After having to cancel for two consecutive years (thanks COVID), we finally made it to Canada last summer. When you’ve planned something for so long and looked forward to it so much, there’s always that nagging feeling that it might not live up to your expectations. I’m so pleased to say that absolutely wasn’t the case. We LOVED Canada and the range of things it had to offer.
We drove across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver, detouring slightly at the start so we didn’t miss Niagara Falls and the end so we didn’t miss Whistler. Here are a few of our favourite things about travelling through Canada.
One of the things I did before our trip was to research playgrounds and parks in every place we were stopping off at, as well as those along the route on the days we had very long drives. I was so glad I did this as we were able to quickly find these and make sure the children were able to have a stretch of the legs and burn off some energy.
We were so very impressed with the quality of the parks and playgrounds in Canada. They children loved exploring them as they were all different. This meant that each playground brought with it new challenges – perfect for growing children.
The bulk of playgrounds had toilet blocks and picnic tables, so they also made a great stop off. Some of the larger ones and especially the ones near beaches also had things like cafes and snack bars.
Stopping off at a range of playgrounds massively enhanced each day and the children’s enjoyment of the journey, which some days required a long time in the car. We rarely drove more than 1h30 without a stop at a park.
Swimming in lakes
Lake swimming and paddling was also a great stop off whilst driving across Canada. This was also something I researched in advance, however, things like this are so well signposted in Canada, you wouldn’t need to plan in advance, you could just stop as you saw places.
Top tip – make sure you have a bag of swimming things and some towels easily accessible in the car. We made sure this bag was always on the top, so we could easily access it.
The best way I can describe the scenery in Canada is breathtaking. That doesn’t seem powerful enough when I look back at some of the places we visited. I was in total awe. The mountains, the coastlines, the cities, the open spaces, the views, the rainforests – truly spectacular.
We loved it!
The weather was ideal really. We had a real mix of weather as we drove from one side of Canada to the other. We had hot and humid weather, we had rain, one storm, some cooler days and some seriously beautiful blue skies.
The range of things to do
There is so much to do in Canada, especially for adventurous families. If you love water sports, you will love Canada in the summer. We did paddle boarding, kayaking, rafting, canoeing etc, which were all brilliant family fun and things my family get really on board with. There are also tons of inflatable water parks across Canada which are a great family activity.
There are some wonderful museums, in particular the one in Regina which has the largest T-Rex skeleton in the world – well worth a visit.
The hiking is outstanding and one of my favourite things about Canada. By far my favourite hike was The Grouse Grind. This is a challenging hike up Grouse Mountain. Everything I had read said do not attempt this with children, but we completed it with a 15, 14, 9 and 7 year old. You have a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you reach the top, the views are stunning and you can relax and have some food, a drink, ice cream or even a traditional beavertail.
There are tons of ziplines all over Canada, enabling you to take in some of the incredible scenery from a different angle. There are lots of hot pools to enjoy and lovely mountain towns, as well as big cities with lots of attractions too.
One of our favourite things was the waterfalls. They are everywhere! Aside from the incredible Niagara Falls, we loved Kakabeka Falls.
The price of fuel
The price of fuel was a very welcome treat during our Canadian Road Trip, when compared with UK prices.
There were only three things we weren’t so keen on during our trip, these were:
The times restaurants closed – they all seemed to close super early, like 8pm, 9pm at the latest and anywhere open later than that didn’t allow children. This was bit alien to us and a bit frustrating at times. The nights we were self-catering were much easier to manage from that point of view.
The mosquitos – there were SO many mosquitos, especially in the rainforest. Despite going prepared with repellent, it just didn’t seem to cut it. I ended up going to speak to a pharmacist and bought some really strong stuff which helped massively. There was also a crazy amount of wasps in Regina. We literally didn’t see them anywhere else in Canada, but in Regina there were thousands all over the outside of the car, making it really hard to get in.
The price of food and drink – coming from the UK, the food and drink in Canada did seem pricey to us. We expected it in the cities, but thought smaller places would be less expensive.