What to do in Toronto in February? (w/Mom, Dad, MIL, 12th & 8th graders)
January 11, 2018 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Our family (mom, dad, 8th & 12th grade boys, mother-in-law) will be in Toronto Feb 19-21. We've got museums generally covered, but we're looking for wacky and entertaining stuff to do in town and nearby, plus interesting food. We like humorous theater, used bookstores, record stores, game stores, D&D, comics, sci-fi, big wacky art exhibits, hikes, funky clothes shopping, ethnic foods & lots more random fun stuff. Please suggest anything out of the ordinary or weird or beloved for us to do or eat or experience!
posted by chr1sb0y to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For comics, the Silver Snail is probably the top place in town and it's hard to miss now that it's over by Dundas Square near the Eaton Centre. Apparently MeepleMart is a big game store in Chinatown, not that you need an extra excuse to go visit Chinatown as a tourist.
posted by GuyZero at 6:29 PM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Kensington Market - an eclectic neighbourhood that ticks quite a few of your boxes.
posted by Lescha at 6:46 PM on January 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

For unusual, off the top of my head, though I’ve never been to any of these places:
  • The dog fountain in Berczy Park, combined with a stop at St. Lawrence Market
  • Poop Cafe in Koreatown
  • Merril Sci-fi and Fantasy Collection combined with Chinatown and Kensington Market
  • Monkey’s Paw bookstore

posted by alusru at 6:55 PM on January 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

For a big art exhibit, visit the TO Light Fest:

I went last year with my kids and we all liked it a lot. Plus, it's free!

You can check out restaurants in the Distillery district while you're there. Also Bergo is a nice design store in the area.
posted by methroach at 7:48 PM on January 11, 2018

A friend recently went to Curiosa recently and really enjoyed it. Ripley's Aquarium is a fun place to visit, they have some hands on things like petting stingrays. For food, Tortilla Flats has great Tex Mex food plus fun drinks for the adults.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 7:53 PM on January 11, 2018

Hi! Just a heads up that Feb 19 is Family Day for the province of Ontario. Not an official statutory holiday, but many people will be off work, and schools are closed. So, museums may be busier on that day. Enjoy your trip!
posted by leslievictoria at 8:01 PM on January 11, 2018

I just remembered, there is also Ice Breakers:


Last year at least, there was also an app you can install to help you locate all the pieces.
posted by methroach at 8:04 PM on January 11, 2018

2nding the aquarium -it's pretty damn impressive. Snakes and Lattes on Bloor near Bathurst is a big, active game shop/cafe.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:19 PM on January 11, 2018

the Lockhart (Minors must leave by 8.30pm)
posted by saucysault at 9:15 PM on January 11, 2018

2nding Kensington market. And eat at Swatow on Spadina. Terrific food.
posted by chasles at 5:01 AM on January 12, 2018

Hiking will be hit and miss depending on the weather. Our freeze-thaw cycles play havoc on trails in the ravines. There are a number of good city walks, though.

When in Kensington and Chinatown, be sure to visti Graffiti Alley.
posted by TORunner at 7:04 AM on January 12, 2018

It might be hard to get tickets over the Family Day long weekend, but if your family likes games and theatre you'll really enjoy the escape games in Casa Loma. Casa Loma's the closest thing to a castle we have, and while it's an interesting tourist destination on its own, adding the escape game to it is extra neat. If you're already escape game connoisseurs you may find these ones to be a little easy, but the setting more than makes up for it.

Seconding Snakes and Lattes (there's another, bigger location on College St, and a new one at Yonge and Eglinton) as a nice way to spend an afternoon. And if you're in Koreatown for Snakes and Lattes, you can get dinner at one of the Korean restaurants in the neighbourhood (Buk Chang Dong is a local fave) or stretch your legs a little for excellent Ethiopian (Lalibela and Nazareth are good choices and are about 15 minutes on foot from Snakes Annex).

Definitely seconding alusru's suggestion of the Merrill collection combined with Kensington and Chinatown, that would be a very cool day. If you're looking to spice it up, I've heard good things about this scavenger hunt thing which takes place in that area (I did the one they run in the ROM and it was also very cool--definitely recommended if you plan to do the ROM anyway).
posted by AmandaA at 7:10 AM on January 12, 2018

Best comics store in Toronto isn't Silver Snail anymore - it's The Beguiling (same people who run TCAF, the Toronto Comics Arts Festival) and the TCAF store at the Metro Reference Library (Page and Panel).

Board Games - best cafe for buying or playing: Snakes &
. College St location (near Kensington Market) is larger, but Annex location (Bathurst & Bloor - original place) is quieter and preferred by people in the know.

Bad Dog Theatre does comedy - including nights specifically for queer and/or people of colour.

Merrill Collection: awesome but call ahead. It's a research collection and I don't know how much they have on display. But if you call, maybe you can talk to the librarians about seeing particular items of interest.

Significant locations for you:
- Koreatown - on Bloor btw Bathurst & Christie, has Snakes & Lattes Annex, Lots of good Korean food (I recommend Korean Village Restaurant for nice sit-down, Imoney ("Auntie's") for casual), also NishDish (Indigenous cafe) and just west of Christie is Madras Masala and Banjara (best south and north Indian food respectively - I love Madras Masala, the dosas are brilliant)

- College between Spadina and Bathurst: Lillian H. Smith (library that hosts the Merrill Collection) is at College & Spadina, Beguiling is on College, Kensington Market is in the backstreets south of College (lots of Carribean, Latin American food), Snakes & Lattes College is just west of Bathurst
posted by jb at 7:42 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

sadly, Bakka Phoenix is not the same as Bakka books (Toronto's Sci-Fi fantasy bookstore). The old one was a treasure trove with staff who all were experts (and some now are published authors) and reviews. I haven't been to the new store since the expansion, but when I went it didn't have the same feel or selection.
posted by jb at 7:45 AM on January 12, 2018

I would also add: for Ethiopian food, I prefer Sheba (College & Bathurst) to Lalibela (Ossington & Bloor) - it's not that Lalibela isn't good, it's just that it's more of a B+ to Sheba's A.
posted by jb at 7:48 AM on January 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

And if you want to get a table at Snakes and Lattes (especially the Annex), I recommend going on a weekday that isn't a holiday, during the day. Weekends, especially weekend evenings, can have long waits and (last time I checked) they don't do reservations because they don't know how long a table will play. It's all-you-can-play which is awesome, but hard on their planning.
posted by jb at 7:51 AM on January 12, 2018

Second City usually has a revue running. It can include mature themes but I'd feel comfortable taking my parents and a 13 year old.
posted by dotparker at 9:46 AM on January 12, 2018

I spent much of my time during my recent visit to Toronto at Bampot, which is a cozy, eclectic board game cafe with unique comfort foods and a selection of authentic teas (their macha comes in a gourd with a metal straw!). The atmosphere was like being in a bohemian friend's living room, and my group felt right at home.
posted by Pwoink at 2:18 PM on January 12, 2018

(Er, yerba mate, not macha.)
posted by Pwoink at 2:28 PM on January 12, 2018

Yes, Bampot is delightful! Fewer games than Snakes & Lattes, but better food and the most tea I've ever seen in one place - and none of it gross, artificially flavoured tea, just a huge selection of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, etc, teas.

One thing: go early in the day or call ahead to see if they are still doing shisha - for a while, they did shisha after 5pm, and no one under 18 was allowed then, by law. (We had a disappointing visit with my neice - arrived at 430, about to order tea and start playing when they told us she couldn't stay).
posted by jb at 5:38 AM on January 13, 2018

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