No trip to Toronto would be complete without paying homage to the national winter sport of Canada: hockey. The original Hockey Hall of Fame opened it’s doors in 1961 and then expanded and moved to the current location at Brookfield Place in downtown Toronto in 1993. Throughout the early 2000s, the museum updated and expanded many of the exhibits. There are a lot of financial offices located inside Brookfield Place, but families might enjoy lunch at one of the quick service spots or local restaurants inside the complex. Be sure to look up and check out the architecture.
Visiting with kids: You can purchase tickets online ahead of time for a small discount. They do allow strollers and I would recommend keeping track of little ones (and all the “stuff” little ones need) in a stroller; there are a lot of pathways and turns where little children can quickly run free. The only set of bathrooms is located right inside the check in area, so be sure to go before you start exploring.
You’ll walk through the “Spirit of Hockey” gift store before exiting; there’s tons of memorabilia, apparel, and mementos such as ornament to commemorate your visit. You can also access the gift store from the street, without having to go through the museum.
The museum consists of about a dozen different areas, but here are my family’s top five favorites things to do:
1. Take a photo with one of the 3 Stanley Cups in the Esso Great Hall. The original Stanley Cup is housed inside Lord Stanley’s vault next to the hall and one trophy stays with the (current) championship team The story goes that back in 1893 Stanley purchased a punchbowl in London, had it engraved, and bestowed it upon the championship team. The third, replica cup is on display for visitors to “kiss” and pose for photos. There is an attendant who will take photos you can purchase, but if you ask a fellow fan, you can have one taken with your own photo. (Attendants aren’t allowed to take a photo with your camera). If you have to wait in line, (and even if you don’t) learn about the Hall of Fame Inductees on the glass sketched portraits on display. To date, there are over 260 placards.
2. Check out the Montreal Canadiens Dressing Room. Pose with pads and jerseys in replica player stalls from the team which won 23 Stanley Cup Championships before closing in 1996.
3. See how many of the top 100 NHL players of all time you can guess in the Honda NHL Zone. The exhibit also includes the top 30 moments in hockey history. Check out the nine foot statues that greet you as you enter the exhibit. You can view memorabilia ranging from Gretzky’s hockey stick to Crosby’s gloves, Orr’s knee brace to Devellano’s 14 championship rings. There’s also a showcase of the four current hockey divisions, as well as past franchises like the Kansas City Scouts and Brooklyn Americans. Can you guess #1 moment in NHL history? (hint: It involved an USA Olympic team)
4. Test your own hockey skills by shooting pucks or goaltending in Game Time. You’ll use real pucks and hockey sticks to try and score against a computer simulated version of famous goalies and then grab a glove and try and tend the goal. Bonus: You’re able to download your videos immediately for bragging rights.
5. Rest your feet and watch a 3D film in one of two theaters. The TSN Theatre shows the 3D film entitled “Stanley’s Game Seven” every half hour, and the Tim Horton’s Theatre shows about 45 minutes of the most recent Stanley Cup playoff game footage.
If you’re a sports fan and like testing your sports trivia, check out my posts on the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and my Top 10 Sports Halls of Fame.