It’s that time of year again! School’s out, the weather is beautiful, and you’ve got extra days off work – making this the perfect time for a family getaway. Keep reading for our suggestions for the best summer family vacations places across Canada.
From coast to coast, Canada provides so many opportunities for family vacations. From good value camping trips right up to luxury hotel stays, you’ll find attractions and sights to keep everyone entertained and happy.
When is Summer in Canada?
The summer season officially kicks off with the Solstice on June 21. This coincides with the end of the school year in most provinces, and one of the most popular time of year for a family vacation. Expect sunny weather across the country with pleasant temperatures between 21 – 28 degrees Celsius in the peak summer months of July and August.
Best Family Vacation Destinations for Summer
Summer in Canada is a time to get out and about, get off the devices and marvel at the incredible beauty of our country, from the Maritimes to the shores of BC. We’ve got some great ideas for you right here with our top seven spots for the best summer family vacations across the nation this year.
1. Halifax, Nova Scotia
Best for: Salt air and seafood
Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast has a lot to offer visitors of all ages. Base your family in Halifax and take in the city’s outdoor attractions, such as the Public Gardens, Point Pleasant Park, and the Waterfront. Little ones will thrill at the chance of a harbour cruise aboard Theodore Too, Halifax’s famous tugboat.
Take the kids to the playgrounds styled as a submarine and a giant whale, or grab some crispy fish and chips at Bud the Spud, an iconic food truck usually parked on Spring Garden Road. While there, do some high-end souvenir shopping at Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia for tartan-themed items to take home. You may have time to head back to the waterfront for a peek at the harbour city’s tragic past and naval history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
No trip to Halifax is complete without a road trip along the south shore. You’ll find perfect summer family vacation places like Queensland Beach, Mahone Bay, Chester Basin, Lunenburg, Bridgewater, and the province’s pride and joy, Peggy’s Cove.
Peggy’s Cove is one of the most famous lighthouses in the world. Perched atop giant rocks they offer an amazing natural playground for kids of all ages. Caution: Keep an eye on the kids and never stand too close to the edge. The rocks may be slippery and the crashing waves are unforgiving.
For a few nights away from the city, stay at the wonderful Oceanstone Seaside Resort, just down the road from Peggy’s Cove. You’ll find cozy self-contained cottages and fun activities like s’mores by the fire and scavenger hunts.
2. Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
Best for: Good value family vacation
A trip to PEI can be a cheap vacation for families who want to camp or stay in budget accommodation. Of course, Cavendish is famous as the home of Anne of Green Gables and summertime is the best time to visit.
Besides visiting Green Gables Heritage Place, there are many low and no-cost things to do on a summer family vacation. The beaches may be red and rough and the sea cold, but on a warm sunny day, they still offer a free place to chill out and let the kids play. There are many national parks on the island, so you may have to pay an entry fee, but it’s usually affordable for all visitors.
For a respite from the red clay beaches, check out Shining Waters Family Fun Park. The wet and dry park offers hay rides, a petting zoo, kid-size roller coaster, and an old-fashioned carousel. There’s also waterslides, pedal boats, and tubing on the slow-moving river. This place offers good value family vacation memories.
3. Montreal, Quebec
Best for: Fast-paced fun with kids
If festivals and events are major drawcards for your summer vacation with kids, Montreal is the place to be. The Fantasia International Film Festival is bound to have something for every family member with over 150 movies in all genres. If your family vacation falls between July 11 – August 01, 2019, check it out.
Montreal’s charming and fun-filled old town or Vieux-Montreal comes alive in the summer with plenty of things to do for the whole family. Kids will go crazy at the living wall inside the Montreal Biodome of the Montreal Science Centre. Here they can explore and discover different ecosystems from around the world. They can also learn about technology, engineering, and enjoy an IMAX show. If you have a few days with the family in Montreal, be sure to spend one of them at LaRonde, Montreal’s main amusement park. There are thrill-rides here for kids of all ages.
Once you’ve checked out some of the best places to travel with kids in Montreal, continue your tour at Montreal’s McGill University. Located downtown along Montreal’s famed Sherbrooke Street, the Redpath Museum showcases dinosaur skeletons and mummy remains. It also hosts special events for kids. After the museum, set out to explore some of Montreal’s many charming neighbourhoods.
By the way, your family won’t go hungry while in Montreal. The city is full of kid-friendly food such as Canadian faves like poutine and smoked meat sandwiches. And never, ever leave Montreal without having a freshly baked bagel, or six.
4. Ottawa, Ontario
Best for: Kids’ parks and energetic days
Toronto gets a lot of publicity as a family-friendly summer holiday city, and the capital of the province is a fun and action-packed destination. But Ottawa has plenty of kid-approved activities, sights and events too.
Valley View Little Animal Farm lets kids experience what it’s like to feed and care for farm animals. They can also ride on a train around the fields, and play on the tractors and farm equipment retrofitted as playground structures. They’re opened every day in summer with the exception of Mondays.
Another kid-centric park to love is Pirate Adventures. You little ones get to board a pirate ship and sail down the Ottawa River at this popular attraction. Onboard they’ll be treated to a live theatre show where mutiny and adventure abound. They’ll even have a chance to spray the pirates with a water gun. Ahoy!
For shopping and casual eating, drop into ByWard Market. Don’t leave without getting everyone a Canadian-themed cookie and a Beavertail – one of Canada’s most well-known (and delicious) sweet treats.
5. Banff, Alberta
Best for: Active outdoor lovers
Dreaming of a mountain-based family getaway? There’s no place more beautiful for a summer family vacation than Banff National Park. Sure, it may be a tad expensive for some budgets, but it’s worth it.
Hotel rates skyrocket in the peak summer months of July and August, but if you plan ahead and use Skyscanner’s whole month search engines to compare dates and hotels, you may find reasonably priced accommodation. But, be prepared to pay between C$340 – C$550 a night for a room to accommodate a family of four. Banff is quite compact, so no matter where you stay, you’ll always be close to the main drag, Banff Avenue and top sightseeing spots like Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Banff Upper Hot Springs.
If your budget just can’t handle Banff’s summer rates, try Canmore or Kananaskis as a base. Kootney Park Lodge at Vermillion Crossing is another great option and it’s only 33km from the Banff townsite. And you’ll get to stay in a cabin for half the price of a Banff hotel.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Banff any time of the year. Save some cash and hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain for epic views and the best photo ops. It’s not a super hard climb and able-bodied, fit school-age kids should cope just fine.
For a road trip opportunity that won’t cost too much, take a drive out to Johnson Lake which offers swimming and rope swinging in the cool water. Pack a picnic and make a day of it. This little getaway is a great way to re-connect with the kids and nature, too.
6. Vancouver, British Columbia
Best for: Big city adventures
The west coast of Canada is a wide-open playground for all ages. Think forest walks, whale watching, mountain biking, big city shopping, and luxury hotel stays. Vancouver has a ton of things to do that will appeal to kids and adults alike. After you check into your luxury hotel in downtown, head to Fly Over Canada at Vancouver Place for a thrilling aerial view without the airplane.
Vancouver’s Stanley Park is 1000 acres of natural beauty to discover. You’ll find children’s parks, playgrounds, a waterpark, beaches and bike paths along the seawall to keep the whole family busy and active all day.
Make time for a trip to Granville Island too. Take a mini ferry across False Creek for a morning of stall-exploring and lots of eating. The kids will love the warehouse-style Kids Market where they’ll find non-stop fun and heaps of toy shops. Is a summer family vacation complete without a new toy or souvenir t-shirt?
Summer days are long and balmy in Vancouver, which makes for a memorable family holiday. Hang out at the beaches of English Bay or Kitsilano, which are surrounded by activity and an abundance of cafés, restaurants, and ice cream parlours.
7. Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC
Best for: Water babies and surfers
If you’re looking for a beach vacation in Canada, head straight to Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino on Vancouver Island. This surfing mecca is also a prime spot for ball sports and frisbee as the beach is wide, flat, and long, hence the name. This region of BC is perfect for camping and you’ll find several campgrounds for tenting or cabin stays.
There are countless forest hiking trails in the region too. Always stay on the marked paths, or to get the most out of the experience, hire a professional guide. Kayaking is another way to get amongst the stunning scenery. The crew at Tofino Sea Kayaking Company have been guiding visitors on the water for more than 30 years. They even offer family tours for kids aged 6 – 12.
For Lower Mainland BC and Vancouver Island residents, a family weekend getaway to Tofino in summer is a highlight of the season. If you’re visiting from another province or the U.S., fly into Victoria (YYJ) and take a 335km road trip through quaint smaller communities such as Chemainus, Parksville, Port Alberni, and alongside the Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park. Be sure to stop at Cathedral Grove, between Parksville and Port Alberni, for a look and walk amongst the big trees.
Start Planning Your Canadian Summer Family Vacation
Summer family vacations are the best times to create long-lasting memories, close connections, and a chance to see the beauty and wonders of Canada. Book your next trip with Skyscanner’s helpful search engines to find the best flights, hotels, and car rentals.