Canada is a beautiful country full of hidden gems, not just polar bears and igloos. When I sat down to write this article I compiled a list of some of my favourite parts of Canada that are slightly lesser known to foreign travellers.
Banff National Park, Alberta
This National Park, at the foot of the Rocky mountains is home to glaciers, ice fields, and beautiful forests. Most famous of all is Lake Louise, a beautiful glacial lake, teal in colour. On the shore is the famous luxury resort, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. A winter visit to the area allows for numerous activities like skiing (alpine, cross-country or heli-skiing), ice fishing and skating on Lake Louise. You can even try your hand at dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice climbing. Basically, if you’re looking to try out all the stereotypical Canadian activities. In the summer, camping, hiking, canoeing, biking and swimming are popular activities.
Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
Known for the highest tides in the world (up to 56 feet). Visiting during low tide you can get an idea what it’s like to walk the ocean floor. Arrive at the world famous Hopewell Rocks during low tide to walk the ocean floor, spend the day hiking the beautiful surrounding trails, then swing back around for high tide. Canoeing is popular around the rocks during high tide. The visitor centre (which is nestled a decent hike away from the rocks to keep the natural beauty of the bay intact) offers a wonderful learning experience for the whole family.
Tofino, British Columbia
Sitting right on the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by rainforest, Tofino is considered one of the top surfing locations in the world. It also is a top destination for whale watching and nature lovers who want a small town get away with lots of hiking and wildlife spotting. Many visitors enjoy a day trip to nearby Maquinna Marine Provincial Park to enjoy the natural hot springs. Sea kayaking is a popular family activity in the area. The Whale Centre Museum offers a great learning experience and after that you can head to the beach to rent boogie boards, roast marshmallows around the fire, build sandcastles, and all your other favourite beach activities.
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Old Quebec City, Quebec
Founded in 1608, the fortified city walls surrounding the city are the only remaining in the Americas, north of Mexico. Wandering the narrow, cobblestone streets feels like stepping back in time.
Festival d’ete de Quebec is a summer music festival that offers an eclectic selection of music for everyone from young families to hard rockers The main stage is the largest of its kind in North American and is accompanied but over a dozen smaller venues.
Represented by Bonhomme Carnival, the snowman mascot who has haunted the dreams of Canadian children everywhere, Carnaval de Quebec (Quebec Winter Carnival) is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. Snow and ice sculptures adorn the streets, carnival games scatter the boardwalk, free outdoor brunches and breakfasts are held, an indoor masquerade ball is one of the highlights.
Chateau Frontenac is the place to stay when visiting Quebec City. The opulent hotel sits right on the famous boardwalk filled with artisans and street performers and overlooks the lower city and is recognized as the most photographer hotel in the world.
Most people think of the Niagara Falls when they hear of the Niagara Region, but the region has much more to offer. Visitors love hiking and exploring the Niagara Escarpment which is UNESCO bioreserve and the Niagara Gorge. The region is also home to more than 80 wineries. Most wineries, big or small, offer full facility tours as well as tastings. Foodies would be happy to know many of them employ world-class chefs and use many local, fresh ingredients. While driving around the area don’t forget to stop at the fruit stands and get full on fresh local fruits.
In the summer months Niagara-on-the-Lake hosts the annual Shaw Festival. This theatre festival is the second largest of it’s kind, worldwide. Scattered around the region are many historical sites dating back to the war of 1812, including Fort George which played a crucial role in the war. Fun for the family includes Clifton Hill tourist area and multiple indoor waterparks. The Butterfly Conservatory is a favourite for tourists and locals alike. As is Bird Kingdom, the largest indoor free-flying aviary in the world.