Playground survival is back – how we have missed you!
I never thought I would miss pushing my kids on a swing or watching them tumble down a slide as much as I have.
It’s finally time to get back to talking about great playgrounds. Which means great coffee and food too!
As you get back to going to playgrounds, I saw a great idea from another mom on how to keep your kids hands clean. She fills up a jar with warm, sudsy water and plunks in a few sponges. Then when it’s time to wash hands – her kids play with the sponges and get their hands clean!
And now back to our regular programming of finding a fun playground:
Last summer I finally ventured out to the St. Lawrence Market area and had quite possibly the most delightful day.
Once you get over the headache of getting there and parking there, this area of Toronto is perfect for a playground and coffee crawl!
Near St. Lawrence Market is an incredible playground.
This playground was recently refurbished and the park was renewed just this spring. The entire park has tons of shade, gardens, a fountain and is surrounded by lots of coffee and fun outdoor seating areas.
This food market themed-playground is fantastic for kids!
It has asparagus climbing posts, carrot walking beams, a tall twirly slide, swings and an old school merry-g0-round – I haven’t seen one since I was a kid. I love the market stall for kids to play in as well as the spilled ice cream cone that George loved climbing (and Alice loved bouncing on the chocolate, pistachio and vanilla ice cream).
All in all – this is a fantastic playground you need to visit!
120 King Street East
How to Get Here:
We drove and parked at the REASONABLY priced parkade at Market Street and Conger Coal Lane (we paid $15 for 7 hours of parking. On farmer’s market Saturdays your first two hours are $1/hour!). There is street parking but it can be a pain in the butt.
Streetcars that stop nearby: 304, 503, 504
Why We Like it:
It’s fun and creative. I really liked the merry-go-round for nostalgic sake.
The bounciest sponge rubber stuff.
Bathrooms & Water Fountain:
NO BATHROOMS. This was a problem. But you could go to Second Cup kitty corner to the park. Grab a terrible coffee OR the actually quite delicious Nanaimo bars and use their bathroom.
There is a water fountain however and a ‘refreshing station’ as opposed to a splash pad.
It took a really incredible food tour with Culinary Adventure Tour Co to truly see how awesome this market is. Firstly, it’s been home to a market for centuries. It was a market between First Nations tribes in the area then a market for the earliest settlers. The most fun fact I had learned was that at one time the ships could actually dock at the market because Lake Ontario used to be much higher up. It was also open to the elements so I feel in February, this market would have been terrible.
The stalls in the market are also old. The vendors have been there for generations. And they are all so lovely, friendly and love to share their food.
It’s closed on Sunday and Monday. It’s also busy right around lunch time so aim to go first thing in the morning or after the lunch rush at 1PM.
One of my favourite stops here is for coffee which you can find in the lower level at Everyday Gourmet – they roast their own ethically sourced beans. They also have a fantastic selection of fresh spices.
I also love getting a halibut sandwich at Buster’s Sea Cove (the line moves quickly so don’t be alarmed), a pea meal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery, or a veal sandwich at Uno Mustachio (which you can order ahead on Ritual to avoid the line-up) – see my sandwich theme?
You also can’t miss out on the BEST Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts) at Churrasco’s (cash only).
The other fun thing you might like to do is go on a picnic scavenger hunt and find the things that make the perfect picnic. You can’t go wrong with all the cheese and meat at the market!
Technically not a playground but fun nonetheless.
Down the road from St. Lawrence Market is this square (right behind the flat iron building) that has a DOG FOUNTAIN. I can’t handle how cute this fountain is! Neither could my kids.
So this isn’t a playground but your kids will love it anyways. Mine played with the dogs spraying water and ran up and down the little hills. Or right now during Covid there is no water so my kids played IN the fountain. I also brought my dogs with us because it’s a dog park (obviously) and my beloved Mr. Moppie who recently left us spent a happy afternoon here sniffing around.
During the summer, they have music at lunch on Wednesdays and sometimes in the evening (obviously in non-Covid times). Check out their FACEBOOK page for events.
35 Wellington Street East
OTHER PLACES TO GET COFFEE:
Balzac’s serves up some of the best coffee in Toronto and I always grab something from them if I am nearby.
Fun fact: early in the day they serve INSANE blueberry croissants that always sell out
10 Market Street
This is a stunning, friendly and warm café serving Persian fair (the chef was born in Tehran and moved here with his family 11 years ago). You can sit inside but it is a small, quiet space so I opted to take out.
They have my favourite roaster: Pilot coffee.
173 King Street East
About a five minute walk east of St. James Park is this delightful Japanese coffee shop that has super fancy pour-over coffee (which can be slightly pretentious) but the reason to come here are the fresh, daily-baked treats like August’s special of Ontario peach roll cake!
161 Frederick Street
This is a lovely adult-y coffee shop that is super fun to bring banana kids into. JK – they are super nice. But the space is all white and bright so I feel a weird with my mom pants and PB&J smeared kids. Versus does have a great and large outdoor patio so you can attempt to have a relaxing break.
The coffee is fantastic!
70 Adelaide Street East
Just next door to Versus Coffee is this adorable café serving all house-made (by a French baker!) pastries and sandwiches.
Her sandwiches are AMAZING – I highly recommend!
60 Adelaide Street East
This café is a child’s dream! Full of teddy bears and cupcakes. I love the seating in the back with the giant screen that plays cute bear-related shows like Paddington.
This would make a fun treat for you kids. They can pick a bear and then an outfit for their new little friend. The treats are insanely cute – complete with bear latte art for the adults and hot chocolate covered in marshmallows and sprinkles.
82 Adelaide Street East
Bluestone Lane is an Australian import that is bright and stunning. This location is about a 3-minute walk from Berczy Square.
They serve fantastic coffee and avocado toast (and a prosciutto toastie that is less healthy but sooooo yummy).
37 King Street East
120 King Street East
We had such a great day in this neighbourhood. The new playground is truly worth the trip downtown. And all the coffee shops make it fun to watch the kids slide down a slide a billion times.
And will all the great food options, this is a fun day to have over again many times.