Ultimate guide to things to do in Canada with kids
Canada is home to interesting wildlife, an impressive outdoor adventure scene and some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. Festivals and family activities run year-round through Canada’s kid-friendly cities – Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal – immerse in the history and cultural delights of these impressive modern cities. The landscape throughout Canada’s northern regions and National Parks are both awe-inspiring and full of adventure – hike, ski and camp your way through the Canadian Rockies and experience up close encounters with moose, elk, bears, eagles, whales and other unique wildlife. With diverse experiences and something to entertain all – families will be impressed with all that Canada has to offer!
The kids will love
Canada is an adventure-packed destination for the whole family. The Canadian National Parks are full of hiking trails for all levels and ages as well as horseback riding throughout the country. A variety of water sports run throughout the warmer seasons – canoeing, kayaking, white-water rafting and other boating sports are just the beginning of what’s on offer – and world-class snow sports during winter – skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, sledding and dog sledding.
Canada is home to unique and diverse wildlife, particularly throughout its northern regions and ubiquitous National Parks. Spot moose, elk, eagles, bears and polar bears. Take wildlife oriented expeditions through some of the most impressive landscapes in the world, and whale-watching tours along coastal areas.
Toronto is traipsing through green parks in summer and ice-skating in winter. The city is bustling with activities – Ontario Science Centre, Canada’s Wonderland theme park, Art Gallery of Toronto, CN Tower, High Park – and is located right next door to the impressive Niagara Falls!
Vancouver is full of kid-centric activities – Granville Island tops the list for families with live entertainment, the buzzing Public Market, Kids Market, theatres, art galleries, water park, kayaking and paddle-boarding, as well as Stanley Park – Vancouver’s ‘green heart’ with playgrounds, trails, Capilano Suspension Bridge, water play park, nearby beaches, and the city’s several world-class museums.
Best time to travel
Canada’s diverse regions are beautiful to visit year-round, for vastly differing reasons. The high season in most parts of the country is summer, June to August. There are several festivals during this time and warmer weather in most areas, while the most northern regions experience a brief respite from freezing temperatures. Accommodation prices hike up to 30% during this period in most cities.
November to April brings a freezing wintertime across the country. The holiday season, November to December, hosts ‘festivals of light’ with Christmas parades and Christmas tree lightings, while January to April is the most ideal season for snow sports.
The shoulder periods, May and September to October, bring lower crowds and dropped accommodation prices. Fall is a wonderful time to visit – the landscapes are breathtaking and temperatures are cool throughout the country, but remain relatively comfortable.
Things to do in Canada with…
Young kids will love cities Toronto and Vancouver – both buzzing with open green spaces, water sports, kid-centric activities and amusements. Both are super kid-friendly with dedicated programs and hands-on exhibits, engaging for young kids.
Canada’s National Parks are a source of wonder and intriguing outdoor entertainment for kids. Canada offers unique wildlife encounters – through both guided tours or individual exploration. Camping is a great option for kids and great for making friends whilst travelling.
Canada’s wealth of outdoor activities is impressive. With snow-sports galore in winter and a wealth of water and hiking activities throughout the warmer months – there is always something for older kids to do in the great Canadian outdoors!
Surrounded by mountains, northern Thailand holds an almost mystical appeal. In Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city, you’ll find heaps to see and do. The city is home to more than 300 fascinating temples and eye opening traditional practices, plus the fascinating Walking Street Markets, where teens can stock up on trinkets and cheap clothes. And while the pretty moated city offers rich history, culture and tradition, it is also home to some of Thailand’s most teen friendly resorts. It is also an excellent base for visiting the mountains and for exploring neighbouring forests, rice fields and national parks for bamboo rafting, white-water rafting and trekking.
Not too far from Chiang Mai is Chiang Rai, a culturally diverse region that is home to Thailand’s minority Hill Tribes. Here you’ll find a more traditional Thailand, and visiting families can even enjoy a homestay with a hill tribe family for the ultimate in cultural immersion.
Getting around Canada
Air travel in Canada is the most efficient and convenient way to travel the country, and can save a lot of time. Air Canada is the largest domestic network and there are several regional airlines which travel to more remote northern destinations, often inaccessible by road or train.
Car is an efficient way to travel across Canada, which has an extensive highway system that links most towns. Rentals are available from airports, train stations and city centres for approximately $35 to $70 per day. Car seats are compulsory for children and can be rented for around $15 per day. Liability insurance is required by law for all rentals.
Recreational Vehicle (RV) hire is popular for travelling families, particularly throughout west Canada. RVs are available for hire for approximately $175 to $280 per day, plus insurance. Two reliable companies are Canadream Campers and Cruise Canada.
Bus company Greyhound Canada has an extensive network, travelling to most destinations across the country, as well as there are several other companies with extensive regional routes. Buses are affordable, clean and reliable, often with amenities for the longer journeys.
Train travel is efficient and reliable between Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto, and outside of these routes is predominantly used for scenic journeys. Reservations are recommended, particularly during summer, and economic rail passes are available from company VIA Rail.
More about Canada for families
- Most hotels and motels offer rooms with two double beds and the option of roll-away beds or cots. Some offer ‘kids stay for free’ promotions, while other accommodations, particularly B&Bs are adult-only. Always ask when booking.
- Camping and campervan parks are ubiquitous in Canada. Some camping grounds offer cabins, swimming pools and playgrounds for kids. These are a great option for families, and good for kids to make friends while travelling.
- Airbnb apartments or cabin rentals are available across Canada. These are affordable and ideal for travelling families, with the advantage of a fully furnished kitchen and laundry.
What to pack
- Canada is very family-friendly country and child essentials are widely available in all major cities.
- Sunscreen, insect repellent and rain gear are essential items, particularly for camping and cabin rentals.
- Layered and warm clothing is essential year-round, even in summer, and exceptionally warm clothing for the freezing winter season.
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Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.