Still looking for a family vacation getaway this Summer? Turn your attention to the North. Canada. Canada is far more than just hockey, maple syrup and cold winters.  It’s a land rich with old growth forests and postcard perfect panoramas, cosmopolitan cities (with winning basketball teams whoo hoo!) and ethnically diverse communities serving up authentic cuisine from around the world. Beyond the country’s well-known natural beauty and unique culture, two great things about traveling to Canada from the US is proximity and the exchange rate. You get 30 cents more on the dollar, so it’s great value. Plus, it’s just a short flight from the US. Double win. A mom of two kids, now 3 and 5, I’ve discovered that minimal transit time is especially valuable when you have little travelers in tow.

Canada has a lot to offer the American family on the hunt for a memorable getaway. Here are a few Canadian experiences to consider for your next family vacation.  

Things To Do in Quebec City with Kids

Strolling the charming streets of Old Quebec City, a french speaking city with European flair at a fraction of the cost.

I recently flew to Quebec City to experience what this charming city has to offer. Set on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River in Canada’s French-speaking province, Quebec City has that distinctly European feeling with outdoor cafes along cobblestone streets. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this historic town is a very walkable city, with fortresses and lavish castles. I’ve found that when you visit cities in Quebec, you’re getting a little piece of Europe, without the long travel times, at a fraction of the cost (given the favorable Canadian exchange rate). So what is there to do in Quebec City with kids, you ask? 

When traveling with young children here are a few of my favorite spots in Quebec City.

-The Aquarium du Québec, with 10 000 marine animals including polar bears, walruses and seals. 

– Mega Parc des Galeries de la Capitale, the second largest indoor amusement park in North America, is a fun spot to ride roller coasters, a Ferris Wheel and they even have bumper cars.

– Village Vacances Valcartier is a waterpark with over 25 waterslides and 2 themed rivers, just 20 minutes from Québec City. 

-Benjo Inc is a fun toy store with a life-sized robot and an electric train ride you can hop in and to ride through the store.

Things To Do in Toronto With Kids

My hometown of Toronto, offering a wealth of family-friendly activities.

Born and raised in Toronto, I speak from first-hand experience when I say it is a welcoming city with a ton of activities for visiting families. When I go back home to see my parents and I bring the kiddos with me, here are some of our favorite places to visit.

-Royal Ontario Museum, where kids can explore the age of dinosaurs and the Bat Cave, which features 800 specimens and models of bats. 

-The Ontario Science Centre is great for kids who love science and tech. There’s a planetarium and IMAX theater and interactive exhibits. 

-Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, beneath the iconic CN Tower, gives kids the chance to touch horseshoe crabs stingrays and sharks. There is a cool tunnel under the shark tank with a moving-floor, so kids can feel like they’re in the midst of an underwater world.  

-Take the ferry from downtown Toronto to Center Island, the most popular of the Toronto Islands on Lake Ontario. These islands offer a slice of laid-back, cottage country life, just a short distance from the city. Kids will enjoy the amusement centre with log rides and antique carousels. Try renting a bike or a canoe to explore the island’s parks and beaches.

Things to do in Charlottetown, PEI with Kids

Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province and home to children’s literary hero, Anne of Green Gables.

Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province and also one of the most beautiful with red sandstone beaches and dramatic shorelines. It’s also home to the beloved children’s novel Anne of Green Gables, a tale of a loveable red-headed orphan, first published in 1908. Here are a few spots in PEI the kids will love. 

Visit Orwell Corner Historic Village for a throwback to the 1890s. For a hands on history lesson, kids can take a blacksmithing lesson, learn to churn butter, make candles or ice-cream.

-In Charlottetown, hop on a Harbour Hippo, an amphibious tour bus where kids can experience land and Sea. 

-Go on a Giant Bar Clam Dig, to dig for clams, beach comb, haul in some lobster traps and climb PEI’s oldest wooden Lighthouse.

-The Anne of Green Gables Museum offers some old fashion fun with horse-drawn carriage rides by the Lake of Shining Waters

Explore Multiple Canadian Cities with Kids…Go on a Cruise!

Cruise up the Saint Lawrence River, stopping at cities like Montreal , Charlottetown, Halifax and Quebec City (pictured here)

For family travelers interested in exploring multiple Canadian cities, Holland America Line offers a week-long cruise through eastern Canada and New England. The ship goes between Boston and Montreal, sailing up the Saint Lawrence River, along New England coast, hitting hot spots like Montreal, Quebec City, Charlottetown and Halifax.

In Maine, kids can go on the “Lulu Lobster Boat Ride”, where they can haul lobster traps with the captain and spots seals…all against a backdrop of Acadia National Park.

In PEI, kids can visit the Anne of Green Gables Museum, build sandcastles along the beautiful red-sand beaches or dig for clams. If you love seafood, this is the place to eat your heart out, from top notch lobsters rolls to tasty Malpeque Oysters. 

I’m a big fan of cruising with kids. It really simplifies the travel experience. We can see multiple cities, in short amount of time, without having to shlelp from place to place. You unpack once and all the details, from accommodations to dining, are arranged for you. Cruising simplifies the travel process so you can just enjoy your vacation and spend time with your family.

Another huge reason to cruise with kids is their kids clubs. On Holland America ships, they have a kids club called Club HAL for children aged 3-17. Kids can enjoy a ton of daily supervised activities, from dinosaur-theme parties, video game competitions, arts and crafts and pirate-theme scavenger hunts. 

The Club Hal kids room (on Holland America’s ship Nieuw Amsterdam) offering a ton of activities for kids aged 3-17.

Holland America has a special promotion from now until July 15th, called “Who’s In Your Crew.” It’s a 2 for 1 sort of deal where you can sail for half price and kids are free. Check out their website for more details.

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