I’m always down to in exploring, especially when it is something unique. To honour my beautiful country, Canada, what are some of the most unique places to see?
Canada is known for its open spaces and naturally breathtaking landscapes. Where the country is so vast, there are secret destinations and remote places that many Canadians don’t even know about.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park – Milk River, Alberta
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is a confluence of natural beauty and human ingenuity, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. The park is spread across the Prairies, and its stone drawings can be traced back to almost 3,000 years ago. Writing-on-Stone is a must-do Canada destination for nature, art and history enthusiasts.
Things to do in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
A highly recommended activity in the park is hiking the Hoodo trail where you’ll be able to appreciate the unusual rock formations (the hoodos) as well as other landscapes including sandstone cliffs and upland prairie grasslands. All of these along the Milk River valley.
The information centre close to the park also offers interpretive sessions where you can learn about the Blackfoot clan, creators of the writing on the stones. The park is also a hub for water activities such as kayaking and canoeing.
When to visit Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Spring and fall are perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the hoodoos of Writing-on-Stone. May until August is the best time of year for water activities. Be sure to check the water levels before diving in, as canoeing and kayaking are not recommended when the levels fall below 12 cubic meters/second.
Great Sandhills – Saskatchewan
The Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan are another natural wonder that deserve to be in your great western Canada bucket list. Formed around the last Ice Age, this unusual place is proof of the changes brought by the melting of the Laurentides.
Things to do in Great Sandhills
Start by visiting The famous Hanging Cowboy Boots Spot for an Insta-worthy moment. Then, head over to the dunes for a hike – don’t miss the chance to ride your way down on a carpet. Hiking the Sandhills is also a good opportunity to spot a few of the 19 unique bird species that live in the area.
After a day of outdoor fun, cool down and unwind while learning about Saskatchewan’s “desert” at the Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Center.
When to visit Great Sandhills
The months from May to October are the best time to plan your visit. Avoid visiting during rainy days as navigating through wet sand is not an easy hike and it’s definitely an impossible drive.
Bonnechere Caves, Ontario
Is a unique adventure in Ontario perfect for your travel bucket list. These limestone cave systems were formed almost 450,000 years ago, offering a window into the past. The caves also provide plenty of unique underground experiences and events that help making it one of the best experiences in Canada.
A trip to the Bonnechere Caves is a unique adventure in Ontario perfect for your travel bucket list. These limestone cave systems were formed almost 450,000 years ago, offering a window into the past. The caves also provide plenty of unique underground experiences and events that help making it one of the best experiences in Canada.
Things to do in Bonnechere Caves
While tours are great for families, the caves also offer a unique live music and dining experience perfect for couples.
During the peak season, take a one-hour guided tour to learn about the significance of the Bonnechere Caves. While tours are great for families, the caves also offer a unique live music and dining experience perfect for couples.
The Bonnechere area is not only about the caves, in fact, Bonnechere offers some of the best things to do in Ontario for all types of travellers. If you’re looking for an active getaway, the Tour de Bonnechere Bicycle Race is a fast-paced attraction. Palaeontology buffs can get their thrills with fossil hunts at the Bonnechere Museum, while nature lovers will enjoy the unique Paddle and Fiddle the Bonnechere event.
When to visit Bonnechere Caves
The caves are closed during the winter months to let the water in and prevent erosion from the freezing temperatures. They open again in May and stay open until the American Thanksgiving.
Spotted Lake, Osoyoos, British Columbia
The spotted lake in Osoyoos, British Columbia is a true mystery. According to Mother Nature Network, during the winter and spring seasons, this lake in Okanagan Valley looks just like any body of water, but when the water begins to evaporate during the summer, hundreds of “huge briny pools are left behind, leaving a polka-dot landscape of yellow, green and blue spots.” The CBC calls this lake, “the most magical place in Canada.” So how do these spots form? “The colorful pools are the result of a high concentration of minerals, including calcium, sodium sulphates and magnesium sulphate that have collected in the water,” Mother Nature Network reports.
Things to do in Osoyoos
The desert of Osoyoos has a semi-arid climate, so it is surprisingly full of shrubbery. A boardwalk through Canada’s only desert is a unique experience you can’t miss. More active travellers can also indulge in water-sports at Canada’s warmest lake.
Situated at the southern-most tip of the Okanagan valley. It comes to no surprise that Osoyoos is one Canada’s hottest wine country. If you consider yourself a foodie, the wine tastings offered by the more than 50 wineries in the area are a must-visit for you.
A visit to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre , a state-of-the-art interpretive Centre, is recommended for those seeking a cultural experience. However, if you want the best of both worlds, you can head to Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Indigenous-owned and operated winery in Canada.
When to visit Osoyoos
Summer is the Okanagan Valley’s peak season, with hot temperatures perfect for a trip to the beaches and wineries. Spring and fall is also a great time to visit Osoyoos. Spring brings many events and activities while the fall colours of the vineyards are a visual delight. And even in the winter, when the weather in Canada gets colder, temperatures in Osoyoos are mild and cozy.
Haida Gwaii – British Columbia
Formerly known as The Charlottes, the Haida Gwaii islands are mesmerizing in their appeal. This UNESCO world heritage site is located in the far western part of Canada and it is formed by the islands of Graham, Moresby and 400 smaller islands – together known as the “Galapagos of Canada” for their rich diversity of flora and fauna.
A visit to the Haida Gwaii islands offer an inside look to the Haida Nation culture and a tropical excursion with year-round surfing opportunities, making it one of the best experiences in Canada.
Things to do in Haida Gwaii
One of the best experiences in Haida Gwaii is a visit to Gwaii Haanas, a protected nature reserve home to grand forests and endemic wildlife such as black bear, coral reefs and sea life.
Year round temperate climate and an active winter surfing zone, also make Haida Gwaii a great destination for surfing, beach sports and even whale watching. The most popular beach in the area is the North Beach.
The ancient Haida culture is also a popular interest among visitors. Explore the historical sites guided by members of the Haida Nation from April to October. The tours usually include a visit to the remains of their unique longhouses, as well as insights to current Haida people cultural practices.
When to visit Haida Gwaii
Haida Gwaii is one of the best places to visit in Canada during the summer (June to August) because of the warmer weather. However, the warmer climate makes it suitable for a trip all year round.
Saint-Pierre And Miquelon, Newfoundland
If you want to explore Canada, but a European feel is more your thing, Saint-Pierre And Miquelon is certainly a destination for your Canada bucket list.
Located in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, this magical archipelago consist of several islands: Saint-Pierre, Miquelon-Langlade, L’Île-aux-Marins as well as other inhabited smaller islands. Together they are known as Saint-Pierre And Miquelon make for an idyllic island vacations filled with French cuisine, boutiques and a culture that blends European customs with North Atlantic living.
Things to do in Saint-Pierre And Miquelon
Nature lovers will love the islands’ network of coastal trails that offer complete serenity and access to diverse flora and fauna, as well as tours offered on the water by boat to discover the region’s seabirds, whales, and other ocean species.
For traditional Saint-Pierre activities, don’t miss the chance to experience a Pelote game. A traditional Basque tennis ball game popular in the island.
Several culture walks and museum tours are also available in Saint-Pierre. A loop through the city’s old district and its historic architecture is a must to understand the island’s heritage. Immerse yourself in a liquor smuggling adventure when you tour the many Prohibition era buildings!
While smaller in population, Miquelon is also a laidback destination that visitors ofter forget to visit. Indulge in its French cuisine, explore the collection of wines, stroll down its sandy beaches and shop for exclusive soaps and perfumes that come directly from France.
When to visit Saint-Pierre And Miquelon
Summer is without a doubt the best time to explore Saint-Pierre and Miquelon as it offers the best weather and all the villages feel alive with summer festivals and tons of outdoor exploration opportunities.
Churchill – Manitoba
Churchill offers a spellbinding view of the and a peek into a way of life from another era. It’s a modern-day wonder with a 4,000-year history, without which your bucket list is incomplete.
Churchill is located on the shores of Hudson Bay, and is aptly named the “polar bear capital of the world” . Churchill offers a spellbinding view of the aurora borealis and a peek into a way of life from another era. It’s a modern-day wonder with a 4,000-year history, without which your bucket list is incomplete.
Thing to do in Churchill
Churchill is one of the top three places in the world to experience the northern lights. This activity drives many visitors from all around the world during its peak months of February and March. If this is something you want to experience, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, the Operational research Center as well as some smaller hotels and private companies offer sites with ideal conditions for viewing the night sky.
For animal lovers, polar bear watching expeditions and kayaking with the beluga whales are a unique and exciting opportunity to be in touch with nature. In Churchill’s cozy cafes and pubs, you can indulge in arctic delicacies such as the famous Borealis Burger.
When to visit
Churchill’s peak season is from October until March. If you’re looking to experience the northern light, visit in the winter, but if you plan to go on a polar bear expedition plan your trip for the fall. Summer months are perfect to experience the marine life and all the water activities as the weather is milder.
Magdalen Islands – Québec
Nestled in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Magdalen Islands are a must-visit destination for your Québec bucket list. These archipelago in the Gaspé region is formed by seven small islands each with beautiful and unique costal landscapes. are a photographers’ paradise, with their red rocks and crystal blue Atlantic views. The rich Acadian-French culture, seal-watching and a great variety of culinary experiences make it an unforgettable destination.
The Magdalen Islands, also called Les Iles are a photographers’ paradise, with their red rocks and crystal blue Atlantic views. The rich Acadian-French culture, seal-watching and a great variety of culinary experiences make it an unforgettable destination.
Things to do in Magdalen Islands
If you are looking for indoor activities, trying your hand at glass and sand art or enjoying the island’s cuisine is the way to go. The islands are particularly known for their craft beers, wines and of course, their seafood dishes.
Hiking the grassy hills, forest paths, dunes and beaches is one of the most interesting ways to explore the outdoors in Les Iles. If you are looking for indoor activities, trying your hand at glass and sand art or enjoying the island’s cuisine is the way to go. The islands are particularly known for their craft beers, wines and of course, their seafood dishes.
Another unique culinary experience here is trying their local cheese. The Pied-de-vent, a semi-soft cheese is exclusive to the Magdalen Islands and one that Madelinots take pride on exporting to the rest of the world.
Best time to visit
May to October is the best time to visit the Magdalens. However, winter trips also offer unique experiences, such as seal watching in March. The islands are also a great winter destination, since the climate is milder compared to mainland Quebec.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Lunenburg makes justice to the seafaring reputation of Nova Scotia. It is home to the famous Bluenose and Bluenose II sail ships , and is blessed with a picturesque waterfront. The rustic lifestyle along with the classic architecture and the great art and cultural scene make Lunenburg one of the best experiences in Canada.
Things to do in Lunenburg
Any visit to Lunenburg should include sailing on the replica of Canada’s most celebrated racing sail ship – The Bluenose. Travellers can also try the walking tours and tasting events at the Ironworks Distillery.
To learn more about Nova Scotia’s fishing heritage, make sure to visit the Fisheries Museum. Taking a horse buggy tour and dining at the Salt Shaker Deli or The Fish Shack are also a must!
When to visit Lunenburg
Each season brings an interesting new side of Lunenburg. While the winter months are a treat for food lovers, with the lobster season in full swing, summer months bring the patio decks with perfect temperatures to soak in the sun.
The Grand Gathering, St. Lawrence River, Sainte-Flavie, Quebec
The Grand Gathering is exactly what its name means – a gathering of over 100 crude wooden figures standing upright on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. These eerie human-esque figures were part of an art project called Le Grand Rassemblement done by Canadian artist Marcel Gagnon “who began carving the crooked wood and stone people as figure studies for his paintings,” reports Atlas Obscura. Gagnon placed the figures in different places so that they would appear and disappear with the tides. Most of the figures have no arms and just a face, while others are leaning over or have a hunchback, giving the art project a very creepy feeling.
The Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Thunder Bay, Ontario
While standing along Thunder Bay, you may look across the way and see what appears to be a large figure sleeping. Located in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Ontario, the Sleeping Giant is the primary feature of this park. The park is a 94 square mile park located on the Sibley Peninsula in Northwestern Ontario, east of Thunder Bay. The eastern part of the park is lowlands while the western half is terrain composed of cliffs, valleys and the mesa-cuestas (a hill or ridge) that make up the famous and strange Sleeping Giant figure.
Pingos, Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories
These strange forms in the Northwest Territories of Canada are called pingos or hydrolaccolith, which are natural mounds of earth covered ice found in the Arctic and can reach 230 feet in height and up to 2,000 feet in diameter. According to Atlas Obscura, a pingo is a “periglacial landform” which are formed by ground ice which develops during the winter months as temperatures get cold. The largest pingo takes decades to form and the process to create this unique and strange natural earth mound is closely related to frost heaving. It’s also known that these pingos eventually collapse and have a lifespan of 1,000 years.
Cheltenham Badlands, Ontario
In Caledon, Ontario, you’ll stumble upon jaw-dropping land formations or eroded shale that has been exposed thanks to soil erosion caused by poor agricultural practices. The Cheltenham Badlands are a small example of badlands formations, which is a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by water and wind. Here you’ll find steep slopes, minimal vegetation and a lack of substantial regolith. What makes these formations quite unique are the beautiful colors. The colors of the badlands change from dark black/blue coal stria to red scoria, which you can see above.
Abraham Lake, Alberta
Trapped beneath Alberta’s Lake Abraham are amazing frozen bubbles of methane that are quite stunning, but according to the Smithsonian, also dangerous if the bubbles are popped. While the lake looks picturesque, you don’t want to be around the bubbles if they pop since they are actually pockets of methane, a highly flammable gas. So if you happen to be lighting a match near these bubbles, it can get explosive. The Smithsonian states, “methane bubbles form in bodies of water when dead organic matter falls into the water and sinks to the bottom, to the delight of bacteria waiting below. The bacteria munches on the matter and out comes methane, which turns into white floating blobs when it comes into contact with frozen water.”
Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick /Nova Scotia
Separating the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal range in the world. Its high tides reach heights of 53ft (16m), with more than 160bn tons of water flowing in and out of the bay twice a day. The diversity of the bay’s marine life has been compared to that of the Amazon rainforest, making it one of the top bird- and whale-watching destinations in North America. This unique site is home to towering cliffs, sandstone pillars, hiking trails and beaches.
Big Muddy Valley, Saskatchewan
The caves of the Big Muddy badlands in Saskatchewan were hideouts for bank robbers and horse thieves in the 19th century | © All Canada Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
Canada is home to coastline, prairie, mountain ranges and untouched forest, so it’s no surprise that people come here for the scenery. Not for nothing is it known as the Great White North, with the dramatic Rockies, but there’s also Alberta National Park, Vancouver Island and many other natural landmarks – not to mention Newfoundland, Labrador and the Yukon. Here’s our pick of where to visit.
Have you been to any of these beautiful and unique places? Where would you visit first? I’d love to know!