Great Canadian summer getawaysJanuary 5, 2018
1. Quebec City, Quebec
Sure, the tiny cobbled streets, steep hills and stairs make pushing a stroller a bit of a challenge. But Quebec City’s French Canadian culture, welcoming people and beautiful sights make it all worth it. Not to mention that the castle-like Chateâu de Frontenac and the quaint buildings of the Old City will make the kids think they’ve stepped into an enchanted kingdom. Your little ones will love the costume station at the Musée de la Civilisation where they can recreate their own fairy tales with props including secret passages and a seven-headed monster to defeat. (Available June to September.) Then hang out with some walruses, seals and polar bears at Aquarium du Québec. The whole family can also spend a day at the city’s beach, The Baie de Beauport. Join a game of beach volleyball or if the kids are really adventurous, take a kitesurfing lesson. This picturesque city is packed with tons of family fun.
2. Whistler, British Columbia
Located in the Coast Mountains, just two hours north of Vancouver, Whistler offers a genuine Canadian west-coast mountain experience — yes, even in the summer! Families can participate in an array of fun and exciting activities including taking a ride in the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, exploring 50 kilometres of hiking trails and going on a bear tour where a guide will take you in a vehicle to see feeding sites and dens. Kids will love the Family Adventure Zone at the base of Blackcomb Mountain where the fun includes bungee trampolines and bouncy castles. And when it’s time to relax, take a break from the adventure and go unwind lakeside along sandy beaches where play areas, BBQs and concession stands beckon.
3. Tofino, British Columbia
Tofino is the ideal escape from city life. Whether you’re taking in the gorgeous mountain views, collecting sand dollars on the beach, exploring the grounds in Pacific Rim National Park, catching a wave on a surf board, relaxing in the hot springs cove, whale watching or climbing aboard a bear-watching boat tour, this West Coast getaway has something for every family member. Make sure to stop for a meal at Wolf in the Fog; it’s perfect for families with its friendly staff, coloring pages and kids’ menu. Try their fried chicken, barbecued ribs, pulled pork and cornbread – you’ll definitely want to go a second time. And for dessert check out Chocolate Tofino’s handmade chocolates and gelato.
4. Algonquin Park, Ontario
A Canadian National Historic Site, Algonquin Provincial Park has tons of family fun to offer including camping, fishing, mountain biking, canoeing, picnicking and swimming in the clear and clean lakes. Kids can also learn about the park’s natural and cultural heritage with the Junior Ranger Program. Just pick up a free booklet from the Visitor Centre or download one from the website and let the kids complete mazes, word searches and other activities while they explore the park grounds. The whole family can check out the Algonquin Logging Museum to get a history lesson on logging as well as admire displays such as a recreated camboose camp. The Algonquin Art Centre is another great spot to visit. Check out nature-inspired art and then treat yourself to some tea, coffee and other goodies at the Green Gazebo where kids and their grownups can participate in various art activities.
5. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
While visiting the prairies this summer may not seem like the obvious vacation choice, Saskatoon is the perfect destination for the urban-but-outdoorsy family with it’s city-meets-country vibe. Go see how the pioneers lived at the Western Development Museum and take a ride on the Prairie Lily riverboat to see the sights and learn cool facts about spots to explore. Then stop by Wanuskewin Heritage Park for a lesson in the history and traditions of the Northern Plains Indigenous Peoples. Spend some time at the University of Saskatchewan Sculpture Garden. The kids will love running around in this open and beautiful green space while you admire some free outdoor art. (It’s also a great place to spot some cute prairie dogs!) And when the kids need to cool off with a sweet treat, head over to Broadway Cafe for a giant milkshake.