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12 Reasons To Visit Canada This Summer

12 Reasons to Visit Canada This Summer

Are you starting to think about what you’d like to do this summer? How about exploring Canada, the second largest country by area in the world? I know as a Canadian I think it’s more glamorous to head to Europe. But there are plenty of reasons to spend more time exploring my own back yard – especially during what most Canadians would consider the best months of the year.

Here are my 12 reasons to visit Canada this summer.

Cosmopolitan Cities in Canada

From east to west, Canada’s cities have something to offer. Visit St. John’s, Newfoundland for its colourful houses, friendly welcoming people and a vibrant party scene. Head to Halifax, Nova Scotia and check out the tall ships set to arrive on July 19th; if you love food then don’t miss a stop in Quebec City or Montreal – with its’ amazing Jazz Festival set to begin on June 28th. Ottawa hosts a Van Gogh exhibit this summer and for the largest Caribbean Festival in North America head to Toronto in August. Continuing west plan to stop in Edmonton for their 31st annual Fringe Festival – also the biggest in North America. Plan a stop in Calgary this summer as it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede set to begin on July 6th. Don’t miss Vancouver and Victoria – two cities seen at their best in the summer months. The Celebration of Light – aka a giant fireworks competition is scheduled in Vancouver in late July. In Victoria have a spot of tea at the Empress Hotel or visit the Butchart Gardens in all their summer glory.

The famous Sunken Gardens

The famous Sunken Gardens

Great food across Canada

Canada is a country of immigrants and we’re lucky to enjoy foods and cuisine from all over the planet. Whatever your taste dictates, you’ll find it in Canada – especially in the big cities.

Excellent world-class wines

Canada has a reputation for making world class wines. Our days of drinking only Baby Duck are over. In fact you can have great fun doing multi-day wine tasting trips in the Niagara region, Prince Edward County east of Toronto and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Even Quebec and Nova Scotia have taken to making wine. In fact Beppi Crosariol from the Globe and Mail calls the Benjamin Ridge Brut Reserve (a bubbly wine) from Nova Scotia one of the best wines in Canada.

" Okanagan vineyards"

Okanagan vineyards

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Canada boasts 9 natural and 6 cultural UNESCO world heritage sites. They are geographically all over the map – from the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories to L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.

"UNESCO World Heritage Site - Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump in Alberta"

UNESCO World Heritage Site – Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump in Alberta

National Parks in Canada

There are 42 National Parks in Canada. Perhaps the most well known and iconic National Park is Banff. But there are some you probably haven’t heard of – for instance Mingan Archipelago in Quebec, famous for the largest concentration of erosion monoliths in Canada or Ukkusiksalik in Nunavut, a park with a huge concentration of marine wildlife and over 500 archaeological sites. Some are so remote it would cost thousands to visit while others are only hours away from major cities.

I'm loving the scenery on the Lake O'Hara Alpiine circuit, Yoho National Park

I’m loving the scenery on the Lake O’Hara Alpine circuit, Yoho National Park

Summer Festivals across Canada

Almost every town and city puts on some sort of summer festival or event worth checking out. Some are on a grand scale – as noted in the first section, but there are loads of one off events too. Check out the website of the town or city you’re interested in visiting and you’ll find front and center on their home page the main events happening there in the summer.    

The chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede

The chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede

Diversity across the country

Canada is famous for its diversity. We’re a country with a real mosaic of cultures from around the world – and proud of it.

Canada is safe

No place on the planet is 100% safe but our big cities in Canada are generally safe to walk around at night. Granted, you should always use common sense and avoid known areas where drugs are a problem like Vancouver’s East Side.

Wide open spaces and real wilderness in Canada

There is a narrow strip of land close to the Canada-United States border where you’ll find most of the people in Canada living. Move away from this area and there will be nothing but wide open spaces – sometimes for days at a time if you’re driving.

Walking through temperate rainforest on the Juan de Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island

Walking through temperate rainforest on the Juan de Fuca Trail on Vancouver Island

Wildlife is the real deal in Canada

I think the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about animals in Canada is bears – and mostly in a very bad way. Yes we have bears – black, brown, grizzly and polar bears. But they’re rarely a problem, especially if you travel in a group of four or more. Bears aren’t the only animals we have. In cities you’ll find squirrels, raccoons and skunks galore. We’re famous for our beavers. And people travel great distances to see our Orca whales off the coast of Vancouver Island, to swim with beluga whales out of Churchill, Manitoba, to see the mighty buffalo in Wood Bison National Park and  to witness the caribou migration in the far North. That’s just a sampling and doesn’t even touch on the tremendous birdlife we have. 

Grizzly bears in British Columbia

Notice the size of the teeth and claws on the male grizzly

Outdoor Adventures across Canada

Choose any outdoor adventure and Canada offers it. You can surf the waves off the beaches in the Tofino area on the west coast of Vancouver Island, sea kayak the oceans on all coasts, sail on lakes or oceans, canoe some of the world’s longest rivers, raft a river, mountain and road bike, walk, hike, rock climb, swim, ski (yes at Whistler on the glacier).

Costs are competitive and much cheaper than many other countries

In the summer budget minded people can easily camp their way across Canada. Cook your own meals and you should be able to see the country at a very reasonable cost. My week long kayaking trips rarely cost more than the price of a few tanks of gas. Many of the festivals and special events cost very little to see. In fact I’ve been told that you could eat for free for 10 days at Calgary Stampede if you didn’t get mind a steady diet of pancakes and hotdogs. 

What are your plans this summer? Do they include Canada?

 

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. I love the last tip – Calgary on a budget. Seriously though Canada in the summer is, in my opinion, the best time to visit. There’s so much to see and do, plus I’m much more of a summer person than a winter one. Edmonton alone has a ton of festivals that I love in the summer, and some I haven’t even been to yet. Warm weathers, long days, camping, being outside. Summer might only last a few months, but it’s well worth the wait.

  2. I love how you highlighted so much of what Canada has to offer, Leigh. I feel like I need to spend even just a weekend trip up north. I’ve only been to the Vancouver/Victoria area during the summer and loved it. We’ve been trying to go to Banff during warmer weather. Unfortunately, no Canada summer plans (yet). We’re one of the masses of people heading to Europe this summer.

  3. @Mary I think much of Europe is best appreciated in the summer so I certainly know why you’re heading off. This summer I’ll be sticking around Alberta and BC and I must say I’m looking forward to exploring huge swaths of both provinces I’ve never seen before.

  4. I love this post, Leigh! I’ve been working on something similar for Jamaica for a few weeks now.
    You’re so right: Canada is all those things you say and then some. BTW, we call that strip of land between the Canada-US border, the cleaner, nicer, more civilized NYC (Sorry NYC!). I’ve yet to venture further west to experience those stunningly beautiful wide open spaces you write about and I won’t be able to on this trip. Yes, Canada’s now on my list. Unfortunately, I will only manage to get to Toronto, maybe a day trip to Ottawa, which I haven’t been to in several years.

  5. Nice and informative post for all individuals who love travelling and always ready to go on exploring new places. After reading this post, I am planning to have my next hiking vacations in Canada itself.

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