by Mary Wimmer
Summer holidays are just around the corner, how is your family planning to spend it? If the thought of the kids being out of school for the next two months fills you with anxiety, relax – we have some great tips that will give your family more than a few fun things to check out, all without breaking the bank.
There’s no better time than the summer to enjoy Ontario’s most treasured resource, nature. Spending the day by the water or out on the lake fishing or canoeing is one of our most favourite past times and with some of the most beautiful camp sites and beaches in Canada, you will have no problem getting your fill of our beautiful and bountiful wide open spaces with your crew this summer.
Aside from the initial costs of a tent, sleeping bags, and a few other items, exploring the outdoors is not only a cost-effective way of spending the summer holidays but also a healthy alternative for the whole family to puttering around the house.
Take a look at Ontario Parks for a full listing of camp grounds and beaches close to you, as well as information on camp fees, parks advisories, and more.
If an outdoor weekend adventure isn’t in the cards for you, check out your municipality’s website for a full list of outdoor parks and public pools. Most cities, like Ottawa have a ton of family-friendly green spaces, including public parks and trails, and multiple options for splash pads, beach picnics and playground activities.
CAA Member Savings Tip: Need to stock up on camping equipment before heading out? Be sure to stop at Gear Up for Outdoors Ltd., if you're in Thunder Bay.
Nothing says fun for the whole family like a day at the amusement park. If you’re feeling nostalgic for the halcyon days of your youth, take a step back into your childhood and bring the kids to some of the biggest theme parks in your backyard: Canada’s Wonderland, Calypso Theme Waterpark, and Six Flags’ LaRonde park in Montreal. If you are planning to spend the whole day at the park, consider packing a lunch and putting it in a cooler, and then enjoying it outside on the park grounds. Most theme parks offer green space just outside their entrances with no shortage of shady places to sit down and refuel before getting back to the fun. It is a great way to save some money and enjoy some healthier options – all while giving yourselves a break from the long lines and funnel cakes (although we must admit, the funnel cakes are delicious ☺)
Beat the summer doldrums with a change of scenery. Roll down your windows, cue up the playlist and get the car games started. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, exploring from the comfort of your own car is a great way to see and experience new places. There are only a few things in life that allow you to function completely on your own schedule and this is one of them. Take advantage while you can and if you want, bring the family pet along for the ride.
Click here for a list of our picks for the best road trip destinations near you.
CAA Member Savings Tip: Your wallet will thank you when you whip out your CAA card at any of our hotel partners, including brands like Best Western, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood, where you can SAVE up to 15%. Better still, you’ll be able to EARN 20% more on Petro-Points when you register your CAA card on your Petro Points account. You can even convert Petro-Points to CAA Dollars®, which can be used toward merchandise at our CAA Travel Stores, as well as attractions passes, movie tickets, Membership renewals, and so much more.
When the good weather finally arrives, cities get into full celebration mode. Whether it is a cultural festival, arts and music festival or even a food and drink festival there is no shortage of weekend events to fill up your summer and while some of them may have entrance fees, most do offer free programming for kids and families. If walking around crowds is not necessarily your thing, consider sitting outdoors watching your home team on the field. It can be as relaxing as it is exciting. Sports organizations offer special family and kid prices with a few even offering special weekend rates for kids.
CAA Member Savings Tip: Save 20% off on regular season Ottawa Fury tickets purchased online and 10% off Fury or RedBlacks merchandise purchased in-store at TD Place. Make an event of it and eat out after at any of CAA’s preferred dining partners, including Montana’s, East Side Mario’s, Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey’s, Milestones, Fionn MacCool’s and D’Arcy McGee’s, where all you have to do is show your CAA card to access a variety of dining deals.
When it’s a rainy day or maybe just too hot out, consider taking the action indoors. While a lot of indoor attractions are open year-round, the summer months usually call for special offers and limited time exhibits. Summer time is also prime time for the “summer blockbuster” so escaping the heat and taking the kids to see a family show at the movie theatre might just be the exact thing the family needs. If live entertainment is more your speed, catch a show at the local performing arts centre.
CAA Member Savings Tip: Visit Cineplex or Landmark Cinemas theatre and receive CAA Member-only exclusive discounts when you purchase tickets at a CAA Travel Store (or online with the Cineplex) or save at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa, where you can get 25% on tickets just by showing your CAA Membership card.
Be sure to check out our CAA Rewards Member Savings Guide for more information, or check out our Rewards website here for a complete listing of deals, discounts and other ways you and your family could SAVE this summer.