Family Travel Bucket List in Canada

There’s nothing sweeter than time spent together as a family… except maybe maple syrup! 🍁 From the friendly Canadian spirit to the stunning views of mountains, lakes, rivers and prairies found across every province, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a place that isn’t loved by the entire family. Pack up the kids and prepare for plenty of fun and bonding in these top 15 Canadian cities for a family getaway. 🇨🇦

Whistler, British Columbia

If outdoor activities and adventure are calling, Whistler is a year-round destination for family fun.☀️❄️ The Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is a perfect home base for both convenience and an exciting atmosphere. In the winter, skiing and snowboarding are the most popular activities, and there are runs for all ages and abilities. Dog sledding through the mountains, a snowmobile tour, ice skating, and the tube park are exciting adventures to make once-in-a-lifetime memories together. After a long day in the cold, warming up in a hot tub is the perfect way to end the day! In the summer, a lack of snow doesn’t mean a lack of fun. You can still enjoy “top of the world” views on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and village below. Alpine hiking trails are easily accessible by gondola and range from shorter, family-friendly trails to more advanced options. ⛷

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada’s capital city is full of culture, historic sites and beauty, and its walkable nature makes it perfect for exploring. The most recognizable part of the skyline is Ottawa’s Parliament Hill; the three neo-Gothic buildings are the perfect backdrop for simply enjoying an afternoon on the grounds before taking a free guided tour. Plan to start your morning here to catch the colourful changing of the guard ceremony that kids will love. Have future artists in the family? 🎨 The National gallery of Canada showcases the country’s best works of art, and it also hosts a family-program with activities for all ages. Other popular museums include the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, a working farm and learning center. And of course, no trip is complete without sampling a Canadian BeaverTail pastry at ByWard Market

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Unlike the sprawling cities of Vancouver and Toronto, Halifax is more of a small, quaint seaside village. 🌊 What it lacks in size, it makes up for in spirit and quality. You’ll want to live like a local, with trendy bistros, a sprawling seafront boardwalk, and an array of museums. Fisherman’s Cove is dotted with colourful heritage buildings to stroll past with ice cream in hand, and take a water taxi to the nearby McNab’s Island. 🐟 Have a future pilot in the family? The Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum tells the history and stories of aviation heroes, or experience life as a solider 200 years ago at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. As a family you can even solve a mystery using a comic book guide, the firing of the noonday cannon and learning to send coded messages. 

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Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Any Ann of Green Gables fan, young and old, will love exploring the island that has remained much unchanged since the novels were released. 👒 Farmhouses, pastures, rolling field and sandy beaches still feel like a destination straight from a storybook. 📖Small-town charm and beautiful scenery make this a laid-back destination for families with kids of all ages, with plenty of diverse experiences to keep everyone happy. The island is famed for its farm-to-table dining and fresh seafood, and the Green Gables Heritage Place is a top-rated activity. Prince Edward Island National Park is dotted with hikes, bike paths and sandy dunes you can easily spend a full day enjoying, with special performances throughout the summer as well. When you’re ready to refuel, Victoria Row is a pedestrian-only street lined with shops, music, galleries and food. 

St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador

This iceberg hotspot evokes feelings of never-before-seen adventure to captivate every traveller. The harsh geography and friendly atmosphere makes it a unique and quirky destination. As you stroll around the colourful downtown, keep an eye out for the building painted like a cow home to Moo Moo’s Ice Cream – it’s not hard to miss! 🐮 Other favourite spots include Rocket Bakery & Fresh Food, Merchant Tavern, and the Newfoundland Chocolate Company. Ready to venture into the wilderness… comfortably? Embark on a search for icebergs aboard a heated tour boat, and you may just meet whales and seabirds along the way. 🛳 The Atlantic puffin is the official provincial bird, so you’ll see plenty of puffin-themed souvenirs across the town. If you want to spot the real thing, there are a variety of tours available between May and September to spot these very adorable birds.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Incredibly diverse and jam-packed with things to do, Vancouver is a playground for both kids and kids at heart. As the gateway to the Pacific Rim, Vancouver is the perfect blend of city and nature adventures. You could easily spend a full day in Stanley Park: visit the beaches, admire the First Nations totem poles, visit the Vancouver Aquarium, and bike or walk the many paths through the forests or along the Seawall. 🌳  Granville Island Public Market sells local artisan crafts and goodies; grab some picnic food to enjoy by the waterfront while the kids play in the playground and sprinkler park. Stop by Kids Market, with over 25 shops just for kids and an Adventure Zone. Next stop: Science World to stimulate the mind and provoke good questions (kids and parents alike!). Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour are just outside the city to enjoy stunning views from the gondola, or explore Lynn Canyon Park for lush trails and an exciting suspension bridge. 🏔

Victoria, British Columbia

From bustling Vancouver, take a relaxing ferry ride to Vancouver Island, and keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, whales and other wildlife along the way. 🐋 Victoria is a unique and charming city that feels like coming home, where you can breathe easy and relax. Everyone will enjoy the kid-friendly exhibits at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, the Royal BC Museum’s First Nations exhibit and the Victoria Bug Zoo, and when you need a break, relaxing on the lawn of the Parliament Buildings with a view of the harbour or in Beacon Hill Park is the perfect way to pass the afternoon. Get a “sea lion’s view” of the harbour with a 45-minute tour courtesy of Victoria Harbour Ferry. Ready to check out the city by foot? Head to Chinatown, where the swinging red lanterns and variety of interesting stores and tasty restaurants create a buzzy atmosphere. 🐉 Everyone will love exploring the shops in 3-foot-wide Fan Tan Alley — the narrowest alley in North America — including getting a tasty scoop (or three) from Kid Sister Ice Cream. Want to make your littles feel like princes and princesses? Enjoy a British tea party and sweet treats at the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel. ☕

Tofino, British Columbia

This surf town’s tiny population swells in the summer, but it’s easy to see why visitors return again and again to this laid-back, west coast paradise. While the waters of the Pacific are icy, the beaches are spectacular stretches of sand against a wind-whipped rugged landscape. Dip your toes in the water, explore the tide pools, catch a stunning sunset or don a wetsuit for a surfing lesson from one of the local experts. 🏄🏾 Enjoy the local arts, culture and live music scene at the Tofino Market, and grab a doughnut and latte from Rhino Coffee House on the way. 🍩 One of the crown jewels of Tofino is the Tofino Botanical Gardens. The kids will love exploring the various paths, discovering sculptures by local BC artists dotting the gardens and seeing the mud flats at low tide. This charming town keeps the pace of life slow and the activities plentiful.

Banff, Alberta

This small town is surrounded by larger-than-life landscapes: soaring mountain ranges, Banff National Park, crystal clear lakes and winding trails for all levels. Soar to the top of Sulphur Mountain by gondola for panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies from up high, or explore the many hikes just minutes from town. 🗻 Cruise around town by bike, and when you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll enjoy a delicious 1970s dining experience (complete with a disco ball!) at The Grizzly House. 🚲 Soar across the water and watch the mountains reflected into the emerald-green water on the Banff Lake Cruise, or for the more adventurous, you can rent your own boat or kayak. After hours of exploring, everyone deserves a relaxing evening soaking in Banff Upper Hot Springs, with temperatures warm enough to enjoy while being kid-friendly! 

Lake Louise, Alberta

Just 57 kilometers outside of Banff, Lake Louise is the destination for families looking to connect with the great outdoors and find new adventures. From horseback riding through stunning trails to skiing down mountains, plus plenty of hiking to boot, this area is photo-worthy from every angle. 🏇 ⛷ Want to learn more about the surrounding nature? Take the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola for panoramic views, and from there, it’s only a short walk down to the Wildlife Interpretive Center, and keep your eyes peeled for grizzlies during the Trail of the Great Bear guided walk. 🐻

Calgary, Alberta

Calgary is here to surprise you. Soar to the top of the city’s most iconic landmark, the Calgary Tower, for panoramic views, and spring for a sky-high breakfast 191 meters in the air, where banana bread French toast has never tasted better. Wander among 500-year-old giant trees on the Douglas Fir Trail, or explore the historic Heritage Park to feel as if you’ve stepped back in time into a 1910 pioneer town. Calgary utilized the structures left over from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games, so the entire family can choose from ice skating, mountain biking, ziplining, and mini golf. ⛳🚴🏼 The most popular attraction, however, is the heart-pumping Skyline Luge, where parents and kids can race go-karts down 1800 meters of twisty-turny course. Hungry yet? Fill up with a classic burgers and milkshakes at the 1960s-era Peters’ Drive-In, and we promise the meal is worth the wait, with lines every season of the year!

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Manitoba’s capital city is chock-full of festivals, kid-friendly activities, and friendly spirit. Assiniboine Park Zoo boasts an award-winning “Journey to Churchill” exhibit, and if spotting elusive northern species like polar bears has been difficult in the wild, you can get up close and personal in the Sea Ice Passage, an underwater viewing tunnel where they barrel roll and glide right above you. Winnipeg’s home is the prairies, and what better way to enjoy the expansive views and endless blue skies than aboard one of the oldest vintage steam trains operating in North America, the Prairie Dog Central Railway. 🚂 Your trip to Winnipeg isn’t complete. however, without a taste of Bridge Drive-In’s deliciously creamy milkshakes and mouth-watering hot fudge sundaes. 🍦 Finally, there’s something for everyone at The Forks: craft beer and coffee for the adults, a Parks Canada playground for the kids, skating Urban Skate Plaza and Bowl Complex for the teens, and an expansive market to explore.

Toronto, Ontario

For the cosmopolitan family, or the family who likes to have everything at their fingertips, Canada’s largest city is for you. Its central location and plethora of kid-friendly, interactive exhibits make the Royal Ontario Museum an exciting and educational must-see, and while it’s a bit outside of town, the Ontario Science Centre is a hit for kids as well. Animal lovers will love the Toronto Zoo and Ripley’s Aquarium (the country’s largest!), or for families who simply want to enjoy the stunning summer weather, spend the day at High Park and stroll the Toronto Waterfront.🐙  As an extremely diverse city, There’s an incredible array of food for every taste, including the picky eaters. Barque Smokehouse comes with popcorn at every meal, and the classic Lakeview Restaurant has 24-hour service and famous milkshakes with additional “adult” add-ins. 🍿

Montreal, Québec

This French-speaking city filled with European charm offers plenty of photo opportunities and fun for the whole family. Montreal is known as “festival city” by hosting many festivals throughout the year, and something special happens at the end of fall when the city slowly turns into a winter wonderland. 🎪🎠 Take the Cité Mémoire self-guided tour as you wander the picturesque streets of Old Montreal to learn about the city’s history; pit stops for maple syrup treats are highly encouraged! The site of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games has been transformed into the Montreal Biodome, where several biospheres are filled with fauna and flora from the different landscapes, or turn your eyes to the stars at the Planetarium Rio Tinto Alcan. And when it’s time to refuel? Delicious and quick fare is found at Fairmount Bagel.

Québec City, Québec

As an incredibly picturesque UNESCO World Heritage site, your kids will no doubt believe they’ve stepped into Cinderella’s castle. 🏰 The quaint and walkable cobblestoned streets make it an accessible city to get around by foot – no car seats required! You can’t spell funicular without “fun,” so take the Old Quebec Funicular from Petit Champlain to Château Frontenac and enjoy the beautiful view as you ascend. Create your own custom food tour as you wander down Rue Saint-Jean, and we recommend sampling specialties like maple crepes at Au Petit Coin Breton, poutine at Snack Bar Saint-Jean, and ice cream from Chocolats Favoris. The view of Montmorency Falls from the suspension bridge is worth the adventure to get there, and learn about Québec’s Huron-Wendat Nation at Wendake Reserve with activities for the whole family.

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