I keep hearing about the popularity of the “staycation.” The idea is that because of tightened family budgets, we’re choosing to stay home instead of travel on our vacation time.
I don’t know about you, but if I have to sit around my house and look at the do-it-yourself projects we have yet to do and the growing clutter caused by two growing children, well, I’d rather stay at work, thank you very much. Plus, I do work from home so the allure of being at home instead of the office is completely lost on me.
But naturally, I do want to create those special warm-and-fuzzy summer vacation memories for my children, so here are my Top 3 recommendations for a, let’s call it, a “mini-cation.” It’s not staying home per se, but it’s also not hitting an all-inclusive 5-star resort in Cuba. And if you can manage to do one mini-cation each month of the summer, I think you’ve done your fair share of memory-making.
The criteria is:
(1) Must be kid-friendly. This means no fancy carpets or precious antiques in the room, and preferably child-specific activities available for at least some of the time.
(2) Must be budget-friendly. This means that Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara, which classifies a “great deal” as $255/night is not on my list.
(3) Must not involve insect bites. Nope, camping is not on the list.
(4) Must not be more than 3 hours drive. Car sickness does not equal fun family vacation memories in my book.
Okay, so here’s my three mini-cations. I hope it’s helpful to you … to spark ideas, to save time thinking of something to do … all that stuff. If you have other ideas — please add them in the comments sections for us all to take advantage of.
Where to stay: go to www.hotwire.com, enter Montreal and your dates. You’ll be able to pick a room at a downtown 4-star for under $100 but you won’t know the hotel name until you pay for it. (Don’t worry, it’s totally legit — I’ve used this system countless times and never been disappointed.)
What to do: The Montreal Insectarium is the largest insect museum in North America. There is plenty to see and do and you could easily spend an entire day here. There is a free shuttle service between the Insectarium, Botanical Garden (also interesting for the whole family), Olympic Park, Biodôme (a must for the nature lover) and Viau metro station. The cost for a 3-day pass to all of Montreal’s museums is $35 and a single entry fare into the Insectarium is $16/adult, $8.00/child, $2.50/infant.
Where to stay: Summer deals are to be had here. For example, you can click on the “Last Minute Lodging Deals” section of the Tremblant Resort site and book into a 5-star unit for as cheap as $105/night.
What to do: Besides just hiking, swimming and eating ice cream, the resort offers countless ways to spend your time. There are lots of family-oriented activites and the price is great: free! For a fee, you can also go to the indoor water park which never fails to please and is a nice Plan B for a rainy day.
Where to stay: Fairmont’s Le Chateau Montebello sounds super fancy, and well, it kind of is. But it’s not that bad for price. It’s website advertises that rates start at $199/night and that a 20% discount is also available in the summer. I tested this out by inputting dates for next weekend into the reservation booker and I did find a room for four priced at $211/night.
What to do: You don’t have to step foot off the property to experience it all — swimming, tennis, golf, horseback riding, spa treatments. And yes, you can partake in these adult activities because the hotel offers an excellent children’s program that includes 3 hours of supervision a day, dinner, evening films and special activities and crafts. The cost is $29 for 6-12 years of age, and $15 for 4-5 years of age.