By WAYNE NEWTON, Special to QMI Agency
Not every teen is amazed by milkweed pods, but mine is.
Pickled and jarred milkweed pods from Forbes Wild Foods at the Evergreen Brick Works were the unexpected find of the weekend filled with electricity, gorillas and horses who bow to kings.
One of the most popular March break destinations for families not heading to the sunny south, Toronto is packed with pleasures guaranteed to fill young minds and imaginations.
Take, for example, Medieval Times, which transforms an arena on the CNE grounds into a real life jousting tournament and where rival knights send sparks flying as their swords collide as fans cheer on their favourites amid a four-course meal served without cutlery. Fans of the HBO series King of Thrones will feel at home here, where to my mind the stars of the shows are the beautiful Andalusian stallions, trained to bow and defy gravity with elegant jumps at Medieval Times' Texas ranch.
Evergreen Brick Works, an eco-education centre sitting on a former quarry and grimy industrial site just off the Don Valley Parkway, offers kids' activities daily through March break free or by donation. Visiting on a Saturday morning, when the purveyors of some unusual food products arrive for the farmers market, is the best time to visit.
Beyond the transformed industrial buildings, many still adorned with graffiti from the 1990s when the property was abandoned and used for raves, lies a network of hilly trails and ponds where birdwatchers regularly catch sight of a great blue heron.
QUICK ROAD TRIPS
Evergreen Brick Works could be part of a three-part family road trip. The Ontario Science Centre is a short drive away and the Toronto Zoo further off on the horizon in Scarborough.
My teenaged sons and I took in all three and found the science centre to be the most bustling with excited and sometimes loud teens and pre-teens trying to explain everything from brain mysteries and dancing magnetic fluids to paper airplane design. A mainstay from when the science centre first opened in 1969 never gets old for long-haired kids in the Science Arcade. The ball-shaped Van de Graaff generator sends hair of willing volunteers reaching for the sky.
Just in time for March break, the science centre is hosting the first stop of Game On 2.0, a celebration of the video game and tracking the industry's development with more than 125 playable games from pinball games and arcade games such as Pong, Pac Man and Donkey Kong to rare consoles and controllers. The exhibition runs through Sept. 2 and is included with regular admission.
The Toronto Zoo, which is preparing to welcome giant pandas later in 2013, offers a tropical break from winter in its African rainforest pavilion where gorillas, birds and fish compete for visitors' attention and camera time. Or, there's the Canadian winter reality check outdoors in the Canadian domain, where Arctic fox, wolves and polar bears dwell.
If March break calls for an overnight stay, Toronto's downtown offers several family friendly hotel options, including Canada's largest (by rooms) hotel, the Delta Chelsea on Gerrard St. near Yonge. The Chelsea has a four-storey waterslide in its kids' pool area and, on the top floor, a quieter adults-only pool and fitness centre.
Staying downtown also makes other March break special events convenient, including Comic Book Heroes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Casa Loma Carnival with its sleight-of-hand performers and stilt walkers, or the Hockey Hall of Fame, where it's not true that the lineup to pose for a photo with the Stanley Cup often includes a desperate Maple Leaf.
There's no shortage of dining options, with one of the best to feed diverse group appetites in a hurry being Marche, located near the Hockey Hall of Fame. It's a Swiss concept rather like a bakery and deli on steroids.
Granted, they don't serve pickled milkweed buds.
This story was posted on Sat, March 9, 2013
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