Toronto Family Vacation Guide: Where to Go, Eat & Stay

Last updated 26th July 2022

It’s become a yearly tradition with myself and my thirteen year old daughter to take some time and travel alone together on a mother daughter trip.  This year we went back to one of our favorite cities — Toronto. It’s the perfect weekend getaway as its only an hour flight from Newark, New Jersey and we love the  excitement of the bustling city against the backdrop of Lake Ontario.

What to Do

A great way to see a city is to eat your way through with a food tour!  Our tour with Culinary Adventure Co. was one of our favorite parts about our trip. 

The tour company is family owned and operated and is currently offering nine tours in and around Toronto.  We learned about the history of two bustling neighborhoods, Chinatown and Kensington Market.  We sat and dined with our group tour guide and owner, Kevin and his daughter Taylor as they shared stories about the neighborhood while we sampled dumplings, tacos, and miniature pies.

Toronto has an amazing theater district with shows touring from Broadway and the West End. We stopped by and saw the production of Come From Away and we were singing the catchy tunes for the remainder of the trip.

Better for younger children is a family show at Second City improv theater where they offer shows for children 12 and under. Audience participation is a must and my daughter just loved it when I volunteered to go up on stage for a bit during the show.

After the afternoon show we took spending quality time to the next level when we signed up to learn how to create our very own Unicorn Cake at the culinary classroom, Ledolci.  We learned how to roll out the fondant to create a golden horn and properly pipe the frosting for the mane. Plus we ended up with a delicious cake in the end.

There are two classic landmarks in Toronto that are a must for families to visit and just as it happens are right next door to each other. The The CN Tower is a must and allows you to walk along a thick glass floor looking down 1,815 feet below to the street and has become an iconic symbol of Toronto. It has a great gift shop so plan on getting any souvenirs here as well before walking next door to the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. The aquarium has over 16,000 sea animals from all over the world including these neon Jelly fish which make for the coolest selfies.

Where to Eat

My family and I are true foodies and when we are traveling in a city where the food is bad it literally ruins the trip for us, luckily with this trip that wasn’t the case.  It’s not hard to see why Toronto is becoming one of the next big food capitals of the world. We ate at some of the most amazing restaurants and the proof is that my daughter was willing to try everything and even ask for seconds.

We had an incredible lunch at Union Chicken where I ordered a fried chicken sandwich that literally melted in my mouth while my daughter tried her very first Canadian Poutine (french fries, gravy and cheese curds) and asked if we could take some home to the States! On our way to a show we ducked in and ate dinner at the Italian restaurant Il Fornellos where we noshed on a perfectly wood fired grilled mushroom pizza. This is a great centrally located restaurant that has something for everyone on  the menu including Vegans. 

A cool place for a bird’s eye view of the city with an incredibly fancy lunch is atop the CN Tower at the 360 restaurant which rotates 360 degrees high above Toronto.  The food here is upscale and makes for a very special meal.

One of our favorite dessert places was Sweet Jesus who serves the most Instagramable towering ice cream cones you’ve ever seen. The inside of this place is small so get your cone and sit outside on the benches.

Our absolute favorite meal on our trip was Ricarda’s Mediterranean restaurant where I had an incredible Black Truffle Mushroom Risotto and my daughter devoured a Olive Tamponade Crusted Steak and refused to share her delicious lemon mashed potatoes with me as they were just that good. 

Where to Stay

We stayed at the newly built Hotel X which is part of the Liberty Hotel Collection. The property sits conveniently right outside Toronto’s city center and is a short cab ride to the Billy Bishop Airport. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a warm modern flair. The hotel can handle families of all sizes as they offer a multitude of luxury suites.

Our hotel room was massive with a gorgeous stand alone tub in the bathroom, a large comfortable living room, bedroom and views of the CN Tower and Lake Ontario from every window. Staying in an oversized suite was key with a teenage daughter who likes to spread her things out wide and far and she was easily impressed with the plush terry cloth robe and slippers.

One of our favorite evenings was swimming in the heated rooftop pool which offers amazing views of the city skyline. My only regret was not having enough time to relax at the hotel as there are lots to do from the full service workout facility, 250 seated movie theater which offers family move nights, 4 indoor tennis courts and an art gallery.

The hotel also offers free shuttle services to downtown Toronto.

By Carey Reilly