Too often, world travelers think of Canada as America’s little cousin—the friendly neighbor up north who doesn’t necessarily have more to offer than said friendliness (and Tim Horton’s). But in reality, Canada is home to some of the most unique, gorgeous, and engaging destinations around. And nowhere is this more true than in the Canadian Rockies.
If you’ve never been to the Canadian Rockies (or you don’t know much about them), let this be your guide to just some of the things that make this region so great. Then book your trip, and make it your mission to enjoy every item on this list.
Try Every Outdoor Sport Ever Invented
Okay, so you may not have time to try every sport. But you do have the opportunity. The Canadian Rockies offer an expansive playground in which to canoe, kayak, mountain bike, horseback ride, go backcountry hiking, zip-line, bungee jump, whitewater raft, and ski and snowboard. (You can even ski in the summer at Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort.)
Soak in Hot Springs
There are hot springs to be found all over the Canadian Rockies, and they all offer a great way to relax, unwind, and get away from the daily grind in a beautiful setting. Some of the more popular options include Radium Hot Springs outside of Kootenay, Banff Upper Hot Springs in Banff National Park, and British Columbia’s Fairmont Hot Springs, which boasts Canada’s largest natural hot springs.
Go Adventuring in Banff National Park
Banff deserves its own entry on this list. It’s not just one of the most beautiful places in Canada; it’s arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. There’s enough to do here that you could spend an entire vacation just exploring the park. Ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain for amazing panoramic views; “ooh” and “ahh” in the historic Cascade Gardens; stroll through the alpine Sunshine Meadows; take a boat tour on Lake Minnewanka; check out “the hoodoos”—freestanding pillars composed of rock; or meditate beside the glacier-fed Bow Lake.
Go Wildlife Spotting
Whether you’re in Banff, Whistler, or in or near any other of the Canadian Rockies’ impressive parks, you’ll have ample opportunities to spot some amazing wildlife. Beavers, coyotes, deer, elk, grizzly bears, and moose are all frequently sighted in the region. While you’re at it, keep an eye out for other natural wonders, including waterfalls and great views of the Northern Lights from Jasper, Alberta.
Savor Unusual Eats
Elk steaks, bison burgers, rattlesnake fondue, Alberta beef tenderloin, venison pate, and fresh-caught trout—these are just some of the many diverse items on offer in restaurants throughout the Canadian Rockies. From upscale dining to casual, family-friendly establishments, the Canadian Rockies offer something delicious (and unique) for every palate.
Party It Up at a Music Festival
If musical festivals are your thing, you’ll find great options throughout the Canadian Rockies. Center of Gravity in Kelowna, BC, the Shamabala Music Festival in Salmo, BC, and the Squamish Valley Music Festival in Squamish, BC are all popular options, but you’ll have no shortage of other musical events to choose from.
Go Urban in Vancouver
Vancouver has earned a reputation for itself as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and that alone should be reason enough to visit. But if that doesn’t convince you, perhaps the delicious food, great museums and art galleries, urban hiking, historic architecture, stellar breweries, and boutique shopping options will.