Things to do in Canada
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Spanning two oceans, multiple mountain ranges, and supporting a spectacular amount of wildlife, Canada promises countless opportunities for outdoor fun. For anyone who appreciates rugged good looks and outdoor adventure, a trip to Canada is a must. But what is on offer in this playground? If you are wondering what to do once you are there, here is out list of 10 top-rated things to do in Canada to get you started:
1. Take a road trip
Boasting epic landscapes and gorgeous natural vistas, Canada might be one of the best countries on earth for a road trip.
- Icefields Parkway — stretching between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park — boasts 230 kilometers of windswept mountains, sparkling lakes, ancient glaciers, rushing waterfalls, endless viewpoints, and world-class hikes. No wonder it earned a spot as one of National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime. You can cruise between the two parks in roughly 3 hours, but make sure to account for all the stops you’ll want to make along the way.
- Cabot Trail winds around the scenic coastal hilltops of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton. Set aside a few days to get the most out of this 300-kilometer loop. Calculate enough time to trek to the viewpoints in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, indulge in a seafood lunch, sink your toes into the golden sandy shores of Ingonish, and catch one of the many summertime festivals.
Best time: May and October with the peak times in July, August and September.
2. Go on an adventure
From the big city of Toronto to the backwoods where few have trampled before, there’s plenty of adventurous things to do in Canada.
- Tromping off into the backcountry is one of the most beloved Canadian activities and is one of the best things to do in Canada. Leave the beaten path and go wild camping in Ontario; there are plenty of free camping spots for the activity, just make sure you’re prepared for the untamed conditions.
- Experience the Edge Walk — the world’s highest hands-free walk on a 5-foot wide ledge, 116 stories (356 meters) above the ground — at Ontario’s CN Tower. It’s actually more than just a walk; you can push your personal comfort limits by leaning back over the ledge’s rail with nothing but the safety harness holding you over Toronto!
- British Columbia is one of Canada’s premier destinations for trail hounds. Rossland, known as the Mountain Bike Capital of Canada, hosts 200 kilometers of well-maintained trails that everyone from beginners to experts can get down on. If you want to give mountain biking a try, give it a go in Canada.
Best time: Camping is enjoyable in all seasons, just make sure you’re ready for the elements. Biking season runs from April to late fall.
3. Take on the waters
Get back to nature with a paddle around Canada’s most incredible terrain.
- Canoe in Banff National Park, a nature-lover’s playground with crystal clear waterways winding beneath the wind-whipped mountain peaks. Opt for a guided tour or set off on your own to enjoy tranquil discovery.
- Kayak in Bay of Fundy off the coast of Nova Scotia and admire the fascinating rock formations, the sky-high red cliffs, and ancient lava flows frozen in time. You’ll also get to ebb and flow with the most dramatic tide change on earth — a 12-meter vertical difference!
Best time: Any water-based activity is the most enjoyable in the warmest months of summer (July and August).
4. Have fun in the snow
When summer starts to dwindle, it’s time to dust of your skis or snowboard and get ready to carve your way around Canada’s mountainous playground.
- Heli-ski in British Columbia and get dropped on the best slopes within the 500,000-acre area of glacier and alpine terrain. With 60 feet of powder beneath you and nothing but snow-blanketed space in front of you, this is the adrenaline-inducing adventure you’ve been waiting for.
- Conquer Whistler and Blackcomb, neighboring mountains offering thousands of acres of skiable landscape, over 200 trails, and adjacent backcountry ski terrain. Connected by the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, experiencing the best of both summits is totally feasible.
Best time: January to February offer the best conditions in terms of weather andvolume of power for heli-skiing. Hit the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb anywhere between December to March.
5. Prepare to explore the trails
The Canadian landscape beckons explorers to take the trails and uncover nature at its finest.
- The West Coast Trail in British Columbia spans 75 kilometers along the breathtaking Pacific Northwest. Traverse rivers, discover waterfalls, blaze the backcountry and feast your eyes upon sprawling Pacific coast views.
- Sunshine to Mt. Assiniboine in Alberta passes through the Canadian Rockies and is considered the best hike of its kind. Hikers can trek across the continental divide while gazing up at Matterhorn (the highest peak in Canada at nearly 3,658 meters) and spotting a gaggle of wildlife like elk, mountain goats, and deer.
Best time: May to September boasts a decent weather and July to mid-September have the warmest months, making it an ideal time for a hike.
6. Indulge in tourist activities
There’s plenty that’s off the beaten path in Canada, but even the activities well-cemented on the tourist radar are worth visiting.
- Feel the power of Niagara Falls, the water flow of which accumulates to over 3,000 tons per second. From the Canadian side, the falls can be viewed for free from the Table Rock Welcome Center. For a more up close and personal look, aboard a boat tour.
- Watch an ice hockey game at The Bell Centre in Montreal, the largest hockey arena in the NHL. Home to the Montreal Canadiens, 21,000-plus fans pack in to see Canada’s favorite team compete. You can also catch the ever-popular Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Center. With a total of 7 Canadian teams competing in the NHL, it’s possible to find other professional games in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, or Vancouver.
Best time: July through August for optimal weather, but visiting in April, May, September, or October means fewer tourists and cheaper hotels, although chillier temperatures; the 2019 – 2020 regular NHL season started on October 2, 2019 and ends on April 4, 2020.
7. Get back to nature
Emerge in all things Canada by embracing the great outdoors — regardless of the season — and appreciating all the glorious nature this country has to offer.
- The Great Spirit Circle Trail on Manitoulin Island offers nature-based education of the region’s culture and history from the Aboriginal perspective.
- Witness the Northern Lights in Yukon where streams of green, purple, and gold swirl across the sky as soon as night falls. Stay warm by bundling up for a guided tour, or strip down and soak in an outdoor jacuzzi for the ultimate viewing experience.
- Stargaze in Jasper — Canada’s second largest Dark Sky Preserve — with some of the best spots for gazing just a quick 10-minute drive out of town. Prepare to be dazzled.
Best time: Activities and tours can be enjoyed all year round. The fall and winter months between October to February is best to view the Northern Lights. For stargazing, the winter months of December and January on the darkest days closest to the New Moon is best.
8. Enjoy the food
Nothing helps to get a feel for a country more than digging into the local cuisine.
- Lobster in New Brunswick is known throughout the country; nothing beats an east coast Atlantic lobster. Lobster fishing is the heart and soul of this coastal community – there’s simply no better place to try it.
- Poutine includes — at its most basic — French fries, cheese curds and a smothering of gravy. Originating in Quebec in the 1950s, this French-Canadian dish is now found all over the country. Amplified with local twists like shaved beef, spicy sausage, mushrooms, sour cream, egg yolks (and much, much more), you’ll be hard pressed to try every poutine variety.
Best time: While anything related to food can be done anytime of the year, we recommend trying the lobster during the fishing season running from July to September when freshness is guaranteed!
9. Meet the wild animals
With Canada’s wide-open spaces, it’s no surprise that it’s a land flush with wildlife. Some of the most exciting animal spotting include entering the personal space of some of earth’s great beasts.
- Polar bear viewing in Manitoba is a popular activity in Canada. Done from the safety of giant mental trucks, tourists witness the annual polar bear trek through the town of Churchill as they make their way to Hudson Bay, their preferred winter hunting destination.
- Beluga watching in Nunavut proves to be one of the most rewarding things to do in Canada — if you can handle the cold temperatures of the northern regions. Belugas tend to gather in pods around the mouths of the rivers on the Hudson Bay; land and boat tours by local guides are recommended.
Best time: Witness the polar bears during the migration period between October to November. You have the best chance of seeing the Beluga during July to August during calving and migration.
10. Unwind and relax
After all those adventurous on-the-go activities, you’ll be more than ready to kick-back with a glass of wine or unwind in a unique resort on the edge of the world.
- Pluck grapes and drink wine in Okanagan, British Columbia’s premier grape growing region. More than 130 vineyards line the valley, many of which cluster around the gorgeous Okanagan Lake. Each one with a unique, friendly vibe, these boutique establishments welcome thirsty tourists with promises of crisp whites and ripe reds.
- Stay at Fogo Island Inn, an eco-friendly resort on the namesake island. Located just off the coast of Newfoundland — the farthest-reaching eastern point of Canada — a stay in this stilted inn feels off-grid, to say the least. Hole up in a one-of-a-kind guest room with floor to ceiling windows allowing for unmatched views over the mighty Atlantic. Although remote, don’t expect to rough it; the contemporary design and exceptional hospitality puts this place heads above other accommodation experiences in Canada.
Best time: Is there ever a bad time for drinking wine or escaping reality? We don’t think so.
The things to do in Canada span far and wide, from the mountain tops of the Rockies to the valley of the country’s best wine region. The country attracts outdoorsy folks who like to get a little lost; however, even if your travel style is less adventurous, the scenic drives, food, and extraordinary character of Canada will still win you over.