play space

I live in a great city.

Toronto is home to great food, diverse culture, art, music, entertainment (and did I mention food?)

But one of its downsides, that I would think about before having a child was how financially inaccessible the city can be.

When the Terra Cotta Warriors special exhibit was in town at the Royal Ontario Museum, I remember being slightly annoyed that there were two fees to get in. I wondered to myself – if that’s the cost as a single person – what does a family of 4 do?

I’ve wondered that ever since with very little answers other than – they probably don’t.

So I was excited when I heard about the Children’s Discovery Centre. I was pleased to see the very reasonable price of admission ($13) and happy to make the trek to Liberty Village to check out the space on their grand opening day to the public.

First test: transportation. Is it easy to get to? Will having a stroller be the bane of your existence? The answer is yes and no. Just a short walk from King West, the streetcar stop lets you off on the same side of the street the venue is on. The venue itself is 1 level, wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly. There’s even various parking lots for them. A bright and airy main lobby welcomes you into the space.

After paying for a ticket (which you can also do online) – the fun begins. You don’t know where to start, but that’s half the fun! The centre is broken into various zones, assigned by colour to guide you where you’d like to go!

While tempted to go into the Blue Imagination Station, I was drawn into the hustle and bustle of the Mini City! Bikes, scooters and wagons for all ages available for kids to drive around the streets. There were a few red lights run – but no serious offences. The Mini City was authentic and true to Toronto with a construction zone gravel pit in the middle.

Art Hive – a quiet but great place for budding artists to get messy and have fun. The plexi-easels are probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and kinda want one for my house.

Campground, by far was my favorite. The forest mural on the wall, the grass and big canoe in the middle, the tent were great touches. But the beaver dam, big enough for the biggest of kids (aka me) is a place I would’ve stayed in all day!

Other areas include:

  • Boom Room: think mixing bowls + spatula (aka keep the kids busy while you prep dinner). Different noise makers from around the world will stimulate all the senses
  • Eat Street: a grocery store, kitchen (complete with the cutest chef hats and aprons) area. It was great to see boys and girls in this space.
  • Make Believe: I envision lots of fairy tale productions in this great theatre space, with a large stage area. Bravo!
  • Pet Vet: shelves of furry creatures (of the stuffed variety), an x-ray wall and the green uniforms lets me know they talked to someone in the business to make this room as authentic as possible!
  • Storyland: if this place existed when I was a child, this would be the place my mom would know where to find me. Cozy nooks to sit and read? CAN I GET ONE OF THOSE IN MY HOUSE PLEASE?

There’s a large party room for what will be a very popular birthday party spot, a huge open space for future exhibitions and clean, wide-door unisex/family friendly bathrooms EVERYWHERE. I especially like that it’s for kids 6 and under. Any parent that has taken their toddlers to a drop-in of any sort – knows the gritted teeth and frozen smiles one puts on as school-age children knocks over the smaller toddlers around them. There are specific baby crawl areas for them to play in to reduce this stress on all parties.

It’s an extremely amazing place, with very engaging and friendly staff. You can tell that it was designed by a parent for other parents. I was able to chat briefly with CEO Jeanhy Shim about the project when on my way out. Surprisingly, it’s only a temporary spot until a permanent place is found. Why that’s exceptionally impressive is because there is nothing that says temporary about the space. There are no unfinished touches to the naked (or event planner/mommy) eye. It’s a grassroots endeavour, generously supported by various corporations and community at large.

There’s a big space for families to sit and enjoy a snack that you can bring from home. This is noteworthy as there are many places that try to restrict outside food (for several valid and IMO not-so-valid reasons). I’d love to see the permanent place (or this one) have healthy snacks for sale.

There are always plenty of things to do in the city if you have kids, but either the cost, location (or both) can be prohibitive. This centre addresses both those things and more. I can see myself going quite a few times before it closes in September.

Welcome to the city CDC, we hope you stay awhile.

[tanya]

Children’s Discovery Centre

45 Strachan Ave, Toronto

Open daily – 9:30am-4:30pm

Web: www.childrensdiscoverycentre.com

Note: this is not a sponsored post. the opinions and review is entirely because i wanted to write about it! i promise the kiddo having fun was the primary goal for going 🙂

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