Travelling as a family can provide unique challenges: picking a destination that will please the whole group, accommodating everyone’s personal needs for comfort, and ensuring that there’s enough fun to keep busy without breaking the bank on attraction fees, expensive dinners, and accommodations.With the Canadian dollar continuing to lose it’s value, it’s seeming like vacations this year are probably best taken within the boundaries of the true North strong and free, don’t you think?
While in-country travelling can be costly (especially when it comes to flights), new options for flying within Canadian borders are available making the costs slightly more affordable, and many of us might be a just a drive or train-ride away from an affordable vacation. The National Post recently compiled a list— based on a study by TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals —of the most affordable Canadian cities for family travel, based on prices for rental vacation homes (such as those found on websites like AirBnB). The accommodations may be affordable, but are the cities themselves family friendly? We did the math, and chose our five favourite family-friendly Canadian vacation destinations to share with you!
Ottawa—Canada’s capital, for those not in the know—has plenty to offer in the way of family attractions and entertainment, with much of it being cheap or free. If you’re looking for a Fall or Winter family get-away, Ottawa is an excellent choice. Pumpkinferno is on until October 30th at Upper Canada Village – The Parks of the St Lawrence, and the longest skating rink in the world at Rideau Canal begins as soon as the weather cooperates. The National Gallery boasts an impressive permanent collection, including Louise Bourgeoise’s Maman—a massive spider sculpture which makes for a fun, and spooky, photo-op.
Edmonton is a unique city with lots of cultural flair, and is arguably, very underrated in terms of what it has to offer for travellers. If you time it right, you can catch cool events like The Farmfair International (an agricultural fair in November), Christmas Reflections in December (a trip back in time to the ‘20s at Fort Edmonton Park) or The Silver Skate Festival (art, culture, and outdoor recreation in February). Plus, Edmonton has an excellent Public Art collection, the West Edmonton Mall, and beautiful scenic nature year round!
Nanaimo, BC (Vancouver Island) is a beautiful sea-side destination with so much to offer for every kind of traveller: art, eats, nature, and lots of sweets (like 39 versions of the Nanaimo Bar, on the Nanaimo Bar Trail.) Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, and only a short ferry ride away from Metro Vancouver (if you must), and about an hour and a half away from Victoria (home to the Royal BC Museum, an excellent family attraction). It’s a great, affordable home-base for those looking to explore the west coast of Canada on a budget!
Halifax is a peaceful destination with lots of east coast charm, and plenty of natural beauty to be enjoyed throughout most seasons (mind the snow in winter). If you need to be indoors, there’s plenty of museums and other attractions with free admission, but enjoying the beauty and simplicity of dining and walking in quaint areas like Fisherman’s Cove —a 200-year-old fishing villages just 20 minutes outside of downtown Halifax.
Toronto, ON (and the Greater Area)
Toronto is an accessible city with lots of hidden gems on top of the regular tourist circuit of the ROM, the AGO, or Canada’s Wonderland. If you’re in the city you can take a ferry to Centre Island, bike or walk down the Kay Gardner Belt Line trail, or shop, dine, and stroll in areas like Roncesvalles or Queen West. If you’re with car and can travel, check out Scarborough Bluffs for breathtaking views and great ethnic food, or Hamilton for serene nature and up and coming art. The further the away from the downtown core you get, the cheaper the accommodations—but just plan to drive and park, or to save a few pennies, hop on the subway!
Also on RNR: