With over six million square miles of land, Canada is the second largest country in the world. 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, increasing the interest and intrigue of travelers hoping to explore it.
As you plan your next vacation or adventure here, I’ve rounded up 11 hidden (and maybe not-so-hidden) gems in Canada that are just waiting for you to explore. All that’s left to do is book your ticket and pack your bags for the experience.
1. Gatineau Park
Ottawa, the capital city, is the center of a majority of the Canada 150 events happening throughout the year. But, one of my favorite parts about visiting Ottawa is taking some time outside of the city to explore Gatineau Park. Only a short ten-minute drive from the city center across the bridge to Quebec, Gatineau Park is made up of 139 square miles of land that includes stunning waters of Meech Lake, miles of hiking trails and beautiful lookout points throughout the park.
It’s also home to the Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest Scandinavian spa in North America.
2. Driving Through the Yukon
2017 is not only Canada’s 150th birthday, but it’s also the 75th anniversary of the Alaskan Highway. This highway extends all the way to Alaska through the Yukon, making it the perfect road trip route for those hoping to explore the miles of unchartered wilderness in the Canadian north.
Begin your RV adventure at the Tagish Lake at the Southern Lakes Resort, then pass through Whitehorse driving north through Kluane National Park all the way to Dawson City to relive the glory years of the Gold Rush.
3. Château Frontenac
Quebec City transports you to old world France with buildings that are centuries old nestled along cobblestone streets. One of the most recognized landmarks in the city is the Fairmont Château Frontenac that sits atop the hill looking over the St. Lawrence River. With over 600 rooms on 18 floors to pick from, each room provides a picturesque view of the old city and river and is filled with historic tales of mystery and intrigue waiting for you to explore.
*Pssst. Also spotted on the cover of Darling Issue no. 6!
Swap the crowds for the charm of Saskatoon that sits along the bend of the South Saskatchewan River. This city has become a haven for creativity with a number of small batch distilleries, breweries and local independent restaurants popping up throughout. Start your day by driving along the prairies along Valley Road to visit the family run Black Fox Farm & Distillery, then pick up lunch at Odd Couple and a beer across the road at 9 Mile Legacy.
Finish off your day with dinner at The Hollows, a locally owned and operated restaurant committed to reducing food waste with their inventive menu. Be sure to also visit the Wanuskewin Heritage Park to learn more about the area’s first inhabitants and celebrate a largely undiscovered part of Canada’s history.
5. The Bay of Fundy
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The best for last. The Southern Head Cliffs are my personal favourite part of this amazing little island. Located at the southern tip of the island, there is no better place to watch the sun slowly fade away past the coast of Maine. // J’ai gardé le meilleur pour la fin. Personnellement, mon coin préféré est situé sur les falaises de Southern Head. Les falaises, qui sont au sud de cette magnifique île, offrent le meilleur endroit pour admirer le coucher de soleil jusqu’à ce qu’il disparaisse de l’autre côté du Maine. | ? by @jonbillings #explorenb . . . #grandmanan #newbrunswick #nouveaubrunswick #explorecanada #canada #instatravel #sunsetporn #coast #southernheadcliffs #atlanticocean #bayoffundy #beauty
Set between the east coast islands of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal waves in the world. Nature and outdoor lovers revel in exploring this area by land to see the Hopewell Rocks and Hopewell Cape in New Brunswick or the Cape Split in Nova Scotia and by sea embarking on whale, seabirds and other marine life tours.
6. Jasper Park Lodge
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Mt. Edith Cavell as seen from the lake at Jasper Park Lodge. Ten days ago, during our last days off from work my parents visited and we took them on a lil road trip. In Jasper they treated themselves to a night at the beautiful Jasper Park Lodge for my Dads 60th Birthday. Lydia and I also stayed there…Well, we slept in our car in the parking lot haha!! Still gonna claim it! As is often the case when sleeping in cars I find it pretty easy to get up early, so I spent a couple hours at sunrise just strolling the shores of the lake in complete silence and solitude. It was a picture perfect morning and I enjoyed having it all to myself. Fast forward to today and this time we managed to walk the meadows and be at the feet of this stunning mountain. I'm looking forward to going through the photos I took today. Until then I hope you enjoy this image of her from afar.
Tucked in-between Alberta’s Rocky Mountain in Jasper National Park is the historic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. During construction of the Canadian National Railways, the Fairmont hotels were built to help spark tourism and travel in the areas along the route. Today, they are iconic landmarks throughout Canada and the Jasper Park Lodge is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has had a number of notable visitors stay at their 700-acre, year-round mountain resort. In 1939, Queen Elizabeth and George VI spent part of their honeymoon in romantic Outlook Cabin, which is still available for rent.
Nunavut is not only Canada’s newest addition, but also it’s one of the more remote areas of the country set in Canada’s Artic Archipelago. This northern territory is made up of expanses of tundra, craggy mountains and remote villages that can only be reached by water or by air. One of the best ways to plan your northern expedition is by booking an Artic cruise through Adventure Canada that sails through the article circle and provides you with a once in a lifetime educational expedition.
8. Iceberg Alley in Newfoundland & Labrador
Every year, tourists and locals flock to Newfoundland & Labrador to catch a glimpse of the icebergs floating close to shore. Visible from over 18,000 miles of coastline, the eastern and northern coasts are the prime location to see an iceberg from the Maritime province. Local operators also offer boat tours to provide an up close look at these cold giants. Eerily enough, these icebergs compare in size to the one that sunk the Titanic 400 miles from the Newfoundland coast.
Tofino is the outdoor retreat for Vancouver islanders and travelers in search of the sun, sea and surf. Sitting on Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tofino embodies the relaxing British Columbia life where you can kayak, surf, go whale watching, bear watching, bird watching and hiking all in one ambitious day. Named one of the best surf towns in North America, be sure to book your stay at one of the seaside resorts while in town.
10. Thousand Islands
A picturesque destination for both cottage goers in the warmer months and leaf chasers in the fall, the Thousand Islands are made up of over 1800 tiny islands varying in size offering you the seclusion of being on your own island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. The area is best seen by boat through the Gananoque Boat Line or by air with the 1000 Islands Helicopter Tour offering astonishing aerial views.
11. Northern Lights in the Northwest Territories
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Quel est le meilleur moment pour venir explorer les Territoires du Nord-Ouest? La réponse est évidente : le moment idéal est dès maintenant. Dans le Nord, chaque saison offre des expériences surréelles et mémorables. #aventureMontréal #NorthwestTerritories is the best place on Earth to witness the cavorting #Aurora and the midnight sun. In summer, it's downright toasty. In winter, the weather gets weird, with sundogs, moonbows, trees frosted in glitter, and roads made out of ice. Check out @spectacularnwt ! #SpectacularNWT http://spectacularnwt.com Photo : Yuichi Takasaka www.blue-moon.ca
For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, I’ve been told that the Northwest Territories offers the best conditions for viewing. The flat tundra terrain gives you an unobscured view of the sky’s shimmering glow on a clear night. To better your chances of seeing the Aurora, book your stay at a remote lodge or bed and breakfast that’s miles away from the city light pollution and in a room that looks out onto the night sky.
Where have you been in Canada that took your breath away?
Feature Image via Esther Lee