Things to Do in Canada
Stretching over 56 hectares of Howe Sound, North America’s southernmost fjord, the Porteau Cove Provincial Park makes a tranquil retreat from nearby Vancouver, and is renowned for its diverse array of marine life. Taking its name from the French ‘Porte d’Eau’ or ‘Water’s Gate’, the protected area offers a serene expanse of ocean, fringed by a pebble beach and dotted with campsites, swimming spots and lookout points.
While holidaymakers come for the glittering waters and dramatic sunsets, the star attraction lies beneath the ocean – an underwater playground for scuba divers, with artificial reefs, sunken shipwrecks and a diver’s float providing habitats for a colorful population of starfish, anemone and octopus. Windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and boat tours are also popular activities.
Built between 1826 and 1832 to offer secure passage for British ships from Montreal, the Rideau Canal—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is an engineering masterpiece. It extends for 126 miles (202 kilometers) between Ottawa and Kingston. Ottawa’s most visited stretch lures boaters, cyclists, and strollers in summer, and ice skaters in winter.
Carved out of the limestone bedrock by a rushing river, this narrow and steep canyon—which reaches depths of up to 160 feet (50 meters)—is one of the most striking geological features of Jasper National Park. In summer, hikers flock here to follow trails that span the gorge, while in winter, the canyon freezes into an icy wonderland.
Grand and powerful Niagara Falls is actually composed of three sets of falls: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls). Combined these cascades have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world—more than a million bathtubs of water plummet over the edge every second. The falls straddle the border of Canada and the United States, and while they’re wildly impressive from both sides, here’s how to have a Niagara adventure from the Canadian side.
With its narrow, cobbled streets and historic 17th- and 18th-century homes and monuments, there’s no place else in Canada that feels quite like Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec). As the only existing fortified city north of Mexico, it’s full of living history, rich Quebecois culture, and European-style charm. The historic district of Old Quebec—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is a must-see when in Quebec City.
The Calgary Stampede is a grand celebration of Canada’s Western heritage that has been attracting visitors every year since 1923. Visit to experience small-town fun in a big way. The Stampede includes rodeo events, chuckwagon races, blacksmithing competitions, a midway, 300 performers on five stages, and First Nations cultural events.
A concentrated cluster of grand government buildings overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill is the centerpiece of Downtown Ottawa. At the heart of the complex is Centre Block, a neo-Gothic riot of greening copper turrets, stone-carved gargoyles, and pointed arches built around a soaring central campanile (bell tower) known as the Peace Tower. Parliament Hill is not just a pretty sight; it’s also home to Canada’s most important democratic institutions, including the Library of Parliament and the chambers of the House of Commons and the Senate.
The biggest ski resort in North America and mountain host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler-Blackcomb Mountains feature 8,171 acres (3,306 hectares) of terrain and over 200 trails. With lift-accessed mountain biking, hiking, and more in the spring, summer, and fall, Whistler-Blackcomb is a world-class resort year-round.
Higher than Niagara Falls, the impressive Montmorency Falls stand 272 feet (83 meters) tall and serve as the centerpiece of Montmorency Falls Park (Parc de la Chute-Montmorency). The site is a year-round destination for visitors to Quebec City and Montreal, offering an array of outdoor activities and the stunning sight of the falls, which form at the mouth of the Montmorency River and drop over a cliff into the St. Lawrence River.
For many visitors to Toronto, this needle-like telecommunications tower—often seen from the airplane window—is their first glimpse of the city. When it was erected in 1976, the CN Tower was the world’s tallest freestanding structure. Though it no longer holds that title, it is still the tallest tower in Canada, and the spectacular views from its observation decks are second to none.
More Things to Do in Canada
While Niagara Falls is justifiably famous for the force of nature that is the falls themselves, the Floral Clock is one of several other impressive attractions in the area. Comprising thousands of colorful plants and flowers, the clock blooms from spring to fall. It’s a fun photo opportunity, especially for nature lovers and avid gardeners.
Squamish’s Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is home to one of British Columbia’s most iconic landmarks: The Chief. The popular rock-climbing and hiking destination towers 2,300 feet (700 meters) above Squamish and is the second-largest granite monolith (freestanding piece of rock) in the world. Though it might be hard to believe from looking at the steep rock face, hiking to the top is a relatively moderate, two-hour hike. The Chief doesn’t get as much snow during the winter as the other nearby mountains and so enjoys a fairly long hiking season. The summit is usually clear of snow in the early spring, making The Chief a great warmup hike for the summer months ahead. There are three peaks, each accessible from the single trailhead. You can hike up each one individually, or summit all three if you’re feeling ambitious. Hikers should be prepared with sturdy footwear, clothing, food and water.
In addition to being a popular hiking destination, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is a rock-climber’s paradise. There are hundreds of granite walls and multi-pitch crack climbing routes, the most well-known being The Apron and The Grand Wall. Even the most advanced rock climbers come from all over the world to be challenged during the busy summer season by these routes.
Dedicated to the rehabilitation and protection of Canada’s native wildlife, the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops is home to over 200 animals, including Arctic wolves, bison, and cougars, most of which have been rescued. Visitors can engage in activities ranging from observing grizzly bear feedings to holding a snake.
Standing sentinel over the city’s downtown since 1968, Calgary Tower features an observation deck with a glass floor and a revolving restaurant 627 feet (191 meters) above ground. Both afford 360-degree views across the city to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance.
The Yukon River stretches nearly 2,000 miles (over 3,000 kilometers) from its source in British Columbia, across the entire width of Alaska, before emptying into the Bering Sea. During the Klondike Gold Rush, the river was one of the few transportation routes for gold prospectors and many historic gold rush sites and relics can be viewed along the river today.
Named for its intense shades of emerald green water, it’s no big surprise that Emerald Lake is considered a must-see destination along Yukon’s southern Klondike Highway. It’s easy to access, too, as it’s literally best viewed from a roadside pullout just 12 kilometers north of Carcross.
Unlike many lakes in the Canadian Rockies that are colored jade-green by glacier silt suspended in the water, Emerald Lake’s brilliant color comes from beneath its crystal-clear waters. A layer of white ash, deposited after a huge volcanic eruption nearly 1,500 years ago near the Yukon and Alaska border, reflects light in varying intensities depending on both depth and time of day. The result is an ever-changing liquid landscape set amid the spectacular mountains of the southern Yukon.
Cabot Trail comprises 185 miles (298 kilometers) of cliff-edge roadway weaving around the northern half of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. It offers epic views of the whale-inhabited waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of St. Lawrence, and access to quaint towns and Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Stretching along the rugged north coast of Prince Edward Island, this national park features some of the province’s most dramatic scenery. It encompasses red sea cliffs, sandy beaches, towering dunes, salt marshes, and sprawling birch forests inhabited by red fox, muskrat, and mink.
Once a busy shipping hub, the Old Port of Montreal (Vieux Port de Montréal) is now an entertainment center stretching along the St. Lawrence River. In addition to the promenade, the port is also home to the Montreal Science Centre, La Grande Roue de Montréal, an observation wheel, a boat spa, and seasonal outdoor attractions including an urban beach and an ice rink.
Butchart Gardens, established in 1904, treat visitors to an enchanting floral show that changes with the seasons. Covering 55 acres (22 hectares) on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the botanical space is intricately laid out into separate themed gardens with landscaping that impresses and inspires gardeners and nature lovers alike.
Established in 1893, Algonquin is the oldest provincial park in Canada. Spreading across 2,955 square miles (7,650 square kilometers), this vast wilderness encompasses maple-carpeted hills, thick pine forest, and thousands upon thousands of lakes. The abundant wildlife here includes black bears, moose, and packs of Algonquin wolves.
Hemmed in by the dramatic Valley of the Ten Peaks, Banff National Park’s glacier-fed Moraine Lake is renowned for its bright blue-green waters. The surreally vivid color results from light refracting off of tiny glacial rock particles. Stunning Lake Moraine was famously featured on the back of Canada’s $20 bill between 1969 and 1979.
Vancouver’s Stanley Park enjoys a stellar natural setting, surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean and laid out against the backdrop of the snow-capped North Shore Mountains. At nearly 1,000 acres (405 hectares) in size, it’s a mix of coastal red-cedar forest, lakes and lagoons, and scenic meadows. A walk along the public park’s seawall is an essential part of experiencing Vancouver.
British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is bursting with vineyards, orchards, outdoor activities, and charming small towns. The latter offer wine-tasting rooms, fantastic restaurants, vibrant arts scenes, and resorts that serve as jumping-off points for adventures around the area. It all combines to make for a deservedly popular year-round destination.
- Things to do in Toronto
- Things to do in Vancouver
- Things to do in Niagara Falls & Around
- Things to do in Montreal
- Things to do in Banff
- Things to do in Vancouver Island
- Things to do in Charlottetown
- Things to do in Kootenay Rockies
- Things to do in Kelowna & Okanagan Valley
- Things to do in USA
- Things to do in Bahamas
- Things to do in Ontario
- Things to do in Quebec
- Things to do in British Columbia