The spring season is a travel sweet spot for Canadian families, as it falls between the Spring Break craze and the summer holiday rush. It is also a great time to travel in the US, which offers a range of immersive travel opportunities.
From rustic, open-air adventures to cozy retreats, ten unique destinations around the country serve as the perfect getaways for ambitious yet practical families looking to veer off the long-lined, mainstream path.
Eased Travel Restrictions
Now that Canadian children ages 5 to 11 who are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent, stepparent, guardian, or tutor will no longer be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test, families are relishing the chance to get away.
According to the American Express 2022 Global Travel Trends Report, 69% of Canadians plan to travel more with family than they did in 2021. These ten destinations will appeal to Canadian and US families alike and are easily accessible from many Canadian cities.
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Manzanita & Rockaway Beaches, Oregon
On the serene Oregon coast lie two beaches separated by a bay: Manzanita and Rockaway. Famous for the jutting rocks, these beaches are just short of a seven-hour drive along Highway 101 from Vancouver, BC.
Manzanita Beach is a quaint, quiet town with dreamy horizons, breathtaking cliff views, and pristine sand perfect for child play and daily strolls.
Rockaway Beach is higher in energy. Known as the ‘Coney Island’ of the Oregon Coast, Rockaway visitors can walk to the local Marina Fishery, ride on the Scenic Railroad, hike the Cedar Wetlands Reserve, explore local gift shops, and watch the storms rolling in and eat delicious baked goods.
For those with time on their hands, the Tillamook Creamery is 25 miles north. Learn all about dairy, from how milk is turned into cheese to packaging and delivery processes. Then, enjoy free samples throughout the grand modern-day barn factory and treat the family to homemade ice cream at the end.
The Inn at East Hill Farm, New Hampshire
An authentic New Hampshire farm vacation is a unique eco-getaway for nature and animal lovers. More rustic than an epicurean beach resort, The Inn at East Hill Farm is all-inclusive and fosters memories that will last a lifetime.
During the spring, popular activities on the farm include boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, animal feeding, cows and goat milking, butter making, plus massages and cocktail parties for adults. In addition, aromas of home-cooked, family-style meals swarm the property, plus guests can collect their own eggs for breakfast.
In just over four hours from Montreal by car or less than two hours from the Boston International Airport, this farm destination is accessible for any sized family. Nonstop flights from Vancouver, BC, and Calgary, AB, will begin in June 2022.
Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Massachusetts
Become immersed in 17th century Native American life by visiting Plymouth, Massachusetts. This coastal, Indigenous town off the shores of Cape Cod Bay is the first site of Pilgrim settlement.
Visitors can jump aboard the newly restored Mayflower II vessel replica, learn how to grind corn in the Grist Mill, wander through an old English village, and engage with authentic Wampanoag Tribe.
Plymouth is a six-hour drive from Montreal and a one-hour drive from Boston.
Fort Worth Zoo, Texas
With over 7,000 animals and 500 species, the Texas Fort Worth Zoo has been nationally acclaimed as a family-friendly travel destination. Stingray cove, safari splash, and the outdoor learning theater are some of the more notable features of the park.
This year, the annual Beastro! will take place on May 20. Beastro! is a music and tasting event supporting local and international wildlife conservation and education efforts. With 64 acres of land and counting, the extensive zoo exhibits and habitats list will surely take up a whole day.
Should time permit a longer stay, Fort Worth is a thrilling city to explore. The city has transformed from an old cowboy trading post to a cultural arts hub in Texas. Here, sightseers may visit the Kimbell Art Institution, stake out one of the infamous duo Bonnie and Clyde’s hideaways, experience the oldest livestock show and rodeo in the country, and even witness a longhorn cattle drive through the streets.
With the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport nearby, nonstop flights can be secured from all major Canadian airports.
Tombstone Monument Ranch & Cattle Company, Arizona
Far south, near the Mexico border, is an 1880s guest ranch in Tombstone, Arizona. Designed to bring out one’s inner cowboy, this old-west style property offers a distinctive opportunity for families to getaway.
With a work-stay package offered, activities on the ranch could get physically demanding. However, there are numerous family-friendly activities offered, such as horseback riding, a trip to the Fairbank ghost town, archery, hiking, UTV touring, Texas Hold ’em style card games, and live music.
After a long day, head through the swinging Saloon doors for a drink or return to guest accommodations styled as either Blacksmith quarters, a town jail, or a Grand Hotel. Historic mines surround the dude ranch, hand-dug wells, old railroad trestles, and ancient Indigenous Petroglyphs.
The quickest way to visit Tombstone, Arizona, is by flying into the Tucson International Airport and then renting a car or shuttle service to get to town. Tombstone is about one and a half hours from the airport, so should time allow, consider flying to Phoenix, Arizona instead and enjoy two additional hours of road trip adventure.
Rushmore, Rapid City
Only a seven-and-a-half-hour drive away from the Saskatchewan border, Mt. Rushmore is an iconic landmark for Canadian tourists.
The artfully sculpted landscape offers a fun mixture of history and pop culture and has been the backdrop for movie and postcard coverings for decades. With a walking trail, café, and short educational films for visitors to sit with onsite, Canadian families can enjoy a day of iconic history before retiring to their lodging or campsite nearby.
Some fantastic family-friendly options include Black Hills National Forrest campsites and Hell Canyon Horse Camp and RV Resort, which offer tent, cabin, and RV hosting.
For Canadians searching for the finer things in life, Nemacolin in Pennsylvania has what they need. A private, five-star oasis, Nemacolin is a luxury vacation at its best, with five different lodging style options to cater to individual tastes.
The all-inclusive resort offers over 2,000 acres of roaming space, five-star dining, a holistic healing center, multiple spas, fantastic golf courses, and several other events and activities.
The mountaintop recreation venue, The Peak, hosts poolside activities, ropes courses, indoor axe throwing, and art classes, to name a few. The kids club offers daily programming to keep the little ones engaged. Parents will find the onsite arcade to be a huge hit.
To attend the tranquil resort settings, Canadians can arrange for resort transportation or shuttle service to and from local airports and area attractions, including the Pittsburgh airport, a short hour-and-a-half drive away.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
For families looking for a unique outdoor adventure, the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado offer a desert view surrounded by mountains. Visitors can ride down the tallest dunes in North America in this unique landscape, surrounded by an atmosphere made up of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra.
If you don’t already own one, you can rent sand sleds and sandboards from several shops in the area. With camping, horseback riding, sand surfing, fishing, and ranger programs, the park offers something for everyone of all ages.
Being conscious of accessibility, the visitor center offers free dunes wheelchair rentals and trail maps for all levels, also noted in the Visitor Guide download.
Canadians can fly into San Luis Valley Airport for the quickest route possible or take advantage of the scenic mountain views on the drive from the West coast, through Montana and Wyoming to Colorado.
Cherokee National Forest
Divided by the Great Smokey Mountains and nestled between the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines, Cherokee National Forest is a family’s ultimate nature getaway.
From camping, hiking, biking, boating, rock climbing, and white water rafting to flora and fauna sightseeing, this region of the country provides ample opportunities for quality family time.
The forest and its surrounding area offer a range of accommodation types, including campgrounds, RV ports, cabins, and vacation rentals.
Asheville, North Carolina, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee are great cities to explore nearby and fly into. Alternatively, those with extra vacation may enjoy a road trip from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or Ottawa, with several stop options along the way.
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Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Famous for ‘Bathhouse Row,’ Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas offers the perfect blend of a relaxing yet adventurous vacation for the whole family. With both indoor and outdoor natural spring-based thermal pools, kids can swim and play while adults indulge in spa treatments.
Bathhouses can be found along Central Avenue, and visitors can learn about the Bathhouse history inside beautiful stained glass and marble architecture. Inside the town, visitors will also find a dinner theatre, shopping emporium, hot water cascade, and the Grand Promenade, known for its scenic trail walk.
Direct flights to the Little Rock Airport from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal are offered at select times throughout the year. In addition, with only a 50-minute drive from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Canadians can easily take advantage of the shuttle service and rental cars offered at the airport.
If you’re looking for a unique travel destination that won’t break the bank, consider one of these spring getaways. Families will have an amazing time unplugging from the everyday grind while enjoying some much-needed quality time together. And who knows? You may even decide to make one of these off-the-beaten-path destinations your new go-to spot for future vacations.
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.
You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.