Playtime for grownups: things to do in Toronto summer edition

by Jeff Cottrill

Who said you had to grow up, anyway? Sure, you’ve got bills to pay, chores to do, mouths to feed and booze to drink... but everybody gets tired of “adulting” once in a while. And if it’s socially acceptable for grownups to read Harry Potter or dress up in costume at comic-book conventions, then surely it’s okay to do certain other kiddie-oriented activities as well. Here are some ways Torontonians can keep their inner children happy this summer. [Photo credit: courtesy of Zombie Survival Camp]

Playtime for grownups: things to do in Toronto summer edition

LEGOS!

Creative adults love LEGO just as much as kids do – maybe more. Gladstone Hotel knows this, and that’s why it holds the weekly LEGOS & Lagers event every Tuesday night in the Melody Bar, where you can build whatever you please while channeling inspiration from a pint or two. Up for a further commute? LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Vaughan has themed events for adult LEGO fans on the last Friday of every month.

Ride in a go-kart

It’s safer than the highway, but also much more fun than a rush-hour jam. Whether you want to race around the track or just cruise at your own pace, go-karting is a great way to kill a Saturday afternoon. There’s a fine outdoor track at Mini-Indy Go-Karts in Centennial Park and an indoor one at the 401 location, or try Grand Prix Kartways in the north.

Hunt like a scavenger

Urban Capers puts on organized scavenger hunts designed for adults, and once the weather warms up, it’s the perfect excuse to explore neighbourhoods like Chinatown, Kensington Market, St. Lawrence or the Distillery Historic District. Teams of two to six answer questions and solve puzzles while getting exercise and meeting new friends. Hunts are scheduled on weekends throughout the summer.

Meet others who got game

Board games aren’t just for kids and dorks anymore, and they’ve become a lot more sophisticated since the Parker Brothers standards of your childhood. So hit up a game café like Snakes & Lattes, A Game or Face to Face and test your skills at Resistance, 7 Wonders or Ticket to Ride. If you need to get your fix through something bigger, check out the all-day TABSCon conventions at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall #11 in June and September.

Get campy

Did you miss out on the summer-camp experience when you were little? It’s never too late, especially when there are several adult camp options in southern Ontario. Zombie Survival Camp is happening in Cardiff in June and September, while Camp No Counselors offers a more traditional camp experience in the Parry Sound area in the same months; there’s also Lake Field Music Camp in the Kawarthas in August and Two Islands Weekend in the Haliburton Highlands in September.

Explore more: Summer Camps for Adults Near Toronto

Role-playing in the great outdoors

Of course you can still dress up and play pretend as a grownup – only now, it’s called LARP, or live-action role playing. Toronto-based Underworld LARP organizes weekend outdoor events where you can costume up as your favourite Hobbit, Jedi or Game of Thrones character and act out your daydreams with others. Its local community, Guildhouse Jericho, also holds the occasional social event at a pub, where newbies can learn how to LARP like a pro.

Meet your fantasy heroes

Fan Expo Canada is back at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from August 31 to September 3 – and what a lineup of celebrity guests they’ve got this year, headed by a rare appearance by Rocky Horror icon Tim Curry! You can also geek out over The Doctor himself, Matt Smith, along with Firefly’s Nathan Fillion, The Guild’s Felicia Day, Buffy’s Anthony Head and James Marsters, Meat Loaf, Kathleen Turner, Catherine Tate and many more. And you can stock up on comics, graphic novels, pop-culture memorabilia, games and action figures from more than nine hundred retailers.

Get your fill of Sailor Moon

More than twenty-five years since Sailor Moon first appeared in manga form, she still captures the imagination of at least one generation. The annual Toronto Sailor Moon Celebration, which happens at the Ontario Science Centre on June 24, is the city’s only convention devoted to Naoko Takeuchi’s magical schoolgirl heroine. Guests include voice actors Loretta Jafelice, Ron Rubin and Jill Frappier.

Tag, you’re it

Laser tag is like a cross between tag, war combat and science fiction – you use electric guns to zap targets on other players while trying not to get zapped yourself. Laser Quest has locations all over North America, including one in Scarborough; you can also try Rinx up north, or The eZone in Etobicoke.

Explore the city from your bike

Toronto is one of the best cities in North America for cyclists, and summer is an ideal time to bike around, whether it’s downtown, through the big parks or along the many hiking trails. You can improvise your own solo trek, or you can sign up for one of the scheduled tours with Toronto Bicycle Tours – which has planned routes through downtown T.O., the Don Valley and the gardens of Rosedale and Moore Park.

Trampoline!

Sky Zone lets you get your leaps out with its giant indoor trampoline rooms. You can bounce around in the freestyle-jump area wit wall-to-wall trampolines, but that’s not all – there’s even a trampoline basketball court and dodgeball court, plus a Foam Zone, where you can dive into a pit full of foam squares, and a Skyladder, an unsteady rope ladder over a foam pool. Go ahead and jump!

I’m on a boat, yo

Always wanted to sail the seas? Conquer the not-so-mysterious waters of Lake Ontario with a cruise from the Harbourfront, via Mariposa, Jubilee Queen or Pioneer – or take a ride on the famous Tall Ship Kajama. If you’re trying to avoid tourists and families, no worries; there are evening cruises with DJs, dancing and more.

Scream for ice cream

Whether you’re five or forty-five, ice cream is a great way to refresh yourself on a sweltering summer afternoon. Among the best ice-cream shops in T.O. are Ed’s Real Scoop (with three locations), Bang Bang on South Ossington and Scoop Shop on Dundas West. If gelato’s more your thing, get thee to La Paloma or Dolce.

Amuse yourself at the amusement parks

You never outgrow the thrills of a roller coaster or the pride of winning a prize at a Midway game. Summer brings on the joys of Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan and the Canadian National Exhibition downtown, in the latter half of August. Just try not to overdose on the cotton candy and whatever new deep-fried horror the Ex is offering this year.

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