Spend Less for Outdoor Vacations at These Family-Friendly Canadian Resorts
It’s no secret that in Canada the great outdoors is especially, well, great. Families from the U.S. who head north for vacations in Canadian nature-focused resorts benefit as well from a favorable exchange rate, with the U.S. dollar buying about 25% more than the Canadian dollar, as of July 2022.
You could use the discount to add days to your trip or upgrade your accommodations and activities. Reap the savings while you savor whale-watching excursions, hikes and mountain biking rides in lush forests, paddle trips on lakes, and beachcombing on windswept coasts at these top-notch family destinations across Canada.
Pictured above: canoeing at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario
The 500-acre White Point Beach Resort offers a classic Nova Scotia family getaway. The Atlantic Ocean breaks along a half-mile-long beach where the broad, shallow slope at low tide draws wading kids who don’t mind the brisk water temperatures. Other offerings for active types include complimentary kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes; nature trails (ask for some free rabbit food for the resident bunnies); indoor and outdoor pools; and a 9-hole golf course (extra fee).
Take in the tastes and tales of Nova Scotia at complimentary oceanfront mussel bakes and via a program celebrating the songs, legends, and traditional fare of Nova Scotia’s indigenous Mi’kmaw people (who lead the program). Kids stay busy with free Teddy Bear Picnics, Mad Hatter Tea Parties in the flower garden, and fireside ghost stories on the lawn. The Kids’ Zone (not a drop-off children’s program) offers daily arts-and-crafts activities.
Head to Kejimkujik National Park (about 50 miles from the resort) to hike coastal trails where you can spot sunning seals or, after dark, count the stars in a designated Dark-Sky Preserve.
Lodging options: 121 accommodations, including 39 guest rooms, 54 rustic cottages, 13 vacation homes, and 4 treehouses
For kids: daily activities, but no supervised drop-off program
Summer rates: starting at CA$220 ($169)
The all-inclusive Club Med Québec debuted in December 2021 as a ski property in Le Massif de Charlevoix, known for its challenging 2,526-foot vertical drop and views of the St. Lawrence River. Open year-round, the resort has a summer program that mixes mountain hiking and biking with classic Club Med fun such as tennis, yoga, and even trapeze arts.
The resort’s daylong children’s programs are not only engaging for kids, but the service also gives parents and grandparents some time to themselves for a change. Kids' programming for those aged 4 through 10 focuses on enriching, problem-solving games and activities, while tweens and teens go cycling and trekking along mountain trails, learning valuable skills such as how to forage for berries and navigate with a compass.
Babies and toddlers aren’t left out, either. The resort stocks rooms with supplies for infants and has a Petit Club (extra fee) full of games and activities geared toward 2- and 3-year-olds.
The whole family can take part in the Club Med Amazing Family! program, which builds togetherness through treasure hunts, indoor pool games, and picnics.
Lodging options: 302 guest rooms
For kids: separate daily drop-off programs for kids ages 4–10 and 11–17
Summer rates: starting at CA$174 ($134) per adult; kids under 4 stay free, and kids ages 4–11 get half off
Explore the beaches and forests of Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast at Pacific Sands Beach Resort near Tofino. The 41-acre oceanfront property is part of the UNESCO-designated Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, a region of rocky coastline and temperate rainforest.
At the resort, kids play in the sand, search tide pools for marine life, bike on the beach, and watch Tofino’s renowned surfers. Guests ages 10 and older can try riding the waves themselves with lessons from the onsite Surf Sister Surf School.
In July and August, the resort partners with the Raincoast Education Society to offer complimentary hands-on activities—such as outings to learn about animal tracks, rainforest insects, and shorebirds—for participants aged 5 to 12. About 2 miles from the resort, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve beckons with a boardwalk path past towering old-growth trees, and the 4-mile round-trip Nuu-chah-nulth and South Beach Trail, which cuts through the forest to a rocky beach.
Back at the resort, many units have fireplaces and hot tubs, and all have kitchens. Though the summer is drier here than other seasons, you should still expect showers part of the time. Note the handy yellow slickers in your room.
Lodging options: 121 units with full kitchens; includes 20 townhouses with 2–3 bedrooms.
For kids: free, 2-hour daily program for ages 5–12 (July and August)
Summer rates: starting at CA$570 ($437)
Deerhurst Resort has been welcoming families to Muskoka’s Peninsula Lake in Ontario since 1925. Once an 18-room summer hotel on 4 acres, the resort has grown to a year-round, 760-acre operation with 400 accommodations and a past guest list that includes Pres. Barack Obama.
There’s much to do—canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, tennis, disc golf, swimming in the indoor pool, and golf on a 9-hole course (resort fees cover all of that). For extra fees, add water sports such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, jetskiing, and tubing, or non-liquid pursuits like zip lining, ATVing, mountain biking, and riddle solving in an escape cabin.
If that’s not enough to keep you occupied, nearby Algonquin Provincial Park’s 2,955 square miles of woodsy hiking paths and canoe trails across 1,500 lakes should do the trick.
Lodging options: 400 units; includes rooms, suites, and 1–3 bedroom homes
For kids: no supervised drop-off programs available
Summer rates: starting at CA$219 ($168)
Hugging Lac Ouimet, a picturesque expanse of tree-lined shores and islets, Le Grand Lodge Mont-Tremblant has a sandy private beach and complimentary kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats to borrow. This Laurentian Mountain resort is in the town of Mont-Tremblant, not the ski resort of the same name, which is 3.5 miles to the north.
Most of the lodge’s accommodations come with full kitchens, making it possible to stretch meal budgets. If the lake feels too cold for swimming, then jump into the indoor 20m (66-ft.) pool.
The bike path adjacent to the resort joins Le P’tit Train du Nord (Little Train of the North), a former rail line converted to a 124-mile linear park (no cars allowed) that cuts through woods and runs along rivers, lakes, and small towns. The resort rents mountain, electric, and hybrid bikes for adults and kids hoping to hit the trail on two wheels.
At Mont-Tremblant National Park (15 miles from the lodge) trails showcase waterfalls, forests, and mountains with scenic overlooks. Note that visiting the park requires advance reservations.
Lodging options: 112 units; includes 11 guest rooms and 101 suites with full kitchens
For kids: no supervised drop-off programs available
Summer rates: starting at CA$280 ($215)
A stay at a Four Seasons Resort is never gonna qualify as low-cost. But at least the rates will be lower in Canada for Americans. Use the Four Seasons Whistler as a cushy base for family summer adventures at Whistler Blackcomb, one of North America’s largest ski resorts. In summer, the region is an excellent choice for bicycling enthusiasts. Teens will appreciate the serious cycling along curving, rocky paths at the Mountain Bike Park. Whistler Singletrack, a mountain bike guiding and coaching company, holds classes for riders as young as 6. For easy cycling (or walking), try the paved, 29-mile Valley Trail.
Adrenaline junkies can fly along Whistler’s zip lines, one of which stretches for 6,500 feet. For panoramic views, ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola that transports guests between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There are also bear-viewing excursions for catching sight of the black bears living in the forests around the ski area.
After a day of off-the-property activities, take a dip in the Four Seasons’ heated, outdoor pool. The luxury resort welcomes kids with cookies and pint-size bathrobes. The resort can arrange for an art class with a local artist, a private plane flight to an alpine lake for a picnic, and other special activities.
Lodging options: 273 rooms
For kids: no organized programs, but individual activities and childcare can be arranged
Summer rates: starting at CA$650 ($499)
Riding Mountain National Park encompasses more than 730,000 acres of grasslands, forests, wetlands, lakes, and the village of Wasagaming, where you’ll find cafes, a bakery, and a pizzeria. A fun and highly Instagrammable way to explore Riding Mountain with kids is to search for the red Adirondack chairs scattered throughout the park (and at other sites operated by Parks Canada).
With the biggest beach, Clear Lake draws families during splish-splash season. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or pedal boat from the Clear Lake Marina. The paved Lakeshore Trail, popular for biking and hiking around the water, leads to picnic areas and Deep Bay, a spot for swimming.
On a walk of the 1-mile Ominnik Marsh Trail, follow a boardwalk path over bulrushes, bogs, and marshes—keep an eye out for beavers and muskrat lodges. While driving the parkway, you might spot moose, elk, and black bears. For those who like the feel of sleeping outdoors but don’t have the equipment or know-how to camp, Riding Mountain’s oTENTiks (pictured above) are the answer. The fully set-up A-frame tent cabins come with three double-sized sleeping platforms, indoor and outdoor tables, and a campfire spot.
Lodging options: 429 campsites, 37 oTENTik cabins, 1 yurt
For kids: no organized programs
Summer rates: campgrounds starting at CA$28 ($22), oTENTiks from CA$122.64 ($95)
The Algonquin offers a family-friendly launching pad to experience Fundy National Park and St. Andrews, frequently named one of Canada’s most charming towns.
The Bay of Fundy's dramatic tide changes stir up plankton, krill, and other snacks that attract finback, minke, and humpback whales between June and October. That makes whale-watching a must—you and your kids will long remember the thrilling sight of a whale slapping its flukes on the water or breaching the sea.
Constructed in 1889 and rebuilt in 1915 following a fire, the Algonquin offers history and elegance behind its striking Tudor Revival facade. Stay active by swimming in the indoor and outdoor pools or introducing the kids to croquet on the expansive green lawns. In the evening, there’s a complimentary ghost tour suitable for older kids and teens. You’ll walk through the hotel’s underground tunnels and hear tales about resident specters.
Among the many intriguing things to see nearby: the woodlands and marshes of Pagan Point Nature Reserve, the 27 acres of flowers and other plants at Kingsbrae Garden (kids will like the cedar maze and onsite alpacas), and the abundance of 18th- and 19th-century buildings in seaside St. Andrews.
Lodging options: 233 rooms
For kids: no organized programs
Summer rates: starting at CA$230 ($178)