Family Day (Monday, February 17) is just around the corner and there are definitely no shortage of events and activities to do with your family. In our experience Family Day activities are, how shall we say, quite boisterous.
If you do venture out to take advantage of all the amazing activities that most cities and towns, community centres and attractions will be offering, might I recommend you equip yourself with a grande-sized caffeinated beverage and a survival kit of hand sanitizer, kleenex, snacks, water, advil and a fully charged smartphone battery....for all those 'memory-making' pictures you'll inevitably capture.
While you'll probably be fighting some crowds, I say just bask in the kinship and craziness of it all and enjoy the camaraderie, if not the knowing looks, from other parents. You won't have to go far to find an entire day of activities planned out for you. Virtually every parks & rec location and community library has free events all day long which tend to appeal to tweens and the younger set. There are also LOTS of free family skates and swims so check your local city website for a list of special activities.
In addition to the special events and interactive exhibits at most major tourist attractions, here is a list of FREE (or virtually free*) things to do around the GTA, most of which will give you an opportunity to try something new or different by virtue of the favourable price tag. Please note that some of the specialty ones still require a registration even though there is no cost to attend.
1. Riverdale Farm (Toronto) - Historic working farm with a fun petting zoo, barn and scenic pathways.
2. Family Day at Toronto's Waterfront (Toronto) Harbourfront Kids Festival including skating, arts, crafts, face-painting and WoofJocks (dog sports show). Bring a travel mug and enjoy free hot beverages from a variety of sponsors.
3. Family Day at Pama (Brampton) Peel Art Gallery & Museum - activities, workshops, superheroes, comics and exhibits for young and old.
4. Braden's Hot Chocolate Festival (Hamilton/Dundas Valley Conservation Area) - Live entertainment, active living, outdoor activities and you guessed it - HOT Cocoa!!
5. Willowgrove Family Day Adventure Camp (Stouffville) Wagon rides, indoor curling, barn animals, snowshoeing, crazy carpets and more *$10/family but all sports included.
6. Make Your Move at the YMCA (Oakville and most others) Indoor and outdoor activities and entertainment including campfires, family zumba, family swim, and indoor rock-climbing. Check your local Y for participation.
7. Family Fishing Day (Putnam) Free Family Fishing on the Wellington Street Sportsman Club. Fishing rods, reels and bait supplied. Ice fishing (weather permitting) or shore fishing for bass, bluegill and trout. Indoor activities include knot tying and casting lessons. Also fish most Ontario waters license-free all weekend long.
8. KIDS Free Hockey Hall of Fame (Toronto) *Up to 4 kids free admission with one adult admission. On the eve of the Olympic Playoff Game get to touch Sidney Crosby's Gold medal-winning puck.
9. Celebrate Family Day at The Living Arts Centre (Mississauga) Day-long arts, crafts, photo-booth, dance workshops and multicultural entertainment.
10. Family Day at the Museum of Inuit Art (Toronto) Discovery Inuit Art and tour all the exhibits. Enjoy the launch of their Family Adventure Pack Program.
11. Family Day at the One Room Palermo School House (Oakville) Spend the day as an Edwardian Student learning, making crafts and participating in a spelling bee.
12. School of Atelier - Free Performance of Dance Through Time (Toronto) Opera Atelier's students will perform Dance Through Time in the Great Hall at 2pm.
And there is nothing wrong with spending some good ol' outdoor time together. Depending on the weather (and don't even get me started on the weather this year) you can go sledding, hiking, or skiing. Or depending on the weather, you might make a rousing game of 'who can shovel the most snow off the driveway kids?'
Otherwise there is nothing wrong with just spending some slumber time together on the couch watching a good movie or playing some old fashioned board games. After all Family Day is really about spending quality time together. So Ready, Set, Bond!! Have a safe and happy Family Day from my family to yours.