Summer is fast approaching and with it the promise of days and weeks of escaping the routine of lunch-making and early alarm clocks and one more traffic jam on the way to the office. School’s out for summer!
Before we can kick back and enjoy our holidays, we plan. Typically the plan means pulling out passports to check for expiration dates, or booking a campsite, or heading south for uninterrupted beach time. Canadians are great travellers and the maple leaf is one of the most recognized flags around the world. Not only are we recognizable, we’re often so welcome in many countries that non-Canadians borrow our flag to decorate their backpacks in hopes of receiving the same warm reception.
But summer travel is bound to be different this year. According to the largest banks of Canada our dollar will continue to suffer as the economy stagnates and exchange rates with many other countries puts Canada on the losing side. The flip side is our tourism industry may see a boost as foreign visitors choose Canada as a more economical alternative to other destinations.
For Canadians suffering with travel itch, it’s now time to plan a staycation and travel the world in Canada. We have homegrown options to compare to some of the greatest places in the world and this summer vacation will still be one to remember! Let’s play a game: Here or There
The beauty of Norway’s fjords, waterfalls, and glaciers puts it on many bucket lists, but instead of hopping over the ocean, choose L’Anse aux Meadows—the most famous Norse site in North America—and Bonavista Peninsula, Newfoundland as the place to visit Viking remains, sweeping, wild landscapes, and harbour towns.
If you can’t get to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (or another equally impressive cathedral in France or Spain), visit the grand and gilded Cathédral Marie-Reine-du-Monde in Montréal. It is the 3rd largest church in Quebec, the seat of the archdiocese of Montréal, and was inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome.
What’s a person to do if she (or he) can’t swing a shopping trip to New York’s 5th Avenue? Book a stay on or near Rue Sainte Catherine in Montréal and shop in as great a selection of department stores, small shops, and restaurants as you can find in NYC.
There’s nothing quite like strolling the cobblestone streets of Paris and stopping to buy picnic lunches to enjoy on shaded park benches. Quebec City is an alternative that’s second to none. It holds the requisite historic charm, a surplus of cafés, and plenty of interesting architecture.
If you can’t get to the Houses of Parliament in England head to our nation’s capital and visit Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Parliament Hill, while not as ancient, is home to Canada’s government and is set in a stunning spot overlooking the Ottawa River. It’s a must-stop on any visit to Ottawa.
Some of the most ancient and spectacular petroglyphs are found in cavern systems spread throughout mid to southern France. The Lascaux and Chauvet Cave Paintings are world-famous, but Canada has its own rock art less than two hours from Toronto. Petroglyphs Provincial Park near Peterborough holds the largest concentration of Aboriginal rock carvings in Canada.
Canadians love Florida. We’re such frequent visitors that many communities in Florida have large populations of “snowbirds” who regularly seek out the warmth and beaches. But instead of taking a trip to the Sunshine State, choose a visit to local beaches in Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay in Lake Huron. They offer visitors rolling dunes, beaches that stretch for kilometres, and blue-green water.
Nevada has its Red Rock Canyon, made famous by Hollywood, and Alberta has its Badlands. From dinosaurs to ghost towns, hoodoos, native rock art, and wildlife, this region of Alberta will become a favourite destination for travellers regardless of the dollar’s rise or fall.
© Colin Murdison
When people visit Napa Valley in California they go for the scenic hills, the food, and of course, the more than 400 vineyards. The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia holds the same appeal. It is BC’s premier wine growing region and it’s often referred to as Canada’s Napa Valley. But there are more than vineyards in the Okanagan; its beautiful lakes and valleys bring tourists looking for more than fresh peaches and grapes. There are outdoor activities and bustling communities to keep people coming back.
Ski towns are not reserved for cold, winter months alone. During the summer there are those who still seek out the last of the snows on mountaintops, but for the rest of us, there are lively ambiances and summer sports to keep the fun going. If you can’t make it to Switzerland, head for former Olympic village Whistler, British Columbia, as almost 2 million visitors do annually. Besides world-class skiing, Whistler hosts major mountain bike races every summer and offers everything from adrenalin sports to spa retreats.
Surfers have long sought out the west coast of the US, and the iconic beach and pier of Huntington Beach, California for its waves and vibe. There are other options and the coolest one—a true surfer’s paradise—is along the stretch of Vancouver Island coastline between Tofino and Ucluelet, British Columbia—Long Beach. Go for the surfing, stay for the vibe and the fish tacos.