- REUTERS/Blair Gable
- Travel + Leisure named Canada its “destination of the year. “
- Canada has many beautiful cities and national parks worth visiting.
- The country made entrance to its parks free for all of 2017.
Canada is calling.
On Thursday, Travel + Leisure magazine named Canada its “destination of the year.”
“The country has … distinguished itself during a particularly divisive time as a welcome unifier of communities and cultures,” Editor in Chief Nathan Lump said in a statement. “It also delivers on some of the key attributes most appreciated by global travelers today-unspoiled natural environments, dynamic cities, creative food and art scenes.”
One reason: the Canadian government has made it free to visit any of the country’s more than 200 national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas for all of 2017, in honor of its 150th anniversary of confederation.
Another reason is that the weak Canadian dollar makes it an especially economical destination for American travelers.
The timing is appropriate. Just after the US presidential election last November, many Americans were looking for ways to move to Canada and become citizens. The Government of Canada’s immigration website even crashed as the US election results came in.
So whether you’re leaving your home country for good or just looking to get away for a while, here are 16 things to do in the Great White North.
With a population of about 2.6 million, Toronto is Canada’s largest city, with world-class restaurants, museums, universities and historic districts.
- Vincent St. Thomas / Shutterstock
Dine on inventive small plates at Chef Lorenzo Loseto’s George Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Toronto. Menu highlights include an ahi tuna wrapped in sweet potato and a Cornish hen served with goat cheese and broccoli.
If skiing is your hobby of choice, Whistler in British Columbia has some of the best slopes in the world.
The town of Whistler itself has all of the charm of an alpine village in Europe.
- Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock
Over on Vancouver Island, the charming city of Victoria receives more than 3 million tourists every year.
Source: City of Victoria
Its harbor is busy with whale-watching boats, seaplanes, and other seafaring vessels.
- karamysh / Shutterstock
Just outside of Victoria proper, Hatley Castle is an administrative center that once served as a dorm for cadets at Royal Roads Military College. Tourists can now take guided walking tours of the estate.
Source: Hatley Castle
No grand tour of Canada would be complete without a visit to Banff National Park. The glacier-fed Moraine Lake makes for an especially dramatic vista.
- Wikimedia commons
Just a few miles to the north, Jasper National Park offers more than 4,000 square miles of pristine wilderness for hiking and camping.
- Flickr / kimberlykv
Source: Parks Canada
In Edmonton, Canada, you’ll find the world’s second-largest indoor water park inside the largest mall in North America, West Edmonton Mall.
- Shutterstock/Jeff Whyte
Edmonton is a great place to sample cuisines from other cultures, especially Ukraine. The capital of Alberta is home to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, where you can learn about Ukrainians’ immigration to Canada and learn how to make pierogis.
- Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock
To the east, Quebec City’s claim to fame is the fact that it’s the only walled city with cobblestone streets north of Mexico. There’s a budding creative scene in the city as well as numerous festivals and fairs during the summer, thanks to the many artsy types who have settled there.
- Shutterstock/Rob Crandall
The similarly French-speaking Montreal also has a European flavor. Visit the city’s world-class museums and admire its quaint cobblestone streets and boutiques.
And at classic shops like St-Viateur Bagel, you can try the famous Montreal-style bagels that some argue are even better than those from New York.
- D’arcy L. / Yelp
Prince Edward Island may be best known as the home of Anne of Green Gables, but it’s also an insanely beautiful spot packed with gorgeous beaches, lighthouses, and quaint towns.
- Patrick Messier / Shutterstock
But if you live in the Northeast and want to keep your Canada visit short, consider a jaunt to Niagara Falls. We hear the view from the Canadian side is quite nice.
- Lagutkin Alexey / Shutterstock