Terrific day trips for toddlers
Travelling with a toddler or two in tow this summer? Have no fear. A well-planned day trip is a great way for families with young children to get out and experience something new, but still be home in time for the kids’ afternoon nap! Side benefit: an action-packed morning of fun makes for an extra long nap time, an advantage that’s sure to be appreciated by mom and dad.
Start planning your toddler-approved Great Canadian Day Trip.
Step 1: Get them involved in the fun
A few weeks before you go, have a dinner time conversation about the day trip. Ask a question like:
“If we could hop in the car and do something that we’ve never done before for a morning, would you rather do something in or near the water, with animals, with some kind of train, or have it be a complete surprise?”
If they’d like to do something in or near the water, consider these toddler-friendly options:
In Hamilton, Wild Waterworks’ Little Squirt Works is filled with wading pools, small slides, sprays, mists and fountains that are perfect for young children. They’ll also love floating with mom or dad on the Eazy River. If you’d like to spend more than just the morning, consider renting a Cabana, which will provide some afternoon shade and comfy lounge chairs where little ones can nap.
Burlington Beach Rentals makes it easy to enjoy a morning on Burlington’s beautiful Lake Ontario waterfront. Their Family Day at the Beach package includes an SPF50 Beach Spot, comfy Muskoka chairs, burger lunches, sand toys, a day-use locker and a paddleboat rental.
If they’d prefer to have an animal encounter, there are several great ways to spend a few hours with furry friends.
If they love farm animals, there are several hands-on barnyards located in Hamilton Halton Brant. In Milton, visit Chudleigh’s or Springridge Farm. In Oakville, make a stop at Bronte Creek Provincial Park’s Playbarn, where in addition to meeting farm animals, kids can climb and jump in the Play Loft. In Stoney Creek, stop by Puddicombe Estate Farms to meet the horses, cows, goats, chickens, emus, and pigs that call the farm home. In Campbellville, Mountsberg Conservation Area’s new barn has Percheron horses, sheep, goats, rabbits, and chickens. Mountsberg is also home to a herd of bison.
If you think they’d like a more exotic animal adventure, consider a trip to African Lion Safari. Ride the Nature Boy Scenic Railway so little feet get a rest while you take in amazing wild animals and birds on the 16-hectare reserve. Be sure to pack swim gear so they can end the day with a splash at the Misumu Bay Wet Play area, which has sprinklers, spouts, tumble buckets and all kinds of wet and wild fun that’s well suited to toddlers. Read about one blogger’s trip to African Lion Safari with her four-year-old twins.
If they’re tried-and-true train fans, there are all kinds of day trip options in Hamilton Halton Brant that they’ll love, including riding through a forest to an ice cream shop on a vintage street car, taking a trolley tour of Hamilton’s waterfront, or riding on a miniature steam engine. View our complete collection of train-themed day trips.
If your toddlers are up for a surprise, you’re in luck. We’ve got dozens more Great Canadian Day Trips for you to browse. If you’d like the reassurance of a trip that’s already been test-driven by someone with toddlers, read about one blogger’s trip exploring a reconstructed 15th-century Iroquoian village at Crawford Lake Conservation Area, and another blogger’s account of her trip with young children to Westfield Heritage Village.
Step 2: Build the suspense
There’s no reason a day trip can’t be just as exciting as an away-from-home vacation. Once you’ve determined where you’re going on your Great Canadian Day Trip, create some excitement around it. Show them on a map where you’ll be driving. Check out some books or movies from the library that are related in some way to the activity you’ll be doing. Let them help you choose a restaurant where you’ll stop for lunch. You can search local restaurants using our Fun Finder dining tool.
Step 3: Grow your group
Little ones love sharing adventures with friends, so consider inviting some other families along to join in on the fun. Be sure to check our summer offers before you go. There are several 2-for-1 admission offers at toddler-friendly attractions including the Hamilton Children’s Museum and Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology.
Step 4: Pack it up
A well-stocked day pack can be a lifesaver when travelling with toddlers. Be sure to pack the old standards like sunscreen, hats, healthy snacks, wipes, water, and bandages, but also toss in a few unexpected items to break out during your day like bubbles, a stamp so you can purchase a postcard and mail it to a grandparent to share in the adventure and some crayons, and a sketch pad so they can draw a picture of their travels on the way home.
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