Ready to travel the world with your kids?
For families in metro Detroit, there’s an easy way to start – and you might not even need a passport.
Our neighbors to the north (or actually the south in some cases) are ready to welcome you with some classic Canadian charm at a number of fun and family-friendly destinations.
Here’s a look at five family vacation destinations in Canada to consider the next time your family needs a getaway that isn’t too far away. They’re all within about a four-hour drive of Detroit and could make for a memorable first trip abroad for your kids.
Keep in mind that U.S. citizens entering Canada by land or sea – for us, via the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel or the Blue Water Bridge – don’t necessarily need a passport to cross the border. You could also enter using your Michigan enhanced driver’s license, if you have one. Read more about the border crossing guidelines for adults and children here.
Here are our top five family locales in the Great White North. On your way to any of these five destinations, consider a stop in the closest-to-home and most obvious option, too: Windsor. The city has lots to offer visitors including art galleries, historic neighborhoods, parks and more.
1. Point Pelee
Enjoy an easy day trip to the southernmost point of mainland Canada at Pointe Pelee National Park. It’s located in Leamington, Ontario, the tomato capital of Canada (look for the giant tomato-shaped water tower!).
About an hour southeast of Windsor, the national park offers canoeing, fishing, cycling, hiking, bird watching and more. You can even take a shuttle ride to “The Tip” of Canada.
While you’re in the area, consider a stop at Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens in nearby Kingsville. Families can enjoy tropical plants plus a petting farm, arcade, mini golf and indoor rides like bumper cars and a mini roller coaster.
2. Niagara Falls
You have to admit, there’s nothing like a quintessential family photo on the Maid of the Mist with everyone wearing ponchos and the glorious falls in the background. If your kids haven’t experienced Niagara Falls yet – or if you haven’t either – you may want to add this Canadian destination to your list.
Niagara Falls is located about a four-hour drive from Detroit and is a sight to see in any season. In addition to the waterfalls (which you can view for free), you’ll find lots of other attractions to keep your family busy including water parks, fun centers, a butterfly conservatory and a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum.
Take in the views from the Skylon Tower observation deck and make a weekend of your trip with a stay at one of the city’s 55-plus hotels.
If your kids love big city life, a stay in Toronto is a great choice. A four-hour drive northeast from Detroit will bring you to Canada’s most populous metro, home to more than 6.4 million people throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
This vibrant, multicultural city has lots to offer. The Toronto Zoo is the closest place to see panda bears (hurry, they’re leaving soon!), Toronto has a lively Harbourfront area and you can’t miss the views from the famous CN Tower.
This small town in southwest Ontario, less than three hours from Detroit, is home to the Stratford Festival – the largest classical repertory theater company in North America. Most shows are appropriate for kids ages 10 and older, though some are good for younger kids (unfortunately, ages 2 and under aren’t allowed).
You’ll find a variety of other activities at the festival, too, including tours and exhibits. But be sure to leave time to explore the town of Stratford, known for its art and food scene (including a chocolate trail!).
This popular port city in Ontario is just about three hours from Detroit. A visit to Hamilton for families can include outdoor exploring on picturesque trails, a trip on the waterfront trolley and checking out a reptile zoo and nature center.
What’s your favorite family vacation destination in Canada? Tell us in the comments!