Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life


Brag alert! There's Disney Wordl, there's Paris, than there's Toronto!

You can't say I'm not doing my part to put Toronto on the map!

Today, my guide Toronto Fun Places, 5th ed. was #14 seller in Family Travel section (all destinations considered). Disney and Paris with kids were competing for the first 13 positions... Buy it on Amazon!




Natural ice rink at The Beach

Fun winter

I took a walk around Glen Stewart Ravine yesterday and saw that someone was working on creating a natural ice rink on the piece of land nestled within Glen Manor Drive East and West (north of Queen Street east). I had noticed one, years ago, but later discovered that it's not there every year because this is not a rink managed by the City. It is the action of local volunteers.

There are a few good reasons why I like this rink. The location is simply lovely. Glen Stewart Ravine is just one-minute walk north of this (entrance of Glen Manor Drive East). And it is a 5-minute walk from two cafés serving hot chocolate: the usual suspect that is Starbucks (2253 Queen East at Hammersmith) and the cutest little vegan bakery & café Tori's Bakeshop (2188 Queen East, two blocks east of Glen Manor Drive). The bakery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (It reopens later with a dinner menu.)

Note that you can admire lights along the beach until mid-February, a 5-minute walk south of the rink. Read about Light Up the Beach.



TOP-3 car games


Are we there yet?

Half the attractions in Toronto Fun Places are located within the GTA but the rest of the family outings reach as far as London, Picton, Collingwood. In 2004, I found a little book filled with family activities to help parents entertain their kids while they wait in the car, at the restaurant, in the line-up, etc.

Here are my TOP-3 favourite car games in Fun in the Run! by Cynthia L. Copeland. (It is unfortunately out of print but she has written other interesting books since. Really Important Stuff my Dog Has Tought Me is her latest.)

Game #139 (How far, how fast?)

Ask one child to guess when the car will have done one kilometer. Set the odometer to zero and tell her to start. When she's made her guess, tell her the exact mileage on the odometer. Then, proceed with the next child. It's interesting to find out what strategies kids develop to improve on their guess.

Game #134 (Red car, blue car...)

Ask each kid to pick two of the following colours: red, blue, silver, black, white, tan or green. Once they're done, tell them that each time they see a car the colour of their first choice, they make one point.  The goal is to be the first to reach 10 points. BUT, their second choice is the "Cancel Colour". If they see a car in that colour before they reach 10 points, they lose all their points and are back to square one.

Game #136 (Fast friends)

Kids gain points by succeeding in making someone in another car do one of the following: Waving a hand, waving a foot, making a silly face, pumping a make-beleive horn like a trucker, saluting, smiling... I suggest each kid takes turn so everyone can see the strangers' reaction.



Winter walk along the beach


After a great Christmas concert by Cadence at the Beach United Church (140 Wineva), we walked down to the beach to admire the 7th edition of Light Up the Beach.

Here's my photo gallery of our little escapade. When there's snow, it's even prettier because the lights reflect on the white ground. The trees are lit until mid-February (thanks to the main sponsor DeClute Real Estate) so chances are we will be able to admire the cool lights under the snow by then.

See our description DeClute Light Up the Beach to get the address of two nearby cafés offering hot chocolates and local churches offering musical events.



Christmas fun is not over!



No need to feel blue after December 25. It's not over, yet! You can still take your family to big-ticket events... or their smaller (more intimate) version.

Pantomimes are my favourite kind of shows for the whole family. Children enjoy them and actors always make sure adults enjoy the show as much as their kids with tong-in-cheek jokes. Around Christmas time, any version of The Nutcracker ballet is always good for the soul!


You can enjoy the Christmas tradition of a Ross Petty Productions. In 2014, they play Cinderella with great decors, choreographies, silliness and... the funniest ways to acknowledge sponsors (cheapest $34 tickets are sold out but you can still buy tickets for all presentations) or the truly intimate setting of 50-seat Red Sandcastle Theatre in Leslieville, playing Sleepy Beauty ($59 for family of 4, call 416-845-9411 to reserve tickets).

Dates and hours:

Cinderella/Ross Petty Productions: Still playing Dec. 26, 2 p.m.; Dec. 27, 2 & 7 p.m.; Dec. 28, 1 & 6 p.m.; Dec. 29, 30 and 31, 2 p.m.; Jan. 2 and 3, 2 & 7 p.m.; Jan. 4, 2 p.m.

Sleepy Beauty/Red Sandcastle Theatre: They offer 7 p.m. presentations on Dec. 26, 27, 29, 30, and Jan. 2,3; and 2 p.m. matinées on Dec. 27, 28, 31 and Jan. 3, 4.


The Nutcracker:

Their Markham performances are sold out but there are still $42 tickets available for Ballet Jörgen's Nutcracker in Kitchener on Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (click here to watch an except from their ballet). Of course, there's also the splendid version of The Nutcracker by the National Ballet of Canada in The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in downtown Toronto (click here to see backstage footage of their ballet). TIPS: At 11 a.m. on the day of the performance, you can try to book a maximum of two RUSH tickets per person online (using the promocode RUSH) or in person at the box office. Good luck!

The Nutcracker/Ballet Jörgen: Dec. 28, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Kitchener

The Nutcracker/National Ballet of Canada: Dec. 27, 2 & 7 p.m.; Dec. 28 and 30, 1 & 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 2 and 3, 1 & 5:30 p.m. (As of Dec. 26, there were still many tickets in the $107-$135 range, available on the same day for the RUSH price of $40.)


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Nathalie's tips for a smooth outing

After years of doing all kinds of outings with my children, I can assure you the secret to a perfect outing lies in the details, not the destination.


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