Canada is a healthy mix of outdoor adventure and urban sprawl, so whether you want to get away from it all or get moving, it has quite a bit to offer vacationers. Get back to nature with extreme sports, or spend your days shopping and sightseeing in one of the major cities. If you’re looking for something in between, relax on the Gulf Islands where you can be waited on at a bed and breakfast but spend your days bicycling around the island.
Insider City Favorites
If the outdoors isn’t your idea of a great summer vacation, visit one of Canada’s historic and bustling cities. Visit the French colonial city of Quebec, and wind your way around the narrow streets and duck into the Place Royale, the Citadel, and the Parliament Building. You can even take a quick side trip to the Montmorency Falls, which are taller than Niagara Falls and just as awe-inspiring.
You could spend your entire vacation in Montreal and still leave more to see on your next visit. Explore Old Montreal, Montreal Harbor, and Chinatown. Visit Notre Dame Basilica, a Gothic Revival masterpiece. Olympia Park was built for the Summer Olympics in 1976 and is a major tourist attraction.
Downtown Toronto is famous for its underground walkway that connects miles of shopping and entertainment. On rainy days, get away from the dreary weather and stroll the mall. On a beautiful day, experience the charm of Toronto’s Music Garden, the landscaped equivalent of Bach’s “Suite No. 1 in G Major.” It’s a lush, green park with meandering paths that wander through flowers and forests along Toronto’s harbor.
The Gulf Islands
Just off the coast of Vancouver lie a multitude of islands with unparalleled beauty. The climate is mild, so the summer is the perfect season to vacation there. Much of the islands recreational activities involve the water. Boaters and kayakers will marvel at the birds that hover peacefully over the lagoons and bays, waiting for a meal. The quiet roads are perfect for cycling out to a secluded lake or a scenic overlook. Many artists live on these islands to enjoy their splendor year-round, so be sure to explore the local art galleries.
If you’re still craving adventure, get off the beaten path—literally—at one of the many parks that offer zipline tours and aerial activities. Barrie Park in Ontario has six aerial courses and three courses for kids. These are not just zipline courses—they are complete obstacle courses located above the ground. You can swing like Tarzan, crawl through barrels, walk across swinging logs, and span rope bridges.
In Quebec, Rawdon Park offers treetop trekking as well as four via ferrata courses (mountain routes equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders and bridges). The Via Ferrata is a rock-climbing course built at the top of the Mont Pombriand. You can also test your wilderness skills by going geocaching (a high-tech game of hide-and-seek) or taking a nighttime treetop trek. The Regaud Park is home to the highest and longest aerial course in Quebec. While there, you can also go whitewater rafting, use your scavenging hills in a GPS rally, and become one with nature.
If you’re looking for romance or just the thrill of visiting one of Canada’s most famous sites, visit Niagara Falls. Get soaked on the Maid of the Mist, an historic boat that takes you close to the mouth of the falls. You can also walk behind the falls for a thundering once-in-a-lifetime thrill. Walk along a boardwalk that takes you to the edge of the whitewater and enjoy the majestic views.
Whether you are traveling alone or with kids, there is plenty to do during a summer vacation in Canada. You can be as active as you like or as relaxed as you can get. There’s always a delightful blend of action and nature in Canada.