It’s nearly summertime, and the kids will be out of school soon. Therefore, the time has come where it’s finally time to start thinking of where to take your next family vacation. Here’s a list of seven great local – and not so local – spots to explore.
1. Close to home. Not everyone has the time or the money to travel too far from home, but there’s no reason to miss out on some summer fun, so give camping a chance! There are 36 campgrounds in Kananaskis Country (just a stone’s throw from Calgary and area), and with camping comes endless amounts of fun activities. Check out www.kananaskiscountrycampgrounds.com for a complete list and additional information.
2. Lobsters and fishing boats. You haven’t seen Canada until you’ve been to the Maritimes. Honestly, have you ever had a fresh lobster, sang “I’s the B’y” while playing the spoons or dug for a clam on the beach? That’s what you’ll do when you’re there – and so much more. While all of the Maritime Provinces are equally beautiful, Prince Edward Island is a great choice for families looking for some quiet fun. Why not rent a cottage by the beach and bask in the salty, soothing air? For information and tips, visit www.tourismpei.com.
3. Bonjour, mon ami! You don’t have to go to France to experience the beauty that is French culture. Stroll through a cobblestone street in a quiet Quebec village, dance at one of the many music festivals that take place during the summer months or cycle your way through the countryside. Get your kids to try new foods and have fun using some basic French words. For festival dates, accommodation information and more, go to www.bonjourquebec.com!
4. A Westerly wind. Venture out a little farther west and experience the stunning beauty that is the Rocky Mountains. Jasper, about six-and a-half hours northwest of Calgary, is nearly 11,000 square kilometres of pure Canadian wilderness. Accommodations range from basic to luxurious, and there are a ton of things to do while there. Why not give horseback riding, canoeing or mountain climbing a chance? For accommodation information and more, go to www.jaspernationalpark.com.
5. Life’s a beach. Hawaii may not be an option for everyone who wants a beach vacation, especially if you’re weary of getting your family on a plane. But if you don’t mind a bit of a road trip, head over to Penticton, in BC’s Southern Okanogan. There is warm water, beaches, picnic areas and golf. For more information, visit www.tourismpenticton.com.
6. Exploring under the midnight sun. The Yukon Territory is not typically a place people think of going for a family vacation. It’s a little chillier than Calgary, but it also has sun all day and night in some parts. What a neat way to go camping or exploring with your family! For travel planning information, check out www.travelyukon.com.
7. Surf’s up! If you’re a family with older kids, let everyone try their luck at surfing in Tofino, on the west side of Vancouver Island (off Pacific Rim National Park). If you have younger children, try out boogie boarding in a calmer section of water. Keep in mind that Tofino is one of the most beautiful places in North America, but also one of the wettest places, so be sure to bring appropriate clothing (notably, rain gear!). Visit www.tofino-bc.com to find out how to get there, weather information and things to do.
A few tips to make family summer vacations hassle-free
• Bring lots of clothes to layer. Kids get hot and cold really easily, and layering is the best way to avoid temperature-related complaints.
• Be prepared for weather changes.
• Make sure you have a first-aid kit as someone is bound to trip, get a sliver or have uncomfortable shoes.
• Have a bevy of drinks and snacks with you at all times, especially when doing physical activity.
• When taking longer trips in a car, make a point of taking frequent stops. Go for a walk, have a picnic, take a bathroom break – it just makes traveling easier.
• Have fun! Nothing ruins a trip like stress, so just take it easy and enjoy the ride.
Stephanie is a freelance writer specializing in travel and food writing. For more information, visit www.stephaniearsenault.ca.
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