Committed travellers have no doubt churned their way through my top 20 things to do in Canada. A new year calls for a new list! Even though Canada’s rich history and achingly beautiful landscapes are as old as time, new treasures are uncovered every day; new traditions forged. New ways to explore both the urbanscapes and wilderness expanses are discovered. Here it is – 20 best things to do in Canada. So get cracking. Unimaginable adventures await.
1-New Terrain at Sun Peaks
The ultimate ski in, ski out alpine village experience just got even better. Sun Peaks Ski Resort in British Columbia is now the second largest in Canada, growing to over 4200 acres of in-bound ski terrain with the addition of two new areas.
Wake up each morning surrounded by 360 degrees of skiing on three peaks. It’s off-piste heaven and perfect for all levels of ability.
2-Life is Sweet in Quebec
Picture yourself standing in a forest of looming trees covered in vanilla white snow. You tap a simple spout into an unsuspecting trunk, holding your mouth open underneath.
Sweet, ripping maple sap flows over your tongue with a sugar rush that makes you shiver. You drink your fill and then join the feast inside, where a crackling fire awaits.
This is the Sucrerie de la Montagne, an authentic sugar shack, where trees are tapped for their saccharine sap, which is transformed into pure maple syrup using a traditional wood-fired evaporator.
3-Learn the ‘Code of the West’
Want to get to know the real Alberta? The rolling ridges of south-west Alberta is where you’ll find authentic cowboys and cattle ranches. Stay in the working cattle ranch at of Sierra West Cabins & Ranch Vacations, at the base of the Canadian Rockies, and learn the art of mustering, rodeo, round-ups, and wrangling, under the expert eye of Randy & Ginny Donahue, born and bred Albertan farmers.
It’s where the prairies rise up to meet the rolling foothills and continue on to the rugged mountains. Explore Alberta on four legs – does it get any better than this?
4-Icy Falls and Frozen Caves
Take a stroll on the catwalk through an icy paradise. The Johnston Canyon Icewalk traverses a series of steel catwalks that give spectacular views of the Johnston Canyon below.
The breathtaking icefalls, caves and gigantic pillars of ice are the perfect photo subjects. Mysteriously, the rock is ancient, the creek is old, yet the canyon is young.
5-Coast Through 1000 Islands
One of the best ways to experience a wilderness region is to cruise its narrow channels and explore its untouched shorelines by boat.
Jump aboard the Palaces and Palisades Cruise from the historic village of Rockport in the heart of the 1000 islands on the St. Lawrence River.
The sparkling water is dotted with over 1800 islands, including a stretch of cottage country called Millionaire’s Row — majestic summer retreats and vast estates that dominate the islands and shoreline.
6-The Camp Site to Top Them All
The essence of Algonquin Park in Ontario lies in its vast interior of maple hills, rocky ridges, and thousands of lakes.
The only way to explore the interior of this park is by canoe or on foot. Led by expert guides, experience an Algonquin Park canoe adventure in Ontario.
We’re talking amazing wildlife viewing opportunities, fantastic backcountry cuisine and spectacular campsites.
Stay at the Algonquin Park Log Cabin, where you can canoe, hike and dogsled to your heart’s content. Soak up the warmth of an authentic log cabin in a spectacular wilderness setting.
7-The Road Less Travelled
Independent travellers are always looking for new, amazing road trips and the Yukon Territory has scenic drives to blow your mind.
This is a driver’s dream – an exhilarating combination of picturesque scenery, historic communities, and roadside wildlife.
8-Sail Through History
British Columbia’s remote western coast lies begging to be explored. Discover ancient native villages, untouched forests, amazing coastal wildlife and like-minded travellers.
Sail the Great Bear Rainforest and Cruise the Haida Gwaii on Bluewater Adventures 70-foot yachts.
Here lies the ancestral home of the Haida – the West Coast Aboriginals who have lived here for thousands of years.
Jump on a kayak to explore tiny coves and narrow passageways, and watch the abundant wildlife all around, including eagles, wolves and grizzlies. And the Holy Grail of them all?
Catch a glimpse of the elusive all-white Spirit Bear (Kermode) in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. You won’t find these awesome creatures anywhere else in the world.
9-New Dual Nation Cruise
One of the newest things to do in Canada in 2015, Nova Star Cruises is the new, scenic way to travel between Maine and Nova Scotia, Canada.
Drive your vehicle or walk on board the brand new ship and experience ten hours of sparkling bays, the historic harbours of Maine, and the charming coastline of Nova Scotia.
Alight at Yarmouth in Nova Scotia and drive the coastal route to the seafaring town of Lunenberg, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the colourful waterfront, narrow streets and captivating architecture radiate the flavour of the town’s rum-running and ship-building heritage. Lunenberg is also home to Nova Scotia’s famous racing schooner, Bluenose II (which is also featured on the Canadian ten-cent piece)
10-Eat Your Way Through Victoria
Calling all foodies to Vancouver Island! The city of Victoria will whet your appetite. Red Fish Blue Fish is a canteen-style, take-out fish restaurant operated out of a steel shipping container on Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
I can tell you first-hand that this this seafood hub serves Pacific halibut, wild salmon, and albacore tuna that will melt in your mouth.
The ultimate breakfast can be found at the funky Lady Marmalade. Try Mo:Le for lunch, a Victorian institution and Spinnaker’s Gastro Brewpub for dinner, defining the art of regional cuisine with hand-crafted beer.
11-Strike a Pose in Ottawa
You may see a group of locals and visitors alike doing yoga on Parliament Hill – Lululemon Athletica coordinates free “guerrilla yoga” classes each Wednesday at noon from May to the end of September (weather permitting).
Up to 1000 people participate on a weekly basis! Bring a mat to join in the class, or just enjoy the grassy lawns of Parliament Hill. It’s one of the classic things to do in Ottawa.
12-Everything Old is New Again
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, a Quebec City icon, has reopened following $75 million renovation. Fall under the romantic spell of this architectural masterpiece complete with castle turrets, perched high on a bluff overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River in a four-century-old walled city.
It’s little wonder this is the most photographed hotel in the world. The décor of the hotel’s interior brings you right back to 18th-century France and the hotel’s view of The Saint Lawrence River is stunning – it’s your castle away from home.
13-A Rebirth of Tradition On Fogo Island
It’s a striking example of world-class innovation. The magnificent Fogo Island Inn, perched on the furthest edge of the Earth off the north-east coast of Newfoundland, stands on crooked pilotis on the dramatic and rocky coastline, providing panoramic views through its floor-to-ceiling windows, surrounded by whales, seabirds and icebergs.
The island’s people and stories are felt throughout the Inn: bespoke furniture and fixtures entirely handmade by local carpenters and artisans; the textiles– quilts, rugs, pillows – are hand-crafted by the island artisans following the centuries-old traditions of “made not bought”. This place has to be seen to be believed.
14-The Spy Who Loved Me
Psst! Did you hear? Bond—the real James Bond—is hiding out in Winnipeg. Ian Fleming based the character on Winnipeg-born William Stephenson. To live like a spy, check out the James Bond Connection.
This intriguing tour includes debonair tweed suits, perfect silk socks, mysterious mansions and, of course, the ultimate accessory: a polished humidor of Cuban Cohiba Behikes.
Can’t get enough of covert operations? Go on a private Architecture, Spies and Hidden Code Tour to discover the city’s fascinating secrets.
15-Rawhides In Calgary
Hides are raw, hearts untamed, and the world’s toughest rodeo stock walk on two legs at what’s known as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – The Calgary Stampede.
Australians flock to this event – it’s like the Easter Show on steroids. Aside from the bareback, bull riding, barrel racing, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, and down roping, the music is truly the heart and soul of Stampede. From country legends to rock royalty, it’s the ultimate outdoor music festival.
16-Natural Wonders in Atlantic Canada
Now this is a new way to immerse yourself in the ocean. Visit the maritime province of New Brunswick in Canada’s east. Walk on the ocean floor as the world’s highest tides ebb around the towering rocks at the Bay of Fundy.
A few kilometres away, marvel at the strange sensation of braking at the bottom and rolling uphill at Magnetic Hill in Moncton. I’m not kidding. This natural phenomenon has been baffling visitors for over 80 years. Simply drive your car to the bottom of Magnetic Hill, take your foot off the brake and roll back uphill – mind-boggling!
17-Dig Up a Clam on Prince Edward Island
It’s the new trend in food preparation – catch it yourself. Prepare to be chest-deep in water as you dig for clams in this unique, hands-on experience in Georgetown, on Prince Edward Island, withTranquility Cove Adventures.
Had a successful haul? Head off to the beach to steam them in fresh salt water or an old fashioned beach cook-out. Visit PEI’s most famous Panmure Island Lighthouse for a photo opportunity and take a crash course on the nearby lobster, mussel and rockcrab fisheries.
18-Raise Your Glass in the Okanagan
This one’s for the wine connoisseur in us all! The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is home to most of the province’s 208 grape wineries. We’re talking 5,000 acres of wine country in a near-desert region 400 kilometres inland from Vancouver.
You won’t find a more idyllic location to sample some of the finest wines on the planet. Okanagan Valley stretches between the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Monashee Mountains to the east, stretching north from the unique desert region of Osoyoos.
One of the region’s most famous libations is Icewine, a sweet dessert wine produced from grapes frozen on the vine.
19-Newfoundland: Beyond the Postcard
It’s famous for its craggy coastline, colourful clapboard houses and lonely lighthouses, but Newfoundland has a unique character shaped by its locals, for those who take the time to connect with them.
Self-drive with Cape Race and immerse yourself in the Newfoundlander way of life. Step into their culture, living room and workplace for a rich, authentic experience. A new, transformative way to experience old traditions.
20-Discover the Nahanni
Looking for a new place to drop your line? The Nahanni River system in the North West Territories is the ultimate outdoor adventure for fishing, kayaking and wildlife, teeming with Arctic grayling and lake trout.
Its towering granite walls, deep canyons, cave systems and hot springs draw white-water canoeists and adventure-seekers, with grey wolfs, grizzly bears, black bears, caribou, moose, and mountain goats roaming freely.
The Nahanni River leads to Virginia Falls, a thundering waterfall cascading more than 90 metres, nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls, and is flanked by towering evergreens, completing a perfect picture.
Pip Macken is the Media Relations Manager for Canadian Tourism Commission GSA in Australia.
For more things to do in Canada see Best of Canada.