Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life


Pumpkin Parades! What a great concept!


The Pumpkin Parade fever is catching on in Toronto!                                                        

Many communities have found a way to stretch Halloween fun by organizing a pumpkin parade. The concept is simple. On the evening of November 1st, everyone is invited to bring their sculpted pumpkin to the local park, where they are arranged in an interesting display and lit, for everyone to admire. It usually starts at dusk and lasts a couple of hours. 

Apparently, it's the Pumpkin Parade taking place at Sorauren Park (east of Roncesvalles Street) which started it all, ten years ago. On their website, I read that "the Sorauren event has sparked similar events across Toronto, Montréal and this year in Upper Manhattan." 

I attended the event this year. The evening was cold and windy, probably not the best conditions for the parade but I still counted at least 1,200 pumpkins! Under the lamp posts, there's too much light to appreciate the candle lights and the carvings but when you make shadow over the most ambitious ones, it totally changes their look.

I left the event at 8:30 p.m. and the ambiance wasn't winding down. You can probably expect action until 10 p.m.

5 TIPs to better enjoy Sorauren Pumpkin Parade                                                                    

• You don't need to bring a pumpkin but if you do, bring your own candle and preferable a long gas lighter so you don't burn yourself lighting your jack-o'-lantern. While you're at it, be nice and light up your neighbours' candles if the wind has blown them off!

• Bring a small flashlight for the kids so they can admire the carvings on the pumpkins without a lit candle. It adds to the fun of the exploration.

• There's no washroom on the premises.

• You will easily find free street parking all around Sorauren Park if you arrive before 6:30 p.m.

• The Ideal Coffee (221 Sorauren) closes at 7 p.m. but a 5-minute walk down Geoffroy Avenue to Roncesvalle, you'll find Timothy's (327 Roncesvalles, one block north of Geoffroy) and Tim Hortons (175 Roncesvalles, four blocks south of Geoffrey).

About other Pumpkin Parades

Kew Gardens Park

Last week I had noticed this sign on the waterfront of The Beach. In the Friends of The Beach Parks' Facebook page, there were some photos from last year's Candlelit Pumpkin Parade, taking place near the picnic tables in Kew Gardens Park (they are nested in the middle of the park). I arrived at the event at 9:15 p.m., after my visit to Sorauren, and it was over. I saw some fifty pumpkins displayed on the tables, some still lit.

East Lynn Park

East Lynn Park's Pumpkin Parade was in its 5th year in 2014. I think its layout makes it the perfect spot for such an event. I arrived there at 9:30 p.m. and volunteers were already loading the pumpkins into a City bin for compost. It seems that there were approximately 100 pumpkins in their parade.


Trinity-Bellwoods Park

At Trinity-Bellwoods Park, they were at least in their second year of offering a Pumpkin Parade in 2014. Since the friends of this park are usually quite involve, I suspect it's a great place to enjoy this kind of event. And the path running across the park is perfect. 

Wychwood Barns Park

I was there for their Boo! at the Barns last Saturday. I saw on their Facebook page that they also organize a Pumpkin Parade on November 1st.


Riverdale West Park

I just saw a sign in Cabbagetown, promoting their Cabbagetown Pumpkin Walk in Riverdale West Park. This park overviewing the Don Valley includes a paved path that is also very suitable for such a parade.



Badlands near Belfountain: Great for all ages!

Cool parks | Fun fall

This weekend, I went back to Cheltenham Badlands with two teens, two girlfriends and one 7-year old. It was a success!

The Badlands are approximately 1-hr drive from Toronto. To go there, take Hwy 401 to Hwy 410 towards Brampton (it becomes Hwy 10). Turn left (westbound) on Olde Base Line, at the light in the little hamlet of Claude along Hwy 10. The Badlands are on the left-hand side (south) of Olde Base Line. We drove past them to first go have a bite in Belfountain (hungry teens oblige). It's less than 10 minutes away, turning right on Mississauga Road, off Olde Base Line.

Belfountain_Higher_Ground_6_torontofunplaces.comHigher Ground Coffee Co. in Belfountain, is self-described as a "hub of caffinated activity" and "a cyclist friendly espresso bar nestled in beautiful Niagara Escarpment country". Last time I was in Belfountain, there was a smaller coffee shop serving delicious soup at this location. It's been turned into a larger café and shop serving Reunion Island coffee and delicious tasty grilled paninis. They also carry coffee beans, preserves, home-made treats and more. 

It's the first time I visit a café with a helmet shelf. The place is indeed popular with cyclists... and motorcyclists as well. Every time I've been to Belfountain, there were many motorcycles nearby. (No scary Hell's Angels here, just some relaxed baby boomers equipped for leisure rides.)

Warning: The Badlands are very popular in the summer and during the fall weekends (especially during the Thanksgiving weekend, I recommend you try to go on another time). You will probably see flashing "No parking" signs going up the westbound and eastbound hills around the Badlands (there were even policemen when we visited) but don't worry. They just don't want people to park where the hill hides the view from the incoming cars. You should be able to find parking spots along the road between the two hills.

Driving back from Belfountain, we parked before the Badlands (western side), which allowed us to see the entrance to the Olde Base Rd Side Trail. The trail features blue marks and leads eventually to the Bruce Trail but turn left on the first fork you see to reach the Badlands. Walking up the hill and towards your left will take you to a very cool spot to admire the Badlands.

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On our way back, we could have continued along the side trail of the Bruce Trail. I wonder what lies ahead...



Urban Halloween at Wychwood Barns


Boo! at the Barns 2014 is taking place on Saturday October 25 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In my experience, when an annual event survives the 3-year milestone, it's proof that it's becoming a family tradition. Boo! at the Barns is in its 5th year at Wychwood Barns. I've not attended it yet but I will visit it this Saturday. They say it's their largest event of the year. Admission is free but there will be charges for some activities. (Note from October 29: At the end of this page, I've just posted a photo gallery of the event (which I attended with a little pirate and his mom, also a pirate, it runs in the family).

By the way, while you're there, you might want to do a little stroll along one of the few private streets in Toronto. It is truly lovely and part of the Wychwood Country Stroll (walk #21) in my walking guide Toronto Urban Strolls 2.

Note that Wychwood Barns Park also does a Pumpkin Parade on November 1st at dusk, an event where locals bring their carved pumpkin lit with a candle, to line paths and for everyone to enjoy.



Halloween idea that goes "Poof!"

DIY crafts | Halloween

Just fell for this fun idea!

Fill an empty egg with flour and draw some spooky eyes on it. When you toss it on the pavement, it will make a ghost-like "smoke" effect! By the way, here's a scary though for adults, if it rains when kids play with the eggs: flour + water = glue!



Clever Halloween craft for big kids

Halloween | Pinterest

Best use ever for pipe cleaners!


You take four pipe cleaners together, fold them in two, twist the middle and then add beads to make the joints. Almost makes me like spiders! (Added to my collection of fun Halloween ideas on Pinterest.)


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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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