Canada is one of the most unique countries in the world. It's one of the largest, second only to Russia. Canada's packed with world-class cities and stunning natural beauty from coast to coast. The Rocky Mountains dominate western Canada while the east coast is made up of islands and rocky shorelines. There are modern cities, small towns, and national parks that are truly off the beaten path. Whether you want an urban retreat with a bit of history or a quiet escape surrounded by water, trees, and snow, look no further than Canada.
Niagara Falls can be seen from both the U.S. and Canada, but most people agree that the view is better on the Canadian side. The falls themselves are a remnant of the last Ice Age, and the water takes on a beautiful green hue thanks to dissolved limestone. There are a lot of ways to experience this natural wonder - take a journey behind the falls, sign up for a Maid of the Mist boat tour, or head to the top of the Skylon Tower where you can see all the way from Buffalo to Toronto.
Old Montreal is nestled between modern-day downtown and the St. Lawrence River. It looks and feels like an old European city where 17th-century buildings line cobblestone streets. The city of Montreal has made a real effort to preserve this area, and it shows. You're free to explore on your own, and there are guided tours available, as well. Some of them are even themed so you can sample food from local restaurants, patisseries, and food boutiques along the way or explore the city after dark to learn about local ghosts and legends.
Between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the eastern shore, you'll find the Bay of Fundy. Thanks to its unique shape and location, the Bay of Fundy has some of the highest tides in the world. This is a great place for outdoor adventures and has amazing views for that perfect Instagram moment. There are hiking trails through the surrounding cliffs, caves, and rock formations, as well as boat tours and rafting expeditions along the shores and rivers. You may even spot a whale or two.
Gros Morne National Park is located in a remote part of Newfoundland, but you'll be glad you made the trip. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a hiker's paradise. There are easy marked paths as well as challenging, unmarked mountain trails for experienced backpackers. The surrounding landscapes are simply stunning. Here, you can hike through dense forests, cross ancient sea beds in the Tablelands, explore the volcanic sea coast, or relax on sandy beaches at Shallow Bay or Western Brook Pond. This park is a great winter destination, too, ideal for backcountry skiing.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Canada's oldest and most popular historical districts is Old Quebec. This area covers part of Upper and Lower Town Quebec City and is home to the city's oldest structures, some dating back to before 1850. The original settlement was along the St. Lawrence River in Lower Town while the Upper Town section sits on cliffs more than 325 feet tall. The narrow cobblestone streets are best traveled by foot or bicycle, and there are plenty of bistros, antique shops, and grand hotels to explore.
You probably already know that Toronto is one of the hippest, most modern cities in Canada, but did you know there is a collection of islands just a ferry ride away? There are three in all - Centre, Ward's and Algonquin - and each island is unique. Centre Island is the main draw, home to Centreville Amusement Park, a boating lagoon, and a petting zoo. The other islands are a little more laid back with 1920s-style cottages, gardens, and even a haunted lighthouse. These islands are a quick and easy escape from the bustle of city life that you won't want to miss.
Vancouver Island is just a two-hour ferry ride off the coast, but it feels like an entirely different world. For nature lovers wishing to escape the madness of Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island features amazing hiking trails through gigantic, ancient forests, rocky shorelines, and sandy beaches and coves. Stop by the small town of Tofino to visit a one-of-a-kind resort or find a cozy camping spot to rest up for another day of surfing, hiking, swimming, or just quietly soaking up the gorgeous scenery.
Jasper National Park is the largest in the Canadian Rockies as well as the most rugged. The backcountry trail system is an amazing destination for experienced hikers, and the area is home to some of the rarest animals in Canada. Keep your eyes peeled for grizzly bears, caribou, moose, and wolves. Another must-see spot in the park is Athabasca Falls, which booms through a narrow gorge. Access the falls by trail, and be sure to take some photos from one of the viewing platforms.
Another top-rated destination in Canada is Banff National Park, located in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. This park is simply stunning and home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Lake Louise is one of the main attractions. The turquoise-colored water is crystal clear and reflects the surrounding mountain peaks and glaciers. Spend time soaking up nature, hiking, or walking around lake shores. Then, head to the small town of Banff for a hot bite to eat or a warm, cozy bed to spend the night.
You probably know Whistler, British Columbia, as a famous skiing and winter sports destination - and it is. But there's so much more to it than that. Stunning vistas surround the village. Spend some time visiting the spas, bars, and restaurants while enjoying the down-to-earth atmosphere that makes for a relaxing getaway. Whistler is an ideal destination for skiing and snowboarding, of course, but there's plenty to keep you busy in the summer, too, including golfing, hiking, and mountain biking.