Since moving to Kelowna a couple of years ago we’ve experienced the heaviest snowfall in 50 years, raging forest fires that were three times the 10-year average and, now, major flooding with the highest water levels since the 1940’s. My brother claims I’m a disaster magnet (I think he’s just getting back at me for being so mean to him when we were growing up).

So, after this longer than normal winter I’m anxious to shake off the rust and plan my summer activities.

We Canadians only have a few short summer months to enjoy. If you haven’t made vacation plans yet, I’d like to suggest you take advantage of all our fabulous country has to offer. And, since even the most basic road trip or camping holiday can take a bite out of your wallet, with a bit of research you can find lots of ways to be frugal and have fun at the same time.

Whether you’re planning a “staycation” this year, or want a change of scenery, here’s a good list of activities you can consider to celebrate this special year marking Canada’s 150th birthday.

Canada's 150th Birthday

Discovery pass

Parks Canada is offering free admission to all national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas for the entire year. You can squeeze in a little history lesson by visiting a fort, historic house, or former battlefield. If you haven’t got your Discovery pass yet, you can order one online, or you can pick one up on arrival at any Parks Canada location.

Find the locations of over 200 national historic sites and parks here.

Events calendar

Go to the tourist bureau to find lots of ideas for fun and interesting – and easy-on-the-wallet – things to do. I love leafing through a brochure, but you can go online and scroll through all the activities

Check out your town or city’s summer events and festivals, free movies and concerts in the park. Your family can enjoy the warm weather with food, music and art.

Family friendly

You don’t have to spend a fortune to keep the kids busy and happy. Within a short drive of just about anywhere you can find plenty of hiking and biking trails to keep you fit.

There are more than 30,000 lakes in Canada. This means plenty of spots on a nice sandy beach for everyone.

Kids can bowl for free (2 free games) at certain bowling locations all across Canada. Check www.kidsbowlfree.com for a location near you. It’s perfect for those days that get too hot and muggy, or rainy.

Related: Our kids’ summer activities, ranked

Frugal families can enjoy even relatively pricey activities if you choose your times wisely. Many attractions offer reduced admission after a certain time (e.g. 2 p.m.) that still gives your family lots of time to have fun. Often there will be special pricing for family groups or seniors.

For more fun activities for your family see this list.

Travel

Canada may be the land of natural wonders, but it also boasts lots of great, incredibly large roadside attractions. On your next road trip, take a selfie with:

  • The Big Nickel – Sudbury, Ont.
  • The world’s biggest lobster – Shediac, N.B
  • Biggest Ukrainian Easter egg – Vegreville, AB
  • A replica of the Starship Enterprise – Vulcan, AB
  • Largest hockey stick and puck – Duncan, BC
  • Largest Coke can – Portage la Prairie, MB and Bud Light beer can – Edmonton, AB
  • Shoelace – Kitchener, ON
  • Anchor – Saskatoon, SK

Pay a little more for hotel rooms or suites with a kitchen. Eating out for three meals a day can be a major expense, not to mention tiresome after a couple of days.

RelatedAre road trips really cheaper than flying?

Avoid airline fees for checked bags by travelling light, and you’ll also avoid the long wait at the baggage pick-up.

Final thoughts

Millions of tourists come to Canada every summer. Why not unleash your inner explorer to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday?

Act like a tourist in your own country and visit a place you haven’t been to before. It’s a great way to appreciate all the natural (and man-made) wonders in the best country in the world.


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