Family-friendly Canadian must-sees, inspired by the Royal Family’s visit

Let the Royal Family’s September visit to British Columbia and Yukon inspire you to pay a visit to our scenic northern neighbor this fall.

Inside the Canadian Museum of History.

Any time the Royal Family goes anywhere, our ears perk up, and we’re thrilled that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will tour Canada from September 24 to October 1. Though they visited Canada following their 2011 wedding, that trip took the Royal couple to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Charlottetown, Summerside, Yellowknife, Calgary, and Slave Lake. This trip, they will taste the splendors of British Columbia and Yukon. Another essential distinction between then and now: This time around, William and Kate will have their young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, accompany them. It will be the siblings’ first royal tour together.

While we don’t encourage you to stalk the Royal Family (however tempting it may be), their trip should certainly inspire you to hop over to our northern neighbor sometime this fall. There are many beautiful treasures scattered throughout Canada and plenty of family-friendly opportunities for you to enjoy, whether you’re looking to take a whirlwind weekend trip or hoping for a more extended stay. Depending on where you live in the United States, a two or three-day sojourn may not be such a farfetched idea.

We reached out to visitors’ centers across the country and asked for some of their recommendations for the best Canadian destinations to see with children in tow. Here are 15 family-friendly places you should consider checking out this fall:

The Urban Tea Merchant, Vancouver

The Urban Tea Merchant store in Vancouver. Photo by Rick Chung

Swing by the Urban Tea Merchant, Canada’s exclusive TWG merchant, to grab your very own Palace Breakfast King Tea set to relish wherever you see fit. Might that be in the hotel while Mommy and Daddy relax after a long day of taking the kiddies just about everywhere? So be it. While the Urban Tea Merchant will be closing its doors later this fall, don’t fear if you can’t make it to their signature downtown location in time. The teashop will live on as a pop-up in Nordstrom.

Pacific Yacht, moored at the Westin Bayshore Marina, Vancouver

Westin Bayshore in Vancouver

The Westin Bayshore Marina. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Okay, let’s say you do want to shadow the Royal Family. Well, then high tea aboard the elegant Pacific Yacht docked at the West Bayshore Marina may be just the British indulgence for you and your little ones. A traditional afternoon tea will take place while a live stream of the Royal Visit appears on a flat-screen for all guests to get giddy about. Scones, tea sandwiches, tarts, shortbread, English tea, and adult beverages will be served. Two sittings will be scheduled on September 25.

The Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver

Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver

Fairmont Hotel Chairman’s Suite Bathroom. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

This high-end hotel affectionately known as “the castle in the city” is centrally located downtown, which is great news if you and the kiddos plan to do plenty of walking to local landmarks. The Fairmont Hotel even has a Royal connection: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth opened it in 1939. The hotel also includes a health club, indoor pool, and spa.

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, Ottawa

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa

A family meets some friendly cows at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is home to a bevy of live animals, from cows to horses to pigs and more. Your family can find out about everyday farm life in Canada as they explore a working farm, a particular point of pride for Ottawa since it’s the only world capital with a working farm in the middle of all its urban action. The museum is also accessible to Dows Lake, which is part of the Rideau Canal system and another place your family might make memories.

Rideau Canal Cruises, Ottawa

Ottawa Locks along the Rideau Canal. Mikecphoto | Shutterstock

Explore the Rideau Canal, an extensive chain of lakes, rivers, and lochs and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, by taking a cruise. Rideau Canal Cruises offers a variety of itineraries and activities for you to choose the best options for your family. Yes, there’s wifi, but board games and a collection of historic books about the canal help lend a quainter air to this adventure.

Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa

Dinosaur Exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism

The Canadian Museum of Nature is another place for animal lovers, including dinosaur fans. Particularly worth mentioning is the Talisman Energy Fossil Gallery. The gallery features more than 30 full dinosaur skeletons in addition to a diorama of life-sized models. Add the museum’s Water Gallery to your list for spectacular skeletons, too. This gallery features a full blue whale skeleton, one of the very few on public display across the globe. But make no bones about it, the museum isn’t only about skeletons. The Bird Gallery is, shall we say, a little more feathery.

Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa

Canadian Museum of History

Inside the Canadian Museum of History. Photo courtesy of Ottawa Tourism

The Canadian Museum of History houses not only the world’s biggest collection of totem poles, but the Canadian Children’s Museum, as well. The Children’s Museum is the history museum’s most-visited attraction, probably in part because of its child-friendly, interactive exhibits. Children begin their visit by obtaining a “passport” and learning about homes from around the world. Come here and your kids won’t only learn about Canada—they’ll learn about homes in India, Mexico, Indonesia, and beyond.

St. Lawrence River, the Chaudière-Appalaches region

St. Lawrence River in Quebec

Boats docked in the St. Lawrence River. Photo by S. Allard

You can make a whole trip out of bobbing in and out of Quebec’s rustic Chaudière-Appalaches region. Mainly, it offers historic villages, river views, and rolling hills. There are five towns on the scenic St. Lawrence River, which connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and several others along the nearby but smaller Chaudière River. Of particular note is Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, which is upheld as one of Quebec’s village gems and well-known for its woodcarving tradition.

Mont Royal, Montreal

Mont-Royal Park in Montreal

An autumn day at a park in Mont-Royal. Philippe Renault |

Anyone who’s ever been to Montreal will probably sing the praises of this small mountain in the city. Hike up Mount Royal and get a gorgeous view of a city famous for its architectural beauty. Apart from the kind of nature you might expect from a large urban park, there also is a relatively placid artificial lake, plus food trucks, picnic tables, and more. Pack your picnic basket or choose something from a local vendor.

Basilique Notre-Dame, Montreal

Inside the Basilique Notre-Dame in Montreal. Hisgett | Flickr

This Neogothic basilica is Montreal’s oldest Catholic parish. Come for the breathtaking twin towers, woodwork, stained glass, and other resplendent details. The altar alone contains 32 panels by artist Charles Daudelin. If you’re lucky, you might catch one of the parish’s popular recitals and hear the beloved organ played, too.

St. Paul Street/Rue St. Paul, Montreal

Rue Saint-Paul Montreal

The Rue St Paul in Montreal is famous for its restaurants, bars and cafes. Ian Dagnall | Alamy

This is the heart of Old Montreal, a historic district that gives you a lot of the city’s local flavor. Paved in cobblestones, you’ll find a host of landmarks worth your attention here. Bonsecours Market and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel are among the jewels flanked by local shops on the city’s oldest street.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal

Two hearts sculpture by Jim Dine at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. John Mitchell | Alamy

As Montreal’s largest museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts does not disappoint. The permanent collection alone boasts 41,000 works of art. It also has the oldest art library in all of Canada. Located on the historic Golden Square Mile, the museum lives among many luxurious historic homes built between 1850 and 1930.

Kensington Market, Toronto

Kensington Market in Toronto

Outside the Big Fat Burrito building in Kensington Market. Mikecphoto | Shutterstock

This older, eclectic neighborhood is a National Historic Site of Canada. You’ll find that part of the market is outdoors and the rest indoors, but the vibrant market air enlivens the whole area. Apart from the neighborhood’s signature market, you’ll find a wealth of Victorian homes. Take a look at Number 8 Fire Station and Bellevue Square Park, too.

Toronto Zoo, Toronto

A panda in Toronto Zoo

A giant panda eating bamboo at the Toronto Zoo. Johnath | Flickr

The Toronto Zoo is one of the country’s pride and joys. It’s more than 700 acres and keeps more than 5,000 animals alive and well everyday. The zoo has a particular mission to fight extinction and many programs in place to preserve Canadian species, as well. Some of its most famous furry faces are Juno the polar bear cub and Nandu the Indian rhino calf, four white lion cubs, two giant panda cubs, and the members of its Giraffe House.

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