Imagine driving down wide open roads, with soaring mountain ranges, lush prairies, golden beaches and marvelous cityscapes whirring past your window while also stopping for thrilling excursions, educational tours and unique accommodation. All this and more waits for you on a family road trip to Canada.
Exciting, informative, and certainly memorable, Canada is a fabulous spot to give the family the trip of a lifetime. With miles of open road and easy to navigate highways, why not take the kids through multiple cities and National Parks instead of just one? Planning your road trip may seem like a huge task, but we’ve got plenty of tips and inspiration to ensure a smooth ride the whole way.
1. The perfect vehicle
Of course you’ll want to immediately get to Canada, roll down the windows and feel the wind in your hair – but first, you’ll need a great, comfortable car to get you from A to B. Choose your perfect car depending on the amount of passengers, and the space you need for luggage.
With many car rental companies offering spacious family cars and even minibuses, you’ll be sure to find the perfect vehicle for you and your families needs.
2. Planning your route
A very exciting part indeed. Canada is a large oasis with plenty of different regions and provinces to choose from – the kids will be sure to love this outdoor playground and you won’t be short of choices. Of course, a cross-country trip through the whole of the country is an amazing experience, but if you’re short of days or want more time in specific places, a winding road trip through a specific region will be just as exciting.
Western Canada is home to the breathtaking Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia, gracing you with thrilling excursions, unforgettable landscapes and fantastic camping and lodging opportunities. Banff and Jasper National Parks will provide the family with an abundance of wildlife and outdoor recreation – look out for black bears, moose, deer and hunting birds. Oh, and don’t miss a chance to see the towering glaciers of Icefields Parkway, or don your spurs for family-friendly fun at the cowboy town of Calgary – there’s an exhilarating zip-line in the awesome Olympic Park.
Eastern Canada is full of wonder, too. With bright, bustling cities, stretches of gorgeous beaches and fantastic excursions including ice-skating, kayaking and running around luscious park playgrounds, eastern Canada will tire out the kids for a nice, quiet drive to your next stop.
Spot majestic whales playfully swimming past your boat at the gorgeous nautical province of Nova Scotia, or travel to Canada’s capital of Ottawa for awesome educational museums, featuring fun workshops and exciting exhibits. To give the kids a view they’ll never forget, head to the busy city of Toronto for 360 degree views from the CN Tower – you’ll feel on top of the world.
3. Include the kids
Getting the children involved with the planning is a genius strategy for keeping them entertained and excited about the long car journeys. Sit together and talk through all of the exciting opportunities available in the region you’ve chosen to explore, writing down which ones get their hearts racing. Maybe your kids will love the idea of wandering through Drumheller’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, home to fascinating dinosaur skeletons and cool workshops, or maybe they desire an adrenaline rush at La Ronde Amusement Park in Montreal – whatever their passions, you’ll be sure to have a long list and raring-to-go children by the end of it.
4. Think about accommodations
Planning ahead is integral for avoiding a bumpy ride. Once you and the kids have decided on your main stops, you can get started on booking hotels and planning your route. Don’t forget to schedule in plenty of time for breaks too – there’ll be no mutters of “are we there yet” that way! Canada has some fabulous stop-offs to make the breaks seem even more worthwhile – sometimes the quirky things are the most memorable.
Stop at the Big Apple in Colborne, Ontario, and head inside for a spot of lunch and the observation deck near the top of the structure, or take a detour to Sydney Waterfront in Nova Scotia for the Largest Ceilidh Fiddle in the World. Kids will be sure to love the 80 ft tall T-Rex that fiercely guards Drumheller’s visitor center and the stunning backdrop of Lake Louise just beckons for you to stop at its crystal clear waters.
As for overnight stays, Canada has a wide variety of accommodation options to consider. There are plenty of hotels for every budget, but why not include a camping trip? In the early autumn, catch a sight of the striking, swirling colors of the Northern Lights while camping in Miquelon Provincial Park, or head to the Kicking Horse Campground in Yoho National Park for fantastic views and water sports, including the adrenaline rush of wild white-water rafting. Lodges in Canada are rustic and unique, nestled within luscious forests, beside topaz lakes and amidst soaring mountain ranges. Emerald Lake Lodge offers gorgeous timber lodges with warm, comforting décor; close by to the cascading Takakkaw Falls, or Marmot Lodge is located in the stunning wilderness of Jasper National Park. Wherever you pick, get ready for jaw-dropping scenes.
5. When to go
Pick the weather wisely depending on where you want to go, and the exciting excursions you want to experience. Canada’s landscapes are beautiful in every season; however summer is certainly best for smoother driving, whilst winter brings with it a lot of road closures that may scupper your plans – though the mountains at this time are perfect for skiing and snowboarding.
Don’t forget to check out seasonal opening times for your chosen attractions, and pack for all weather eventualities. In autumn the sceneries are awash with beautiful foliage, and spring is just as beautiful with its budding wild flowers and cooler temperature – each season will be sure to make the kids look up from their screens and marvel at the colors. Check out the vibrant, lively festivals that take place throughout the year too, summer brings with it tons of outdoor-oriented gatherings, rodeos and music festivals.
6. Keep memories safe
We definitely recommend encouraging the kids to document their experiences – road trips are certainly an exciting vacation to remember. Phones are great, but be sure to get plenty of physical memories. Give them their own journals or sketchbooks to write down their favorite places, or be well equipped with a camera for beautiful photos and videos. They’ll be able to look back in years to come and see gorgeous pictures of the Canadian Mountains or towering city landmarks.
Pack yourself an emergency car kit to get ready for any possibilities, too. We recommend packing a medical box, wet wipes, healthy snacks and fun activities to keep the kids entertained – think crayons, puzzles, toys, or even electronic entertainment. Don’t forget to bring a few portable chargers for your GPS, phones, cameras and anything else you may want to bring.
A roadtrip through the stunning natural beauty of Canada will be a family vacation experience you’ll never forget, and with plenty of planning, it’ll be for all the right reasons.