No more pencils, no more books! Just two full months home with Mom and Dad.
If your kid’s summer vacation seems to sneak up on you each year, leaving you short of patience and without an itinerary to consult, don’t fret. Our guide to 10 summer activities for kids — one for each week of summer break — will be sure to stave off boredom and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Week 1: Pick Your Own Berries
Late June/early July is prime berry-picking time in Ontario. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are all ripe and in abundance. Slip on your rubber boots and take the entire family to a local pick-your-own farm. Harvest Ontario has an excellent online directory to help with your search.
Week 2: Build a Pollinator Garden
Experts say that we have a bee to thank for every one in three bites of food we eat. Fruits, nuts and vegetables are all pollinated by bees. This summer, do your part to support healthy honeybee populations by designing and planting a pollinator garden together with your family. Pick a sunny spot in your yard (with six or more hours of direct light) and plan out your own honey bee smorgasbord. Equip yourself with this list of bee-friendly perennial plants and take a family trip to your local garden centre. The end result will be a fragrance- and colour-filled garden that will feed the bees and educate your kids about the important role pollinators play in agriculture. As a bonus, you’ll also attract a variety of butterflies, too!
Week 3: Visit the Toronto Islands
A day trip to the Toronto Islands is a must! Fifteen different islands, inter-connected by pathways and bridges, boast beautiful beaches, sports facilities, bike, canoe and kayak rentals, large fields for picnics, a theatre, nature paths, and even an amusement park. A full day of family fun is just a 15-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto.
Week 4: Have a Blast at an Amusement Park
From rollercoasters to waterslides and everything in between, there’s a full day of fun waiting to be had at a number of Ontario amusement parks.
Week 5: Take a Hike
One of the great things about living in Ontario is that we’re spoiled for riches when it comes to natural green spaces to explore. Check out Ontario Parks, Parks Canada or your regional conservation website for a list of parks perfect for a family outing in the woods. Put together a picnic lunch and make a day of it — or pack your camping gear and turn in into a full-blown camping adventure.
Week 6: Send the Kids to Summer Camp
There simply just isn’t another overnight summer camp in Ontario that can boast about having as much prime lakefront on Lake Rosseau in beautiful Muskoka than Muskoka Woods. The location is only matched by the facilities including a 6-lane waterslide, 1000ft zipline, huge inflatable waterpark, beautiful boat house and bespoke leadership studio. Register today.
Provide your kids with the opportunity to make lifelong friends and create unforgettable memories by sending them to an overnight summer camp. Since 1979, Muskoka Woods has been the premier summer camp destination in Ontario for kids and youth ages six to 16. Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Rosseau, Muskoka Woods offers more than 60 activities — including a six-lane waterslide, a 1,000-ft zipline and a huge inflatable waterpark — that guests customize to fill a six-hour day over the course of a week. Are your kids ready to have the time of their lives? Register today.
Week 7: Get Lost in an Escape Room
Spend an afternoon working together to escape, well, an escape room! Trip Advisor has a comprehensive list of the highest-rated escape rooms in the province. Many are family-friendly. Discover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks together before time runs out!
Week 8: Go to the Zoo
What’s better than spending a day at the zoo, surrounded by living creatures both big and small? Not much. Ontario boasts a number of attractions sure to please the animal lover in your family. From the Toronto Zoo, which features more than 5,000 animals, to the FREE Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough, there are plenty of animal parks to discover.
Week 9: Create a Backyard Campout
Who needs a campsite when you can make one in your own backyard! Pretend that you’re in the heart of Algonquin Park as you and the entire family set up a tent, barbecue some hotdogs, stargaze and tell ghost stories under the light of the moon. Throw bedtime curfew out the window for the night and let the crickets lull you to sleep.
Week 10: Spend a Day at the Ex
The Canadian National Exhibition is the unofficial end of summer. So if you’ve made it this far it means two things: 1) You’ve provided your family with a fun-filled summer they’ll remember for a lifetime, and 2) School starts next week! The Ex features amusement park rides, a variety of international cuisines and various artisanal goods for sale. The last week even features the Canadian International Air Show. Make it an annual tradition starting this summer.
Jamie Hunter is a freelance content specialist living in Dundas, Ont. with his wife, eight-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. Over the past 15 years, he has contributed to a variety of national lifestyle and entertainment print publications and worked in corporate communications roles at Harbourfront Centre and the University of Toronto. A self-described amateur entomologist, wannabe ornithologist, and fair-weather angler, on weekends he can be found covered in dirt tending to his gardens.