our favourite baby + tot friendly activities.
Matt and I are self-proclaimed adventurers, taking every opportunity to explore new places both near and far from the comfort of our home. Last summer, I was a new mom, both over-tired and on the mend from delivering my son via emergency c-section. Even though I was stuck inside more than I would have liked, we made incredible memories as a family, and eventually headed outdoors once I was strong enough.
This list is a mixture of our favourites from last summer (with a newborn), and what we've tackled so far this year with our one year old explorer (in no particular order).
You're probably thinking "well duh" but I had to mention it because the park can easily be overlooked as boring or overdone, or we automatically think of playgrounds instead of larger parks with walking trials. Sometimes we just need to see the space in a new light.
Whether it's a neighbourhood playground, a city park or provincial park, parks are the place to be with little ones. Make the most out of them with picnics, walks, lawn games, and full out family playground time. Confession: last summer we were also avid Pokémon Go players. This was amazing on walks (and on car rides to and from the park if Orson was sleeping or attempting to sleep).
I was a waterlogged child back in the day. I still love pool time tremendously! If we didn't have copious amounts of large old trees in our current backyard, I would likely insist that we put in a pool ASAP. Until then, pool time is a special treat for us.
My favourite summer pool is the Plunge Pool at Blue Mountain Resort that we get to enjoy during our annual Sider family summer vacation!
One of our favourite beaches is at Grand Bend. We also love their dog-friendly portion of the beach when we have Whiskey with us. Bonus parenting points if you successfully survive a beach day without your baby eating sand.
In our pre-baby days, we went to the movies all the time. During the Academy Awards season, we would always make a point of seeing all nominated films. The only reason I find myself in an actual movie theatre (since Orson's birth) is for Stars & Strollers Screenings at Cineplex (even then you don't fully enjoy the movie quite the same). Orson's first drive-in movie was last summer, the opening night of Finding Dory, and he wasn't even a month old yet! This summer we've been super busy so we haven't went as often as we hoped, but so far we've seen Wonder Woman & Baby Driver.
We are pretty fortunate to be within close distance to a number of Ontario Drive-Ins. Close enough that we usually browse what movies are playing and where, and then just drive out for the night to the best one. The following are personal faves:
Guelph Mustang Drive-In (this is technically the closest to us so it makes the favourites list for that reason. It's also a really big screen).
Hamilton Starlite Drive-In (this theatre has 3 screens which gives you 6 different movie options for the evening. Insert all the praise hand emojis).
Grand Bend Starlite Drive-In (best vintage vibes at this theatre. They even boast a 25 cent refill on drinks & popcorn).
Local Hot Spots & Events.
We absolutely love our developing city. We live close enough to the downtown core that we can go anywhere within walking distance and find instant fun or delicious food. If you're from our neck of the woods, check out our favourites below. If not, research your city/town/area. You'll be surprised to find a variety of cheap or free family summer fun.
Anything with Animals :)
Do I really need to explain this further!? This summer our home away from home is the African Lion Safari. It's a 30 minute drive to get there, but so well worth it. Orson loves the animal shows, train & boat rides, giant splash pad, and of course petting the animals. If you don't have anything like this where you live, look for a local zoo, or visitor friendly farm. Later this summer we are going to take Orson to the local donkey sanctuary. Animal ideas are endless!
Day Trips (Close to Home)
We love a good day trip. Thankfully, we live close to many cute and fun places both near and far. We love venturing out to new towns, cities, and places. Of course we have our favourites too. Google what's near you or activities for babies and tots near you. You'll be surprised!
That' wraps it up for now! We are excited to add and discover more exciting activities for littles in the very near future. Until then, please feel free to add your local tips and favourites so we can try them out too! Not from our area?! That's okay. We may visit yours someday so we'd love to hear from you!