From majestic mountain landscapes to exciting cities, the west of Canada offers plenty of opportunities for adventure, for kids and adults alike! Of course, Canada is the world’s second largest country, and there are an overwhelming number of things to see and do in every province. To help you narrow it down we’ve put together this list of activities. Read on to find out what makes the west of Canada a great family vacation destination.
Outdoor activities on Vancouver Island
If you are the type of family that loves spending time in the great outdoors, Vancouver Island could be the perfect vacation destination for you. Hiking, surfing, kayaking, fishing, and many more open air activities are offered along the island’s coast. If your children are happy to walk for longer distances, the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet is a must-do. The 2.6 kilometre long Lighthouse Loop is especially good for families as it is well-maintained, not too strenuous, and has access to two beaches and a pretty lighthouse (where you can hear the foghorn!).
Whale watching around Victoria
This activity is only possible in a few locations around the world. The waters around Victoria, B.C.’s picturesque capital city, are prime territory for spotting whales in their natural habitat. There are orcas that live here all year round, with more arriving during the peak migrating season from May to October. You can also expect to see seals and grey whales. There are loads of companies running whale watching boat tours, which is a great option to see these magnificent creatures, but make sure that the one you choose follows ethical practices. The best tours are also educational – probably for the parents as much as the kids – and are run by professional marine biologists and naturalists. If you’re lucky, you might not even need to step foot on a boat; whales have been seen fairly often from the harbour itself, and from nearby cliffs.
Wandering Butchart Gardens
Victoria is often called the City of Gardens, and Butchart Gardens is its crowning glory. It’s definitely worth planning your Victoria visit during spring or summer; the hyacinths, tulips and daffodils are in full bloom earlier in the season, followed by gorgeous beds of roses. The kids will love the bright colours and lovely smells, but the garden staff also put on events during the year. Throughout July and August there are daytime boat rides, and firework shows on Saturday nights. Over Christmas the entire park becomes a winter wonderland, complete with decorations and ice skating rink.
The world’s largest indoor amusement park is situated inside the West Edmonton Mall (which also happens to be the biggest mall in North America). You could easily spend the whole day here with the family: this space-themed attraction has over twenty seven exhilarating rides, including four impressive roller coasters. The park is a visual treat as well, with the vibrant colours and creative crops making it look like something out of a movie. It’s great for all ages – kids that don’t meet height requirements can have fun in the designated play areas. Also, there are plenty of good food outlets nearby.
Also part of West Edmonton Mall is:
- Water World – A five-acre playland home to water slides, hot tubs, children’s areas and tropical temperatures.
- Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace – You can try your hand figure skating, senior skate, hockey, and non-ice activities such as concerts.
- Marine Life – An underground aquarium that is home to more than 100 species of fish, sharks, sea turtles, penguins, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates
- Dragon’s Tale Blacklight Mini-Golf and Crystal Labyrinth mirror maze – Help save the dragons by putting your way through this 18-hole blacklight mini-golf course or find your way through the Crystal Labyrinth mirror maze.
- Professor Wem’s Adventure Golf – Cartoonish caricatures and colourful atmosphere make this challenging 18-hole miniature golf course fun for the whole family.
- Alien Outbreak Escape Room – Take your place as a part of Team Hermes 7 and investigate what happened to the crew of Moon Colony Persephone. Can you solve the mystery before you run out of oxygen—or worse?
Horseback riding in Banff
For animal lovers, a family vacation that includes horseback riding is a dream – and probably something you don’t get to do at home. For under 10s, places like Brewster Lake Louise Stable offer 1 to 2 hour trail rides that pass by some truly spectacular viewpoints of the lake itself. Families with older children could opt for the half-day ride that takes you up 2000 feet of mountainside to the Lake Agnes Tea House (which stands 7000 feet above sea level!). You will get to see flourishing forest, panoramic mountain views and even waterfalls.
Ride the gondola at Lake Louise
Book a gondola ride and float above the stunning vista of Lake Louise and the steep Rocky Mountain surrounding it. The ride lasts 14 minutes, and can be in an open four person gondola or a closed one, depending on what you prefer. Even though the scenery is jaw-dropping, it’s not what takes centre stage. Grizzly bears often roam the land beneath the gondola, letting you watch them at close quarters without the risk – if you are lucky enough to spot one. The establishment is only open during the summer months, so keep that in mind when planning your family vacation.
Visit Moose Jaw
This unusually named town has a lot more to offer to holidaymakers than you might assume. It’s home to many historical and artistic gems, like the Yvette Moore Gallery and the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village. Staying here for a while is a great way to introduce the kids to some history that they might not learn about in school. To make it more interactive for them, take a tour of the fascinating underground tunnels. Also, set aside a day to relax in the mineral baths of Temple Gardens spa. Before you leave Moose Jaw, make sure to get a family photo with Mac the Moose to commemorate your trip.
Have you done any of these activities before? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!