Summer will be here before we know it, and it’s time to start planning your summer vacation. You may think foreign travel is too expensive, but we often forget there is another country just north of us that provides some of the most memorable—and affordable—vacation spots in the world.
The Top 7 Vacation Spots in Canada
Here are some of the top places to visit in Canada.
Prince Edward Island
Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island (PEI) offers something for everyone: biking trails, history, beautiful beaches, and of course, everything Anne of Green Gables. Tourist season generally lasts from late June through Labor Day. Thanks to the gulf stream, the water is the warmest north of North Carolina, so you can spend your days at the beach, and your evenings at a lobster supper or ceiligh. It’s like traveling to Ireland without crossing the Atlantic.
While on PEI, you can visit several of its historic lighthouses, including the first lighthouse to receive the SOS from the Titanic. Charlottetown, the province's capital city, offers an array of things to do, from touring the Province House, where Canada was born, to shopping at Peake's Warf. And definitely make time for ice cream, either at PEI's original Cow's Ice Cream or while touring Cow's Creamery.
Places to stay:
In the heart of Cavendish, PEI’s top tourist town, try the Kindred Spirits Country Inn & Cottages, or treat yourself in style at the Great George in Charlottetown. Unplug at the historic Dalvay by the Sea (which you may recognize as the White Sands Hotel from Anne of Green Gables:The Sequel and the T.V. show Avonlea). For something more unique, spend a night at George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst’s former home at the Inn at Bay Fortune.
Sample fares to Charlottetown YYG:
Boston BOS: $295 round-trip on Air Canada
Atlanta ATL: $356 round-trip on Air Canada
New York City LGA: $356 round-trip on WestJet
Now we’ll head to the opposite side of Canada, west to Vancouver. Just over the border from Washington state, Vancouver offers the hubbub of a city, with all the tranquility and beauty of a more outdoorsy destination. Live the city life as you visit the Contemporary Art Gallery, The Museum of Anthropology, or head to Granville Island, a former industrial area, now a top spot for artsy shops, cafes, and bookstores.
There are plenty of interesting historic landmarks as well, including the 2010 Olympic Cauldron and Olympic Village. You can also check out the late Victorian era, with a tour of the Roedde House Museum, built in 1893.
If you are looking for something more active to do, try Stanley Park, North America’s 3rd largest park, where you can run along the water on the 5.5-mile-long running path, or enjoy other walking trails within the 1000 acres. Daring travelers might consider a stop at Vancouver’s Water Adventures. Take a tour on a Seadoo, jet ski or boat, or rent a paddle board or kayak for a different view of the city.
Places to Stay:
Sample Fares to Vancouver YVR:
Boston BOS: $323 Round-Trip on WestJet
Los Angeles LAX: $219 Round-Trip, Nonstop on WestJet
Denver DEN: $288 Round-Trip on American or Delta
Atlanta ATL: $297 Round-Trip on Delta
Canada’s largest city has a variety of activities that suit every style. Check out Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, located at the base of the CN Tower (another must-see attraction), it houses 10 different galleries, and also has many programs you can try out, including photography classes, morning yoga, and a discovery dive! After your visit with the aquatic life, head up the CN Tower for the amazing views, or for an even more exciting experience, reserve a spot at the 360 Restaurant, a revolving glass restaurant giving you the finest view of Toronto available.
For sports enthusiasts, there's the Hockey Hall of Fame, where you can pay homage to Canada’s #1 sport. Although we're writing about summer travel, if you go during the fall or winter, you can take in a hockey or basketball game at the Air Canada Centre, or in the summer, cheer on the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
Toronto has a few quirkier sites, like the Bata Shoe Museum for shoe enthusiasts, the Distillery Historic District for boutique shopping, art, live theatre, and award-winning restaurants. Take a tour of the Canadian Broadcasting Center (CBC), for an inside look at broadcasting.
Places to Stay:
For a true city-stay, try the SoHo Metropolitan. If you are looking for a smaller, more intimate boutique experience, the Ivy at Verity is for you. Old Mill Toronto is for travelers who like an old-fashioned, enchanting accommodation spot.
Sample Fares to Toronto YYZ:
Chicago ORD: $262 Round-trip, Nonstop on Air Canada or United
Washington DC IAD: $251 Round-Trip, Nonstop on Air Canada
Los Angeles LAX: $296 Round-Trip, Nonstop on WestJet
Calgary owes its growth to the booming oil industry in the area, and is quickly becoming a must-see spot in Canada. Known for the Calgary Stampede, a week and a half long rodeo held at the BMO Center, Calgary has not lost its Western cowboy roots. If you’re there in July, try to catch one of the many rodeos at the Stampede.
If the rodeo is not for you, fear not, Calgary has plenty to offer. The Big Rock Brewery has a 90-minute tour of the production of one of Canada’s top craft beers. Heritage Park Historical Village is Canada’s largest living history museum, and will delight people of all ages, with attractions including a steam train, and preserved heritage buildings. Visit Fort Calgary, the historic site where Calgary was born; it’s a unique site, blending the experiences of the indigenous and non-indigenous people of Calgary.
For the outdoor types, Calgary will not disappoint. Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of the “largest urban wildernesses in the world.” You’re sure to see all sorts of wildlife as you explore its many trails.
Places to Stay:
Sample Fares to Calgary YYC:
Minneapolis MSP: $366 Round-Trip on Alaska Airlines
Boston BOS: $314 Round-Trip on Air Canada
Denver DEN: $264 Round-Trip, Nonstop on WestJet
San Francisco: $291 Round-Trip, Nonstop on Air Canada or West Jet
Maybe it is because I'm from the Northeast, but Montreal is the one place in Canada almost everyone I know has been. And there's a reason for it! Just over the Vermont border, Montreal is a convenient hub for American tourists.
Walk Montreal’s cobblestone streets, or see the sites by horse drawn carriage. Do some shopping on Rue St-Catherine and Rue St-Paul. While shopping, check out the Barbie Expo, which is exactly what it sounds like: a Barbie museum of sorts, with thousands of Barbies dressed in “haute couture fashion” from the boutiques within Les Cours Mont Royal, Montreal’s upscale shopping mall.
One of the must see spots in Montreal is Notre-Dame Basilicca, which was built in 1656. You're sure to be dazzled by the architecture. If history is your jam, check out the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum, a National Historic site and the birthplace of Montreal. One of Montreal's most popular spots is most beautiful in the summer, the Montreal Botanical Gardens, where you can roam around viewing more than 20 thematic gardens.
Places to Stay:
Stay in luxury in Old Montreal at the William Gray. If you're looking for great city views, try the Hotel Nelligan, where you can sip a drink on the rooftop bar. For the budget friendly crowd, there is Hotels Gouverneur Montreal, which provides just what you need while on vacation.
Sample Fares to Montreal YUL:
Los Angeles LAX: $369 Round-Trip on Delta
Washington DC DCA: $266 Round-Trip on Delta or American
New York City LGA: $219 Round-Trip, Nonstop on Air Canada
About 3 hours north of Montreal, Quebec City is one of Canada’s hidden secrets. If you are looking for European charm without traveling across the Atlantic, Quebec City may be just what you are looking for.
The only walled city north of Mexico, Old Quebec is sure to impress. Take a tour of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, and enjoy its stunning views. Use the free Balado Discovery App to guide you around the city wall.
Places to Stay:
Don't just tour the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, stay in the historical building! For a more intimate stay, try the Auberge Aux Deux Lions. If you're looking for something trendy, you can rest your head at Le Manoir d'Auteuil.
Sample Fares to Quebec City YQB:
Newark EWR: $244 Round-Trip on Porter Airlines
Boston BOS: $227 Round-Trip on WestJet
Orlando MCO: $341 on Air Canada
We can’t leave out Canada’s capital city on our list! Often overlooked for Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, Ottawa has its own charms.
For the history buff, there is the Canadian War Museum, an homage to Canada’s military history. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful building than Parliament. Head to Parliament Hill for a tour of Canada’s government (and if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of Justin Trudeau!) Here, you'll learn about how Canada governs (spoiler alert: it’s different than the US!)
Take a Rideau Canal Cruise along the Rideau Canal. Or spend the day roaming the National Gallery. You can also take a tour of Ottawa's only industrial heritage site at Watson's Mill, an active, water powered grist and flour mill. No matter your tastes, there is something for you in Ottawa!
Places to Stay:
For location, stay at the Lord Elgin, which is centrally located to all of Ottawa's top attractions. If freebies are for you, try the Andaz Ottawa Byward Market, where you will get a complimentary glass of wine! For a modern hotel, The Metcalfe will provide just what you are looking for.
Sample Fares to Ottawa YOW:
New York City LGA: $225 Round-Trip, Nonstop on Delta
Chicago MDW: $378 Round-Trip, Nonstop on Porter
Los Angeles LAX: $311 Round-Trip on United