I’m not too sure where I first started following Morgan. Whether it was her lovely Instagram feed full of adventures or her blog, Momo In The 6, which is full of gorgeous photos and great advice and in my opinion one of the best Canadian blogs by far. Read it people! Regardless, when this year’s series came around I knew I wanted to include Toronto and Morgan was definitely the person to turn to. Her enthusiasm is infectious and has me wondering about a trip down the 401. Read on for her advice including the best in cafés, neighbourhoods and markets.
Hey there Roasted readers! I’m Morgan and I blog over at Momo in the 6. My family moved from Montreal to Toronto a year ago for my husband’s work and we are loving being back in Toronto aka “The 6” as we call it. I grew up just outside of Toronto and spent five years living downtown after high school and during my university years. The Toronto that I once knew, a place with the coolest bars and amazing nightlife, is quite different to the Toronto I know now, filled with museums, parks, cafés and other child friendly spaces. Both versions of this city are incredible.
I have loved re-learning the city with kids, and it’s like falling in love all over again! My husband and I love living here and are passionate about meeting new people. We thrive on the hustle and bustle that living in an urban center brings.
Toronto is really amazing for families, and with so many activities and places that are friendly for all ages, there is always something happening. Everyday we get out of the house and I feel like the world (or rather, Toronto) is my oyster and I can’t wait to explore and introduce all the new and interesting things to my babes. There is always something great happening in the city, from all the amazing parks, markets and zoos in the warmer weather to the Christmas market in the Distillery district in the winter. This city is always alive!
I have lived in a few different neighbourhoods in Toronto and I think that Leslieville and Roncesvalles are two of the most family friendly. They have tons of parks, cafés, restaurants and child friendly spaces. My family now lives in the east end of the city in Leslieville and we love it here. It is full of amazing cafés, such as Boxcar Social, Te Aro and Dark Horse Espresso bar. It is the brunch capital of Toronto with places like Lady Marmalade and Bonjour Brioche that are both delicious and family friendly. Lady Marmalade even has colouring books and toys for kids to play with while you enjoy the best eggs benny the city has to offer.
Tip: If you are going to brunch at either of these places, particularly on the weekend, get there before 10am to avoid the lineups and bring cash as many of the local and independent brunch restaurants are cash only.
The cafés here are wonderful and kid friendly with great coffee and delicious snacks for your kiddos. I have yet to have an experience where I bring my kids in and don’t feel welcome. I often have people jumping up to open the door for my stroller and the baristas almost always smile and chat with my kids. I do make a habit of leaving a tip when I order, since I know that bringing kids into cafés isn’t always the vibe the cafe is going for. One of our favourite coffee joints in the city is Sam James Coffee Bar. There are a few locations all over the city but our favourite is in Queen West. We love to get our coffee and treats to go and hit up Trinity Bellwoods park nearby. Runner ups are Merchants of Green Coffee Roasters – a huge cafe with lots of seating and a great park across the street, Te Aro or Crafted – both owned by Pilot Coffee Roasters, followed by Boxcar Social and Dark Horse Espresso Bar, all of which are fantastic and all of which have parks in relatively close proximity if you wanted to sip your coffee while your kiddos burn some steam.
One of my favourite things to do in our city is to take our kids to the farmers markets and do some grocery shopping for the best local produce. We then go home and make a meal from the ingredients they helped us choose. My favourite Toronto markets are the Leslieville Farmer’s Market (Leslieville), Trinity Bellwoods Market (Queen West) and the Sorauren Farmer’s Market (Roncesvalles.) They are all in parks so there is lots of space for the kids to play and often they have activities or treats just for children. I also highly recommend the St. Lawrence Market. It is considered one of the world’s greatest markets and is the culinary focal point of the city. It is one of our favourite Toronto activities, particularly in the fall/winter when all the other farmer’s markets are closed. At lunchtime go to the Carousel Bakery and get a “Hogtown Sandwich” – the best back bacon on a bun in the city!
Our oldest son loves animals so we try to frequent the High Park Petting Zoo and Riverdale Farm as often as possible. Both are free, incredibly kid friendly and a great way to spend a few hours of the day seeing and learning about all the animals we read in our books at home. The Ripley’s Aquarium is another great place that is wonderful for adults and kids alike. Finn was particularly enamored when we walked through the underground glass tunnel that goes straight through the shark tank. Another hit was when we watched the stingray feeding time.
Our absolute favourite destination to take our kids in the city is Evergreen Brickworks. They took a former brick masonry and restored the deteriorating heritage buildings to create an environment that showcases green design and urban sustainability. There are trails and ponds with lots of opportunities to see animals like birds and turtles in their natural habitats. There are also farmers markets on the weekend, an ice rink in the winter, a children’s garden, an adorable café (get the homemade buttermilk biscuits, you won’t regret it!) and so much more.
My husband and I are avid Airbnb users and have travelled to many places with our kids using Airbnb. I highly recommend using their service not only for a trip to Toronto, but anywhere in the world. There is a lot to be said about having your own kitchen to cook in and we love being able to put our kids in a separate room so we don’t have to hunker down in the closet or hallway to stay up past their 7pm bedtime 😉
We often try to travel using the public transit of the city exclusively to avoid bringing or renting car seats. If you are flying into Toronto and will be staying downtown, you can try to get a flight into Porter Airport, which is located downtown, and then take the streetcars or buses from there to where you are staying or you can take the Union-Pearson express train which runs regularly. There are pay stations (they look like ATM’s) for this service all over the airport.
Toronto has taken great steps in the last decade to make its public transportation more accessible. Most subway stations have elevators and the buses are stroller friendly. I try to avoid the streetcars as much as possible when I have my stroller since there are stairs to get inside the car. I avoid them at all costs during rush hour. We love to walk around the city instead of using transportation when we can and we also use the bike lanes and the boardwalk by the lakeshore with our running stroller to get around.