Big Muddy Valley, Saskatchewan
With its vast terrain and history of harboring bandits, Big Muddy Valley exudes a mysterious and captivating atmosphere. Formed by ancient glacial melts, the valley is a sea of sturdy cacti, dramatic cliffs, plunging sandstone ravine, and mystifying aboriginal stone effigies. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these isolated badlands were often traversed by banks robbers and thieves smuggling horses across the US border. With many caves to act as convenient hideouts, the badlands are said to have sheltered the likes of Dutch Henry, Sam Kelly, and the Sundance Kid.
Rue du Petit Champlain, Québec City
Rue du Petit Champlain is one of the oldest and narrowest streets in North America, at just 12 meters wide. This lovely cobblestone lane is lined with stone buildings constructed in the city’s distinct Nouvelle France style of architecture. Once home to trading posts and wealthy merchants’ homes, the street is now packed with art galleries, cafés, boutiques and restaurants. A striking mural depicts the evolution of the city over the centuries, and gorgeous Château Frontenac overlooks the charming scene.
Nahanni National Park Reserve, Northwest Territories
Nahanni National Park Reserve is the epitome of Canada’s wild and remote natural beauty. Stretching across 30,000-sq-km, this spectacular park encompasses enormous waterfalls, limestone caves, rugged canyons, and hot springs. The park takes its name from the South Nahanni River, a powerful stream that rushes through the Mackenzie Mountains for more than 500km. In addition to canoeing and rafting, the park attracts nature enthusiasts eager to take on its craggy mountains, or search for abundant wildlife that ranges from Dall sheep and black bears, to wolves and caribou.
Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal
Easily the most striking religious building in Canada, Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture. Built in the early 19th century, this grand basilica is filled with ornate wooden carvings, paintings and gilded sculptures. Its ceiling is painted deep blue and dotted with thousands of 24-karat gold stars, while its stained-glass windows depict scenes from Montreal’s religious history. In the past, the building has hosted the funerals of famous Canadians like Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and hockey player Maurice “Rocket” Richard.
Notre Dame Basilica, 110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC, Canada, +1 514-842-2925
Long Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
As the name suggests, Long Beach is one of the longest sand beaches on Vancouver Island. Located between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino, the beach is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, occupying the west side of a thin peninsula which projects out into the Pacific Ocean. Considered to rank among the best surfing spots on the continent, the beach is also an excellent place for kayaking, swimming, jogging, or just admiring the scenery. Gray Whales can often be spotted in the waters off the coast when they migrate through the area during the spring and fall.
Mount Thor, Nunavut
Nunavut’s intimidating Mount Thor features the highest vertical drop on earth, plunging down 1,250 meters with an average angle of 105 degrees. The mountain’s sharp granite peak is set against a backdrop of glaciers, including the Penny Ice Cap, which formed during the last Ice Age. The surrounding Auyuittuq National Park is one of the world’s largest areas of unexplored wilderness. Inhabited mainly by Inuit people, the haunting park takes its name from an expression meaning ‘the land that never melts.’
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Lunenburg is one of the prettiest small towns in Canada, and the only UNESCO World Heritage site in the region. Settled by the British and developed by German, Swiss, and French Protestants, many of the town’s buildings date from between the 18th and 19th centuries. These distinct buildings are known for their charming pastel colors and their ‘Lunenburg Bump,’ a detailed 2nd-floor dormer window that hangs over the 1st floor. Tucked between a lovely harbor and rolling hills, this historic town is home to off-beat boutiques, craft shops, and art galleries.
Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick/Nova Scotia
Separating the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal range in the world. Its high tides reach heights of 53-feet, with more than 160 billion tons of water flowing in and out of the bay every 12.5 hours. The diversity of the Bay’s marine life has been compared to that of the Amazon rainforest, making it one of the top bird and whale-watching destinations in North America. This unique site is home to towering cliffs, tide-shaped sandstone towers, hiking trails, and beaches.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, British Columbia
The dramatic Capilano Suspension Bridge Park sways 230 feet above a steep canyon, where the Capilano River rushes below. Crossing the 450-foot suspension bridge and admiring the scenery is exhilarating for more reasons than one. The bridge is set in the middle of a lush 27-acre rainforest, where visitors can walk along nature trails or cross cable bridges suspended between the trees. In December, an illumination consisting of more than 250,000 fairy lights enhances the canyon’s natural beauty.
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, British Columbia
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve provides a glimpse of the timeless landscapes of Canada’s west coast, with its verdant rainforest and rich wildlife. Accessible only by boat or plane, the park comprises 130 islands. The islands receive higher-than-average rainfall, and as a result everything grows bigger, faster, and wildly. The area is the historic home of the Haida, a First Nations group known for their excellent seamanship. More than 500 ancient Haida sites have been uncovered, including iconic SGang Gwaay where eerie cedar mortuary poles stand guard over the sea.
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Queen Charlotte, BC, Canada, +1 250-559-8818
Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador
Cape Spear is Canada’s easternmost point, its sheer cliffs overlooking the expansive Atlantic Ocean. In addition to stunning sunrises, the cape is an excellent place to spot seabirds, whales, and even icebergs. The site is also home to the oldest lighthouse in the province, which was constructed in 1836. A graceful neoclassical cube with a domed light tower in the center, the lighthouse’s restored interior demonstrates the conditions in which a typical light-keeper and his family would have lived in the mid-19th century.
Spread across the west side of the Yukon River, Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon and the starting point for many explorations of Canada’s remote north. The town initially flourished during the 1890s, as a layover point for prospectors heading north during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. Although parts of modern Whitehorse are uninspiring, the walkway along the Yukon River is lined with historic Gold Rush buildings painted in bright colors. The same area is home to an unusual building consisting of log cabins stacked on top of each other, once used for engineers building the Alaska Highway.
Gimli is a charming lakeside town, known for its popular Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, which takes place every summer. The town was settled as ‘New Iceland’ in the 1875, and continues to show off its unique Nordic heritage to this day. A much-loved destination in the summer for residents of Canada’s prairie provinces, the town is home to sandy beaches and a pretty waterfront with a mural-decorated seawall. During the winter, the town is an excellent base for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice-fishing.
Lake Louise, Alberta
With turquoise waters framed by perfectly-weathered mountains and the stunning Victoria Glacier, Lake Louise is a truly remarkable site. The hotel found adjacent to lake is almost as famous as its namesake. Part of famous Canadian Pacific Railway hotels, the Chateau Lake Louise, like the Banff Springs and Chateau Frontenac, is modeled after French and Scottish castles. In the winter, the Lake Louise Mountain Resort is Canada’s largest ski area, while in the summer the mountains behind the lake offer some of the region’s most rewarding hiking trails.