For those of us who live and die by our ‘to do’ list, even something as relaxing as a holiday is cause to crack open the notepad. I can’t resist cataloguing the pros and cons of each potential destination and gobbling up travel stories that itemise 10 ways to eat your way through… or 5 hidden gems in the city of…
Thinking of heading to North America? In the spirit of itemised decision-making, from one #listaholic to another, this is my top 20 list of what to do in Canada.
1. Whistler Blackcomb trekking
The only thing better than skiing Whistler Blackcomb during winter is hitting the slopes in summer. Trek through 50 kilometres of stunning alpine trails, jump on a bike and test the world-famous Whistler Mountain Bike Park, and give the camera a workout on the Peak 2 Peak gondola.
2. The Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail in the maritime province of Nova Scotia serves up one of the greatest road trips in the world. My top tip? Head there during autumn – the fusion of light and colour has to be seen to be believed.
3. Hudson Bay
On the shores of Hudson Bay, Manitoba, on a Churchill Wild expedition, you’ll swim with belugas, spy families of polar bears roaming free and make the acquaintance of 100 species of birds.
4. Train le Massif
The luxurious Train le Massif is a five-star rail journey from Quebec City to the artisan region of Charlevoix, 140 kilometres along the beautiful banks of the St Lawrence River. Alight at Baie-Saint- Paul and soak up the eclectic, arty vibe of this quaint village.
5. Visit Saskatoon
Outdoorsy types will love the historical city of Saskatoon. The Meewasin trail winds along the forested bank of the South Saskatchewan River with stunning views as far as the eye can see. Grab a canoe for a whole new perspective.
6. Dawson City
The Yukon Territory’s Dawson City is a township steeped in history. Wander the dusty streets and soak in the heady Klondike Gold Rush days when 100,000 poor miners and wealthy prospectors came to strike it rich in 1896.
7. Charlottetown Festival, Prince Edward Island
Creativity buzzes in the air at the annual Charlottetown Festival on Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables – The Musical is a product of the festival and Canada’s longest-running musical. Take in a show and soak up the creative vibe alongside Canada’s finest designers, playwrights, performers and directors.
8. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Treat yourself to the ultimate Christmas winter wonderland at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rocky province of Alberta. Skate the frozen, turquoise lake, snuggle up under a blanket for a dog sledding adventure, and walk off Christmas lunch on snow shoes, traversing through sparkling fir trees.
9. Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Strike envy into the hearts of your Instagram followers at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. Canada’s most photographed fishing village is set in the midst of a geographical marvel and the perfect pit-stop along the lighthouse trail to the gorgeous town of Lunenberg.
10. Niagara Falls
There’s more to Niagara Falls than simply watching one million bathtubs of water falling in torrents over gigantic cliffs every minute. Tour the Niagara’s abundant wine district, cruise along the Niagara River indulging in gourmet fare and don’t miss the Niagara SkyWheel, Canada’s largest observation wheel.
11. Trans-Canada Experience
All aboard VIA Rail from British Columbia to Toronto on the Trans-Canada Experience. Enjoy the romance of the rails as you make new friends, sleep in your own private cabin, and soak up the views and history along the way.
12. Toronto’s EdgeWalk
Adrenalin junkies love Toronto’s EdgeWalk, a hands-free walk along a 1.5 metre-wide ledge encircling the top of the CN Tower. Lean back over Toronto with nothing but air and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario beneath you.
13. Ice skating at Rideau Canal
Canada’s capital city of Ottawa boasts the Rideau Canal, famous as the largest naturally frozen ice rink in the world. During summer, take in a free outdoor yoga class on Parliament Hill and visit the eclectic ByWard neighbourhood, with its markets and cafes.
14. Aurora Borealis
Yukon Territory is one of the best places to catch nature’s most flamboyant display, the Aurora Borealis. Stay in a quintessential wilderness log cabin and watch the spectacular light show.
Newfoundland and Labrador offers one of the best places in the world to view 10,000 year-old icebergs. Go on a boat tour, paddle a kayak or hike along the coastline and watch these glacial giants parade down Iceberg Alley.
16. Assiniboine Park Zoo – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Visit Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and experience Journey to Churchill, a new 10-acre Arctic species exhibit, featuring four exquisite polar bears. You’ll be awestruck as the polar bears perform synchronised swimming overhead in an acrylic tunnel.
17. Granville Island
Eat your way through Vancouver’s most well-known culinary hub, Granville Island. Sample fresh cheeses and chocolate, and indulge in organic coffee and sake in Canada’s only artisan sake distillery.
18. Alberta’s Badlands
Explore Alberta’s Badlands, one of the world’s most prolific dinosaur fossil sites. Natural rock formations called ‘hoodoos’ jut out from the ground, casting eerie shadows over the sandstone landscape.
19. Paddle the Mackenzie River
Paddle the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories, Canada’s longest river. Be transported to another world adorned with endless mountains and the vast expanse of the Mackenzie River Valley. Throw in a line and catch some northern pike and Inconnu fish.
20. Montreal International Jazz Festival
Looking for a party? Montreal is the place to be. From the world-famous Montreal International Jazz Festival in July to Igloofest, the mid-winter celebration of electronic music, there’s a party to suit all tastes and ages. My favourite? The circus festival, Montreal Complement Cirque, is a stunning reflection of Montreal’s history with Cirque du Soleil and not to be missed.