Canada is currently having a moment. We've recently celebrated 150 years since Confederation, our tourism is booming with record-breaking numbers, and we've topped both Lonely Planet and The New York Time's list of best countries to visit. We are seriously on a roll.
Of course, Canadians already know our country is great. We have the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, incredible and varied wildlife, a bustling art scene in Toronto and our own "Hollywood North" film industry. In fact, a survey recently conducted by IHG found that more than half of Canadians agree on one thing: our beautiful country is FULL of bucket list experiences. According to this same study, of the 6 in 10 Canadians that have or plan to make a bucket list, 80% of them are interested in that Canadian bucket list life.
So what are some of our country's hidden, bucket list-worthy travel destinations? Well, did you know we have our very own mini Grand Canyon? What about a wine region with some of the world's best wine? Or fields so yellow they rival the brightness of the sun? Your bucket list can still be incredible even if it doesn't include jumping off waterfalls in Brazil, swimming with sharks in South Africa, or riding a Venetian Gondola in Italy.
Stuck for ideas based in the Great White North? IHG partnered with bucket list expert Robin Esrock to actually make a legit list of destinations and experiences right here in our own Canadian backyard. We’ve shared a few below along with some of our personal favourites to help you start your own Canadian bucket list!
Marvel at the Canola Fields
The Canola Fields are a photographer's dream every July and August. As the spring rains wear off, the canola fields soak up the summer sun and bloom into an incredible field of bright yellow.
The fields go for miles along Alberta's Queen Elizabeth II highway, so pick a spot like the Holiday Inn Express & Suites West Edmonton-Mall Area to stay for the night and drive south to marvel at the bright yellow Canola blooms.
Drive the Cabot Trail
Everyone's bucket list includes a road trip and one of Canada's best lies in Nova Scotia. The Cabot Trail is considered one of the world's most scenic destinations, with stunning ocean vistas, quiet fishing villages, old-growth forests, and the mysterious Cape Breton Highlands.
It's a winding staircase that rises from the sea and clings to mountains, so plan several days to experience this journey of a lifetime!
Explore breathtaking views via the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Stretching more than 440 feet and 230 feet above the Capilano River, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is the world’s longest suspension footbridge. Those brave enough to cross it are rewarded with several other attractions like pristine West Coast rainforest trails and the Cliff Walk, a series of cliffside suspended walkways above the rainforest.
Once you've conquered that, the Treetops Adventure - seven bridges suspended by 250-year-old Douglas firs 34 metre above the forest floor - will be a piece of cake. Be sure to book a night nearby, like at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Vancouver-Downtown, to ensure you get the most out of this stunning park.
Whale watch on Vancouver Island
Fun fact: It's scientifically impossible to be sad while watching whales. Well, okay, maybe not really - but you can't deny whale watching is a once in a lifetime (and super glorious) experience!
Victoria, BC, is actually one of the top spots for Killer whale watching on Vancouver Island, but you'll also have one of the best chances in the country to spot Humpback, Minke and Gray Whales. Three pods of about 80 resident Orca whales also live around the southern tip of Vancouver Island and in the Gulf islands, so you'll have a pretty good chance of spotting those, too.
Witness nature in all its beauty at the Ouimet Canyon
Is the Grand Canyon on your bucket list? Try Canada's own Ouimet Canyon first. A short drive from Thunder Bay is a canyon with a 150 metre wide gorge and cliffs that drop 100 metres straight down to the canyon floor.
The ravine here is so deep and dark that Arctic plants, usually found 1000 km north, survive in the unique environment at the bottom of the canyon, and two lookout platforms offer spectacular panoramic views of the whole thing.
Get the full western experience at the Calgary Stampede
You wouldn't want to miss out on the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, would you? Hold on to your horses for this one, where wagon-racing, hat-stomping and pancake-flipping is abound. The world's biggest rodeo is the perfect opportunity to get a taste of authentic western Canadian life and Albertan hospitality!
Live on the edge in Toronto
The very best way to experience Toronto's most iconic structure is to stand on its very edge, 116 stories above the ground, in the wind.
Edgewalk is the "World's Highest External Walk on a Building", according to Guinness World Record, offering a full circle hands-free walk on a 5 ft (1.5 m) wide ledge that encircles Toronto's CN Tower. Who wouldn't want this thrill-seeking experience on their bucket list?
Wine Tasting in the Okanagan
British Columbia's Okanagan region is the wine tasting destination in the country. Boasting 84% of the province’s vineyard acreage, the sun-drenched valley is home to world-class vinters, a vibrant wine community, and most of the country's very best tipple.
Ice Canoe across the St. Lawrence
Have your bucket list travels take you to Quebec City, where every February an icy equivalent to Rio's Mardi Gras has you dancing in ice palaces, marvelling at giant snow structures, and admiring a parade of colourful, dancing floats.
Fancy yourself a bit of an adrenaline junky? Why not join the thrill-seekers paddling across the icy St. Lawrence river? Tour operators offer visitors the chance to grab a spiked paddle themselves and have a go at heaving a boat across the ice.
Paddle through Banff National Park
If you have Instagram, chances are you've seen your fair share of jaw-dropping photographs featuring Alberta's Banff National Park. People in canoes, paddling down the turquoise rivers of BC, passing pine trees and towering mountains.
The park is full of fun excursions to do by boat, so stop off at Banff National Park, hire a canoe, and be wowed by the breathtaking scenery. There's plenty to do here, so be sure to book a night somewhere close like Holiday Inn Canmore.
Witness the Sockeye Salmon Run
Each year, one of nature's great migrations takes place in BC where millions of salmon swim up the same tributaries from where they once hatched. It's more impressive than it seems: Only one out of every four thousand eggs laid in the Adams River lives to return as a spawning adult.
The migration is so popular, in fact, that the Salute the Sockeye Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of people from around the world each year. It's well worth booking in advance for, so try the Holiday Inn Express Kamloops for a place to stay while you witness the world's largest return of sockeye salmon to a single river.
Honestly, Canada is such a glorious country, it's no wonder that 59% of us are on that bucket list vibe, and that 67% of us are most interested in exploring nature. Between whale watching, suspension bridges, crystal clear lakes, national festivals and much more, there are so many hidden gems to discover right in our own backyards!
So go ahead and dive right into all the very best spots Canada has to offer - and discover your country, one beautiful spot at a time!