Canada’s best weekend getaways

Check out these family-friendly spots that are all within three hours of a major city, but are all just far enough away to make you feel like you’ve actually had a holiday.

Photo: Great Wolf Lodge

Photo: Great Wolf Lodge

As one of the most miserable winters in recent memory drags on (and on, and on) everyone is dying to get away. But with the loonie dropping and all those airport hassles, staying close to home has never looked so good.

Read more: The best family vacation destinations for spring>


Photo: Sunshine Coast

Photo: Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast
Painted Boat offers families cozy comfort inside spacious, multi-bedroom villas decked out with fully equipped kitchens. Explore Pender Harbour on the resort’s single-person and tandem kayaks or comb the coastline, sussing out the aquatic life along Roberts Creek and Davis Bay. For more beach combing, plus bistro and boutique action, dip into Gibsons Landing a short drive away.

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Canada’s city of gardens blooms beyond Butchart. Make it a fun and fishy break with a Pirate Adventure on a life-sized pirate ship at Fisherman’s Wharf or plunge into the children’s workshops at Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sydney, just north of the city. For a treat, bed down at the Fairmont Empress or Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort. Both anchor the inner harbour and are awash with family activities and amenities.

What’s great about this resort is that families can choose to be ridiculously active, or kick back in front of a roaring fire, whipped cream-topped hot chocolate in hand. The car-free pedestrian centre emits a classic mountain village vibe and is ideal for letting little ones loose. Powder hounds will still find plenty of hidden stashes, while non-skiers can barrel down the mountain in the Tube Park or glide across ice rinks decked out with twinkling lights. Families with young children will be impressed by Whistler Kid’s renowned on-and off-hill kid’s programming.

Read more: Skiing with the kids: 5 lessons from the slopes>



Delta Lodge at Kananaskis
If you’re looking to indulge in lazy days punctuated with bursts of activity, take this as your cue to head to the Kananaskis. Weekends are jam-packed with activities that range from nature walks to crafts to human curling! Best of all, if you reserve babysitting when you book your room, parents can swan about the spa while staff take the tots to the Children’s Creative Centre.

Read more: 10 great Canadian road trips>

The dinosaur capital of the world is an ideal outpost for T. Rex-obsessed tykes. Keen to snore with the dinosaurs? The Royal Tyrrell Museum offers Camp-Ins every March weekend, letting diehard dino fans to frolic with fossils all night long. Be sure to also budget time to climb the World’s Largest Dinosaur and scramble through the otherworldly hoodoos.

Read more: Birthday party ideas: Dinosaurs>

It’s not hard to fall in love with winter all over again when you’re surrounded by stunning snow-capped peaks in this sweet mountain town. Just a few minutes outside of town lies Pyramid Lake Resort, where families can quickly limp back to the chalet-style lodge after an invigorating session skating or snowshoeing around the tranquil lake. Hit the slopes at Marmot Basin, track deer, elk and big horn sheep on a wildlife safari, or discover a frozen wonderland on the Maligne Canyon ice walk.



Photo: Lakeview Hecla Resort

Elkorn Resort & Spa
Located on the edge of Riding Mountain National Park, this rustic lodge is all about reconnecting with your family. Affordable spring break specials include dining coupons and complimentary half-day rentals of skis, skates or snowshoes. It’s unlikely you’ll be hit with cabin fever, but should you want to venture out, the close-by Elkhorn Riding Adventures offers bobsledding and sleigh rides.

Lakeview Hecla Resort
It’s not every day you find a swish, contemporary resort in the middle of the boreal forest, but this property is nothing but surprising ($129 for king suite, anyone?). Partake in a myriad of outdoor snow sports, including tobogganing and ice fishing, or plunge into the indoor water park, which features a kiddie pool, fountains and waterslide, in addition to a lap pool and hot tub. Need a break? For an unobtrusive history lesson, take a romp through Hecla Village, a kilometre-long self-guided trail that showcases the area’s Icelandic heritage.

Falcon Trails Resort
This winter adventure destination lures families looking to escape and unwind. Less than two hours east of Winnipeg, in Whiteshell Provincial Park, these lakefront, multi-room cabins are perfect for family getaways with their full-service kitchens and outdoor hot tubs that sit on each deck. Snowshoe, cross-country ski or suss out Falcon Ridge Ski Hill.


Photo: Deerhurst Resort

Photo: Deerhurst Resort

Great Wolf Lodge
Families flock to Great Wolf  in Niagara Falls for so many reasons. Besides a substantial indoor water park, this beloved resort has added a kid-friendly bowling alley. At Ten Paw Alley, the lanes are cut in half and the balls are super light, allowing tots to take a stab at striking. March break programming includes a beach bash, family dance party and special St. Paddy’s weekend events.

Read more: Great Wolf convert>

Deerhurst Resort
With an indoor rock climbing wall, treetop treks and pint-size dog sleds, this lakeside retreat located in the heart of Muskoka is a dream come true for adventure seekers. The best new perk? Kids ages six to nine can rev their engines on mini snowmobiles around a supervised track.

Read more: Best indoor playgrounds in Canada>

Horseshoe Resort
Whizzing down the mountains with your brood doesn’t have to be on skis (though the snow school here is a great introduction). Soaring down the chutes on winter tubes is the way to go at Horseshoe Adventure Park. Just be sure to reward your inner Canadian with a beaver tail after all the exertion. Kids will be psyched to stay up late for the Moonlight Ski, a lantern lit cross-country experience (baby can come, too, with the resort’s Chariot stroller ski kit or loaner baby carriers) that culminates with a roaring fire and hot apple cider.


Photo: Mount Tremblant Resort

Photo: Mount Tremblant Resort

Mont Tremblant
Size isn’t the most important factor when it comes to great family ski resorts. What Tremblant might lack in altitude, it makes up in other ways. Resort guests enjoy free access to the tube park and crazy afternoon outdoor games. Wee ones get a rosy glow hoofing it through the forest on kid-sized snowshoes, while their older siblings soar through the treetops on suspended bridges and zip lines.

Quebec’s invigorating Outaouais region beckons Ottawa-area residents with their ski and snow packages, or you can go all-inclusive at Le Centre touristique La Petite Rouge. Kids will get a kick out of feeding deer and other wild animals directly from the car at Parc Omega, and if you’re looking for indoor adventure, Tubes & Jujubes, the largest family amusement centre in the region, offers full-day camps.

Auberge Le Baluchon
This charming country resort woos nature-loving families who don’t mind a bit of pampering. Located in St. Paulin, a mere 90 minutes away from Montreal, there are plenty of temptations for all age groups. Get your bearings gliding down the five-kilometre-long skating track or mushing through the countryside by dogsled. With a sugar shack, top-notch dining options and robust spa, it’s a good bet this is one vacation you’ll return from well rested.




One comment on “Canada’s best weekend getaways

  1. Disappointed to see that there is nothing for the East Coast past Ontario. There are many great weekend getaways on the East Coast/ Maratimes.


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