Things to See and Do in Ontario

Outside of a few hot spots, the province of Ontario as a whole doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Offering the perfect combination of city life and rural getaway, Ontario offers something for all interests and preferences.

If you’re itching for your next getaway, Ontario deserves to be at the top of your list for destinations to explore. To prove it, here are five wide-ranging things to see and do in Ontario.

1. Ottawa

A good place to start is Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.

Walking through Ottawa, you can’t help but feel like you’re in a different time. Unlike other, more boisterous cities in Ontario like Toronto, Ottawa’s Gothic revival architecture, plentiful brick roads, and political presence give it a less flashy, more cultured atmosphere. If you’re a history or political buff, you can tour the grounds of the Parliament buildings and snap a photo with the iconic burning fire. If you want to start and end your day inundated with Ottawa’s history, you can even stay at the Château Laurier across the street from the Parliament buildings. After touring the grounds, you can continue your trek down history lane at one of the museums and galleries scattered around Ottawa, such as the National Gallery of Canada, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Royal Canadian Mint. Or, if aimlessly strolling the streets is more your thing, Ottawa’s pedestrian-friendly city plan makes walking or biking anywhere a breeze. That said, be sure to take some time for the many food stalls, snacks, and artisanal gifts at Byward Market. If you go during the winter, you can end the day skating across the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest skating rink.

Source: Shutterstock

2. Toronto

If Ottawa can be described as Ontario’s red wine, Toronto can be described as Ontario’s vodka soda. Packed streets, metropolitan districts, multicultural neighborhoods, and a bumping nightlife characterize the Toronto experience.

As a start, pay a visit to Toronto’s iconic CN Tower. It’s the tallest building in Toronto by far and the ninth tallest free-standing structure in the world. The CN Tower stands 553.3 meters high and offers a restaurant and breathtaking views at the top. After the CN Tower, take a stroll down to Toronto’s Chinatown, beginning at the intersection of Spadina Avenue and College Street. It offers plenty of knick-knack shops, authentic cuisine, street buskers, and Chinese medicine stands. Just a few minutes away from Chinatown by foot is Kensington Market. As Toronto’s hipster paradise, you can grab a bite at one of the countless hole-in-the-wall lunch spots, walk around with a specialty-brewed coffee, and check out a vintage clothing store or two. At night, you can chill out or dance the night away at one of the many patio bars/clubs in the area.

Source: Shutterstock

3. Killarney Provincial Park

If being surrounded by nature is more your thing, paying an extended visit to Killarney Provincial Park is a must. Considered the crown jewel among Ontario’s many parks, Killarney consists of over 50 lakes and a vast network of short trails. Plus, it’s the inspiration behind many of the works created by the world-famous group of landscape painters known as The Group of Seven. In fact, the park’s 80km La Cloche Silhouette Trail is named after Franklin Carmichael’s legendary painting of the range. While the trail offers a thorough exploration of the park, it’s only recommended for more experienced hikers. Other than hiking, Killarney is considered a great place to kayak in the whole world. This is due to the dozens of lakes dotting the park.

Depending on your itinerary, you can spend anywhere from days to weeks exploring everything Killarney has to offer.

Source: Shutterstock

4. Wine Country

A less physical, equally as enjoyable way to explore Ontario’s vast nature is a road trip through its wine country. As Canada’s top-producing province, Ontario is home to more than 180 wineries. Many of which offer tastings, tours, vineyard walks, and other wine-related activities. With everything on offer, you can easily plan an entire Ontario trip around just its wineries.

Arguably the most renowned wine region in Ontario is the Niagara Region. At approximately the same latitude as Languedoc and Provence in France, the Niagara region successfully grows many of the same grape varietals as those grown in these more world-renowned wine-growing regions. For something unique to the area, try Niagara’s sweeter ice wines. Due to the colder weather that is synonymous with Canada, Niagara has become famous for its sweeter ice wines and late harvest wines made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. Besides Niagara, other notable wine regions to check out include Prince Edward County and Pelee Island on Lake Erie. To see all possible options and route a road trip that best fits your needs, you can also use a Wine Route Planner.

Source: Shutterstock

5. Niagara Falls

At some point in your life, you’ve likely at least seen pictures of the magnificent geological feat that is Niagara Falls. While it consists of three different waterfalls between the U.S. and Canada, the largest of the three, Horseshoe Falls, is found on the Canadian side of the Falls. Less than a two-hour drive from Toronto, a visit to Niagara Falls, which also consists of plenty of tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants, is the perfect day trip. Of course, the first stop when visiting should be the Falls themselves. Viewing the Falls in all of their glory is completely free from the main walkway. For a closer look, you can pay to get a boat tour that gets close to going underneath the flowing water. Just be prepared to get soaked. While the Falls are beautiful during the day time, be sure to visit them at night to see the water illuminated by bright lights. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a fireworks show over the horizon.

After getting your fix of the Falls, you can head up the nearby Clifton Hill. While a lot of the attractions on the street are very touristy and cost a pretty penny, they are worth it just for the views. Neon signs, karaoke bars, window displays of life-size celeb wax figures, and haunted houses are just some of the things you can expect on your trek up Clifton Hill. Plus, if you get tired at any point, you can stop at Fudge Factory or Sweet Jesus to refuel with some delicious snacks.

Source: Shutterstock

8 Historic Canadian Forts That Still Exist Today

Canadian forts offer a glimpse into the past, built over the last two centuries to defend the young country. Nowadays they stand as a testament to the history of Canada and offer visitors a chance to go back in time. Many of these historic forts have been rebuilt time and time again, in order to give visitors access to them. Beautiful views, fun activities and a great lesson in Canadian history await visitors to these eight historic Canadian forts.

8. Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, Victoria, British Columbia

This coastal artillery fort was built in the 1890’s, intended to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. The site is adjacent to Fisgard Lighthouse, the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada. Visitors here have the chance to tour secret bunkers, military command posts, and original 19th-century buildings.

Hear personal stories of soldiers and their families, explore the nearby tide pools and bring a picnic and spend the whole day here. Known for its breathtaking views, the fort overlooks the beautiful coastline and out into the mountains. Open every day except Christmas, most visitors choose to visit the fort and the lighthouse in the same visit.

7. The Citadel National Historic Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Fort George is the fortified summit of Citadel Hill, first fortified in 1749, the year when Halifax was founded. A series of four different defensive fortifications have occupied the summit of Citadel Hill. While it was never attacked, the Citadel played an important part in the defense of the Halifax Harbor and its Royal Navy Dockyard. The star-shaped structure offers an incredible view of the city and the harbor.

Visitors should plan on taking a guided tour to learn more about the fort’s history from 1749 through WWII. Make sure to visit the Army Museum while you are here to view over 70,000 artifacts chronicling Atlantic Canada’s military history. Visit in July and be a part of the Great Canadian Backyard Campout where you can set up camp inside the walls of the citadel.

6. Fort Chambly National Historic Site, Chambly, Quebec

This imposing stone structure has been guarding part of one of the largest navigable waterways in North America for more than two centuries. It was first constructed in 1711 to defend the colony and three wooden forts preceded the stone fortification. For many years this fort was the main footing of the defensive chain of fortifications along the Richelieu River, which was the easiest route into New France.

The fort was lost to the British in 1760 in The Conquest of New France, captured by American forces in 1775 and finally restored in 1882 by a citizen of Chambly. Today visitors can see a fully reconstructed version of the fort where they can learn more about New France history and culture.

5. Fort St. James National Historic Site, Fort St. James, British Columbia

It was one of the first permanent fur trading posts in the West, built in 1805-1806 and has been rebuilt a total of four times. Visitors here will get a good look at life in 1896 that includes a fur warehouse, storage facility, trade store, and gardens. It displays the largest group of original wooden buildings representing the fur trade in Canada and the story here revolves around the relationships and interactions between the fur traders and Native Peoples of the region.

Its location on Stuart Lake offers fun for outdoor enthusiasts including hiking, sailing, fishing and mountain biking. Special event days happen throughout the year including Salmon Day with its ‘iron chef’ cook-off and Harvest Day.

Via Salmon Trails | Northwest BC Culture

4. Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, St. Andrews, Manitoba

The original Fort Garry was destroyed in 1826 by a devastating flood, leading the Hudson’s Bay Company to search for a higher ground to build the next fort. Thus Lower Fort Garry was built, 32km north of the original in 1830. What makes this fort so significant is the fact that Treaty 1 was signed here.

Visit here from May to September when costumed interpreters recreate like at Lower Fort Garry in the early 1850’s. Original buildings and walls, hands-on activities and original-to-era furnishings are all a part of the experiment. Around Halloween, candlelight tours are offered through the fort, along with hot chocolate around a campfire.

Via National Post

3. Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada, Amherstburg, Ontario

It was formally known as Fort Amherstburg, built in 1795 by Britain in order to ensure the security of British North America against any potential threat of American Invasion. It here where Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh met during the War of 1812 to plan the siege of Detroit. Unfortunately, this border fortification was torn down after the War of 1812. The fort was rebuilt and it’s the second structure that survives today.

Ideally located along the Detroit River, visitors here are privy to some true Canadian flora and fauna including sugar maples, swans, and geese. Throughout the year there are special events such as the haunted fort tours during October and Christmas celebrations that show visitors how soldiers over two hundred years ago celebrated the holiday.

Via Ontario’s Southwest

2. Fortress Louisburg, Louisburg, Nova Scotia

The original settlement was made in 1713 by the French and developed over several decades into a thriving center for fishing and trade. Fortified against the threat of British Invasion during the time of empire building, Louisburg was besieged twice before finally being destroyed in the 1760’s. Luckily for visitors, archeologists have reconstructed the fortress as it was in the 18th century.

Today the site features more than a dozen buildings to explore as well as daily demonstrations recreating life at the fort that includes cooking, dancing, music and military drills. This is more than just a fort to explore, with its three 18th-century restaurants as well as a delicious bakery to explore. One of best things about visiting this fortress is the help you are giving the local economy, which has struggled economically with the decline of the North Atlantic fishery.

1. Old Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Ontario

It is known as Canada’s bloodiest field of battle, due to more than 3,000 troops who lost their lives during the Siege of Fort Erie from August 3rd to September 21st in 1814. The original fort was built in 1764 and was the first British fort to be constructed as part of a network developed after the Treaty of Paris concluded the Seven Years’ War. The fort was first a supply base for British troops, before the War of 1812, a base for troops during the American Revolution and later an important crossing point for the Underground Railroad.

The annual Siege of Fort Erie takes place on the second week of August each year and is most definitely the favorite time to check out this historical fort. It is then that re-enactors from all over North America descend on the fort to re-create the historic battles, complete with plenty of firepower.

The 11 Best Wilderness Retreats in Canada

If there is one thing Canada does well, it is Wilderness resorts. From the west coast to the east, and everything in between, this country is overflowing with incredible log cabins, luxury glamping resorts and scores of activities centering around nature. Discover one of the most expensive lodges in the country, hike through the Great Bear Rainforest, come eye to eye with an Orca Whale and embrace the beautiful country at these 11 incredible wilderness retreats.

11. Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, Bella Coola, BC

Nestled in a beautiful and secluded area of British Columbia is this breathtaking wilderness lodge, with a specialty in grizzly bear viewing. The lodge was originally built in the 1920’s as a hunting and fishing lodge but today serves visitors as an eco-friendly, wilderness retreat. Placed in the middle of one of the healthiest bear habitats in the world, bears can often be seen wandering past the lodge or even napping on the lawn.

Springtime brings something special as the bears come down to the Atnarko River to feast on spawning salmon. The beautiful open lodge is welcoming with its amazing fireplaces, outdoor hot tub, and large dining rooms. Guests will spend the night in one of 11 private chalets that sleep anywhere from 2-4 people. With helpful guides on site, you can choose to do as little or as much as you want here at this incredible wilderness retreat.

Via Bella Coola Heli Sports

10. Siwash Lake Ranch, Cariboo Mountains, British Columbia

This remote resort is small, personal and sophisticated, beckoning travelers who are looking for an authentic adventure and life-enriching experiences. This genuine family-owned ranch is located in cowboy country and legendary for providing guests with the ultimate wilderness experience. Guests here have the choice of suites in the ranch house or private luxury tent suites overlooking the Siwash Lake. Dine on food that has been grown on-site or foraged from the nearby forests in the authentic dining room or outside on the sun deck or fireside.

Besides the signature horseback riding program that is offered to all guests, this ranch offers other exceptional activities and experiences including but not limited to archery, wilderness survival, kayaking, yoga, mountain biking, swimming and more. This off-grid ranch is determined to offer an authentic wilderness retreat to guests of all ages, including families that tend to head here in the summer months.

Via Nation Geographic Lodges

9. Trout Point Lodge, Tobeatic Wilderness Area, Nova Scotia

It boasts itself as luxury accommodations in unspoiled wilderness, an intimate secluded resort that caters to anyone looking to escape the ordinary. This wilderness lodge and nature retreat offers guests locally-inspired cuisine and copious amount of nature activities. Picture a massive lodge created out of log walls and beam ceilings, furnished with Tiffany lamps and handmade furniture. Crackling fireplaces, incredible views, and a welcoming atmosphere complete the picture.

With two dining venues, every guest is taken care of and served the freshest of Canadian seafood along with fresh veggies and organic ingredients. The real draw to this wilderness retreat though is the experience, from hiking through the Acadian Forest ecosystem to trout fishing in the lakes to star gazing at night to soaking in the cedar hot tub; there is no shortage of amazing experiences to be had.

Via Booking.com

8. Wilderness Resort, Sunshine Coast, BC

Located in one of BC’s best-kept secrets, this resort offers over 124 acres of pristine wilderness at your fingertips. Wilderness Resort is located within the Sechelt Inlet Provincial Marine Park on the Sunshine Coast and you can expect to share your space with bald eagles, black bears, bobcats, deer and more. Getting here is just the beginning of your wilderness experience as it’s either a 20 minute float plane ride or 40 minute ferry ride. Accommodations here range from cabins to platform tent cabins and all come beautifully furnished, ready to enjoy.

Guests here take advantage of the incredible kayaking, hiking, yoga, bird watching expeditions, sailing and seaplane tours. There is no dining room on-site here, instead fresh food is brought in daily and guests can cook it themselves, with the hosts, other guests or hire a personal chef to do it all for them. With one of the most beautiful landscapes surrounding you, the urge to go out and explore will keep you busy all day here.

Via My Trips Canada

7. Esnagami Lodge, Nakina, ON

This premier fly-in fishing lodge is for those who are looking to get serious in nature and catch the fish of their lifetime. Fully furnished cabins complete with beautiful lake views are the source of accommodation here, along with a lodge that houses a beautiful dining room, comfortable couches and other modern amenities you may need. Esnagami Lake is known for its bountiful waters, majestic wildlife, and trophy fishing.

This pristine lake offers over 120 miles of shoreline and over 200 islands, along with 18,000 acres of clear cool water. What awaits you after a full day of fishing, either guided or self-guided, is warm delicious home cooked meals in the main lodge’s dining room, a crackling fire and great company.

Via Scottmillsfishing.com

6. Cathedral Mountain Lodge, Canadian Rockies, British Columbia

Sitting in the very heart of the Canadian Rockies, it is hard to imagine how one could not fall in love with this incredible wilderness lodge. This stunning timber lodge is combined with 31 luxury lodge cabins offering the ultimate in accommodations to visitors. Activities here are endless, from 310 miles of hiking to kayaking, white water rafting, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding and more. Guests will wake up surrounded by majestically mountains, the smell of pines and the sound of the river.

Meals are served in the incredible dining room that looks out onto the Kicking Horse River and is accompanied by fine wines. The on-hand adventure specialist has the inside scoop on wildlife sightings, the best hikes and all the activities guests can participate in here. With no televisions or phones, the Cathedral Mountain Lodge encourages you to shut down from your normal life and get outside and explore the beauty that surrounds you.

Via Cathedralmountainlodge.com

5. West Coast Wilderness Lodge, Egmont, BC

It is one of the most accessible wilderness retreats in British Columbia, just a three hour drive or 20 minute float plane ride from downtown Vancouver. Guests will feel as though they are miles away from reality though as they stare out at the calm waters that surround this lodge. This lodge offers superior marine and wildlife tours by zodiac, the only ones of its kind on the Sunshine Coast and this comfortable and exciting journey are one of the best ways to learn about the ecology and geography of the west coast.

Guided tours are the specialty here and include ocean kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing and nature hikes, just to name a few. Nature is behind the design of the accommodations and guests here should expect spectacular views, private decks, outdoor hot tub, and communal fireplace lounge. This lodge also boasts one of the most incredible water-front restaurants in the country and watch as eagles soar high above and sea lions laze on by while indulging in incredible gourmet meals.

Via wcwl.com

4. Tincup Wilderness Lodge, Yukon

This breathtaking wilderness lodge is set right on the shore of Tincup Lake, surrounded by miles and miles of the untouched and raw beauty of the Yukon. The lodge can only be reached by floatplane and sets a maximum of 10 guests per week, making this an incredibly personal and unique experience. Accommodations echo the true idea of Canadian comfort, log cabins that are comfortably furnished and a large welcoming lodge with woodstove, kitchen and dining room.

The lodge here prides itself on delivering fresh authentic Northern cuisine and provides all three meals to guests. Activities here range from fly-fishing in the crystal clear lake teeming with fish to hiking one of many trails that start at the lodge to canoeing and kayaking through the calm waters. If relaxing in nature is more your style, you will love the lakeside sauna and hot tub.

Via Tincup-lodge.com

3. Nimmo Bay Resort, Port McNeil, BC

This all-inclusive luxury resort is reached only by helicopter, float plane or boat and has been listed as one of National Geographic’s most unique lodges worldwide. This intimate family owned and operated resort promises to deliver the ultimate wilderness retreat to its guests through a variety of activities, luxury cabins, and an incredible dining experience. The nine wooden cabins include awesome extras including BC wine, luxury linens, organic bath and beauty products and more.

Dining is done in the cozy lounge or outdoors on the gorgeous floating dock where local, homemade meals are served alongside local wines and beer. Included in your stay here are activities such as bear watching, canoeing, hiking, snorkeling, sunset cruises, yoga, whale watching, windsurfing and more.

Via Outside GO

2. Tagish Wilderness Lodge, Tagish, Yukon

Offering intimate and memorable experiences, Tagish Wilderness Lodge is located in the middle of the Yukon’s pristine wilderness, accessible only by boat, floatplane, skiplane or dogsled. The lodge is made up of 4 private log cabins, with a maximum of eight guests in total at one time, along with the main lodge which features a wood-fired sauna and large dining table. All meals are included and served around a family-style dining table using only the freshest of ingredients.

The lodge operates in both the winter and summer and different activities are available depending on when you visit. During the summertime, guests should expect plenty of canoeing and kayaking, fishing trips, boat tours, and hiking. In the winter guests enjoy snowshoeing, dog sledding, ice fishing and staring in wonder at the Northern Lights. Any time of the year you will be sure to observe local wildlife like moose, bears or caribou in their natural habitat.

Via Charlote Travel

1. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Tofino, BC

This five-star wilderness retreat is seriously one of a kind and from the moment guests step off the float plane they know they are in for something special. Visitors to the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort will experience world-class dining, luxury tent accommodations and countless activities to choose from. This resort is only open from Mid May to September and is one of the most costly resorts per night in the country.

Accommodations are safari-style tents decorated with antiques, king-size beds, remote-controlled propane wood stoves, and ensuite bathrooms. Gourmet meals are served and often include wild salmon, scallops, and vegetables from the organic garden. Because of its location in the 350,000-hectare Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, guests are invited to can catch salmon and halibut, ride horses into the old-grown rainforest, kayak in the Bedwell River and hike along numerous trails. This once in a lifetime wilderness retreat should not be missed, as long as you have the money to spend.

Via Kiwi Collection

Canada’s 10 Most Beautiful University Campuses

Canada is blessed from coast to coast with incredibly beautiful and unique university campuses. While some feature historic buildings and castles, others are blessed with lush landscapes and an abundance of flora. Canadian universities have done their part to keep up these beautiful landscapes and as more modern buildings are created, they are done so in environmentally friendly ways. From the bustling metropolis of Montreal to the quiet paths of Thunder Bay; here are our top 10 choices for the most beautiful university campuses in Canada.

10. McGill University -Montreal, QB

McGill doesn’t just have one beautiful campus but two, both of them gorgeous in their own ways. The downtown campus features the lush greenery from the slopes of Mount Royal, combined with over 70 state of the art buildings. Macdonald Campus on the other hand is located on the very tip of the island of Montreal and features 100 year old buildings, numerous bike and walking paths, an awesome arboretum with skiing trails and just steps away from the mighty St. Lawrence River. Expect buildings here that have commanding stone walls, copper roofs, impressive stained glass windows, concrete plazas that have been turned into gardens. A shuttle runs between the two campuses and no matter where you study, or visit, it will be downright beautiful.

McGill University

9. University of Toronto -Toronto, ON

The University of Toronto offers three different campuses but it is no contest when it comes to which one is the most beautiful of them all. St. George’s campus is located right downtown and manages to blend incredible historical architecture with green space. Visitors should make their way to Victoria College and check out the Old Vic building, the oldest of the college and perhaps the most beautiful. Head over to University College, the founding college of the University of Toronto and check out Laidlaw quadrangle, which looks more like a medieval courtyard than a university campus. The Mississauga campus on the other hand is located on 225 hundreds acres of protected green space on the Credit River and provides a beautiful background for students and visitors alike.

University of Toronto

8. Queen’s University -Kingston, ON

Think limestone buildings, stunning architecture and waterfront; as that is exactly what Queen’s campus offers students and visitors. Fall is one of the best times to visit this campus as the leaves turn into brilliant shades of red and orange, making for a striking scene against the historic buildings. Students here spend a lot of time at Douglas Library and it’s not hard to see why, as not only is the building stunning but it features a pretty awesome fourth floor which houses a “Harry Potter” room. Although this campus isn’t as large as others on this list, the students and faculty make up for that as school spirit is high. Part of what make this campus so beautiful is the sense of community that is felt; expect to see a lot of blue, red and gold worn around campus as students show off their school spirit.

Queen's University

7. Western University -London, ON

Western offers the best of both worlds, historical architecture mixed with modern buildings and amenities. The campus is situated along the banks of the Thames River in London and offers trails both throughout the campus and along the Thames River. London isn’t the most exciting city on this list which means that students have created their own fun and expect to see them whipping down University Hill on skis and snowboards in the winter. The gothic style buildings have been restored to remain charming while the insides have been renovated, giving students the best of both worlds. This university also signed a pledge a few years ago to transform the campus into a model of environmental responsibility. Plans are in the works to add more buildings to this campus and expect great things in the years to come.

Western University

6. Bishop’s University -Sherbrooke, QB

This small liberal arts university in the tiny town of Sherbrooke offers a lot in term of beauty. Founded in 1843 the goal of this university is to educate the whole person, not just focusing on one subject. The campus is spread over 500 acres, at the junction of the St. Francis and Massawippi rivers and features some of Quebec’s most historic buildings. Many weddings are held at this university campus as St. Mark’s cathedral provides and absolutely stunning setting to say “I do”. This historical chapel features intricate woodwork inside and beautiful stained glass windows. McGreer Hall is the oldest building on campus and stands out as a stunning red castle like building, which looks even more amazing when white snow surrounds it. School spirit and community only adds to the beauty of this school and students who attend Bishops make lasting friends and family.

Photo by: QUT
Photo by: QUT

5. Mount Royal University -Calgary, AB

Mount Royal has a beautiful campus, there is no denying that, especially during the warm seasons when the ponds are shimmering and the gardens are blooming. One of the most notable features of this campus is the outdoor amphitheatre where the students and the community can gather for events, such as plays and concerts. Mount Royal is working hard to do their part in being environmentally friendly and in 2006 opened its first certified LEED building, and has since dedicated to making every new building on campus LEED certified. Make sure to head to the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, a beautiful modern looking building in which you can take in a fabulous performance or take some time to reflect in one of the many green spaces throughout the campus.

Photo by: Under Western Skies
Photo by: Under Western Skies

4. McMaster University -Hamilton, ON

Located in the residential neighborhood of Westdale in Hamilton, Ontario; McMaster is beautiful both inside and out. There are amazing trails to be found throughout the campus and in the surrounding areas, as well as conservation areas and a plethora of waterfalls to explore. The main campus itself is both bicycle and pedestrian friendly with wide paved paths throughout, making it easy to get from one place to another. Make sure to have lunch at the Refectory, one of the original buildings on McMaster, as the top floor features a restaurant that looks over a beautiful treed ravine. One of the highlights on this campus is Cootes Paradise, a wildlife sanctuary owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens which features an abundance of flora and fauna. With a mix of original architecture, new buildings and lush landscape, this university is downright stunning.

McMaster University

3. Lakehead University -Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University has two campuses, one based in Orillia and the other in Thunder Bay and it is here in Thunder Bay where you will find one of the most picturesque campuses in the country. Spread out over 116 hectares, under the steep cliffs of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, this campus features 39 buildings and an abundance of green space. What you won’t find here is the rows upon rows of historical buildings like many of the campuses on this list. Instead you will find stunning nature, all around you. Buildings were designed with floor to ceiling windows so both faculty and students could feel like they were outside. With gardens overflowing with beautiful flowers and Lake Tamblyn running through the campus it is easy to see why in the warm months, classes are often taught outdoors.

Photo by: Lakehead University
Photo by: Lakehead University

2. University of British Columbia -Vancouver, BC

It is arguably one of the most beautiful university campuses across the country with incredible surroundings and breathtaking views. The Vancouver campus is located at the western tip of the Point Grey Peninsula, surrounded by forest, ocean and mountains. Getting to downtown Vancouver takes just twenty minutes and there are numerous beaches just a short distance away. To add to this awesome campus are the ultra cool buildings situated here. Visitors should definitely head to the UBC farm and check out the yurt, one of the only yurts on a university campus in the world. The library is light and airy, featuring literary quotes on the outside of the building while the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health is sleek and modern with glass windows and a unique shape. Whether you are viewing this campus by air, walking through it or attending as a student, it is simply breathtaking.

University of British Columbia

1. Royal Roads University -Victoria, BC

Up until 1995 this University was actually a Military College and features an impressive main building, the Hatley Castle. The castle was completed in 1908 and was once meant to house the Royal Family, but instead they remained in the UK as the world was at war. Lucky for students and visitors alike, this campus is now a public university spread over 260 hectares of parkland with incredible surroundings. Walking through this campus gives visitors gorgeous views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the impressive Olympic Mountain Range. Walking, hiking and biking trails wind throughout the campus and you will come across an incredible Japanese Garden, among other hidden treasures. The entire campus is a part of the Hatley Park National Historic Site and between the incredible buildings and extensive gardens; it is clear why this truly is the most beautiful campus in the country.

Royal Roads University

Top 10 Badlands Around the World

When you imagine badlands, the mind goes to alien looking formations, minimal vegetations, fascinating colors and other geological forms. Badlands are actually a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. These badlands can be found all over the world, from Canada to the United States and all the way to New Zealand. What fascinates people most about these landscapes are the incredible formations that look as they have come from another planet. They may be designated as parks, hidden along deserted roads or turned into tourist destinations but one thing remains the same; these badlands are “badass.”

10. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

When Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was just a young guy from New York. The rugged landscape and strenuous life that he experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today. During his administration his conservation efforts led to the founding of the National Park Service, established to protect and preserve unspoiled places, just like his beloved North Dakota Badlands. Visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park can be done year round and visitors have their choice of seeing the North and/or South Unit of the park. In the north visitors will be treated to an abundance of wildlife, along with deep gorges, and colorful badlands; making this sweeping vista absolutely incredible. The South Unit offers the chance for visitors to see the badlands that have been shaped from millions of years of wind, rain, erosion and fire. The Painted Canyon Visitor Center is also a stop along the way, giving you a first glimpse of the badlands from above.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

9. Hell’s Half-Acre – Natrona County, Wyoming

Years ago this badland was a tourist stop, famous for its place in the 1997 Starship Troopers movie. At one point the canyon rim held a restaurant, campground and small motel but for years the landscape has been deserted. Although not as big as other badlands on this list, the sheer remoteness and desolation of Hell’s Half-Acre makes it unique. The history behind this canyon can be found on an interpretative sign stating that Native American tribes used the ravines to drive bison to their death during their hunts. Today it stands as a geological wonder, deep ravines and caves, colorful rock formations and alien looking columns that rise above the clay. Bands of yellow, pink, white and orange stripe the canyon walls. For now, this abandoned badland sits deserted, in the middle of nowhere but perhaps that’s just what makes it so intriguing.

Hell's Half-Acre, Wyoming

8. Caoshan, Taiwan

Taiwan’s badlands are unique, and unlike any other in the world, seeing as they are the only badland formation on the face of this earth in a tropical area with good rainfall. The Taiwanese refer to these badlands as “moon world” and although these areas are slowly being turned into tourist destinations, complete with walkways and buildings, there are still a few places to go that remain untouched. Head to Caoshan, where some the of largest and most expansive of badlands are found. Start at 308 Viewpoint where you can get birds eye views of the surrounding landscape and then head to the “Grand Canyon”. As you walk photogenic pinnacles of earth start to loom above the road on either side like miniature mountain ranges. A little further along the ground suddenly falls away and the ‘Grand Canyon’ is revealed, the countless formations of the rain- and wind-carved ravine walls. It is impressive, exquisite, delicate, and appears to defy gravity.

Caoshan, Taiwan

7. Cheltenham Badlands, Ontario

It is one of the most striking geological features in the province of Ontario and these badlands are a brilliant red in color. At one point this area was actually occupied by a river and the hills at this site signify the riverbed. Thousands of years ago the lake dried out and the badlands were created. The red color is due to iron oxide deposits and features faint green streaks. Visitors come from all over the province to walk among the badlands here but unfortunately all the visiting is causing accelerated soil erosion. In 2015 the site was closed to visitors, although they can still be seen from the viewpoint at the top of the badlands slope. Conservationists will be spending the next few years trying to come up with a plan for these colorful and unique badlands.

Cheltenham Badlands, Ontario

6. Putangirua Pinnacles, New Zealand

This geological formation is best known for its appearances in the Lord of the Rings movies and is one of New Zealand’s best examples of badland erosion. These amazing rock formations, called Hoodoos are essentially hundreds of eroded pillars that form a quiet and eerie atmosphere, transforming you into what feels like a different world. Here you will find a total of two walking trails to choose from and allow yourself 2-4 hours for a round trip. The Walking tracks into the Putangirua Pinnacles generally follow the river bed into the valley and do change with river flows. This makes the tracks rough but easy enough to get deep into the rock formations. Pack plenty of water, snacks and don’t forget your camera as you travel into this incredible landscape.

Putangirua Pinnacles, New Zealand

5. Toadstool Geologic Park, Nebraska

It’s a known fact that the badlands in South Dakota are incredible but what about the ones that start in the northwestern corner of Nebraska. This geological park provides excellent sneak previews of what you may be in for if you are traveling onwards to South Dakota. Park in the lot at the entrance of the park and make sure to pick up a guide pamphlet at the start of the trail. A one-mile loop will take you around the park and past all the incredible formations. The trail starts off slow at first taking you past a few eroded hills, quite beautiful and striking. The flat part of the trail takes you through angled rocks of varying height and size but the real adventure begins when the trail starts to climb. This is where you will get to see many of the formations that resemble toadstools; hence the name of the park. You get an impressive view over the site at the top of the loop and it’s easy to imagine why large prehistoric animals used to wander these grounds.

Toadstool Geologic Park, Nebraska

4. Makoshika State Park, Montana

At over 11,000 acres this state park is the largest in Montana and protects 20% of Montana’s continuous badlands topography. Not only will you get to experience some incredible badland formations but also found here are the fossil remains of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and more. There are several trails throughout the park, introducing visitors to different kinds of topography as well as a campground if you plan on staying for a few nights. Cap Rock Trail is a one-mile loop that allows hikers to get up close and personal with the smaller, delicate features such as pinnacles and caprocks. The Diane Gabriel Trail on the other hand shows visitors the bigger features such as sinkhole caves and sod tabletops. The highlight of the trail is a climb up to a series of Hadrosaur vertebrae left partially exposed in the hillside so visitors can see what it is like to find and excavate fossils.

Makoshika State Park, Montana

3. Red Deer River, Alberta

The badlands here cut a swatch through southeastern Alberta, and is a fossil hotbed since the 19th century with no signs of slowing down. There are multiple ways to experience these badlands, whether you want to join one of many guided tours or take a self-guided road trip. Start in the town of Drumheller smack in the middle of the Badlands, and well known for its rich fossil beds and mining industry. Want to see the town from a different vantage point? Climb into the mouth of the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus Rex. Other stops along the way include Horsethief Canyon and Midland Provincial Park. Cross the Red Deer River on the Bleriot Ferry and reach the Hoodoo Trail which takes you to the Hoodoos site and the Rosedale Suspension Bridge. Make sure to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum and Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Red Deer River, Alberta

2. Big Muddy Badlands, Saskatchewan

The Big Muddy Badlands have one of the best names in our opinion and offer up amazing architecture that transports your mind back to the times of the “Wild West.” These remote badlands have a fascinating history and once were a hideout for famed bandits such as Sam Kelly, Dutch Henry, and the Sundance Kid. The valley also is dotted with strange ancient aboriginal stone effigies with names such as Minton Turtle and the Big Beaver Buffalo, which add to the mystery and magic of the landscape. From early May to September is the best time to head here as guided tours operate on a daily basis. Because much of these badlands are on private property, it is imperative you use a guide.  Tours range from four hours to eight hours and cover sites such as Castle Butte, the Sam Kelly Caves and the Ceremonials Circles. Come play where the bandits played and you will understand why they were drawn to this particular landscape.

Big Muddy Badlands, Saskatchewan

1. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

This unique region has been ravaged by water and wind, resulting in a scenic wonderland, begging to be explored. The badlands region sprawls over thousands of square miles and includes vast prairies, grasslands with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires. Visitors here can expect some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world, along with viewing millions of stars at night. In order to get the best views of the badlands head to Badlands Loop Road where you can hike along scenic nature trails among spectacular formations. Badlands National Park has two campgrounds for overnight stays and we highly suggest spending at least a few days in the park as the opportunities for exploration are endless.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The Best Urban Parks in Canada

Canada is known for some of its incredible National Parks but often what gets overlooked in this great nation are the incredible urban parks that have popped up from coast to coast. What makes one urban park better than another? Great access to activities, varied landscapes, incredible scenery and plenty of things to see and do, are what sets these eight urban parks above the rest. From the famous Stanley Park in Vancouver to the largest urban park in Canada to lesser known parks in the east coast; here are the best urban parks in Canada.

8. Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

This park is considered to be one of Winnipeg’s crown jewels and offers over 113 hectares of woodland and plains along the River’s south side. Attractions here include the park zoo whose star attraction is the Polar Bears and the comprehensive exhibit that they are housed in. Known to be one of the most comprehensive zoological exhibits of its kind in the world, visitors have the chance to watch the playful bears in a stimulating environments inspired by their natural habitat. The park boasts more than just the zoo though, including gardens, playgrounds, restaurants, nature trails, a steam train and more. The park conservatory boasts over 8,000 flowers, trees and plants while the Gallery Museum features local artists and a permanent Winnie the Pooh artifact collection.

Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

7. Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

Located on Victoria’s southern shores, Beacon Hill Park is an oasis of both landscaped and natural beauty, offering spectacular views during every season. The outer rim of the park is where nature lovers flock to, to Oceanside bluffs where paragliders and kite enthusiasts often can be seen. The inner park is where visitors will find most of the activities though. Wander through the manicured gardens and over bridged streams while music drifts out of the Cameron Bandshell. Or take the kids the the miniature golfing or petting zoo. Wildlife is abundant throughout the park with over a hundred species of birds, river otters, painted turtles and more. This park also happens to have the important status of being the western terminus, the Mile “0” of the 8,000km Trans-Canada highway and so happens to be a very popular tourist photo opp.

Mile 0

6. Pippy Park, St. John’s Newfoundland

At the northern boundary of St. John’s lays one of Canada’s greatest urban parks, Pippy Park, abundant in scenery and breathtaking views. The 27-hole golf course features some of the spectacular views of both the oldest city in North America and miles of rugged coastline, chances are you might even see an iceberg or whale while walking this course. If visitors want to spend more than just a day exploring this awesome park, the campground offers 216 sites on private treed lots that are steps away from playgrounds and the Botanical Gardens. There is a plethora of scenic trails that allow visitors to explore a variety of landscapes including wetlands, rivers, parklands and more. The rare Leopard march orchid can also be spotted here in the Botanical Gardens and offers visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it up close and in person.

whale

5. Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary

It is the largest urban park in all of Canada, and just so happens to be one of the best, located in the southern part of Calgary and over three times the size of Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park. Fish Creek flows the entire length of the park and joins the Bow River at the east side, offering visitors a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors here will be privy to 200 bird species, deer, owls, beavers and coyotes which all call this park home. One of the most popular features of the park is Sikome Lake, a man-made lake where thousands of people flock to each summer to swim. A variety of unpaved walking, hiking and bicycle trails are also prevalent throughout Fish Creek Park. Two restaurants are located here, one which offers fine-dining and the other a bakery and café and an Artisan Garden is located in the east end. There are a ton of things to see and do here and if you happen to be a resident of Calgary, consider yourself lucky that you get to enjoy this park anytime at your leisure.

deer

4. Rockwood Park, St. John New Brunswick

This park offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in an unspoiled setting where unusual topography and geography are prevalent. The billion years of history here can be seen in unique rock formations, caves and waterfalls and this park often refers to itself as an all-season natural amusement park. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity for hiking, fishing. Boating, climbing, camping, golfing and mountain biking while those looking for something a little more low key can visit the Cherry Brook Zoo, located in the north section of the park. Other awesome amenities include beaches, gardens, stables, campgrounds and picnic sites, along with 890 hectares of forest and the beautiful Lily Lake.

rockwood park NB

3. High Park, Toronto

It is Toronto’s largest public park and in recent years the city has invested a lot of time, energy and money into making it one of the greatest urban parks in Canada. High Park is home to a greenhouse, zoo, restaurants, off-leash dog park and more. The signature Sakura cheery blossom trees in Hillside Gardens are the star attraction during April and May when they are in full bloom. Grenadier Pond is the place to head for fishing off the south rim while visitors who want to swim or skate can head to the designated pool and rink. From wandering through the nature trails to playing on one of many playgrounds to taking in a sport at one of the great facilities, there is certainly no shortage of things to do here.

high park

2. Mt. Royal Park, Montreal

It is the best urban park in all of Montreal and so happens to be one of the best in all of Canada, laying in the midst of Montreal island and including 200 hectares and the highest spot in the city. The park is home to over 180 species of birds and 20 mammals and enough hiking and biking paths to keep any active visitor busy. In the winter time enjoy the 20km of cross country trails, horse drawn carriage rides and an awesome tubing and tobogganing run. Other features of this impressive park include Beaver Lake, a sculpture garden, Smith House – an interpretative center, and two belvederes. Designed by famous architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park, visitors can assure that there is no shortage of spectacular views of the city below and varied landscapes to explore.

mt royal

1. Stanley Park, Vancouver

It is known for being one the best parks around the world, and recently held the title of “best park in the world” by Trip Advisor, therefore no trip to Vancouver should be complete without visiting Stanley Park. This lush green space covers over 400 hectares of parkland and west coast rainforest. Things to do at this park include visiting the indoor/outdoor aquarium, walking the 8.8km stretch of seawall and discovering the Brockton Point’s First Nations totem poles. The park is also absolutely loaded with gardens, beaches, landmarks, sculptures and lookout points, along with a golf course and a Lost Lagoon. Whether you spend an hour, a day or three days exploring this park, one thing is for sure – it is easy to understand why this is truly the best urban park in Canada.

totem

 

Canada’s 8 Coolest Museums

Canada is fortunate enough to be loaded with awesome museums, whether you are interested in learning about the dinosaurs that once ruled the badlands of Alberta or the first people that set foot in British Columbia. Perhaps you are interested in weapons and counterfeit money, or what happened during the Holocaust-don’t fear, Canada has you covered. From coast to coast impressive museums continue to amaze visitors and while some may be suited for adults, there is plenty of fun for the kids too! Check out the 8 coolest museums in Canada, and why you should drop everything and visit them today.

8. Canadian Museum of History – Gatineau, Quebec

It is Canada’s national museum of human history, and its purpose includes collecting, studying, preserving and presenting material objects that illuminate the human history of Canada. One of the most impressive parts of the museum is the Grand Hall where a beautiful wall of windows gives way to a picturesque view of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. The museum attracts over a million visitors a year to gaze at the collection of huge totem poles, First Nation artifacts, streetscape galleries and life-size replicas recreations such as an airport lounge circa 1970. In addition, this awesome museum to home to the Canadian Children’s and Postal Museum, along with an IMAX theatre making this attraction super family friendly.

mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com
mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

7. Canada Science and Technology Museum – Ottawa, Ontario

It is the largest of its kind and located in the capital city of Canada, Ottawa. This museum displays all sorts of cool exhibits, focusing on the past, present and future of science and technological developments in Canada. What makes this museum so cool is the fact that much of it is hands-on, climb-on and walk through exhibits. Currently the museum is closed and undergoing a major renovation, expected to open in 2017 and is thought to be bigger and better than ever. Visitors should expect five main galleries including a Children’s Gallery, Artifact Alley and Crazy Kitchen. From trains, planes, automobiles, rockets and space travel simulation; this museum will offer a plethora of excitement.

Science and Tech Museum, ottawa

6. Royal Tyrell Museum – Drumheller, Alberta

This popular Canadian tourist attraction is both a museum and a centre of paleontological research. Hosting more than 130,000 fossils, this museum is located in the middle of the Late Cretaceous Horseshoe Canyon Formation. Visitors will love wandering through the ten signature galleries devoted to paleontology that include 40 dinosaur skeletons, including one huge T. Rex. There are plenty of hands on experiences to be had here including strength tests where you will discover how strong these fascinating creatures really were. Visitors can also watch actual technicians prepare fossils for research and display, fossils that happened to be found right in Alberta. As well, visitors can join the Dinosite program which allows you to search for real fossils, see real dinosaur remains still in the ground and learn about ancient Alberta during the 90-minute hike through the badlands.

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com
Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

5. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – Toronto, Ontario

It is considered by many to be one of the best museums in Canada and also happens to be one of the coolest. Located in Toronto, this museum is dedicated to art, world culture and natural history and attracts over a million visitors a year. Visitors will want to spend an entire day discovering the 40 some odd galleries that feature over 6 million items including a notable collection of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites. The CIBC Discovery Gallery is where you can get “hands-on” at the ROM and although geared towards children, adults will also enjoy the interactive activities including digging for dinosaur bones and touching different specimens and artifacts. Expect awesome interesting exhibits that are constantly changing, slumber parties for adults and plenty of tours and workshops to keep everyone interested.

Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com
Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com

4. Human Rights Museum – Winnipeg, Manitoba

This impressive museum is the newest on this list, opening in September of 2014, dedicated to exploring the subject of human rights with a special emphasis on Canada. Offering a journey from darkness to light, visitors start off on the ground level and gradually make their way up seven floors that reveal more and more daylight. With a total of six levels of exhibits and 11 galleries and one Tower of Hope that offers panoramic views of Winnipeg, expect to spend at least a day here. Galleries include “Examining the Holocaust”, “Rights Today” and “Canadian Journeys”, just to name a few. Interactive presentations, multimedia technology and world-class design make this an amazing encounter with human rights.

winnipeg

3. Royal British Columbia Museum – Victoria, British Columbia

It is known as one of the world’s top regional museums, one of Canada’s most visited and located on the picturesque Inner Harbor in Victoria. Three permanent galleries trace the natural and human history of British Columbia and include life-sized mammoths, live tidal pools and replica streets and shops. The First Peoples Gallery is especially impressive with its ceremonial masks, totem poles and full-sized log house recreation. Visitors here can even watch as native carvers work on new totem poles in a long house located just behind the museum. Featuring the largest IMAX in BC, numerous family events throughout the year, interactive exhibits and more; it’s an easy choice calling this one of the coolest museums in Canada.

Doug Schnurr / Shutterstock.com
Doug Schnurr / Shutterstock.com

2. Vancouver Police Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia

It is North America’s oldest police museum and houses over 20,00 artifacts, photos and documents. Located in a heritage building that was once the Coroner’s Court, the morgue, autopsy facility and crime laboratory; this museum brings in visitors of all ages. A self-guided tour will take visitors through the history or crime and law enforcement in Vancouver. Exhibits include an extensive gallery of confiscated weapons, gambling devices, prohibited drugs and counterfeit money, a true crime gallery with real evidence and photos, and an intact and authentic autopsy suite. Kids will love playing dress up with the real police uniforms where as adults can take in one of the “movies in the morgue” features.

Photo by: Kim Werker via www.vancouverisawesome.com
Photo by: Kim Werker via www.vancouverisawesome.com

1. Biosphere Environment Museum – Montreal, Quebec

It is the only environment museum in North America and both kids and adults go crazy for this unique attraction that is both indoors and out. This architectural masterpieces and symbol of Expo 67 invites visitors to learn more about meteorology, climate, water and air quality and other environmental issues in a fun way. An outdoor Artic photo exhibit celebrates the regions biodiversity and beauty while educating visitors on the environmental changes that are happening there. The immersive show “Design the Future” on the other hand invites visitors to reconnect with the natural environment around us to grasp the importance of climate change and how we will adapt to that. An abundance of games, hands-on activities and galleries await visitors to this unique museum in Montreal.

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

8 Best Winter Adventure Parks Canada

So you want to have a winter adventure but you have no desire in strapping on downhill skies or a snowboard. Luckily for you, Canada is one step ahead and has been designing winter adventure centres for the non-skiers. From tube parks to Nordic centers to a former Olympic Park, these eight winter adventure parks in Canada will have you strapping on your boots, pulling on your mittens and going out to play in the snow.

8. Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park, British Columbia

There is no special equipment or training required to ride these hills, with over 1000 feet of sliding bliss and is no shortage of fun to be had. Multiple lanes, a special conveyor lift and a park that is easily accessible from Whistler Village making this one of the most popular winter activities here, other than skiing or snowboarding of course. The Tube Park is open from December until April, weather permitting and is open at night for special sliding. There are seven lanes to enjoy, from a smaller gentle slope for the young kids to longer faster lanes. Tubes are sized for kids and adults, with double tubes also being available. With heated washrooms, food and beverages for sale, a full sound system and a fire pit with seating; it’s easy to enjoy the whole day or night here.

Photo by:  Go Whistler via Facebook
Photo by: Go Whistler via Facebook

7. Calgary Olympic Park, Alberta

This one-of-a-kind attraction is located just 15 minutes from downtown Calgary and has been welcoming visitors since 1988, when it was the premiere site of the XV Olympic Winter Games. Yes, there are awesome ski and snowboard hills here, after all it is the second largest ski school in Canada, but there are also other awesome winter activities to take part in. Have you ever dreamed of being in a bobsled, racing down sheer ice at over 100 km an hour? Now is your chance as the fastest sport on earth is available to the public. How about taking part in the sliding sport of the Luge, an adventure that will take you through five twisting turns in just 40 seconds, also known as one of the most dangerous winter sports on earth. Olympic Park also offers public skating and two kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiers, perfect for both day or night skiing. A whole day can be spent at this impressive venue without strapping on skies once.

Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock.com
Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock.com

6. Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario

Get the most out of winter at one of Ontario’s premier winter resorts, Blue Mountain. Here families and people of all ages can enjoy an abundance of winter activities. Blue Mountain’s newest winter activity is its Hike N’ Tube, where riders don’t have to strap on skies to experience the thrill of flying downhill. Instead they can sail down by tube, perfect for younger ones as young as three. The Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster is perhaps one of the most loved attractions at this adventure park. This winter coaster takes riders on an exhilarating experience as it twists and turns 3,560 ft. down the mountain through varied terrain. Riders control how fast they go and can expect to reach speeds up to 42 km/hr — if they are real daredevils. Snowshoeing, skating and playing in the heated outdoor aquatic center are all other awesome activities to take part in at Blue Mountain Resort.

Photo by: Blue Mountain via Facebook
Photo by: Blue Mountain via Facebook

5. Glissades, Quebec

Hailed as being one of the largest snow tubing parks in Canada, it is clear that Quebec takes its winter adventures very seriously. The snow tubing park itself boasts a whopping 32 slopes, ranging from beginner to expert along with two magic carpets and a chairlift. With a 250 vertical drop, lighted runs for evening sliding and over a thousand tubes to rent, you can be sure this will be one fun-filled day. In addition, this park boasts the opportunity to slide down one of 7 slopes with multiple people packed into winter canoes. Choose to slide down with either eight or 12 people in this epic experience. Here is also your chance to try out the four-man bobsleigh with three runs that are more than half a kilometer long. It has a unique lift that will take you to the top, provided you are wearing helmets, this sport can be safely enjoyed. With huge amounts of snow, this is one of the best winter adventure parks in the country.

Photo by: Glissades des Pays d'en Haut via Facebook
Photo by: Glissades des Pays d’en Haut via Facebook

4. Canmore Nordic Centre, Alberta

If you are looking for some unique winter activities to try, heading to Canmore Nordic Centre in Alberta is the right choice. Here you can take part in activities such as Winter Disc Golf. With eight holes available during the winter season and free access to the course, this otherwise summer sport is perhaps even more fun in the snow. Why not try your hand at the popular growing sport of fat biking? With designated single track trails, this hot new sport is easy to enjoy here. Ice skating, snowshoeing and tobogganing are other activities to take part in at the Nordic Centre, and the best thing about these is they are all free! Most winter enthusiasts head here for the cross-country skiing though, as there are more than 65 km of groomed nature trails to explore.

Photo by: Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park via Facebook
Photo by: Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park via Facebook

3. Cypress Nordic Area, British Columbia

Located less than 30 minutes away from Vancouver’s downtown, you will feel as though you enter a different world, one that seems more like a winter wonderland, loaded with fun activities for the whole family. The Nordic Area is where you will find plenty of access to cross country skiing- with over 19 km of groomed trails, and 11 km of snowshoeing trails that run through sub alpine meadows and snowy mountain forests. If you really want to get some thrills in though, head to Gnarly’s Tube Park where you can slip and slide your way down six different chutes that measure 100 meters in length. A tube tow does all the work bringing you back to the top and all you have to do is a pick a chute, lie back and enjoy. For the little ones who are too small to slide, they can enjoy the gentle sliding area that features a gentle slope with a 4 meter drop over 25 meters. Bring your own sled for this one or rent a crazy carpet.

Photo by: Cypress Mountain via Facebook
Photo by: Cypress Mountain via Facebook

2. Horseshoe Resort, Ontario

A variety of winter activities await visitors at this awesome winter resort. Winter tubing is the most popular activity here, as the adventure park features five big chutes to fly down. A magic carpet whisks riders to the top ensuring you can go time and time again, without getting tired. Open during the day and at night, sliding down is an experience not to be missed. Fat biking is also available at this park and the 20 km trail is perfect for beginners and intermediates. Ride your way through the loops and track and discover why this is one of the fastest growing winter sports. Snowshoeing can be done on the 35 km of groomed trails through the Copeland forests which offers incredible scenery and landscape. And let’s not forget about the mini-sled program where kids get to learn how to snowmobile. With all these activities, its hard to choose which to do first at this awesome adventure park.

Photo by: Horseshoe Resort via Facebook
Photo by: Horseshoe Resort via Facebook

1. Valcartier Village Vacances, Quebec

It is the largest winter adventure park in Canada, offering loads of activities for anyone of any age. Offering over thirty different tubing slides and adventures, this winter park takes the top spot on this list. Thrillseekers should head to the Himalaya slides, where the four longest and steepest slopes are houses and riders can expect to hit up to 80 km/hr. If you want fast but not that fast the Avalanche area features 9 inner tube slopes ranging from easy to difficult to very difficult. It is in this are where you will also find the Snow Rafting and Tornado slides. Two experiences that lets you take on the slopes as a group, from 12 passenger rafts to 8 passenger spinning circles of fun. With a half pipe, children’s only area, skating path and more; this is the ultimate winter playground in Canada.

Photo by: Village Vacances Valcartier via Facebook
Photo by: Village Vacances Valcartier via Facebook

The 8 Best Sledding Hills in North America

Winter is coming and one of the best ways to enjoy the cold snowy weather is to bundle up and go play in it, whatever age you are. Luckily you don’t need any special skills to enjoy the snow, indeed all you need is a sled. Tobogganing, sledding, whatever you want to call it is one of the most popular free winter activities that can put a huge smile on your face, no matter what age you are. Here in North America there are some pretty epic sledding hills that will shoot your down at colorful speeds and leave you breathless. Getting up is the only hard part here. From Ontario to Colorado to Halifax to Ottawa, we have rounded up the best 8 sledding hills in North America.

8. Firecracker Hill – Telluride, Colorado

This ski town is known for it’s awesome powder, incredible resorts and laid back feel but skiing just isn’t the only thing you can do here. The town may not have an official sledding park but one local hill is where to go to get your sled on. On the southern side of Telluride Town Park lies Firecracker Hill, follow the orange cones that the city puts out to mark the walking path to the hill. Don’t worry if you don’t have own your sled, the Telluride Nordic Center will rent you one for just a few bucks a day. You will find a mix of locals and visitors at this hill, riding anything from GT snow racers to saucers to mini snowboards. Obey the signs, recognize this is avalanche country and slide down this awesome hill in the ski town of Telluride.

Photo by: The Denver City Page
Photo by: The Denver City Page

7. St Andrews Heights Toboggan Hill – Calgary, Alberta

This hill is known for it’s massiveness, incredible speed and downhill length. It has been tempting daredevil sledders for years. Located in the St. Andrews neighborhood, to reach this hill park in the Community Hall lot and then make your way to the top. A quick warning, it is a heavy hike to the top and be prepared if you have younger ones to pull them most of the way. To understand how big this hill is let’s use statistics. It has a run of about 150m, a drop of 17m and then a run out of 100m. That is a lot of hill to come down, and a lot to go back up. The end of the run is separated from the road by a fence to keep sliders safe. Expect to see a ton of people using this hill in the winter time, including junior snowboarders who practice here before hitting the big slopes.

Photo by: 102.1 The Edge
Photo by: 102.1 The Edge

6. Grand Mesa Old Powderhorn, Grand Junction, Colorado

It is referred to as “Old Powderhorn” by locals and it part of the old Mesa Creek Ski Area, located about three miles past Powderhorn Ski Resort. The parking area is located on the south side of the road and once you have bundled up and got your sled ready, its time to head up the trail head. There are plenty of trees to avoid coming down and the ride can be described as a wind-burning, adrenaline pumping, heart-stopping kind of ride. Expect the tiniest of snowdrifts to send you airborne and we recommend wearing your thickest snowsuit. Best for older kids and adults as there are plenty of trees that pose a threat of crashing into. Or at least bring a sled that you can steer.

Photo by: The Denver City Page
Photo by: The Denver City Page

5. Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum – Boston, Massachusetts

Head to Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood where Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum is located, offering 281 acres of exotic trees and flowering shrubs, which in the winter is host to an abundance of awesome sledding hills. Peter’s Hill has to be the favorite here as it offers incredible views from the top and no trees to contend with on the way down, making it safe for all ages. It also boasts the highest and longest slope in the area. The steep Weld Hill is the favorite amongst daredevils as it offers a ride of 350 feet long with parts that are at a 60-degree slope. We suggest hanging onto your hat as you race down these hills.

Photo by: Shutterstock via Boston Magazine
Photo by: Shutterstock via Boston Magazine

4. Mount Royal Park – Montreal, Quebec

This Montreal park is popular all year round but really comes alive in the winter thanks to all the visitors that take part in sledding down the hills, whether on rented tubes or sleds of their own. For decades this has been the place to take part in winter fun and the slope at the corner of Cote-Ste-Catherine and Parc looks tame from afar but in fact offers an incredible speedy and bumpy ride. Families and people of all ages flock to this hill with tubes, crazy carpets and even traditional wooden sleds. Straw barriers keep riders from going into the streets and there are even washrooms and a cafeteria on-site so you can warm those hands and grab a snack.

Photo by: J'aime le mont Royal/Facebook
Photo by: J’aime le mont Royal/Facebook

3. Citadel Hill – Halifax, Nova Scotia

It is undoubtedly the best hill to sled on in the city of Halifax and when the snow flies, people of all ages are flocking here. What makes this hill so popular is the awesome incline, lack of obstacles and location. Head to the south and west faces as they offer the best sledding, especially the slope that leads down to the Garrison Grounds. Grab your GT snow racer, a crazy carpet or even a cafeteria tray and prepare for one adrenaline-rushing ride down the best hill in the city. This hill does get busy with locals and visitors and your biggest obstacle here may just be the other sledders. Luckily this hill has a spacious landing area for sledders, ensuring that everyone stays safe.

Photo by: Destination Halifax
Photo by: Destination Halifax

2. Dutch Henry Tubing Hill, Leadville, Colorado

It calls itself the highest, fastest sledding hill in all of Colorado, and it just happens to be conveniently located one-minute south of downtown. The hill here is open seven days a week and free to all visitors who bring their own sled. Rentals of tubes are available on weekends during the day for a small fee. Big, steep and fast are the only three words that come to mind when you head to this hill and sledders should prepare themselves for a wild ride. Not recommended for younger kids, head to this hill with a group of friends, adults or older kids.

Photo by: Colorado Come To Life
Photo by: Colorado Come To Life Tourism

1. Carlington Park, Ottawa, Ontario

It is known as one of the top sledding destinations in North America, and that should come as no surprise considering its steepness and the wild thrills it offers, essentially this former ski hill offers two hills in one, the highest being the steepest and showcasing a platform before the second hill. Not for the faint of heart, this hill is usually riddled with many jumps carved into the snow and expect to be sharing the hill with amateur snowboarders. Lights make it tempting to slide down this hill at night, for an even more extreme thrill. Parking is provided here at the J. Alph Dulude Arena and just use caution and avoid areas that are fenced off for riders. Enjoy one of the wildest rides in North America at Carlington Park in Ottawa, Ontario.

Sledding

6 Christmas Attractions You Can Visit Year Round

For most of us, Christmas only comes once a year and although festivities may start as early as November, most are over by January. For those looking to extend the holiday season just a little bit longer, you are in luck. Cities, towns and attractions all over North America have taken the Christmas spirit and started celebrating it all year round. From towering Santa Claus statues to the largest Christmas store in the world, to roller coasters and even breakfast with the big guy, here are six attractions and towns where Christmas is celebrated all year round.

6. Santa Claus, Indiana

The southern Indiana town was originally called Santa Fe when it was established in 1854 but quickly had to change its name as there was already another Santa Fe in the state. The town meeting was held on Christmas Eve to determine the town name and thus in the Christmas spirit, it was named Santa Claus. The town boasts street names such as Jingle Bells Drive and Candy Cane Lane as well as themed attractions such as Santa’s Candy Castle, Santa Claus Museum and Santa’s Lodge. Visitors pack the Holiday World theme park which is loader with wooden roller coasters and waterslides. The most visited attraction here may just be the post office where residents make it a habit to stop in and read and respond to the letters addressed to the town’s namesake.

Photo by: Napkin Dreams
Photo by: Napkin Dreams

5. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Today the city is known as “Christmas City, USA” and indeed it was born on Christmas eve in 1741, founded by missionaries who set up a commune on the banks of the Lehigh River. This city attracts visitors all year round with its impressive 91 foot tall star that is lit from 4:30 pm until midnight every night of the year. Along with the star are many displays where visitors can learn about three centuries of Christmas history. Although accessible year round, the holiday season is really when this city shines offering one of the country’s most impressive Christmas markets. Stock up on presents while you enjoy traditional German cuisine and the sounds of holiday tunes. Horse drawn carriage rides and walking tours are also offered throughout the city.

Photo by: CN Traveler
Photo by: CN Traveler

4. Castle Noel, Ohio

It calls itself America’s largest indoor year-round Christmas entertainment attraction and Castle Noel is sure to get visitors into the holiday spirit no matter what time of year it is. It is here where you can find the largest collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes from movies such as “the Grinch” and “Elf”. Castle Noel also boasts an incredible array of animated New York City Christmas windows featuring thousands of toys from stores such as Sak’s and Bloomingdale’s. Make sure to take a ride inside the 25-foot-tall animated Christmas tree where it is snowing inside and you will earn a place on the “Wall of Fame”. The gift shop is the perfect place to pick up any Christmas themed presents as well as check out the world famous Mark Klaus sculptures.

Photo by: Castle Noel
Photo by: Castle Noel

3. North Pole, Alaska

Situated 1,700 miles south of the actual North Pole, visitors to this suburb of Fairbanks can celebrate Christmas all year round. The town was named North Pole when a development company bought the area in 1952 and named it that in hopes of attracting a toy manufacturer or theme-park developer to the area. That didn’t happen and instead the town turned itself into a Christmas destination all year round complete with candy colored street signs for St. Nicholas Drive and Snowman Lane. Santa Claus House is where visitors will find live reindeer, Santa photo ops, ornaments and gifts to purchase. If you really want to experience the Christmas Spirit head here during the annual Winter Festival where fireworks and an ice festival brings in sculptors from around the world. Completing the town is a 42-foot tall, 900-pound Santa statue.

Photo by: Alaska.org
Photo by: Alaska.org

2. Santa’s Village, Ontario

Although you cannot visit this attraction year round (as it closes during the winter for a few months) it is one of the only outdoor Christmas attractions you can visit during the summertime, and thus deserves a spot on this list. The unique 60-acre attraction features Santa Claus and his elves along with his deer in various forms and activities. Have breakfast with Santa in the morning to start your day or take a ride on the Ferris wheel or paddle boats. Cruise the river on Santa’s Summer Sleigh Jet Boat or tour the village by miniature train. Daily live shows featuring magicians, entertainers and musicians.

Photo by: Santa’s Village
Photo by: Santa’s Village

1. Frankenmuth, Michigan

This whole city just screams Christmas and regardless of the time of year, visitors will leave feeling in the holiday spirit. Founded in 1845 as a Bavarian mission colony for Lutherans, this tiny village is now known as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria”. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is at the forefront of things to experience here. It is considered one of the world’s largest Christmas stores with a half-mile walk lined with thousands of lights. Vivid outdoor displays wow visitors along with a life-size replica nativity scene. The Silent Night Chapel is also a big draw, a replica of a church in Austria where the song “Silent Night” was written and sung for the first time. Other than Bronner’s, visitors here can explore the Old Christmas Station, a German museum that features incredible old-fashioned pastries.

Bronner's Christmas Frankenmuth, Michigan