Forget about crummy exchange rates and the hassle of overseas travel. A trip to our northern neighbor offers all the fun of visiting another country without the expense.
Best for a Beach Getaway
Prince Edward Island(888-734-7529; www.peiplay.com)
Family Fun: Canada's smallest province is famous for miles of untouched beaches, glorious red-sandstone cliffs, and the legendary Anne of Green Gables. But it's the "singing sands" of Basin Head that will most enthrall your children. As they scuff their feet in the sand, its high silica content creates squeaky, oddly fascinating noises. At Prince Edward Island National Park, parents with little ones will appreciate the stroller-accessible boardwalk, which floats on top of a pond and runs alongside rare, protected sand dunes.
Where to Stay: Rodd Hotels & Resorts has seven hotels geared toward families on the island. They range from Rodd Crowbush Golf & Beach Resort, which overlooks the beautiful North Shore, to Rodd Royalty Inn & Suites, where kids can ride on the island's largest water slide. For a once-in-a-lifetime stay, book a room at the West Point Lighthouse, a real, working lighthouse and inn.
Best for Skiing
British Columbia(800-766-0449; www.whistlerblackcomb.com)
Family Fun: Nestled between two mountains, Whistler Ski Resort is a great destination for families who love skiing, snowboarding, dogsledding, and going on sleigh rides. Blackcomb Mountain has children-only lifts, and its Adventure Zone gives kids the chance to ski down friendly trails, passing animated characters along the way. The main destination is the Castle, where little ones can play on slides or take part in special Whistler Kids programs.
Where to Stay: The resort makes vacationing with your family easy. Almost all accommodations include kitchen facilities, and a day-care program for kids ages 3 months to 3 years is available. Book a room in the Legends lodge, which is near the Whistler Kids Creekside Learning Center.
Best for an International Adventure
Family Fun: Want to expose your kids to a little European flavor? Give them a taste of France without leaving North America! Quebec City feels positively Parisian with its cobblestoned streets, bustling bakeries, and fancy cheese shops. The city is especially fun for families in February, when it hosts the world's largest winter carnival. There's a giant tower, a castle, and several slides, all made out of ice. Montreal also offers some must-see attractions, including the romantic Old Port section, walk-through mazes, and the Cirque du Soleil.
Where to Stay: Near Montreal and Quebec City, the Fairmont Tremblant is a smart choice for families who want to explore both cities and the surrounding areas. Its luge rides, biking trails, and gondola access will win over the kids.
Best for Water Sports
Family Fun: Located in the heart of Canada, the "Land of 100,000 Lakes" is the perfect place for your family to try kayaking, rafting, fishing, or other water activities. For a more unique adventure, take a canoe trip down Caddy Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park, where you can paddle through impressive tunnels carved into the rock. Don't miss the whale-watching boat tours in Churchill. You can see massive beluga whales or listen to them on a special hydrophone-equipped boat.
Where to Stay: At the local Canada Inns, you'll love the affordable accommodations, while children will dig the kid-themed rooms and menus, and the Hotel Fun 4 Kids program, which has indoor pools and water slides.
Best for Nature Lovers
Family Fun: Home to the Canadian Rockies, this western province boasts some of the most beautiful wilderness areas in North America, including Banff and Jasper National Parks. Little explorers will jump at the chance to spot black bears, moose, and elk on a wildlife hike, or watch the aurora borealis light up the night sky. Kids will also have a great time on the Columbia Icefield glacier walk, where they can ride on special snow trucks with monster-size tires.
Where to Stay: Perfect for families on a budget, Douglas Fir Resorts & Chalets offers affordable condo-style units with full kitchens on Tunnel Mountain. There's also an on-site playground and an indoor pool with two water slides.
Best for an Urban Escape
Family Fun: From an array of child-friendly museums to live classical concerts, Toronto, the capital city, has all the fun and culture a family could want. With more than 800 interactive exhibits, the Ontario Science Centre is a hit with kids. Make sure to stop by the static-electricity area, where little ones can make their hair stand on end. For children 8 and younger, the new KidSpark invites imaginative play in a pint-size construction site, supermarket, and music studio.
Where to Stay: Ontario has no shortage of family-oriented hotels, but the Delta Chelsea is a standout. Located in downtown Toronto, it offers a Children's Creative Centre, complete with games, crafts, babysitting, and strollers.