20 great Canadian summer getaways

Looking for the perfect place to get away with your family this summer? We've got you covered. Bon voyage!
an image of Quebec City at twilight

Photo: iStockphoto

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.

For more information visit quebecregion.com

two women in a gondola over the Rocky Mountains

Photo: Tourism Whistler

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.

For more information visit whistler.com

For more information on great ski resorts in summer click here.

man with a surf board walks on beach of beautiful Tofino

Photo: Tourism Tofino

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.

For more information visit tourismtofino.com

For more information on family fun in Tofino click here.

three boys in lifejackets fishing off a dock in summertime

Photo: The Friends of Algonquin Park via Facebook

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.

For more information visit algonquinpark.on.ca

the Saskatchewan River with people overlooking at dusk

Photo: Tourism Saskatoon

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.

For more information visit tourismsaskatoon.com

For more information on family fun in Saskatoon click here.

kids kayaking on a river

Photo: Linde Fraser

6. Grand Bend, Ontario
Grand Bend is known for its sandy beaches, warm waters, Main Street shops and camping grounds, but it’s also got lots of family-friendly activities, too. Check out the Lambton Heritage Museum to learn about Lambton County. Visitors can discover Canada’s largest collection of pressed glass and see a horse-drawn ambulance as well as explore historical buildings including a blacksmith shop. Then stop by the farmer’s market for some shopping or an ice cream. Adventurous kids can try parasailing or hop on a banana boat ride on the beach. There are various types of accommodation, as well. Try one of the area’s resorts, rent a cottage or trailer, or pitch a tent in one of the region’s great campsites.

For more information visit grandbendtourism.com

Fog settling over a small town in the foothills of the mountains in fall

Photo: Tourism Eastern Township

 7. Eastern Townships of Quebec, Quebec
The Eastern Townships (a.k.a Montreal’s cottage country) are a pretty string of towns and villages along the US border known for their foodie culture and outdoor activities. Water lovers will want to splash around in heated pools and dive down the mountainside slides at the gorgeous Ski Bromont waterpark. If you’ve got a sweet tooth check out the Musée du Chocolat for a history lesson and some homemade chocolates, of course. For the nature lovers, explore the nature trails in the forests of Mont-Orford National Park. The kids will have a blast at the super-cute Zoo de Granby, the largest zoo in Quebec. The zoo also has a mini amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel and a waterpark – talk about best day ever for any kid! For more kid fun check out the enormous playroom at The Hotel Cheribourg in Orford that includes a bouncy castle, air hockey and foosball tables and a little petting zoo outside. Don’t forget to indulge in an old-fashioned sundae at one of the many “milk bars” scattered throughout the townships.

For more information visit easterntownships.org

For more information on Leah’s family trip to the Eastern Townships of Quebec click here.

house boat sailing on a canal between brightly coloured houses

Photo: Sheila Matheson

8.  Victoria, British Columbia
Known for combining old-world charm with new-world experiences, Victoria offers visitors an array of activities as well as a great escape from busy city life. Enter a tropical jungle at the Butterfly Gardens where kids can hang out with flamingos, tropical birds, geckos and thousands of free-flying butterflies. Then check out one of Victoria’s historic castles or churches to admire exquisite Victorian architecture and get a history lesson. Be sure to climb the 87 steps up Craigdarroch Castle’s Tower for the best view in Victoria. Another historic landmark worth checking out is Canada’s oldest West Coast lighthouse. Take a picnic to this historic site and enjoy a day at the beach. Adventurous visitors can also try zip lining through treetops, hiking or kayaking. For a sweet treat stop by The Soda Shoppe for some ice cream, milkshakes or floats.

For more information visit tourismvictoria.com

Muskoka chairs around a campfire in front of a resort

Photo: JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa

 9. Township of Muskoka Lakes, Ontario
There are lots of things to do with your kids in the beautiful Township of Muskoka Lakes!  Enjoy the scenic views on a boat cruise or have an aquatic adventure with some water skis. Kids can also spend an afternoon paddling in the tranquil waters in a canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard. Visitors are welcome to explore the surrounding area and wildlife with various cycling routes, mountain bike trails and hiking trails. Don’t forget to check out Santa’s Village in nearby Bracebridge where kids can feed Santa’s deer, ride a miniature train, get soaked at the splash pads and meet Santa – it’s Christmas in summer! Then go get a blast from the past at the Muskoka Lakes Museum where kids can explore a pioneer log cabin from 1875. There are various types of accommodation throughout this popular region, including the swish JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa and the family-run, home-y Shamrock Lodge. There are also lots of great cottage rentals and bed and breakfasts in the area.

For more information visit discovermuskoka.ca

For more information on JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa or Shamrock Lodge click here.

A river way full of colourful boats and houses

Photo: Leah Rumack

10. Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax is full of all sorts of family fun. Stroll down the boardwalk for a scenic view of the water while little ones play in the ship-themed playground. The kids will also love the Discovery Centre, Nova Scotia’s only hands-on science centre. Take in the hilltop view of the Citadel Hill where you’ll get a history lesson from actors in period costumes. Then stop by the lovely Halifax Public Gardens for a relaxing picnic with the flowers. If you’re looking to enjoy a Nova Scotian seafood meal, make sure you go for some yummy crab, lobster and fish dishes at Salt Shaker Deli in Lunenburg, a World Heritage Site about an hour-and-a-half outside Halifax. While you’re there do some shopping in the quaint stores and check out Bluenose II, who’s docked where her predecessor, Bluenose I, the boat on the Canadian dime, once was. No visit to Halifax is complete without a day trip to Peggy’s Cove, one of the most popular stops in Atlantic Canada. Explore the rocky shores of this idyllic fishing village and check out the iconic red and white lighthouse.

For more information visit: destinationhalifax.com

For more information on family fun in Halifax click here.

girl riding a horse on a ranch

Photo: Sarah Deveau

11. Alta Range, Alberta
Alberta’s historic Cowboy Trail offers horseback riding, fishing and rafting. Stay at the Red Deer River Ranch, on the northern end of the trail. It’s a working cattle farm that offers family-friendly cabins, a hot tub under the stars and you may even spot some wild horses. For some great views keep heading south and start hiking and biking. Have a truly western experience by catching a rodeo show or checking out a pow wow. Don’t forget to go to the Bellevue Underground Mine for a glimpse of what life was like inside the dark depths of this mine. You’ll also get to wear authentic mining gear as you follow your guide into the dark tunnels and experience the life of a coal miner.

For more information visit travelalberta.com

For more information on family fun on the Alta Range click here.

kids zip lining over a pond

Photo: Marble Zip via Facebook

12. Corner Brook, Newfoundland
Corner Brook, Newfoundland, is a great historical destination on the Bay of Islands. If your family loves hockey then be sure to plan a visit to the Newfoundland Hockey Hall of Fame for a history lesson on some of eastern Canada’s greatest players. Then meander through the city by following the winding Corner Brook Stream Trail. The trail passes through the downtown area and features the Glynmill Inn Pond where kids can feed a family of swans. For a fantastic panoramic view of the city and the Bay of Islands stop by the Captain James Cook Monument on Crow Hill Road. Adventurous kids should try zip lining—with the Marble Zip Tours thrill seekers can glide down eastern Canada’s longest and tallest zip lining ride while they take in incredible views of the Humber Valley, Steady Brook Falls and Marble Mountain Resort. The whole family can also try the Spider Challenge: a three-storey obstacle course that makes you climb higher and higher on a variety of suspended rope trails. Other family-friendly activities include camping at the Kinsmen Prince Edward Campground and RV Park, canoeing in Tippings Pond or the Humber River and mountain biking.

For more information visit cornerbrook.com

kids on the beach with nets

Photo: New Brunswick Tourism

13. Murray Corner, New Brunswick
Murray Corner, New Brunswick is an idyllic destination on the Acadian Coast known for bird watching. Families can spend the day sea kayaking, visiting farmers markets, and exploring historical lighthouses such as the Cape Jourimain Lighthouse. Nature lovers should check out the Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area that includes plenty of nature tails and the free Museum and Exhibit Hall. Be sure to stop by the observation tower for the perfect view of the world famous Confederation Bridge that joins New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. Families can also spend some time relaxing on Murray Beach. Kids can dip their toes in the warm salt water and the sandy beach is ideal for beachcombing and picnicking.

For more information visit tourismnewbrunswick.ca

Maid of the Mist boat in Niagara Falls

Photo: iStockphoto

14. Niagara Falls, Ontario
Hop aboard a Hornblower Niagara Cruise boat to get up close and personal with the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls. Once you’ve dried off, head over to Clifton Hill to ride the 175-foot-high Niagara Skywheel, confront your fears at the haunted houses, play a few rounds of glow-in-the-dark mini golf and win a few stuffed toys at the arcade. When the kids get hungry, stop by The Flying Saucer Restaurant (the building is shaped like a UFO!) for some out-of this-world diner food . Then treat the whole family to some delicious homemade fudge at The Fudge Factory. Nature lovers will want to stop by the Butterfly Conservatory at the Botanical Gardens and if you’re staying for a while, check into Great Wolf Lodge and make a splash at the enormous waterpark.

For more informationvisit niagarafallstourism.com

For more information on family fun in Niagara Falls click here.

the streets of Old Montreal filled with people

15. Montreal, Quebec
A visit to Montreal is the perfect way to have a European-esque experience without leaving Canada. While you wander down cobblestoned streets practicing your French you’ll discover this picturesque city is packed with tons of family-friendly activities (not to mention that kids five and under ride free on the Metro.) For a day at the beach check out Jean-Doré Beach where kids can climb on a floating obstacle course in the water and go kayaking. Then head to Voiles en Voiles, an Old Port adventure park that just opened in 2015. Climb aboard two life-size replicas of a royal and pirate ship and try out the ropes course or challenge a pirate to a duel. And if the kids love rollercoasters, you’re going to want to stop by Six Flags’ La Ronde, Canada’s second largest amusement park. (Don’t worry! There are plenty of low-thrill kiddie rides too). For science lovers, head over to the Montreal Science Centre. Then hang out with some otters, penguins and other cute animals in their natural habitats at the Biodôme. The Biodôme is located on the Space for Life campus where you can check out several other kid-friendly attractions including the Planetarium, Insectarium and Botanical Gardens. Then relax and take in the beauty of the city with a bike ride along Lachine Canal. Be sure to stop by Atwater Market for some gelato.

For more information visit tourisme-montreal.org

For more family fun in Montreal click here.

little boy sitting in a gondola in summer eating an apple

Photo: Leah Rumack

16. Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Mont Tremblant, Quebec is a world-class hiking, cycling and golfing destination located in the Laurentian Mountains. Ride the gondola to take in some incredible views—you may even spot an eagle. And for a bigger thrill, try bungee jumping at Eurobungy where the whole family, even the kids, can safely perform gravity-defying stunts. For more acrobatic fun, check out the Akropark: a 20-foot-high structure where kids can move from one platform to another over suspended bridges. Animal lovers can learn how to be an apprentice falconer (free for kids under five) while little sailors can cruise around a pond in a miniature boat at the Captain’s Harbour. Then give into your sweet tooth and enjoy some ice cream with maple butter at the Sugar Shack. There’s a lot to choose from in terms of accommodations but families love The Residence Inn Mont Tremblant Manoir Labelle by Marriott that includes a free breakfast.

For more information visit tourismemonttremblant.com

For more information on great Canadian ski resorts in summer click here.

people biking along a river in Ottawa

Photo: Ottawa Toursim

17. Ottawa, Ontario
Canada’s capital has tons of fun to offer. A cultural and historical hub, Ottawa has several museums and galleries. Hang out with some dinosaurs at the Canadian Museum of Nature, admire airplanes at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum or colour at an arts and crafts station at the National Gallery of Canada. Water babies will have a blast at Calypso Park, one of Canada’s largest water parks. Then stop by the Valleyview Little Animal Farm to feed and pet rabbits, baby goats and ducklings. Take a tour of the Parliament Buildings to learn about our government. You can also stroll around the lovely grounds of Parliament Hill, but be sure to catch the lively Changing of the Guard ceremony that takes place every morning at 10am. Then spend the afternoon shopping and eating at the historic ByWard Market, one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. Make sure you treat the kids to a BeaverTail in the original location of these famous Canadian pastries. You can also go canoeing and kayaking or simply stroll alongside the Rideau Canal. Need another excuse to enjoy the outdoors? Spend an afternoon in Gatineau Park where families can hike, bike and even geocache.

For more information visit ottawatourism.ca

Anne of Green Gables looking at her homestead

Photo: Tourism PEI/ John Sylvester

18. Prince Edward Island
Welcome to the land of Anne of Green Gables. You’ll feel like you stepped into a postcard as you wander around red sandy beaches and quaint old lighthouses. Head to Shining Waters Family Fun Park where kids can slide down waterslides, pet alpacas and miniature horses, explore winding trails and sail their very own pirate pedal boat. You can go clam digging in wetsuits or join a lobster tour boat to learn how to fish for lobster with one of the province’s cool experiences packages, or take a walking tour of Charlottetown where guides dressed in period costumes will give you a history lesson on the city where Canada was born. And try to catch a production of “Anne of Green Gables – The Musical” or visit the Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish to explore the home of this famous redheaded girl and learn about the place that inspired L.M. Montgomery to write her story.

For more information visit tourismpei.com

For more information on family fun in PEI click here.

little boy wadding in the water at a beach

Photo: Michel LaRiviere

19. Belair, Manitoba
Known as Manitoba’s “little paradise on the prairie,” Belair is a favourite beach retreat for Winnipegers. It’s cottage country; so put your feet up and relax like a local while enjoying a magnificent view of Lake Winnipeg. The kids can go swimming, catch some fish, explore the forests, go for a boat ride and or go hiking.

For more information visit tripadvisor.ca

people on bikes looking out over the bay

Photo: visitgrey.ca

20. Georgian Bay, Ontario
Often called the sixth Great Lake, picturesque Georgian Bay has got more than 30,000 islands to explore and thousands of kilometres of shoreline. Enjoy canoeing, hiking, biking, RVing and all kinds of summer activities. Be sure to check out The Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest footpath. Take a glass-bottom boat tour to Flowerpot Island, explore caves in Collingwood or try to find the exit in the winding paths of the Cedar Grove Labyrinth of Thornbury.

For more information visit visitgeorgianbay.com

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