Are you yearning for a change of scenery, but international travel is off the table due to the pandemic? Discover some of the most breathtaking Canadian vistas.
We understand that many Canadians are reluctant to travel abroad these days and yet are feeling restless at home. This is why we have put together a list of five of our favourite home country sites that are guaranteed to satisfy your thirst for discovery.
You might be wondering why we would recommend such a distant city and we have two words for you: the northern lights (ok, three). Also known as aurora borealis, this enchanting display of colourful light is caused by electrons hitting the earth’s atmosphere after being blown out by the solar wind. The result of this collision is the emission of a distinctive colour light that will absolutely take your breath away.
In the Whitehorse area, you will have a vast choice of accommodations from rugged campsites to cozy cabins. For the best tickets to this light show, it is recommended to drive out of town, past the city lights. Although the aurora borealis is visible from mid-August to mid-April, the best time for catching it is at the beginning of winter. You can find a plethora of organized tours for observing the northern lights, as well as for hiking, rafting, dog sledding, ice fishing, and the list goes on! There is a never a dull moment for nature lovers in Whitehorse.
The Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Approximately 2500km south of our previous destination, lies an area laden with wineries, mountains, lakes and fruit trees. The Okanagan Valley is part of British Columbia’s Interior Plateau and benefits from warm, desert-like weather. Let’s just take this one in for a second: “warm, desert-like weather” in Canada. We know this must come as shock to many of you, but the average weather in the Okanagan Valley is 17 degrees Celsius. There is an abundance of sunshine and heat in the summer, although temperatures may occasionally drop to below 20 in winter. This is Canada after all!
Whether you are looking to relax on one of the beautiful lakeside beaches in the area, or would rather spend your day hiking, picking cherries and visiting vineyards, the Okanagan Valley is the place for you. Kelowna being the biggest city in the region, offers a hip downtown vibe and lots of shopping. You can also partake in summer festivals, enjoy the restaurant scene, casinos, boardwalk, beaches, spas and bars. More South and close to the American border, you will find the small city of Olivier known as the “Wine Capital of Canada”. In the Okanagan Valley, you will have your pick of cities, each with its own charm and offering you a taste of this outdoor playground.
Jasper and Banff National Parks, Alberta
We understand that this a-bit of a cheat since we are proposing two destinations in one, but these two parks are relatively close by Canadian standards and are each very special.
An hour and a half west of the airport is Banff National Park. Lake Louise is what this park is best known for, with its turquoise glacier-fed water and beautiful mountain backdrop. However, the list of winter and summer activities available to visitors in this area is so long, we recommended a trip during each season. Banff National Park does have some of the best ski hills in the world and travelers will have their choice of resorts.
A little more off the beaten path is Jasper National Park. This park is located further north therefore it is important to bring proper clothing, especially if you’re planning on visiting the Athabasca Glacier. This unique experience may not be available for much longer, as the glacier is slowly retreating due to climate change. Jasper National Park also offers a better opportunity than its neighbor for spotting wildlife such as caribou, elk, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolves and bears.
Charlevoix Region, Quebec
Our first recommendation in Eastern Canada is the Charlevoix region located in the province of Quebec. On your way from the airport, you can stop in Old Quebec, a UNESCO world heritage treasure. Being the only fortified city North of Mexico, it is guaranteed to charm you with its cobblestone streets, old buildings dating back to the 17th century and for those visiting from out of province, a taste of the French-Canadian culture.
As you hop into your vehicle to head out of the city, you will quickly notice the beautiful natural landscape of the Charlevoix region. Although not as tall as the Rockies in Western Canada, le Massif offers tremendous views of the St-Lawrence river as you ski or hike down the hills of this beautiful mountain. There are many National Parks in the region to experience a vast array of outdoor activities, as well as tours to observe the whales. Last, but definitely not least, Charlevoix’s agritourism offers epicureans a gastronomic adventure that will have them coming back for more.
Prince Edward Island
Are you still not satisfied? Is it not called a vacation until you’re swimming in salt water? In that case, Prince Edward Island is the place for you. This Island has 800km of beaches to choose from, ranging from white sand to red.
When you’re tired of relaxing on the beaches, you can go lighthouse spotting (there are 63 on Prince Edward Island), visit the house of Anne of Green Gables, discover the story of the confederation or the red sandstone cliffs in Prince Edward National Park.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you can head out for some world-famous seafood. Whether you fancy juicy oysters, silky lobster or tasty clams, mussels and scallops, you will not be disappointed.
A trip to PEI would not be complete without a stop in Charlottetown, the birthplace if our country’s confederation. Charlottetown might be a small city, but it’s bursting with energy and charm. Its Victorian-era streets are easily explored on foot and whether you consider yourself a foodie, hipster or even a fashionista, you are sure to be pleased.
Until next time, travel safely!
Written by: Nadine Ishak