Canada In Summer – 100 Places to Visit

The Auriol Trail in the Yukon

Canada is huge. It’s the second largest country in the world so it’s best to focus on just a few areas if you plan to visit Canada in summer. From St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia it’s roughly a distance of 7,400 km. And from Vancouver heading north to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, it’s 2,400 km. Add another 1,200 km to reach Inuvik, the last community of any size before the Arctic Ocean.

Here are 100 exceptional places to visit in Canada in summer by region. Don’t try to overdo it or you’ll be traveling all the time. Savour an area. And come back. Again and again.

 Lake Louise is a must do stop on any Alberta itinerary in Canada in summer
Lake Louise is a must do stop on any Alberta itinerary in Canada in summer

Where to visit in British Columbia, Canada in summer

Vancouver is at its best in the summer. Don’t miss a walk or a bike ride around Stanley Park, a trip up Grouse Mountain by aerial tram or via the Grouse Grind or a visit to Granville Market.

The drive to Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway is one of Canada’s most scenic when the sun is shining. And there’s plenty to do in Whistler in the summer – hiking in the high alpine, mountain biking, rafting, even skiing.

Take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay (or vice versa) for a scenic look at the southern Gulf Islands. You can go as a walk-on, take your bike or drive on, but make a reservation for your car if it’s over a summer weekend. If you’re a cyclist, I highly recommend the bike ride on the Galloping Goose Trail to Sooke from the ferry.

The Butchart Gardens close to Victoria are definitely worth a visit. They boast over 55 acres of gardens including the famous sunken gardens. Fifty full time gardeners, 12 part time gardeners and 550 staff in peak season keep the gardens in fantastic shape. Allow a minimum of 1.5 hours.

The famous Sunken Gardens in spring
The famous Sunken Gardens in spring

Victoria is another city that’s much beloved by visitors. Stroll the inner harbour, visit three of the loveliest public gardens – all offering high tea or meals or try one of these two local hikes.

Head to the hot and sunny Okanagan in BC’s interior for wine tasting. There are over 100 wineries so there’s no shortage of wines to taste. The Mission Hill Winery is one that’s well known for hosting outdoor summer concerts. I’d also suggest a bike ride on the Kettle Valley Railway especially in the Myra Canyon area. 

Head north to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and the surrounding area. It boast some one of my all-time favourite hikes in the Rainbow Range, first class fishing, peaceful mountain lakes and if you want a thrill drive the Hill towards Bella Coola on the coast where grades reach 17%.

Hiking in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park - one of the outstanding hikes to do in Canada in summer
Wildflowers, tarns and rainbow coloured mountains make for a pleasing landscape

Wells Gray Provincial Park in the central region offers beautiful scenery in an unspoiled environment. Check out Helmcken Falls, the fourth highest waterfall in Canada, raft the Clearwater River or plan a multi-day canoe or kayak trip on Murtle Lake.

Fantastic beach camping beside Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC
Fantastic beach camping beside Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC

Yoho National Park ranks as one of the most beautiful in Canada. Its part of the Canadian Rockies World Heritage site boasting 28 peaks about 3000 m. Hiking is superb especially on the Iceline Trail and anywhere in the Lake O’Hara region.

Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands is a great destination if you like kayaking, fishing, whale watching and pristine beaches. Plan a kayaking trip that includes the standing poles at SGang Gwaay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kayaking around Gordon Island
Kayaking around Gordon Island

Summer in Alberta, Canada

Head for the Calgary Stampede. It takes place every year for 10 days beginning the first Friday after July 1st.

Dinosaur Provincial Park boasts some of the most impressive Badlands scenery you’ll ever see. It is home to more complete dinosaur skeletons than anywhere else in the world. And it’s a photographer’s dream.

The badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park
The badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park

Waterton Lakes National Park, located on the border with Montana is in a spectacular setting. Enjoy world class hikes including the famous Crypt Lake Trail – offering a ladder, tunnel and chains.

Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park is always popular. Boat rides to Spirit Island – one of the most photographed sites in the world are one of the must-do activities. But you can leave the noise behind and paddle to the end of Maligne Lake and even stay for a few nights.

Banff National Park is one of the most visited in the world. And if you get away from Banff and Lake Louise you quickly lose the crowds. But where to go?

There is a lifetime’s worth of hiking in the mountains so best it’s best to check with the National Park office in downtown Banff to choose something that matches your interest and ability. No matter what, don’t miss a stop at Moraine Lake. One of my favourite hikes is the Big Beehive above Lake Louise.

Recommended reading: 18 of the Best Banff Hikes You Can Do in a Day 

Stellar views of Lake Louise
Stellar views of Lake Louise from the Big Beehive in October

In Jasper National Park the Columbia Icefield is a big draw. You can hike to a glacier or take a tour that actually takes you out on the glacier. 

One of the top places to visit in Canada in summer is the Columbia Icefield
One of the top places to visit in Canada in summer is the Columbia Icefield

I’d call it Canada’s most scenic drive – the 290 km that start in Banff and finish in Jasper. Take a few days to do it so you can enjoy all the side trips.

Edmonton offers the internationally renowned Fringe Festival.

Wood Buffalo National Park located in northeastern Alberta and the southern Northwest Territories is the largest national park in North America. It protects the world’s largest herd of free roaming wood bison. It’s possible to camp, canoe, fish, hike and view wildlife – though access is via Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories.

Summer in Saskatchewan, Canada

Head for Grasslands National Park in the south central part of the province to discover a world of big skies and high grass prairie. It’s also Canada’s darkest Dark Sky Preserve. Look for the Black-tailed Prairie Dog – the only place to see them in Canada.

Beautiful prairie skies and colours in Grasslands National Park in the fall
Beautiful prairie skies and colours in Grasslands National Park in the fall

Go north to Prince Albert National Park, formed to protect a slice of boreal forest. Hike, canoe, fish, camp and visit Grey Owl’s cabin on foot.

In western Saskatchewan in the Cold Lake area, plan a hike or backpacking trip on a section of the Boreal Trail.

Saskatchewan is famous for its fishing. Visit a northern lake and check it out for yourself.

Canoe the Churchill River – one of the classic paddles to do in Saskatchewan.

Catch the Saskatoon jazz festival. Or watch a Shakespearean play on the Saskatchewan River from mid-July to mid-August. Or try one of these 6 fun things to do in Saskatoon.

Canoeing the Churchill River - one of the quintessential things to do in Canada in summer
Waiting for the storm on the Churchill River

What to see and do in Manitoba in summer

Head to Churchill. Go looking for birds, polar bears and beluga whales.

Get your fill of festivals in Winnipeg in July.

With over 100,000 lakes and rivers there are a lot to canoe. Some worth thinking about are the Blood Vein River in the wilderness and the Red and Assiniboine Rivers close to Winnipeg. The Caddy Lakes Tunnels in Whiteshell Provincial Park also offer a memorable experience.

Check out Riding Mountain National Park for hiking, canoeing and a chance to discover the forested parkland surrounded by prairie.

I highly recommend hiking the sand dunes in Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

Canoeing the Caddy lake tunnels and circuit
Canoeing the Caddy lake tunnels and circuit

What to do in summer in Ontario, Canada

The Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly Caribana – the largest festival of its kind celebrating Caribbean culture – takes place every summer in Toronto. It’s been called North America’s largest street festival.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is famous for its Shaw Festival Theater. Book a show and then take a wine tasting tour. 

Cycle the Niagara Parkway from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls. It’s an easy 25 km.

Visiting Niagara Falls with my son
Visiting Niagara Falls with my son

Take a boat tour of the Thousand Islands. Or if you have time take a multi-day kayak tour through the 1000 Islands.

Head for the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Dive in Fathom Five National Marine Park or hike a trail through Bruce Peninsula National Park out to the Georgian Bay to admire the cliffs and shoreline.

The Grotto - one of the most popular sites in Bruce Peninsula National Park
The Grotto – one of the most popular sites

Raft the Ottawa River.

For a weekend of slow travel visit Pelee Island – the southern most inhabited place in Canada. Accessible via ferry from the mainland, plan to come and relax though there is a winery, some hiking trails and a bike rental outfit.

Rent a cottage in the Muskoka region. Or book a room in a lodge in Algonquin Park.

Paddle the French River. Stay in the fabulous Lodge at Pine Cove on the French River.

Hike the La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial Park. It’s an incredible place for canoeing too.

Visit Manitoulin Island, the largest lake island in the world. Rent a cottage, camp but whatever you do be prepared to do it at a relaxed place. Don’t miss a visit to Misery Bay Provincial Park; it’s not anything like its name suggests.

Looking out towards Lake Huron
Looking out towards Lake Huron from Misery Bay (in November)

Visit Science North in Sudbury. Exhibits are compelling and hands-on – and not just for kids. 

The north shore of Lake Superior is an excellent destination for adventurous types. Try all or part of the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park. Or head for Lake Superior Provincial Park and hike to Agawa Falls.

Canoe in remote and unspoiled Quetico Provincial Park.

The beauty of Quetico Provincial Park
The beauty of Quetico Provincial Park

Summer in Quebec

Montreal is famous for its summer festivals. The Jazz Festival is the most famous attracting over two million people in a 10 day time frame.

Quebec City has a 400 year history set against the backdrop of a walled city filled with narrow, winding cobbled streets. The place oozes history and charm in a manner reminiscent of old European cities. Set aside a day or two to walk the city and absorb the culture.

Cycle the Blueberry Route around Lac St. Jean.

There always seems to be a church steeple in the distance
There always seems to be a church steeple in the distance

Go kayaking with whales in the St. Lawrence River – or take a boat trip.

Kayak the Saguenay Fjord. Allow two to three days so you can really explore this beautiful area. If you head far enough towards the St. Lawrence River you may see beluga whales.

Clouds are building by 10:30 AM kayaking the Saguenay Fjord in Canada in summer
Clouds are building by 10:30 AM kayaking the Saguenay Fjord in Canada in summer

Do a road-trip from Quebec City to the end of Highway 138 – just to see what lies there.

Head for the Gaspé Peninsula. Poke about in the small fishing villages. Hike to the top of Le Mont Albert and look for caribou or hike to the tip of Forillon National Park. Photograph Percé Rock.

Bike the Green Route through the Eastern Townships.

Ferry over to the Magdalen Islands. Check out the largest amateur sand castle building competition in August. Windsurf. Ride your bikes. Hang out at the beach. Eat at any number of fabulous restaurants all over the island. And take your camera with you everywhere you go. This is one photogenic island.

A house with a view
A house with a view

What to do in summer in New Brunswick

Take the ferry to Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy for a few days of hiking, kayaking and relaxing.

Visit the Mary’s Point Bird Sanctuary. It’s a major stopover for two to three million shorebirds every summer – all because of the Fundy shrimp.

Bike the paths of Kouchibouguac National Park. After go for a swim in water that’s actually warm.

Pole a canoe on the Miramichi River.

Explore Hopewell Rocks on foot and by kayak.

Easy kayaking with almost no wind blowing
Easy kayaking with almost no wind blowing

Bike Deer Island and Campobello Island – two of the small but inhabited Fundy Isles.

Check out Magnetic Hill near Moncton – an optical illusion created by rising and descending terrain.

Explore the coastal trails of Fundy National Park. Consider hiking the full Fundy Foothpath over 3-5 days.

Hike to the summit of Sagamook Peak in Mt. Carleton Provincial Park where you can see millions of trees.

Visit St. Andrew’s By the Sea – a town you can easily spend a week in. Go whale watching, golf, kayak or take in the museums and galleries.

Summer in Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax is the biggest city and one that’s full of history. It’s also got more pubs per capita than any other city in Canada. Don’t miss the Public Gardens or Point Pleasant Park. 

Cape Breton Island is full of history and charm. Check out the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck. Drive or bike the Cabot Trail. Hike in Cape Breton Highland’s National Park.

Visit the Fortress of Louisbourg and see what life looked like a few hundred years ago.

Bike the south shore of Nova Scotia. This one week cycling itinerary covers Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, and Bridgewater.

Look for antiques in Hubbards.

Visit Peggy’s Cove, Blue Rocks, Lunenburg and The Ovens.

Beautiful lighthouse reflection in Peggy's Cove - one of the must see sights in Canada in summer if you're in Nova Scotia
Beautiful lighthouse reflection – one of the must see sights in Canada in summer if you’re in Nova Scotia

Hike the boardwalk in Kejimkujik National Park at the seaside.

Hike the dykes around Wolfville.

Do the hike out to Cape Split near Blomidon.

The hike to Cape Split is a great one for families & couples
The hike to Cape Split is a great one for families & couples

Canoe or kayak the lakes of Kejimkujik National Park – for a day or for a week.

Discover the small towns that line the route of the Evangeline Trail.

**Some great new suggestions by a Nova Scotia reader**

One is Tidal Bore River Rafting on the Shubenacadie River.  The Shubenacadie (largest river in NS) is a tidal river that empties into the Bay of Fundy (home to the highest tides in the world).  When the tide comes in a tidal bore (wave) moves up the river temporarily reversing its flow.  As the river fills up it generates crazy rapids and rafting companies take groups out in motorized Zodiac boats to ride the waves.  It’s the only place in the world you can experience this thrill ride.

Another result of the Fundy tides in Nova Scotia is the erosion that has revealed some of the oldest dinosaur bones in Canada as well as the fossilized remains of the first reptiles to walk the earth.  Joggins Fossil Cliffs is a UNESCO World Heritage site with fossils dating back 300 million years and the first evidence of the evolution from ocean dwelling to land dwelling creatures.

I should also mention the Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia for the warmest salt water beaches in Canada.

Places to visit in Prince Edward Island, Canada in summer

Go to the beach. This is what PEI is famous for. The waters are warm and generally safe for kids. The Greenwich Dunes section of PEI National Park is absolutely lovely.

Eat lobster – in any way shape or form. Fresh is good, so are lobster rolls.

The same goes for pie.

Bike the Confederation Trail for the length of the island – or at least part of it.

Watch the Anne of Green Gables Musical in Charlottetown – now playing into its fifth decade.

Visit the house where the fictional Anne of Green Gables lived.

Head off for a day of deep sea fishing. Did you know tuna are caught off the shores of Prince Edward Island?

Checking out the parabolic sand dunes in PEI National Park
Checking out the parabolic sand dunes in PEI National Park

Places to visit in Newfoundland in summer

Be the first in North America to watch the sun rise at Cape Spear.

Kayak with icebergs.

L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site at the tip of Newfoundland is the most famous Norse or Viking site in North America. It’s a fascinating spot to visit.

Bike the beautiful Avalon Peninsula.

Kayaking with icebergs out of Twillingate
Kayaking with icebergs out of Twillingate – one of the fun things to do in Canada in summer

Hike a section of the East Coast Trail. Three hundred and thirty six kilometres are of a world-class hiking standard.

Visit Trinity, one of the best preserved communities in the province.

Take a boat ride to Witless Bay to admire the teeming bird and sea life – one of the must do things things in Newfoundland, Canada in summer.

Do one of the day hikes in Terra Nova National Park.

Take the ferry for a day over to Labrador. Keep an eye open for whales.

Plan some time in the city of St. John’s – one that’s famous for its bars and night life

Take a boat ride down the fjord in Gros Morne National Park or better yet backpack the Long Range Traverse.

The view on the first day of the Long Range Traverse
The view on the first day of the Long Range Traverse – one of the must do hikes in Canada in summer

Summer in the Yukon Territory, Canada

Hike the Chilkoot Trail – though really it’s in BC and Alaska but often you stage the hike from Whitehorse.

Pan for gold.

Backpack in the Tombstone Mountains.

Fantastic setting at Grizzly Lake even under cloudy skies - one of the best backpacking trips to do in Canada in summer
Fantastic setting at Grizzly Lake even under cloudy skies – one of the best backpacking trips to do in Canada in summer

Visit the town of Dawson City at the heart of the world famous gold rush. The place is still full of characters.

Drive the Dempster Highway. It connects the Klondike Highway in the Yukon to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. Be warned – it isn’t paved but it’s still one of the top things to do in Canada in summer.

Do the Auriol Trail hike in Kluane National Park. Go with a group as this is big time bear country. 

Driving the Dempster Highway in the Yukon
Driving the Dempster Highway in the Yukon – one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada in summer

Where to visit in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut during a summer in Canada

Make the trip up to Yellowknife for phenomenal fishing. Add in a canoeing trip on the Cameron River. Don’t miss Hidden Lake Territorial Park – though you’ll have to explore by canoe.

Backpack through the remote and wild Auyuittuq National Park in Nunavut, Canada in summer.

Canoe the Thelon River.

Summit Lake in Auyuittuq National Park - one of the remote places to visit in summer in Canada
Summit Lake in Auyuittuq National Park – one of the cooler places to visit in Canada in summer

Click on the post to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

100 places to visit across Canada in summer

    1. @Shayn Share away. I plan to hike in Riding Mountain NP but don’t know much and for summer I really think of Manitoba as a canoeing kind of spot. I really would love to hear your suggestions.

  1. Nice list. I clearly have some travelling to do. With a focus on inking and biking though (in my hometown) I’d suggest that there’s a lot more to Calgary than stampede. We have a world class bike system along the Bow River that people love to ride, a zoo within biking distance of downtown (the penguins are hilarious). If you venture out to Banff there is a bikeway from Canmore to Banff (the Legacy Trail) and then biking to Lake Louise along the 60 kph parkway is jaw dropping. Lots do opportunity for wildlife sightings from the saddle. And don’t get me started on the hiking possibilities…..

    1. @David I live in Calgary too and when I first moved here I couldn’t get over the biking trails. Most other Canadian cities have nowhere near the trails that Calgary has. I plan to bike from Canmore to Banff on one of my next available weekends. That trail always seems to have people on it. I appreciate your informative comment.

  2. Really great list! There’s SO MUCH to do in Canada. I’ve only just scratched the surface!

  3. Fab list, Leigh. And you have some all-time favourites of mine- Dinosaur Provincial Park, Quetico, Killarney and even Misery Bay Provincial Parks (you’re good!!), ma belle Montréal and Grand Manan. The latter we visited and fell in love with last year. Grand Mananers are very cool New Brunswickers/Canadians. A special part of the country for sure.

  4. lovely pictures – I have always enjoyed my visits to Canada or close to the border. My encounters with Canadians have always been positive

  5. Just perfect.
    We have 3 weeks in Canada in May and I was hunting around for what to do.
    You’ve gone way over with this article and I now have everything I need plus a whole more.

    Figure a GPS and print off this page 🙂

    Thanks so much.

  6. Great article! Thanks so much for sharing! For anyone looking to explore Eastern Canada, Prince Edward Island would love to have you.

  7. Wow! That is quite the list. It makes me realize how little of eastern Canada I’ve seen. I fall into the mindset of thinking that eastern Canada is not as beautiful as western Canada, but your photos are gorgeous!

    1. @Laurel I am s looking forward to exploring more of eastern Canada this summer. I have lived in Nova Scotia on a couple of occasions but haven’t been back to the Halifax/south shore area in 25 years. There is so much to do that I hope one year the region figures in your plans.

  8. Glad I’ve seen and done a few of these, at least 🙂
    On my list: Western Canada, and now also Saskatchewan (love the photo. And the name just sounds cool). Also, it would be fun to see where my Vikings ancestors hung about.

    1. @Sophie Saskatchewan isn’t high on many people’s list and yet it really does offer a lot. I love the place or it’s big sky feeling, the grasslands and after I’ve visited again in September I’ll be able to wax eloquent about it’s northern lakes and rivers too. L’anse aux Meadows is a fantastic spot to visit.

  9. This is a super guide, Leigh! I’d love to visit all of the provinces. I’ve been lucky enough to get to a few. One of my favorite travel memories from growing up was a trip that took us to Nova Scotia — it was so beautiful and dramatic.

    1. @Cathy I’m heading to Nova Scotia for two weeks in June and looking forward to revisiting old favourites and discovering some new ones. I love the drama of the south shore too.

  10. Thanks, Leigh. This is right on time. I’ll be in Toronto for TBEX in June and plan to visit family in Ottawa and Montreal then a return visit to Quebec City. That much is planned but I’ve been looking around for other places to visit while I’m there. I’ve already picked a few from your post, which I’ve bookmarked. Huge thanks!!! Oh, and did I say what a fabulous list this is? Your photos are absolutely stunning!

    1. @Marcia I’ll be curious to see where you end up visiting. You can’t go wrong with Quebec City but if you can go a little further north to the Saguenay Fjord area I think you’d be pleasantly surprised with the scenery. The Eastern Townships are also a great destination and aren’t far from Montreal.

  11. What an awesome list! I am bookmarking this for when I finally have time to explore Canada. I’ve only been to BC and Ontario so I’ve got a long way to go. Love the photos! I would love to explore Atlantic Canada and see the Hopewell Rocks. of course, I’m still dying to see Banff NP soon.

    1. @Mary I did get carried away and obviously there are easily another 100 or 200 places to visit in Canada but hopefully it’s given you ideas. A lot of Canada is framed by the Rocky Mountains but the east cast offers just as much to see – and very friendly people.

    1. @Natalia The fire simulator is intense. You do get jiggled in your seat, smoke bellows and it’s loud at times. Definitely a great movie that gives you such a sense of what it’s like to be on the ground and in a water bomber.

  12. Wow. This is massive and beautifully done. I’ve visited the places in BC and Alberta, but it seems I have a way to go before I’ve seen it all.

    1. @Christopher Ii think I got a little carried away – but I was just trying to be helpful. There’s so much of Canada to explore and such diversity across the country. I hope you come back.

    1. @Salika I’m going to miss the Stampede this week though I would like to catch the concerts. There are lots of small rodeos around Alberta and BC that I understand are also worthwhile if you’re after the rodeo scene.

  13. What gorgeous photos! I haven’t been to Canada since I was a kid. I’m really excited to explore Montreal next week and hopefully Niagara on the Lake in a few weeks.

    1. @Jennifer Although NOTL is touristy it’s also charming and beautiful. Walk the streets off the main street, take some wine tasting tours, maybe even a cooking class and bike to Niagara Falls. You’d definitely have a good time.

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