Without a doubt, Centre Island is one of our favourite spots in Toronto. And the ferry ride to get there not only delights toddlers, but is part of the feeling that you’re escaping the city when you’re still in the heart of it. Well, once said toddler gets over the disappointment of taking a ferry and not a *fairy*
There are very few weeping Willow trees left in Toronto. Their destructive root systems mean the city cut most of them down years ago. So the Willows swaying in the breeze are one of the first things I notice when we step off the ferry, and instantly it’s easier to breathe as the kids toddle off along the path.
Because Centre Island is part of the Toronto Islands Park, there are plenty of clean washrooms that have change tables. The paths are all really well maintained – making it a breeze for any kind of stroller. If you’re the active type, bring your bike with baby seat or trailer and zip around the island - the greenspace along the lake is so lovely. Keep in mind that Hanlan’s Point Beach is clothing optional; you may see a little more nature than you intended as you pass by there. There’s plenty of shady spots for a picnic, and to feed baby.
The small amusement park, Centreville, is a total favourite of my kids, which I think is wonderful as it was my favourite too. Even the tiniest toddler can go on some rides solo, and my kids are delighted to wave to me from the flying bees. Admission to the park is free, but ride ticket prices vary. Small toddlers can probably get by with purchasing tickets as you go (it’s free for mom or dad to accompany tots on some like the historic Carousel), but it may make sense to purchase wristbands for older toddlers and preschoolers, especially if they love the rides. Keep in mind that lines are shorter in the morning, and during weekdays.
It’s pretty much typical fast food available at Centreville, but the pizza is fresh and not a bad deal, and you can (usually) purchase white milk at the Pizza Pizza. The sit-down restaurant is ok, but our preference is to pack most of our snacks and drinks for our visit.
Even though the ferries start running at 8am, Centreville doesn’t open until 10:30. My advice for early birds is to walk through the park to the Far Enough Farm, an adorable little farm on the edge of the island where you can check out the chickens, pigs, horses, and cows. There’s even several peacocks roaming around, showing off their colours. The Far Enough Farm, along with Riverdale Farm, are always open and always free – for now anyway.
Ferry tickets are $6.50 return for adults, and $4 for seniors and students. Youths 14 and under are $3, and children 2 and under are free. Centreville is open daily from the beginning of June until the beginning of September, and weekends in May and September. Deals on ride passes are sometimes available on their website. The Far Enough Farm is open year ’round. In the summer, ferries run every 15min from 8am until 11:45pm.
Just 12 minutes away from downtown on the ferry and you’re worlds away from the city. Centre Island is the perfect outing with baby.