11 Best Small Towns in Canada to Visit With Kids

Overview of Banff one of the small towns in Canada
Banff, Alberta. Credit Gurudas Gandhi

11 Best Small Towns in Canada to Visit With Kids

From the impressive Niagara Falls on the lake Ontario to the less known Victoria-by-the sea in New Brunswick sun-baked hills of British Columbia, Canada provides a truly unique experience with diverse landscapes and cultures. Although it is known for its big city buzz like Montreal, Toronto and others… Canada is also home to a host of charming small towns that are not always mentioned in the popular tourist guides destinations.

For families hoping to take advantage of this incredible opportunity, here you will find the GoWhee App‘s list of the best small towns in Canada to visit with your kids this year. Get ready to embark on a unique journey the whole family will remember fondly!

1. Tofino, British Columbia

Tofino is a cute seaside town in British Columbia. It’s located on the far west end of Vancouver Island. The best way to get to Tofino is to fly into Vancouver, rent a car, use the ferry to get in Nanaimo and drive to Tofino.The town of Tofino is famous for its surfing waves. It’s a great place to try surfing with the kids, but be warned, the Pacific Ocean is freezing almost all year-round. A wetsuit is definitely needed.

In addition to its great surfing beaches, Tofino is an ideal location for whale watching.  The region has a long whale watching season lasting from March through October. Kids will love to see the Gray whales swimming in the ocean.

Other than surfing, sunbathing and whale watching, Tofino is home to the Pacific Rim National Park Preserve. It’s a beautiful national park where you can hike in the rainforests. There are many hiking trails in Pacific Rim National Park Preserve that are suitable for children such as the Rainforest trail.

Baie Saint Paul, Quebec
Baie Saint Paul, Quebec. Credit Marie Michele Bouchard

2. Nelson, British Columbia

Nelson, BC has all the amenities of a big city, but kept its artist and hippie vibe.

Nelson is an artist town, so you’ll find lots of art galleries, but there are still some fun things to do too with kids. Just a little outside Baker Street is Hendrix Park where you can walk in the park or have a picnic. Then, a short drive from downtown is Cottonwood Falls Park. It’s a nice park with trails leading to a waterfall. 

The Rotary Lakeside Beach is the perfect place to go with children. You’ll find a beautiful sandy beach on Lake Kootenay as well as a fun playground for kids. There is a food concession serving burgers, hot dogs, fries and ice cream. It’s also at the Lakeside Beach that the historic trolley starts its daily tours. 

4. Banff, Alberta

Banff is one of the most charming small mountain towns in Canada, and the most popular of the Canadian Rockies.

Located within Banff National Park, Banff Town is a must-see with kids. It’s important to know that it gets really crowded during the summertime, so it can be a little overwhelming.

There is a nice park along the Bow River with walking trails and a nature playground for kids. Central Park used to be a zoo years ago. On the other side of the river is the Cascade of Time garden where you can enjoy a family picnic.

The town of Banff is the perfect home-base for exploring the Canadian Rockies. And contrary to some popular belief, the Rockies are a family-friendly area (including younger kids). In Banff National Park, you’ll find a lot of kid-friendly hiking options. Some of the most popular hikes for families include Johnston Canyon Lower Falls, Lake Louise Lakeshore trail, Hoodoo trail and Johnson Lake.

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5. Drumheller, Alberta

Drumheller is probably the most kid-friendly town in all of Canada. The entire town is geared toward dinosaurs. If your children are dinosaur lovers, then Drumheller is worth a visit.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is the only museum dedicated to the study of ancient life and dinosaurs in Canada. In the summer months, it’s possible to go on archeologist tours where all visitors have the chance to dig out some fossils.

The Hoodoos, also called the Fairy Chimneys, are another highlight of Drumheller. Those unique rock formations are impressive to look at. There is a nice trail to admire them and the unique landscape of the Canadian Badlands.

Another place to go to enjoy the unique landscape of the Canadian Badlands is Dinosaurs Provincial Park. The Alberta provincial park was even named a  UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 for its abundance and diversity of dinosaur fossils. It’s the largest of the badlands of Canada. 

6. Churchill, Manitoba

Churchill is a wonderful town to visit in Manitoba. It’s the land of polar bears. But it’s not easy to reach Churchill.

There are no roads leading to Churchill. It can be accessed by a 48 hours train ride or a 2-hour flight from Winnipeg.

The main activity when visiting Churchill is polar bears watching. The best time for bear viewing are the months of October and November. It’s when the bears are starting to move from their summer habitat to the seal-hunting territory. 

Churchill is also a great place to admire the Northern Lights.

Because of its remote location and the proximity with polar bears, it’s recommended to book a trip to Churchill through a tour operator.

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7. Wasaga Beach, Ontario

When looking for a fun beach getaway in Canada with kids, Wasaga Beach is a prime destination. Located on the shore of the Georgian Bay on one of the Great Lakes, it’s a 2 hours drive away from Toronto.

Wasaga Beach is the world’s longest freshwater beach and it’s perfect for families. The water is shallow for quite a while.

The town of Wasaga Beach is vibrant and pretty busy during the summertime. There are many shops and restaurants and events throughout the summer.

It’s a unique place as Wasaga Beach is the only integrated town in Ontario’s Provincial Park. The town sits within the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. This also means that there is an entrance fee. A daily vehicle permit is $21.00 on weekends and holidays, and $18.00 on weekdays.

Nova Scotia Canada. Credit Ali Kazal

8. Old Chelsea, Quebec

Old Chelsea is a small town near Gatineau, Quebec. It’s at the border of the province of Quebec and Ontario. It’s 15 minutes away from Gatineau and Ottawa.

This historic town is at the entrance of the Parc de la Gatineau where families will enjoy day hikes.

The charm of Old Chelsea lies in its art galleries, boutiques, cafés and gourmet stops. Of course not all kids are into shopping, but they will all love a good ice cream at La Cigale.

The Parc de la Gatineau is a must-see when in the area. There are multiple options for families such as the Pink Lake hike, the Carbide Willson Ruins or the Mackenzie King Estate. Some of the trails and roads are closed during the wintertime.

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9. Baie Saint-Paul, Quebec

Located in the heart of Charlevoix in the Province of Quebec, Baie Saint-Paul is a small town in Canada to visit with kids. It’s a great place to go all year-round, but the fall and winter are great seasons to go.

In the fall, you’ll get to experience the true eastern foliage season where trees will turn from green to vibrant yellow, orange and red. 

There are great options for hiking when in Baie Saint-Paul. The Mont du Lac de Cygnes trail is a good hike to do with younger kids while the Acropoles des Draveurs is a breathtaking trail to do with older kids. 

In the winter, the Massif de Charlevoix is a great ski resort for families. There is even a Club Med now with a fun Kids Club. Baie Saint-Paul also hosts a Christmas Market through December.

Otherwise the town of Baie Saint-Paul is charming with art galleries, café and restaurants. There is an access to the St.Lawrence River at Quai de Baie-Saint-Paul, a fun stroll for kids.

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10. Alma, New Brunswick

Alma in New Brunswick is one of the many fishing villages to be discovered in New Brunswick along with Victoria-by-the-Sea and St. Andrews-by-the-Sea.

It’s a fishing town where you can enjoy delicious lobster and scallops. But it’s also the entrance to Fundy National Park, a must see in New Brunswick.

While in Fundy National Park, kids will love hiking to Laverty Falls, visiting the Hopewell Rocks and walking under an authentic New Brunswick covered bridge.

11. Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Yarmouth is located a little more than 3 hours away from Halifax, the largest city in Nova Scotia. 

The Yarmouth area is famous for its unique Victorian houses style, its Acadian roots and its colourful villages.

There is also a port terminal where ferries are running between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor in Maine.

Families will love visiting the Fire Fighter Museum where the oldest horse-drawn steam engine can be seen. Cape Forchu Lighthouse is also worth seeing. At Cape Forchu, you’ll have rugged coastal views with many seaside walking trails. For swimming, Mavillette Beach Provincial Park offers a 1.5 km sandy beach. There is supervised swimming during the weekends of July and August.

When we think of visiting Canada with kids, what first comes to mind are big cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. While those cities are beautiful and have a lot to offer to families, charming small towns in Canada are even more fun visiting.

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