Change the World

Toronto Gay Family Summer Guide

Summer and WorldPride have arrived in Toronto! If you're bringing your family with you for WorldPride, be sure to check out our WorldPride Family Guide. Read this guide to learn about places and activities for you and your family outside of Pride events.


Toronto is consistently voted as one of the best and most livable cities in the world. It’s safe, clean, accepting, and welcoming. The entire world knows Toronto has a nincompoop as mayor, but did you know that the people of Ontario just elected premier Kathleen Wynne, an out-and-proud lesbian?

Gays With Kids has compiled a list of the area's most exciting attractions, beautiful neighborhoods, relaxing beaches, and kid-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating areas, among other things. More suggestions? Let us know in the comments below and we'll add to this list. We love feedback!

NEIGHBORHOODS TO EXPLORE

Chinatown (the area near the intersection of Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West; subway to St. Patrick Station, then streetcar westbound) – exotic fruits and vegetables; fabrics, leather; Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants

Koreatown (Bloor Street West, between Bathurst Street and Christie Street; subway to Christie Street) – Korean food, fashion, acupuncture

The Gay Village (area near the intersection of Church Street and Wellesley Street; subway to Wellesley Station, then walk east) – gay neighborhood, with gay bars, bathhouses, gay-oriented stores. And lots of men!

Greektown (Danforth Avenue between Chester Avenue and Dewhurst Boulevard; subway to Pape station) – Greek food, strolling, people watching, and more Greek food

Cabbagetown (around the intersection of Parliament Street and Carlton Street; subway to Wellesley Station, then bus eastward) – gorgeous Victorian rowhouses, farmer’s market on Tuesdays, 3-7pm; Riverdale Farm; Allan Gardens; lots of gay dad families and lesbian mom families.

Kensington Market (between Dundas Street West and College Street; take subway to Queen’s Park Station, then streetcar westbound) – open-air market (11 am–7pm daily), flea market, foods from all over the world, vintage clothing stores

Entertainment District (area south of Queen Street, east of Spadina Avenue, west of Simcoe Street and north of Lakeshore Boulevard – subway to Union Station, St. Andrew Station or Osgoode Station) – theaters, performing arts centers, home venues of major league sports teams, home of the Toronto International Film Festival, The National Ballet of Canada, Canadian Opera Company, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

West Queen West (Queen Street West between Bathurst Street and Gladstone Avenue; subway to Queen Station, then streetcar westbound) – artists, fashion, galleries, antiques, patios, cafés and bars; très gay.

OUTDOOR FUN

Evergreen Brickworks (subway to Broadview Station; then shuttle bus every 30-45 min. from Erindale Avenue; or subway to Davisville Station, then bus 28A)

Evergreen Brickworks is a former brick factory that has been transformed into an environmental center, community farmer’s market, education center, park and conservation center all in one. The farmer’s market, open on Saturday mornings, contains an open-air covered market specializing in fair-trade or locally produced sustainable products. Delicious prepared foods can be enjoyed while soaking in the atmosphere that often includes live music. Kids will love climbing the paths behind the main buildings through the forests, around the ponds and up the sides of the ravine escarpment.

Riverdale Farm (subway to Wellesley Station, then bus 94 or streetcar 506 east)

Toronto continues to fund and operate a small farm right in the center of the city. Riverdale farm, located in über-gay Cabbagetown, houses an historic working farm with pigs, chickens, goats, turkeys, cows, horses, a donkey, and other farm animals. After visiting the farm, get lunch or snacks to cool off with a visit to the small children’s park with wading pool next door.

Toronto Islands

A 10-minute ferry ride south of Toronto lie a series of islands including Centre Island, Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point. Looking for a small amusement park, fast-food restaurants and petting zoo, look no further than Centre Island. Check out the small permanent community of country-style houses on Ward’s Island.

Clothes not your thing? Head right over to Hanlan’s Point beach, a clothing-optional a.k.a. gay beach right in the center of Toronto!

Rental bikes and quads (bikes designed for three or four people) are available for rent. It takes about 20-30 minutes to bike the full length of the islands. For the more adventurous, try renting a canoe or kayak from Harbourfront rentals right in downtown Toronto and avoid the ferry lines to the island.

The ferry terminal is located about a ten-minute walk south of Union subway station, or a short LRT Streetcar ride away.

Downtown South of the Core

If you have more than a few hours to burn, and the kids are losing patience, wow them with a plethora of fun activities located a five-minute walk west of Union subway station.

Once the world’s tallest freestanding structure, but still the world’s tallest free-standing phallic symbol, there is something for everyone at the CN Tower.  From this tower of 1814 ft., visitors on a clear day can see Niagara, New York State, Hamilton, and the entire city of Toronto. The tower has an open-air observation deck, an outdoor edge-walk where participants are harnessed to the tower and defy gravity, a glass floor and an even higher space deck. The CN Tower will not disappoint.

Visitors can cool-off in the Ripley’s Aquarium located nearby. From northern ecosystems to tropical waters, the aquarium is fun and educational, and much larger than it seems. There is a children’s play area in the center of the aquarium where parents can sit and chat while watching their kids burn off pent-up energy.

Across the street from the aquarium is the Roundhouse and Steam Whistle Brewery. Formerly used to turn train cars around beside the train terminus at Union Station, the Roundhouse is now a museum and, yes, active brewery. Grab a cold one and watch your kids ride the miniature train outside the Roundhouse. What a treat!

If your timing is right, catch a Blue Jays baseball game at the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome) located directly beside the CN Tower. The retractable roof covering a stadium that houses 55,000 of the world’s quietest fans will astound even the most experienced sports fans.

Toronto Zoo

Discover your inner animal at the Toronto Zoo. This massive zoo located in north eastern Toronto has every imaginable animal organized into pavilions and along beautiful walkways. Check out the panda bear exhibit; the cutest animals next to the koalas!

The Toronto Zoo is located on the Rouge River Urban Wilderness Park, the largest natural environment park in an urban area in North America. By car, 40 minutes from downtown Toronto at Sheppard Avenue East and Morningside Avenue.

High Park

Locals say you can walk a kilometer without seeing a soul in this massive urban park. We don’t know if that is true anymore, but High Park is still a great urban family retreat.  Toronto’s second, smaller zoo is located here, next to a massive wooden children’s fort. At the top of the park are tennis courts, playing fields and a restaurant. If your kids are a little older, Shakespeare in High Park is fun too.

Canada’s Wonderland

Located a short 30-minute drive north of Toronto, in the city of Vaughan, Canada’s Wonderland is Canada’s premiere amusement park with rides, games, food and an outdoor concert venue.  Check out Leviathan, a roller coaster that boasts speeds of 125 km/h with an 80-degree drop. Canada’s Wonderland is located at Highway 400 and Major Mackenzie Drive.

Eastern and Western Beaches

Even some Torontonians are unaware that Toronto sports some of the cleanest and unspoiled (read, not commercially developed) beaches and waterfront in the world. That’s right, you can swim Lake Ontario right in Toronto!

Be sure to bring drinking water, sun protection and snacks, as there are few restaurants near either set of beaches. For those looking for snacks such as ice cream, take the five-minute walk from the eastern beaches boardwalk north to Queen Street where there are many restaurants and grocery stores.

Eastern beaches run for several kilometers from Ashbridges Bay Park in the West to the water treatment plant at Victoria Park Avenue in the East. There is a boardwalk that runs the entire distance. An Olympic-sized pool is open to the public right on the beach at the corner of Woodbine Avenue and Lakeshore Boulevard East.

Feeling sporty? Your family can try a pickup game of volleyball in one of 125 beach volleyball nets right on the beach.

Either take the Queen Streetcar to Woodbine and walk south 5 minutes to the lake, or take a car, but keep in mind that parking can be tough.

Western beaches run for several kilometers from about Jamieson Avenue to the Humber River. There is children’s play equipment along the boardwalk that runs the entire length of the beaches. Sunnyside Pool is open to the public right on the beach also. Bring your beach toys!

For those willing to walk to the western end of the beach, there is a pedestrian bridge spanning the Humber River. Just beyond the Humber River lies a low-tech but highly efficient water treatment nature reserve where butterflies abound. Kids will enjoy walking the elevated walkways around the reserve.

INDOOR FUN

Legoland Discovery Centre

Located in Vaughan Mills Centre, a massive shopping plaza about 30 minutes north of Toronto, Legoland is both fun and educational. Looking for a safe place to zone out while the kids entertain themselves? This is it. Located at 1 Bass Pro Mills Drive at Highway 400 and Bass Pro Mills Drive.

Skyzone

Skyzone is an enormous  place for indoor trampoline jumping. You can watch while they jump. Or, if your kids don’t need supervision, you can join in the fun. Make reservations online a few days ahead.

St. Lawrence market

Voted the number one food market in the world by National Geographic, the St. Lawrence. The south market located on the south side of Front Street East at Jarvis Street, is a permanent market with over 120 fresh fruit and vegetable, cheese, meat and fish vendors. There are a number of prepared food shops and restaurants as well.  Many famous chefs come to the market and their pictures adorn the walls of several establishments. The vendors in the south market are family friendly. Ask for samples, particularly from the cheese vendors. Your kids will think they are in heaven.

Shopping

If you or your kids like massive shopping malls, go to Eaton Centre, one of Canada’s largest, downtown on Yonge (pronounce as: young) Street with stores of practically every major retailer; but if you prefer to be outdoors, choose (expensive)Yorkville (around Yorkville Avenue; subway to Bay Station), where you can find high-end clothing stores such as Hugo Boss, Gucci, and Burberry; you’ll probably spot some celebrities as well.

Show Comments ()

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Change the World

Single Gay Man Adopts Girl Passed Over by 20 Previous Families

Luca Trapanese, a gay dad from Naples, Italy, adopted a baby with Down syndrome who had been rejected twenty times previously

Luca Trapanese, a single 41-year-old gay man from Naples, Italy, had always wanted to become a dad. But in Italy, it was only legal for married heterosexual couples to adopt until 2017. Even then, he was told that he'd only be able to adopt a "hard to place" child, with mental or physical challenges.

"They told me that they would only give me sick children, with severe disabilities, or with behavioral problems," he told the BBC in an interview. "I was absolutely ok with that."

And that's how Alba, a little girl with Down syndrome, came into his life. Abandoned at birth, she had been passed over by 20 separate families before Luca was approached about providing her a home. Luca, who has worked and volunteered with people with disabilities from a young age, readily agreed.

"I'm proud to be her father," Luca said. "Alba was never a second option because she had a disability. I wanted her to be my daughter."

Listen to the entire interview here.

Surrogacy for Gay Men

A Dream Becomes Reality, After a Men Having Babies Conference

New Yorkers David and Brian said their dreams of fatherhood crystalized only after receiving a "ton of information" at a Men Having Babies conference.

New Yorkers David F.M. Vaughn 39, and Brian Becker, 37, are new dads. Over the past three months, the two most important things they've learned as fathers is "patience, and how to swaddle LIKE A CHAMP!" David and Brian chose surrogacy as their path to fatherhood, but making that decision was one of the more difficult parts of their journey. Brian's siblings are adopted, and while they still want to make adoption part of their family journey, certain opportunities arose that made their surrogacy decision easier. Brian's sister enthusiastically offered to be their gestational surrogate, and they discovered more about the process with the help of Men Having Babies (MHB).

But let's jump back to the beginning of their story.

Keep reading... Show less
Foster/Foster-Adopt

Your Foster Adopt Questions Answered by a Foster Adopt Dad

We asked our Instagram community to send us their questions about being a foster dad — and an experienced foster dad responded.

Dad Joseph Bostick (read his story here) recently shared his experience as a foster and adoptive dad with our Instagram community via a question and answer session - did you feel nervous at the beginning? How did you start the process? Did you always know that you wanted to foster older kids?

Read Joseph's responses below.

Keep reading... Show less

Gay Surrogacy in the U.S. for International Dads

Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the process of surrogacy for gay men outside of the United States

Written by Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, who has been helping international gay men become dads for over two decades.

Becoming a gay dad through a surrogacy agency in the U.S. – when you live outside of the United States – can feel overwhelming. You may have questions such as: Why should I come all the way to the US for surrogacy? What do I need to know as an international intended parent? How do I get my baby home?

We spoke with Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation who has been working with international gay parents for over two decades. Circle Surrogacy was founded by a gay dad and lawyer, and is the most successful surrogacy agency with a full legal team on staff who are experts working with international parents.

Keep reading... Show less
Coming Out

My Gay Shame Is Officially Cancelled

After years of feeling ashamed of being gay, David Blacker has finally overcome it. And his son had a lot to do with it.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, reading all the posts about National Coming Out Day reminds me just how valuable it is for us to share our stories and be as open, vulnerable and authentic as possible. Warning: this article is about to get real AF, so now might be a good time to switch back to the Face-Aging app that gives Russia all your personal data.

Oh good, you stayed. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse