It's that time of the year again - the time when school lets out, festivals, parks, and beaches open, and families get together to make the most of the sunny weather and good summer vibes. And with that, of course, comes the need for trips and vacations to fill up you and your children's days. Quality time with family doesn't come easily, after all, and the two months of summer break that every child looks forward to are a wonderful window to lay back and unwind to enjoy the best weather of the year.
Usually, though, these vacations are costly. They're difficult to plan. They take a lot of time to prepare for and even more time to execute, and even though the results are well worth it, they're still capable of making a sizeable dent in your budget.
But worry not! The good news is that this year, the government of Ontario has enacted a new tax credit dubbed the "staycation" credit - a move which allows families to reclaim a portion of their travel expenses while spending time exploring the beauty of their home province.
This special tax credit was recently approved by the government of Ontario, and it's intended to help encourage Ontarians to support the post-pandemic revival of the province's hospitality and tourism industry. When you or an eligible member of your family claims the credit on your 2022 tax forms, you can get back up to 20 percent of the expenses you spend on accommodation during a "staycation" in the province, including money used to rent cottages, campgrounds, or rooms at hotels and resorts.
This means that you get the opportunity to experience a unique and leisurely vacation in the comfort of your home province while also saving on the resources usually required to plan a trip. There's no limit to the number of trips you can claim the credit for, either, as long as you stay under the $2,000 maximum for families! It's a great chance to kick back and relax, and also a chance to bring your loved ones along to visit the places you've never really gotten to visit in your local area.
So without further ado, here are 10 exciting suggestions for places to visit in Ontario to make full use of the 2022 staycation credit and also provide fun for the whole family!
This natural wonder is one of Ontario's most famous tourist spots, and for good reason: the majestic waterfall offers spectacular scenery, exciting boat rides, and a nearby entertainment district packed with restaurants, shops, and unique attractions. Don a raincoat for a breathtaking tour behind the falls, check out the arcade at the Great Canadian Midway, or catch the nightly summer fireworks show with your family to wrap up the day.
There are even two indoor waterparks and the world's largest free-flying bird conservatory in close proximity. With plenty of comfortable hotels and bed-and-breakfast spots to stay in the area, Niagara Falls is a must-visit if you want to experience Ontario to the fullest.
Ontario's largest city boasts a downtown neighbourhood full of excitement and action, and it's one of the best spots to plan your staycation around if you're not sure where to start. The Royal Ontario Museum and Ripley's Aquarium are great educational places to visit for children, and the CN Tower is always worth a tour for its fantastic view over the metropolis.
You can take a food tour through Kensington Market or catch a show or concert at the Roy Thomson Hall, and during the summer, the beaches near the harbourfront offer the option of a delightful seaside experience to cool off from the heat.
Connecting the capital of Ottawa to the St. Lawrence River, the Rideau Canal is a UNESCO-certified World Heritage Site and one of the country's most significant pieces of history. The 200-kilometre waterway makes a perfect scenic path for a paddling trip by canoe or kayak to unwind while enjoying the tranquil Canadian nature.
The site also offers many uniquely restored buildings for rent as accomodations, which means you and your family can choose to spend your staycation credit on beautiful, vintage homes built on decades of history.
Though we're still a few months away from autumn, which is when Algonquin's famous maple trees come to life, the provincial park remains a picturesque place to visit and stay during the summer with its lush forests and peaceful hiking trails.
Plan a camping outing in the woods for the whole family or give your children a unique learning experience with the park's junior ranger program designed to get kids excited about Algonquin's natural and cultural heritage.
The enormous indoor waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge is a surefire way to entertain your children and give them a fun-filled staycation they'll never forget! Complete with cozy cottage-style accomodations and special themed suites, this venue offers a home away from home alongside kid-friendly attractions like its outdoor mini-golf court and laser tag arena.
Canada's largest theme park is located right in Vaughan, Ontario, and boasts over 200 attractions, including 17 full-sized roller coasters and a 20-acre waterpark, making it the perfect staycation destination for thrill-seeking kids and adults alike.
While the general region spans across the borders of Canada and the U.S., the official Thousand Islands National Park is made up of 21 separate islands in the St. Lawrence River. Like Niagara and Algonquin, it's another staycation destination that focuses on the beauty of the natural world - the park offers accomodations in the form of comfortable tents and cabins secluded within riverside campsites, and its Xplorers program challenges children to complete scavenger hunts and trail hikes for the chance to earn a special certificate.
Located in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Fort William is another Canadian site with decades of history within its walls. Plan a staycation to the park for a chance to take your family on a one-of-a-kind experience packed with culture and heritage.
The site is over two hundred years old and blends historic structures with modern facilities, offering guided tours to its visitors to introduce them to the rich past of one of Canada's most prominent trading headquarters. The David Thompson Observatory is also located on-site for any aspiring astronomers interested in signing up for its child-friendly educational overnight programs.
With captivating, engaging theatre performances across 11 venues that span genres like comedy, dance, drama, and storytelling, the Toronto Fringe Festival is a noteworthy event dedicated to celebrating performing arts in Canada.
The festival values creativity and freedom of expression and also includes KidsFest, a series of interactive, family-friendly productions that shares the theatre experience to youth and even offers a special club-style playspace designed to entertain children of all ages.
Lake Muskoka has always been one of Ontario's most noteworthy attractions for nature-loving families, and the 2022 staycation credit is the perfect opportunity to plan a getaway from the city at one of its many cottages and resorts.
With its charming beaches and tranquil landscapes - not to mention its wide variety of outdoor activities like fishing, golfing, boating, hiking and horseback riding - it's easy to see why vacations at Muskoka are so consistently popular with families regardless of the season.