Canada

Western Canada for Families

A fabulous mixture of coast and mountains, this is the classic self-drive itinerary through western Canada. There’s plenty of stunning scenery and enough outdoor activities and wildlife to keep all ages happy.

From the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, head to Vancouver Island and the quaint charm of Victoria. Enjoy plenty of wildlife and water-based action at Tofino then return back to the mainland and the rolling hills of the Okanagan Valley. From here the scenery gets ever more dramatic as you venture deep into the Rockies to visit Revelstoke, Glacier and Yoho National Parks. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more impressive, you’ll find yourselves amidst the jaw-dropping scenery of Banff, Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway. This provides a fitting finale before flying home from the cowboy city of Calgary.

Highlights

  Scenic Vancouver Island ferry ride
  Whale and bear watching at Tofino
  Ride Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mt
  Canoe Lake Louise
  Glacier and Yoho National Parks
  Okanagan Valley wineries

17 days from £2,150 pp

Plus international flights from £650

A 17 day holiday in Western Canada for a family of four usually costs from £8,500 to £15,000  plus flights and eTAs, depending on type of accommodation.

View pricing guide

Western Canada for Families day-to-day itinerary

Day 1 Vancouver
Welcome to Canada! Vancouver is the perfect starting point for this family adventure across BC and Alberta. Regularly voted the best place to live in Canada, this is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It is set in a stunning natural location, nestled between the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.


Day 2 Vancouver
After your first breakfast of peameal bacon and maple syrup on bagels (!), you have a full day to explore this family-friendly city.

Perhaps hire a bike to follow a trail through Stanley Park to the famous Stanley Park Totem Poles. Later you can stroll through historic Gastown with its quaint cobbled streets and vintage lampposts. The kids will love watching the steam clock whistling and shooting steam, Canada’s answer to Big Ben. Grab a bite to eat at the Granville Island Public Market and let the children go wild in the nearby Kids’ Market with its kite-covered ceiling.

In the afternoon you can take the cable car to the top of the alpine resort of Grouse Mountain or, if you are looking for more of an adrenalin kick, then head to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Here you can walk over the famous suspension bridge, which spans 137 metres over the thundering Capilano River.

Dining options are endless. With a strong Asian influence, your family will be in noodle heaven – or introduce the kids to sushi perhaps….


Day 3 Vancouver Island & Victoria
This morning collect your rental vehicle and hop on the ferry to Vancouver Island and the picturesque capital of BC, Victoria. The city has a lovely colonial feel and you can climb Mount Douglas for superb 360° views. Later meander past the quaint Victorian houses of Dallas Road or drive to nearby Butchart Gardens. These world-renowned botanical gardens are a fantasyland of floral displays and different gardens from around the world.


Day 4 Ucluelet
An incredible road trip awaits you today as you drive across Vancouver Island, through some of the country’s most gorgeous scenery. First stop is MacMillan Provincial Park, home to Giant Red Cedars and an ancient collection of massive Douglas fir trees. Some of these are nearly 9 metres in circumference (giving tree-hugging a new meaning…). From here, a spectacular winding road leads you through the heart of the Island to the Pacific Coast.

Your base for the next three nights is Ucluelet, commonly known as ‘Ukee’. Stay in a magical lodge offering rainforest and oceanfront self-catering cabins with direct access to hiking trails, beaches and tidal pools.


Days 5-6 Ucluelet & Tofino
The two towns of Ucluelet and Tofino are the gateway to the magnificent Pacific Rim National Park. This is a natural outdoor playground, where temperate rainforest runs down to a wild and rugged coastline.

Take a cruise along the coast to spot black bear foraging on Meares Island. You can also join a whale-watching excursion to spot orca, gray and humpback whales as well as sea lions, seals and bald eagles. The kids will love hiring a kayak or SUP to paddle the waters of Barkely Sound, spotting marine wildlife as you go, or heading to Long Beach to hit the surf.

Families who travel with hiking boots will love emerging from their cabins directly on to the Wild Pacific Trail. Here you can follow 9km of coastline past reefs and ancient shipwrecks. In the evening gorge on fresh seafood (or catch your own on a fishing trip). We recommend the local lingcod tacos (fish tacos)!

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Day 7 Harrison Hot Springs
Head back across the island to the charming town of Nanaimo where you can try some of their famous Nanaimo Bars (only for the sweet toothed families out there!). From here you will board the ferry for the 1hr 40 minute scenic ride to Horseshoe Bay. Your journey along the Trans-Canada Highway towards the Rockies begins!

Tonight you will stop in the holiday resort of Harrison Hot Springs. This is located at the foot of Harrison Lake and surrounded by mountains. Stretch your legs with a walk along the beach or explore the hot mineral springs which give the town its name.


Days 8-9 Okanagan Valley
An easy journey through rolling hills and vineyards takes you into the heart of Canada’s wine country – the beautiful Okanagan Valley. You can tour a family-run boutique winery or relax on one of the many lake beaches and enjoy the hot, dry climate. From here, continue your road journey past tumbling waterfalls and sparkling lakes to the picturesque mountain resort of Revelstoke.


Day 10 Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks
It’s time to start ramping up that mountain scenery as you head through two of BC’s finest national parks. Escape the car and enjoy a short self-guided walk along the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park. You can also drive the 26km ‘Meadows in the Sky Parkway’ to the summit of Mount Revelstoke. This is one of the few places in the world you can actually summit a 2000m+ mountain by car!

Neighbouring Glacier National Park is home to 420 glaciers. You can take an easy hike along the abandoned Canadian Pacific Railway – remember to watch for both grizzlies and black bears!


Days 11 – 12 Yoho National Park
More scenic highlights await you in Yoho National Park where the sparkling green waters of Emerald Lake reflect the surrounding snow-capped peaks of the Rockies. You can hire a canoe and paddle the pristine turquoise waters of the lake or take an SUP along the Beaver River to Wapta Falls. Perhaps take a guided hike to discover the world-famous fossils at Burgess Shale or tackle the challenging alpine trek to Yukness Ledges. There’s also the option for a white-water trip along the Kicking Horse River if you want a dose of adrenalin.

Plenty of wildlife opportunities area also available here. From your base in the pretty town of Golden, you can hop on the chairlift up to the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge. This is the largest protected grizzly bear habitat in the world. You can also visit the Northern Lights Wolf Centre, where you can view wolves in their natural environment.


Days 13-16 Banff
Head further into the Rockies to Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest park and one of the world’s greatest natural outdoor playgrounds. Here you will find 6,641 km² of snowy mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, dense forests and unbelievably aquamarine lakes. You have four full days to explore.

There are endless activities but the perfect introduction is a ride on the Banff Gondola. This takes you to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for an incredible view of six mountain ranges. There are also boat trips, float trips, zip-lines and white water rafting excursions. You can unleash your inner cowboy for a ride out into the Rockies on horseback, tackle a Via Ferrata or take to the skies on a scenic helicopter ride.

Make sure that you take a drive along Highway 1 to Lake Louise, with its iconic lakeside colonial hotel. Also highly recommended is Moraine Lake, one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada. The glacially fed lake is located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the lake surface reflects the awe-inspiring beauty of the surrounding mountains, glaciers and forest. This is hiking heaven.  We recommend the Rockpile and Lakeshore Trail for younger families whilst keen hikers can take on the scramble to the top of the Tower of Babel. The views will be worth it – honest!

Wildlife abounds here, with both grizzlies and black bear commonly spotted. There are also moose, elk, bison (recently re-introduced), wolf, coyote, bald eagles and those amusing marmots. If hiking amongst such beasts makes you a little nervous, why not take a guided hike in the company of a knowledgeable naturalist – who will know just what to do if you bump into a grizzly: clue – sing, dance and make a fool of yourself noisily!

Another must-do day trip takes you along the Icefields Parkway, one of North America’s most spectacular journeys. Driving between Banff and Jasper you will witness the dramatic panorama of the peaks, glaciers, waterfalls and forests of the Columbia Icefields. The kids will love an ice explorer buggy tour that takes you right onto the Athabasca Glacier. You can also test your nerve on the newly constructed Glacial Skywalk. Here a cliff-edge walkway leads to a glass-floored observation platform 280m above the Sunwapta Valley.

In the evenings, enjoy the alpine resort atmosphere of Banff with its kitsch, chocolate-box setting. How about introducing the kids to the joys of hot rock cooking and fondues at the Grizzly House Restaurant where you can prepare your own bison, buffalo and alligator steaks…


Day 17 Calgary
A short 1.5hr drive takes you to the cowboy city of Calgary with its international flight connections.

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Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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