School starts again next week and I can’t believe the summer holiday is finished! I worked less this summer and my schedule was better organized to allow more time with my Lil Sprout.
So what did we do aside from some cuddly days at home and backyard days at my parents? A fair amount of paid and free activities were enjoyed as the weeks passed. It is fun to get out and explore the neighbourhoods around us, the city we live in, and other towns and cities nearby.
We had a few constants each week: my parents took Lil Sprout to an hour of swimming lessons each Wednesday morning while I worked; and each Wednesday night she headed to three hours of gymnastics. It was a very active and packed day! The only two missing weeks were camp and Ottawa.
The week of camp was at Pedalheads for the third year in a row. This is the only camp Lil Sprout asks to go to. She has come so far with her bicycle confidence, from a training wheel five year old to a road warrior seven year old!
The trip to Ottawa was a tag on to hubby’s work conference. Lil Sprout and I did four (4) museums in three days! Check out some of the highlights in this post.
The other weeks were spent with a mix of paid and free activities.
We currently have memberships to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Zoo. The beauty of memberships is that we can go as often as we want, for as long or as short as we wish, and all year round! The ROM currently has two special exhibitions – Spiders: Fear and Fascination on the lower level and a co-exhibit on the top floor of Transforming Space and Transforming Fashion. I particularly enjoyed the second exhibit, not only for the creativity of the designs but the imaginative materials used. The Toronto Zoo always has something going on but I was happiest to see the newest member of the gorilla family, Charlie.
Another Toronto attraction we visited this year was the CN Tower. I had the highest bid on a charity fundraiser for passes up the tower. Lil Sprout had never gone up and had started asking us when she was going to go. So winning the silent auction was perfect timing. Of course, her favourite part (ok, and mine) was the glass floor.
The last pass that we used was a 2-hour Introduction to Rock Climbing that Lil Sprout got for her birthday. She loved it and scurried to the top like a cute little squirrel. I think we will definitely return for a visit when the winter months have settled in.
Where else did we spend some hard earned cash?
This is slightly cheating since we visited this one week before the holiday started but it still was a highlight of the summer months. Lil Sprout loves flowers, bugs, and everything butterfly. So much so, that her 7th Birthday Party was a Butterfly Garden theme. We had gone to Niagara Falls for an event and on the way back we made sure to include time for the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory. A highlight for any photo taking lover.
Another place for photo taking obsessed individuals to visit is the Pride of Canada Carousel in Markham. We were lucky enough to visit when no one was there. It was an overcast, steaming hot, threatening to rain kinda day but I still never thought we would be the only ones. Every time I have passed this place, it was busy. I say we were lucky because the individual running the carousel showed us around and pointed out the various highlights of the artists work. This isn’t an ordinary horse carousel – this is a Canadian theme representing all the provinces and territories and it is made out of recycled metal! Uber cool… and only $2.00 per ride!
Another moving moment for the Lil Sprout was the Miniature Train at the Shops at Don Mills. I make sure she gets to go at least once each summer. It is a short 6-minute ride around the outdoor mall for $4.00 and the ticket becomes a coupon for three food establishments.
When did we save some dough?
Let’s start with an important year-round resource, the Toronto Public Library. Aside from their Summer Reading Club, each branch runs events throughout the summer. There were Science Workshops, Movie Afternoons, Puppet Shows, Storytelling, and STEM related activities. Of course, each visit always results in books borrowed for quiet home time.
We use the local parks year-round but summer time allows us to explore other neighbourhoods and see who has the best playground, splash pad and/or wading pool. Of course adding in a picnic lunch and friends makes the experience even better!
Those that prefer to walk, run, bike, or scooter along can use the various trails and ravines around the city. Hubby likes to do seasonal group walks through the ravine and the summer version ended in Corktown Common – it has playground space for the kiddos, butterfly gardens for everyone and good restaurants and coffee nearby. Our previous walk ended at Evergreen Brick Works – some of us went off and continued to wander the trails, some found a sunny spot to enjoy a meal or coffee, and some did both!
Toronto is also lucky to have many Farmers Markets hosted in or by City of Toronto parks. Leslieville Farmers’ Market is a favourite because it has delicious food, a fun sandy playground, and a wading pool for the hot days. My favourite weekends are when the Leslieville Flea Market is also across the road.
The last park worth highlighting was the Toronto Botanical Garden in Edwards Gardens. The Zim Sculpt exhibit which finishes at the end of September, has mixed rock sculptures throughout the park and adds a nice contrast to the blooming flowers and plants.
We didn’t spend all of our time in Toronto and went east to Port Hope one day. July is peak bloom for the lavender fields and we visited Laveanne Lavendar. Afterwards, we wondered the high street a little bit and enjoyed a bite at a café.
The last summer hurrah for most Torontonians is the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) but this year I decided to go before the crowd craziness and check out the HorseCapades. This is great option for little ones – 6-years and under – that would struggle with the CNE crowds. There is a horse show that teaches the different breeds of horses and gives the children some hands-on animal time (hello, pony rides!).
Wow! We did have a fun 2018 summer vacation. We were in good health and full of happiness – just like the cover photo suggests!
In the comments, please share what you did this summer vacation! And remember to follow us and SPROUT a conversation on Twitter – @sproutbalance – and Facebook!
Looking for some ideas on recipes, organization or things to do with your Lil Sprout? Come check out my Pinterest page and the things that inspire me to become more balanced.
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