Canada offers an abundance of opportunities for interaction with animals and wildlife near its major cities. Whether you like to observe from a safe distance, or interact, here are some great suggestions for a walk on the wild side.
The Toronto Zoo, which is set in the scenic Rouge Valley, is home to over 5,000 animals in 500 species. Situated on 710 acres, the zoo boasts over six miles of walking trails, a splash pad for the kids and hosts numerous special events annually. There are a trolley service, restaurants, interactive touch-tables, camel rides, petting zoo and gift shops onsite. The zoo hosts special exhibits as well, such as Great Barrier Reef, and recently added a 10-acre Tundra Trek.
361A Old Finch Ave., Scarborough, ON M1B 5K7. Hours: Daily 9am–6pm; Admission: Adults: $21; seniors: $15; children ages 4-12: $13; children under 4: Free
Riverdale Farm is situated in a park setting in Toronto’s Cabbagetown. The farm is set on 7.5 acres and visitors can explore the numerous pathways, ponds and gardens, all while viewing cows, horses, donkey, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits and even farm cats, who are housed in outdoor enclosures of the barns. During the chillier months an indoor preschool playroom is offered. The farm plays host to various seasonal activities throughout the year.
201 Winchester St., Toronto, ON M4X 1B8. Hours: Daily 9am–5pm; Admission: Free
At African Lion Safari, visitors have the unique opportunity to drive through a game reserve in their own vehicle (safari tour bus available), to view and photograph over 1,000 mammals and birds roaming freely. Other activities include cruising on the African Queen boat, traveling the Nature Boy Scenic Railway, bird and animal performances, Jungle Playground, Misumu Bay Wet Play and Pet’s Corner (interactive). A restaurant and grill are offered for hungry safari goers!
1386 Cooper Rd., Cambridge, ON N1R 5S2. Hours: Daily 10am–5pm May through October; Admission: Adults: $29.95; seniors: $27.95; children ages 3-12: $24.95; children under 3: Free
Marineland has something for everyone! Started as a game farm back in 1961, the marine attractions were added within a few years, and amusement park rides came along in the 70s. Features of the park include the world’s largest whale habitat viewing (above and below ground), the Artic Cove where, for a small fee, visitors can pet or feed a beluga whale, the marine show in the stadium, the aquarium dome with sea lion training, a viewing deck from which to feed black bears corn pops, an interactive area with fallow deer, and the amusement park thrill rides! Cafeteria-style restaurants and kiosks are available, as are picnic areas and camping.
7657 Portage Rd., Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6X8. Hours: Daily 10am–
5pm, amusement attractions operate until nightfall, Late May through Mid-October; Admission: Adults: $39.95; seniors: $32.95; children ages 5-9: $32.95; children under 5: Free
The Central Experimental Farm is part of the Canada Agriculture Museum, and is a real working farm set in the center of Canada’s capital city! Visitors can stroll through the modern dairy barn, small animal barn, see cows and horses, experience the special exhibits, as well as visit the arboretum and ornamental gardens. There are daily demonstrations to observe, and an activity center for the children. Picnics are encouraged, but there are no food services beyond vending machines in the museum.
Prince of Wales Dr., Tampa, Ottawa, ON K2C 3R6. Hours: Daily 9am–5pm; Admission: Adults: $7; seniors/students w/ID: $6; children ages 3-14: $4; children under 3: Free
6. Granby Zoo
Just an hour’s drive south of Montreal, the Granby Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals divided into 200 species. The zoo was established in 1953 and now boasts a petting zoo, monorail, water park, amusement park, and jungle training camp for the kids! Restaurants, shops and lockers are available on the grounds.
525, St-Hubert St., Granby, QC J2G 5P3. Hours: Daily 10am–5pm, June 19 through August 29 10am-6pm; Admission: Adults: $32.99; senior: $25.49; children ages 3-12: $21.49; children under 3: Free.
Set on 2.1 acres in Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium opened in 1956 and has grown to become the largest aquarium in Canada, and one of the five largest in North America. Home to over 70,000 animals, the aquarium offers shows, demonstrations and animal encounters. The Vancouver Aquarium also has a 4D Theatre complete with wind, scents, mists and dramatic lighting! Special events are always happening, and the aquarium also offers camp programs, birthday parties and even sleepovers! Food services and shops are available onsite.
845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2. Hours: Daily 9:30am–5pm (may be later in summer); Admission: Adults: $22; senior/student: $17; children ages 4-12: $14; children under 4: Free