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 enjoy plenty of wildlife and water-based action at Ucluelet or Tofino. Then back to the mainland for a magnificent drive through the Rockies, enjoying the jaw-dropping scenery of Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway along the way.


  Scenic Vancouver Island ferry ride
  Whale and bear watching
  White water rafting in Jasper
  SUP or canoe on Lake Louise
  Drive the Icefields Parkway
  Glacier National Park

15 days from £3,000 pp

Plus international flights from £700

A 15-day holiday in Western Canada for a family of four usually costs from £12,000  plus flights and eTAs.

View pricing guide

Western Canada for Families day-to-day itinerary

Day 1 Vancouver
Welcome to Canada! On arrival into Vancouver, make your way to your hotel where the rest of the day is free.

Vancouver is regularly voted the best place to live in Canada and 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.

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

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

In the morning, take a self-guided cycling tour. From the financial towers of downtown Vancouver to the towering cedar trees of Stanley Park, the views are constantly changing. Cycle past Third Beach to the famous totem poles at Brockton Point, keeping an eye out for beavers and raccoons along the way.

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.

Day 3 Vancouver Island – Ucluelet
This morning, hop on the ferry to Vancouver Island. An incredible road trip awaits you as you drive across the 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 to the Pacific Coast.

Your base is Ucluelet, commonly known as ‘Ukee’. This is the gateway to the magnificent Pacific Rim National Park, a huge area of ancient coastal rainforest and wind-swept sandy beaches. This is a natural outdoor playground with an incredible array of activities as well as superb wildlife viewings (bears and whales being the big draw cards).

Day 4 Ucluelet
After breakfast, head out into Barkley Sound on a small boat excursion to search for whales. Accompanied by a specialist naturalist, you enjoy spectacular views of the coast as you cruise to the common feeding areas. With a bit of luck you should have excellent sightings of grey and humpback whales and may even see killer whales. The kids will be mesmerised as these vast mammals breach, spout, feed and ‘spy-hop’. It’s also common to see sea lions, sea otters, seals and eagles so keep your eyes peeled at all times!

The afternoon is free to explore by yourselves. Perhaps head to Long Beach to hit the surf or take a hike along the 9km Wild Pacific trail, following winding boardwalks through the dense forest to emerge at dramatically beautiful viewpoints.

Day 5 Ucluelet
This morning it’s time for a sea kayaking expedition. Younger children will enjoy a slightly shorter route within Ucluelet harbour whereas those with older children can head out into Barkley Sound. Kayak past giant kelp beds, craggy rock formations and wildlife colonies where you might spot black bears, sea lions or whales.

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Day 6 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 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.

Day 7 Clearwater
After breakfast drive to Clearwater, the gateway to the fabulous scenery of Wells Gray Provincial Park. This is full of old-growth forest, pioneer homesteads, volcanoes, canyons and spectacular waterfalls. Helmcken Falls are the most famous; at 142m high, this is the fourth tallest in Canada. There are numerous trails through the park offering superb views of the waterfalls and mountains beyond. The park is also home to one of North America’s largest concentrations of black bears during early summer – so keep your eyes open for great wildlife spotting!

Day 8 Jasper
Another spectacular journey today as you head to Jasper with the Columbia and Monashee Mountains to your right and the towering peak of Mount Robson (the highest in the Canadian Rockies, at 3,954m) to your left.

You will stop en route for a boat safari along the Blue River, through Grizzly Bear Valley. The scenery here is extraordinarily dramatic, with glaciers descending down from snow-capped peaks, but the real draw is the abundance of wildlife. Black bears, grizzly bears and moose are frequently seen in the area, coming down to drink in the river or ambling through the woods.

Day 9 Jasper
A full day to explore Jasper, a picturesque alpine town surrounded by aquamarine lakes, snowy peaks and glaciers. Perhaps take the SkyTram to the top of Whistlers Mountain and walk the Summit Trail. This takes you to the 2,463m peak, from where you can see Mount Robson. Alternatively you might want to head out into Jasper National Park either on bike or foot. With nearly 1,000km of well-marked trails, independent hiking is easily manageable; we like the route to Maligne Canyon.

The kids might also like a morning spent at Lac Beauvert of Lake Edith where you can hire a SUP or kayak and head out onto the lake.

Day 10 Jasper
An exciting morning awaits with a white-water rafting excursion in Jasper National Park. There are two different rivers where this can be arranged; one is more challenging, with wilder water that offers a good dose of adrenalin for those with older children. There is also a more gentle option, where the grade 2 rapids are interspersed with a more serene section where you can soak up the  breath-taking Rocky Mountain scenery.

Day 11 Icefields Parkway – Lake Louise
Your drive today takes you along the Icefields Parkway, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Linking Lake Louise with Jasper, the route winds along the Continental Divide through a bewilderingly beautiful panorama of snowy mountains, vast forested valleys and huge icefields.

Stop en route at the Colombia Icefields where you will head out in an all-terrain vehicle onto Athabasca Glacier. Situated between towering peaks, the glacier is vast – the guides will tell you that the ice in the centre of the glacier is as deep as the Eiffel Tower is high!

You will also walk out onto the new Glacier Skywalk. Here the self-guided audio tour will teach you all about the glaciers (and the challenges posed by global warming) before you walk out onto a glass-floored platform that dangles over the edge of the Sunwapta Canyon. Vertigo aside, the views up and down the valley are extraordinary.

End the day in the Lake Louise area, in Banff National Park. This is Canada’s oldest park and one of the world’s greatest natural outdoor playgrounds. There are 6,641 km² of snowy mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, dense forests and aquamarine lakes.

Day 12 Lake Louise & Surrounds
The startlingly turquoise waters of Lake Louise have bewitched visitors for more than 100 years. Nestled beneath the mountains, with glacier topped Mount Victoria providing a majestic backdrop, this is one of the most famous landscapes in the Canadian Rockies.

There are a multitude of activities to choose from. You can explore on foot, in which case there are easy options around the lakeshore, or more challenging hikes up into the mountains for stunning views. Alternatively hire a canoe and head out onto the lake itself.

If you want to travel a little further afield, it’s worth visiting the pretty town of Golden. Here you can hop on the chairlift up to the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge, 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.

Or perhaps head west for a short distance and pop across the border back into BC to Yoho National Park. More scenic highlights await here, most notably the sparkling green waters of Emerald Lake which reflect the surrounding snow-capped peaks.

Day 13 Banff
Head to Banff, perhaps stopping to visit Moraine Lake. This is one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada, a glacially fed lake in the heart of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. 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.

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. Remember to be ‘bear safe’ if you bump into a grizzly – sing, dance and make a fool of yourself noisily!

End the day in the renowned alpine resort of Banff with its kitsch, chocolate-box setting. Perhaps splash out this evening with a meal at the historic landmark Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel or introduce the kids to the joys of hot rock cooking and fondues at the Grizzly House Restaurant. Here you can prepare your own bison, buffalo and alligator steaks…

Day 14 Banff
After breakfast take a ride on the Banff Gondola up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for an incredible view of six mountain ranges. There is a short trail you can follow to maximise the views.

For the rest of your time in Banff there are masses of different activities. Choose from boat trips, float trips, e-bike rides, zip-lines and white water rafting excursions. You can also 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.

Day 15 Calgary
Depending on your flight time, you may have one final day in the mountains, before heading to Calgary and your flight home.


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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