How to Do the Southern Caribbean with Kids

How to Do the Southern Caribbean with Kids

By Real Food By Dad

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Tags: #Family

Wet winters and bright days don’t always go hand-in-hand, that is, unless you decide to go on a South Caribbean adventure—which Naomi and I did a few weeks ago. We packed up the boys and headed for Aruba, Bonaire, La Romana and Grand Turk by way of Carnival Cruise on their newest ship, Carnival Vista.

If you’ve been on a cruise or are researching one, then you know not all cruises are created equal, especially when it comes to kids and cruising. Carnival’s Vista finds the sweet spot between being kid-friendly while keeping all the adult appeal of cruising.

My boys especially loved the Twister Waterslide and everything else at WaterWorks, Carnival’s onboard waterpark. I loved that they even offered life vests for our toddler, but by the pictures you can see my toddler wanted nothing to do with them.

We would have done the water park every day, but on windy days the slide is closed. On those days, head for what you see below:

Billiard soccer. A game my boys are still trying to convince me that I need to build for them.

Miniature golf, a first for Connor and an exercise in patience for Cole as he waited for his little brother to actually connect the club with the ball at each hole.

What’s a game park without foosball? Naturally, Naomi and Cole high-fived their victory while I was trying to justify my loss as a direct result of having to hold the little man.

And of course, like any proper cruiser, I had to teach my boys the art of playing shuffle board.

From outside to inside, the ship is filled with things to do. But you’ll need to tune into the second installment of this series to see the indoor activities and the excursions at port. Until then, jump to Naomi’s site for tips on how to enjoy the best eats while on board.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.

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Use these budget travel tips when you visit Canada.

How to Save Money when You Visit Canada

Plenty of ways to save on your visit to Canada

By Jane McLean

Updated 09/19/15

Canada’s $100 bill features former prime minister Robert Borden. Alex Slobodkin / Getty Images

Even with careful planning, travel costs can easily get out of hand: foreign taxes, splurges, unfavourable conversion rates and other unforeseen costs can gobble up your budget. Though Canada is among the most competitive countries in terms of travel affordability (World Economic Forum, 2015), we have comprised a list of ways to save money without sacrificing the quality of your trip. 

Know Where You’re Going? Check Out City-Specific Savings

1. ​Consider Flying into an Alternative Airport

Many of Canada’s most popular cities are within a reasonable drive from the U.S. border. For example, Seattle is a two-hour drive away from Vancouver and the Buffalo International Airport is slightly closer than that to Toronto. Compare fares for flights into these U.S. airports; not only may airfares be cheaper, but you may also find savings in parking, car rentals,hotels and other amenities that are outside of the big city.Also consider flying in to smaller towns outside of big cities. For example, travel bargains may exist flying into Hamilton Airport – 45 min from Toronto – that aren’t available to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

2. Travel Off Season

Canada’s travel seasons are comparable to those in the U.S. – summer is high season as is Christmastime and school break (which varies by province).

U.S. Thanksgiving in November presents a good chance for travel savings in Canada, as Canada’s Thanksgiving is in October and November in Canada is a traditionally slow travel time. Other good times for savings include ski package deals In January and spring skiing in April.

3. Make Big Cities Your Day Trip and Stay in Smaller Towns

One of the benefits of cities in Canada is that they are all within easy reach of charming smaller towns, bodies of water, and inviting countryside.

Consider staying in a more affordable neighbouring town outside of a big city instead of paying top dollar for hotels, restaurants, parking, etc.

4. Make Lunch Your Splurge Meal

Dining out is a particularly egregious budget slayer in Canada. Though not especially expensive to travel overall, Canada has pricey restaurant food and alcohol because of high government taxes. Nevertheless, lunchtime presents a good opportunity to dine out at a discount 

5. Consider Renting Your Accommodation 

Hotels are major budget hogs but who wants to skimp on this aspect of travel costs if it means staying in a sketchy hotel. 

Luckily for budget-savvy travellers, there is an increasing proliferation of vacation rental sites, like HomeAway, FlipKey and peer to peer marketplaces,” such as Airbnb or HouseTrip.  By renting someone’s home, you may end up saving big, getting spared such expenses as parking, tipping, dining out, and WiFi.

6. Book Weekends at Hotels Catering to Business Travellers

Hotels that cater to business travellers and those that are near airports are often busier Monday to Thursday and actually reduce their rates on the weekends to be more attractive to leisure travellers. Consider booking these for weekend stays.

In addition, some airport hotels may put you in a prime location to visit a variety of local destinations at a cheaper rate, and possibly with free parking. For example, staying at a Toronto airport hotel, situates you in between downtown Toronto (about 20 minutes away) and Niagara Falls (about an hour away in the opposite direction).

7. Take Advantage of Coupon Sites

When you’re planning your planning your holiday, you probably search around for the best deals on airfare or train tickets using online tools like Expedia, RedTag or Trivago, but we tend to just start doling out cash once we’ve reached our destination like we don’t have a choice. But online coupons offer a world of savings to travelers.

Popular sites, like Groupon, WagJag, and RedFlagDeals offer savings in a variety of categories, like attraction passes, dining, transportation, hotels, tours, spa packages and more.

Most of Canada’s larger cities have discounted attractions passes that give you line-skipping access to major attractions for one low price either through a provider like CityPass or the local tourism office. 

Your Guide to Canadian Provinces and Territories

Canadian Provinces

Learn about This Country’s Provinces and Territories

By Jane McLean

Updated 10/19/17

There are 10 Canadian provinces, with three territories to the north.  The provinces are, in alphabetical order: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.

The difference between a province and a territory has to do with their governance. Basically, the territories have delegated powers under the authority of the Parliament of Canada; they are grouped together and ruled by the federal government. The provinces, on the other hand, exercise constitutional powers in their own right. This imbalance of power is gradually being rectified, with local decision-making powers being granted to the territories. 

Each province and territory has its own unique draw for visitors and tourism organizations to facilitate your trip. All have plenty of outdoor adventure by way of camping, hiking trails, lakes, and other natural…MORE phenomena. Here are the 10 provinces in Canada, listed from west to east, followed by the territories.

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    British Columbia

    British Columbia is the country’s most western province. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, B.C., as it is more commonly known, has some of the most temperate locations in the country, coastal islands, and a mountainous interior. B.C.’s diverse geography draws adventure seekers including skiers, kayakers, and mountain bikers from around the world. 

    The major cities and towns are Victoria (provincial capital), Vancouver, Whistler, and Kelowna, and B.C. is best known for the Okanagan wine region, skiing, fishing, whale watching, golf, and other outdoor adventures.

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    Alberta

    Alberta is one of Canada’s three prairie provinces. It shares the Canadian Rocky Mountain range with its western B.C. neighbor and is therefore famous as a ski and hiking destination. Alberta is the primary supply and service hub for Canada’s crude oil industry, Athabasca oil sands, and other northern resource industries. 

    Alberta is famous for hosting the Calgary Stampede, which showcases the province’s distinct cowboy culture, and is also known for the Edmonton Folk Festival, the Edmonton Mall, the Rocky Mountains, and the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Its major cities are Edmonton (provincial capital), Calgary, Banff, and Jasper.​

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    Saskatchewan

    Saskatchewan is the middle prairie province, landlocked between the other two, Alberta and Manitoba. The majority of Saskatchewan’s population live in the southern half of the province, especially in Saskatoon and Regina. The province’s major industry is agriculture, followed by mining, oil, and natural gas production. 

    The major cities are Regina (provincial capital), Saskatoon, and Prince Albert, and Saskatchewan is best known for fishing, hunting, and other outdoor adventures. ​

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    Manitoba

    Manitoba is the most easterly prairie province and longitudinal center of Canada. Like Saskatchewan, a majority of the population lives in the southern region. Manitoba’s north comprises Canadian Shield rock and arctic tundra and is largely uninhabited. For more than 6,000 years, the province has been home to Aboriginal and Métis people, who continue to exert a great cultural influence. The major cities are Winnipeg (provincial capital) and Churchill. Manitoba is best known for being the polar bear capital of the world ​and for its two festivals Le Festival du Voyageur (large winter festival) and Folklorama (food and cultural festival).

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.

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    Ontario

    Ontario is Canada’s most populous province by a long shot comprising 40 percent of the country’s total population. It is also home to the federal capital of Ottawa and the unofficial financial capital of Toronto. The majority of Ontario residents live in the southern part of the province near Toronto, along with Ottawa, Niagara Falls, and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

    Ontario is best known for Algonquin Park, the CN Tower, Niagara wine region, Bruce Trail, and the many forests and lakes.

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    Quebec

    Quebec is the second most populous Canadian province and known primarily for its French-speaking population, culture, and heritage. It is the country’s largest province by land area. Most residents live along and near the St. Lawrence River, especially in and between Montreal and Quebec City, the two major cities. Attractions for residents and visitors are ​Old Montreal and the Plains of Abraham (a historic area), as well as excellent skiing resorts. 

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    New Brunswick

    New Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime provinces, which form a tiny water-bound cluster on the east coast, just below Quebec and bordering the state of Maine in the U.S. The major cities are Fredericton (provincial capital), Moncton, and St. John. New Brunswick’s appeal is due to the Bay of Fundy, Appalachian Range, scenic coastline, and numerous lighthouses.

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    Nova Scotia

    Although the second smallest province, Nova Scotia is the second most densely populated in the country. It is one of the three Maritime provinces and part of what forms Atlantic Canada. The major cities are Halifax (provincial capital), Sydney, Wolfville, and Peggy’s Cove. People come to Nova Scotia for the Cabot Trail and other scenic drives, its Celtic culture, the Fortress of Louisbourg, fresh lobster dinners, the vast coastline, and Annapolis Valley, located ​in the western part of the peninsula.

    Continue to 9 of 13 below.

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    Prince Edward Island

    The last of the three Maritime provinces, Prince Edward Island is actually made up of several islands (232 to be exact), the largest having the same name. It is the smallest province in Canada, measured by both land size and population. Its major city is Charlottetown (provincial capital), and P.E.I. (as it is referred to) is best known for the novel Anne of Green Gables, which takes place there, as well as the delicious mussels found in the surrounding waters.

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    Newfoundland and Labrador

    The most easterly province in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador sits on the Atlantic and is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland Labrador (hence the name).  Over 90 percent of the population lives on Newfoundland and the surrounding islands. Its major city is St. John’s (provincial capital), and the province is best known for the friendliness of the residents, Gros Morne National Park, its icebergs, and whale watching.

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    Yukon

    The smallest of the three territories, Yukon (also known as “the Yukon”) is the most westerly territory, bordering Alaska. People visit the Yukon to see the Northern lights, the historic Klondike Gold Rush locations, Mount Logan (highest mountain in Canada) in Kluane National Park, the midnight sun (when the sun is visible at midnight), and try dog sledding. The capital is Whitehorse, which is in the southern part of the territory and Yukon’s only city. The portion on the Arctic coast has a tundra climate.

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    Northwest Territories

    Northwest Territories is the most populous of the three and borders the other two territories in—as you would expect—the northwest part of the country. The capital is Yellowknife, and this territory is best known for the Northern lights, the midnight sun, the Nahanni River, and outdoor adventure.

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.

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    Nunavut

    Nunavut is the largest and most northern territory of Canada. It is the newest territory as well, having been separated from Northwest Territories in 1999. One of the world’s most remote locations, it has the second smallest population in Canada. The capital is Iqaluit and adventurers travel here to watch the narwhals, see the polar bears, and explore this unchartered territory.

Oh Canada, How Do You Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas Traditions and Customs in Canada

By Jane McLean

Updated 07/13/17

Christmas in Canada is celebrated in much the same way as it is in other Western countries. December 25th is the official holiday, with many people also taking time off on the afternoon of the 24th – Christmas Eve Day / Christmas Eve and Boxing Day on the 26th.

Of course, Canada is a multicultural country, so many other holiday traditions aside from Christian ones are observed in December and throughout the year. Hanukkah celebrations are widespread in December across, especially in Toronto and Montreal where there are large Jewish populations. 

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    How is Christmas in Canada Celebrated?

    ••• Ottawa at Christmas. Photo courtesy Howard Sandler 1975-2006. All rights reserved.

    Christmas in Canada, on December 25, is when friends and family hunker down at home to eat and open presents.Pretty much everything in the way of retail and services is closed on this day, except for the occasional convenience store. If you’re looking for a bar or restaurant, a hotel is a good bet.December 24th, Christmas Eve, is the last chance to get Christmas shopping done, with most stores staying open until 5 or 6 pm and lots of people packing in work for the day at noon or shortly thereafter.On December 26th, Canadians shake off their tryptophan and egg nog induced sluggishness and hit the malls for Boxing Day, the biggest shopping day of the year, where stores slash prices in an effort to unload inventory.

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    Travel Around Christmas

    ••• Plane on runway in winter. Adrian Studer / Getty Images

    The week in between Christmas and New Year’s is a popular time to travel. Lots of people head for southern climates or across the country for a holiday visit. If you’re looking for a travel bargain, consider flying on Christmas day, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Flight fares peak the weekend before and the days after December 25th, and again on January 2nd.Public transportation in Canada over the Christmas holidays will most likely be operating on a reduced schedule on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.

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    Santa Claus Parades

    ••• Toronto Santa Claus Parade with CN Tower in background – (c) Scott Rogers. (c) Scott Rogers (http://www.srpics.com/)

    Most major cities hold a Santa Claus Parade in November, with some spilling over into December. For bigger cities, like Vancouver and Toronto, if you’re not up to facing the thousands of spectators that turn out for those parades, or if you just can’t make the date, consider some of the smaller local parades that also take place during the holiday season.

    Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade in fact holds the record as the longest standing children’s parade and has marched the jolly man across town for more than a century.

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    Light Festivals in Canada

    ••• Photo courtesy Niagara Falls Tourism

    Christmas sees many cities aglow with a light festival:

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.

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    Weather & Event Guide

    ••• Winter in Montreal is cold and snowy. Photo of Montreal in Winter © Tourisme Montréal

    Be sure to be prepared for cold weather if visiting Canada over Christmas; however, the climate does vary from west to east coast, with Vancouver and British Columbia as a whole much milder and wetter.

    Weather in popular southern Ontario and Quebec destinations, such as Toronto and Montreal is much harsher and snowfall can be dramatic. Be sure to educate yourself on how to dress and precautions to take, such as when driving in Canadian winter conditions. Christmas traditions are similar right across the country, but be sure to be up-to-date on city-specific light festivals, Santa Claus sightings and Boxing Day sales.

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    Vancouver

    ••• The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver gets lit up for the Christmas holidays. Photo courtesy Tourism Vancouver

    The weather stays relatively mild in Vancouver through the holiday season, but the city stays festive with the Rogers Santa Claus Parade and you’re always an hour away from deep snow.See a complete guide to Vancouver Christmas & Holiday Season.

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    Toronto

    Although cold, Toronto at Christmas is bustling and festive. Light shows, the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, the Bay Christmas Windows are just some of the holiday activities in Toronto.

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    Ottawa

    ••• The Peace Tower, part of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, is lit up at Christmas. © Howard Sandler 1975-2006. All rights reserved.

    As Canada’s national capital, Ottawa does any holiday up in a big way and Christmas is no exception. Light shows, parades and other festive activities go on throughout the season, but dress warmly!

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.

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    Montreal

    ••• Photo © Tourisme Montréal, Daniel Choinière

    Montreal is another Canadian city that is darn cold but still charming over the holidays – especially in Old Montreal, with its historic buildings and cobblestone roads.

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    Quebec City

    ••• Photograph: Perry Mastrovito / Getty Images

    The scene in Old Quebec City over the holidays is storybook perfect: snow-capped 17th-century buildings, cobblestone streets, Christmas lights. Many concerts and special events are staged to celebrate the season, including many that highlight the city’s long history.

Santa Claus Parades in Canada

Santa Claus Parades in Canada

By Jane McLean

Updated 02/05/16

Photo courtesy Rogers Santa Claus Parade

Rogers Santa Claus Parade, Vancouver, British Columbia:

  • When: Late November/Early December
  • Overview: Sixty floats, musical groups and community organizations take place. People are encouraged to bring toys and food to be distributed to families in need.
  • Route: Georgia and Howe Streets.
  • Rogers Vancouver Santa Claus Parade Visitors Guide

Greater Saint John’s Santa Claus Parade

  • Date & Time: Mid-November

Santa Claus Parade, Calgary, Alberta:

Calgary has not had a Santa Claus parade for several years now.

Help Santa Toy Parade, Ottawa, Ontario:

  • Date & Time: November
  • Overview: Every year, the Fire Fighters’ Asociation has been organizing the event and collecting new toys and cash along the parade route for distribution to the less fortunate children in the area.
  • Route: The parade will start at the National Archives, head East on Wellington, turn right on Bank St., turn East on Laurier Ave to Elgin. Participants will then be invited to attend the Toy Parade reception in the Jean Pigott Hall at City Hall.
  • Help Santa Toy Parade website

Santa Claus Parade, Niagara Falls, Ontario:

  • Date & Time: Saturday, November 16, 2013 , at 11 am
  • Route: Starts at Victoria Ave. and Armoury St., travels north on Victoria, east on Valley Way, east on Queen St. ending at City Hall.
  • Overview: Pre-parade party starts at 10:40 am. Face painting, meet and greet with Santa and free Tim Hortons hot chocolate and Tim Bits. Tourism Niagara Events Calendar

Santa Claus Parade, Toronto, Ontario:

  • Overview: Since 1905, the Toronto Santa Claus parade has made its way through the streets of downtown Toronto. Today, Toronto’s Santa Claus parade is the longest running children’s parade and one of the overall largest parades in the world.
  • Route: Starts at Christie Pits (Bloor & Christie), moves along Bloor, south on Avenue around Queen’s Park, down University, east on Wellington and ends at Front & Jarvis in front of St. Lawrence Market.
  • See map

Montreal Santa Claus Parade, Montreal, Quebec:

  • Date & Time: Saturday, November 23, 2013, at 11 am
  • Overview: Features 15 floats and other entertainment.
  • Route: St-Catherine between Fort and Saint-Urbain.
  • Montreal Santa Claus Parade is presented by Destination Centre Ville, downtown Montreal’s official website.

Santa’s Annual Parade, Regina:

  • Date & Time: Saturday Nov. 16, 2011, 1:00 pm
  • Route: Santa travels south on Albert St from 25th Ave to the Southland Mall
  • More Info: Southland Shopping Centre

Annual Chronicle Herald Holiday Parade of Lights, Halifax:

  • Date & Time: Saturday, November 16, 2013, 6:00 pm
  • Route: The parade begins on Upper Water Street at Cornwallis Street, continues onto Barrington Street, turns right onto Spring Garden Road, left on South Park, right onto University Avenue.

Kinsmen Santa Claus Parade, Fredericton, New Brunswick:

  • Date & Time: Saturday, November 30, 2011, 5 pm
  • Overview: A lighted Christmas parade.
  • Route:The parade route alternates between the north and south sides of the river.
  • Call 506-453-0296 for more details.

Saint John Santa Claus Parade, St John, New Brunswick

10 Exciting Festivals Worth the Trip to Canada

The Best Festivals in Canada

By Jane McLean

Updated 07/23/17

Canada is diverse and vast, and the festivals that we celebrate reflect this. From a cowboy hoe-down to sophisticated cultural events, Canadian festivals and events attract visitors worldwide.

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    Vancouver Celebration of Light, Vancouver

    ••• Celebration of Light Fireworks, Vancouver. Tourism Vancouver/ Clayton Perry

    The largest fireworks competition in the world is held over several nights every summer in Vancouver. More than just a pyrotechnical extravaganza, the Honda Celebration of Light comprises concerts, food stalls and the Seawall Challenge, a popular urban adventure race.

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    The Calgary Stampede, Calgary

    ••• Rick Rudnicki / Getty Images

    Don your cowboy hat and spurs and head on over to The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Each year, more than one million people visit Calgary to partake in this 10-day Calgary Stampede party held every July.The city of Calgary features good old fashioned hospitality combined with cultural diversity. Drive an hour out of town, and you’re in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and popular destinations like Banff and Jasper, where a world of outdoor adventure awaits. 

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    Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton

    ••• Alexscuccato/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

    From its humble beginning in 1980, the Edmonton Folk Festival has grown to be one of the world’s premier folk festivals. Held each August, the festival’s lineup is always outstanding and ticket prices reasonable.

    Edmonton is also a gateway to Jasper and the Canadian Rockies, about two hours away. 

    Read More: 7 Canadian Music Festivals Not To Miss

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    Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto

    ••• WireImage / Getty Images

    The Toronto International Film Festivals is one of the leading film festivals in the world, ranking closely with Cannes and Sundance. Films such as Hotel Rwanda, American Beauty, and The Big Chill made their premieres at this prominent star-studded event held each September.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.

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    Winterlude, Ottawa

    ••• flickr Editorial/Getty Images / Getty Images

    Canadians celebrate sub-zero temperatures and waist-high snowdrifts by staging great winter festivals, such as Ottawa’s Winterlude. For the first three weekend’s every February, the nation’s capital puts on a winter festival that features ice-skating on the world’s longest rink, ice sculptures, a snow playground, concerts and more.

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    Canada Day Celebrations, July 1st, Ottawa & Canadawide

    ••• Mark Horton / Getty Images

    July 1st celebrations in Canada are akin to the July 4th festivities in the US. Marking Canada’s birth as a country, July 1st sees Canadians donning their red and white attire and whooping it up with fireworks and lots of that good Canadian beer. The celebration is nationwide, but Ottawa will show you a particularly good time.

    Read all about the history and celebrations surrounding Canada Day

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    Montreal Jazz Fest, Montreal

    Every June/July, the Montreal International Jazz Festival offers about 500 concerts, of which three-quarters are free of charge, and hosts about 2,000 musicians from over 20 countries. Two million music lovers arrive in Montreal, Quebec, for THE international jazz rendez-vous and launching pad for new talent, Expect to see the biggest names in not just jazz but other types of music. Performing artists have included Diana Krall,  Norah Jones, and Aretha Franklin. 

    The 2016 festival welcomes Diana Ross, Cab Calloway and Wynton Marsalis amongst others. 

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    Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, Montreal

    ••• Roberta Parkin / Getty Images

    Since 1983, the Montreal Comedy Festival, or, Just for Laughs as it is more commonly known, has been inviting people to get together just for fun, just for entertainment — just for laughs. The festival, held every July, has grown in popularity and reputation and today features some of the world’s greatest comedians and spawned a television show that is broadcast internationally.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.

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    Quebec Winter Carnival, Quebec City

    ••• Quebec Winter Carnival’s Place Desjardins on the Plains of Abraham hosts many of the festival’s events. Jane McLean

    The habitants of New France, now Quebec, had a rowdy tradition of getting together just before Lent to eat, drink and be merry.Today, the Quebec Winter Carnival is the biggest winter carnival in the world and is celebrated annually at the end of January until mid-February. No sense in fighting the cold — embrace and celebrate it.

    Read More about Canada’s Winter Festivals

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    Celtic Colours International Festival

    ••• Barrett & MacKay / Getty Images

    Celtic Colours is held for nine days every October on the delightful island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This unique Island-wide celebration of Celtic culture and music is the largest of its kind in North America. If you like fiddles and fiddlers, this is your festival. 

    Read more about 7 Music Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss.

Fast Canada travel ideas? 25 Great Things to See & Do.

25 Great Things To See and Do in Canada

The list is endless, but here are 25 great things to see and do in Canada.

By Jane McLean

Updated 11/01/16

••• Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images

  1. Cabot Trail – This scenic route in Cape Breton is one of the prettiest drives in Canada.
  2. Quebec Winter Carnival – The world’s biggest winter carnival takes place in Quebec City.
  3. Vancouver, BC, is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and water and characterized by a laid-back, west-coast vibe.
  4. Tofino – With a population under 2000, Tofino, on Vancouver Island, has retained a quaint small-town charm, but with grand surrounding landscape.
  1. Algonquin Park – 7,725 square kilometers of lakes and forests, bogs and rivers, cliffs and beaches in northern Ontario.
  2. Fall Foliage – Especially in the eastern parts of Canada, the end of September to early November brings colourful fall foliage.
  3. Quebec City – Quebec’s provincial capital is steeped in history and European in flavour.
  4. Old Montreal – This part of downtown Montreal has been preserved in much of its original state, with the oldest buildings dating back to the 1600’s.
  5. Canadian Rockies – This mountain range covers the stretches over the southern half of the BC / Alberta border and boasts incredible national parks, including Banff and Lake Louise.
  6. Whistler – One of the world’s great ski resorts, Whistler is two and a half hours from Vancouver.
  7. Edmonton Folk Festival – It takes a bit to get there, but once you’re in Edmonton, the festivals never stop. The folk festival is one of Canada’s best.
  1. Calgary Stampede – Billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Stampede showcases Calgary’s cowboy tradition.
  2. Wine Country – Canada has two major wine regions, the Okanagan and the NiagaraOttawa Winterlude – Canada’s national capital puts on a winter festival over three weekends every February.
  1. Dinosaur Provincial Park – Home to some of the most extensive dinosaur fossil fields in the world.
  2. Niagara-on-the-Lake – Quaint, cultured town beside Niagara Falls, famous especially for the Shaw Theatre Festival.
  3. The Nahanni – This national park in Northwest Territories comprise the South Nahanni River, Virginia Falls, sulphur hotsprings, alpine tundra, mountain ranges, and forests of spruce and aspen.
  4. Gros Morne – Towering cliffs, waterfalls, coves, land points, sandy beaches, and colourful fishing villages in Newfoundland.
  5. Gaspé – This peninsula on the southern part of the St. Lawrence is one of Quebec’s premier travel destination, famous for its rugged, stunning landscape.
  6. Bay of Fundy – Extending from the northern coast of Maine into Canada between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Bay boasts the highest tides in the world.
  7. Magdalen Islands – In the heart of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, these islands are marked by sand dunes, interspersed with island “mounds” and valleys.
  8. Prince Edward County – About an hour and a half from Toronto, this region of southeastern Ontario has distinguished itself as a haven for foodies and antique hunters.
  9. Queen Charlotte Islands – Located on the Pacific B.C. coast, these islands can be accessed by boat or float plane and feature rocky coastline, native village remnants and the chance to experience wilderness, solitude and Haida culture.
  1. Ottawa – Canada’s capital has a cultured, yet friendly atmosphere and is steeped in history.
  2. Quebec Ice Hotel – Stay overnight or just visit the only ice hotel in North America, about 20 mins outside of Quebec City.

Once visitors touch down in Canada, here is where they go.

Canada’s Best Attractions and Destinations

By Jane McLean

Updated 07/27/17

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    Intro

    ••• Canada’s Best Attractions and Destinations. Photo created with Canva

    What You May Not Know about Canada | Top 10 Most Popular Cities To Visit in Canada | Canada’s Best Train Trips

    The most popular Canadian attractions are a blend of the country’s most treasured natural wonders and urban highlights.

    Many are famous worldwide; others lesser known, but all contribute to the country’s national identity. 

    Beginning on Canada’s west coast and moving east, discover the beauty, history and charm of Canada through its best attractions and destinations.

    Continue to 2 of 11 below.

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    Pacific Rim National Park, B.C.

    ••• Lismer Beach and Florencia Bay, Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Photo © Chris Cheadle / Getty Images

    Best Things To Do in Vancouver | Best Vancouver Day Trips | Vancouver Aquarium

    Backed by mountain range and facing the open Pacific Ocean at the tip of Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim National Park has a rich natural and cultural heritage. This park boasts one of the country’s most famous hiking trails, the West Coast Trail; long, sandy beaches; Aboriginal culture; rainforest and an overall laid-back charm. 

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    Whistler, B.C.

    ••• Peak 2 Peak Gondola connecting Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in Whistler, BC, Canada. Stuart Dee / Getty Images

    The resort town of Whistler is about a two hour drive away from Vancouver along one of the country’s most scenic drives – the Sea to Sky Highway.

    Whistler is most famous as a ski destination – one of the best in the world – thanks to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains that loom a mile above the village and provide over 8000 acres of skiable terrain.

    Year-round, Whistler offers visitors fine food, spas, and plenty of opportunity for adventure, all in a breathtaking locale.

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    Banff National Park, Alberta

    ••• Aerial View of Banff Alberta Canada in Winter. Andrew Penner / Getty Images

    A prized Canadian treasure, Banff National Park is one of five national parks in the Rocky Mountains that attracts millions of visitors each year for camping, hiking, biking, skiing, fishing or just relaxing. The resort towns of Banff and Lake Louise are both located within Banff National Park and offer a full range of restaurants, shops and accommodation including two of the most iconic and historic hotels, Fairmont Banff Springs and the Chateau Lake Louise.

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    Niagara Falls, Ontario

    ••• Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. vns24@yahoo.com / Getty Images

    With more than 6 million cu ft (168,000 m³) of water falling over its brink per minute, Niagara Falls (actually comprising three falls: the American, Bridal Veil and Horseshoe) is the most powerful waterfall in North America and maybe the most famous in the world, attracting millions of tourists each year.Niagara Falls, the town, is a tad on the maudlin side – mix small-time Las Vegas with a mediocre theme park – but with the addition of the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in 2004, finer hotels and restaurants have followed.Niagara Falls is a city you probably only need to visit once or twice. The Niagara region as a whole, though, is worth deeper exploration. 

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    CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario

    ••• The CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline. d3sign / Getty Images

    At 1,815 feet Toronto’s CN tower is the tallest free standing structure in the world. Tourists are naturally drawn to tall buildings for the bird’s eye view. However, elevated observation usually comes at an elevated price and zero cultural appeal. The CN Tower is no different, but there really is no beating the view and the glass elevator that takes you to the 1,122 feet high outdoor observation deck is thrilling.

    Skip the lineup, which can often be lengthy, by getting your tickets online or by making a reservation to dine at the tower’s top-floor restaurant, 360, which is actually quite good.

    Read More: Dinner at the CN Tower15 Fascinating Facts about the CN Tower

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    Old Montreal, Montreal, Quebec

    ••• Old Montreal Street. Photo © The Star

    Old Montreal is a part of downtown Montreal that has been preserved in much of its original state, with the oldest buildings dating back to the 1600’s. This historic neighbourhood is a safe and vibrant community and tourist attraction, with hotels, restaurants, shops, residences and commercial spaces.

    Read More: 10 Things You Should Know About Visiting Old Montreal,  Guide to Old Montreal

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    Quebec City, Quebec

    ••• Rue Saint Louis is one of the main thoroughfares in the historic part of Quebec City. Photo © Ken Gillespie / Getty Images

    Quebec’s provincial capital, Quebec City, is steeped in history and European in flavour. The old town is the only fortified city north of Mexico in North America and is a World Heritage Site. Quebec City offers an experience unlike almost any other in North America. 

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    The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

    ••• Photograph by Henry Georgi / Getty Images

    The 300 km (185 mi.) long Cabot Trail is famous for the vistas it offers of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Atlantic Ocean and lush landscapes, particularly spectacular in fall. The Cape Breton National Highlands Park is at the trail’s most northern points and where the trail reaches its highest elevation. The trail takes a few hours to drive, but tourists generally spend a day or two, stopping in at one or two of the towns along the way. 

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    Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

    ••• Hopewell Rocks are rock formations caused by tidal erosion in New Brunswick. They are located on the shores of the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy at Hopewell Cape near Moncton, New Brunswick. Photo © Danita Delimont / Getty Images

    The Bay of Fundy extends from the northern coast of Maine into Canada between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Twice daily, the Bay fills and empties its 100 billion tonnes of water, creating the highest tides in the world – in some areas of the bay, tides reach more than 50 feet (16 m).The energy created by the force of these tides drudges up nutrients from the ocean floor that attract an interesting and wide range of animal life to the bay. The effects of the tides has also carved out a dramatic surrounding landscape of steep cliffs and sea stacks. In addition, water has worn away the shore’s red sandstone and volcanic rock to reveal a plethora of fossils and signs of life from millions of years ago.View the Fundy tides at Hopewell Rocks.

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    Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario

    ••• Parliament Hill is a group of buildings in Ottawa that are home to the government of Canada. Photo © GeoStock / Getty Images

    Parliament Hill is an impressive group of gothic revival buildings in Ottawa that house Canada’s parliament. Free tours are offered throughout the year and the Hill is also the setting for national celebrations, like Canada Day.

Should you choo choo choose train travel in Canada?

A Guide to Train Travel in Canada

By Jane McLean

Updated 01/02/16

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Train travel is a comfortable, convenient, relatively affordable way to get around Canada, though visitors should realize the Canadian rail system has nowhere near the reach, regularity or overall convenience of – for example – the European rail service. In addition, train travel tends to be relatively expensive in Canada, though this is changing in some of the more major corridors. 

VIA Rail is the only major train operator in Canada. It transits across Canada from the most eastern point in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver, B.C. in the west. For the most part it travels across the southern part of the country, where population is the most concentrated, with occasional forays more north. The busiest VIA Rail route is the Quebec – Windsor corridor, which includes Montreal and Toronto

VIA does not operate in any of Canada’s three territories or the Atlantic…MORE provinces of Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador.

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    Western Canada/Prairies: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan

    ••• The Canadian is VIA Rail’s train that runs from Toronto to Vancouver. Photo courtesy VIA Rail.

    The Canadian VIA Rail network does not always make sense. For example, Calgary does not have a VIA Rail stop even though it is a major hub for people visiting Alberta and British Columbia. In contrast, VIA Rail offers service to rural communities with relatively small populations, like Churchill; however, these, routes are mandatory and government subsidized because year-round alternative transportation is not possible. Many of these off-the-beaten-track destinations can be interesting, worthwhile stops for tourists. Churchill, Manitoba, for example is famous for its polar bear population. 

    The major train routes on Canada’s West Coast and Prairies are between Edmonton, Jasper and Vancouver and Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. 

    The Jasper – Vancouver train provides an excellent opportunity to soak in some exquisite Rocky Mountain scenery. An overnight train with glass domed passenger car is a lovely Canadian excursion. 

    Translink offers regional train service between Vancouver and…MORE its neighbouring municipalities. 

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    Central Canada: Ontario and Quebec

    ••• Heading out of Jasper on the VIA Rail Canadian train, through the Rocky Mountains, bound for Vancouver. Photo © Jane McLean

    Ontario and Quebec have the most active network of VIA Trains, including the busy Quebec City – Winnipeg corridor, which includes the popular run between Montreal and Toronto. 

    Ontario destinations of interest to visitors on the VIA Rail route include, Kingston, Belleville and Stratford (home to the popular Stratford Festival).

    GO Transit is a commuter train between Toronto and localities, including Niagara Falls, Hamilton and Barrie. GO Trains run regularly 7 days. GO Transit also has a network of buses that run similar routes. 

    In Quebec, VIA Rail has a route along the Saint Lawrence River that runs from Montreal all the way northeast to Gaspe. 

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    Atlantic Canada: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Eastern Quebec

    ••• Chris Harris / Getty Images

    The most common way of getting around the Maritimes (Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia) is to rent a car or join a bus tour. Train travel is not a major means of transportation in this region of Canada  VIA Rail, in fact, does not operate in PEI or Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Nevertheless, VIA Rail does have a popular overnight train from Montreal to Halifax, with more than 20 stops in between.  

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    Rocky Mountaineer

    ••• Rocky Mountaineer’s custom-designed, bi-level, glass-domed train car. Photo © Rocky Mountaineer

    Since 1990, the Rocky Mountaineer has been taking passengers through some of Canada’s most beautiful landscape while continually raising the standards of rail travel. More than just a mode of transportation, the Rocky Mountaineer offers complete packages that include fine dining, deluxe accommodation and a two-level glass domed coach with full-length windows through which you can take in the glacier-fed lakes, majestic mountains and raging rivers of Alberta and British Columbia.

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    Scenic, Novelty and Heritage Trains

    ••• Royal Banff Dinner Train. Photo © Royal Canadian Pacific

    Canada has a fair number of heritage and novelty trains that are more about the experience than getting from point A to point B.

    See our list of the best train trips in Canada for some of these. 

Discover Canada With These 20 Maps

20 Maps of Canada

By Jane McLean

Updated 10/11/17

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    Plan Your Vacation With These Maps

    ••• Map Courtesy Natural Resources Canada

    If you’re visiting Canada, understanding the geography of the country is essential to planning your trip, and there’s no better way to gain a baseline understanding of an area than by studying maps of its regions and points of interest.

    Although Canada technically has 10 provinces and three territories, the country is often broken up into regions of shared culture. Discover more about the six regions of Canada by exploring the following maps, each with a bit of information about the particular attractions found only in these areas.

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    Map of Canada, Color-Coded by Region

    ••• Canada’s 6 Regions. Map courtesy Info Link Canada

    There are a number of ways that geographers and tour guides will break up Canada to group together its people and cultures, but the above map shows one of the most popular forms of describing different areas—regional division of the country.

    The six regions most commonly attributed to Canda are the North, the West, Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.

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    Map of the 10 Canada Provinces

    ••• Map drawn and adapted by E Pluribus Anthony

    Canada is also divided into 10 provinces—British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba—and three territories—Yukon Territory, Northwest Territory, and Nunavut.

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    Specific Regional Maps: Great Lakes

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Canada has also been divided into distinct, small regions of interest like this one on the map above, the Great Lakes Region. Visitors to the Great Lakes can enjoy one of Canada’s beautiful beaches in the summer or explore the cold yet thriving streets of Toronto in the winter.

    Other regions of interest in Canada, especially for tourists, include Cordillera and Coastal Mountains, Great Plains, the Canadian Shield, Tundra and Arctic North, the Appalachian Mountains of the East, Maritime East, and the Great Lakes Lowlands and Plains. 

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    British Columbia Map

    ••• Map of British Columbia, Canada. Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    British Columbia is Canada’s most westerly province. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Alberta to the east and the Yukon to the north. British Columbia’s southern border is shared with the U.S. states of Washington, and tiny bits of Idaho and Montana.

    Taking a look at the map above, you might recognize big cities like Vancouver but might also miss B.C.’s plethora of nature preserves and outdoor adventure areas. If you’re a fan of hiking, camping, and immersing yourself in natural beauty and wonder, consider checking out Glacier National Park or Whistler Blackcomb, a ski resort that once hosted the Winter Olympics.​

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    Map of Prairie Provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    For those looking for city adventures in the Prairies, tourists can visit Lethbridge, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Edmonton, and Grande Prairie, Alberta; Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan; and Brandon and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    However, there are also a great number of national and provincial parks worth discovering in the Prairies as well, so nature-lovers can skip out on the hustle and bustle of the central Canadian cities and immerse themselves in the sweeping plains and rolling hills of the region. Read on to discover more about each province in this region.

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    Map of Alberta

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    From the capital of the province, Edmonton, to the vibrant modernity of its metropolitan giant, Calgary, Alberta has a lot to offer to tourists, but the province is most famous for its many lakes and National Parks that attract thousands of tourists each year.

    For nature lovers, we recommend checking out Banff National Park and Lake Louise near Calgary, driving along the Icefield Parkway to the Columbia Icefield, and the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park that spreads across northern Montana and southern Alberta.

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    Map of Saskatchewan

    ••• Map Courtesy Natural Resources Canada

    Continuing the tradition of great destinations for nature in Canada, Saskatchewan is also known as the “Land of 100,000 Lakes” for the many bodies of water that cover its temperate terrain. This, coupled with the rolling plains, coniferous forests, and the rockiness of the Canadian Shield plateau makes Saskatchewan the perfect destinations for the nature-obsessed.

    However, Saskatchewan is also home to the provincial capital city of Regina, which features a number of great museums and exhibits dedicated to the First Peoples of Canada, the Cree First Nations, who gave the province its name meaning “the river that flows swiftly.”

    Prince Albert National Park, the RCMP Heritage Center, the Wanuskewin Heritage Park in the settlement town of Saskatoon, the city of Moose Jaw, and the capital at Regina are all great destinations to check out while you’re in Canada’s central province.

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    Map of Manitoba

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Located just east of Saskatchewan in central Canada, Manitoba is home to even more wilderness and cultural centers, stretching from the northern tundra down to the Hudson Bay. Here, tourists can roam through buffalo country at Riding Mountain National Park or even see polar bears in Churchill, the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.”

    History enthusiasts and cultural junkies can also visit the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in in Winnipeg or check out the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, Islendingadagurinn, in the small town of Gimli just an hour north of the city at Lake Winnipeg.

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    Map of Ontario

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Ontario, located in eastern Canada, is home to the Canadian capital city of Ottowa, where tourists can visit the home of Canada’s central government at Parliament Hill or check out the country’s greatest collection of art at the National Gallery of Canada.

    Another huge metropolis in Canada, Toronto, is just a few hours away. Visitors can check out the CN Tower or the Royal Ontario Museum downtown or take a day trip to see Niagra Falls from its northern banks.

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    Map of Quebec

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Visitors of Quebec most often visit its dual-language English-French cities of Quebec or Montreal, but there’s a lot more to this province than its cities—Quebec covers over a sixth of the entire landmass of Canada!

    Just across the river from Canada’s capital Ottowa is the small town of Gatineau, Quebec, which houses the Canadian Museum of Civilizations and offers visitors a comprehensive look at the people that shaped modern Canada—from the First Nations people to Nors sailers.

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    Map of the Maritimes

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

     If you’re interested in seeing the eastern side of Canada—perhaps via train from New York City or Boston—you might be interested in the region of Canada known as the Maritimes, which includes Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Read on to discover more about each of these provinces.

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    Map of New Brunswick

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Located in far eastern Canada in a region known as the Maritimes, New Brunswick is a small yet beautiful province that offers a number of historic sites and modern attractions across its small landmass. The major cities of the province include its capital Fredericton as well as Saint John and Moncton.

    Sightseers traveling to New Brunswick will not want to miss the sweeping Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world and offers glimpses of marine wildlife like whales and sea lions. Visitors to the area can also venture further down to the Fundy National Park for more breathtaking views and coastal hikes.

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    Map of Nova Scotia

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Nova Scotia is located just off the mainland of New Brunswick and is the second-smallest province in Canada. This quiet, peaceful peninsula offers visitors only one major city, Halifax, but also features a plethora of small fishing harbors as well as French settlements known as Arcadia to explore as they drive around the beautiful landscape of the coast.

    Visitors won’t want to miss views of the tidal salt marshes in the Bay of Fundy or the Cabot Trail, a 300-kilometer drive along the shores of Nova Scotia. There’s also a number of great towns to check out some classic architecture like Sherbrooke Village, the Port-Royal National Historic Site, the Halifax Harbor, and the town of Lunenburg.

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    Map of Prince Edward Island

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Located north of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the red sand beaches of Prince Edward Island are the perfect summer vacation destination but also offer visitors fresh lobsters and mussels year-round. The capital and largest city of the island is Charlottetown, which features theater and arts entertainment as well as some great Victorian architecture.

    Other great attractions on Prince Edward Island include the Bottle Houses, small fishing villages like Victoria-by-the-Sea, hiking along historic trails, and the Confederation Centre of Arts.

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    Map of Newfoundland and Labrador

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    The island of Newfoundland stretches across northeastern Canada and serves as its most eastern province while most of the region of Labrador in the north is inaccessible to tourism due to its rocky, harsh environment and bitterly cold temperatures during its long winters.

    One of the highest-rated tourist destinations in Newfoundland is L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, which is home to what is considered to be the oldest European settlement discovered in North America: six houses made of grass sods originally constructed by Vikings around 1,000 A.D.

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    Map of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut

    ••• Map Courtesy Natural Resources Canada

    Harsh winters and brief summers keep most tourists south of the sparsely populated region of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do in them, especially if you’re a fan of winter sports and outdoor adventures.

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    Map of Yukon Territory

    ••• Map is courtesy Natural Resources Canada

    Directly above British Columbia and bordering the United States state of Alaska, the Yukon Territory offers tourists an up-close look at Canadian wildlife and the cultures of the First Nations as well as a retrospective of the gold rush era that helped populate much of the region.

    The Yukon Wildlife Preserve, Miles Canyon, and the Takhini Hot Springs offer visitors a unique look at the wide variety of natural beauty in the land while hotspots like the Dawson City Museum, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center, and Sign Post Forest draw tourists in with their varied perspectives on life in the Yukon.

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    Map of Northwest Territories

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Stretching across much of northern Canada, the Northwest Territories features a tree line that cuts across the entire region and marks the beginning of the harsh tundra environment of the North Pole’s polar ice caps and the Northwest Passage.

    Visitors can stop in the gold-rush-created capital city of Yellowknife or the neighboring Great Slave Lake settlements of Fort Providence and Hay River. Although this Great Lake is Canada’s fifth largest, it is frozen eight months out of the year.

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    Map of Nunavut

    ••• Map Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada

    Nunavut is Canada’s northernmost and youngest official territory, officially adopted in 1999 and stretching up to the north pole over much of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Although most of the small towns of its rocky tundra are only accessible by boat or plane, there’s still a great number of things to do as a tourist of this mostly icy region.

    Indigenous First Nation peoples’ artwork and clothing are popular among tourists and locals alike—in fact, much of the economy of Nunavut comes from creating handmade goods and shipping them to the more popularly visited southern regions.

    Among the most popular attractions in this relatively new official territory include Baffin and Ellesmere Islands, the Inuit-city-turned-military-base at Iqaluit, Sirmilik National Park, and Repulse Bay.