In all its gloriousness, Sudbury is a destination in the province of Ontario. Not a city to simply drive through and ignore. Sudbury is the largest city in Northern Ontario. It is often seen at the gateway to the north and there are fun places in Sudbury for the kids to play.
What is Sudbury known for? The city of Sudbury was built on the traditional Ojibwe grounds of the Algonquin indigenous group. Once nickel was discovered, the city was built up by European settlers. The “Nickel City”, as it has lovingly been nicknamed, is spread over 330 lakes. The entire region of Greater Sudbury contains more lakes than any other city in Canada.
THE FUN PLACES TO VISIT
IN SUDBURY WITH KIDS:
What makes Sudbury stand out is the topography which is rocky and ready to be explored. While Sudbury is famous for being a mining town and having a lot of vegetation washed away due to acid rain, that’s not all it is. Sudbury is great for the science museums, outdoor activities, abundance of lakes, safe atmosphere and never-ending things to do with your kids. Here’s what you need to know about Sudbury and what are the absolute best things to do with kids in Sudbury:
FUN PLACES TO VISIT IN SUDBURY
While travelling with my kids we do hit a lot of family-friendly type destinations and activities. However, there’s going to be a stop or two along the way that’s for my enjoyment and not necessarily for the kids. Here are some of the fun things to do in Sudbury that involve maple syrup and distilleries:
Want to know where to find the Big Nickel? It’s on Big Nickel Mine Dr.!
The Big Nickel is a replica of the 1951 Canadian five-cent coin. It was built in 1964 by local Sudburian Ted Szilva. Open to the public at no cost, visitors are invited to walk around the Big Nickel and explore the site of the Centennial Numismatic Park. The big nickel weighs approximately 13,000 kilograms so that’s about as much as a school bus. The entire outer core is made of stainless steel which is why it hasn’t rusted after 55 years. And… it’s approximately the same size as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Big Nickel isn’t all to this attraction! Head into Dynamic Earth – an earth sciences museum with a focus on geology that builds on the city’s mining heritage. I would recommend this as a half-day activity for the kids.
Do not miss the opportunity to pan for gold on the simulated stream table, take an actual mine tour that shows you how things were done in the past, what a mine looked and felt like as well as the equipment they used.
And the new exhibit – Digging into Permafrost. Enter the world of the Western Hemisphere’s only permafrost research tunnel and take in sights and sounds that are usually hidden underground.
PUMPKINFERNO AT DYNAMIC EARTH
*Seasonal / Autumn* – Where else can you enjoy an animated Halloween show projected onto the iconic Big Nickel? Nowhere else! Pumpkinferno at Dynamic Earth is one of Sudbury’s most exciting Halloween events for families. The Pumpkinferno experience features 19 carved pumpkin vignettes and roughly five thousand glowing jack o’lanterns displayed along a 250m outdoor pathway. For now, the indoor attractions at Dynamic Earth are closed during this event.
The Pumpkinferno experience is every Friday to Sunday in October evening. Please note that there is limited capacity for this event and other specific details are on the website pertaining to safety measures to keep your family safe. Admission tickets for timed entrances to allow for social distancing must be purchased online.
The kids participated in a scavenger hunt, made seed bombs and most importantly made fun of my pumpkin carving skills.
Want a fun-filled afternoon? Spend it at Science North with the kids For Sudbury winter activities, sometimes you have to head inside. So many intriguing and interactive exhibits over four floors for the kids to get their hands and imaginations into. The first floor has an IMAX theatre, planetarium, cavern and a toddler treehouse.
The second floor is the nature exchange, lapidary and butterfly gallery. There’s a lot to see and do on floor number three, but here’s the condensed version – a section on animals in northern forests, a nocturnal room, northern lakes and rivers section along with its inhabitants, a wetlands section and a theatre. The fourth floor holds the object theatres, the body zone where you learn about the body and DNA, a racetrack to build your own cars at, the space place and a tech lab.
For those familiar with southern Ontario family tourist attractions, the Science Centre in Toronto is our gold standard. Science North is Northern Ontario’s gold standard and dare I argue, a family favourite for us.
Of all the amazing exhibits at Science North, you must discover the new Indigenous Ingenuitiy exhibit. It’s new since our last visit to Sudbury in February of 2020 and you can definitely check out our winter travels here Sudbury Rocks For Families In Winter. Indigenous Ingenuity is designed around an interactive quest. You access the audio explanations via a bracelet you obtain when you enter the exhibit and take with you from station to station as your guide. The exhibition allows you to experience innovative Indigenous knowledge and processes by listening to the elders with their knowledge and experimenting with basic scientific principles. This means for the kids, it’s actual hands-on experimentation. From leaving “how to hunt” humanely, to building structures like teepees and seeing things the origins of things that we use in our everyday life.
I’m just going to say it, it’s hard to get a decent picture of the kids inside of Urban Air Adventure Park. The reason being is they’re so busy running and jumping and making merry inside of this ultimate indoor adventure park!
Opened in Sudbury in March 2019, this is way more than a trampoline park! There are obstacle courses, rock climbing walls and a place to practice your own freestyle tricks. And if you think I’m just going to let the kids play? Well no, I jumped too and I rode the Skyrider, like a big kid HA!
Definitely, a place we could have spent way more than 3 hours at! I wish there was one in Toronto, but until then, we’ll always have Sudbury.
MAPLE HILL FARM
Celine and her husband are the new owners of Maple Hill Farm, a maple syrup farm on 35 acres of beautiful forest. This location has been in the maple syrup business for many decades, closed for a while and is now reborn. The farm’s historical values and traditions have been maintained and if you’re in the Sudbury area and need to get your hands on some excellent maple syrup, this is the place to go. The syrup is made on-site and while they’ve upgraded to a mechanical process, there’s still a lot of manual labour and love that goes into running such a wonderful place.
Production happens in the spring, so don’t expect to see the sap flowing from the trees in autumn. However, you’re still welcome to visit and book the outdoor space for events if you wish. While this was an educational experience for me, the kids were amazed by seeing the sap lines from the trees and how they run downhill to the newly built sugar shack. Really put the idea of how we use nature
This location is so gorgeous, particularly in the fall, it’s worth the drive outside of the city.
CROSSCUT DISTILLERY SUDBURY
How do you feel about drinking the best Ceasar you will ever have in your life? It’s a Ceasar made from Bacon Vodka. Yes, Bacon Vodka. It’s a Triple Grain Vodka, distilled with caraway, black pepper and bacon to create a balanced flavour. This Ceasar has a nose of caraway, pepper, salty brine, sweet smoke and cardamom. While this isn’t an activity for the kids, it won’t stop Mom or Dad from partaking in a libation.
This is Sudbury’s one and only distillery. Crosscut Distillery opened in April 2018 and produces vodka, gin, whisky, liqueurs & more. Crosscut Distillery is a craft distillery making small batches utilizing local ingredients and quality grains. You can taste the edge of Northern Ontario with every sip. Especially with their gin.
I do want to give a nod to the creativity here as well – I had a pumpkin spice cocktail here that was like a really great boozy dessert.
SKATE THE RAMSEY LAKE SKATE PATH
*Seasonal / Winter* Skating the skate path on Ramsey Lake – things to do in Sudbury during winter.
Accessible from Science North parking lot lies a popular skate path on Ramsey Lake in the middle of Sudbury. The skate path runs from Science North to the Sudbury Canoe Club and features unique structures built by students of the Laurentian University School of Architecture.
And best of all, this activity is FREE. Bring your own skates and helmets because they do not have rentals on site.
The drive is only four hours to Sudbury from Toronto. I hope this illustrates how Sudbury rocks for families. Knowing full well that we only scratched the surface of the city, I cannot wait to head back and explore more.