a laneway on one end and a fenced in dog park on the other.

Ask Siri or Google Maps for directions to Hideaway Park and they will both lead you to it. There is normally a porta potty in the park, but as of today it’s not there. I guess they remove it after the summer is over.

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Beaches East Playground

Beaches East Playground – where Silver Birch Ave meets the lake. As far as I know this playground doesn’t have a formal name. We call it the “Purple Park” for obvious reasons.

It’s a nice little park. Best things about it are that its almost completely shaded and there is a nice cool breeze off the lake. It has a sandbox full of toys and a smattering of abandoned toys around though far fewer than a lot of other parks. The climbing equipment is new and almost identical to that found at Stanley Park. There’s not a lot here, but equipment is new and almost identical to that found at Stanley Park. There’s not a lot here, but I really like it. Seems more tranquil than most other playgrounds.

And there is a nice, clean public toilet with change tables in both the men’s and women’s washrooms just down the hill from the playground – about 100 feet away.

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Pirate Ship Playground at Cherry Beach

The pirate ship playground beside the soccer fields at Cherry Beach is terrific. Nice soft floor under the ship and play structures. Lots to explore. Swings, teeter totter and the usual play things. Our kids love this place.

The best outdoor public toilet in the city that I’ve see is 100 feet away. Change tables in men and women’s bathroom. Water thermos refill station. Sadly, zero shade which is why I left it to a cool day before I ventured here.

Set Google maps to 115 Unwin Ave (see map below) and it takes you to the otherwise obscure entrance. Drive in and you will see it immediately on the left. Or bicycle from downtown. My wide pushed the kids here in the jogging stroller. There is feee parking immediately beside. At mid-day on a September weekday there was nobody here but us.

Updare Note: As of April 2017, parking which used to be paid parking is now free.

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Playground at Alan Gardens

Alan Gardens playground, at Jarvis and Carlton, is another nice new park. Nice new structures and sand box. No toilet though. It, too, has one of those new rubbery fake wood chip floors that I love. Safe but not messy. It’s right beside the free botanical gardens in the Alan Gardens Conservatory – shown in the background. WARNING: bring a change of clothes for the littlest ones because this park has one of those mud park fountains like at Dufferin Grove Park. The kids WILL get wet and muddy and have a lot of fun doing it.

Neshama Playground in Oriole Park

Neshama Playground, in the north/east corner of Oriole Park, is a couple minute walk from the Davisville subway. It’s a wonderful new park. Little fountains that start at the push of a button. A splash pad. A water thermos refill station. Bouncy rubber floor. Everything is new. A terrific new toilet. Lots of play structures. Easily now one of my favorite parks. So easy to get to. The subway stop has elevators for strollers. Strangely no change table. Right beside the beltway if one parent wants to run while the other hangs with the kids. And plenty of shade!