Canada, land of lush forests, snow capped mountains, diverse, bustling cities, and rugged coastlines, appeals to a variety of visitors. But in such a vast country, what are the “must-sees,”? Well, much depends on your personal tastes, and how far you are willing to travel. Canada is generally divided into regions: Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.
No visit to Canada would be complete without a visit to the bustling urban center of Toronto. A highly multicultural city, it is the place to go for ethnic cuisine of all sorts. Whether you’re interested in sampling the simple, cafeteria style Thai food at Salad King, experiencing the belly dancing dinner show at the Sultan’s tent, or watching a sunset over the lake slowly float past at Toula’s elegant rotating restaurant, this is a culinary experience not to be missed. Theater shows, galleries, festivals and events of all kinds are held regularly. For a list of current events and local hotspots, try visiting www.toronto.com, which is updated weekly. From wandering through Chinatown and Kensington Market, sampling fresh local produce at the St. Lawrence Market, or sharing a romantic dinner and a play in the theater district, Toronto has something for everyone.
For those with a more nature-loving bent, Ontario boasts upwards of 80 provincial parks. Algonquin Provincial Park lies less than four hours north of Toronto, and with over 7000 square kilometers of unspoiled woodland, rivers and lakes, it is a camper’s paradise.
In this very historical province, two cities vie for must-see status. While Montreal is a busy metropolis known for its fantastic restaurants, jazz festivals and ground breaking arts community, Quebec City hold its own as a romantic spot frozen in time. Only three and a half hours apart, they are both worth a visit.
In Montreal, make sure you find time to stroll along the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Architecture and art lovers will appreciate the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Musée Marguerite Bourgeois and the Marche Bonsecours on Rue St. Paul. In the area, dozens of four-star restaurants are sure to tempt any palate. No Montreal experience would be complete without tasting some crepes, Montreal-style bagels, or poutine. While choices abound in this city, Cafe Crepe, St-Viateur Bagel and Cafe, and Maam Bolduc are all good places to start.
Comprised of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, western Canada is known for its powerful natural beauty. When planning a visit to the west, many begin their journey in the city of Vancouver, enjoying leisurely strolls through the harbor, parks, and trendy neighborhoods, all overlooked by the snow-capped Coast mountains.
When opting to visit the west of Canada, one would not want to miss Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, or the breathtaking beauty of Banff and Jasper National Parks. A little more to the south you find the city of Calgary, where more than 1.2 million people visit the Calgary Stampede every year, to pay tribute to Canada’s cattle ranching industry.
The Maritimes and Newfoundland
Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are all part of the Canadian Maritime provinces. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in particular are known for their beautiful coastlines. For one of the more accessible scenic drives, try the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton highlands, stopping for a lobster dinner at the Chowderhouse, a small place perched on a grassy cliff overlooking the sea.
Try driving the world’s longest bridge to the birthplace of Anne of Green Gables. The Confederation Bridge is 8 miles long, and is the gateway to a quiet, tiny island rich in rare sea life. Don’t miss the miles of white beach and sand dunes on this little jewel of a province. And to round it out, some whale watching in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy, an eco-attraction that ranks with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, or the South American rainforests.
From East to West, from sea to sea, the beauty and variety of this great country is sure to create incredible memories for years to come.