Summer’s end is in sight but that doesn’t mean the vacation planning needs to end too. There’s still time to squeeze in a local road trip (who doesn’t love a last hurrah?) or to book a getaway to look forward to this fall.
British Columbia’s collection of mountains, bodies of water, majestic trees and lush greenery are arguably the most varied and spectacular in the country. But, lucky for adventurous and travel-savvy British Columbians, there’s also a plethora of beauty to be experienced just beyond B.C.’s borders.
Whether you opt to explore our roundup of inspiring destinations by road or by air, these beach, forest and city destinations are sure to please even the choosiest travellers.
Newport, Oregon Coast
Brimming with Insta-worthy views and home to a world-class aquarium with underwater walkways, this city also features standout kid-friendly attractions like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, the Hatfield Marine Science Center and Agate Beach, where the whole family can try their hand at razor clamming or surfing. Also worth checking out? The city harbour, where creature lovers will spy a variety of marine species, like sea lions, harbour seals, seabirds and Dungeness crab.
Road trip quick tip: Before hitting the road, do a thorough check on your vehicle (think tires, fluids, brakes, etc.) to ensure it’s safe and ready for the journey ahead.
Banff and Lake Louise
When people describe this destination as otherworldly, they aren’t exaggerating. Awe-inspiring and jaw-droppingly beautiful, the serene beauty of this area is a must-see for every Canadian–but the fun doesn’t stop there! If you’re looking for adventure, white water rafting excursions are perfect for families with kids ages 5 and up, as are the spectacular view-of-the-Rockies gondola ride, and the challenging (but not too challenging) hikes to the waterfalls of Johnston Canyon. A covered wagon ride along the Bow River, followed by an outdoor cookout, is fun for all ages.
Road trip quick tip: When planning your road trip route, be purposeful about choosing interesting pit stops along the way.
A melting pot of cultures and quirkiness, it’s worth the drive to Seattle. Kids will love the city’s massive wall decorated with used chewing gum, experiencing fishmongers throwing their daily catch and climbing the uber-popular Fremont Troll for a unique photo opp. While you’re in tourist mode, a spotting of Starbucks’ first location is de rigueur, as is hunkering down in at least one of the city’s cozy bookstores and coffee shops.
Road trip quick tip: When planning any significant family trip, travel insurance is vital. BCAA provides protection wherever you go on vacation—within Canada and beyond. They also offer affordable and flexible coverage with Single Trip and Annual Plan options.
San Diego, California
Along with a world-renowned zoo (it’s the most popular in America for good reason), San Diego is also home to beautiful Balboa Park and its historic buildings, a host of amazing beaches, and incredible museums (including the California Surf Museum, which brims with fun boards, equipment and surf-inspired artifacts!). But quite possibly the best reason to visit? The whole family will be captivated by the city’s friendly, laid back vibe.
Air travel quick tip: Whenever possible, err on the side of saving your sanity and travel with carry-ons only. Not possible? Pool your family’s overflow items into one large piece of luggage so that baggage check is quick and easy. (Plus, it likely saves time on the other end when there’s only one thing to grab off of the baggage carousel!)
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Fast becoming one of the trendiest destinations in Mexico, Playa del Carmen is a hot spot for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts, and offers myriad family-friendly haunts, including Xcaret Park—an eco water park with jungle trails, giant turtles and underground rivers—and Snorkel Xtreme, a jungle ranch where kids can zipline and rappel before snorkeling and swimming in an ethereal cenote.
Air travel quick tip: When travelling with kids, remember that the best way to prepare for potential away-from-home catastrophes is with emergency medical coverage. Check out the BCAA Family Plan, in which kids are covered for free*, and a 24/7 claims service is available for use anywhere in the world.
With a host of galleries and theatres to suit all ages and interests, Sarasota is also where you’ll find to one of America’s best beaches—Siesta Beach—as well as a big cat habitat, The Ringling Museum and a whimsical children’s garden. While you’re here, try to take in a youth arts production by the Sarasota Youth Opera or Sailor Circus Academy, where kids between 8 and 18 delight audiences with their circus skills.
Air travel quick tip: While many travellers opt to download an airline-specific app to stay entertained during flights, if you’re banking on your plane offering seatback entertainment options, do yourself a favour and confirm whether or not yours does before you fly.
Top 3 Family Travel Tips:
1. Plan for the unexpected. Even if you have insurance coverage with your credit card or a work plan, it may not be enough. Purchasing a travel insurance policy takes away the guesswork and the worry when travelling with your family. The BCAA Family Plan provides comprehensive coverage of $10,000,000 CAD per person, per trip. They even offer non-medical travel coverage for trip cancellation, baggage and more, plus, kids are covered free*.
2. Pre-book whenever you can. Sure, you can wait to book your tickets to that awesome attraction or excursion until you’re able to do it on site, but keep in mind that pre-booking may allow you to snag a deal and/or secure the seats/location you prefer before they’re scooped up. What’s more, this approach may also minimize lengthy in-person wait times and the issues that arise with limited last-minute availability.
3. Giving your crew extra time. Regardless of their age, travel takes longer with kids in tow. Plan on adding at least an extra hour to your driving/flight prep time as a buffer (just think, you can use those minutes to grab a coffee and relax should you end up not needing them!).
Travel Insurance is sold through BCAA Insurance Agency Ltd. and is administered by North American Air Travel Insurance Agents Ltd. d.b.a. TuGo, a licensed insurance agent, 11th Floor 6081 No 3. Road, Richmond, BC Canada V6Y 2B2. Travel Insurance is underwritten by Industrial Alliance Pacific Insurance and Financial Services Inc. and certain Lloyd’s Underwriters, severally and not jointly. CAA trademarks owned by, and use is granted by the Canadian Automobile Association. *Dependent children are free on a family policy with two paying adults. Adults must be aged 59 or younger. Policy terms and conditions apply. See bcaa.com/wordings for details.