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12 One-of-a-Kind Things to do in Canada

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

If you’re looking for things to do in Canada - you’ve come to the right place.

Why?


I’ve always tried to include travel in our family plans because I wanted my kids to experience first hand just how big the world is and understand that it’s at their doorstep. I wanted their future selves to imagine travel as a part of their lives too.


Unofficially, my goal was to help my kids see Canada from coast to coast by the time they left home to start their own lives.


But, money is tight and let’s face it, travel is expensive, so there was a mix of both strategy and opportunity colliding when we actually decided to go somewhere. We didn’t go very often, but we did it together, first as a family of four, and then as a family of five.


Read on to learn about 12 of our favourite family vacations and things to do in Canada from coast-to-coast.



12 Fun things to do in Canada

  1. Visit one of North America’s seven wonders, Niagara Falls, ON

  2. Experience the tide on a zodia boat by Tidal Bore Rafting and Mudsliding in Shubenacadie NB

  3. Explore the historical origins of Canada in Historic Old Quebec City, QC

  4. At 553m in height, access the panoramic views available from the top of the CN Tower, ON. Tour the tower, enjoy a meal, or if you’re looking for excitement, walk on the outside edge of the tower itself!

  5. Get your glamp on and sleep under the stars in the Great Canadian Wilderness at Four Corners Algonquin

  6. Check out the many summer Festivals in Montreal, QC

  7. Ride the Glass-domed Train from Dunster BC to Jasper, AB

  8. Stargazing << We’ll plug us again here

  9. Take your kids Dinosaur digging in Drumheller, AB and become a paleontologist

  10. Step into the pages of one of Canada’s best loved heroines Anne of Green Gables or go whale watching in Prince Edward Island.

  11. Discover science, technology and history at the many Ottawa Museums and the Parliament of Canada, ON in the National Capital Region. If you’re here in winter, go skating on the Rideau Canal.

  12. Ride the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria Island where you’ll find the Butchart Gardens.




Things to do near Toronto Canada

Many international travelers first visit Canada starting in Toronto, landing at Pearson International Airport.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a short overnight stay, here are 5 things to see and do within a 4 hour drive of Toronto, Canada.


5 fun things to do near Toronto

  1. At 553m in height, access the panoramic views available from the top of the CN Tower, ON. Tour the tower, enjoy a meal, or if you’re looking for excitement, walk on the outside edge of the tower itself!

  2. Take a ferry to the Toronto Islands, ON where you’ll find gorgeous beaches, promenades, and Centreville Amusement Park.

  3. Get your glamp on and sleep under the stars at Four Corners Algonquin

  4. Take a tour of the Neustadt Springs Brewery Caverns or explore the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere on the way to Tobermory, ON

  5. Visit the largest Farmers’ Market in Canada in St. Jacobs and ride the Waterloo Central Railway, Waterloo ON


Travelling Canada on a Budget

When our family travelled, I had a few ‘rules’ I followed when I looked for affordable opportunities.

Read on to learn from our budget-saving travel tips.


I stuck to Canadian travel which has the primary benefit of simplifying the planning process and keeping costs affordable. If you’re Canadian, you don’t need extra documentation like passports, and there are no currency exchange costs. We were always spending in the same currency we earned. If you’re lucky enough to be arriving here from elsewhere, the currency exchange may work in your favour, which gives you a bonus for your hard earned dollars.


We traveled for short distances. For locations within a day’s drive of home, we almost always took a car. No matter the price of gas, it seemed to work out to be comparatively the least expensive mode of transportation with the most amount of flexibility. Taking our own vehicle allowed us to shop for food at grocery stores we were familiar with, and it also acted as storage for equipment we could bring along to save on rentals. We didn’t have to pay for transportation at our location, and when we’d had a full day of play and the kids were cranky or falling asleep, we could leave the fun behind and trade in for a soft bed and a warm shower. If you’re arriving from out of the country, look into one of the many Carshares available locally.


When we wanted to go further than a driving tour would allow, I explored transportation options. Although market prices for airfare and train passes go up and down, I was able to take advantage of seat sales to get half price tickets on Via Rail for a trip to Quebec City once. In another instance, I was able to barter for first class train tickets to Montreal. When we flew out east, I cashed in travel points to offset the cost, and when we flew out west, I booked travel on a Tuesday and far enough in advance to get some real deals. Well before your planned departure date, I recommend beginning to browse, and strengthening your connections with networks that advertise great travel deals, like Chris Myden YYZ Travel Deals website.


If you’re traveling in the summer-time, consider staying on campus at a local college or university. A lot of universities open up their accommodations in the summer-time when the students aren’t there as a short term hotel. Service is minimal, but the rates are almost always less than you’d pay at a local hotel. You can also look for budget-friendly glamping and camping options - like the pole tents we have here at Four Corners Algonquin.


We packed light and most importantly I taught my kids to pack light right from the very beginning. From the time they were 6 or 7 years old, my kids packed their own travel bags which consisted of one single backpack. At first I gave them a list and double checked the contents before we left, but within a year or two the understanding was if you can’t carry it, you can’t bring it, and if you forget something important you’re expected to do without. They learned quickly, and it meant their dad and I weren’t the company sherpas on what also served as our vacation. We also didn’t have to worry about lost items, because they could literally count and do inventory of their every possession between stops.


We often traveled to places where entertainment is free or included. Whether entertainment constitutes an on-site swimming pool, or tour of local attractions and festivals, you can save money in your budget by traveling to places where there tend to be more free things to do and see. Montreal and Quebec City are incredible places to be in the summer for affordable family fun. There are SO many public no-charge activities for kids through the whole season there that claims of boredom really aren’t credible. We watched Cirque du Soleil perform under a highway underpass the year we went, and the light show and gymnastic action was just exactly as amazing as it sounds. We also watched movies projected onto the silos in the Quebec City Harbour from the hills below Le Chateau Frontenac another year. In New Brunswick we went mudsliding, and were elated to discover this is just something people do - no entry fee required. Wow, were the pictures awesome!


We bought event tickets and/or transportation in bulk and borrowed passes from the local library. Taking advantage of City Passes, where the local tourism board offers a one-price entry to multiple local attractions like museums, science centres and art galleries is an automatic discount. You may pay a hundred dollars a person or more, but you get to do all the things for less than you’d spend if you paid entry at each venue. We also bought week-long passes for public transportation when we were without a private vehicle. Did you know that Quebec City has electric city buses? We were pretty pumped when we tried those!


Choosing accommodations near the city centre if you can also reduces the need for public transportation. More and more institutions are working with local libraries to make local park and museum passes available to the public for free. Often these passes are available to anyone with a library card, and it is a little known fact that many libraries have provisions to allow for out-of-town folks to obtain library cards, so it may be possible for national and international visitors to participate too. Out-of-towners may have to pay a membership fee, which isn’t a terrible situation - it’s usually pretty affordable and you can support the library and still not exceed the cost of the passes anyway.


We booked in advance when there were activities we really, really, r-e-a-l-l-y wanted to do like the train trip from Dunster, BC to Jasper in Alberta on the train with the glass domed roof. This was way more affordable than booking the Rocky Mountaineer, and fit our schedule better. Another event like this was ice-walking in Maligne Canyon, also in Jasper, and tidal bore rafting in New Brunswick. We felt these were do-not-miss opportunities for our family, so we made sure plans were made well in advance. Sometimes when you book in advance, you can get early bird discounts or group rates. At the very least, you won’t regret missing an opportunity that was gone by the time you arrived.


We traveled for short time periods. The reality is that every day you spend away from home costs money and a seven day vacay is always going to be more costly than a four day vacay. We often traveled for just a weekend or 4 or 5 days at a time. In addition to fitting it into our budget more easily, it was what we could realistically manage within our family circumstances without becoming overwhelmed to the point of misery. Lots of tourism boards promote short stays with discounts, and I’ve often seen travel from Tuesday-Thursday, or Friday-Monday discounted. I noticed the benefit of short stay vacations in other ways too. When we got back, I didn’t feel like I needed another rest to get over my vacation.


These tips are great for Ontario travelers, but many of them also work for national and international guests looking to book travel in Canada also. Make friends with someone local, or reach out to a local library or tourism board for assistance.


Resources for Traveling to Canada

Here are go-to resources for families and travelers looking to plan a trip in Canada:



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