Get in on the act

[attach]4080[/attach]Can’t you just feel that summer is coming? Victoria Day, the first long weekend and unofficial kick-off to summer is just around the corner. Those unwelcome snow dumps of April are long gone and it is safe to plan some outside fun for the family. This month, get in the summer mood with some quintessentially Canadian activities. Take a hike, enjoy some barbeque, hit a festival or go camping for a night. It’s all right in the city, so no long highway drives required.

Pitch a tent right in the city

Have you taken the kids camping yet? Try a practice run at Glen Rouge campground.

Spring is a great time to look for wildflowers and birds returning from their winter migration. Combine your camping trip with a trip to the Toronto zoo, within walking distance on their trails. The secure campground offers sites for tents or RVs, washrooms with showers, a children’s playground and a fire pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.

Six people, two tents and two cars are allowed per site, with rates at $22–30 a day. Come by bike or by bus and stay on an un-serviced site for only $14 a day. Firewood and ice are available on site.

7450 Kingston Rd. Reservations: [][/email] or 416-667-6295. For maps [url=]click here[/url].

Trapezes and magicians and clowns, oh my!

The summer months will bring a host of fantastic festivals, but none will be quite as eye popping as the Toronto International Circus Festival, presented May 21–23 by Zero Gravity Circus and Harbourfront Centre.

The waterfront will be bursting with clowns, stunt people, magicians, enormous balloon creations and much more. At the Westjet stage, check out 46 circus acts in 45 minutes, and performances by the Canadian National Youth Circus. The Redpath Stage will feature one-person shows packed with tricks, comedy and interactivity, and the Studio Theatre will be dedicated to puppet shows.

If all this mayhem has your kids feeling inspired, they can head into one of the workshop rooms and become part of the show. Kids 5–14 can try their hand (and bodies!) on the aerial equipment and mini-trampoline, or graduate from the Natrel Clown Club with their new persona, a red nose and a diploma.

Free all weekend. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. 235 Queens Quay West. [url=][/url]

Get a taste of the grill without dusting off the barbeque

Nothing tastes more like summer than a delicious barbequed hamburger. Eschew the drive-through variety and the fancy gourmet burger shops and hit one of Toronto’s independent burger joints.

Ask friends or colleagues where to get the best burger and you will quickly find people are passionate about their favourite spot. To get you started, here are a few Toronto favourites:

Riverdale’s [url=]Dangerous Dan’s Diner[/url] serves up hefty burgers with fries or mashed potatoes and a host of creative toppings. Try The Elvis with bacon, peanut butter and fried banana, or The Big Kahuna with a pineapple slice, peameal bacon and mozzarella.

714 Queen St. East at Broadview

For a great beef or other meat burger, grab a table downtown at [url=]Utopia Café[/url]. Try the Homemade Chicken burger scented with rosemary, the Kissing Cousins burger made with fresh ground lamb topped with goat cheese, or the Grilled Bison Burger made with farm-raised bison. For a twist on the traditional, try The Le Burger with brie, French Dijon and roasted red peppers. Delicieux.

586 College St., west of Bathurst

Take a hike!

Toronto Parks offer a series of free self-guided Discovery Walks. Each connects neighbourhoods through ravines, parks, gardens and beaches, with pieces of history and eco facts along the way. The trail system is so extensive, your family can likely find your way onto one regardless of where you are.

Each walk has its own pamphlet that includes a map, detailed route and points of interest. Hikers can hop on or off a walk anywhere along the route, but most offer convenient start and end points near the TTC. Choose from 11 routes, such as Eastern River and Beaches, Uptown Toronto or Humber River.

For a complete list and to download any walk in PDF format [url=]click here[/url].