Family Travel with Toronto Transit

When I mentioned to my GTA friends that I was thinking of bringing the family downtown Toronto for the Santa Claus parade last weekend, they made it clear that under no uncertain terms were we to attempt driving. They warned me that the crazy traffic, hard to find parking spaces and cost of parking our vehicle would have us stressed out before we even found a spot to watch the parade. I knew they were right, and in the end, we followed their advice and decided to take our family on a little adventure!

Go Train, Santa's Other Ride

The GO Train

GO Transit is the regional public transit service for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, with routes extending to communities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. They carry over 65 million passengers a year! I’ve taken the GO Train into downtown Toronto for a couple of concerts with friends before, but this was a first train ride for my boys and they were so excited! We were delighted to see that the GO Train was already decked out for the holidays, it was such a festive way to start our Santa Claus Parade adventure taking “Santa’s Other Ride” into the city!

Riding the Go Train

The boys got a kick out of sitting on the upper level and since our train ride was a whole hour long, we were able to take off our coats and get comfortable. We all enjoyed watching the world go by outside the windows and had a little snack before we reached our destination. 

When downtown parking lots raise their rates during big events, did you know that GO Transit actually lowered theirs?

parade GO

ticket price

Isn’t that incredible? It’s rare that you see lowered rates these days, so it was a nice surprise to find out that our whole family could travel to Union station for only $20. On a regular day, the rate for a group pass is $41, and I love that they allow families to use a group rate instead of buying individual tickets. 

GO Transit Travel

Toronto Transit Commission

Once we arrived at Union Station, we were ready to take on the next leg of our adventure – the subway!

Once again our family was able to take advantage of group pricing and purchased a Group Day Pass online before departing.

TTC fares

 

The TTCconnect App is available for download on iOS and Android devices allowing you to conveniently order your tickets with your phone at home or on the go. After purchase, you just need to activate the ticket and show this screen to a TTC operator as you pass. It’s so quick and easy and no paper to carry around and worry about. 

Not being a city girl, I had never taken the Toronto subway before and was a little bit nervous about navigating the system. I was really happy to find that there were plenty of TTC staff around to answer questions and they often greeted you with a candy cane! With Santa in town, everyone was on their best behaviour!

We conveniently popped out of the subway almost directly across of the street as the area we planned to watch the parade at, and had a great time seeing all of our favourite characters on the floats.

skylanders-toronto-parade

Mario - Santa Claus Parade

Blue Jays

And of course, we saw the Big Guy in Red himself! Hi Santa!!

Santa Claus Parade

The only downside to going to a popular event is when everyone leaves at the same time. Both the subway and Union Station were crowded, with lots of little ones everywhere. Seats were scarce so the kids got a quick lesson on how to stand safely on a moving train. It was quite the experience. Travelling on a regular day wouldn’t be nearly as bad and we found that taking city transit was both affordable and convenient for our family. This may have been our first city transit adventure, but it definitely won’t be the last. 

Disclosure: This post was brought to you in partnership with Metrolinx. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Comments

  1. What an awesome day out! I wish we had a passenger train in my town – my son would love it!

  2. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Marvellous that the prices were dropped for the trip to see the Santa Parade – it’s often the other way around when a big event is on. Well done Toronto Transit. 🙂

  3. My youngest has yet to go on the GO train. My oldest has been on it and LOVES it! I’ll have to take both boys on a choo choo ride very soon.

    • momvstheboys says:

      there’s something about boys and trains right? we always see the GO train as we head through TO but we had never been on it, the boys were so excited to get a ride!

  4. The day pass is a definite plus when traveling as a family or even as a couple

  5. Would love to see the Toronto Parade in person one day, it looks amazing. I am sure adding the train ride in made it a great day for the boys!

  6. My boy was fascinated with the Go train! Such a great way to travel!

  7. I love that they lowered their rate so that families & individuals can get to the holiday events safely. Well done.

    (And good on you for doing the TTC – I know what you mean about daunting. I’m glad to take my DH with me who navigated it for years when attending school)

    • momvstheboys says:

      I was super nervous, I can get lost going to the mail box! lol Hubs is a pro though, so no worries travelling as a family!

  8. What a fun outing ! Love the train! my boys would be so excited to get on the train and see the parade!

  9. kathy downey says:

    Well done Toronto Transit,make it so more people can get out and take this in

  10. Lynda Cook says:

    Sounds like you had an awesome time on the TTC and at the parade, you took some amazing photos and it looks like you were right up and close and plus you couldn’t beat the weather, it was beautiful!!

  11. I did the Go Train/TTC commute for years. While I am happy that it is not part of my daily life anymore it is still my preferred way to travel to get to the city and travel around. My boys LOVE going on the train too.
    And yes while it may not be as busy in a regular weekend or during the day Monday-friday, there is still LOTS of people at rush hour on weekdays. So if you can avoid traveling then it is a good idea.

  12. Looks like so much fun and a very good idea! When we lived in downtown T.O. we didn’t even own a car because public transit was much easier to use. I used the Go train frequently and rented a car when we wanted to head home to London.

    A city as large as Toronto needs to have an organized transit system is a must!

    • momvstheboys says:

      I think it would be exciting to live in a big city, well before I had kids anyway, now I appreciate the small town life lol

  13. My son would have loved this! He is train crazy right now, I’ll have to see if they do something similar to this where we live.

  14. Florence C says:

    I would love to go to Toronto to see the Christmas Parade. Train systems are amazing in most cities that I have visited.

  15. Never got the chance to go to the Santa Clause Parade in Toronto while I was living in Ontario. But make a point of watching it on tv every year especially now since I left Ontario.

  16. nicolthepickle says:

    So much fun! I’ve never taken my kids on a train, but they would be so impressed. What a nice outing.

  17. LOVE how they’ve done up the train for the holidays! Those floats are amazing! I’ve seen the parade on TV, but it must have been awesome being there! Thanks for sharing your fun trip with us 🙂

  18. loucheryl says:

    My boys and I took a trip downtown, this past week, to visit my old workplace before I had my boys. We took the streetcar. My boys LOVED it. We visited Nathan Phillips Square and took photos in front of the huge TORONTO sign. Had ice cream from a truck. It was an amazing day.

  19. Thanks for the tips

  20. kathy downey says:

    I would love to take this ride in sometime

  21. Victoria Ess says:

    The TTC is a great way to travel for a family outing!

  22. kathy downey says:

    I can’t wait to watch the Christmas parade,always so beautiful and so many smiling faces…a wonderful time of year

  23. Elva Roberts says:

    I think it was a wonderful gesture on the part of Toronto Transit to give A Family pass to families who were going to the Santa Claus Parade, Kudos to them for this good deed. I hope they so again this year.

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