6 Affordable Family Adventure Vacations

These experiences amaze, delight and educate—spend less and still get everything you want on your next family adventure.

Just like the provincial motto, Ontario is “Yours to Discover.” From exploring the lush green hills to the turquoise blue waters and endless lakes and parks, there’s so much to see and do. The best part is, there are many unique and budget-friendly options for the perfect outdoor family vacation. Here are some of our favourites!

Beachcomb on Lake Superior 

Sunsets are spectacular at Pancake Bay Provincial Park.

The largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, Lake Superior is an incredibly beautiful mosaic of streams, rivers, islands, pictographs, cliffs, and the cleanest water of all the Great Lakes. Renowned for its remarkable pebble and cobble beaches, Superior also boasts vast stretches of dazzling sand and craggy crescents of stony shingle. Sample some of the best beaches at Lake Superior Provincial Park, or plan an ambitious park-to-park tour with stops at Pancake Bay, Pukaskwa, Neys, and Rainbow Falls—the perfect road trip for an outdoorsy family. All of these parks have RV- and tent-friendly campgrounds with spectacular lake views and beachcombing right off your campsite. Go barefoot on the pea cobbles at Lake Superior Park’s Agawa Bay, stroll the endless sands at Pancake Bay or build a driftwood castle for the whole family at Neys. Discover more kid-friendly things to do in Algoma Country. Cost: $

Swing from the trees in the Boreal forest 

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, it’s always important to play—especially outside. Release your inner Tarzan and go climbing, ziplining and balancing your way through Ontario’s scenic forest heights. Treetop Adventures in Goulais River, north of Sault Ste. Marie, is open year-round and challenges families with an aerial obstacle course suspended 12–30 feet above the ground. Or dare to fly on Canada’s longest, highest and fastest zipline—reaching speeds over 70 kph—at Eagle Canyon Adventures, located 45 minutes east of Thunder Bay. Find plenty more treetop trekking options throughout central Ontario here. Cost: $$ - $$$

Canoe Quetico Provincial Park 

Easy evening paddles on Quetico Provincial Park’s French Lake.

Quetico is an experienced wilderness paddler’s haven, a sprawling landscape of unblemished lakes, streams, waterfalls and virgin forests. Unlike routes in canoe country to the south, portages and campsites in Quetico are unmarked and require self-guided backcountry paddlers to have well developed wilderness navigation and trip planning skills. Families who prefer to stay frontcountry—and those with limited tripping experience—will find superlative swimming, day paddling, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing at the park’s tent and trailer-friendly Dawson Trail Campground in the northeast corner of Quetico. Alternatively, exceptional lodge-based family experiences are offered by Voyageur Wilderness Programme. Cost: $

Ride the scenic Agawa Canyon Train 

Young boy taking photo of people standing on a platform overlooking Agawa Canyon
Passengers aboard the Agawa Canyon Tour Train savour the stunning views.

From June until mid-October, you can climb aboard one of the most fascinating one-day train journeys in the country. The Agawa Canyon Tour Train travels north 183 km from Sault Ste. Marie, winding through the pristine landscape of the Canadian Shield. Just when you’re thinking this region can’t possibly get any more beautiful, the train starts its descent into the floor of the remote Agawa Canyon. Disembark and hike to views of stunning waterfalls or enjoy a scenic picnic on the grassy lawns along the Agawa River. Don’t miss the climb up 300 stairs to a lookout perched 76 metres above on the canyon wall—just be sure to return in 90 minutes for the journey home! Cost: $$$

Hike, bike and paddle Sleeping Giant Provincial Park 

Bring mountain bikes for exploring Sleeping Giant’s extensive trails.

Just east of Thunder Bay, the Sibley Peninsula is home to family-friendly Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Over 100 km of hiking trails wind through the boreal forest and climb to breathtaking views. Stay for a few days to increase your chances of spotting some of the resident wildlife, including porcupine, lynx, fox, deer, black bear and over 200 species of birds. The park offers nearly 250 campsites for overnighters, as well as rentals for canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and mountains bikes. Cost: $

Cruise aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun 

Travel in good spirits aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun.

Connecting the clear azure waters of Tobermory with family-friendly Manitoulin Island—the largest freshwater island in the world—the MS Chi-Cheemaun is more than just a ferry. The 111-metre vessel (whose name means “Big Canoe” in Ojibwe) transports up to 650 passengers and 140 vehicles on a gorgeous two-hour journey across the waters dividing Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Setting sail several times a day from May to October, the ship also offers sunset dining and stargazing cruises, as well as concerts, art exhibits and traditional storytelling. Make the ferry voyage a memorable leg of a longer family road trip around Georgian Bay, including sightseeing on cycle-friendly Manitoulin Island, exploring French River and Killbear Provincial Parks, and camping at Bruce Peninsula National Park. Cost: $$


This summer, explore Ontario and have adventures your kids will never forget. Pick one destination or combine several to create your perfect family vacation. 

About Stephanie Foden

Stephanie Foden is a Canadian documentary photographer and digital nomad who is permanently on the road. She has shot for National Geographic, The New York Times, TIME, The Guardian, ESPN and Travel + Leisure. 

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