As summer fast approaches, planning a vacation is uppermost in many of our minds. As you consider your vacation this year, although the world is large and can’t wait for you to visit it, think about checking out a Canadian location you have never seen before. What you will quickly discover are variations in topography and beauty coupled with diversity you may not have realized are in your own backyard.
In no particular order, we present the top ten destinations in our beloved country.
One of the most visited places on earth, people flock from nearly every corner to see for themselves what the magnitude of 6 million cubic feet of water a minute thrusting over its brink looks like. No words or photographs are capable of aptly describing this incredible force of nature.
The Calgary Stampede
Prior to hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary was just another breathtaking, yet anonymous city in the Rockies. Today, it is one of the most visited cities in Canada. The city of Calgary is said to be an unusual combination of cultural diversity and Cowboy Country. Where else can you go to a stampede during the day and at night choose from Chinese, Japanese, Latin American, Middle Eastern or Filipino food for dinner?
Prince Edward Island
With a population of around 140,000 people, the entire province of Prince Edward Island has fewer people than 10 square blocks in Toronto. People don’t visit PEI for hustle bustle, to wait in line for hours to see an attraction or to be one of literally a million people. With an average temperature of 23 degrees during the summer months, residents and visitors alike spend most of their time outdoors taking in the natural beauty. Among PEI’s most visited places are the sand dunes and coast of Cavendish, the national park in Greenwich, history seen through its architecture and museums, beaches, seaside cliffs and the Anne of Green Gables Homestead.
Imagine a park that is 1.5 times the size of Prince Edward Island, an expanse of 7700 square kilometers that includes 2400 lakes, approximately 1200 kilometers of streams and rivers, is easily accessible by central Ontario and the Georgian Bay and has been added to the National Historic Sites of Canada. Open your eyes; you’re in Algonquin Park. Another place Canadians don’t visit to be part of the hustle bustle, if your vacation requires rest, relaxation, being surrounded by beauty and camping, Algonquin Park is the perfect destination.
Some people can’t get enough of hustle bustle and for you, Toronto is a must see. Extremely rich history, architecture that is a wonderful mixture of the past, present and future, art galleries, museums, neighbourhoods both historic and funky, festivals, ethnic diversity, cool eateries, the Toronto Film Festival, music halls that span genres, the Blue Jays, parks, culture, culture and more culture are just a fraction of the reasons why Toronto is ranked in the top 20 tourist destinations in the world.
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton is an island off the coast of the province of Nova Scotia. Although Cape Breton is considered part of Nova Scotia, because of her history, culture, topography and interesting mix of ethnicities, Cape Breton is literally an island unto itself. While English is the primary language spoken, don’t be surprised to hear Gaelic, Mi’kmaq, and French. Come for its history, stay and take in her incredible topography, which includes vast farmlands, glacial valleys, mountains, plateaus, rocky shores and beautiful coastline. Part of the Appalachian mountain chain, do some hiking and learn more about the rich history that includes slaves who fled the US in search of a better life in Canada.
What makes Whistler one of the most sought after ski resorts in the world is the same thing that has mountain bikers flocking from all over Canada and the US. Located in British Columbia, about 125 kilometers north of Vancouver, Whistler is indeed a mountain biking Mecca, but you can’t be in the saddle all the time. A town with rich history, diverse culture, tons of night life, eateries and spas, makes Whistler a vacation packed with fun and adventure.
At some point every person should visit their country’s capital. Some of the most diverse architecture in Canada, from historic neighbourhoods to Parliament Hill (and the Library of Parliament), Peace Tower, the Supreme Court of Canada, the myriad gothic buildings, Place de Ville, and so many others alone are worth the trip to Ottawa. And once you arrive, park the car and avail yourself of the city’s extensive transit system. Clean and safe, it can take you to all the touristy spots and even those tucked away places. Art galleries, museums, incredible eateries, parks, music halls and nightclubs, you may need to plan two trips to take all of Ottawa in.
Among the biggest draws to Montreal in the summer is the Montreal International Jazz Festival. This year the festival takes place from June 28 to July 7 and although you will surely want to see every musician, it simply isn’t possible. With more than 2000 performers, from the avant-garde, to those just breaking into the genre to so many old favourites and some of the most respected names in jazz (and other music genres), The Montreal Jazz Festival should be on every single person’s bucket list! If you have time to think about anything else, Montreal is one of the most incredible cities on earth. Stay a few extra days at the start or the end of the festival and check out why. Trying to describe Montreal with all that she has to offer is almost as difficult as trying to do the same with New York City. This is one of those cities where there really is something for everyone in terms of music, nightlife, restaurants and cafés, history, galleries, museums, etc. etc. Montreal won’t disappoint!
What are your favourite Canadian vacation destinations?