Free Things to Do in Toronto

Visiting Toronto's Distillery District in Winter

Every February one of the many ways we celebrate my son and brother's birthday is by taking a trip to the Distillery District. The last few years we have made the Toronto Light Fest our destination, but the festival has been paused during the pandemic so instead we take a trip to visit the shops, art installations, and then hot chocolate and treats from Balzac's. We've been bringing our little man there since he was two... now he's almost as big as his dad and loves the vibe of the area just as much! There's something really nice about visiting the Distillery when there isn't a major event going on... it's chill and so picturesque. The loveliest family time and tradition! Rosie :)




The Distillery Historic District is located at 55 Mill Street in Toronto.

Official Tree Lighting in Toronto 2021 | Bloor-Yorkville

One of my favourite areas of the city to visit for holiday light magic is Yorkville. It's already sparkling away and the official tree lighting hasn't even happened yet! That's this Saturday November 27th, from 5-7pm at the Village of Yorkville Park (Cumberland St. & Bellair St.) One of my favourite Canadian artists, Kiesza, is performing! Here's a little preview of the area... this beautiful tree is in the Yorkville Village shopping centre on Yorkville Avenue (it used to be Hazelton Lanes).


Click here for details on the Bloor-Yorkville official tree lighting event. It's free in support of CANFAR... there will be pure Ontario maple syrup frosted on snow for a $2 donation. Rosie :)


Martino Manor: On Hold for Halloween 2020

If you live in the Parklawn/Queensway area of South Etobicoke and take your kids trick or treating, you've probably enjoyed the spooktacular house just south of Mamma Martino's Italian restaurant. The Martino family loves Halloween and have been transforming their home for years into a terrifying yet somehow also family-friendly spectacle of frights that the kids absolutely love. It's terrific and so much fun. A couple of years ago, the Martino's decided to take their love of scaring the hood up a notch and opened an indoor haunted house and outdoor maze just off the Queensway at 7 McIntosh Ave, directly behind their famous restaurant. It's called Martino Manor.



Unfortunately, the MM Haunted House is closed this year because of COVID-19. But the spirit is definitely there and will hang on until 2021, when we can hopefully enjoy being scared by non-virus things once again. Rosie :)


Lithuania Park at Keele & Glenlake

**Update: August 17, 2020**

At the end of July, Toronto moved into in Stage 3 of reopening which includes the city's playgrounds. This park has undergone some updates since I last wrote about it in 2012. The recent renovations to the playground have residents of the area concerned. The new pathway that runs along the playground has quite a high drop all along one side- 55cm- which can be seen in this photo taken by community resident Mike Simpson:


One can certainly see how excited little ones could take a serious tumble while running along the path. Do you live in the area? Comment below with your experience at the playground, as Mike is going to start a campaign to correct this. It seems odd to me that a guard rail wouldn't have been installed, just to visually signal the edge of the path and the vertical drop below. Rosie :)

**Original post- August 2012**

Likely unimpressed with the planned afternoon activity of watching his mama watch Olympic men's swimming, my little man starting tearing around the house post-nap exhibiting levels of energy that only an excursion involving water play would even begin to exhaust. Weary from a busy morning of watching men's gymnastics (what a emotional roller-coaster it's been for Kohei Uchimura) I knew the answer was Lithuania Park. Located just north of High Park, it has the perfect wading pool for toddlers. Mamas and nannies can really phone it in here; the kids just entertain themselves. Once my little guy armed himself with a suitable twig, he was ready to get his pool on.

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Or so I thought I was going to phone it in. This pool proved to be so fun that little man insisted I join him. Glad I dressed up. Go Canada!

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The playground here is great, if your child lets you out of the pool long enough to get to it. I love all the lovely leafy shade at this park, and the huge beautiful trees.

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Apparently in the winter, the toboggan hills at this park are awesome. Lithuania Park is located at 155 Oakmount Road, north of High Park at Keele and Glenlake. Rosie :)

Nowruz Festival at the Toronto Centre for the Arts

One of the great things about Toronto is that you don't actually have to leave the city to get a taste and appreciation for cultures from all over the world. This weekend the Nowruz Festival celebrates both the start of Spring and the Persian/Iranian New Year! There are a number of ticketed events with this festival but there is also a lot of the free family fun that we love here at The Scoop! The free events mainly take place this Saturday March 10th at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.


There is a Persian bazaar and traditional teahouse opening at 10 for adults where you can shop a little and then starting at noon there are shows and activities all day for kids. There are puppet shows and storytelling, face painting and balloon twisting, along with a kids film and family dance party to end the day! There is also an arts and crafts station in the afternoon where children can learn about the two best known characters of Nowruz, Haji Firuz and Amoo Nowruz and take home their creations, and a pastry making workshop where the little ones can make some little treats. Check the website for more information and specific times! Rosie :)

Free Waffles at Cacao 70 in Richmond Hill

**UPDATE: The Richmond Hill location of Cacao 70 has closed.**

Calling all chocoholics! There is a brand new location of chocolate paradise Cacao 70 opening in Richmond Hill this Saturday March 3rd... and they are giving away free waffles to celebrate their grand opening from 10AM - 5PM! Also, if you buy something on March 3rd, half the money will be donated to Yellow Brick Road, a charity that supports abused women and children. Cacao 70 is so delicious... they are known for their absolutely decadent drinking chocolate... a must try for chocolate lovers! Rosie :)


Sugar Shack TO at Sugar Beach

Remember when you were crossing your fingers hoping for a white Christmas? Well, that was then, and now if you are like me you are probably like "Winter.. please... just... GO ALREADY!" There is one sweet way to wave bye to the season and that is the Sugar Shack TO. It's happening March 10th and 11th from 11am to 5pm at Sugar Beach on the waterfront and organizers are promising Ontario's finest maple taffy along with live entertainment and activities for the kids. As a kid myself I remember having the best time at a sugar shack in Quebec where you take the hot maple syrup on a stick and roll it in snow to make a delicious treat. Admission is free and there are more details at Sugar Shack TO. along with a YouTube link showing last year's event so you can get a better sense of the syrupy sweetness before fully committing to putting on all that winter gear and heading down there. Rosie :)


Celebrate Toronto Festival at Nathan Phillips Square

TORONTO IS TURNING 184... it's PARTY TIME! Coming up March 3rd-6th at Nathan Phillips Square... the Celebrate Toronto Festival is celebrating Toronto's 184th anniversary. Food trucks, tons of cool vendors selling fun stuff, a DJ skate party... it's gonna be great! The night skate party on March 5th and 6th takes place from 5 to 10pm and features DJ Caff spinning a wicked mix including tons of tunes from Toronto artists. If you don't own skates, you can rent them, and make sure to visit the Celebrate Toronto Warming Lounge for hot chocolate! Rosie :)


Now Free Flick Mondays at The Royal Cinema

Looking for a free movie in Toronto? Now Free Flick Mondays are the bessssst.... you can see classic films, totally free, at the Royal Cinema one Monday a month. The next one coming up is Monday March 5th and it's a GOOD ONE... one of my faves actually... the 1985 coming-of-age John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club! Free tickets are available in advance here. Doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7:30pm. Tickets only guarantee your spot if you arrive at the theatre by 7:15pm. Try to show up extra early because the first 100 guests get free popcorn! Rosie :)


St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto 2018

SAVE THE DATE... The St. Patrick's Day Parade is March 11th! You won't need to find a pot of gold, or even be Irish, to get your eyes smiling this March. The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto is free and fun for everybody. It takes place on March 11th, which is the Sunday before the actual holiday on March 17th. The celebration of all things Irish starts at noon and lasts about 90 minutes. It begins on Bloor at St. George (near the subway station) and goes east over to Yonge Street. Then it heads down Yonge to Queen and turns west finishing up at Nathan Phillips Square. It's a Toronto tradition that even if you don't attend, you want to be aware of because those major streets will be shut down that day at least for a little while. Rosie :)