It is Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations this summer and the Canada 150 buzz has been building all year. In honour of its birthday, Parks Canada is offering free admission to Canadians and visitors from around the world. There is no better time to visit Canada’s National Parks, cities and attractions.
Canada’s diverse landscapes, pristine wilderness, progressive cities and friendly residents make it a perfect destination for families. Best of all, you can get wildly different experiences visiting in winter and summer.
As a proud Canadian, I am excited to share with you 14 incredible destinations for families in Canada as recommended by some of the best family travel bloggers out there. Canada is a massive country and it can be difficult to figure out where to go. Hopefully we can help inspire you to find your perfect Canadian holiday family destination.
- 1 14 Incredible Destinations for Families in Canada
- 1.1 Toronto, Ontario
- 1.2 Quebec City, Quebec
- 1.3 Banff, Alberta
- 1.4 Kelowna, British Columbia
- 1.5 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
- 1.6 Canmore, Alberta
- 1.7 Halifax, Nova Scotia
- 1.8 Mont Tremblant, Quebec
- 1.9 Montreal, Quebec
- 1.10 Vancouver, British Columbia
- 1.11 Algonquin Park, Ontario
- 1.12 Niagara Falls, Ontario
- 1.13 Winnipeg, Manitoba
- 1.14 Waterton Lakes, Alberta
14 Incredible Destinations for Families in Canada
Toronto is home to many amazing things and the perfect Canadian home base for our family. For families visiting Toronto there’s plenty of attractions such as the Science Museum and the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada BUT the fun side of Toronto is exploring the various neighbourhoods. Families with kids of all ages will enjoy grabbing a day pass and riding the streetcar or the subway to explore spots like Little India where kids can sit in a tuktuk before enjoying some delicious Pakistani dishes at Lahore Tikka House or running through colourful Kensington Market photographing the street art before grabbing some dim sum from Chinatown.
Time your visit around one of the many festivals that happen throughout the year and you’ll be in for a treat. Food loving families will love that they can sample everything from gourmet hotdogs to Ethiopian food in Toronto because this Canadian city is home to many amazing chefs who are constantly opening new places. The craziest food item you’re looking for can definitely be found here! If running between attractions isn’t your beat, then perhaps grabbing an ice cream and hitting up one of the many parks and playgrounds in Toronto or visiting the Toronto Islands which is home to an old school amusement park for those under 10, are also great options. Craft beer loving parents will also be thrilled to hear that there’s many breweries who welcome kids in Toronto. If you love the big city amenities with a friendly community vibe, then Toronto is where you should visit!
Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec is a fantastic vacation for families in the U.S. and Canada because you really do feel like you’re having a European vacation without leaving North America.
The upper and lower old towns are made for wandering around, taking photos, popping into patisserie or candy shops and for dining. We had a wonderful prix fixe lunch at the very charming and child-friendly Lapin Sauté. The Funicular is a must with kids, as is exploring inside the Chateau Frontenac (which can offer surprisingly good deals off season). In the warm months you’ll find plenty of street performers along the upper town promenade, and great views all year long.
Take time away from the Old Town, too. The neighborhoods that stretch out from the upper town gate along the Plains of Abraham offer a cool retro-vibe, all kinds of local shops and markets and less touristy restaurants. The Plains offer a place to run around (but it’s short on playgrounds).
We rented a car for a day and drove to the impressive Montmorency Falls and picturesque Ile d’Orleans. You can take a cable car up to the top of the falls, walk across a bridge that spans them and come back down via the cable car or a set of stairs on the opposite side of the falls. If you have kids the right age, leave time for a play break at the playground at the top (to the left). The island has a loop road that takes an hour if you don’t stop. But leave time to pop into the chocolate shop, peruse the roadside stands selling jam, maple syrup and other homemade goodies, and to take some scenic photos before heading back to the city.
Banff is the place of Canadian postcards. Land of mountains, lakes, old growth forests and wilderness. Banff is a great place to explore the Rocky Mountains with the kids. There are lots of great hikes and walks in the area and you will surely see some wildlife as you make your way through Banff National Park. Take the Banff Gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for panoramic views of the mountain peaks. Visit the heritage Banff Springs Hotel by Fairmont and imagine holidaying here in a bygone era. The kids will love to splash around in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Don’t forget to spend some time at nearby Lake Louise. In the summer, you can do the Lake Agnes tea house trek and canoe on the beautiful blue lake. In the winter, ice skate on the lake and enjoy the ice castle or hit the slopes at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Alberta has so much to offer families and a road trip is the best way to explore this province.
Contributed by: Dawn from 5 Lost Together
Kelowna, British Columbia
Though Kelowna’s best known for it’s thriving wine culture and stunning lake and mountain scenery, there are plenty of things to do in Kelowna for families. The city has a bustling downtown with a kid-friendly boardwalk that runs the length of the waterfront on Okanagan Lake, complete with sandy beaches, a water trampoline park, a huge playground and a kids spray park. Nearby, you’ll find all the hiking, kayaking and outdoor activities your kids can handle.
During rainy weather, which is rare during Kelowna’s hot and sunny summers, the local EnergyPlex indoor playground is a huge hit with kids, with trampolines, foam pits, a rock wall, rope swings, a huge cube climb, and more. The indoor H2O Adventure and Fitness Center has water slides, a wave pool, lazy river, diving boards, surf wave simulator and indoor cardio and weight rooms.
Be sure to check out the hugely popular nearby Kangaroo Creek Farm and Hoofprints Barnyard for your dose of cuteness.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories isn’t often associated with family travel. We flew there in the dead of winter to discover if there was anything that this frigid, remote city could have to offer. It turns out, it has a LOT going on!
Yellowknife is considered to be one of the best places in the entire world to witness the Northern Lights. Those who visit for three days have a 95% chance to seeing them! It is also home to the famous Ice Road Truckers and Ice Pilots television shows. You can experience the ice highways for yourself with a drive across Great Slave Lake to the town of Dettah.
During the winter, the town also creates a wonderful ice castle on Great Slave Lake that hosts the Ice King Festival. You can also take part in outdoor activities such as dog-sledding, kite-skiing and even winter hiking in the beautiful wilderness. If the weather is too cold for you, you can always explore the amazing museums, art experiences, or even visit the hangar of Buffalo Airways.
Yellowknife is worth the visit for any families looking for something a little different! Read our full list of recommended winter activities in Yellowknife.
Fancy dog sledding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, snow tubing, ice skating – yes all with the kids! When my brother first announced he was getting married, on a frozen lake in Canada, in January I think my poor desert-dwelling mind went into shock! But we could not have been happier at discovering this magical winter wonderland of Canmore in the Rockies. Not as bustling with tourists as neighbouring Banff, but still with a unique charm, plenty of coffee shops and the town is so easy to navigate. Within a very short drive there are so many outdoor winter adventures that are just perfect for younger audiences. The Canmore Nordic Center is the perfect starting point for a lot of adventures, but even in the center of town you can try your hand at ice skating or catch the local ice hockey team, the Canmore Eagles in action. We can’t wait to return in summer to try more of the hiking and biking too. Did I mention the spectacular mountain views too?
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax is, by far, my favorite Canadian city to visit. Having grown up only 2 hours away, we took many trips to Halifax and it was never boring. I have always loved visiting the Alexander Keith’s Brewery tour – yes, you can tour while being underage, they give juice and water instead of beer, walking through The Citadel and waiting for the noon canons to ceremoniously fire, Pier 21, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and visiting Theodore Tug boat. Just walking along the marina and taking in the view of the harbour and all those beautiful boats is enough to make you want to come back. Along the marina, there are kids parks to play and keep them happy, and the food along the shore is never over-priced but always great quality. Don’t want to sit down; grab some street meat – the fish and chips are amazing.
From Halifax, there are a great number of day trips or afternoon trips that you can visit; Annapolis Royal, Port Royal, and The Bay of Fundy may be a bit of a drive but they are worth it – Lunenburg (to visit the Halifax & Southwestern Railway Museum), Louisburg, Peggys Cove, and Goffs (to visit the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum)
Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Montreal is one of our family’s favourite cities in the world. We spent a long summer there when our kids were 2 and 4 and, to this day, we still fantasize about moving there! Many are the things we loved about Montreal. The city is beautiful, both in its old and newer quarters, and easy to enjoy: green spaces and outdoors cafes make any summer day out in town a pleasure and the quality of the food is outstanding – Montreal fresh produce markets deserve their excellent reputation! The city also has many museums catering for both adults and kids: we were especially fond of the Botanical gardens, the biodome and the science museum, but the city has a rich cultural agenda and you could easily fill a visit to Montreal with activities every single day.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Despite its (well-deserved) reputation for non-stop rain, Vancouver is a great year-round family travel destination, with loads to keep families of all ages busy throughout the year. In the winter, families should hit one of three local mountains — Grouse, Seymour, or Cyprus — to try their hands at skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. Between June and early October, the weather is often beautiful and perfect for cycling around the Stanley Park seawall, with a stop at the 3rd Beach Pool for a swim. Any time of year, the Capilano Suspension Bridge (or free alternative at Lynn Canyon) and Vancouver Aquarium are fun stops, and the Sea Bus public transport boat is a hit among the under 10 crowd, with stunning views for the adults on a nice day. And if you find yourself in Vancouver on one of its (many) rainy days, do as Vancouverites do: layer on some rain gear, and go outside and enjoy Vancouver’s many neighborhoods!
Algonquin Park, Ontario
When visitors think of Canada they think about our iconic wildlife: moose, polar bears and beavers. Just three hours north of Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park is the Canadian wilderness you imagined: fresh water lakes, pine forests and meandering rivers. For a true Canadian experience that the whole family will enjoy, rent a canoe and go out for a paddle on one of the lakes. The best way to enjoy Algonquin Provincial Park is by camping, where you can sit around the campfire in the evening roasting smores. The Park does have Yurts for rent for non-campers and there are hotels and inns dotting the perimeter of the Park. There aren’t many restaurants in the Park, but you will want to make sure you try the world famous Beavertails: a deep fried, sugar coated pastry that contains no beaver. Canada has some amazing cities to explore, but Algonquin is a wonderful taste of Canadian wilderness.
Contributed by Dawn from 5 Lost Together
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Visiting Niagara Falls is our favorite Canadian destination because there is simply nothing quite like it. It is better to visit the Canadian side because you get a better view of the magnificent falls. To put it simply you get to see more in Canada because most of the water is falling from the American side.
The evening is our favorite time to view the falls because lights shine and glow within the falls along with a spectacular firework show if you go at the right time. Our absolute favorite view is from the boats. You get to see it, feel it, hear it and even taste it (As our son Cash found out when he opened his mouth under the falls) – not recommended! You can get that one of a kind view from either the Maid of the Mist or the Hornblower Boat Tours.
Other than just a better view of the falls there was more entertainment. Also, there was plenty of room for the kiddos to run around and play tag in the park. So take a walk, enjoy live music, grab a bite to eat and bask in the beauty of Niagara Falls, Canada!
Waterton Lakes, Alberta
Our favorite place to visit in Canada is Waterton National Park in Alberta. Waterton is Glacier’s Park in Montana’s Canadian sister and is full of beautiful lakes, hikes and natural beauty. Our favorite thing to do in Waterton is to hike and play in Red Rock. You can kayak, camp, have gourmet hot dogs with poutine and take in the view from the Prince of Wales hotel and keep an eye out for bears.
Looking for more Canadian bucket list experiences? Check out this list of 150 ideas for Canada’s 150th anniversary.
What is your favourite Canadian destination? What makes it great for families? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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