According to our recent State of Travel survey, Canada nearly tops travelers’ lists for 2022, coming in second after Italy. So we thought we’d reach out to our Canadian writers to see where they recommend visiting this year. Starting in British Columbia and heading east all the way to New Brunswick, here are the amazing destinations our local writers suggested.
1. Sunshine Coast, British Columbia
“Canada’s Sunshine Coast is a local recreational paradise,” Mary Charleson of North Vancouver tells us. A seaside drive northwest of Vancouver, the laidback coastal region can be accessed by taking a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale. “Dotted with beaches and cabins, it hosts a mix of remote workers and third-generation locals scattered between Gibsons, Sechelt, and Pender Harbour.”
Charleson recommends exploring Desolation Sound by chartered sailboat and checking out Davis Bay.
“Just north of Roberts Creek, but south of Sechelt, this little village punches above its weight with an oceanside boardwalk, pier, and some great ocean-view dining. Try the Wobbly Canoe or The Porch Restaurant. Bring a kayak or SUP and launch from the public beach to frolic with the locals at sunset,” she suggests.
With fewer than 3,000 residents, the small village Pender Harbour is another Sunshine Coast gem Charleson recommends.
“Pender Harbour is an hour from Langdale, far enough from Vancouver to remain charmingly underdeveloped. The area, sometimes called ‘Venice of the North,’ is made up of smaller hamlets, including Madeira Park, Francis Peninsula, Garden Bay, Irving’s Landing, and Daniel Point — all more easily connected by water than road, which is how many locals get around, due to the meandering shoreline. It’s also a favored provisioning stop for boaters headed to Desolation Sound,” according to Charleson.
2. Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
“Salt Spring Island’s stunning natural beauty includes old-growth forests, mountains, parks, beaches, and inland lakes,” says Winnipeg resident Donna Janke. “Breathtaking scenery greets you everywhere, whether hiking in the woods, enjoying a water activity, or walking along the beach watching the marine life.
“The 70-square-mile-island, located between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast, is known for its organic farms, artists and artisans, healers, hippies of all ages, and a laidback atmosphere,” Janke says. “Roadside farm stands dot country roads. The island boasts wineries and cideries, a craft brewer, a craft distillery, and a cheesemaker.
“A self-guided artist studio tour map takes you to over 20 studios throughout the island. Art and artisanal food are both featured at the famous Saturday Salt Spring Island Market. Salt Spring Island is both cultured and rugged. You can feel your entire body relax as soon as you step off the ferry and onto the island.”
3. Vancouver, British Columbia
Although based in Arizona, Cindy Barks frequently visits her son and daughter-in-law in Vancouver.
“I can never get enough of the city’s huge sea views, historic city streets, and amazing multi-cultural cuisine scene. Even though I have visited numerous times in recent years, I always seem to discover some new fascinating feature in Vancouver that takes me by surprise,” remarks Barks.
“From the authentic Asian cuisine on the Dumpling Trail in neighboring Richmond to the smoked-salmon and fresh-fruit offerings at the picturesque Granville Island to the delightful Italian and seafood spots in hip Yaletown, Vancouver boasts world-class cuisine.
“Then, of course, there is the city’s Pacific Coast location, which lends itself to a host of fantastic outdoor activities, from seaside picnics at Kitsilano Beach to hiking and biking along the Seawall in Stanley Park. While I’ve enjoyed visits in every season, September is my favorite month in Vancouver because of the warm, sunny days and somewhat smaller crowds.
“Certainly, Vancouver is one of those cosmopolitan cities that draws visitors back again and again, and I can’t wait to return in 2022.”
Thinking of visiting? Read her pandemic-times account of what it’s like to travel in British Columbia.
“There could be worse places to be stuck at home,” was a familiar refrain of Charleson’s fellow Vancouverites who were forced to holiday closer to home. “Many of us rediscovered what thousands clamor to see annually, but with a new set of eyes,” she says.
Charleson also recommends running, walking, or biking Stanley Park’s 10-kilometer seawall loop. The local tells us that the visit is “best planned clockwise from downtown to take in English Bay at sunset or by bike from the Westside or the North Shore for an additional workout.”
If you’re not scared of a little exercise, Charleson suggests skipping the tram and hiking up The Grind, a 2.9-kilometer trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. Dubbed “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” many locals use it as a cheap substitute for a gym membership according to Charleson. She says the tough 800-meter gain, just shy of 3,000 stairs, is “best timed for sunset over the city, or early morning if you’re hardcore. A Skyride ticket can be purchased at the top for the return.”
4. Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler, Canada’s most famous ski resort and a world-class winter destination, is no well-kept secret. It’s also regaled as a premium summer hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and freshwater lake destination.
Charleson is in Whistler year round, and she provides a couple of gems in the area that guests shouldn’t miss. “As a local, being just a 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver, we tend to take access for granted.”
“The Whistler Olympic Park is a final destination along the 30-minute drive through this stunning mountain valley, accessed just south of Whistler off the Sea to Sky Highway. Built to host the Nordic events in the 2010 Winter Olympics, the area features over 120-kilometers of ski and snowshoe trails and hiking in the summer.
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
“Pemberton is 33-kilometers north of Whistler, and another 35-kilometers east of town, accessed by the twisting and challenging Duffey Lake Road, you’ll find three glacier-fed lakes and Mount Currie. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is where locals go to escape tourists in Whistler!” says the Vancouver native.
5. The Canadian Rockies World Heritage Site
Like Barks, Carol Colborn lives in Arizona but has family in Canada. She suggests checking out Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of “Kootenay and Yoho National Parks, not just Banff and Jasper,” she affirms. Below, she details the ideal itinerary.
Kootenay National Park
“From Banff, Kootenay is just after the historic Continental Divide sign. Then you will discover the beautiful Marble Canyon, Paint Pots, and Numa Falls. Go to the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint for the best view. When you get to the Sinclair Canyon, you will go through a breathtaking scene that peeks at Columbia Valley.”
Yoho National Park
“At 507 square miles, Yoho is the smallest of the four. The Visitor Center is in the small town of Field, BC, inside the park. Take the Emerald Lake Road to the Natural Bridge, an impressive natural rock formation that spans the flow of the Kicking Horse River. At the road’s end is the lovely Emerald Lake, the largest of Yoho’s 61 lakes and ponds. Emerald Lake Lodge is a great accommodation to linger longer, especially when you go in July when the snow melts and wildflowers abound.”
6. The Columbia Valley Of British Columbia
Colborn also recommends checking out The Columbia Valley of British Columbia west of Kootenay.
“From Sinclair Canyon in Kootenay, the town of Radium in Columbia Valley will greet you first. Go to the Visitor Information Center and you may find some of the bighorn sheep that have made the town home. They were waiting to be photographed by two new and excited visitors when we were there!” she recalls.
Radium Hot Springs
“There are two hot springs in the Valley: Fairmont and Radium,” says Colborn, who checked out the latter as it was closest to her hotel.
One of the friendliest small towns in Canada, Radium is “named after the radioactive element radon, a decay product previously thought to have curative powers,” details Colborn. She says that although there are small traces in the springs, there should be no risk in a half-hour exposure if you decide to take a dip in the famous Radium Hot Springs pools. Colborn suggests a “soak in the hot pool, then try the cold one, and finish with the Plunge Pool nearer the source, all in 30 minutes.”
Surrounded by the beautiful Windermere Lake, pretty Invermere is the central hub of the valley, according to Colborn. “Even the road there is endearing, with interesting glimpses of mountain goats, red-lined white churches, and fields of dandelions,” she describes.
7. Golden, British Columbia
“Golden is just 105 kilometers north of Radium and is the western gateway to Yoho National Park,” Colborn says of her next recommendation. “Its history is tied to the historic Canadian Pacific Railway and the growth of the logging industry. The city grew around the beautiful confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers. Two other mountain ranges aside from the Canadian Rockies encircle the town. This abundance of natural beauty has led to the flourishing of tourism in this town.”
Pictured above is Golden’s beautiful man-made landmark. Located in the center of town, the stunning Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge is the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada.
8. Waterton, Alberta
“Sitting in the middle of the Waterton Lakes National Park, Waterton, Alberta is a hamlet of about 100 dwellers,” Colborn says of her final suggested Canadian locale. “Summer is the best time to visit, but downtown gets to be busy and parking is hard to find. You will discover great local eateries, including great chocolate shops and the popular Beaver Tails dessert.
“At the edge of town is a well-equipped playground for kids, with the majestic Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. Just a block away from that park, you will find the stunning Cameron Falls. It turns naturally pink after a heavy rainfall when the red sediment — argillite — gets released from the billion-year-old bedrock.
“But it is the four-square-mile Waterton Lake that is the town’s center of beach activities. A third of Upper Waterton Lake actually lies in the U.S., part of the Glacier National Park. An International Cruise at Waterton takes you to both parks, and the partnership is celebrated at the International Peace Park in the town center.”
9. Drumheller And The Alberta Badlands
Jill Browne lives in Calgary, Alberta, not far from Banff National Park. She recommends checking out Drumheller and the Alberta Badlands for Dinosaurs and Unearthly Landscapes.
“The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology at Drumheller, Alberta, about an hour and a half’s drive north-east of Calgary, shows the science of ancient life in an unforgettable and compelling way. Kids love the giant dinosaur skeletons — who doesn’t?” she says. “My favorite exhibit is the underwater world of the Burgess Shale. Creatures from 505 million years ago are modeled at 12 times life-size, in full color.
“The landscape around Drumheller is called the Badlands. Erosion has created eerie shapes called hoodoos. These beautiful sandstone pillars, in shades of red, buff, black, and brown look their best in the glow of the setting sun. The Bleriot Ferry is a free and very short ride across the Red Deer River in the summertime. At Horseshoe Canyon, you get a great view as you walk around the hoodoos.
“Beware – it’s very slippery when wet. The museum is open year-round but closed most Mondays,” warns Browne.
10. St. Claude, Manitoba
With a population of about 600, St. Claude is “a tiny piece of France in Manitoba,” according to Browne. Located 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Portage La Prairie, St. Claude makes for an interesting stop on a cross-Canada drive.
“Why is there a big statue of a tobacco pipe in the park?” asks Browne. “Because many 1890s settlers came from the Jura region of France, famous for pipe-making. Engraved with ‘Canada’ and ‘France,’ a bust of French commander Marshal Foch tops the 1921 cenotaph, guarded by a statue of a Canadian and a French First World War soldier.”
“A little shrine reposes in a grove of oaks nearby. I’ve read that St. Claude celebrates Bastille Day with enthusiastic commitment. In the mid-1960s, renowned architect Etienne Gaboury designed the Roman Catholic church, one of the first to respond to the radical principles of Vatican II. It’s well worth a look. I visited the Gaol Museum but didn’t make it to the main attraction, the Dairy Museum — another time,” she says.
11. Winnipeg, Manitoba
Donna Janke recommends visiting her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“My home is a multicultural city with historic neighborhoods, a vibrant arts and culture scene, interesting architecture, and a friendly, welcoming spirit. World-class museums include the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Manitoba Museum. Qaumajuq houses the world’s largest collection of Inuit art.
“A central historic district boasts galleries, restaurants, boutique shopping, entertainment, and North America’s largest and best-preserved collection of turn-of-the-twentieth-century buildings,” Janke says. “The district is the hub for Winnipeg’s many summer festivals. St. Boniface, Winnipeg’s French Quarter, is home to French-Canadian culture and the largest winter festival in Western Canada. Murals and public art are found throughout the city. An underwater polar bear viewing station at the zoo is popular with both locals and visitors. The city has several craft breweries and a great diversity of top-notch restaurants. Located near the longitudinal center of Canada, this cosmopolitan city retains a small-prairie-town feel.”
12. Georgian Bay In Ontario
“Try southern Georgian Bay for the fall Colors and fresh-picked apples,” Browne recommends. “About an hour and a half north of Toronto, the shoreline of Georgian Bay has the perfect climate for apple growing. Get there on a two-lane highway and avoid Highway 400 (and anything else starting in 4) for a more pleasant sightseeing trip. Your target is the stretch of Highway ON-26 between Owen Sound and Collingwood.
“Aim for a date around the start of October. The fruit stands will be offering fresh-picked apples, and there’s nothing tastier. Explore the heart of orchard country around Meaford, Thornbury, and Clarksburg. Fruit stands abound.
“The view from the top of ‘the mountain’ – the Niagara Escarpment – is spectacular. View the fall colors and then try some homemade apple pie.
“You could do this as a day trip or a full weekend. The towns are walkable with lots of restaurant and accommodation choices. Bring a warm jacket, though you may not need it,” she suggests.
13. The Taj Mahal (Also Known As Foster Memorial Ontario)
“I almost drove off the road when I saw this,” Browne tells us. “It really is a little Taj Mahal, not made of gleaming white marble, not in India, but remarkable nonetheless. In a land of proper red brick Victorian churches with steeples and Gothic touches, a dome with mini-minarets stands out. As it was meant to. In the 1930s, the former mayor of Toronto, Thomas Foster (1852–1945) wanted a memorial to his wife and daughter. A world traveler, he requested something along the lines of the Taj Mahal, and lo, it appeared.
“Now the Foster Memorial is an occasional venue for concerts. The inside features mosaics, stained glass, and overall looks simply opulent. The memorial is north of Toronto between Uxbridge and Leaskdale on Concession Road 7. Nearby is the former home of the famous creator of Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery. For information on both, see Discover Uxbridge,” she advises.
14. Fredericton, New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick, tops Ottowa-based writer Vanessa Chiasson’s Canadian travel wishlist. “I spent a couple of days there in the summer of 2021 and fell in love. I was already planning my return before the end of my first night! This provincial capital city is a university town and the entire city benefits from the youthful energy. There are 10 microbreweries in the city — roughly one for every 5,400 — giving Fredericton the nickname of ‘Atlantic Canada’s Brewing Capital.’ Hip coffee shops, which wouldn’t be out of place in Melbourne, are dotted across downtown, and there are plenty of restaurants, museums, galleries, and fun shops.
“It’s a great destination for walkers and I couldn’t get over how many people were walking, jogging, and cycling across the old railway bridge, which was been turned into a pedestrian walkway. I love that there’s a good selection of accommodations (my favorite being the Crown Plaza on the waterfront) and that the city is so well connected — Bangor, Maine, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, are both just over three hours away.”