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Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

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Birmingham, Alabama
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Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

Posting this question on the three different forums in question, so I apologize for anyone who is reading it twice (or thrice)...

We are considering a summer trip to Canada and having trouble narrowing down the destinations, they all sound so wonderful. I've read the "Where should we go?" tips in the FAQ section and it just added to my indecision. :)

We're 2 parents with a child who will be 8 at time of trip, traveling in July or very early August, flying out of Atlanta. Our son is pretty easy to entertain and is an adventurous traveler.

We'll have 7 or 8 nights to spend in our destination of choice. We are OK with renting a car, though public transport is always a plus.

We like outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming and watersports, good (casual) food, dramatic scenery, beach and/or mountains, historical sites and generally a laid-back atmosphere. We enjoy museums and culture as well, but they are not a must.

My husband prefers to limit our "home base" lodging to no more than 2 places (flying into Point A and staying for a few days in one hotel, traveling to Point B and staying a few days in another hotel, then returning to the first spot to fly home).

Here are the tentative itineraries we have tossed around. Given the time of year (i.e. weather) and our interests/needs, I would love any advice about which sounds like the best match.

1. Fly into Vancouver and spend 3-4 nights, take the train to Whistler and spend 4-5 nights, return to Vancouver for a final night before flying home.

2. Fly into Calgary, spend 2 nights, drive to Banff/Lake Louise for 5-6 nights, return home from Calgary.

3. Fly into Halifax for 3 nights, drive to Cape Breton Island for 4-5 nights, return home from Halifax.

Thank you in advance!

Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Banff National Park
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1. Re: Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

Gosh, this is a tough one. All of your itineraries would be just fine with a well-travelled 8 year old. I guess you'll just have to spend your next three summer vacations in Canada to get them all done :-)

I'll just put in a word for Banff as a very family-friendly destination. If you click on the Travel Guide (in green, top left of your screen) you'll see many pages on things to do in our area, including ideas for family travel, for rainy days (if you should encounter one), for local walks, and so on. We have world-class concerts and performances at The Banff Centre, and access to beautiful natural areas.

What's the most special about Banff, compared to the other two destinations? Our mountains are the most rugged and spectacular. We offer the best chance of seeing wildlife. And I do believe our climate is the most pleasant.

Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

This is not as tough a decision as others might say to be polite. I have been to all three places and Banff would be the most spectacular. Whistler does not compare in either scenery or activities to the Rockies and staying there for 4-5 days would be too much. I personally would spend that time on Vancouver Island after visiting Vancouver itself.

Your husband's restriction to two home bases would cause a problem as you would definitely want to drive the Icefields parkway and spend a couple of nights in Jasper. I don't know when your flight would arrive but you could drive straight to Banff from Calgary airport. While friendly there is not that much to do in Calgary and it could be skipped. Your two home bases would be Banff/LL and Jasper.

Halifax and Cape Breton are also beautiful and worth a trip but aren't as spectacular as the Rockies.

Burlington, Canada
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3. Re: Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

#2. Two days in Calgary and 5-6 in Banff/Lake Louise sounds like the best time for you and you child. There will be lots to see and do for all of you.

Not #1 because that's too long to stay in Whistler in August. Not much going on there in August.

Not #3 because I think 5 nights on Cape Breton might be too much also. It's a great place but unless you do much hiking you could find you are running out of things to do. The scenery on Cape Breton is dramatic but not as dramatic as Banff/Lake Louise.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

LOL - and all the Vancouver posters are saying "hands down! Vancouver/Whistler"

Honestly, I think all three itineraries would be lovely! Each one would be quite different, so you will just have to do your research and set your priorities and see which location comes up the best for you.

If you go with the Canadian Rockies, then you need to make Banff and Jasper your two centres, rather than Calgary and Banff.

And think of it this way, the other two sites will be there when you are ready, so just think of this as which one you will visit first.

Birmingham, Alabama
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5. Re: Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

Thank you very much! Wonderful ideas and input - we have a tough choice to make (but in a good way).

6. Re: Which trip w/ an 8 yr old...Vancouver? Banff? Cape Breton?

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