“I think Canadians are finally getting to know their country in a deeper way, and realizing that you don’t have to cross a border or speak another language to have an amazing vacation. There is so much to explore here, and each time you venture off the path there is another awe inspiring adventure waiting for you. Emily Carr captures perfectly in her quote – It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she’s something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of.” — Lara Barlow, Country Manager for Travelzoo.ca
Travel within Canada has always been poo-poohed by those of us looking a for “real” vacation experience…With all that our own country has to offer (and a low Canadian dollar these days) why would we venture over the border for a perfect vay—or rather—staycation…?
Here are some wonderfully—and truly Canuck—destinations.
A recreated Gold Rush Town circa 1862. the Barkerville experience combines history and fun for an interactive experience and a trip back to an important time in British Columbian history. Rent out traditional Victorian era costumes as you walk through this period town, try your hand at gold panning or take in a theatrical production. Children under 5 enter the town for free, and there are great deals on admission for families. Visit as a day trip, or stay overnight in one of the many available accommodations: Bed & breakfasts, Hotels, Campgrounds, Motels, Cabins, etc.
Known as one of Alberta’s “hidden gems,” Abraham Lake is a great location for an alternative summer escape, instead of visiting Banff, Jasper or Lake Louise, all of which can get crowded with visitors and tourists on weekends. The man-made lake’s breathtaking colours and scenery are beautiful all year-round while summer at Abraham Lake offers swimming, canoeing, and hiking for all ages and skill levels. There is free lakeside camping available, but if camping isn’t your thing, David Thompson Resort or Aurum Lodge are both nearby.
Visitors from all over the world visit the Badlands to take in the beauty and vastness of this geographical region, particularly the buttes and caves. Visitors can learn the history of Saskatchewan’s Indigenous populations, and the bandits and outlaws of North America’s Wild West, (the infamous Sundance Kid came here) while walking the same paths and exploring the same cliffs and caves as they once did. Don’t forget to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of the richest dinosaur fossil sites in the world, where more than 500 specimens have been discovered. There are many accommodations nearby in the town of Coronach, including Bed & breakfasts, motels, restaurants and gift shops.
Dubbed the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill is one of the few human settlements where Polar Bears can be observed in the wild, with different ways to see them (by Tundra Buggy or a visit to a Wilderness Lodge). In addition, there are opportunities to watch or swim with whales, see the Northern Lights, and experience other wildlife up close. Churchill also has an extensive fur trade history, great hiking, and delicious local cuisine including Elk and Bison dishes.
The name itself is a misnomer; it should actually be called 1800 Islands. This archipelago (with 1864 islands to be precise) borders Canada and the United States, in the town of Gananoque, near Kingston, Ontario. The islands are an authentic hub of nature, culture, and history and feature two UNESCO sites: Frontenac Arch Biosphere and the Rideau Heritage Route. Additionally, visitors may visit Boldt or Singer Castle; both of which are open for visitors to enter and explore and learn more about their rich histories. Take a cruise of the area, swim at one of the remote beaches, or rent a cottage or perhaps even an island.
The 1250 kilometre stretch from Tadoussac to Blanc Sablon on the Cote-Nord, 3 hours north of Quebec City, has been designated as the Whale Route because this area is home to 13 different species of whales. You can see the majestic creatures from the shore but you can also get closer with a boat tour; those who are adventuresome can even kayak for an up-and-close encounter. In addition to whale watching, the Whale Route leads visitors to swimmable beaches, hiking trails, historical sites, shopping and dining, and great locations to observe everything from deer, to puffins, to fish.
Saint Pierre et Miquelon
Known for its slogan: “Where France meets North America,” this small community flies the French flag, residents use the Euro as their currency, and they speak European French. 12 miles from Newfoundland and accessible by ferry or airplane, the town is known for its friendliness and tight-knit community. Because of St. Pierre et Miquelon’s traditionally simple way of life, these islands are a great opportunity to escape city life, and provide a unique opportunity for visitors to be completely immersed in French culture, without leaving the country—they even use the same electrical outlets as France does! There are lots of nature trails there, and many opportunities to take great pictures if you’re interested in photography and there’s plenty to do all summer including music and wine festivals.
A huge Maritime tourist attraction, this town has been a phenomenon since the 1800s, when people noticed their cars would roll backwards up this hill without any power. Imagine your child’s face as he or she watches this optical illusion caused by the rising and descending terrain. In addition to the hill, there is also the Magnetic Hill concert site, which features a waterpark, Zoo, and wharf village and is an entertainment zone that caters to many interests and provides entertainment during the days and evenings. Accommodations in Moncton include Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, Hotels, and camp grounds. Beyond Magnetic Hill, Moncton is a city filled with rich Acadian culture with many interesting features to check out.
Home to some of North America’s earliest European settlers, and is a dynamic community with a strong present-day culture that honours Annapolis Royal’s Indigenous and Settler past. This former capital of Acadia and Nova Scotia is rich with history. Most attractions and accommodations are heritage sites, featuring historic gardens, a farmers market, vineyards, lighthouses, museums and a theatre. Visit the Fort Anne National Historic Site to see 1797 British officer’s quarters or take one of the historic walking tours to get a better understanding of the stories behind the local sites.
Located in northern Prince Edward Island, this is an authentic beach vacation right in Canada. The 8 km stretch of natural sand gives way to calm, warm waters that are safe for swimming by all age groups. Sit back and marvel at the red sandstone cliffs and sandy dunes. Then, when you’re finished making sand castles, head inland to the nearby botanical garden, tourist shops or a local restaurant to try the fresh lobster. Cavendish Beach Music Festival, featuring artists like Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney and The Band Perry, is taking place from July 8-10, 2016.
The appearance of the Aurora Borealis is a mesmerizing and unique experience and is best seen from late August to mid-April outside the big cities. Local tour operators offer various options for seeing the Northern Lights, from evening bus tours to remote lodge stays and even organized camping trips.
Nahanni National Park Reserve
Among the world’s first four natural heritage locations chosen as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. One of the park’s key features is the South Nahanni River, which is surrounded by huge canyons. The river flows to the spectacular Virginia Falls, which is more than twice the height of Niagara Falls. The park is also home to sulphur hot springs, alpine tundra regions, mountain ranges, and lush forests. Spend the day hiking the foothills or canoeing the crystal blue waters.
An Inuit hamlet with a population of approximately 1500, located on Baffin Island. Visit to get a real sense of modern Inuit life. And make sure to visit the Uqqurmiut Inuit Arts Centre, with its studios and shops. Nearby Auyuittuq National Park is also a must stop. The park is home to Mount Thor, known for having the greatest vertical drop on earth—the drop from its granite peak is 1250m—taller than two CN Towers! The temperature in July and August ranges between 5°C and 15°C. Trips and activities can be coordinated to several places near the Pangnirtung hamlet. Accommodations include a hotel, a bed and breakfast, and a campground for visitors.