Family Vacation Starting in Winnipeg

Old Nov 21st, 2022, 01:25 PM
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Family Vacation Starting in Winnipeg

Hi All. I'm looking for suggestions for a family vacation in central Canada. My wife's daughter and her two kids are Ukrainian refugees living in Winnipeg. They are settling in and the welcome they received was wonderful. But it's been a stressful time and my wife and I would like to treat them to a vacation next summer.
I'm thinking of a one week trip where they drove or flew to the destination and we met them there, probably flying there ourselves. With their refugee visa status they shouldn't try to leave Canada at this time. We don't know that part of Canada and the best I can come up with is Calgary and the Canadian Rockies. Does anyone have other suggestions?
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Old Nov 21st, 2022, 04:54 PM
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I think your focus on Calgary and the Rockies is perfect. The journey from Winnipeg to Calgary is less than 2.5 hours by air, and there are frequent flights each day.

An alternative would be Toronto, which is a 3 hour flight. I think part of what may help you make up your mind is the age of the children and their interests.

As an aside, I have a soft spot for Winnipeg. It is far from the most attractive city in Canada, but I loved my years there, and I still have family and friends in the city. I am not surprised that your family have felt welcomed; there are are a lot of people of Ukrainian descent in the city.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 01:49 PM
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I am from Alberta, have lived in Toronto the past 7 years and have also spent a lot of time in various Canadian provinces. Both Calgary and Toronto are great options! My vote would be for Alberta if the group appreciates nature. There is a lot to see: beautiful lakes, mountains, forests and hiking. An added bonus is that it will likely cost less than Toronto as well, as hotel prices can be quite high in and around the areas you would want to be on a trip.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 08:58 AM
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The Rockies are gorgeous and one of the most popular summer vacation destinations in Canada, but Banff and Jasper are extremely popular yet they're small towns with limited hotels, so you'll want to book early. They'll also need a car to explore and be mindful of shuttles to get to the most popular tourist sights like Lake Louise and Morraine Lake. Think of it like a parallel to Montana.

Toronto and Niagara Falls would be great if they're city people into vibrant hustle and bustle cities, shopping, international cuisine, professional sports, tourist attractions, theme parks, theatre, live music, etc. No need for a car to get around in Toronto. Think of it like Canada's Chicago.

Montreal might be another idea, which is one of my favourite cities in Canada. It's one of the most artsy cultural fashioanble cities in Canada, and because it's in the province of Quebec, the language is French but most folks in Montreal are bilingual. Montreal is a vibrant place in the summer with street musicians, bustling parks and patios, fasntastic Jewish delis, beautiful cafes and bakeries, gorgeous restaurants, historic buildings, and such - might remind them of the big artsy European cities a bit, if this is something they're missing in Winnipeg. Think of it like a cross between Boston and Brooklyn and Paris.

Or if you want a mix of nature and city, Vancouver, including nearby Victoria and Whistler, might be a good choice. Vancouver's famous for having dramatic scenery, rugged alpine mountains, temperate rainforest wilderness, beaches, and islands right in the city. You can easily get around without a car. Excellent fresh seafood and Asian cuisine. Great craft breweries and cafes. Lots of quirky neighbourhoods to explore. Victoria, a 3-4 hour journey away on Vancouver Island, is famous for its English colonial historic architecture and botanical gardens. Whistler is a mountain resort a 90 minute drive north of Vancouver in the Coast Mountains - excellent resorts, restaurants, alpine hiking, golf, mountain biking, art galleries, spas, etc. Think of this like Canada's version of San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Nov 23rd, 2022 at 09:02 AM.
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Old Nov 29th, 2022, 10:21 AM
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The more we read about Ukraine, the more we learn about its own mountains. Then consider their ongoing 8-month winter in Winterpeg and then don't be so sure that the Canadian Rockies will be the right idea for them at this time.

If/since you're both flying... (It doesn't as much matter to where WITHIN Canada you go for reasons of transportation)...

SO in this case I would lean toward Vancouver... plenty of water around, and if you need more, there's always Victoria.

But I should think that the fine western city of Vancouver would be quite enough for all involved in the way of a unique respite from all they've experienced to the point of your trip.

Vancouver is made relatively compact BY the waterways which surround it, and you could occupy plenty of days right in the central core, should you so desire.

Bonus points for Vancouver if you yourself have never been there (??)

Beyond that, Vancouver's weather is more moderate in summer too, and it offers a whole lot more choices than do the cities in the interior.

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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 11:02 AM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. We decided to go to Calgary and Banff National park. We'll visit Sunday to Sunday, with those Sundays being our travel days. We'll spend the first five nights in Canmore and the last two in Calgary. Maybe we can save on the hotel that way. Good grief, is Banff expensive!
New question: Calgary Stampede is July 8 to July 17. Since we're not rodeo fans we'll miss that. So, considering crowds and weather, what would be best time to go on this trip? Late June or late July?
Thanks!
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Old Dec 12th, 2022, 12:09 PM
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The only difference coming in late June is that some of the alpine hikes (at the tops of the mountains) will still be snowbound, whereas in late July, they won't be. It won't make a dfference if you're not planning to embark on any lengthy alpine hikes.

But late June and late July are both the height of the busy season so there won't be any difference in terms of crowds. Late June is when kids are out of school in Canada, and July 1st is Canada's national holiday (Canada Day) so it's a long weekend and the beginning of summer holidays. But everyone in the world comes to Banff in June, July, August, and September (mainly as it's the only time the turquoise glacial lakes are ice-free and it's when the casual sightseeing areas are accessible without risk of snow or avalanches). There's no getting around the inflated prices unless you come in the off-season and are okay with having only partial access to the sights.

Weatherwise June and July are basically the same. The weather is so changeable in the Rockies, and it's so localized, you might get a bit of everything in one day - a rainstorm with thunder and lightning lasting a half hour, bright brilliant sunshine, maybe even a freak snowfall high in a mountain pass, which quickly melts upon contact with the ground. But 2 miles down the road, it might be completely different. So I wouldn't worry too much about weather - as long as you're coming between mid-June and mid-September, the weather is effectively the same. Just come prepared for a bit of everything. Pack gloves, a hat, a waterproof windbreaker, an umbrella, layers for when it gets cooler at night, short sleeves for when it's warm during the day, etc. Put on/take off layers as you need to through the day.

Another thought: Late June has slightly more hours of daylight than late July. So if you want to maximize number of sightseeing hours, late June has a slight edge to it.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Dec 12th, 2022 at 12:48 PM.
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 12:41 PM
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Thanks BC. This is exactly what I wanted to know. We picked July 16 - 23. I'd kind of like to add a day for the Calgary Stampede but don't think we can handle it. The planned itinerary, as time permits, is this. All comments are welcome!

Sun - Fly to Calgary, drive to Canmore
Mon - Banff visitor center, Bow Falls, Gondola, Lake Minnewanka
Tue - Bow Lake, Helen Lake hike, Columbia ice field
Wed - Lake Louise, Morraine Lake, Emerald Lake
Thr - Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon hike
Fri - Drive to Calgary, Calgary Tower, downtown
Sat - Zoo, 17th Ave downtown
Sun - Fly home
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