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Where to go for a Canadian summer family vacation

By Corinne McDermott, BrighterLife.ca

Comments (8)

With longer days and warmer temperatures here, it’s time to start finalizing your summer family travel plans. But before you even start to narrow down where you’d like to visit, you should first determine exactly what kind of a summer getaway you’re looking for. Do you want to be lazy or prefer to be busy? Do you want to unplug your gadgets, or would being without wi-fi make you miserable? Whatever your family’s summer holiday style, there’s a great Canadian vacation destination for you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Where to go for a Canadian summer family vacation City escapes

Are you craving a little culture? Does your family like plenty of options in terms of food and fun? If so, a mini-break in a family-friendly city might be just the trip to fulfill everyone’s wish list.

Because getting around is a breeze with the fantastic SkyTrain and many attractions are within walking distance of one another, Vancouver is an ideal choice for an urban family vacation. Skip along the seawall in Stanley Park and go for gelato in Granville Island, but make sure to leave room for the wonderful local seafood.

Or enjoy a taste of Paris without the trans-Atlantic flight by visiting Quebec City. The Plains of Abraham demand to be frolicked upon, and you can relax afterwards with an enjoyable history lesson as you tour the Old Town via horse and carriage. You can rent bicycles and cycle alongside the St. Lawrence, but meandering amongst the 400-year-old cobblestoned streets counts as an activity, too.

Beachy getaways

If it’s sunshine on your shoulders and sand between your toes that you require to relax on your summer vacation, you have many options to fulfill your beachy needs.

With 1,100 kilometres of shoreline, Prince Edward Island has plenty of beaches for you to play on, and your toughest decision might be choosing between the warmer waters and calmer seas of the South Shore, or the waves of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the north side of the island. And then you can cycle the island or go deep-sea fishing, should you want to do more than just relax on the sand.

And speaking of sand — Sandbanks Provincial Park in Ontario has vistas of white sand and blue water that can rival any Caribbean beach, with a wide range of family accommodation options nearby to suit every budget.

Wilderness retreats

If you need to unplug in order to recharge, perhaps a camping trip in the great outdoors will help you reconnect with your family and with nature.

Surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, Kananaskis Country, just 45 minutes outside of Calgary, is a great escape to the outdoors with lots to do and see. There are five provincial parks in the region, along with four wildland provincial parks, one ecological reserve and several provincial recreation areas, so you can hike, bike, and play to your heart’s content. You can set up in your choice of accessible or backcountry campgrounds, or stay at a nearby lodge or hotel.

Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario doesn’t have the view of the mountains, but it does have more than 1,500 lakes, 53 species of mammals, 272 types of birds, 31 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, and more than 1,000 species of plants to keep your budding naturalists busy. It also has a logging museum and an art centre, to inject some culture into your rustic getaway.

Wherever your summer travels take you, there’s no better time to unwind and re-connect with your busy brood than on vacation. Involving your whole family in the travel plans means everyone has the chance to contribute to the fun.

Corinne McDermott provides an online guide for parents travelling with kids in her blog Have Baby Will Travel.


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John on

Calgary has a bunch of shopping malls that seem to make visitors very happy.

Juanita Sullivan on

I noticed Nova Scotia was left out, why? This Province is so beautiful with so much to offer. Hopefully if an update is done to this article, Nova Scotia is looked at. We have a brand new overnight ferry starting in May 2014 from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Hugh Parks on

Grand Manan Island, NB, we have it all, sand beaches, wonderful people, whale watching, puffin tours, many gifted local artists. Laid back, quiet, peaceful, just an all around good place to visit, for seniors, and young alike. Miles of beautiful scenery. A beautiful 1 1/2 hr ferry trip on The Lady Manan Ferry. I could go on and on, come and see, you will more than likely want to stay, a lot of tourists buy homes and visit here regularly.

Steeplejack on

The Bruce Peninsula in Ontario — clear blue (sometimes Caribbean turquoise when the sun is right) water from Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, high, craggy cliffs, hiking trails, natural parks, boating, shipwreck diving, picturesque little villages….

Matt G. on

You stopped at PEI, and forgot the most beautiful island in North America…..Cape Breton Island, N.S. We have the cabot trail, almost a dozen golf courses, some of which are ranked best in the World. The food is amazing, the people are superiorly friendly, and there is also a distillery that produces the only Single Malt “Scotch” whiskey West of Scotland. There’s nothing special about Western Canada, except maybe the Province of B.C. and some parts of the Rockies in Alberta. Ontario seems like a big extension of Eastern U.S..

Barbara A. Johnson on

Have you heard about the rest of British Columbia?! We have beaches, ocean, mountains and SO much more outside the lower mainland. I live in northern BC and there are things you can experience here that you won’t get anywhere else in the country. Like Haida Gwaii which is referred to as the Galapagos of the north! SO much more than Vancouver in our beautiful British Columbia!

S. Golden on

You have missed the west coast which has it all – wilderness, cities, beaches on lakes and on the sea as well as mountains and deserts!!

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