Daytripping in Ontario ~ The Toronto Zoo


Because I live in Ontario I have made a list of zoos, festivals and theme parks that I would like to visit with the kids this Summer.  I have read a lot about the Toronto Zoo but hadn’t visited since I was in high school so I figured it would be good destination to add to our list!

Located in the east end of Toronto, the Toronto Zoo is a great place for a family to spend the day.  Situated just North of Toronto’s 401 hwy, this animal oasis offers something for everyone.

When you arrive and sit down to plan your day, you’ll notice that there is a lot of ground to cover if you want to see all of the animals on display.  In fact, the walk up to the ‘Canadian Domain’ is 45 minutes each way and on the day we visited we toured the park for 6 hours and still didn’t see everything.

Our first stop was the Tundra Trek area of the park to see the Polar Bears.  Viewable from above and below the Polar Bear enclosure is home to 3 of these beautiful mammals.  When we were visiting there was on one bear in the main area with the pool and two sleeping on the other side. My boys love watching the bear swim through the water from the tunnel and the observation deck.  It was hot the day we visited so they also wanted to join her in the pool.

As you make your way around the zoo you will see displays set up teach about conservation and how the animals live in the wild.  Just outside the enclosure there way this display of a Bear Trap.

Next up for us was the African Savanna or more importantly the Lions. If you ever talked to anyone about the Toronto Zoo they will always say that it is a good walk to get to some of the areas and they’re right.  While I don’t mind a good walk, going from the ‘Tundra Trek’ to the ‘African Savanna’ was a bit of a feat while pushing a 25lbs stroller with 70lbs worth of kids up hill. This goes the same going between Indomalaya and the African Savanna, the only difference is you are doing it while on a wooden walkway not a paved road.

Once at the top we visited the new Penguin exhibit before heading on to visit the Lions.  New this Spring, the African Penguins are also viewable from above and below.  Regardless of where you stand in the tunnel you will see these energetic little guys swimming about their pool.  Because they fly through the water like a pack of bullets the penguins were definitely a hit with my 2. Plus, if you plan your trip right you can learn more about them and watch them play during the daily keeper talk at 2pm.

Next up were the Lions who were, to by boys dismay, sleeping.  Thankfully there was a cheetah that was jumping around in the grass, just down the path to help them forget.

On the map the African Savannah looks like it a big area but once you start to walk it, it’s not so bad.  The zoo has done a great job of making many of the animals viewable from different sides of their enclosures so you can get a glimpse of your favorite furry friend even if their napping.

They have also placed some great statues and ‘props’ throughout the park that are perfect for photo ops.  One of my boys favorites were the open-aired trucks located by the Rhinosoaurus’ habitat.

Before I arrived a did a bit of research and was happy to see that they have a Splash Pad for the kids.  The weather has been hot here lately so the splash area was a good way to break up the day.  Kids of all ages are able to play here equally as there isn’t a pool or anywhere where they could get into any trouble.

After our cool down, the boys were ready to explore the Kidzone.  This kid-friendly section of the zoo is full of activities and fun photo ops for little ones. Prairie Dogs, Groundhogs, bunnies and even skunks are on display for kids to see.  There is also a petting zoo with pigs, llamas and goats.

New this Summer the Toronto Zoo has added a stingray and shark encounter (extra $3 entrance). Located inside the Kidzone just behind the splash pad, the group event tent features Nurse Sharks as well as Cownose and Southern Stingrays and Bonnethead Sharks.  My boys loved seeing these amazing species up close and also getting to pet them.

I would love to say that we saw the whole Zoo during our visit but we didn’t so you could easily visit a couple times and see everything new the second or even third time.

At just $23 for adults and $13 for my oldest (my youngest is 2 and free), our day at the Toronto Zoo was both reasonably priced and adventurous for the whole family!