The beautiful renaissance architecture of Tuscany, Italy, or the white, sandy beaches of Pigeon Island, St. Lucia – they're impressive, sure. But, Canada has its fair share of wonders too!
From breathtaking landscapes to vibrant city centres, there’s a world of beauty and culture to experience in this place we call home. Check out these local summer vacation ideas that’ll make you forget about the high cost of travelling overseas.
1: Go wild.
Canada is home to 37 national park reserves, offering a variety of overnight stays and excursions for many budgets. If you’re outdoorsy, you can challenge yourself to a backcountry hike on the Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland and Labrador. Prefer a little glam with your camp? A designer micrOcube – essentially a modern “tiny house” – surrounded by the cedar-hemlock trees of Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia, might be more your style. Or go to the place that has it all. Banff and Lake Louise offer wellness retreats and outdoor adventures surrounded by majestic mountainscapes.
2: Make footprints in the sand.
Canada’s beaches are so beautiful, they might make you forget where you are. Between Parlee Beach in New Brunswick (offering the warmest saltwater in the country) and Grand Beach on Lake Winnipeg (boasting sand dunes that reach as high as 12 metres), it’s hard to pick a favourite. But don’t wait! They fill up quickly. Some other notable mentions:
Îles de la Madeleine, Quebec – An expanse of 12 islands surrounded by the Gulf of St. Lawrence that features red picturesque cliffs and sand dunes.
Lake Annette, Alberta – A great spot for families, this lake offers stunning views of the Rockies, while the clear, blue-green waters will have curious little ones searching for mermaids.
Bruce Peninsula, Ontario – The Grotto is a gem of a spot boasting an open cave and turquoise waters. It’s popular, though! So do your research before you show up – you’ll want to reserve your spot well in advance.
3: Dance. Eat. Repeat.
You know what’s great about staying local in the summer? Depending on where you work or live, you might hear the distant rumble of drums and guitar strings from a concert nearby. Or you may be a short trip away from a local food festival. Check your region’s government page or tourist sites for local events and entertainment – like the Montreal Jazz Festival, where you’ll find countless concerts, some of which are free. Or the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, currently North America’s largest cultural festival.
4: Immerse yourself in the local arts scene.
Museums and art galleries are the heart of every town and city. Many are free, but if they aren’t you might find some deals on admissions during off-peak hours. Join a free guided tour of the Parliament of Canada or visit your town’s website for information about local galleries and heritage sites.
5: Go on a road trip.
Gather your friends and family and take a hiatus by hitting the open roads. You can split the cost of gas or redeem points you may have earned for savings at the pump. Don’t know where to go? Chart a course to one of our suggestions above. Or travel without a plan ... there are no rules!
If you don’t have a car or you’d rather save on gas, look into shuttle bus services in your area. Some might even be free! Just search “free shuttle service to tourist sites” online for more information. Looking to rent a car? Find out why your credit score matters.
6: Stay local for a last-minute summer getaway.
If you can make time for a quick vacation before summer’s end, the best destination may be right under your nose. Book a stay at a nearby hotel or vacation rental with a nice pool (you can find some great last-minute deals on certain discount hotel sites), or play tourist in your own town by visiting popular attractions – including ones you might be nostalgic for.
Hoping for a staycation? Or to step up your accommodations on a budget? Check out our staycationer’s guide to making the most of your days off.