Canada is one of those countries that really fascinates me, and there are lots of Canadian things to do depending on the time of year and where I can fly into.
Some of the stereotypical Canadian things to do are a must on my bucket list, while others are awesome things you might not know about.
We are also going to explore best travel methods for exploring Canada. As a vast country, it takes numerous trips or one very long vacation to ensure you see the best and of course the most awesome Canadian things.
I’ll touch on train rides and drives, but when should you visit?
How do you decide which mode of transportation will get you to the most places during the time you have?
What about some of the hidden attractions like seeing narwhals?
All these questions will be answered 🙂
Come on an adventure with me to discover what Canada has to offer apart from Vancouver, Niagara Falls, and whale watching.
There are at least thirty unique adventures you can enjoy while touring Canada.
First, let’s look at what Canada is famous for before learning what only Canadians know!
What is Canada Famous For?
Canada is famous for scenery, ice hockey, maple syrup, and extreme politeness, to mention a few things. Canadians are known as the most polite people in the world. When it comes to Canadian things, scenery comes to mind first.
1. Niagara Falls is the most famous waterfall in North America. It is also the wedding proposal and honeymoon destination in both the US and Canada.
2. The Rocky Mountains extend from Mexico up to the Canadian border, where they become the Canadian Rockies. Rugged peaks for climbing, nature trails for hiking, and more than one National Park like Banff await you.
3. Canada also has 125,566 miles of coastline, where most of us want to enjoy the eastern or western edge due to more comfortable weather. Vancouver’s coastline is desired for its beauty, whale watching, and cruise port that helps visitors go between the lower US, Canada, and Alaska.
4. Ice hockey is the most famous sport in Canada and is available in more than one province. Major cities like Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver host teams that play against US teams. Go to any sports bar during the ice hockey season, and you will be watching a game. Better yet, buy a ticket and get right into the thick of things. As a stereotypical Canadian thing, you shouldn’t miss it.
5. Did you know about 80% of the maple syrup in the world is produced in Canada? There is a reason Maple is part of many symbols representing Canada. You can’t miss eating pancakes and trying homemade syrup while you are visiting.
6. Moose sightseeing is also on the list of typical Canadian things to do because Canada is famous for its moose.
Sure, you might want to see polar bears, grizzlies, black bears, even caribou, but if you are looking for the stereotypical, then it is about moose sightseeing. You might see plenty of ladies, juvenile males, and young females, but the coup de gras would be seeing a male with his full rack.
It is more likely to happen in Canada than anywhere else in North America.
7. The Northern Lights occur in the northern hemisphere and are usually seen in Alaska, Maine, Canada, and Russia. But the lights are primarily associated with Canadian things to see while you are visiting. These lights are a range of purple, green, blue, and red colors.
The most famous locations for seeing the Northern Lights are Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Churchill. The best time to see the lights is during the summer months because it is warm enough to be outside viewing them for several hours rather than during winter when there is more cloud cover and negative temperatures.
8. Road Trips are part of the stereotypical Canadian things to do. However, there are numerous magnificent drives you can go on while in Canada, such as Icefields Parkway, Cabot Trail, Sea to Sky Highway, Regina to Saskatoon, and Viking Trail. These various highways are found in different parts of Canada, including Alberta, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, respectively.
Depending on the trip you decide to take, you can go along mountain roads, the coastline, find little beaches, or go through the temperate rainforest before going into the city. Personally, I’d want to take a trip from British Columbia to the eastern coast or vice versa to see as many parks as possible.
9. Train rides are iconic to Canada. Often you will hear someone say they will take the train because it offers a luxurious way to travel to the various provinces from coast to coast. Imagine if someone else is driving you around the vast country? I can get behind that so that I can see all the scenery rather than having to navigate or stop every few minutes to avoid missing the beautiful landscape.
10. Canadian lakes are our last thing on the famous Canadian things to do. Lake Superior, which borders Canada, and the US, is 82,100 square kilometers and just one of 30,000 lakes in Canada.
The country has 561 large lakes, and the rest are smaller but still offer plenty of summer fun. You can also consider ice fishing, ice hockey, and other lake fun if you are brave enough to go out in those famous Canadian winters.
Things Only a Canadian Would Know
Knowing the stereotypical Canadian things is just a tiny part of what Canada has to offer visitors. For example, did you know the most famous fictional bear was in some way inspired by Canada?
11. While inspired by a black bear in London’s Zoo, Winnie the Pooh was named after a Canadian city. Winnie was derived from Winnipeg. So, while Milne got his idea from an actual bear in England, the name was partly from Canada.
12. You cannot visit Canada without enjoying butter tarts. As part of things only a Canadian would know, butter tarts’ enjoyment as the main dessert.
Maple syrup is used to create these delicious tarts, and they originate in Canada as one of the most popular treats throughout the world. The earliest butter tart recipe can be found in a 1900s hospital cookbook.
13. While on a trip to Canada, you will want to go to the longest street in the world, which is in Ontario. Yonge Street is in the world book as the longest street, at 1,896 kilometers. It links the shores of Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe. However, you might not know that it took until 1999 to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, and there is some debate as to the actual end of the street since it becomes Highway 11 at the US border.
14. Ice wine is available in Canada and several European countries like Austria and Germany. However, part of things only a Canadian would know suggests that Canada is the largest producer of ice wine.
Ice wine is made from frozen grapes, which are harvested from the vine. It is considered one of the sweeter wines made due to how the grapes are harvested and the added flavors like chocolate. Thus, ice wine is a dessert wine.
15. Have you ever wanted to go along a country’s border just to say you have? It seems like sometimes rather unique to do, and Canada has the longest international border.
The international boundary is 8,891 kilometers and is also undefended by the military. Many of the world’s borders are managed by law enforcement and military personnel, but not Canada’s. Instead, only law enforcement is present, and there are only roads designated by border control that you can cross. Additionally, some of the full borders are water, about 2,475 meters, between the Yukon and Alaska.
16. “Eh” definitely defines someone from Canada. Living too close to the Canadian border and you might pick up on the phrase, which is thought to be one of politeness or solidarity. Researchers cannot figure out where “eh” as part of a Canadian conversation came from, but it is a symbol of the Canadian dialect. It usually ends a sentence, whether it is an opinion or question.
17. Banff National Park and Lake Louise is a writ of passage for Canadians. I believe very few Canadians haven’t made a pilgrimage to this most famous Park in Canada. As part of a list of Canadian things, it is a must-do for those who want to go hiking, boating, or climbing in the Canadian Rockies. Banff has 1,600 kilometers of hiking trails, and it is open year-round.
There are two visitors centers you can enter the park by Banff and Lake Louise. Camping, hiking, climbing, and boating are just a few of the things to do here.
18. Known to those who live in Ontario is the Farmers and Artisans Market. Starting in May, the farmer’s market opens, helping you get outside your house to enjoy great food. St. Lawrence Market in Toronto is quite well known among Canadians and starting to become famous to visitors.
19. Touring the cities like Toronto, you will want to get a City PASS to take public transportation. It is a cost-effective method for seeing a large city, including some of the more famous buildings. Did you know that Canada has hit world records with tall buildings like the CN Tower, which deserves a trip? With a city pass, you can see Casa Loma, the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum).
20. The last thing only a Canadian would know includes the ingredients of maple taffy. Maple syrup is the most famous product produced in Canada, but maple taffy is just as famous and important. Maple taffy, which is made from maple syrup, is also made with snow.
Awesome Canadian Things
21. Fall Foliage brings millions of people to mountainous locations each year, and Canada is no exception. So whether you visit Vancouver, Edmonton, or Nova Scotia’s numerous islands, the changing of the leaves into autumn colors is not to be missed.
22. Whale watching is another awesome Canadian thing to do. Orcas and humpback whales can be seen on the western coast of Canada during the migration period. These whales migrate between Hawaii and Alaska, sometimes using the Inside Passage to get to their favorite breeding and feeding grounds.
Beluga whales and narwhals migrate during the summer months. Both whales can be seen near Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, or Resolute Bay. You also have a chance to see beluga whales in Quebec. Sometimes, a pod will travel along the St. Lawrence River, and it is a group that adopted one lone narwhal.
23. Royal Ontario Museum or the ROM is the largest museum in Canada. Exhibits can change, but they also have permanent installations like the New Dino Discovered, Sovereign Allies Living Cultures, and Jane Ash Poitras Contemporary First Nations Art.
24. Cave and Basin National Historic Site near Banff is worth visiting for anyone who wants to see Canada’s beauty. It is the birthplace of the national parks, so it is full of cultural and natural history.
25. Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site was where First Nation people, traders, and trappers would meet to exchange goods and share in the Rocky Mountain frontier. Today, visitors can hike, explore, discover, and camp in the park while learning about the past.
26. Another location near Banff in the Rocky Mountains of Canada is Kootenay National Park. Here visitors will discover glaciers, grasslands, scenic drives, and park treasures. The Park was established in 1920. There are backcountry trails, 60 miles of road, and resorts with pools.
27. Next on the list of Canadian things are the unique neighborhoods you don’t want to miss. If visiting Montreal, Quebec, you will want to stop by Little Italy. Sure, the town is heavily influenced by the French, but this little slice of Montreal along St. Laurent Boulevard is influenced more by Italian artisans with hand-rolled pasta, espresso, and calamari. Vancouver is known for Chinatown.
While walking the streets of downtown, you will see eclectic buildings, pagoda-style roofs, and Millennium Gate. Finally, don’t forget to visit Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It is patterned after many Chinese relaxation gardens and hosts the winter Chinese New Year Parade and full moon festival in the fall.
28. Whitehorse, the first town in Canada you can reach from Alaska’s mainland, is worth visiting its Filipino community. A variety of restaurants, festivals, and cultural events are based on Filipino culture. Plus, you won’t want to miss hiking at Miles Canyon and the SS Klondike National Historical Center.
29. Visit the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It is in Eastern Canada and has the distinction of having the most significant tidal change. The high and low tides can be a difference of 19 meters or 10 fathoms. The bay is a natural wonder with its cliffs like Hopewell Cape. While there, you will want to visit Fundy Trail Parkway, Fundy National Park, and Grand Manan Island.
30. Calgary Stampede happens in July and lasts for ten days.
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This western Canadian thing brings the cowboys out to watch daily rodeos, ride carnival attractions, and enjoy plenty of great food. There are free breakfasts hosted by outdoor and indoor locations, many offering pancake specials with locally sourced maple syrup. In addition, music performers, such as the biggest names in Country Music, attend the stampede.
I’ve explored just thirty things you could do in Canada; some are things that define Canada, while others are things only a Canadian would know. But there are still some logistical concepts to go over to help you explore Canada as you should.
Exploring Canada By Train
Top of my list for exploring Canada is taking the train. The Canadian train system connects Toronto to Vancouver. Toronto, home to Niagara Falls, is a good starting point for anyone flying from Europe or the eastern US.
Those who are coming from more Pacific countries of the western US can start in Vancouver.
Major city stops include Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Jasper, and Kamloops. The train goes along 4,446 kilometers of terrain!
Travelers can book dining cars, sleeping beds, or private cabins. There are different levels of service, which include Sleeper Plus, Prestige, and regular service. The Sleeper Plus booking offers three meals a day, snacks between meals, and access to the Panorama and Skyline cars for overhead viewing. Prestige goes a step further, offering a personal concierge and access to the Park Car for live music.
You can also choose between seven different package options based on where you want to travel. Of course, the ultimate trip is coast to coast, but you can also pick up a train in Seattle, travel through to Vancouver, and begin the rail journey.
Economy class prices, which provide a reclining seat amongst the public, start at $444 from Toronto to Vancouver, while the prestige class is upwards of $4,600.
The train typically travels at 22 miles per hour, although the Via Rail can get up to 99 miles per hour during travel. The coast-to-coast trip takes 19 days because it makes more stops than the Vancouver to Toronto trip. However, the coast-to-coast trip will cost upwards of $10,200 per person due to the stops made, plus going all the way to Halifax.
Such train tours are available from April to September. Unfortunately, winter is not an excellent time for travel through Canada, mainly by train due to the heavy snow in some of the provinces. You are also less likely to see unique sites.
Exploring Canada By Car
Taking a drive is the next best option, in my opinion, but you want to do it correctly, which means ultimate comfort. Traveling with a motorhome, RV, or other camper style ensures you have all the amenities on the open road, plus the ability to camp along the route. You can still take the coast-to-coast trip, and you might find it less expensive when you add up the gas, camping options, and food. You would still want at least two weeks to go from one coast to the other.
It is also best to make the trip during the warmest weather, which poses a need to plan well in advance for camping sites. Of course, when you have your own camper and vehicle, you can also change your trip plans to stay in an area you might have missed during the planning stage. Banff is not the only great place to camp, and in fact, you have so many rv parks that you might find delightful, less tourist-like places during your drive.
Smaller Scale Trip – Picking a City
You will need to pick a city and enjoy Canadian things to do on a smaller scale for those who have limited time. Perhaps, the first trip is to Toronto and Niagara Falls, while in another year, you decide to take a west coast excursion to Vancouver. If you want to explore the coastlines, consider cruises that take you along the east or west coast during the summer months. With cruises, you can book arctic expeditions for a higher chance of seeing the elusive narwhal.
As a once-in-a-lifetime trip, saving up to cruise up north and see belugas and narwhals is on my bucket list of must-do Canadian things. So, whether you agree or not, you can at least get some excellent maple syrup, tour national parks or city museums on your trip to Canada.