Planning a family vacation can be daunting. From searching for the destination to transportation options to menus and daily activities, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you build those lifelong family memories, we’ve rounded up our list of the Best Family Vacations for Canadians You Haven’t Thought Of.
FOR FAMILIES WITH KIDS AGED 3-5
Yes, you’re reading this right. New Orleans can be a playground for toddlers and young kids! We don’t suggest taking a stroll down Bourbon Street with them, but make sure you do check out local gems like Storyland which features larger than life sculptures and fairytale characters. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is a great stop with more than 100 interactive exhibits including a Peek-A-Boo Theater and a Sensory Lagoon. Some local breweries even have child-friendly areas including Urban South and Second Line Brewing. And what’s NOLA without music? Family Friendly Fridays in the French Market are a great opportunity to hear some live music with the whole family. If you’re looking for even more ideas to fill your weekend with, check out these family friendly things to do in the city. If you’re travelling with young kids, you’re going to want a large spacious room to hang out in after an adventure filled day out with the kids so we suggest staying at the centrally located Hilton New Orleans Riverside. If you are looking for a family vacation out of the ordinary, New Orleans is the perfect choice.
An easy drive from most cities across Ontario, London is home to beautiful parks, family friendly restaurants and a slower pace of life. Victoria Park is an 18-acre park downtown London which has skating in the winter and open air movies in the summer. It’s also a great place to take a picnic and spend an afternoon with your kids. Check out the London Childrens Museum and immerse your kids in STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), and don’t forget to visit their Learning Garden where your kids will get hands-on with nature. A visit to London isn’t complete without a stop at Storybook Gardens which is home to fairytale characters, nursery rhymes. rides and attractions. We suggest staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton London Ontario so you’re centrally located within minutes to all these great attractions. Plus, your kids will love the melt in your mouth warm chocolate chip cookie they’ll receive as you check-in. London is the perfect destination for families looking for an easy, affordable weekend away.
Atlanta is a family friendly destination with southern hospitality. The city is incredibly walkable, so grab your walking shoes and stroller and get ready to see the sights. Fernbank Science Center should be your first stop if your kids love space. Not only is admission free, but they have out of this world exhibits including the Apollo 6 Command Module and the largest telescope in the southeastern US. Next up is the Georgia Aquarium which is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. Your little ones will be mesmerized by the colourful fish, otters and other creatures you’ll meet. Head over to Imaginary Worlds at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and both you and your kids will be enchanted by the whimsical gardens or the Garden Lights exhibit. If you’re in Atlanta for the holidays, the Botanical Gardens host the #1 holiday attraction in the city – Holiday Lights. If you’re visiting Atlanta when it’s hot out, make sure you check out the splash pads at Historic Fourth Ward Park. Stay centrally located to all these great attractions at the Embassy Suites Centennial Olympic Park where you’ll also enjoy free breakfast for the whole family. Atlanta is the perfect destination if you’re looking for affordable getaway your whole family will enjoy.
FOR FAMILIES WITH KIDS AGED 6-8
Kamloops, BC is a place you can visit year-round. Generally mild, you’ll find many great free family activities to keep you busy. Visit Westsyde Centennial Park which features a skating rink, splash pad and petting zoo (don’t forget to bring your quarters & loonies so you can feed the animals!). Experience nature at its best by heading on a fishing adventure (you can borrow a rod and tackle for free), checking out the annual Salmon Run in the fall where you can see millions of Sockeye Salmon journey upstream, trying your hand at geocaching.or just hitting the beach! The DoubleTree by Hilton Kamloops is a great place to stay because of it’s close proximity to beaches and parks. If your family loves the adventurous outdoors, Kamloops is for you.
If you live on the west coast of Canada, Hawaii is an amazing place to visit with your kids and will be a trip they will remember for a lifetime. Hawaii is literally swimming with ocean activities, so pack your trunks and sunscreen and get ready to enjoy some fun in the sun. Hawaii is made up of eight main islands, but we suggest picking the Big Island’s sunny west coast where the waters are clear and the waves are calm making it easy for kids to explore Hawaii’s underwater world. Activities can start to add up so to save a few bucks, head to a local farmers market or a roadside stand and grab some poke, huli huli chicken, fresh pineapple and poi and enjoy a picnic while catching a free hula show. We recommend staying at the Hilton Waikoloa which is a tropical playground for kids of all ages. This 62-acre oceanfront resort features three pools with waterfalls, kayaking, a 175-foot waterslide and marine pools teeming with dolphins. Children can get up close and personal with these friendly sea mammals and let specialists guide them onto a journey into these remarkable animals’ story at Dolphin Quest. Hawaii is best for families who have a bit of extra time on their hands given the distance, and are looking to enjoy a slower, more relaxed beach vacation.
Seattle is a beautiful coastal city with ocean views and mountain ranges. If you live on the west coast of Canada, the scenic drive is only a few hours away making it a perfect getaway for a family. Seattle is teeming with museums. Don’t miss out on the Museum of Flight where you can check out over 175 aircraft and spacecrafts – a perfect place to spend a rainy day. If you visit in February and stay at a participating hotel, you’’ll receive half-price admission to fascinating places like the Seattle Aquarium, the Kids Discovery Museum, the Museum of Pop Culture and more. If you want to explore more of the city, take your family on a walking tour designed for little legs and enjoy finding treasures in Pike Place Market, the Seattle Public Library and more. Plan a stop at the famous Gum Wall which kids love and makes for fun photos. On a nice day, take an Ice Cream Cruise and take in the views of the city from the water. Stay within a 10 minute walk of a lot of these great museums at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown and load up on free breakfast every morning. If you’re looking for a fun and educational getaway, Seattle is your perfect choice.
FOR FAMILIES WITH KIDS AGED 9-12
Get your cameras ready and head to San Francisco which is full of iconic sights that will give you fun photos to fill your social feed. From the Golden Gate Bridge to the classic cable cars to the twists and turns of Lombard Street, there is no shortage of interesting things to see. Head to Alamo Square Park with a great view of the Painted Ladies, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, or the many playgrounds all around the city and enjoy the moderate year-round temperatures. Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Baker Beach and Ocean Beach offer families the opportunity to enjoy activities on the water. Strollers can be tricky here so San Francisco is best for families with slightly older kids. Our favourite hotels in San Francisco for families include: the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Parc 55 San Fancisco – a Hilton Hotel, Hilton San Francisco Financial District, or the Hampton Inn San Francisco Downtown/Convention Center which all conveniently located in the heart of the city. If you’re looking for a vacation with a slightly slower pace but with lots of interesting things to see, San Francisco is the trip for you.
Alberta’s largest city is known for its warm hospitality, the Rockies and of course, the Calgary Stampede. Cowtown is a laid back city where you can hang out for a couple of days and use as a jumping off point for other exciting adventures. Calgary’s Science Centre has incredible exhibits that will keep your kids entertained year-round. Rent some bikes and enjoy the most extensive urban pathway and bikeway in North America. Spend some time at Winsport Canada Olympic Park, home of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. There you can go skiing, snowboarding, tubing, skating, bobsleighing and more. After you’re done exploring Calgary, take a day trip and visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs about 90 minutes west of Calgary. The Drumheller Badlands also make a great day trip. Head 90 minutes northeast and you’ll be searching for dinosaur fossils. We suggest staying at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Calgary Downtown so you are centrally located and can load up on free breakfast before you head out for your day of adventure. If you’re looking for unique Canadian experiences, Calgary is the perfect family vacation for you.
Experience Texan charm with your family in San Antonio & Austin. These cities are a 90-minute drive away from each other, so it’s easy to check both these cities off your bucket list in one trip. Rent a car to get around and make sure you buckle up because this trip is going to be full of adventure and activities.
From San Antonio’s Six Flags Fiesta Texas to exploring the Riverwalk and historical structures within the city, San Antonio has much to offer for families. A couple of our favourites include the light show at the Alamo, the DoSeum, and the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. If you’re looking for a place in the city, we recommend staying in the Riverwalk at the new Home2 Suites by Hilton Riverwalk or Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Riverwalk where your whole family can fill up on free breakfast. If you’ve got some extra time after you’ve explored San Antonio, spend some time tubing the river in the hill country. Whether you choose to make a stop in New Braunfels or San Marcos, you’ll experience a small-town Texan feel floating the river.
After all that adventure, you’ll be ready for Austin, where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the Live Music Capital of the World that boasts an incredible food scene. Check out these family friendly live music venues in Austin where you’ll catch some incredible talented musicians. With everything from food trucks to BBQ brisket joints – you’ll love the flavours of the south. With tons of family-friendly activities you can take part in, there is something to fit all your needs. Go sightseeing with Austin Duck Adventures or enter a bat cave! One of our favourite places to stay in Austin is the Embassy Suites by Hilton Austin Downtown South Congress that has suite-like rooms so everyone has a bit of space!
San Diego is another great option for those on the west coast of Canada. San Diego is a laid back sunny city that is known for incredible family attractions. With year-round temperatures averaging around 21 degrees, there isn’t a bad time for a visit. Every year in October, kids under 12 get free admission to over 100 attractions including the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld and more. If you love the outdoors, San Diego has over 100km of pristine beaches where you can spend days building sand castles and having beach bonfires. San Diego also has great bike paths – rent some bikes and follow one of these great trails. Make time for Coronado which is a beach town that feels like something out of a book. Have fun in the tide pools and stay right on the beach at Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton. Another top attraction is Balboa Park, offering guests 17 museums and plenty of outdoor activities located just minutes from downtown. If you like to keep your family busy and love attractions, San Diego is your family’s perfect getaway.