Friends, I am thinking about taking a trip north later this summer for a vacation with my bride. I know next to nothing about Canada, having only been to Toronto once on a quick business trip. Can you provide me with some insight on great place(s) to go and things we absolutely should do in Canada? Ideally, I'd love to burn some of the points that we have piled up, and would love to maximize the value of the trip. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated! Thanks very much in advance. ,
Quebec City is a fabulous place to visit, in a spectacular setting on the St Lawrence River, as is Montreal. Western Canada has some wonderful places to visit - Victoria on Vancouver Island is a special place, the City of Vancouver has much to see and do, and I don't think you can beat the Canadian Rockies, easily accessible from Calgary, for some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on the planet. From Banff/Lake Louise north to Jasper, it's all unbelievable. You will have a great time wherever you travel in Canada - good summer choice.
nationwide As you know Canada is a big place, I think AZ gave you a good nutshell. A lot of people have the train ride through the rocky mountain on their bucket list, I did that 40 years ago and it is amazing. Quebec in general is a worthy destination. in my opinion it is more European than Europe because there was no WW2 bombing impact. For something very different go to Newfoundland, it is very nice and very different. Nova Scotia is a good road trip, lots of great scenery and food.
On points, I believe that when they merged Delta in they undervalued it on points so you can get some good bargains, The dollar is down so you will get good value,
No one goes to Ontario without going to Niagara Falls, stay at the Courtyard and get the meal and wine plan, it is a great deal
When you get a bit more specific on what part of Canada you want to go to, send me a note and I can help.
nationwide We really enjoyed a trip to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick last summer; however, when we return it will be in the fall so we can leaf peek. We were planning a trip to Quebec City/Montreal later this summer, but we decided we would delay that trip until we could go in the fall. We love the Vancouver/Victoria area and have been there twice-- once at the end of an Alaskan cruise and the other at the beginning of an Alaskan cruise. We loved seeing Niagara Falls. Later this summer, we are returning to Calgary and Banff and will be visiting Jasper for the first time.
We've been pleased with Marriott stays in Halifax, St. Andrews by the Sea, Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, and Niagara Falls, and we're looking forward to a stay at the Delta Royal Canadian Lodge in Banff.
As peymanagement noted, the dollar is down so you get more for your money. Remember, you can see the rates in USD which makes it easier to know what you are spending. Those rates can vary somewhat due to the conversion rates changing, but I have not noticed much of a change over the last few months.
P.S.We enjoy going to Canada during the summer because it is usually much cooler than south Louisiana. When I checked the weather in Calgary a couple of nights ago, it was 52 degrees (a bit rainy) while it was 87 degrees at 6 pm here!
I've made about twenty trips over the to Canada over the past 73 years. (I'm 75!) Most of them to visit family in Montreal and Toronto but multiple vacations, also.
There are great trips all across that great nation.
1. Montreal and Quebec City, It's the closest you can find to France without going there. Food is fantastic! (Done them many times.)
2. The Gaspe Peninsula. Spectacular! If you have enough time, add Tadussac on the St. Lawrence river. Even though it's on a couple of rivers and in land from the ocean by several hours, it's an excellent whale watching spot. You can even see some of the smaller whales from land, there. (Done it and loved it!)
3. The Laurentians. Good summer spot and excellent skiing in the winter. (Done it and loved it!)
4. Whistler. Perhaps the best skiing in North America. Certainly the biggest mountain for skiing on this continent.
5. Vancouver! (Done it several times and loved it!)
6. Canadian Rockies: Summer or winter. Includes Banff, and Lake Louise. (Bucket list!)
Toronto is one of my favorite cities. If you have interest in going back check out my blog links below.
vaboywnder peymanagement phctourist razorbackfan AZDesertRat thank each of you for the great inputs regarding our trip to Canada! I really appreciate you pointing us in the right direction. We should nail down our loose itinerary in the next few days, and I may circle back with some follow up questions. Many thanks!
I would be happy to supply more information if you shared some specifics of where. Canada is a pretty big country and there are interesting things to see in just about every part of it. Like the USA, European Settlers came to the East a lot sooner than they went to the West. I've been to all 10 Canadian provinces, one of the territories and to almost all of the states....
My home country so ask away.
Eastern Canada - NS/NB/NL and PEI are well known for their hospitality and fresh seafood and coastal scenery. My brother owns 2 lobster boats in NS and it has been an average season. It also depends on the time of year you travel. If you chose late Sept/early Oct, for sure the leaves will leave you breathless if the weather has turned cold.
Western Canada )BC and Alberta) is all about the mountains. Large expanses of wilderness and national parks. Look at staying at Delta Okanagon in Kelowna, BC or any Deltas near the national parks. Similar could be said in eastern although the national parks are not as large out that way.
Vancouver/Victoria is a great vacation. My last trip, about 5 years ago, I used points for my airfare from Phoenix and was shocked at all the taxes/fees I had to pay that were not covered by points. On my next trip I plan to fly into Seattle (none of those pesky fees) and then take Amtrak up to Vancouver.
Vancouver is a wonderful city with lots of great neighbourhoods. A trip to Sophie's Cosmic Cafe in Kitsilano for breakfast is a real treat. Go see the steam clock in Gastown and have a meal at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Not to be missed is Stanley Park, a 1,000 acre park that borders downtown. The Vancouver Aquarium is right in the park and is also worth a visit.
Banff is simply heaven on earth. The Icefields Parkway takes you through Banff and Jasper National Parks and is the most scenic drive I have ever experienced. Along the route you pass the Columbia Icefields, where the snow is so compact and frozen, it is blue in color. The beautiful turquoise colored Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are indeed spectacular. Don't be surprised if you have to stop a few times to let wildlife cross the road!
From Japser you can drive to Maligne Lake, another stunningly beautiful area. If I remember correctly, it's a twisty, turn road with great views. There's the Jasper SkyTram, which I believe is the longest aerial tramway in Canada. I didn't ride the tramway, but can imagine the spectacular views.
I would add Melissa's Missteak to the list of places to eat in Banff, it is nice, particularly for breakfast or lunch. Takkakaw Falls inside the BC border is nice to see, it has a fall of 1248 ft. Take a walk to or around Emerald Lake and stop at Lake Louise. As others have mentioned, the drive to Jasper from Lake Louise is nice, it is very picturesque. As far as Vancouver is concerned, I'd like to add the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Bloedel Conservatory, Granville Island, the Seabus, Grouse Mountain - and if possible, the ferry ride to Victoria. Fish on Fifth is excellent in Sidney, BC. Victoria has a nice Marriott. I'd avoid the RI in downtown Vancouver but there's the Marriott Pinnacle downtown and a few other Marriott or Delta properties.
I'm from Montreal and have done a fair share of travelling through Canada. And with Delta now fully integrated in the Marriott chain, you even have more choices in Canuck territory!
Eastern Canada is definitely more affordable than the West (especially BC and the Rockies), on top of the Dollar exchange.
If you want to consider the east, I can definitely recommend a few destinations in Québec province. Especially the french-speaking side of it may give an extra sense of "exoticism". ;-)
Montreal is a real festival city. Right now the famous International Jazz Festival is on. Later in the summer will feature smaller festivals, but definitely not boring. You can find dedicated festival agendas online to help chose. Apart from that: climb the Mo(u)nt Royal for a great view over the city; visit the famous botanical gardens and Olympic stadium with plenty activities around; take your car for a spin on the Gilles Villeneuve F1 circuit; go down into history in Old Montreal and the Old Port (download the app to do the interactive Cité Mémoire at night, which is made for the city's 375th birthday next year). There is a really nice new Courtyard downtown, with great views and terrific staff. I wouldn't recommend the Marriott Chateau Champlain though, since it's old and has a claustrophobicly small and dark bar/restaurant. The Delta is also a nice option. I wasn't impressed with the Sunhill Suites though. Any other options will be very much out of your way. Depending on what you'd like to do, 3-4 days won't be wasted.
Québec City is another popular destination. This city doesn't need much explanation. Apart from the old city, also consider visiting the Montmorency Falls. I love the concierge level rooms at the Delta: a magnificent view over the entire region! It's also one block away from Old Québec. Depending on what's going on in town, have at least 2 days here.
From here, rent a car and visit the Gaspésie peninsula (#2 place to visit in Canada according to National Geographic, after the Rocky Mountains). No Marriott properties out there (that I know of), but definitely worth a visit. I can easily recommend a week if you're into hiking.
Maybe go see St-Jean Lake (Lac St-Jean) and take a whale-watching tour on the St-Laurent from around Tadoussac (make sure to do a zodiac tour, not the big boats). The provincial energy company (Hydro-Quebec) gives free tours in all of their massive installations, so consider visiting the Manic-Cinq hydro dams. There's a Delta Hotel in Saguenay, which makes a great departure point for the region.
Little personal disclaimer: Even though people might say that Québec very much feels like Europe, it's something they make up. Being born and raised in Europe, Québec sure is completely different from the old continent. It's all in colonial style, but simply older than a big part of the rest of North America.