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23 Canadian Experiences I Can’t Wait To Take Part In

I’ve got a confession to make – I know nothing about Canada… except maple syrup is pretty tasty on pancakes.

A visit to Canada has been something I’ve always wanted to do, but time or money has always stopped me as well as a little bit of “it’ll be there next time” attitude. This year I’m making the time and doing a month-long trip through five of Canada’s provinces with the help of Tourism Canada and many of the regional tourism boards which I’ll introduce to you along the way.

After a little research Here are 23 Canadian Experiences I can’t wait to take part in as I cross the country.

Capilano Suspension Bridge near Vancouver, Canada

British Columbia

Vancouver Island
Researching this trip I found out that Vancouver Island is the biggest Island in the Pacific East of New Zealand; not only that but it has plenty to offer visitors. With lively beach resorts in Tofino, a bustling food culture, mountain ranges and plenty of adventure sports I’m excited to spend a few days in Victoria and surrounds.

Eat world-class gelato in Vancouver at Bella Gelateria
I’ll be in Vancouver for around 4-days and one thing I will be doing is trying James Coleridge’s multi-award winning gelato. Using traditional gelato making techniques James won two awards at the Firenze Gelato Festival in 2012 for his salt-crusted maple syrup gelato – and that’s exactly what I’ll be tasting!

Capilano Suspension Bridge
If you’ve seen photos of a suspension bridge amongst tree-lined forests chances are you’ve seen the Capilano Suspension Bridge as it stretches 450 feet across the Capilano river. Along with a cliff walk and a tree top adventure, I’m looking forward to spending a day so close to the city but with the atmosphere of being truly out amongst nature.

Grouse Mountain Zipline
I’ve only had a couple of experiences zip lining and none were particularly lengthy so I’m nervously excited about taking on the five-line circuit on Grose Mountain. The zip lines can be five lines or three lines and offer views across Grouse and Dam Mountains – exciting!!!

Learn to Stand-Up Paddleboard
SUP – or Stand Up Paddling boarding – is a Hawaiian sport which is fast becoming the new workout craze. I’m hoping to try this but I’m not sure where to try – Jericho Beach (for people watching), Deep Cove (for a taste of the Wilderness), Granville Island (urban experience), or the English Bay Bathhouse (nearest location to the city). Which should I do?

Eat from Vancouver’s Street Food Cart Scene
Vancouver has a thriving Street Food Cart scene and I really want to taste as many flavours as I can! A great tool I’ll be using to hunt down food cards is the free Vancouver Food Cart App. What’s on my list so far? Japadog and Cartel Taco!/p>

Visit Granville Island
House-made beers, vibrant markets, boutique shops and galleries – need I say more about why I’m excited to check out Granville Island?!

Jasper Tramway in Alberta, Canada

Alberta

White Water Rafting through Athabasca
I tried white-water rafting in Colorado and I can’t wait to try it again on the Athabasca River in Alberta. Considered a heritage river because of its history related to the fur trade exploration as well as one of the most beautiful I can’t wait to get my adrenaline hit amongst the natural beauty.

Jasper Tramway
When I heard ‘tramway’ I assumed it’d be an actual tram (a la San Francisco-style) heading through the alpine tundras of Jasper National Park. What I quickly found out is that it’s more a gondola-style (like the enclosed capsules on the London Eye) ride on Canada’s longest and highest guided aerial tramway. Lakes and mountain views in Canada’s Rockies – I can’t wait!

Take a motorcycle through the Canadian Rockies
I am very apprehensive about motorcycles since I managed to burn myself on one when I was younger (people, exhaust pipes are hot!) When I read about the chance to take a ride through the Canadian Rockies in a chauffeured motorcycle sidecar I was excited – but my second thought was to worry. I can’t wait to share this story with you and hopefully get over my fear.

Hermetic Code in the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Canada

Manitoba

See wild bison and learn how they shaped the prairie history
As a city slicker, the most exotic thing I’ve seen is a cow (and a few kangaroos and koalas) so seeing wild bison up close is going to be exciting!
One of Canada’s Signature Experiences, I’ll be learning about the Aboriginals, pioneers, and animals that shaped Manitoba’s Prairie which will hopefully also give me the opportunity to learn a little more about Canadian history.

Hermetic Code Tours of the Manitoba Legislative Building
Growing up I wanted to be a spy, seriously! My best friend and I made up our own secret codes but I never considered that architecture can hold codes too. Another of Canada’s Signature Experiences, I’ll be learning about how a hermetic code has been built into the Manitoba Legislative Building and what it says.

Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Ontario

Visit Graffiti Alley (Rush Lane)
I’ve shared posts about graffiti art from around the world – including Melbourne and Paris – so to hear that Toronto has a thriving street art scene I immediately put it on my list of things to see. Rush Lane, nicknamed Graffiti Alley, in Downtown Toronto has ever inch of its walls covered in art and probably the best-known part of the city to see the street art scene.

Take a trip to the Toronto Islands
When someone told me that Toronto had islands I thought they were joking with me, but turns out there is in fact a small chain of islands in Lake Ontario. Famed as the largest car-free community in North America, it’s city beach and summer adventure activities, it sounds like the perfect place to take a day-trip visit when in Toronto.

Take to the SkyWalk at CN Tower
One of Toronto’s top attractions, the CN Tower is an icon of the Toronto skyline so what better way to see the city than whilst doing its EdgeWalk. The world’s highest full-circle, hands-free walk, if that doesn’t get my blood pumping during my trip, I don’t know what will!

Stay in a castle at Fairmont Château Laurier
A landmark of downtown Ottawa, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is a stunning luxury hotel. I’m excited to see what it offers for visitors making the trip to Ottawa.. and the chance to stay in a castle!

Sleep in a Jail at HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
It couldn’t be more different from the stay in the Fairmont Chateau Laurier and a heck of a lot more scary, but I’ll be spending a night in Ottawa’s most unusual accommodation – in a jail cell.

Learn about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Along with maple syrup and beautiful landscapes, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are one of the countries most famous icons. At Ottawa’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Musical Ride Centre you get the chance to learn about the Mounties, the horses and their role in today’s society. I won’t lie – I’m most excited to be getting up close to the beautiful horses!

See Niagara Falls from the Canadian side
It’s somewhat corny and on many millions of travellers visit each year but Niagara Falls has captivated many, and I would love to see them (and it would be my first waterfall!) I’ve been told by friends who’ve visited both sides of the falls – they stretch across the US/Canada border – that the Canadian side is much more beautiful than the US-side, so I hope to see both and weigh in on the debate.

Jet boating on the River St Lawrence, Montreal

Quebec

Mont Royal
One of the hills in Montreal, the site is home to a beautiful view across the city as well as some nice walking paths. I’m most hoping to see a Tam Tam Jam – a Sunday tradition where Montrealers and visitors play the hand drums on the east slope of the mountain.

Try Poutine, Maple Syrup, and Smoked Meat Sandwiches
I’ve had maple syrup before but when in Canada you must have more!. There are two new foods on my radar which I’ve been told I have to try – Canada’s famed poutine and Montreal’s smoked meat sandwiches.

See the Underground City
While I’ll be visiting in summer the Underground City’s purpose is best seen in winter. Winters in Montreal means snow… and a lot of it at that! Under the streets of Montreal lies a 12km2 complex housing shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, museums, universities and more!

Jet Boat on the River St Lawrence
The River St Lawrence has a series of rapids, perfect for white water rafters or people who want their adrenaline kick another way – jet boating! I’ve heard that the one-hour ride lets you see a mixture of cityscape and wilderness so I can’t wait to try this… and get soaked in the process!

I’m barely scratching the surface on this trip to Canada and I’m sure there will be plenty of other adventures I’ll encounter along the way. To follow along with the trip be sure to check out the Travel Tracker page, Facebook or through the #ExploreCanada hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

What would you add to this list?
Do you have any tips for travelling in Canada?

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I’ll be heading over to Canada with help from the
Canadian Tourism Commission, TBEX, VIA Rail and regional partners.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

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43 Comments

  • Reply
    Laura Macdonald
    April 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Hey Nicole, I hope you’re well! Very jealous of your upcoming Canadian adventure; I lived there for a few months in 2001 and fell in love with the place. You should try to see Banff and Lake Louise while you’re there – do some horse riding and hiking. Seeing the Glacier is also cool, as is whale watching on Vancouver Island! Enjoy – have fun! Laura x

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Laura,
      Thank you so much for your suggestions! I’ve heard Banff is a stunning place. 🙂
      I’ve got my fingers crossed I’ll be doing some whale watching on Vancouver Island but… what is ‘the Glacier’?! Sounds exciting!

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment. =)
      Nicole

  • Reply
    Jessica
    April 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    This is a great list! Motorcycling through the Rockies sounds incredible – Definitely make sure to check out Banff, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. I also recommend eating a box of Timbits from Tim Hortons!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      I shall add ‘Timbits’ to my list of things to do even though I have no idea what they are!
      Fingers crossed I have time to come back to Banff and Lake Louise – you’re the fourth person to say that I need to stop there so it must be good!

  • Reply
    Hogga
    April 30, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    love Toronto Island!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      What do you suggest to do on Toronto Island’s, Hogga? I’m hoping to spend a day there. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin
    May 1, 2013 at 4:29 am

    Oooh Toronto Island sounds fab. We’re heading to Toronto for TBEX! Hopefully, we’ll get to explore around.. maybe go see Niagara too. First time in Canada for us! 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 1, 2013 at 4:48 am

      Oh that’s awesome news! I can’t wait to meet you guys. 🙂
      It’s my first time in Canada as well so I look forward to sharing our impressions of the country!

  • Reply
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    May 2, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Waaa hay! I LOVED Canada (an am dreaming of visiting again – so much amazing scenery and wildlife to see – you will have the best time!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks, Annabel!

      I trust your judgement that it’s going to be amazing. Any tips for the first timer?

  • Reply
    Beatrice
    May 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Put the Montreal nightlife on your list, as well as St-Denis & St-Laurent streets, and Old Montreal — that’s what you’ll be doing with me!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 9, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Done!

      Thanks for the suggestions, Beatrice. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelly
    May 7, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Hey Nicole, just came across this post. I live in Toronto and I just wanted to weigh in re: Toronto Islands to help you decide which to go to. There are 3.

    Centre Island is a child-friendly Island that is generally very busy with screaming kids running around and has a play park/amusement park sort of feel.

    Ward Island (my fav) has a fantastic, quiet beach on its far end with great clear swimming water and a fairly long stretch of beach. This is one of the Islands that people have houses on. (to live on this Island is a very interesting lottery system where people can add their name to a waiting list and when a house comes up for sale – which is rare – a name is randomly drawn from the list and if that person is ready to buy it’s theirs, if they aren’t ready then and there it gets offered to the next randonly drawn person.)

    Hanlan’s Point is most similar to Ward the only real difference is the walk to its beach is further, the sand is for some reason not as nice and it is clothing optional!

    Just keep in mind when choosing which to go to, there is a different ferry for each one, so be sure to get on the right one!

    Hope you have a fantastic trip!!

    Kelly

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 9, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Kelly,

      Thank you so much for the detailed information!

      I love the sound of going for a swim on Ward Island – I’m a fan of keeping my clothes on at the beach. 😉

      Thank you again!
      Nicole

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    May 9, 2013 at 5:37 am

    You must try some Canadian Beer: Granville Island in BC. Molson Canadian (anywhere in Canada) and Creemore in Ontario. Drink Canadian Beer is a must in Canada!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      May 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Good tip, Jennifer!

      Does Granville Island have a speciality? I think this might be the easiest one to visit on the trip. =)

    • Reply
      Katie Shewaga
      May 13, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Also Okanagan Springs from BC! Delicious!!

    • Reply
      Jason Kucherawy
      May 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      You should drink local beers. Toronto has many microbreweries that make beer far better than any Molson product (or one owned by Molson like Creemore and Granville Island). I’d recommend taking a beer tour like our “Beer Makes History Better” to get a sense of the beer scene in Toronto. http://www.tourguys.ca

      I’m also running the Graffiti in Toronto tours as part of the TBEX event. I hope to see you on one of them.

      • Reply
        Nicole
        June 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm

        Hi Jason,
        Sorry for the much belated reply!

        The Toronto were microbreweries were amazing! Thanks for the great suggestion.

        Disappointed I didn’t get to take a graffiti tour in the end – I love a bit of street art – but I’ll be back in August for a few days so will have to ask for your top street art tips 😉

        Thanks again!
        Nicole

  • Reply
    Nelson Kootenay Lake
    May 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Nicole, have you considered heading a bit east of Vancouver area into the Kootenays? Nelson, Ainsworth and Kaslo offer an amazing Canadian adventure from dining to shopping, biking, hiking, SUP and more! Check us out. We’d be thrilled to have you experience our location. Far Out. For Real.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks for the tips, guys!

      Honestly, I hadn’t considered it since I had such a tightly packed trip but the area sounds like it’s an adventure seekers paradise – definitely count me in! Will have to come explore when I’m back in BC (which will be soon – I loved it!)

  • Reply
    Gary
    May 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    As far as Food and Drink the Caesar is the National Drink of Canada, it seems to be made different in all the Provence’s. You should be able to get the standard one in Ontario sort of a Bloody Mary with attitude uses Clamato instead of Tomato Juice.

    Also Poutine has many interpretations, you should be good for the standard around Quebec and Montreal should be excellent fries with a brown gravy and cheese curds not much else.

    Not sure if time does not permit but Halifax on the east coast for fresh caught lobster and PEI for mussels is a foodies dream, or St. Johns to visit George Street and get Screeched in by some of the nicest people on the planet although I can’t understand a thing they say.

    Have fun and be safe,

    Gary

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks for the tips, Gary!

      The clamato gives me the heeby jeebies but for you – I will try one. =)

      Definitely need to try an original for my first poutine!

      Don’t have time to visit the East Coast on this trip – another group of bloggers are doing Halifax and a third PEI – and from the stories I’ve heard so far, they are in love with the place. 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to share your Canada tips!

  • Reply
    Kate - CanuckiwiKate
    May 13, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I am doing virtually the same trip, at the moment, except a bit slower and we’ve bought a Ford Explorer to camp in along the way. Tofino, on the western tip of Vancouver Island, is absolutely amazing even if you don’t surf. I’m sure we’ll be doing as many of these as we can afford on our way across – although, I dont think the motor cycle ride will be on the books for us.

    Have a great time!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Sad our paths only crossed for 30minutes, but I do hope we run into each other again soon!

      Your road trip sounds like it was amazing (long, but amazing!) and I’m looking forward to hearing more soon. =) I want to hear all about Tofino 😉

  • Reply
    Katie Shewaga
    May 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    POUTINE POUTINE POUTINE!

    Seriously, you can’t go wrong. As a Canadian who literally has a poutine every chance I get, I know you’ll fall in love with it!

    Another thing to try is maple syrup spread out on snow, then rolled onto a Popsicle stick. Delicious!

    Enjoy Canada 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Poutine it is 😉

      I tried the maple syrup on the popsicle and you’re right, it’s delicious!!!

      Thanks again for your tips!

  • Reply
    Natalie T.
    May 13, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Looks like a full-on trip! Have funn!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Will do, and so glad we got the chance to meet. =)

  • Reply
    Karla
    May 14, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Hi Nicole!

    Not sure when you’ll be there, but you should try to time it so you are in Calgary for the Stampede! Great time!

    Also, make sure you arrange a Canada – Part 2 trip and hit up the East Coast, you’ll be missing out if you don’t!

    Have a great trip 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      To see the Calgary Stampede is right up the top of my Canadian to-do list, but on this particular trip I won’t have time.
      Do you have any recommendations about what to do in/around Calgary?

      Aye yie, Cap’n 😉 Look out for Canada Part 2, hopefully coming to you next summer!

  • Reply
    Kirsten
    May 14, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Great list! I grew up in the Alberta Rockies just outside of Jasper National Park and could see the Athabasca river from my bedroom window so I always love hearing those places on people’s to go lists 😉 I know lots of people who have motorbiked their way through the mountains there and each and every one of them enjoyed it immensely! I totally agree with the other commenters recommending Banff & Lake Louis – stunning locations. The Columbia Icefields are quite something as well 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to reply, Kirsten and I’m sorry for my tardiness in replying to you!

      I visited the Columbia Icefields and you are right, they’re definitely quite something. =)

      I keep hearing that Banff and Lake Louise are stunning so I’ll have to stop by on my next trip.

      Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my list!

  • Reply
    Graeme
    May 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Hey Nicole – you’ve got to visit a real Canadian rodeo when you’re here! Depending on when you’re traveling, maybe you can catch the Ponoka, Alberta rodeo or the world-famous Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta. Alberta Tourism has a great “small town” video that features the Ponoka event. And if your really want to, you can download my e-guide to help you get ready (there’s the plug!). More about that at http://www.therodeoguide.com 🙂

    Welcome to Canada – have a great time!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Yes, please!!!

      Unfortunately, I’ll be missing the rodeos this year but I’d LOVE to see one… perhaps next year?

      Looking forward to learning more in The Rodeo Guide – thanks for the tip! =)

  • Reply
    Michelle @ Full Belly, Worn Soles
    May 17, 2013 at 7:00 am

    When you’re passing through Manitoba, feel free to contact me if you need some advice on things to do/someone to show you around. A lot of great stuff here in Winnipeg. Love to help out a fellow traveller!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Next time. You + me = adventure, okay?!

      I’m so sorry that I didn’t get back in contact with you. I only had around an hour of free time and that was spent running around the markets and St Boniface.

      Will definitely be back when the Human Rights museum is open, so see you then… or when you’re in Oz! =)

  • Reply
    Darcy
    May 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    I know you’ve started your trip already but figured I could give you some advice.

    When you are near Ottawa (been here for 20 years now) I highly suggest the following:

    La Fleche Caves Aerial Park: http://aventurelafleche.ca/en/lafleche-adventure-aerial-adventure-park

    Try the extreme zip lines. They are high (a little less than Grousse high but 259 meters long).

    Riverboarding with Esprit Rafting (starts in June): http://www.whitewater.ca/riverboarding_ottawa_river.html Starts in June and though it may be a bit pricy at $150, it is a ton of fun and the Ottawa river has some of the best white water in the world (perfectly spaced out rapids).

    While in Ottawa, the Chateau is nice, make sure to hit Zoe’s for High Tea (good eats). Also make sure check out the canal (you can rent kayaks at Dow’s Lake) and you can rent a bike to explore over 400km of paved trails in the area. For food, there are lots of good spots in ottawa. I suggest you hit Urbanspoon but one of my favourites is the Wellington Gastropub for supper (make a reservation) and you can’t go wrong with the homemade Snicker’s pie over at the Foolish Chicken. Also, for a great bakery, hit up Art Is In (http://www.artisinbakery.com/). Great spot. Ottawa is also huge for festivals (just finished up our Tulip festival – tons of activities and 300,000 tulips in bloom). The Jazz Festival runs from the 20th-30th of June and there are tons more (Italian, Dragonboat, Hope Volleyball tournament – largest outdoor volleyball tournament in the world).

    As someone else also mentioned, yes you have to try Tim Horton’s. Also, check out Canadian Tire, it’s our national department store where the slogan is “More than just tires” As for the poutine, my advice is to make sure you get it in some small town off the beaten path. The more seedy looking the place, the more authentic it is. Accept no substitutes: Make sure that they use cheese curds for the cheese and that the gravy and cheese is layered (not just on top). For a truly Quebecois experience, try dipping some of your poutine into ketchup (yum!).

    Also, while in Ottawa, hit the market and try a beaver tail – they have them all over the country now but Ottawa was the original location.

    Oh one last thing – the local beer here in Ottawa that is getting all the attention lately is called “Beau’s Beer”. They will probably have it at the Wellington Gastropub and they will give you a sampler of different types so you can order the one you like best.

    As others have said, Banff is awesome (the Chateau there is amazing – better than Ottawa’s) and if you make it to Lake Louise, make sure you hike up to the Big Beehive. What an awesome view!

    Enjoy your trip!
    -Darcy

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      Phew, Darcy! What a list!!!

      Thank you so so much for taking the time to contribute and I’m sorry I didn’t see this sooner!

      Whilst I was in Ottawa I did indeed eat an ‘original’ Beaver Tail – so good I now have a suitcase full of maple butter to take home. Do you have a favourite flavour?

      Ottawa was one of the most amazing cities I had the pleasure of visiting, so I will be using your list on my return trip – hopefully next summer!

      Thank you again =)
      – Nicole

  • Reply
    Nicolle
    May 31, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I very much agree with Karla’s comment on May 14…make sure to do a Part 2 and visit the east coast too!

    I did the train last year from Oshawa, ON to Halifax, NS…and loved it! I live in NS and there is so much variation and beauty throughout the province.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      After visiting the West I’m super keen to ‘finish’ the trip and visit the east coast next year.

      Another group of bloggers did Halifax, Moncton and Montreal and a third did PEI and Charlottetown. Both groups have raved about how beautiful the area was, and with friends in Nova Scotia I want to make it happen soon!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Nicolle =)

  • Reply
    canadiangirl
    November 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Why stop in Quebec – there’s so much beauty once you head further out east! No trip to Canada would be complete without a visit to the maritime provinces -Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick!

    Canada’s motto is “a mari usque ad mare” — from sea to sea… if you want to see the country properly, keep going ’til you get to the Atlantic!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      November 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Unfortunately on this trip I only had a limited amount of time so couldn’t get to the otherside of Canada, though I’ve heard PEI and Nova Scotia are beautiful. Next time I visit I’ll be trying to get there 😉

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