California sunset

(California Tourism Authority)

Shoulder Season Travel

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – fall is one of the best times of year to travel. Rates are low, crowds are down, and there’s plenty of bargains to be had coming up to the holiday season. Many schools are now instituting an annual fall break, so I’ve been doing my research for months. While we’re off to see if Vegas is a kid-friendly town, these 9 other destinations caught my eye for shoulder season travel.

Camp in Hicksville, California

Kitschy trailer rentals

(Credit: Hicksville)

If you’re still missing summer camping, take this as your cue to head to Hicksville. With kitschy themed campers surrounding a communal area, this is surely the sweetest trailer park in the whole world. Bring your posse and rent the all eight trailers, or opt for a cozy weekend away at rates starting at $100/night.

Things to do in the Eastern Townships, Quebec

Autumn Eastern Townships, Quebec

(Credit: Tourism Quebec)

It’s an entirely different world mere miles east of Montreal – especially when enveloped in the sugar maples in Parc-national du Mont Orford. There are several equestrian centers offering horseback or carriage rides through tree plantations or soar through the maples via zipline after finishing an aerial rope course. Christmas markets featuring gourmet food by local producers, artisans and craft workshops, begin in mid-November. While the Festival of Lights transforms Lac-Brome into a fairytale setting and can’t be missed. Kid can discover the natural world at the Sherbrooke Nature and Science Museum or tour Granby Zoo, the largest zoo in La Belle Province.

Vancouver in the rain

Family at Grandville Island

(Credit: Tourism BC/John Sinal)

Canada’s coolest coastal city is actually great to visit anytime of the year, but off-season means less crowds are tottering around Cliffwalk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Rainy days are ripe for family adventures at the Mini Police Academy and the Vancouver Aquarium. Aspiring seafarers can also dive into port life at the Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre and don’t forget to take that Aquabus to Grandville Island.

Things to do in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

Autumn in Niagara on the Lake

(Credit: Chris Beard, 344 Photography)

Filled with charming B&B’s, eclectic boutiques and sweet candy shops, it’s worth going to the epicenter of Ontario’s wine region off-season. Considered one of Canada’s most haunted towns, Fort George offers guided candlelit ghost tours or walk the Barracks during daylight to get a feel for life during the War of 1812. Local’s dine at Stone Road Grille (try the homemade maple cotton candy), The Old Winery Restaurant, a family-friendly trattoria and The Little Red Rooster for diner breakfasts.

Arizona in autumn

Grand Canyon, Arizona

( Credit: Arizona Office of Tourism)

Shopping and lounging pool-side is always popular in the Grand Canyon state, but there’s so much more for outdoorsy families to discover. Kid-friendly trails at McDowell Mountains, or check out the exotic cacti at Desert Botanical Garden. Hands-on exhibits can be had at the Phoenix Children’s Museum and the Phx Zoo was voted one of the Top 5 zoos for kids in the US. Suss out VBRO for three-four bedrooms homes with a pool for under $100/night.

Things to do in Toronto

Lake Ontario and Toronto

(Credit: Tourism Toronto)

Sometimes a city break fits the bill perfectly and Canada’s largest metropolis provides plenty of options. Interact with animals at Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown or at High Park with its trails and small zoo. Wednesday evenings at the Art Gallery of Ontario are free as is the Bat Cave at the Royal Ontario Museum. And TIFF Bell Lightbox , also has free family activities and workshops on the weekends. Should the city seem too much, chug away by ferry to Toronto Islands for a play at at the petting zoo, brunch at the Rectory Cafe and fantastic views of the downtown skyline. Nannies on Call affords Mom and Dad an opportunity for a night at the theatre or alternatively, a few sips at a wine bar or gastropub.

Sayulita, Mexico in fall

Beach Camping

Credit: Mexico Tourism Board

Relaxation comes with a mega dose of Vitamin D, in this casual surf town, located 50km from the Puerto Vallarta airport. Here, you can bring your tent and camp in safe-zone on the beach or, live large and rent a house with a cook. Whatever your family decides, you’ll likely have plenty of pesos left to fill up on street tacos or to sample zip-lining at affordable prices. Sayulita Childcare offers customizable babysitting services, so Mom and Dad can sneak off and nurse some margaritas.

Tofino, B.C. during storm season

Children in raincoats with starfish

Credit: Tourism BC/JF Bergeron

When it comes to ecotourism, look no further than the Clayoquot Sound region for the ultimate wilderness experience. Hike through temperate rainforests, watch majestic whales dance off the coast, or charter a fishing boat for the ultimate catch. Kids love beach combing, so a visit to Chesterman’s Beach at low tide to observe the tidal pools is a must. There’s a skateboard park in town and several interactive interpretive centres to explore should rain fall.

Things to do in San Diego in fall

Safari tour at the San Diego Zoo

(Credit: The San Diego Zoological Society)

The list is endless: a world famous aquarium and Wild Animal Park, golden beaches, and Mexican food that is truly fantastico. The kids won’t mind a bit of art and culture at Balboa Park so long as they get a spin on the Carousel and ride on the Minature Railroad. Teens can act confidently cool inline skating along Mission Bay while the younger set can burn off their energy at LEGOLAND. La Jolla is known as the jewel of San Diego and provides families an an idyllic, upscale SoCal experience.

Where do you like to sneak away to in off-season?