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NORTH AMERICA - CANADA

THE ULTIMATE CANADIAN TO DO LIST

Avatar   By Beth Allison - House of Travel Content Creative


Canada is vast…so vast it can be difficult to know where to start! Not to worry—we’ve got picks for what’s most unmissable in this incredible place. Oh wait, did you think you’d be reading about wearing head-to-toe denim?

 

Whistler


1. Drive the Sea-to-Sky Highway out of Vancouver.

Hands down one of the most the beautiful drives in the world. The Sea-to-Sky corridor winds about 2 hours from the heart of Vancouver to the famous ski town of Whistler in the Coast Mountains. Stop along the way for towering waterfalls, jaw-dropping vistas, a quirky cultural centre and a massive photo op of a suspension bridge. We recommend planning a fuel stop in Squamish—for the car and you: The Copper Coil Still & Grill is a local gem and if you’re not driving, get tempted by a tasting at Howe Sound Brew Pub, widely said to serve the province’s best stout.

Sunshine Coast Canada


2. Visit the Sunshine Coast…The Canadian one!

Vancouver is amazing. But if you’re lucky enough to have time on your hands, its surrounds have some seriously bucket list-worthy day trips. Our favourite and what we think is Canada’s best kept secret: The Sunshine Coast. Just a 40-minute ferry ride out of town lies pure coastal beauty. To make more than a day of it, base yourself in Sechelt, Roberts Creek or Gibsons. Ask your consultant about a boutique inn or cabin on the coast and spend your days perusing farmers’ markets, lazing around crystal-clear lakes and being mistaken for a local at the cafés.

Ice Hockey


3. Take in an ice hockey game.

Few things are quite as Canadian as flying across an ice rink after a chunk of rubber—excuse us, a puck. Well, maybe maple syrup. But we’re talking about hockey here, folks, as the North Americans know it: A gripping, fast-paced grudge match played at high speed on ice. You’ll enter a tourist and leave a fan. Nearly every major Canadian city boasts a team and a fixture of die-hard fans. Our Crusaders and Highlanders supporters will find their like in the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames, whereas Blues fans can take up with the struggling Vancouver Canucks. No matter which teams you see, you’re guaranteed three periods of great sport and a chance to hear the beautiful Canadian anthem at the start.

☆ HOT TIP

Your consultant can arrange event tickets for all sorts of things, not just ice hockey. Tell us what you enjoy and we can recommend local events you’ll love!

Quebec


4. Immerse yourself in Québécois culture…and food!

That’s “kay-bec-kwa” to you, Kiwi speaker! Referring to the fiercely proud French-speaking residents and culture of Québec, it’s a uniquely Canadian expression of French heritage. Discover it in Québec City, a charming, very European town nestled beneath towering Château Frontenac. Cobblestoned Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is easily walkable, and—Fun fact! Fait amusant!—the only fortified city north of Mexico. Stroll the old neighbourhoods and feel 400 years of history in the birthplace of French North America. Linger over poutine (chunky chips made heavenly with gravy and cheese) at the Old Port. And to learn a bit more, stop into the Centre de Valorisation due Patrimoine Vivant, the deliciously Québécois name for a museum celebrating their cultural legacy.

Northern Lights in Canada


5. Stand beneath the Northern Lights.

The aurora borealis are an epic natural lightshow that amazes anyone lucky enough to stand beneath. Wild watercolour lights fill the sky as stars peek through. For the best seats in the house -- er, world – you’ll want places with a magnetic latitude above 55° and low light pollution…In other words, you’re getting off the beaten track and far outside of major cities! And in terms of where it sits on the globe, northern Canada is a viewing jackpot. We recommend the Yukon’s Whitehorse or the Northwest Territories’ Yellowknife, which offer very good viewing chances. If you’re a science-y type, you might be keen to talk particles and the KP Index, but suffice to say the best time to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada is from October to March.

☆ HOT TIP

Ask your consultant about visiting the town of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. It’s so devoted to the Lights that it offers a purpose-made viewing space to keep visitors cosy while they watch.

Bear


6. Go on a bear hunt—with your camera only!

Northern British Columbia is characterised by some of the wildest and most beautiful landscapes in Canada. Grizzly, black, and Spirit bears thrive in the lush old-growth forests, foggy fjords and weathered coastlines. You might even spot a bear from the highway! We recommend booking onto a guided bear-watching trip for access to many of the most remote areas. These guides are trained to keep you safe and the bears respected in their wild habitats. Ask your consultant about Great Bear Rainforest—a beautiful refuge dedicated to safely spotting these massive bears. If you’re keen to spot a polar bear, ask us about heading further north to snoop from a tundra buggy or a cosy lodge.

Nature Lodge


7. Experience the wilderness in a nature lodge.

To truly get into the untouched Canadian wilderness, ask your consultant about staying in one of Canada’s famed nature lodges. They’re the ideal choice when you want to travel a little differently, live like a local and get into nature—but like, with indoor plumbing and a kettle. Many of our favourites are little known and tucked away in the Canadian wilds. Most are only accessible on self-driving tours or by seaplane, boat or helicopter—some are even floating!

Banff


8. Eyeball the Canadian Rockies from the Banff gondola.

Reward your retinas for all that they do. Head to Sulphur Mountain for a ride on what might be the world’s most beautiful gondola. And if you think the route up is mind-blowing, you won’t believe what awaits: With six mountain ranges and the vast Bow Valley laid out before you, the 360degree views from the summit platform are nothing short of breath-taking. If you’re more DIY when it comes to getting up mountains, Banff offers a web of spectacular walking tracks and of course, world-famous ski runs. Sitting just 180 kilometres west of Calgary, the region is seriously swoon-worthy: A landscape of gleaming glaciers, dense coniferous forests and stunning emerald lakes. The Icefields Parkway connects Lake Louise to Jasper National Park in the north, while Yoho National Park, Kootenay National Park and more wait to the south. For those seeking outdoors that can rival our own, this is a perfect place to find it.

Prince Edward Island


9. Order the catch of the day on Prince Edward Island.

A nearly 13-kilometre-long bridge connects this charming fishing island with mainland Canada, and driving it takes you to shellfish heaven. Towns here date to the 1800s and salt hangs in the air. Lobster is so plentiful here that locals used to call it “poor man’s food”! The arrival of the lobster season each year is a highly anticipated event on Prince Edward Island—and it’s melted into the culinary heritage of the locals. You’ll get drool-worthy seafood all year round, of course, but there are some especially good times to visit. The island sees a plentiful catch from May to June in the north and August to September in the south. Walk into any wood-panelled café for wickedly fresh whole lobster dropped on Styrofoam plates alongside drawn butter, white rolls and a dollop of coleslaw.

☆ HOT TIP

Prince Edward Island is also famously the setting of the classic children’s novel Anne of Green Gables. A visit to Green Gables Heritage Place to immerse yourself in the land of author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s inspiration is a must.
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ABOUT BETH ALLISON

Beth Allison is an American import from New Jersey and House of Travel’s in-house sentence writer. When she’s not thumbing a thesaurus, she’s probably dreaming of her next meal. Beth is a herbivore, coffee addict, tramper, bookworm, theatre lover and cat lady. Her favourite places are Strandhill, Ireland, and New York City. If you find a real bagel shop in New Zealand, please let her know.

More about Beth >

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