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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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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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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[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 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 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 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 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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Without a doubt, the Children’s Discovery Center is one of the best indoor playgrounds in Toronto. With its many different themed rooms, it is quite similar to, (but somewhat better than) Playtown Indoor Playground in Mississauga. It has several ‘Discovery Zones’ (campground, mini city, art room, music room, pet vet, eat street kitchen, pet café, story room etc.) for the kids to play in. We’ve been there twice and both times our kids had a blast.
However, it comes at a cost. Not only does it cost $13 per child, with no discounts for siblings, they also charge $13 per adult!. The only other indoor ‘playgrounds’ that I know of that charge adult admission is LEGOLAND and the Ontario Science Centre indoor playground.
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