Exploring the Urban (Well Sorta) Side to Canadian Cities

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If you are having trouble planning your next Canadian vacation, we understand. The country, with its diverse landscapes, cultures and attractions makes it tough to decide where to point your compass. Outdoors enthusiasts, art junkies, families and those who are simply seeking an adventure all have a lot to choose from when visiting Canada.

To help you out, take a look at these eight cities that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Prince Edward Island

Winter waterfront view of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Photo courtesy of V. J. Matthew of Shutterstock.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

For a truly Canadian experience, consider taking your vacation in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. This lovely seaside city is mighty proud of its Canadian heritage, with festivals and celebrations year round. It’s actually where Canada declared its status as a country, so you’ll quickly notice that locals take the area’s rich history very seriously. Relax on sandy beaches by day and enjoy the city’s popular bar scene at night. Aspiring anglers might be interested in hopping aboard a Top Notch Charters cruise to learn how to expertly catch lobster from fishermen who have been haunting Charlottetown’s harbors for generations. The evening concludes with a world-class lobster feast right on the boat.

vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo courtesy of Dan Breckwoldt via Shutterstock.

Vancouver, British Columbia

If you love the outdoors, you cannot miss Vancouver, British Columbia. It offers visitors the unique ability to ski on Grouse Mountain one day and go surfing at Wreck Beach the next. Or, perhaps you enjoy whitewater rafting or mountain biking? Whatever the case, Vancouver’s beautiful, diverse landscape will cater to your adventurous side. When you’re not playing in the powder or making waves, the city offers excellent shopping and dining options. The kids will never have time to be bored in this city with such attractions as the Kids Market on Granville Island, home to games, kid-friendly shopping and entertainment.

montreal

Marche Bonsecours, Montreal. Photo courtesy of Vlad G via Shutterstock.

Montreal, Quebec

Are you are looking for a taste of the big city? French-infused Montreal, Quebec boasts soaring skyscrapers that dwarf neighboring 17th century Vieux-Montreal architecture. The city is a wonderful fusion of the old and new, with cobblestone streets and shops housed in centuries-old houses along side world-class shopping opportunities and exciting nightlife, as well as over 90 festivals throughout the year. Take a trip to the Montreal Biodome where you can step into recreations of four of the Americas’ diverse climate zones, including a tropical rainforest and the chilling temperatures of the Arctic.

ottawa

Rideau Canal, The Parliament of Canada in spring, Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Vlad G via Shutterstock.

Ottawa, Ontario

Canada’s capital city is a great place to visit if you are looking for a more laid-back city experience. It is smaller than Montreal but filled to the brim with things to do and places to see. Ottawa, Ontario is an especially family friendly city, with incredible museums and charming boutiques. Plus, you can ice skate along the Rideau Canal, the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink, during the cold season, which lasts quite a while this far north! You can even learn how to whitewater kayak at the Madawaska Kanu Centre, located in the heart of downtown Ottawa.

banff

Wild Bull Moose in autumn, Spray Valley Provincial Park in Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada. Photo courtesy of BGSmith via Shutterstock.

Banff, Alberta

Nature enthusiasts who still like to be close to luxury accommodations should look no further than Banff, Alberta for their Canadian excursion. Situated among the gorgeous Canadian Rockies, Banff offers visitors a taste of authentic Swiss life, with thrilling snow skiing and beautiful hikes to the towering Hoodoos. At the end of the day, you can return to your hotel to unwind at the spa. No matter what your interests may be, Canada has plenty to offer vacationers of all types. Whether you are looking for an unforgettable big city experience or a quiet hike through stunning mountainous landscapes, Canada has something just for you.

newfoundland

Harbour front village in St. John’s. Photo courtesy of Justek16 via Shutterstock.

Fogo Island, Newfoundland & Labrador

Charming Fogo Island is another great destination for travelers interested in getting in touch with nature. Visitors can spy a wide variety of wildlife, including caribou and whales while trekking along one of the island’s many hiking trails. They may even glimpse an iceberg or two while strolling along the coast. If you happen to visit Fogo Island in July, you should not miss the Great Fogo Island Punt Race to There and Back, the world’s only seagoing rowing race, which totals a grueling seven miles!

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Beautiful pond with estate homes in the background in Winnipeg. Canada. Photo courtesy of Sergey Karpov via Shutterstock.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

The city of Winnipeg has seen a renaissance of sorts in recent years due in large part to a budding culinary scene that is changing the face of fine dining. Young chefs are revolutionizing Winnipeg’s cuisine, creating menus that draw from all corners of the world that are designed to dazzle your palate. These cooks have had enough of their beloved city hovering just under the radar in the culinary world, so expect to hear a lot more about Winnipeg’s dining scene in the future. Winnipeg is also home to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, set to open in September of 2014, which hopes to spark interest and raise awareness of the importance of activism and social movements. Visitors can experience the struggles, triumphs, and evolutions of human rights interactively through specialized galleries. Visitors will learn exactly what “human rights” encompass, as well as get a glimpse into such pivotal moments in history as the Holocaust. It will be a truly inspiring, powerful movement that visitors will be talking about long after they leave Canada.

new brunswick

Empty wooden bench by a celtic cross memorial with a view of the ocean of Bay of Fundy in St. Andrew by the Sea, New Brunswick, Maritimes, Canada. Photo courtesy of GVictoria via Shutterstock.

St. Andrews By-the-Sea, New Brunswick

For a more upscale vacation, look no further than St. Andrews By-the-Sea in beautiful New Brunswick. From delectable cuisine to gorgeous, sweeping views of the famed Bay of Fundy, St. Andrews offers visitors the chance to experience the surprising luxury of a Canadian seaside village. Schedule a whale watching trip aboard a zodiac and then make your way into town where you’ll find a peppering of quaint but unforgettable dining experiences.

Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor's, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn't really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.
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