Canada trip ideas for you and your family
Pack your suitcases and bundle your family on to a plane – we’re off to Canada, and plenty of family-friendly trips await. From exhilarating zip-lines, caving tours and water sports, to educational yet fun museums, quirky towns and a very unique shopping centre, the family will never be bored on a holiday to this exciting, eclectic country.
How about a trip to Canmore? This picturesque mountain town may look quiet, but there’s plenty of thrilling recreation to enjoy here. Descend into the shadowy depths below with a tour through Rat’s Nest Cave, crawling, climbing and sliding through the natural cave passages in search for fascinating stalagmites, stalactites, and paleontological discoveries. Afterwards, take a dip in the town’s busy swimming hole, Quarry Lake, and tuck into a tasty picnic as you take in the soaring mountain backdrop. There are plenty of hiking and fishing spots around the area, and if you’re feeling peckish after all the activities, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company offers fantastic pizza cooking classes for kids every Tuesday.
Towering mountains, luscious alpine forest, topaz lakes and an abundance of wildlife – it’s no wonder Banff National Park is a hit with families. A trip here graces you with a wealth of activities, from hiking and cycling, to horseback riding and wildlife spotting. The Banff Gondola that soars up to Sulphur Mountain is a popular excursion, with spectacular views of the park, especially if you don your walking boots and saunter up to the mountain’s peak. For the adrenaline junkies, white-water rafting along the Bow River takes you through wild rapids and heart-pumping twists and turns, or you could simply take in the views on a leisurely float trip along the smooth Kananaskis River. Watching a breath-taking sunset as you sink into the steamy, natural spring water of Banff Upper Hot Springs will end your activity-fuelled day perfectly.
Venture further into Banff National Park and you’ll find yourself overlooking the crystal clear waters of Lake Louise, one of the world’s most photographed lakes. Brilliantly blue, with jagged mountains in the horizon and bright green forests framing its edge, this is the perfect background for a family photo you’ll want to hang on your wall for years.
West Edmonton Mall is a lively, unique trip all generations will love. You’ll never guess that inside this unassuming building lays the world’s largest indoor amusement park known as Galaxyland, World Water Park with a variety of slides and a large wave pool, Ropes Quest with its three-level ropes course, an IMAX 3D cinema, rock climbing walls, and over 800 shops, restaurants and cafes. Phew - there’s certainly something for everyone here. Let the kids loose in Galaxyland to take on Mindbender, the world’s largest indoor triple-loop rollercoaster, whilst you wander through beautiful boutique shops and bustling Chinatown, before choosing which innovative restaurant to try out first. This will definitely be a shopping trip that won’t make the kids shout “I’m bored”.
Outside of the shopping centre’s vibrant walls is a city full of activities. Edmonton has families in mind, offering visitors a plethora of child-friendly attractions. Little adventurers will love Sea Life Caverns, a vivid underground aquarium filled with colourful marine life; or you could explore Edmonton Valley Zoo to spot an endangered peregrine falcon and wave hello to Lucy the Asian elephant. We know the kids won’t stop talking about their trip to Telus World of Science - not only will they learn something new, but they’ll also get to stroll over a human tongue and have a chat with a life-size robot in the museum’s interactive displays.
Spielberg fans will relish in exploring Jurassic Forest, a 40-acre pre-historic park full of towering, life-size dinosaurs. Set in an old growth forest near Edmonton, scarily realistic dinosaurs lurk behind gigantic trees, waiting to be found by adventurous families. Jump on a guided safari and drive through the overgrown forest floor, spotting Stegosaurus’ and the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex along the way, or dig for ancient remains at the dig site and enjoy an exciting scavenger hunt.
That’s not the only place dinosaurs roam - the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller is home to over 130,000 fossils from more than 300 species of these pre-historic animals. This is an enthralling museum, offering live workshops and captivating skeletal reconstructions, as well as a Dinosite Tour to discover authentic fossils and dinosaur remains buried in the barren land. Keep on the lookout for the World’s Largest Dinosaur, furiously guarding Drumheller’s visitor centre. If you dare, saunter up 100 steps to reach the lookout in the large dinosaur’s mouth, offering gorgeous views of the region’s unique hoodoos erupting from the desert land.
The kids will gasp in delight as you travel along Icefields Parkway, one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world, surrounded by towering, icy glaciers and sweeping, frosted valleys. The trip takes an educational turn at Glacier Skywalk, with fantastic interpretive exhibits lining the cliff-edge walkway, and ending with a truly breath-taking view from the glass floored observation deck that juts 280 metres over alpine valleys and cascading waterfalls. For a dash of adventure, hop on an Ice Explorer and enjoy an exhilarating drive across Columbia Icefield and to the stunning Athabasca Glacier.
Of course, it’s not a trip to Canada without seeing the incredible Niagara Falls. Don’t forget your waterproof gear for a fun cruise right into the basin of the falls, or dare to descend 150 feet to the tunnels that wind towards the upper and lower observation decks of Horseshoe Falls. A bird’s eye view of the attraction is unbelievably exciting, so we thoroughly recommend jumping on a helicopter ride and giving the family a view they’ll never forget. After all the excitement, drive a few minutes away to the quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake village, dotted with pretty boutiques and a world-class theatre.
Travel to Ontario and visit Blue Mountain Resort for pure family-friendly thrills. Of course there’s the usual skiing, cycling, golf and hiking, but this brilliant resort offers even more. Feel the rush on the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, a small ride that throttles through the trees – the fastest it can go is 42km/h, but you’re in control of your own speed, so travel as fast as you’d like. In our opinion, the faster the better. If the kids are over eight, let them feel the heart-stopping moment of free jumping onto a landing pad with the Apex BagJump, whilst those 10 or above can feel the wind in their hair on a thrilling zip-line through the canopies. As the kids have fun, mum and dad can sit back and relax on a fantastic brewery tour, or grab the whole family and drive around the resort on a gigantic hummer.
Don your spurs and make your way to the charming cowboy town of Calgary. Oozing with rich Western culture with a modern twist, Calgary is a characterful town full of fun activities the whole family will enjoy. Journey to Olympic Park for an afternoon of thrilling excursions – once the destination where Eddie the Eagle took to the slopes as the first Great British Olympic ski-jumper in 1988, this park is now an exciting playground for the general public. With climbing walls, summertime bobsleighing, bungee trampolines and North America’s fastest zip line, a trip here will give you big bursts of adrenaline. Kids will love exploring Calgary Zoo, filled with an abundance of exotic animals, including penguins, hippos and prairie dogs, whilst adventurous family members can feel on top of the world on Calgary Tower, offering 360 degree views of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Families can even get into the Western spirit at the Calgary Stampede, a high energy rodeo event with plenty of Wild West shows, including bareback riding, chuck wagon racing, and a fantastic musical variety display.
If you fancy a city break, Montreal offers plenty of family friendly day trips. Journey to Old Port, a port filled with rich history, to enjoy the first urban zip-line in Canada - flying over the famous Bonsecours Island, this brilliant excursion will grace you with unique views of the cityscape. For something a little less adrenaline-fuelled, wander the beautiful Botanical Gardens and head towards the Insectarium – a fascinating museum full of creepy crawlies and other spectacular insects, and the BuzzGround play area, which is perfect for younger travellers. The Biodome is certainly a museum that will keep the whole family interested – once a former Olympic velodrome, this awesome building has been turned into a nature museum with re-created ecosystems of the Americas. You’ll go from the humid climate of a Tropical Rainforest to the bitter cold Sub-Antarctic zone with cute penguins in this fantastic gallery.