March Break is usually one of the busiest travel periods for families. Even with international travel blunted this year due to travel advisories and limitations on unvaccinated children returning to school, I’m sure many Canadian families will be itching for some kind of springtime getaway.
The good news is that provinces are starting to lift restrictions, and if you’re planning on travelling close by, there are still plenty of great options. In the last installment, we covered March Break family trip ideas in the United States, and here we’ll focus on domestic trips within Canada.
Recall that Discover Winter Amex Offer that many of us had registered for at the end of last year? March Break would be a great time to make use of that offer, which gives you a $100 statement credit when you spend $800 at eligible hotels in Canada.
Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia were all featured on this offer, so I’ll focus on these four provinces in this post.
If you’re staying within your own province, driving is the way to go. For anywhere further than the neighbouring province, though, you may want to consider flying.
Flights are still priced decently on Aeroplan for March Break dates, with many flights under 10,000 points one-way in economy per passenger.
Keep in mind that the above examples are for people without any Aeroplan-affiliated credit card or Aeroplan Elite Status. If you have either, you’ll benefit from even cheaper redemptions.
If you’re paying cash, you can also consider a low-cost carrier like Flair Airlines or Swoop. Compared to fares on Air Canada, you could save quite a bit on a round-trip transcontinental flight.
I have not flown on either of these carriers, so I cannot comment on their service; however, our writer Kirin has shared his thoughts on things to consider with low-cost carriers.
Consider flying from Montreal to Vancouver on a round-trip booking during March Break. On Air Canada, this would cost me $732.48, and that’s before adding on baggage fees.
On Flair, a similar flight is only $485.03, and that’s their “basic bundle” which includes checked baggage.
Now that we’ve looked at some ways to get to get around the country, let’s get to where to go and why. Note that the below accommodation prices reflect bookings made for the March Break period.
Quebec City, Quebec
If you’re missing Europe and would like a bit of outdoor family fun, then Quebec City is the place to be.
What to Do
Old Quebec is a great place to just stroll around, with its winding cobblestone roads and centuries-old architecture. While you’re at it, be sure to try some tourtière, poutine, and baked goods from the myriad of boulangeries you’ll find.
Hotel de Glace, or the Ice Hotel, located only 30 minutes out from Quebec City, is a cool place to visit with kids even if you’re not staying the night there. It is now part of the bigger Valcartier Resort, which features an outdoor winter playground with snow tubing and snow rafting runs.
The resort also has an indoor waterpark and digital games complex, but unfortunately, these are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Only 35 minutes from Quebec City, dogsledding at Jacques-Cartier National Park is a fun activity for all ages. At this location, you’ll also have a scenic mountain backdrop during the ride.
To save up to 40% off some money attractions, visit Quebec City’s tourism website.
Where to Stay
Quebec City Marriott Downtown, a Category 6 hotel, is right on the edge of Old Quebec. The current price is around $200 per night. Marriott also has a few Category 4 and 5 properties that are a little further out from the city centre, should you wish to redeem a Free Night Award.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has rooms for under $300 for March Break. Save more by redeeming a gift card bought at a discount from lifeexperiences.ca or using the $200 travel credit off your American Express Platinum Card. The property is also included in the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program.
Montreal & Mont Tremblant, Quebec
If you love the outdoors and want to mix some winter sports with a bit of urban flair, then fly into Montreal for a couple nights before heading north to Mont Tremblant.
What to Do
In Montreal, stroll around the old town and try out crepes, poutine, bagels, and smoked meat. If you prefer to stay out of the cold, consider taking the kids to the Biodome.
At Mont Tremblant, the activities are endless and cater to kids of all ages, with traditional winter sports, dogsledding, ice fishing, ice climbing, sleigh rides, and dune buggy tours. There are also indoor activities if the weather isn’t cooperating, such as escape rooms designed for kids and laser tag.
Older kids aged 8 and up can spend a day with a woodsman learning about the bison reserve, the history of the local indigenous peoples, ice fishing, and tracking animals.
Where to Stay
In Montreal, there are plenty of hotel options.
Personally, I like SpringHill Suites Old Montreal for families because of its convenient location in Old Montreal, the reasonable price of $150 per night for a Category 5 hotel, the indoor pool, and complimentary breakfast. The suites also have a small kitchenette with a microwave, fridge and dinnerware.
If you don’t need a kitchenette and want a bit more luxury, then check out the Humaniti Hotel Montreal, Autograph Collection, which is a short walk from many sights in Montreal.
At Mont Tremblant, there are two Marriott properties: Residence Inn Mont Tremblant and Westin Resort & Spa. Both are both pricey for March Break, at $350–$550 or 60,000+ Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
As we currently value Marriott Bonvoy at 0.9 cents per point, it would be more worthwhile to pay the cash rate.
For a cheaper option, try the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tremblant, which costs $300 per night and also includes a free breakfast.
For a less traditional stay, consider Entre Cîmes Et Racines (an hour east of Montreal) or Les Toits du Monde (an hour north of Tremblant). Both offer unique outdoor eco lodges and have rooms that range from treehouses to teepees to hobbit-like dwellings, but keep in mind that some options may not have electricity.
Activities on-site and nearby include dogsledding, snowshoeing, skating, skiing, nature trails and tubing. This will definitely make for a unique experience and it won’t break the bank at under $200 per night.
Review: Le Méridien Versailles, Montreal
Review: Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain
Review: Fairfield Inn Montreal Downtown
Review: Hotel St. Paul Montreal, Marriott Design Hotels
Review: Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, Montreal
Review: Montreal Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel
Review: Humaniti Hotel Montreal, Marriott Autograph Collection
Review: W Montreal
Review: The Ritz-Carlton Montreal
Review: Delta Montreal
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Why not visit a natural wonder of the world this March Break and enjoy some waterpark fun while you’re at it?
What to Do
Be sure to take time to stroll around the falls. They are quite a different in the winter than in the summer.
Not far from here is Clifton Hill, which has a variety of attractions that are still open during winter, including mini-golf, midway games, bowling, and the Skywheel. Bird Kingdom is also worth a visit for the kids.
If you’re missing the humidity and water this winter, then check out one of three waterparks in Niagara Falls: Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, Americana Resort and Great Wolf Lodge.
The latter two are only open to overnight guests, while half-day passes can be purchased for the former.
Having visited all three waterparks, I would highly recommend the Great Wolf Lodge, as it is much more than a waterpark. It has a bowling alley, a midway arcade, spa, and a live-action game where you embark on quests around the resort using a special magic wand.
If cost is an issue, then Fallsview Indoor Waterpark would be my second choice.
If you’re in need of some retail therapy, then venture off to the Outlet Collection at Niagara for a variety of shops.
Nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, known for its wineries and restaurants, is also worth a visit. It has a quaint main street with shops and dining venues that is nice to stroll around.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of Marriott and Hilton options in the area for under $150 a night, so I would skip the point redemptions here. However, if you’re going to check out a waterpark, then why not stay on site?
Great Wolf Lodge is a great for the convenience, but rates are over $500 per night currently. Sheraton Fallsview Hotel is attached to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, and rates are a more reasonable $300 per night, which includes your water passes (book this package through the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark link).
If Niagara-on-the-Lake is on your itinerary, then White Oaks Resort & Spa deserves a mention. It is priced reasonably at just over $200 a night, and has an onsite spa and indoor tennis courts.
Home to the largest mall in North America and also just a few hours away from Jasper National Park, Edmonton is a great destination for families who want a good mix of indoor and outdoor adventure.
What to Do
West Edmonton Mall, at the size of 48 city blocks, is your one-stop shop for entertainment. Between shopping, dining, race karts, bowling, mini-golf, escape rooms, skating, an indoor amusement park, an indoor waterpark, and sea lion and penguin encounters, there’s definitely something for everyone.
I’d recommend spending a few nights in Edmonton before heading west to the Rocky Mountains.
Jasper National Park is known for its wildlife and scenic hikes. It’s about four hours from Edmonton by car, but the drive is worth it. Wildlife are easy to spot, but if you want the expertise of a guide, take a wildlife tour with SunDog Tours.
Take the Jasper SkyTram up to Whistlers Peak for beautiful views of Jasper National Park. There is a trail at the top, but it’s not an easy one and will be more suitable for older kids.
Maligne Canyon Trail is another scenic 3.4km trail, but because it’s alongside a deep canyon with steep cliffs, it’s also not suitable for strollers or young toddlers.
Athabasca Falls is a natural wonder that’s easily accessible off the main road, with a well-groomed trail that makes for a nice quick stop. It’s also suitable for younger kids.
Where to Stay
In Edmonton, consider the Element Edmonton West, which is within a 10-minute drive of West Edmonton Mall. Prices for Spring Break are around $120 or 10,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night, including breakfast.
For a unique experience and convenience, stay at Fantasyland Hotel which is located in the mall. It features themed-rooms and suites, like that of an igloo, outer space, and costs around $300 per night.
In Jasper, consider The Crimson, which has small kitchenettes, a restaurant, and a swimming pool. Current prices are around $140 per night.
If you love the great outdoors, then fly into Calgary and drive out to Canmore. It makes for a great base from which you can explore the area, including Banff National Park.
March is a great time to go to avoid the summer crowds at Banff and Lake Louise.
What to Do
Dogsledding was my kids’ favourite activity here. There are a few providers, but we went with Snowy Owl Tours and thought they were wonderful.
If they love dogs, then be sure to visit Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, which is located mid-way between Calgary and Canmore. It offers an opportunity to see and interact with wolf dogs for those aged six and up.
Skiing is another big activity in this area. There are tons of trails in this area which are great for hiking, ice walks, and snowshoeing.
If you’ve exhausted this area, then head to Lake Louise and Banff, which are less than an hour from Canmore.
Banff is a great town to stroll around and you’re bound to see some deer while you’re here. Kids will enjoy the gondola up Sulphur Mountain, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the area.
If you’re missing the sun, perhaps a day at the hot springs can be a good alternative. You and your family can spend part of a day at Banff Upper Hot Springs, which is open for all ages.
For a more detailed review of activities to do in Banff and Lake Louise, including a review of the above properties, check out my articles on our spring trip to Alberta last year.
Where to Stay
Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, Autograph Collection is a great family resort that offers many accommodation options from regular rooms to bi-level suites. At around $250 per night, it’s a reasonable price, too.
The greatest appeal for kids is its mini indoor waterpark right on site. It also has a playground outside and offers s’mores kits to use with their fire pits. At the restaurant, kids eat free at dinner with a paying adult.
If you’re looking to splurge a bit, then consider the Fairmont Banff Springs or Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which are part of Amex’s Fine Hotel & Resorts program. And once again, don’t forget to look for discounted LifeExperiences gift cards.
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is guaranteed to be busy during March Break, but if you love winter sports, then this is one of Canada’s top destinations for it.
You can also tack on a couple days in Vancouver to check out some kid-friendly attractions there before heading north.
What to Do
On the way up to Whistler, you can stop by the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, where you can hike, snowshoe, or tube at the top. Save 20% by using the online promo code LOVEVANCOUVER until March 31, 2022.
In Whistler, there is more than enough to do to fill up your March Break. If you have teenagers, they can even give bobsledding a try.
The village is also has a variety of dining and shopping venues. Check out the activities below.
Where to Stay
In Vancouver, there are plenty of accommodation options for under $250 per night for Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and even Fairmont properties.
In Whistler, however, the cost of Marriott properties during March Break is astronomical. The Delta Hotels by Marriott Whistler Village Suites costs over $600 a night with no point redemptions available, and the Westin Resort & Spa costs $600–$1,200 or 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa isn’t much better cost-wise, but if you hold an Amex US Hilton Aspire Card, you can use your US$250 annual Hilton Resort credit here.
Otherwise, there are plenty of other stand-alone hotels that offer condo-style accommodations with kitchenettes for half the price.
Always Looking for Ways to Save
Many accommodations may have increased their prices during the March Break, but there are always ways to cut costs. Those living in Ontario have the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit this year, which can offer up to $400 in tax credits.
Credit card sign up bonuses can also help save on travel. If you recently jumped on the CIBC Aventura signup bandwagon, you should get your points in time to redeem against your travel expenses, which can amount to over $500.
Amex frequently has offers for statement credits on hotel stays. If you didn’t register for the Discover Winter Amex Offer, don’t worry, as there are bound to be other offers.
Lastly, Amex US cardholders currently have a Marriott statement credit offer for US$50 after a qualifying US$200 spend at a Marriott property, while Amex Platinum cardholders have their annual $200 travel credit to use.
For families, March Break is a big deal.
If you’ve decided to venture abroad, I wish you safe travels. If you are still erring on the side of caution, then there are plenty of local resorts that cater to families during this busy time, and hopefully this article has been helpful in getting the planning started.
Feel free to add any suggestions for destinations or resorts that you have enjoyed with your family below. And if you come across a good deal, please share it was well.
Wherever you decide to go, happy March Break travels!