26 April 2019
Canada is a humongous place. That’s probably an understatement actually; it’s the second largest country in the world and with such a wealth of things to see and do, we’ve had to split this feature in half to make sure we cover all the most important stuff.
Last week, we focussed on the eastern side of Canada, highlighting Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. However, now it’s time to turn the spotlight on the likes of Vancouver, Whistler and Lake Louise. So how can families best spend their time in Western Canada?
This bustling seaport is one of Canada’s densest and most diverse cities. Surrounded by mountains and sea, the city manages to strike a unique balance of urban and rural.
The massive Stanley Park is a must-see, boasting beaches, totem poles, the Vancouver Aquarium, playgrounds, a pool and splash park, and botanical gardens. There’s even a par-54 golf course, 17 tennis courts, lawn bowling, a rowing club and the chance to spot some extraordinary wildlife like bald eagles, coyotes, even whales.
At 1,000 acres, Stanley Park covers more ground than New York’s 840-acre Central Park, and such is its size, families could easily pass an entire day at what TripAdvisor has dubbed the World’s Best Park.
Take a stroll along Seawall – a 5.5-mile paved pathway that begins at the cruise ship terminal in downtown Vancouver before heading out toward Spanish Banks on English Bay. It’s a favoured stroll amongst locals and visitors alike – just make sure you keep to your designated side of the pathway.
For a vast and varied Vancouver city experience, head to Granville Island where you’ll be able to wander independent food shops, browse a public market and art studios, and enjoy a picnic beside False Creek. Visitors to the city at the end of July/early August may be able to catch Vancouver Pride Parade too.
The rest of the time you could be kayaking in Deep Cove, sampling Dim Sum in China Town, windowshopping in Gastown, catching Vancouver Canucks’ latest NHL encounter or gazing in wonder at the Celebration of Lights – an offshore fireworks competition that occurs over English Bay for 20 minutes for three nights every summer.
“A trip to Canada has always been on my bucket list and when I finally crossed it off my list recently, it didn’t disappoint. We visited Vancouver just as trees and leaves were beginning to change colour and I absolutely fell in love with its outdoor lifestyle and vibrant city life, especially Gastown and Yaletown with bars and restaurants to satisfy every taste. Think glamorous city chic meets outdoor adventure enthusiast and you get an idea of how active yet uber-cool Vancouver is.”
Joanne, Travel Counsellor
It may have a reputation for attracting adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers, but this hugely popular ski destination certainly doesn’t neglect its family offering.
Meadow Park is one of the best ways to tire out your little ones in Whistler. Here, you’ll find an ice rink, a pool with hot tub, sauna and steam room, as well as exercise and sporting facilities. At the adjacent park, there’s a baseball diamond, picnic benches, jungle gym, splash pad, the River of Golden Dreams and the chance to take in scenic views of the mountains.
Found at the base of Blackcomb, the amazing Adventure Zone play area gives young ones the chance to burn off energy with features like Mario and Friends Mini Golf, Hot Wheelz Electric Go Carts, Kiss the Sky Bungee Trampolines and the Mighty Jump Airbag.
Elsewhere around Whistler, there are many amazing lakes and beaches, the Bounce indoor trampoline park and the state-of-the-art Olympic Plaza outdoor playground, which was built as a legacy of the 2010 Winter Games and hosts The Whistler Children’s Festival early July.
“Located at the base of the mountains, Whistler is relatively traffic free, so no wonder it is considered one of the top resorts in the world - it really can offer the best of everything. If you want to be totally blown away, I would choose the Four Seasons resort. The rooms are so luxurious, the service so attentive and the attention to every detail so outstanding. It has a wonderful friendly atmosphere and a concierge service second to none; elegant, sophisticated but not stuffy. If it is a special occasion or within budget, this would definitely be my first choice.”
Karen, Travel Counsellor
As Canada’s flagship national park, Banff attracts more than three million visitors a year, keen to witness some of the world’s most breathtaking mountain scenery, as well as get involved in a spot of hiking, biking, skiing or camping. It is home to Rocky Mountain peaks, a picture-perfect mountain town and village, and mesmerising wildlife such as bighorn sheep, bears and - after over a century away – bison.
Families can drive past turquoise glacial lakes on hundreds of kilometres of paved scenic parkways or get back to nature at one of the 14 campgrounds. History lovers can explore national historic sites, while winter brings skiing, snowshoeing and sightseeing.
Although technically part of Banff National Park, we felt Lake Louise warranted its own section - it’s essentially the turquoise blue jewel in the national park’s crown.
In the winter, Lake Louise is one of Canada’s largest ski resorts, attracting skiers, snowboarders, and anyone keen to try snowshoeing, dog sledding or horse-drawn sleigh rides. In the warmer months though, the lake becomes a hiking and sightseeing paradise, providing an uplifting summer vacation with the chance to paddle through the iridescent lakes or simply lie back in the grass and bask in the sunshine and pure mountain air.
Even more spectacular is the incredible Rockies scenery. Regardless of the time of year, you’ve never seen anything so dramatically beautiful with views you’ll never forget.
Also located in the Rocky Mountains is Yoho National Park, which brings Canada’s alpine majesty within easy reach for families.
Pitch up at one of four campgrounds, hike to the Burgess Shale fossils to hold a half-billion-year-old fossil in your hand, or simply drive through Yoho on the Trans-Canada Highway and be treated to awesome mountain views, stopping for a picnic or some historic sightseeing. Little legs will struggle to cover a fraction of Yoho’s 400+km of trails, but this backpacker’s paradise is a great place to dabble in some light rambling.
Book your family escape to Western Canada today - contact your Travel Counsellor and unlock a range of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your stay.