Photo: Whistler Blackcomb
Marble Mountain Right next to the famous Marble Mountain lies Marble Zip Tours. Here, kids who are eight and older can soar overtop rushing streams and the deeply forested valley. But there are lots for younger kids here, too. All throughout the Humber Valley, families will find excellent walking trails and lively little cafes, where you can get a true taste of life on The Rock. Rent a condo or a room at Marble Inn Resort, where you can unwind in the saltwater pool or by kayaking down the nearby gently flowing Humber River.
Get more information at marbleziptours.com
Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort The grand-mère of ski resorts, this iconic spot has tons to offer young families during the warmer months. Want to see an eagle up close? Ride the gondola (a thrill in itself) to the tip-top of the mountain to take in the Birds of Prey show. Channelling your inner Mario Andretti more your kids’ style? Even preschoolers can go down the luge track if they double up with a grown-up. Your six year old will be forever spoiled for trampoline-ing after he has a go on the Eurobungy, but he can chill out après with a tootle around a pond captaining a tiny boat. Get your Quebec on with an ice cream cone with maple butter at the Sugar Shack, or some sous-vide fish and fancy cheese from the general store, and don’t forget to get an autograph from friendly mascot Toufou. There’s a lot to choose from in terms of accommodations, with 1,900 rooms on-site, many with kitchenettes, and most with outdoor pools. The Residence Inn by Marriott is a favourite with fams for its comfy standard suites and included breakfast (bonjour, waffle bar), but that’s not to say Mom can’t sneak over to the Amerispa at Le Westin Resort & Spa or the Fairmont Tremblant Resort for a little R&R during naptime, right?
Get more information at tremblant.ca
Mont Saint-Sauveur Parc Aquatique This awesome aquatic park has a special section reserved just for toddlers, plus enough hair-raising slides to make for a rip-roaring good time. After making a splash in the pools, families can get their thrills on an alpine roller coaster, zip line or testing their agility on forest-adventure circuits. A stay at the nearby swish Manoir Saint-Sauveur is worth the splurge with its beautiful pool, not-your-average playground and kids’ goody bag at check-in. The village of Saint-Sauveur is pretty sweet, too. Saunter down Rue Principale for bistros and boutique action or hit up Tanger outlets if you’re on the hunt for bargains.
Get more information at parcaquatique.com
Mont Sainte Anne Half an hour northeast of Québec City lies an adventure destination filled with hiking, mountain biking, golf, canyon-ing, paragliding and more. You’ll probably want to stay longer than a day, so consider pitching your tent at Mont-Sainte-Anne Campground. Sporting its own swimming lake and mini-farm, it’s a quick 7-kilometre jaunt from the mountain. Dog lovers will want to visit Canine Village at the base of the mountain, where 65 sledding dogs will yappily greet you while their guides dish out fascinating fido facts.
Get more information at mont-sainte-anne.com
Ski Bromont Families dive into this stellar water park filled with more chutes, slides and lagoons than you ever thought possible. There are gentle paddling pools for the younger set, while double-black-diamond slides ensure older adrenaline junkies get their thrills. And if you don’t want to get wet, mountain bikes and all the gear are available to rent on the mountain. Bunk in nearby Granby at the family-friendly Hôtel Castel & Spa Confort with its pool, playground, Lego tables and package deals with Ski Bromont or the nearby Granby Zoo.
Get more information at skibromont.com
Batawa Ski Hill Sure, you can hike and bike at Batawa Ski Hill, but it’s the eco-adventures that really thrill our broods. Prehistoric adventures await during the Dino Dig, where T. Rex fans uncover fossils and minerals during this research camp. Critter safaris, orienteering and nature-inspired art projects are also available for outdoor lovers.
Get more information at batawaskihill.com
Blue Mountain You see two main types of people at Blue Mountain in the summer—hardcore mountain bikers and families pushing strollers. And it’s easy to see why, between the epic hills and the laundry list of fun activities at “Base Camp” (down next to the village, which is as far as most families schlepping kids younger than six are likely to go), including a playground and sandbox, putting course, climbing wall, an open-air gondola and the Ridge Runner, Ontario’s first mountain coaster (ages 3 and up). Older kids will get a kick out of the challenging ropes courses and Segway tours. The younger-than-two set get free access to Plunge! Aquatic Centre, a compact indoor-outdoor water park that stays open on rainy days, and their older siblings can get their craft fix painting pottery at Crock-a-Doodle. Make sure to head to Mill Pond, where you can rent a paddle-boat, kayak or canoe and hunt for frogs among the tall grass. There’s a wide range of accommodations available—The Westin Trillium House, with its free toddler playroom, babysitting services (for an extra fee) and heated outdoor pool crawls with well-heeled tots, and the the Grand Georgian is another popular family spot, with its roomy kitchenette suites and pretty pool surrounded by trees. There are plenty of restaurants at the base of the mountain—kids love the fire-station-themed Firehall Pizza Co., and there are tons of others to choose from—but a free shuttle bus moves you through the wider Blue Mountain area if you want to venture further out.
Get more information at bluemountain.ca
Horseshoe Resort Just an hour-and-a-bit outside of Toronto, this popular winter getaway has renovated its rooms and amped up its summer offerings, turning it into an easy weekend spot all year-round. Smaller and more manageable than some of its tricked-out cousins (for example, there’s no “village” full of shops and restaurants), it’s Slopeside Adventures park smartly target younger families, with minigolf, an inflatable obstacle course, a bungee jumping trampoline, a rock climbing wall with teeny-tiny harnesses available and an adorable bike track for the smallest wannabe BMX-ers, complete with borrowable balance bikes and helmets. Older kids will want to take to the trees with the resort’s Treetop Trekking adventure. Indoor and outdoor pools round out the perfect low-key mini vacation, and everyone will dig the brand spanking new lake, too.
Get more information at horseshoeresort.com
Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park A network of more than 100 kilometres of trails offers some of the best mountain biking in the Canadian Rockies. There are wide dirt and paved trails that are ideal for leisurely rides with little ones, plus single-track trails and a mountain-bike-skills park. Rentals, repairs, lessons and guided tours are offered on-site. Another fave here is playing Frisbee against the backdrop of these majestic mountains. An 18-hole disc golf course weaves its way through the hilly terrain and is well shaded.
Get more information at albertaparks.ca
Lake Louise Ski Resort It’s not just skiers who love these alpine peaks. Lake Louise is one of the best places in Canada to spot grizzly bears in their natural territory. But fret not! You’ll be viewing them from the safety of the Sightseeing Gondola. Strut around the summit and enjoy the magnificent views down to the famed lake and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you plan on taking a more ambitious hike, be sure to reward yourselves afterward with a hearty meal at The Lodge of Ten Peaks.
Get more information at skilouise.com
Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort Hiking Sunshine Meadows is one of those bucket-list experiences you never forget. Take it easy with wee ones, allowing plenty of time to skip rocks into the glass-like lakes that flank the trail. On-mountain dining options mean families don’t need to pack a lunch and can spend a lazy day feasting upon Rocky Mountain views in addition to the fresh sandwiches and yummy baked treats served up at Creekside restaurant. For a fun, Old West experience, hit up Mad Trapper’s Saloon for finger-licking BBQ.
Get more information at skibanff.com
Whistler Blackcomb There’s so much going on at Whistler during summer, it’s a wonder folks even head here in winter. The Family Adventure Zone at the base of Blackcomb Mountain is crammed with minigolf, pony rides, bungee trampolines, bouncy castles, a trapeze, a maze and a climbing web. There’s also a massive playground at Olympic Plaza, plus a skateboard-and-bike park. Families looking to dial it down can unwind lakeside along sandy beaches, where play areas, BBQs and concession stands beckon.
Get more information at whistlerblackcomb.com
Panorama Mountain Village From bouncy castles to waterslides and splash pads, kids have lots to smile about in the Columbia Valley. And parents do, too, with child care available for kids five years and younger, plus a day camp for ages six to 12. If you want to hang all together, snag a Family Active Pack and spend a sunny day sightseeing from the chairlift, tackling minigolf and burning off energy on the climbing wall and Eurobungy.
Get more information at panoramaresort.com
Sun Peaks This resort, set snugly in interior BC, is super set up for young families. Want to experience panoramic views of the Shuswap Highlands without grinding it up? A quick chairlift takes you to trails teeming with wildflowers without any sweat (or whining). Try to spot bald eagles on McGillivray Lake during a family paddle or suss out the wildlife on trail rides from Sun Peaks Stables. There are cross-country bikes, mountain bikes and bike-trailer rentals available, but the icing on the cake is daily kids’ camps, giving parents a much needed break.
Get more information at sunpeaksresort.com
Silver Star Mountain Resort If you’ve got a gear-head in the family, this is the place for you. A chairlift converted into a four-bike carrier grants access to 18 trails and 1,600 vertical feet of riding. Families can discover everything from beginner bike trails to expert runs filled with berms, tabletops and adrenaline-pumping features that challenge hard-core riders. Throw in some geocaching and disc golf, and you’ve got yourself several action-packed days guaranteed to delight the troops.
Get more information at skisilverstar.com