Frugal and Fun Summer Activities in Toronto

One of my favorite seasons in Toronto is summer because there are so many free or frugal ways to spend time together as a family! For us summer has already begun with Luminato and doesn’t end until the Labor Day.



Do you want to have a fun frugal summer in Toronto? You definitely can and it doesn’t have to put a dent in your wallet either.


For me and my teem for the past few summers our plans began with Luminato. One of my most treasured memories is my then 8 yr old leading the salsa dance class with the instructor, and her being chatted up by none other then David Miller (the mayor at the time) while she was getting her face painted. For us we love this event and guess what a huge amount of the events are FREE.

Luminato is not the only festival to enjoy during the summer, there are so many to choose from. The HarbourFront Centre is the home to many great free our frugal events all summer long. We also love The Taste of the Danforth, Salsa on St Clair, and the Scotiabank Buskerfest. For a great list of festivals and events in Toronto check here.

The next thing we always is swim at the city pools and hit the Beaches. Both of these are very frugal events and good for summer fun and fitness. We especially love the pools, infact that is where my teen is today.


By then it is Canada Day and this city has many venues you can hit for a frugal Canada Day, for us because we lived in East York we always packed a lunch and headed to Stan Ludlow Park for a day of fun and fireworks. Downsview Park and Ashbridges Bay are also hot spots on this day.

The first week in July is when my daughter will also hit the library and enroll in the summer reading program. Now we are looking at the free teen programs they offer all summer long, like Teen Reads.

Then there are also free movies at Yonge/Dundas Square, the Habourfront, or perhaps TIFF in the park Every one loves a great flick, right? Must remember to bring my popcorn.

Then if you are a music lover like my teen, there are several venues where you can take in a free concert. Check out the Toronto Arts online link to find some great free events to attend and then at Habourfront you can listen to some great music in the garden as well.

There is also the musuems. Several of the museums offer free or discounted hours. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) offers discount admission on Friday’s from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is free Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., excluding special ticketed exhibitions, and the Bata Shoe Museum is pay-what-you-can on Thursdays between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

If it was a rainy day we often went to Woody Woodchucks in Scarborough when my daughter was younger, but now there are many great indoor playspaces that you can hit with just a few dollars.

This summer with soda of any size being only $1 again at McDonald’s the playlands will be full as well.

Have kids they would love some time at a zoo or perhaps a farm in the city. High Park has a great little zoo and some great play spaces to keep a little one busy.

You can also have your tween or teen child do some acts of service this summer. Last summer  my daughter did a month long service challenge. Each day she thought up a new way to serve and help somebody else out. Some of the things she did: had a lemonade stand(donated the money), gave older clothes that no longer fit to new immigrant family on the street, held a door open, helped the neighbor with yard work and the list went on. We celebrated the end of it with an ice cream party.

There are also so many bike trails in Toronto that you can use to explore the city.


As well we always ended our summer with a trip to the CNE. It was a family tradition. I can remember my dad taking us girls when we were little and one of the things about the CNE there is so much to do that is free so you can be pretty frugal with your visit. Warriors Day you always see my family out in full force, and we always met the entire family right here!

My daughter and I in the summer spend about $15 a week for our summer fun in Toronto. Most of this is spent on our weekly tradition of an ice cream cone from the truck that came by our street, and the occasional pick up from a street vendor. If we were going to the park, beach, library we will take snacks and the like with us. This is what makes it frugal.

This year we also have a seasons pass to Canada’s Wonderland, which we are planning for some afternoon fun. Wonderland is not a cheap day though. We bring water in with us, and we do have the refillable drink cups that cost $0.99 cents to refill.

Now if you don’t live in Toronto that is okay many of these ideas can be transferred to where you are! Most cities have active park and rec programs, most libraries offer summer reading programs and there are always local festivals and well McDonalds is everywhere. Please remember you can have a great fun filled summer and it can even leave cents in your pocket book.

Please let me know what you think of the list. Are there any other ways to have a fabulously frugal summer in Toronto?

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