Vacay.ca’s 20 Best Places to Visit in Canada in 2016
With so much taking place across Canada this year, it’s no wonder Vacay.ca has declared 2016 the year of the road trip. While they’ve rounded up the best Canadian trips and adventures for an “intimate discovery of the nation,” we’ve gone the extra mile. Our Travelzoo Deal Experts have found travel deals that save you money so you can get to as many of these destinations as possible.
1. Sea-to-Sky Country, BC
Cruise the 120 kilometres of the Sea-to-Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler in celebration of the ski town’s 50th anniversary. Stop along the way for majestic gondola views in Squamish or hiking in Pemberton before hitting up the parties and festivals taking place all year long in Whistler.
2. Cabot Trail, NS
World-class golfing, amazing seafood and breathtaking views of Cape Breton await. Spend a week winding through the 200 kilometres of eastern coastline, through national parks and alongside sandy beaches. Fall is a great time to go as the foliage is on a whole other level in the Highlands.
3. Tofino, BC
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Construction along the Pacific Rim Highway is almost finished and all roads lead to Tofino. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the landmark Wickaninish Inn, go surfing and eat some fish tacos from a food truck – a must in Tofino, whose food scene is on the rise.
4. Ivvavik National Park, YT
Exploring the magnificent Canadian Arctic is made easier by the Park’s Canada Basecamp program that includes fly-in access to the natural beauty of the North.
5. Toronto, ON
Although the NBA All-Star Weekend is over, Toronto will still play host to two major sporting events this year and they are worth a pilgrimage to this culture capital. The World cup of Hockey hits the ice Sept. 17 – Oct. 1 and the 104th Grey Cup is set for November 27.
6. Irish Loop, NL
Weave through the Irish Loop’s 312 kilometres of jagged coastline; experience the warmth and hospitality of local communities as you drive past archaeological sites and Amelia Earhart’s infamous take-off site. In Newfoundland there’s always a place to stop for a cup of tea and a chat.
7. Calgary, AB
The mountain views alone are worth the drive to Calgary, but the city is also playing host to the Juno Awards this year, with festivities set to take place at the Saddledome on April 3. Studio Bell, home to the National Music Centre, is always a draw and the Stampede (July 8-17) is a good excuse to strap on some cowboy boots and head to Calgary.
8. Gjoa Haven, NU
While the HMS Erebus isn’t open to the public when archaeological studies are being conducted, visitors can explore the Franklin Voyage Exhibition at the Nattilik Heritage Centre.
9. Montreal, QC
This culture capital is always on the Canadian to-do list, with the plethora of great restaurants and the Montreal International Jazz Festival. This year is no exception as Canada’s own Celine Dion takes over the Centre Bell from July 31 to August 17.
10. Canmore/Banff, AB
Outdoor activities take precedence at the gateway to the Rockies. The Canmore Winter Carnival runs until March 13, hosting World Cup events in skiing and Biathlon, the Banff Marathon is June 19 and there are always breathtaking views of the mountains.
11. Halifax, NS
Anniversaries abound in this cultural coastal city in 2016: both the TD Halifax Jazz Festival (July 13-17) and the Halifax International Busker Festival (July 27 – Aug. 1) celebrate their 30th birthdays, and with a vibrant food and music scene, you are in for a good time no matter when you head here.
12. Dempster Highway, YT
The new section of this Arctic highway will be completed this year connecting Inuvik with the coastal town of Tuktoyaktuk. This new stretch will make for a beguiling drive with a chance to spot northern lights and tundra wildlife. Hardcore hikers can trek through Tombstone Park.
13. Saguenay, QC
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Renowned natural beauty combined with a myriad of festivals are drawing people to the Saguenay region in Quebec. The Snowball Festival runs until February 27th. The area also has plenty of biking and hiking trails.
14. Ottawa, ON
The nation’s capital beckons in spring and summer with the annual Canadian Tulip Festival (May 12-23) and the RBC Bluesfest (July 7-17). The international One Young World conference will bring over 1500 young people from 200 countries to Ottawa, ensuring it will be anything but a sleepy government town this year.
15. Okanagan Valley, BC
The Hopscotch Festival in Kelowna (Sept. 23-24) is just one more reason to hike, drink and be merry in the Okanagan Valley. With the warmest Canadian temperatures all year-round and world-class skiing and hiking, it’s always a good time to visit.
16. Quebec City, QC
This summer, the Rolling Stones headline the Quebec City Summer Festival (July 7-17) along with the Foo Fighters, Keith Urban and Megadeth. It is just another reason to head to this culture-rich city this year.
17. Fogo & Change Islands, NL
Balancing on stilts on the craggy coastline, the Fogo Island Inn is worth a look even if you can’t afford the world-class luxury and Newfoundland hospitality. Take your car to the island on the short ferry ride from the tiny town of Farewell and watch the 300-year-old Great Punt Race to There and Back.
18. Saskatoon, SK
The Saskatchewan Jazz Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this summer (June 24 – July 3) and the up-and-coming food scene is abuzz with the opening of Little Grouse on the Prairie. This is the newest venture by the talents of those who put Ayden Kitchen & Bar on the Canadian culinary map.
19. St. Andrews By-the-Sea, NB
The Relais & Chateaux property, the Kingsbrae Arms, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and the Algonquin Resort has undergone a $30 million renovation, giving you lots of opportunity to luxuriate on a road trip to Fundy National Park.
20. Muskoka, ON
Iconic concert hall Kee to Bala celebrates its 75th anniversary this summer, making it even more of a definitive road trip spot among the dozens of farmers markets and festivals to enjoy in Muskoka.