Over the long Victoria Day weekend, many families usher in the unofficial start of summer with active outings. It’s something that Kevin Siu-Chong has noticed in past years. “People are always looking for something fun to do outdoors,” says the president of iRange Toronto, Canada’s largest automated outdoor driving range, which he says is busy from early morning to well past sundown.
“Golf can be a very intimating sport to get into,” Siu-Chong says, “so we try to differentiate ourselves from other ranges by creating a welcoming and family-friendly environment.” The facility, at 7855 Finch Ave. W. in Brampton, caters to people of all abilities.
(Another way to enjoy the outdoors is a walking tour through historic Toronto.)
Some initially tried golfing during the first lockdown, says Siu-Chong, as it could be enjoyed outdoors while maintaining 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 stroke. “Golfers appreciate the time saved and, more importantly, the ability to make very slight adjustments to their swing or stance between strokes,” he says. “This increases muscle memory.” State-of-the-art Toptracer technology provides information about launch angle, ball speed and flight path.
The driving range is just one of many activities in the GTA for families looking to get moving this season.
Centennial Park Golf Course is known for being well-kept and accessible, but its outdoor miniature golf is not to be overlooked, says general manager Sharon Labbett. The 18-hole course features plenty of tree shade and two waterfalls — enough to make guests forget briefly that they’re in Toronto.
Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until sundown, the course is very busy on weekends, so Labbett recommends booking in advance. Families should plan to spend between an hour and an hour and a half per round.
With participants as young as three and some in their 90s, “anyone of any ability can enjoy mini putt,” says Labbett. “All generations can play together, and the opportunity for a little fun competition just adds to the enjoyment.”
Centennial Park Golf Course
550 Centennial Park Blvd., Etobicoke
The Baseball Zone has turned out hundreds of college ballplayers, says coach Rick Boutilier, “and we have players who have been drafted and gone 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 makes the Mississauga facility stand out, says Boutilier, “is that it is open to the public, unlike many other indoor baseball-training facilities.” A day pass offers access to the batting cage, hitting tunnels, a bullpen for pitching and an area for fielding and throwing. Visitors are encouraged, but not required, to bring their own equipment.
For the self-conscious who prefer to swing without a crowd, summer is the perfect time to visit, as the year-round indoor facility is quietest now, thanks to regulars who play and practice outdoors, says Boutilier.
For serious players, The Baseball Zone offers technology — including Hittrax, Rapsodo and Pro Pitch AI — to help them understand their biomechanics.
The Baseball Zone
1081 Brevik Pl., Mississauga
Karen McGilvray began climbing in the late ’80s, before the advent of dedicated rock gyms. “We climbed outside on real rock,” she says. “I love the movement of climbing and exploring the outdoor environment.”
But as the popularity of the activity continues to grow in Toronto, outdoor climbing — especially in the GTA — is not always convenient. There’s also the risk from uneven terrain, falling rock, bugs, weather and sun, says McGilvray, the owner and operator of The Rock Oasis.
Her indoor rock gym preserves the best part of climbing, says McGilvray, “the camaraderie between climbers who enjoy helping each other to navigate their way up.” For this reason, it’s a great family activity. “We often watch as the children grow up and they can climb harder and harder routes until they are out-climbing their parents.”
The 25-year-old gym features 100 different roped climbing routes and, on the lower walls, 100 different boulder problems. “We change the routes and boulders constantly,” she says, “so there is always something new.”
The Rock Oasis
204-388 Carlaw Ave., Toronto
They are the quintessential warm-weather activity and have lots of features — bright colours and slides — that appeal to kids. But waterparks are not just for youngsters, says Susan Kruizinga of Wet ’n’ Wild Toronto. “We actually get a lot of young adults without kids,” she says. “Coming to the park is pretty close to spending the day at the beach — without the sand, of course.” But with thrill rides, including Caribbean Chaos, Krazy Kanuck and Oh! Canada.
“For those who like to just chill, our lazy river – Muskokah Soakah – is very popular,” Kruizinga says. “And families love the Big Sur wave pool and Bear Footin’ Bay.” A DJ keeps things lively on the weekends, and the park is licensed to sell liquor, particularly, says Kruizinga, “those fruity frosted beverages that taste even better when in the sun.”
The park opens for weekends beginning June 11, and daily from June 30 through September 5.
Wet ’n’ Wild Toronto
7855 Finch Ave. W., Brampton
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