When kids are young it’s easy enough to tote them along on vacation and do things that are new and exciting with them. Visits to the regular attractions are pretty safe bets. But when you enter into the teen years, finding stuff to do becomes a little more challenging. They may still marvel at the jellyfish wall at Ripley’s Aquarium or do the wave at a Jays’ home game or rummage through the racks at a vintage store but what else? Here in Toronto there are plenty of things to see and do…beyond the shopping malls, big attractions, concerts and sporting events.  If you’re planning to visit the city this year or if you’re a local, here are just a few of our favourite recommendations for families with teens:

Food Tour of Kensington Market with Chopsticks & Forks: Toronto is known to be one of the most diverse cities in the world and Kensington Market has always been a neighbourhood that is home to many immigrants. For teens and families who love to eat, this tour is packed with delicious goodness from different parts of the world. Visit local “mom & pop” restaurants and cafes to taste traditional foods while learning about the rich history of the area and those who live and work there.  It’s like travelling around the world in a few hours. Highlights include Jamaican, Tibetan, Chilean, Swedish, Polish and Indigenous foods. Tours are led by friendly locals who also love food.

Duck Bacon and Bannock. Pow Wow Cafe

Dear Evan Hansen: This musical is one of the most sought-after tickets on Broadway. Now, this new Canadian production with Mirvish is here at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and is already receiving rave reviews from theatre critics and teens alike. The storyline dives deep into high school life today hitting all the notes of social media, anxiety, fear, mental health issues, and fitting in, all packaged up in a very relatable and  fast-paced show. There are a limited number of student rush tickets daily worth checking out.

Robert Markus and Jessica Sherman in DEAR EVAN HANSEN – Canadian Company. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2019.

Museum of Illusions: 132 Front Street East. It’s all science and all fun in this logic defying, mind-bending museum. Visit the upside down room and other optical illusions that will leave you loving science more that ever before. Great photo opps that guarantee to wow friends and family.

Yayoi Kusama Let’s Survive Forever at the Art Gallery of Ontario: 317 Dundas Street West. One of the world’s most popular contemporary artists now has a permanent installation at the Art Gallery of Ontario. For more than 60 years, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (born 1929) has invited people to participate in her groundbreaking visions of infinity. Over the past three decades, this prolific experimental artist has become an internationally acclaimed art-world icon, with work presented across the globe. Her Infinity Mirror Rooms, dots, and pumpkins appeals to all ages. Admission to the AGO Mirror Room is included with the price of general ticket but visitors need to book the timed entry ticket when they are at the gallery. Once inside, you’ll have 60 seconds to take in the art and take as many photos as you can. The installation officially opens to the public May 25, 2019.

Urban Capers Scavenger Hunt: Explore parts of the city in this very fun scavenger hunt. Team up with your family and go against others in this time sensitive activity. Clues and riddles are given and you’ll have to find the answers. Historians and educators have created this exciting and very informative walking adventure.

Hide and Seek: 1305 Dundas Street West. For those who can’t get enough of the “experience” spaces (read: instagrammable rooms) the latest one is all about being a kid again. Take in the colourful, immersive exhibits that will bring sugary sweet smiles to your day. Lots of photo opps. Actually the entire exhibition is one big photo opp.

Meaningful Food Experience at Depanneur:1033 College Street. Sure you can hit up the latest restaurant with your teen or you can discover a new cuisine and learn about the chefs and their culture. Depanneur offers up special cooking and baking classes as well as Drop-in Dinners where guest cooks (amateurs or professionals) create their favourite food. Calendar online offers information on what’s coming up.