Busy sports schedules, a limited budget and a shortage of vacation time can make planning a vacation seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. A growing number of Canadian families are discovering that planning a few fun day trips spread throughout the summer offers some great advantages to the traditional summer week away.
We challenged some staycation-savvy families to share their best tips for planning affordable AND awesome day trips, and they definitely delivered. Here are some of our favourite tips and tricks that you can use to plan some of your own Great Canadian Day Trips this summer.

Tip #1: Drive less, do more

The majority of your day should be spent at your destination, not driving to it. Long car trips aren’t fun for anyone, so set your sites on an end point that’s no more than two hours from home. Time your trip to avoid morning and evening rush hours, so it’s smooth sailing the minute you hit the road. Here are some suggested destinations from a variety of starting points:

Scarborough: Hamilton is hopping and is just 93 km away
Mississauga: Home to the Grand River, Brantford is just a 105-km trip from home, but an afternoon of floating in a canoe, kayak, or raft will make you feel like you’ve gone much further.
Toronto: At less than 60 km away, Burlington is a super quick trip to get to a family-friendly waterfront and acres of exploring at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Don’t miss this summer’s super cool Lego exhibit.
Kitchener Waterloo: Just 55 km down the 401 you’ll discover a rocky new world for outdoor adventure. Access the Niagara Escarpment at a variety of conservation areas around Milton.
London: The pretty town of Paris is just 87 km away, but you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world as you explore the historic cobblestone streets.

Tip #2: Make finding savings part of the fun

While there’s no doubt that travel with a limitless budget is a blast, it’s not something your wallet can always support. Make being thrifty a little more fun by setting a family challenge to see how much you can do in a day for a set number that reflects your budget. Only have $100 to spend? Pack a picnic lunch and time your trip to coincide with special savings offers.

When it comes time to select a souvenir to remember your day, there are creative ways to save here too. Trade a trip to the gift shop for a stop at a roadside farm stand. Buy some freshly picked fruit or home baking that everyone can snack on during the trip home.

Tip #3: Take advantage of one-stop festival fun

Summer festivals are a great way to pack in a wide range of activities without having to spend extra time in the car driving to multiple destinations. Some family-friendly options in Hamilton Halton Brant include:

Sound of Music Festival, Burlington

Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow

Supercrawl, Hamilton

Tip #4: Let the experts take the reigns

Not everyone loves assuming the role of ringleader. Fortunately, many museums, conservation areas and historical sites have top-notch teams of guides and interpreters who would be thrilled to share their knowledge with your group. Here are some suggestions for guided experiences that make for exciting (and educational) day trips.

Dundurn Castle offers guided garden tours and cooking workshops that will transport you to another time.
Game wardens at African Lion Safari take Wake Up the Wild participants behind the scenes for a VIP tour before the park opens.
Admission to Bronte Creek Provincial Park includes access to daily nature, cultural and outdoor recreation programs for families including guided walks, children’s programs, toddler time, evening programs and special events.
Mountsberg Conservation Area’s fascinating Bird of Prey Presentation will bring you nose to beak with some of Mountsberg’s resident Ontario Raptors.

Tip #5: Play to their passions

When you only have one day to get away, choosing an activity that you know everyone is already interested in can be a solid strategy for upping the fun factor. Determine what best reflect your family’s stages and interests and then get everyone involved in choosing what gets added to your itinerary.


Travel Deals View All >>

Experiences & Tours View All >>

Now thru September 20

Lazy River Tubing Paris to Brant Park

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

113 Grand River St N Paris, ON N3L 2M4

Raft - Personal Kayak-Raft Reg $/person $36.96 + HST; Various times available; Starting point at...

Now thru November 15

Grand River Experience

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

113 Grand River St N Paris, ON N3L 2M4

Starting point at 113 Grand River St. North, Paris at 9:30 am Canoe - Regular...

Now thru September 27

Sunflower Kingdom

Andrews Scenic Acres

9365 10 Side Road Milton, ON L9T 2X9


Now thru December 27

Nickel Brook Brewery – Online Only

Nickel Brook Brewery

864 Drury Lane, Burlington, ON, L7R 2Y4

Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance to ensure your spot on...

Now thru October 18

Cambridge to Paris

Grand River Rafting Company

31 Mechanic Street, Paris, ON, N3L 1L1

Summer | June 20 to September 13, 2020-Monday to Friday: 9:30 am; Saturday, Sunday, Holiday...

Now thru October 2


Adventure Village

580 Van Wagners Beach Road Hamilton, Ontario L8E 3L8

Mon - Thurs 10 am - 9pm, Friday 12 - 10pm; Saturday 10am - 10pm;...

Now thru October 15

Guided 2 day /1 night Youth River Trip

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company


Starting point at 113 Grand River St N, Paris; Starting time at 9 am; Canoe...

August 29

Historic Cooking Workshop: MacNab’s Kitchen

Dundurn Castle – National Historic Site

610 York Boulevard, Hamilton, ON

Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM Cost: $35.00 per person. Pre-registration required.

Now thru October 15

Paris to Brant Park

Grand River Rafting Company

31 Mechanic Street, Paris, ON, N3L 1L1

Summer | June 20 to September 13, 2020 - Monday to Friday - Various times...

Now thru October 12


Westfield Heritage Village

1049 Kirkwall Rd, Rockton, ON L0R 1X0

Tickets must be pre-booked by phone. Admission prices:  $15.00 per vehicle to visit the conservation...

Now thru November 15

Glen Morris to Paris – Grand River Daytrip

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

113 Grand River St N Paris, ON N3L 2M4

Start at 113 Grand River St. North, Paris for times at 9:30, 11:00 am &...

Similar Stories View All >>

Trade FOMO for JOMO: Easy Swaps For More Summer Joy

Get on the fast path towards a more joy-filled summer.

Read More

Forest Bathing 101: 4 Reasons To Take A Woodsy Walk

This Art is Outside: Get an Outdoor Art Fix

Find creative ways to blend an art experience with some fresh air and sunshine.

Read More

Sunday Funday: 4 Retro Ways to End The Week

Bringing back the concept of simple Sunday fun.

Read More

The Stay & Play Scavenger Hunt

The scavenger hunt that needs to be on your summer bucket list.

Read More

The $25 Family Fun Finder Challenge

The Summer of the Staycation.

Read More

8 Ways To Have a Blast on a Canadian Long Weekend

Add some spark to your long weekend this summer.

Read More

4 Fun-Filled Field Trips

Surprise your “class” with an end of the year field trip!

Read More

Show Some Local Love

Top 10 Must-Try Eats in Hamilton Halton Brant

A tasty tour of 10 top foods you’ll want to try.

Read More

Put Some Zing In Your Spring in Hamilton Halton Brant

Spring adventure is in the forecast at these fun events and festivals.

Read More

Great Spring Road Trips to Swell Small Towns

Explore places that are big on small town charm.

Read More

Get Travel OffersEvent Details and Planning Ideas for Your Next Trip

Sign up to receive the latest Hamilton Halton Brant travel news delivered right to your inbox.