This mountainous nature reserve has a charming, old-world feel. There’s a replica C.P. Huntington steam locomotive, which winds along a one-kilometre track by the park’s 65 species (including coyotes, grey wolves, moose, cougars and porcupines). And the new Home Hardware Corral, which looks like a century-old farmstead, allows kids to pet llamas, mini donkeys and guinea pigs. The innovative Nature Exchange is a bit like the Antiques Roadshow for outdoor enthusiasts: Young (and old) collectors of shells, rocks and leaves bring in their treasures, and experts explain what it is and where it comes from. Open year-round.
Admission starts at $11; kids two and younger get in free.
9077 Dallas Dr., Kamloops. 250-573-3242
It’s easy to get the lay of the land at this 120-acre park. Take a 20-minute train ride ($5; free for kids younger than two) for a tour of the grounds, and a special drive-through policy allows people with mobility issues to cruise around the zoo in the comfort of their own minivan. There are lots of attractions (including 600 animals such as baboons, chinchillas and flamingos), as well as daily falconry demonstrations by master trainer Gary Worley. He has more than 40 years of experience doing bird shows, including a presentation for Queen Elizabeth. In the spring and summer, you can check out the lunchtime lion and tiger feedings, when a zookeeper gives the cats their raw meat rations. New this year: an animal care facility for infirmed, quarantined creatures.
Open year-round. Admission starts at $16; kids two and younger get in free.
5048 264 St., Aldergrove. 604-856-6825Photo: TourismSurrey.com
Although it only opened in 2009, this Salish sea centre is already one of Vancouver Island’s top attractions (more than 100,000 people visited in the first seven months alone). It’s an especially engaging draw for families: Tot Tuesdays offers crafts and story circles for preschoolers. Alternatively, Sea-Shirt Sundays lets youngsters design and decorate their own Ts. For older kids, the behind-the-scenes tour allows a backstage look at the aquarium’s mechanical rooms, water systems and nurseries. All of the creatures on display – including jellyfish and red octopi – are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. Special splash pools allow visitors to touch starfish and sea urchins. Open year-round.
Admission starts at $5; kids two and younger get in free.
9811 Seaport Pl., Sidney, BC. 250-665-7511Photo: Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
This Vancouver attraction is home to more than 50,000 species from every corner of the globe. The Tropic Zone is where you’ll see an Indo-Pacific reef with sand sharks and sea turtles, while Penguin Point has waddling penguins from Cape Town, South Africa. Kid-friendly programming includes encounter tours, which allow visitors to see inside the sea lion, dolphin and otter habitats. Open year-round.
Admission starts at $14; kids three and younger get in free.
845 Avison Way, Vancouver. 604-659-3474Photo: Bcliving.ca
Admission starts at $9; kids three and younger get in free.180 Main St., Ucluelet. 250-726-2782
1300 Zoo Rd. NE, Calgary. 403-232-9300
53 Street Close, Innisfail, Alta. 403-227-3211
2595 Roblin Blvd., Winnipeg. 204-927-6000
1300 Water St., Peterborough. 705-745-6866
1386 Cooper Rd., Hamilton, Ont. 519-623-2620
When Ripley’s Aquarium, at the base of the CN Tower, is finished this summer, it will be downtown Toronto’s first major tourist attraction since the Hockey Hall of Fame opened in 1993. More than 13,500 inhabitants (like seahorses and stingrays) will be on display from every corner of the globe, including a special section dedicated to Canadian wildlife and the Great Lakes. The most mesmerizing feature will undoubtedly be the shark tank – a 2.84-million-litre behemoth, replete with dozens of species, including largetooth sawfish rays. To take it all in, a 96-metre moving sidewalk winds beneath a glass dome that looks up into the water, giving kids an unbeatable, underbelly view. Open year-round.
288 Bremner Blvd., Toronto. 647-351-3474
4777 Ave. Pierre de Coubertin, Montreal. 514-868-3000
21125 chemin Ste-Marie, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. 514-457-9449
Admission starts at $11; kids one and younger get in free.1050 boul. David-Bouchard, Granby. 450-372-9113
The world’s coldest, most northern regions are home to many beautiful, unique species. The Zoo Sauvage houses nearly 1,000 of them, including wolverines, musk oxes and woodland caribou from the chilliest areas of Canada, Russia, Japan and Scandinavia. Animals roam free in the Nature Trail Park, and can be seen during an hour-long train tour. A special kids’ area includes a splash park and a petting zoo. For children ages six and up, a night with the caribou includes canoeing, hiking, caribou watching and camping in a tent. Open May to October.
Admission starts at $13.26 for children six to 14; adults, $19.13; kids two and younger get in free.
2230 boul. du Jardin, St-Feu0301licien. 418-679-0543Photo: Bonjourquebec.com
Atlantic Canada’s largest animal sanctuary has more than 575 critters, including ring-tailed lemurs, jaguars and a python, in a 40-acre park. During the summer, daily feeding presentations highlight the eating habits of different species. Educational programs have kids covered from ages five to 18. Open year-round.
Admission starts at $5; kids three and younger get in free.
125 Magic Mountain Rd., Moncton. 506-877-7718Photo: Magnetic Hill Zoo
This aquarium is exclusively devoted to the marine life of New Brunswick’s famed Bay of Fundy. Interactive touch tanks include starfish, sea cucumbers and rays. Viewing tanks feature sturgeons and rare lobsters. The seal habitat is home to ultra-adorable Loki and Snorkel; watch their daily feedings at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. For children ages two to four, Friday’s Toddler Times include stories, songs and a guided tour of the facilites. Call ahead; visits to the aquarium are by appointment only. Open year-round.
Admission starts at $10; kids three and younger get in free.
Huntsman Marine Science Centre. 1 Lower Campus Rd., St. Andrews. 506-529-1200Photo: Tourismnewbrunswick.ca
The province’s most expansive animal enclosure has the largest collection of big cats (including cougars and leopards) and primates (including macaques and squirrel monkeys) in Eastern Canada. The daily dinner feedings are popular with visitors who get a kick out of watching black bears ravage raw meat. Kids may want to feed corn to critters instead. Open Easter to November.
Admission starts at $3.50; kids two and younger get in free.
1007 Ward Rd., Aylesford. 902-847-9790Photo:. Oaklawn Farm Zoo
Newfoundland’s incomparable aquatic life is on display at this research facility. Inside, interactive aquarium tours allow kids to shake hands with sea stars and hermit crabs at the popular touch tank. The Family Boat Tour takes visitors down the Bonne Bay fjord to see bald eagles, whales and gorgeous mountain scenery. Open May to September.
Admission starts at $3.25; kids four and younger get in free.
1 Clarkes Lane, Norris Point. 709- 458-2874Photo: Bonne Bay Marine Station via Facebook
Just celebrating its grand opening, Petty Harbouris the east coast twin of BC’s Ucluelet Aquarium: All of the marine life is caught from, and eventually released back into, the bay surrounding the marine station. Jellyfish, sea stars and anemone are all on display in the mini facility. At just 800 square-feet, it’s manageable for young tots. Open June to October.
Admission starts at $5.
16C Cumberland Cr., St. John’s. 709-330-3474Photo: Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium via Facebook
This aquarium features touch tanks with hermit crabs and starfish, as well as locally found shellfish. The Manor of Birds houses one of North America’s largest collections of stuffed, wall-mounted winged creatures. The more than 700 specimens include gannets (black and white seabirds) and bald eagles. They also have Canada’s largest collection of butterflies from around the world to marvel. Open May to October.
Admission starts at $7; kids four and younger get in free.
32 Campbellton Rd., Stanley Bridge. 902-886-3355Photo: iStockphoto
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