Parents, teenagers and young children will all find common ground in the Canadian outdoors, which is why we’ve put together a list of five destinations and things to do that will thrill and entertain active families.
Northern lights in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
Cuddle up together in the car as the sky turns emerald
The northern lights phenomenon has a universal appeal that make a trip to see them ideal for all the family, and Yukon Territory is arguably the closest you’ll get to a guaranteed sighting. Explore the territory’s vast and rugged landscape and spot the shimmer of emerald swirls appear overhead. Looking for somewhere to stay nearby? The Hidden Valley Bed and Breakfast has family rooms and you’ll be able to watch the lights from the terrace.
Salmon snorkeling on Vancouver Island, British Columbia
In the autumn, you'll also catch sight of salmon 'jumping' upstream
Snorkelling with tropical fish might include views of kaleidoscopic shoals, but salmon snorkelling is a truly Canadian activity – and one the whole family can get involved in. Nicknamed the ‘salmon capital of the world’, Vancouver Island attracts grizzly bears and adventurous travellers to its salmon-rich waters. Families looking for an alternative to hiking (which on Vancouver Island is an excellent idea regardless) can join one of the tour providers in Campbell River for a spot of salmon snorkelling.
Grab a wetsuit and a mask before dipping into the cool waters and you’ll be greeted with schools of red and coho salmon, bristling along in hot pink and orange. Snorkelling trips are often combined with rafting expeditions, perfect for kids and parents in need of an adrenaline boost. Campbell River is a good place to make your base, and nearby Brown’s Bay Resort has an all-you-can-eat crab night, if you’d had enough salmon for one day.
Bears and rainforests in Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia
The Kermode bear is a rare breed only found in the Great Bear Rainforest
In the land of fjords, islands and evergreen forests, the Great Bear Rainforest is part of the world’s largest coastal and temperate rainforest, and home to the sacred but elusive Kermode (or spirit) bear. While it’s not recommended that you go in search of this cream-coloured bear on your own, there are plenty of professional tour guides that will take you and your family on a memorable journey.
Catch glimpses of black, grizzly and maybe even spirit bears, as you sail through glacier-cut fjords or wander beneath ancient canopies. Nature is combined with local history lessons for the kids too – the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations have made the region their home for thousands of years. Stay just off Highway 20 at the Bella Coola Eagle Lodge, where you’ll find free parking and gloriously-atmospheric mountain views.
Dog sledding in Waskesiu, Saskatchewan
Let the kids play with Husky puppies in the snow
For animal-loving families, a dog-sledding trip through the boreal forest of Saskatchewan is a truly Canadian adventure. Flying over snow-covered fields and winding wooden paths with your own dedicated team of dogs is an exhilarating way to see the north’s raw nature in full. Feast on steaming bowls of elk stew in your trapper’s-style wall tent at nightfall, well protected from the frozen winds that whip through the woods.
If you’re travelling with younger children, ‘Puppy Camps’ are also an option where kids can bond with veteran sled dogs and new born puppies, a nice alternative if dog sledding still seems a bit much. After camping out for a night or two, the Elk Ridge Resort will be a welcome end stop.
Icebergs and whales in Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador
You'll be torn on what to watch – the icebergs or the whales
Canada’s easternmost province, Newfoundland, is home to icebergs and whales, making this frozen kingdom an awe-inspiring trip for everyone. Visit in the late spring, so that you can sail out onto ice-blue waters for views of these mammoth peaks jutting out of the water.
If you’re lucky, look to the water itself and you may notice wide breaks as whales surface. Humpbacks, minke whales and killer whales all congregate here, and spotting these will have kids exclaiming in delight. Many tours leave from Twillingate, and Twillingate & Beyond Inc. have a family room to prepare you and the kids for the day out on the waters.