If you’re anything like us, the perfect long weekend includes plenty of sun and plenty of waves. You don’t have to head down to California or Hawaii to make it happen – just go surfing in Tofino! It’s one of the best reasons to visit Vancouver Island, in our opinion – well worth the ferry trip. Even if surfing isn’t your thing, there’s lots to do around Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park. Why not try whale watching, or a fishing charter? Go kayaking or even take a bear watching tour! Not able to head out to the west of the West Coast? There’s over 1,000 provincial parks in BC – just pick the one you want, and hit the road!
There’s nothing quite like a trip to Jasper or Banff National Parks, but those might be old hat to you if you’ve been to Alberta enough times. So, instead, why not try out hiking the extensive trails and foothills of Canmore-Kananaskis? One of our favourites is the West Wind Pass, a short (2.1 km one-way) moderate hike around the Spray Lakes area. You’ll get a beautiful view of the valley below, and basically any photo you take from the summit will be Insta-worthy. If this trail is closed, or you’re looking for an easier trek, check out the Bow River Loop in Canmore proper. Always check the trail reports before you start hiking!
When you think of Saskatchewan, likely what springs to mind is farmlands, fields, and flatness. You wouldn’t be wrong, per se, but you’re definitely missing out if that’s all you see in Saskatchewan. Are you up for trail riding? Well, grab your horse. More about fishing? The reel is waiting. Amateur ornithologist? You’ll be happy to know Saskatchewan is home to the oldest bird sanctuary in North America! Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, Saskatoon has its own cultural festivals (like the Jazz Festival or even Saskatoon Fringe) to get the big city feel in a (relatively) small prairie town.
Lakes, lakes, lakes. There are about 10,000 of them in Manitoba. So, if you’ve got a craving to swim but can’t get to an ocean – Manitoba is a great pick. If you’re looking for a white-water adventure, Berens River is one of the best places to start. If you’re looking for the quirky, Manitoba has a strip of land (aptly named The Narrows) surrounded by marsh and water, pinching Lake Manitoba like an hourglass in its middle. There’s not a lot to do (aside from a few campgrounds) but there’s abundant wildlife and a lot of history to the area, which makes it a definite must-see of the province. In fact, Manitoba gets its name from the echoes of the water on the limestone shore, which Cree and Ojibwe peoples associated with the voice of the “Great Spirit”, naming it Manitowapow (in Cree) or Manito-bau (in Ojibwe).
Ontario is practically built for the long-weekend getaway, with four of the five Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, and 250,000 inland lakes and rivers within its borders. So it should come as no surprise that a beach visit tops the list of things to do on a long weekend (weather permitting, of course). The Great Lakes are often cold (although Erie tends to be the warmest), but the Kawarthas and Grand River areas are great for a weekend getaway. You also can’t forget about Wasaga, the longest freshwater beach in the world! There’s no shortage of parks and campgrounds, and small-town Ontario is dotted with interesting, unique features (did you know that Uxbridge, Ontario is the Trail Capital of Canada?).
One of our favourite things about Quebec? It’s a short train ride (or an even quicker Porter flight!) to Montreal from most major cities in Ontario, making it just the right balance between a planned-out vacation and a spontaneous trip. Quebec is a beautiful place, no matter what city or town you visit. The St Lawrence River is visible from many locations, and the prominent Laurentian Mountains provide a backdrop to almost make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. The lifestyle and culture takes a very European approach (what else would you expect?) and the joy of just sitting in a cafe, people-watching, is not lost here.
Bet you didn’t know that New Brunswick holds one of the coolest natural optical illusions we’ve ever seen. Magnetic Hill is a bizarre stretch of road where it can appear that cars are actually defying gravity and rolling uphill! It’s hard to believe until you see it (and admittedly, a little gimmicky), but an amusing thing to check off your list in the Maritimes. New Brunswick might be best described as the road trip province – one of our favourite ways to experience it is to travel along the coast towards Maine and see the Bay of Fundy from all different angles, stopping in at the small towns along the way, and definitely check out the dozens of hikes in the Saint John River Valley.
Prince Edward Island
In PEI, the terrain is gentle, the waters are pleasant, and the beaches are plentiful. It’s a great place for hiking and cycling, or even grabbing a good book and spending your afternoon on one of the many, many beaches. There are loads of secluded hideaways off the roads which lead to the shore, so be sure to keep an eye out to discover something new. PEI is also a great place to discover your inner sailor, with sailing opportunities at many ports. Have you ever tried parasailing? You bet you can in PEI. Head to Stanley Bridge and let your inner flyer soar!
Classically, you’d traverse Nova Scotia on the Cabot Trail, but we think there’s a different way you might want to see this province. Meet Canada’s first winery, craft brewery and distillery trail – the Good Cheer Trail! On this adventure, you’ll be able to sample local wine, beer and spirits from the people who create them, and learn how to pair them perfectly with the meals you eat. Taste the latest vintage, meet an award-winning brewmaster and sample a single malt whisky from the barrel. To top it off, the trail is beautiful. You’ll travel from Yarmouth to Cape Breton and view breathtaking landscapes, beaches and heritage sites along the way. Just make sure you’ve got a designated driver!
Newfoundland & Labrador
If you love the sea, you’re home in Newfoundland! We could tell you to go take a trip down George St, but if you’re looking for something to do in Newfoundland that isn’t the usual Friday night fare, why not take a road trip over to L’Anse aux Meadows? It’s one of just 17 World Heritage Sites in Canada (and one of three in Newfoundland!), as North America’s oldest Viking Colony. While you’re up there, make a trip to Gros Morne National Park and go for a hike or a kayak. If you’re not up for heading west, head north to Fogo Island and check out the local arts & crafts culture. Failing that, travelling around the Avalon Peninsula can make for great day trips from St John’s, with Heart’s Content being one of our personal favourites (you might say… our hearts are content, when we are there!).
Written by Deanna Gregorio, Brand Specialist at travelcuts.