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Fun family getaways within driving distance.

Planning a long weekend with your family this season? It can be tricky to figure out where to go and what to do within a reasonable budget.

Staycations are fun, but you don’t have to stay home. With a little research and planning (and a few packed lunches), you can create an affordable and memorable family road trip. Sit down with the family in advance to get a read on the type of mini-break that will offer the maximum appeal, and then start creating a budget.

The following 4 driving-based trip ideas can help guide your family discussion ― and your getaway:

  1. Take a road trip: We live in the second largest country in the world (10 million square kilometres!), which means there’s no shortage of beautiful places to drive through, stop by and explore. Need inspiration? This guide to road trips gives you a coast-to-coast breakdown of adventures across Alberta, Ontario and more. Or, depending on where you live, hike or bike through one of Canada’s 17 World Heritage sites (your little paleontologist will love Dinosaur Provincial Park).

    Once they’re in the car, you can avoid hearing the repetitive chime of “Are we there yet?” by following these 9 helpful tips for surviving a family road trip ― from plotting out points of interest to showing your kids how to read a GPS.

  2. Camp under the stars: Before you say, “But we’ve never camped before!” read this! Parks Canada has a new online booking system that lets you book a campsite, guided hike and more at one of 27 national parks and historical sites across the country. Plus, camping newbies can download a free Learn to Camp app, providing detailed checklists, recipes and insider tips, or you can register for a Learn to Camp workshop that will get the whole family involved and looking forward to the trip.

    Still not convinced? Take the Destination Canada Explorer Quotient Quiz to find the perfect camping opportunity to match your family’s getaway personality.

  3. Plan a family swim: Canada has more shoreline than any other country in the world, and your family can take advantage of its many sandy beaches. Check out the top 10 beaches in Canada, plus search Trip Advisor Canada to see which beach resorts were most highly rated by fellow family travellers. If you want the water without the sand, you may want to consider driving to a nearby waterpark or splash pad. Don’t forget to load up on sunscreen, snacks and plenty of beach toys.

  4. Head to a theme park: There’s something to amuse all ages on this top 10 list of Canada’s best theme parks ― from heart-stopping rides to calm wading pools. If possible, go at the beginning or end of the summer season to avoid the longest lines. If you’re looking to spend a little less, search for fairs, farms and festivals in your town or a nearby one. The cotton candy alone will be cause for celebration.

  5. Looking for more fun for the kids? Try 7 arts & crafts to keep them engaged.

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