Winter Wonderlands – Where Canadian Families are Travelling this Winter

If you’re planning a winter trip but feel overwhelmed with choices, knowing where other Canadians and their families are travelling this winter may help narrow the field. Whether you want to plan a romantic get-away for Mom and Dad, or are looking for an experience everyone can enjoy together, and it doesn’t matter if your budget is “spare no expense” or if you’re travelling on a shoestring – there are many options in Canada and beyond to explore!  These stats, courtesy of Trivago, showcase the most popular destinations in Canada and beyond (based on bookings made earlier in 2017)

In your own backyard, top locations your fellow Canucks are visiting here in Canada:

Winter or summer, Niagara Falls remains number-one on Canadians’ travel list. Travelling there in the winter affords you the benefit of off-season hotel pricing, but there’s undoubtedly no off-season when it comes to fun. The mists from the falls create beautiful natural ice sculptures on objects in the area, and the annual Festival of Lights brightens the season from November to January. And, of course, you can still travel to the falls by ferry and take in their awesome power – just be sure to dress warm!

If you’d rather an experience steeped in history and tradition, with a dash of cutting-edge modernity, Quebéc City and Montréal may be the places for you! Old Quebéc City boasts a European feel, with a multitude of historical and fun sites for you and your family to explore. Discover mysterious ocean creatures at the Aquarium du Quebéc, or spend a day at Méga Parc, the second-largest North American indoor amusement park.

History and Culture in Quebec City

Jeff Frenette Photography, courtesy Quebec City Tourism

Montréal also offers a historical backdrop for a wide range of activities for families and couples. From romantic fine dining and arts and cultural experiences to a lively nightlife to activities for kids of all ages like Saber Combat training at The Force Academy, and educational experiences like the Montréal Aviation Museum, Montréal offers a wealth of things to do inside and out during the winter. These Canadian jewels also feature room booking prices slightly lower than average.

For those hearty families and couples looking for an outdoorsy winter adventure, you need to look no further than the Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies which also had the second cheapest hotel rates. During the day, you can explore the vast natural wonder of the Canadian Rockies by snowshoe, skis, on foot, or by fat bike. At night, kick back and marvel at the magnificent natural light show above you – Jasper National Park is the second-largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world. Whether you take it in from your cabin or tent or participate in Park Canada’s dark sky programming, you won’t be disappointed!

While exploring their own backyard, Canadians stay only one or two nights likely because they’re visiting multiple places on one trip, or making weekend excursions.

If you’re thinking about travelling a bit farther afield, our neighbour to the South offers lots of exciting options:

Warm destinations remain most popular for Canadian families visiting the US, with Orlando, Florida at the top of the list – and also the cheapest average cost per night during the winter. The happiest place on earth remains a huge draw for families and couples alike throughout the year. It’s something everyone should experience at least once, no matter your age!

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Photo Credit Las Vegas News Bureau

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Photo Credit Las Vegas News Bureau

Las Vegas is the third-most popular US destination for Canadians looking for a break from our harsh Northern winters. If you’re travelling with your family, you won’t want what happens in Vegas to stay in Vegas – you’ll surely want to remember your trip for years to come! From family-oriented shows along the storied Strip to historical and national monuments just a day-trip away, Las Vegas boasts a plethora of options everyone in your family is sure to enjoy.

Honolulu is perhaps the most exotic of the top visited US destinations. Despite having the highest average cost per night, Honolulu also has the distinction of hosting Canadian families for the longest average stay at nine days! Just goes to show what that laid-back, surfer-island vibe can do for you and your loved ones.

The only northern US destination to make the list for Canadian winter travellers is New York City – a classic destination offering art and cultural experiences all year round. Just like this city doesn’t sleep, it absolutely doesn’t hibernate for winter, either! Not to mention, since it’s winter, you can re-enact your favourite ‘Home Alone 2’ scenes. With the average cost per night below average for US destinations, you can have a memorable vacation without breaking the bank.

Canadians stay four to six days at these US destinations, indicating they’re probably staying in one geographic location for the entirety of their trip.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to leave the continent

Many intrepid Canadian families are going to Iceland. Although among the most expensive per night on average, Canadians are opting to spend about five days, allowing them to fully take in the vibrant Icelandic culture, important historic locales, and breathtaking natural sites. With direct flights to Iceland from across Canada, it’s never been easier to explore this exotic landscape. With its proximity to home, it’s also a great ‘beginners’ journey for those who want to take in the sights and feel of Europe without the long flight times.

Despite Iceland being the most-booked European destination,  Canadian families are also looking for warm destinations when travelling to Europe – both Spain and Portugal are in the top five most popular destinations. In Spain, you can walk along ancient roads, take in world famous artwork at one of their 1500 museums, or experience world-renowned culinary delights. Spain’s average cost per night is above average for Trivago’s top 5 European destinations but is undoubtedly worth every penny.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal via Shutterstock

In Portugal, you and your family could climb the famous statue of Christ, the Cristo Rei, and take in the breathtaking view of Lisbon. There is also a multitude of educational and historical sights to take in, such as artworks by Dali and Picasso, and the collection of antiquities and cultural artefacts at the Gulbenkian. Or you could visit one of the several beaches on the Atlantic Ocean to relax and work on your tan. Regarding cost, Portugal is below average, making it a more accessible European destination.

So now that you know what other Canadian families are doing on their winter vacation, what do you think you’d like to do? Tell us in the comments below!


By Amanda Rafuse
Amanda is a Halifax, N.S.-based freelance writer and public relations practitioner. When she’s not writing, she’s either volunteering with a local charity or spending time cuddled up with her husband and fur-baby.

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  1. January 7, 2018

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