Canada is an adventurous place to explore, thanks to its incredible and diverse landscape from coast to coast. From skydiving to snowboarding to rafting the world’s highest tides, there’s an adventure waiting around every corner. Here are some of the best things and activities you need to do in the Great White North in your twenties.
Learn to surf in Tofino
When you think of Canada, you don’t automatically think about surfing. But Tofino, located on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast, is the nation’s surfing capital. For adventurous 20-somethings, it’s the best place to learn to surf in Canada. It’s home to 35 kilometers (22 miles) of surfable coastline, including Long Beach, Chesterman Beach, and Cox Bay. The water is also consistently 10°C (50°F) year-round, which means wetsuits are mandatory. Pacific Surf School is Tofino’s number one surf school.
Take a road trip through the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies is a place everyone must visit in their twenties. The best way to see all the sights is to start in Jasper and take a road trip down the Icefields Parkway to Banff National Park. Known as one of the world’s most scenic highways, prepare to constantly stop and marvel at the turquoise lakes, glaciers, and waterfalls. For the younger crowd, there are plenty of hikes and inexpensive campsites to enjoy in the summer, and Banff does have nightlife options.
The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is known as Canada’s Coachella, which is another festival everyone should visit in their twenties. Held every summer in Montreal, Osheaga is a six-staged indie music festival that draws some of the biggest names in music. Previous headliners have included Lorde, Muse, The Weeknd, Eminem, The Killers, Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay, and Arcade Fire. It’ll be an unforgettable weekend in one of Canada’s most beautiful cities.
It’s a Canadian rite of passage to dress up in your best Western gear and head to the Calgary Stampede. Called “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” the Stampede takes over Calgary every July. There are concerts, exhibitions, rodeo events, agricultural competitions, parades, and carnival rides and games to celebrate Western culture and community spirit. It’s the best time to visit the city, as over one million people visit annually.
Winter weekend in Ottawa
A winter weekend in Ottawa is a must-do in Canada. Firstly, head to Gatineau Park to snowshoe and cross-country ski, as it has over 200 kilometers (124 miles) of cross-country ski trails alone. Then warm up in one of the city’s impressive museums. Next, it’s time to ice skate along the 7.8-kilometer (4.8-mile) Rideau Canal Skateway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Finally, plan your trip to coincide with Winterlude, one of Canada’s biggest winter festivals.
Summer in Vancouver
You can’t go through your twenties and not experience a summer in Vancouver. The city is buzzing with people and events. Some of the best things to do during summer in the city include visiting one of its beaches, going for a hike, having a picnic in Stanley or Queen Elizabeth Parks, and cooling down at one of the city’s best breweries. The best summer festivals in Vancouver include Celebration of Lights and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
Party on George Street in St. John’s
George Street in St. John’s has the most bars and pubs per capita of any street in North America, so it’s only right to enjoy a night on the town here in your twenties. The two-block-long street is only open to pedestrians in the evening and includes award-winning pubs, bars, and 24-hour restaurants. The best time to visit is during the George Street Festival, which occurs annually in early August. “Over 50,000 people party on the ‘biggest little street in North America’ for [seven] straight days.”
Whistler ski trip
Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America. It is home to over 8,100 acres of skiable terrain, three glaciers, more than 200 marked trails, five terrain parks, and 16 alpine bowls. Over two million people visit the ski resort annually, which has a long season from November to May. Whistler is a great place for a ski trip, as the village is brimming with excellent après-ski spots, and there are many other things to do off the mountain.
See polar bears in Churchill
Heading to the world’s polar bear capital isn’t a cheap trip, so it’s best to save and take this once-in-a-lifetime adventure in your twenties. Churchill sits on Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba. Every October to November, between 600 and 1,000 polar bears make their way to their winter home in Hudson Bay. There are many tour companies operating out of Churchill that feature tundra vehicles so that you can safely get up close to polar bears in their natural habitat.
Shubenacadie River tidal bore rafting
You may have heard of the renowned Bay of Fundy, as it has the world’s highest tides. Every six hours, 100 billion tonnes of seawater pours into, and out of, the Bay of Fundy. The tidal bore makes roller coaster-type rapids, which is what you will be rafting on in the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia. It’s definitely one of the world’s more unique rafting experiences. Mud sliding along the banks of the river is also a must. There are many tidal bore rafting tour options available too.
See the Northern Lights in Yellowknife
Yellowknife is the best place in the world to see the Northern Lights, which is visible up to 240 days of the year. The Northwest Territories capital is known for its long and clear nights in winter, which makes for perfect aurora viewing. The best time to see them is mid-November to April, but they can make appearances in late summer to early autumn. Aurora Village in Yellowknife has great hotel and tour packages available.
Great Canadian Bungee
The Great Canadian Bungee isn’t just any normal bungee jump—it’s Canada highest. It sits just outside Gatineau Park, and about 30 minutes north of Ottawa. Participants jump off “The Rock” at Morrison’s Quarry, which is a 61-meter (200-foot) bungee jump. On-site, there’s also a 309-meter (1,015-foot) cable slide called the RIPRIDE zipline. If that isn’t enough adventure, there’s also the option to do a rafting and bungee bundle package too.
Great Canadian Bungee, 1780 Route 105, Chelsea, QC, Canada, +1 819 459 3714
Take a road trip along the Cabot Trail in the fall
The Cabot Trail is one of the world’s most scenic destinations. The highway stretches for 300 kilometers (186 miles) around Cape Breton Island, which Travel + Leisure Magazine recently named the best island in continental North America. The best time to visit is definitely when the leaves begin to change in the fall. October is also when the Celtic Colours International Festival happens. Be prepared for astounding coastal views, cute towns brimming with artisan stores and warm Acadian hospitality, and adventures galore.
Attend the Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival (known colloquially as TIFF) is one of the world’s biggest public film festivals. An estimated 480,000 people attended the festival in 2016, which happens annually in September. That same year, 397 films were screened in downtown Toronto. Purchase your tickets early, and mingle with your favorite movie stars at TIFF. It’s a prestigious place to be.
A romantic weekend in Quebec
Quebec’s two main cities—Montreal and Quebec City—ooze romance, particularly when they become picture-perfect white winter wonderlands. Spend a weekend in one of these cities (or both) with your loved one. Stroll around Old Montreal or Old Town Quebec, and admire the European-style architecture. Feast on delicious French and French-Canadian delicacies, such as croissants, poutine, and tourtière. Make your weekend even more memorable by staying at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, one of the world’s most photographed hotels.
Skydive over Vancouver Island
One of the best things to do in your twenties, no matter the country, is skydiving for the first time. There are many places across the country to take the leap, but Vancouver Island undoubtedly has the best views. Across the island, there are a few different skydive options. Capital City Skydiving is based out of Victoria. Pacific Airsports in Campbell River has been operating for over 39 years, and Skydive Vancouver Island is in Qualicum Beach.
Winery weekend in the Okanagan
The Okanagan Valley is British Columbia’s premier winemaking region. In Kelowna alone, there are over 40 wineries within a 20-minute drive. There’s the option to drive between wineries or go on a guided winery tour. Some of the top award-winning vineyards include Summerhill Pyramid Winery, 50th Parallel Estate Winery, Mission Hill Winery, Arrowleaf Cellars, Painted Rock Estate Winery, and Tantalus Vineyards.