What better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada than by exploring some of the best spots worth visiting around this beautiful nation. We have been fortunate to visit several of Canada’s most iconic locations over the last few years and after collaborating with some of our travel blogging friends, we are eager to head back and explore more! Identifying the best places to visit in Canada for a weekend getaway isn’t easy and this list is far from exhaustive, but hopefully it will give you some inspiration for an upcoming trip.
Featuring both the best urban areas of Canada and even some of the remote rural areas, we are delighted to introduce Canada’s finest hotspots and after reading this, I’m sure you will be ready to do your part in celebrating the 150th anniversary in fine style.
Our lifestyle means that much of our travel is done over the weekend and what better way to continue this theme than by sharing some of Canada’s best spots to visit for a long weekend getaway.
Best Places to Visit in Canada – 150 Years
How do you plan on celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary? I am sure you all have your own ideas but why not follow our recommendation – EXPLORE THIS BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY! After visiting Canada on a couple of occasions, we have arrived at the realization that you should NEVER need an excuse to return to the Maple Leaf nation to explore more.
In fact, there is such a plethora of natural beauty mixed in with some delightful urban environments, that Canada is perhaps the finest example of a nation that possesses everything a modern day traveler could wish for.
If you are not familiar with the many things that Canada will be doing in 2017 to celebrate this event, the most intriguing is perhaps the offer of FREE entrance to all of the national parks scattered around the country.
We are particularly excited about this and already have our pass (you can apply online for free and within a few weeks you will be mailed a pass along with a map of all the parks) ready to start exploring in the next few months.
But if you don’t have the time or desire to visit these national parks, well you must be CRAZY! In all seriousness, there is so much more to Canada and visiting iconic locations such as Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver will surely spark your interest.
Let’s take a look at the best places to visit in Canada according to our blogging friends from around the world based on their experiences.
Before we hand this over to our blogging friends, we want to share our favorite spot in Canada – Vancouver! Road tripping from Seattle, we were able to experience Vancouver for a long weekend by exploring all of the downtown hotspots and also a couple of places just outside the city center including the spectacular Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Vancouver is an urban delight with plenty of attractions to keep you occupied for much more than a weekend getaway. We strongly encourage you to check out attractions like FlyOver Canada, BC Sports Hall of Fame and Chinatown.
There is a strong multi-cultural vibe throughout Vancouver and regardless of your cuisine preference, you can be sure that this city will have something that intrigues you.
Perhaps the most relaxing part of Vancouver is Stanley Park. Located in the heart of the city, this is a great place to just ‘get away’ from the hustle and bustle of city life.
With gorgeous scenes across the lake, particularly when the fall colors are in full bloom and plenty of history to learn with the totem poles that are located inside the park, this is probably our favorite spot from our trip to Vancouver.
If you need a little more convincing that Vancouver is worth experiencing, be sure to check out our post on the top 10 reasons to visit Vancouver. What other reasons would you add to this list?
A haven of French culture in North America, Quebec City’s European charms are enough to draw any traveler.
Spend your day exploring the cobblestone streets of the historic Petit-Champlain district, the heart of Old Quebec since 1608, where you’ll now find independent shops and cafes in view of the grand Hotel Chateau Frontenac.
Gorgeous any time of year, Quebec City celebrates winter with a joie de vivre like nowhere else. Each winter locals and visitors celebrate all things snowy with the Winter Carnaval and live out their Frozen fantasies at the Hotel du Glace, Canada’s only ice hotel.
Thanks to Brianna Simmons from Casual Travelist for highlighting some of our favorite spots around Quebec City. We would also add Montmorency Falls as a great spot that you HAVE to experience when you are in this part of Canada.
Jasper is the dream destination for a weekend getaway! It perfectly combines mountains, a cute ski city, outdoor activities, and more. Jasper is very busy and popular in the summer, but even more magical in the winter!
During the winter months, the snow blankets the mountains and the rivers and lakes turn to ice. If you visit during the winter, make sure to explore the Maligne Canyon. The water in the river freezes and becomes 1-3 meters thick! The waterfalls freeze and the canyon becomes a glittering ice palace!
If you want to hit the slopes, Marmot Basin is THE place to ski. If you are a newbie, they have a ton of ‘easy’ runs so you can get in on the fun too. If you are a pro, the black diamond and double black diamond runs will be right up your alley!
Regardless of the time of year you visit, make sure to take some time to drive the Icefields Parkway. It is one of the premiere drives in the world and runs from Jasper down to Banff for over 3.5 hours. During your drive, you may be fortunate enough to come across wildlife such as wild sheep, elk, coyotes, wolves and maybe even a moose!
Jasper is the perfect way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary nestled among the Rocky Mountains.
Thanks to Victoria Yore (and Terrence!) from Follow Me Away for sharing some eerily beautiful pictures of Jasper. This is definitely a destination worth visiting at any time of the year. I am sure many of you are familiar with the iconic landscapes of Jasper and Banff in the heart of summer but as you can see from these pictures, it is equally spectacular all year round. Jasper is definitely on our list of destinations to visit in 2017!
Montreal was our choice to have a romantic European-style getaway closer to home. Aside from the relatively close location to our home in New Hampshire, Montreal had everything we wanted. Awesome attractions, plenty of shopping, and of course, chocolate…I mean food.
The attractions throughout Montreal are numerous and so close together. Art of all descriptions is everywhere, even on the alley walls.
Museums, festivals (there are over 100+ yearly), and countless other activities are literally minutes away. There’s an amazing underground tunnel system connecting to most locations that will keep you warm and secure.
Although we are not big shoppers, we couldn’t help but be lured into the many wonderful shops and boutiques lining Old Montreal’s shopping district. You’ll feel like you are walking down a quaint European cobble-stoned street in France as you pass many interesting shops and bakeries.
Speaking of bakeries, the food is fantastic. Montreal caters to all cuisines and all budgets, but be sure to save room for dessert. If you are a chocolate lover Cacao 70 is your Nirvana, and you can thank me later for the suggestion.
Thanks to Cathy and Frank from RoarLoud for inspiring us to want to visit Montreal again. Although we have spent a few hours here exploring some of the iconic attractions, I think it’s fair to say that we are raring to head back after reading this inspiring review! Are you ready to see this part of Canada?
Riding Mountain National Park
Riding Mountain National Park is located a few hours away from Winnipeg in the southwestern region of Manitoba. You will find endless nature and a small, adorable lakeside town, called Wasagaming. The park is home to four distinct ecosystems: rough fescue grasslands, upland boreal forests, eastern deciduous forests and marsh wetlands.
All of this landscape diversity creates a fantastic array of outdoor adventure opportunities. Our favorite adventures consist of kayaking, hiking, taking a sunset cruise on Clear Lake, and spotting bison on a driving safari at the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure.
Stay at either the cozy Lakehouse Boutique Hotel in Wasagaming townsite or for a more rustic experience try camping in an oTENTik at Wasagaming Campground just on the edge of town.
In addition to the abundance of nature, there are also several great restaurants to eat at, as well—a few great options are The Whitehouse Bakery for the famous cinnamon rolls, Foxtail Café for stone fired pizza, and the create your own ice cream sandwiches at the Lakehouse Ice Cream shop.
The unique mix of both outdoor adventures and small town charm make this spot the perfect weekend getaway!
Thanks to Jenna Kvidt from Wander The Map for highlighting a “lesser” known area of Canada that is still a breathtaking part of the nation that we all need to be aware of. If you are heading to the Winnipeg area of Canada, be sure to add this to your itinerary as we are sure you won’t regret it!
It may not be the capital of Canada, but Toronto is the heart and soul of the “Great White North.” Extremely diverse and surprisingly easy to get around, your biggest question is simple: What do you want to do first?
A few of my favorite attractions around the city are as follows:
Hockey Hall of Fame – The largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world. If you’re a hockey fan, you’ll recognize the great names of the sport’s history. If you’re only vaguely familiar with how the game is played, consider this your chance to get up to speed.
A 22-minute film shows some of the finest plays in playoff history, but the highlights are easily the interactive games blending screens and real hockey equipment. Shoot at a virtual goal, or put on a goalie’s gloves and try to block shots from virtual players.
MZTV Museum of Television – This low-key museum focuses on the television sets (not television programming) to show the history of the boob tube. The one-room museum starts with a few examples of mechanical TV’s, which used a light source and a spinning, perforated scanning disk to create an image.
A highlight is a unique RCA-made device used during the 1939 World’s Fair – people were given the opportunity to wave to their friends and family back home in front of a live camera
The Monkey’s Paw – Specializing in antiquarian books and offbeat titles, it’s a great introduction to some Canadian humor and fun. The highlight here is the vending-machine-sized ‘Biblio-Mat’ you see in the picture below.
Insert a “toonie” (a $2 CAD coin) or some combination of coins, and this unique machine will offer up a random ‘old and unusual’ book complete with a wrapper.
Thanks to Chris Backe from One Weird Globe for sharing a few of the iconic and “off the beaten path” attractions around Toronto that create the perfect itinerary for a weekend getaway. Any visit to Canada wouldn’t be the same without sampling something associated with hockey right!
Bay of Fundy
The perfect weekend getaway from Halifax is a trip to the Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides! There are many ways to experience the force of the Bay of Fundy from adrenaline activities, to relaxed walks or active getaways.
For thrill seekers, we recommend tidal bore rafting the Shubenacadie River you ride the waves ride the waves as the tide comes in with brute force. Pack your nerve as you feel the pure power of 160 billion tons of water rush in.
If that’s a little too much for you, make your way to Burnthead Coat Park where you can walk on the ocean floor when the tide is low. Every 13 hours the tide goes out and visitors have the chance to experiences this natural phenomenon seeing the formations from below.
Our favorite activity was an overnight kayaking trip to where we paddled through the famous Three Sisters stacks. Making our way from Advocate Harbour to seal cove, we camped on the beach witnessing the tide flow in and out where one minute we could paddle through sea caves and the next, be walking inside.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bay of Fundy is truly a world wonder. Burnthead Coast and Shubenacadie River are 1:15 minutes from Halifax and Advocate Harbour is a two-hour drive from the city.
Thanks to Deb and Dave from The Planet D for sharing their experiences in this part of Canada. If you are in and around the Halifax area, the Bay of Fundy looks like a gorgeous area worth exploring. We cannot wait to add this to our list of growing destinations we need to visit across the border but for now, we will sit back and appreciate the beauty through the eyes of Dave and Deb!
Located in the heart of the foothills and next to the Canadian Rockies lies Calgary, Alberta. Canada’s fourth largest city is world famous for the Calgary Stampede, which takes place every July. If you’re looking for a citywide party with hundreds of concerts and cowboy hats, this is the time to come.
However, Calgary is much more than partying in cowboy boots. One of the best free local summer activities is taking a raft down the Bow River for a relaxing float or taking a stroll around the beautiful Prince’s Island Park.
If you’re looking to explore inner-city nature further, Calgary is also home to Fish Creek Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in North America. This is a great place to peddle a bike or go for a jog, or you can stop by Glenmore Reservoir and rent a sailboat.
Even in the winter, Calgary has plenty of fun activities ranging from an Olympic bobsleigh track where you can experience feeling like a speeding bullet, Zoo Lights if you’re into epic displays of Christmas lights, or inner-city skiing at Canada Olympic Park.
Whether you visit Calgary in the warmer months or the colder months, there’s plenty of things to do. Plus, if you get tired of exploring the city, you can take a side-trip to Banff National Park and experience Canada’s top tourist attraction.
Thanks to Matt Bailey from Live Limitless and Must Do Canada for sharing a few reasons why Calgary needs to be on your radar. I think the skyline alone is enough for me but perhaps that’s just because I love architecture!
Bruce Peninsula National Park
One of the best places in Canada is without a doubt Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula. Located 300 kilometers north-east of Toronto, the peninsula is flanked on one side by Lake Huron and the other Georgian Bay. And lover of the great outdoors will be in their glory as they explore the Bruce Peninsula.
The Bruce Peninsula is full of natural wonders, epic cliffside views, the infamous Grotto, and surrounded by crystal clear blue waters that will make you think you’re in the Caribbean.
The Peninsula is home to amazing parks, fantastic hiking trails – including the Bruce Trail, plenty of picturesque lighthouses, and a scattering of charming small towns like Lion’s Head and Tobermory.
Don’t forget to explore its surrounding waters. Great for divers, with its over 20 shipwrecks just off the shore. And also, Flowerpot Island, a mecca for nature nuts, wildlife, and natural rock sea stacks known as flowerpots.
I highly recommend a visit to the Bruce Peninsula, it will leave you wanting to return!
Thanks to Stephanie Mayo from The World As I See It for sharing this gorgeous part of Canada. It may not be the first destination you think of visiting but I know we are inspired to add this to our bucket list after reading these recommendations.
Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. There’s always a festival or an event happening in the city.
For instance, you must travel to Ottawa during the Winterlude festival in February to see spectacular ice sculptures designed by artists from all over the world. Missed Winterlude? Don’t fret, you can skate on the Rideau Canal throughout the entire winter season. Skate on the world’s largest skating rink that also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For a dose of Canadian history and politics, take a tour of the Parliament Buildings. I highly recommend that you take a trip to the top of the Peace Tower for one of the best views of the city.
A trip to Ottawa wouldn’t be complete without stopping at the ByWard Market. There are over 600 restaurants, shops, and stands featuring goods by local farmers and artisans. Within this four-block neighborhood, you’ll discover cafes, museums, boutiques, galleries, pubs, and more.
Ottawa could quite possibly be the best city to celebrate Canada Day. The party will start early on July 1st and continue all day and night. From musical performances to a massive fireworks display, you’re not going to want to miss it.
Thanks to Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren for sharing her favorite reasons to visit the Canadian capital. Ottawa is one of the main cities in Canada that we have yet to visit and after reading Lauren’s inspiring review, I think we need to book a trip here in the next year or two…perhaps to celebrate Canada Day!
We want to start by thanking all of our friends for sharing these amazing experiences around Canada! I think it’s fair to say that we all have enough ammunition here to justify booking a trip to Canada to celebrate the 150th anniversary. Whether you want to visit one of the many national parks or simply head to a historic city, finding the best place to visit in Canada has just been made a little easier.
I think it’s incredibly difficult to pick ‘one’ place worth visiting because we all have very different opinions on what we enjoy experiencing on a trip. However, I think when you look at places like Quebec City and Toronto, it’s fair to say that they pretty much have it all when it comes to history, culture and delicious cuisine!
This was an extremely difficult post to put together because trying to limit this to just ten spots around Canada was almost impossible. Places like Banff, Winnipeg, and many other national parks didn’t even make the cut. However, I don’t know about you but I am ready to sample some more maple syrup and head to Canada sooner rather than later.
What are your favorite places in Canada and are you planning a trip to celebrate the 150th anniversary this year?