On the long Victoria Day weekend, many families herald the unofficial beginning of summer with active excursions. Kevin Siu-Chong has noticed this in recent years. “People are always looking for something fun outdoors,” says the president of iRange Toronto, Canada’s largest automated outdoor driving range, which he believes is busy from early morning until well after sunset.
“Golf can be a very stimulating sport,” says Siu-Chong, “so we try to differentiate ourselves by creating a welcoming and family-friendly environment.” The facility at 7855 Finch Ave. W. Brampton caters to people of all abilities.
(Another way to enjoy the outdoors is on a walking tour of historic Toronto.)
Some initially tried playing golf during the first lockdown, says Siu-Chong, as it could be enjoyed outdoors while keeping your distance from others. iRange’s system automatically sets up balls after each shot, so players don’t have to position a new ball before their next shot. “Golfers appreciate the time savings and, more importantly, the ability to slightly adjust their swing or stance between shots,” he says. “It increases muscle memory.” State-of-the-art Toptracer technology provides information about launch angle, ball speed and trajectory.
The driving range is just one of the many activities at GTA for families looking to get moving this season.
Centennial Park Golf Course is known for being well-maintained and accessible, but its outdoor mini-golf isn’t to be missed, says general manager Sharon Labbett. The 18-hole course offers plenty of shade from trees and two waterfalls – enough to make guests briefly forget they are in Toronto.
Open seven days a week from 8am to sunset, the place gets very busy on weekends, so Labbett recommends booking in advance. Families should plan between one and one and a half hours per round.
With participants as young as three and some in their 90s, “anybody of any skill level can enjoy the mini-putt,” says Labbett. “All generations can play together and the opportunity for a little fun competition only adds to the enjoyment.”
Centennial Park golf course
550 Centennial Park Boulevard, Etobicoke
The Baseball Zone has produced hundreds of college ball players, says coach Rick Boutilier, “and we have players who got drafted and go on to play professional baseball, including Cal Quantrill, Jake Sims, and Travis Seabrooke.”
And if you’re not major league material? One of the things that sets the Mississauga facility apart, says Boutilier, “is that unlike many other indoor baseball training facilities, it’s open to the public.” A day pass provides access to the batting cage, batting tunnel, a bullpen for pitching, and an area for catching and throwing. Visitors are encouraged but not required to bring their own gear.
For the confident who prefer to swing without the crowds, summer is a perfect time to visit, as the year-round indoor facility is now at its quietest, thanks to regulars playing and practicing outdoors, says Boutilier.
For serious players, The Baseball Zone offers technologies – including Hittrax, Rapsodo and Pro Pitch AI – to help them understand their biomechanics.
The Baseball Zone
1081 Brevik Pl., Mississauga
Karen McGilvray started climbing in the late 80’s, before there were dedicated climbing gyms. “We climbed real rocks outside,” she said says. “I love the movement of climbing and exploring nature.”
However, as the activity’s popularity in Toronto continues to grow, rock climbing – especially in the GTA – isn’t always convenient. There’s also risk of uneven terrain, falling rocks, insects, weather and sun, says McGilvray, the owner and operator of The Rock Oasis.
Her indoor summit retains the best part of climbing, McGilvray says, “the camaraderie between climbers who enjoy helping each other find their way to the top.” For that reason, it’s a great family activity. “We often watch the kids grow up climbing harder and harder routes until they outperform their parents.”
The 25-year-old gym offers 100 different rope climbing routes and 100 different boulder problems on the lower walls. “We change the routes and boulders all the time,” she says, “so there’s always something new.”
The rock oasis
204-388 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto
They’re the perfect warm-weather activity, and they have lots of features — bright colors and slides — that appeal to kids. But water parks aren’t just for youngsters, says Susan Kruizinga of Wet ‘n’ Wild Toronto. “We actually have a lot of young adults without children,” she says. “Coming into the park is pretty close to spending the day at the beach — without the sand, of course.” But with rides like Caribbean Chaos, Krazy Kanuck, and Oh! Canada.
“For those who just want to relax, our lazy river – Muskokah Soakah – is very popular,” says Kruizinga. “And families love the Big Sur wave pool and Bear Footin’ Bay.” A DJ sets the mood on the weekends, and the park is licensed to sell spirits, specifically, according to Kruizinga, “those fruity, frosted drinks that taste even better in the sun.”
The park is open on weekends from June 11th and every day from June 30th to September 5th.
Wet and wild Toronto
7855 Finch Avenue W, Brampton