Toronto Family Vacation
This is long overdue, but I keep getting questions about our trip to Toronto, so I thought I would finally get a blog post up about it! It was honestly the best trip, and just thinking about it makes me want to book another trip soon! We went from May 17-22, over Jason and Everly's birthdays. I used to live in Toronto so I wanted to take the girls back to where I lived and worked, and then we also went down to Buffalo, NY to visit some of our friends from college. It was such a fun time! I'll share all the details below, including a cost breakdown if you're thinking of doing the trip yourself.
This hotel exceeded our expectations. I had stayed here before, but forgot how amazing it was. They put us up in a Club Suite room, which had two separate rooms. One side had a pull out couch, seating area, tv and bathroom and the other side had a king bed, seating area, tv and another bathroom. It was SO much room for all of us. They also set up a little tent for the girls (you can see in the photos above), and the girls loved it! The girls all fell asleep together in the pull out couch so Jason and I could stay up on the other side, and then before we went to bed I grabbed Zara and brought her into our bed. Otherwise they'd all wake up in the middle of the night tangled up. The bathrooms had updated tile showers and were so beautiful. We also had a great view of downtown!
The pool was great. It was very big, and also had a small kiddie pool attached which was great for the girls. The hot tub was also huge. The girls loved swimming here!
The hotel had restaurant in the lobby, plus a Luxury Hotel Club Lounge that we got access to as we were in a club room. This was probably the highlight of the hotel for the girls. You took a spiral staircase from the 9th floor down to the 8th where you found the lounge. They had an amazing breakfast buffet with everything you could want, plus a state of the art Nespresso machine that the girls loved going to for a hot chocolate. The breakfast room had a view of the CN tower, which was so nice. They put out hors d'oeurvres in the evening too and there was a happy hour. I think for a family the Club rooms are definitely the way to go!
It was the PERFECT location. We could easily walk everywhere we wanted to go. The first night we walked to Yonge-Dundas Square for dinner and we got to show the girls so much of the city on the way. On the way home we even stopped in at my old stomping grounds, TD on Bay Street! Felt like a lifetime ago that I worked in Investment Banking. Then the next few days we were able to walk to the CN Tower, the Aquarium and the waterfront! It is very close to the subway, and if you have a car they have valet parking which was really great.
We booked our flights through Expedia because we have points through our credit card. We flew Air Canada on the way there, and they brought around drinks and pretzels, but they didn’t have tv’s in the seats. We also bring the girls tablets for shows though, so they didn't even notice. We flew Flair Air on the way home and it was okay. They delayed our flight by a few hours, which made the travel day long with the girls. It was a huge savings for us though so I think it was still worth it!
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years traveling with the girls. Wear comfy clothes! Something easy to move around in and layers in case you get hot/cold. Also get everyone’s boarding passes on your phone in your Apple wallet. It’s so much easier than carrying around paper boarding passes, plus they can just scan all of them at once so it’s quicker. Pack suck on candies for your kids so their ears don’t pop. Could be suckers, or anything that will keep them swallowing a lot.
If you have small kids, take a stroller. Each kid you travel with gets two free kid’s items, like a car seat, stroller and/or pack and play. I recommend gate checking so you can use the stroller to get around the airport easier. We have the Uppababy Vista, which is the best purchase we made as parents. It has two seats plus a board so all three girls can go on if they get tired. We also bought the travel bag, which we put it into right before we get on the plane. The bag insures the stroller so if anything happens to it they will replace it! We also checked their car seats because we rented a car when we got to Toronto. They were honestly so annoying to take around, but it was cheaper than renting them from Hertz.
I packed a backpack for each girl for the plane. I packed their tablets and wireless headphones with downloaded shows on Netflix and Disney, then we grabbed some toys from the dollar store and snacks. We brought coloring, fidget popper, sticker books, snakes and ladders game, granola bars, dried fruit and then they each got a bag with a few candies which was a huge hit. Kept them happy, especially Zara. Honestly, they didn’t use much in their bag because they were so excited to be flying, but it was nice to have just in case. They also ended up using some of it during our down time at the hotel.
We had a ton of recommendations to go here and it did not disappoint. The girls loved it! There was so much to see and do, including tons of interactive displays and a big play area. I would schedule about 2 hours for this.
You could do this right after the aquarium, because they're right beside each other. If your kids have seen the Red Panda, there was a statue inside that the girls LOVED. It's also the only reason they knew what the CN tower was and thought it was cool. They liked the view, but they were over it in like 5 minutes lol. I'd say it's worth it, because Jason and I liked the view, but don't expect much from your kids. They do have a glass floor that you can see all the way down to the ground and that was cool. Everly was the most scared to go on that! The biggest hit of the whole experience though was the play structure when you get to the bottom at the end of the gift shop. The girls played in here for like half an hour! I'd say schedule 1 hour for this.
This place holds so many good memories from when Jason played hockey in the States. We would go all the time after his games, so we went on his birthday! It was pretty good. Honestly the portions are SO big, like too big, I think as I grow up I'm realizing it's such a waste of food lol, especially when we can't take it with us. The dessert definitely didn't disappoint though. We got the birthday cake cheesecake and the lemon raspberry, which is my favorite!
This was the number one thing on my list, and it was definitely the best thing we did! We went on Everly/s birthday, and she was tall enough to go on a ton of big rollercoasters which she loved. We only had about 4 hours there and it wasn't enough. We could have easily spent the whole day! There were even a ton of rides Rosie and Zara could go on too in Planet Snoopy. There are also candy shops, gift shops, tons of good food, and lots to see and do. We will definitely go back next time we're in the area!
After Canada's Wonderland we headed straight down to Niagara. We wanted to spend the night there for Everly's birthday. The traffic was CRAZY. I honestly wouldn't move to Toronto for that reason, but we made it before bed time which was our goal! We stayed at the Sheraton Fallsview and it was pretty average. The view of the falls was good, the lobby was nice, but the rooms and pool were just okay. The location was great though, a super quick walk to the falls and the main strip with all of the shops and restaurants. Again, the view of the falls wasn't super exciting for the girls, but I'm glad we did it!
The next morning we drove down to Buffalo, NY to visit our friends from college. We just needed our passports, and the girls birth certificates (kids don't need passports for driving across). We spent a few days staying with them and meeting their two little girls and it was the BEST time. If you're ever in Buffalo definitely go to Paula's Donuts! When Jason and I lived in Buffalo when he was playing hockey we got introduced to them and they're SO good. Then we drove back up to Toronto to fly home. To cross back over we needed the ArriveCAN app which was super straightforward. I also got "randomly selected" to take a covid test (my first one ever!). They told me to take it when I got home. You just call a nurse and she walks you through it and then they come pick it up and give you the results. It was negative thank goodness.
We rented a car, which are a fortune these days. I usually like getting around with public transport in big cities, but because we were heading to Buffalo we needed a car. We rented through Hertz and it was okay. We just got a mid-size SUV. I thought about using TURO, but I had seen some cancellations and didn't want to risk being stranded after a travel day with kids. Next time Jason and I travel alone I'd definitely try it out (basically people just rent out their own vehicles, after being vetted of course).
I used packing cubes for the first time ever and I loved them! It made it so easy to keep all of the girls clothes separated and organized. I got mine from Boes Ltd, along with a new Matt & Nat carry-on suitcase which was also so perfect for the plane. It had enough room for some of my clothes and laptop! I also got a passport holder for all of our travel documents, which was so nice. I'll never travel without it again!
We ate at Jack Astor's the first night in Yonge-Dundas square which was great. Our breakfasts we did at the Intercontinental Hotel, lunch we did a hot dog stand and pizza at Canada's Wonderland, and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory for Jason's bday. In Niagara we did the Rainforest Cafe. It was Ev's birthday and we let her choose, but I've gotta say it's pretty musty/humid in there and I will never go back lol, but I did love it as a kid so glad we went with them once!
Flights: $1200 (we booked on Expedia and used points)
Toronto Hotel: I worked with the hotel so we got a discounted rate, but rooms range from $250-$600+/night
Rental Car: $800 (for 5 days)
CN Tower: $114
Canada's Wonderland: $350
Niagara Hotel: I used more Expedia points, but I think it was around $300
I hope this was helpful for you if you're planning a trip to Toronto with your family! Let me know if you have any other questions below, or send me a DM on Instagram @staceykasdorf.
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