If your life is all about discovery, few places on the planet have more to offer than Canada. You will be amazed by the country’s natural beauty, culture and heritage. And our Canada Bucket List serves you a list of places to visit that will keep you busy for years.
Ready for the Canada bucket list challenge? Here are our top picks for unique places to visit in Canada in 2020.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park – 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.
With the summer heat, it can be challenging to explore Writing-on-Stone Park, especially with kids. Be sure to dress appropriately and bring enough water. Additionally, we recommend opting for an evening tours at the interpretive centre to escape the heat.
If you want to see as much rock art as possible, there are rock art tours provided by private tourism companies where they take you to hidden and not-so-easy-to-find art. Writing on stone has the largest amount of rock art on the Great Plains of north America so be prepared for a long tour.
How to get to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
The park is located 44 km east of the town of Milk River. Its airport is also the closest to the park, with regular flights from all major airports in Canada.
Accommodations near Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
A visit to Writing-on-Stone Park offers a unique tryst with the forgotten treasures of the past, and an opportunity to get acquainted with the backcountry terrain. There are cozy houses on the Prairies that are just a short drive away from the park.
Use code LEAP2020 for $50 off your vacation rental until February 29, 2020
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.
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.
How to get to Haida Gwaii
You can get to the Haida Gwaii islands from Price Rupert by either taking a ferry or flying in. Tickets for the ferry sell fast, so we recommend booking in advance. There are also direct flights to the islands from Vancouver.
Although the summer months are a great time to visit Haida Gwaii, the winter offers a much more laid back surfing experience, especially for beginners.
Accommodations in Haida Gwaii
For better chances of exploring as many islands as possible we recommend basing yourself in the most central community of the area: Queen Chalotte City. From there you’ll find several day trips and tour opportunities to explore other islands.
Moresby and Graham Islands are good accommodation sites to explore the southern part of the islands. While staying at Masset will allow you to easily explore the northern side of Haida Gwaii.
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.
There aren’t ATV rides or adventure sports services available on site. For the best experience, be sure to check the weather and plan in advance to bring in all the gear you will need.
How to get to Great Sandhills
The Sandhills are located 12 km south of Sceptre, Saskatchewan. It can be tricky to find the the entrance to the park so we recommend heading to the museum as a starting point where you can get directions. The Hanging Cowboy Boots Spot is also a good landmark to get you oriented.
Accommodations near Great Sandhills
Cites like Saskatoon, Regina and even Calgary are only a few hours away from Great Sandhills and a great option for finding accommodations. These cities have a variety of vacation rental options perfect for when you travel with family or a group of friends.
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.
St-Pierre & Miquelon follows more of the European culture and customs, so it’s best to do a bit of research to avoid any setbacks. Check the shop’s business hours as most close around lunch time and do not open at all on Sundays. Making reservations in advance for restaurants and activities is also needed when travelling to Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
Saint Pierre et Miquelon is a French territory in Canada, therefore, if you are not a holder of a French or Canadian identification document like driver’s license or passport you might require a visa to enter Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. The official currency of this French archipelago is the Euro. There are currency exchange services in the islands as well as credit-card-only automated teller machines.
How to get to Saint-Pierre And Miquelon
There are two main ways to get to Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. You can either take a direct flight to St. Pierre airport or fly to Fortune, Newfoundland. From there, take a ferry to the archipelago. Since there are few direct flights to St. Pierre, tickets are limited, so it’s recommended to plan well ahead and book your flights in advance.
Accommodations in Saint-Pierre And Miquelon
There are a number of accommodations options in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, but you won’t find any big chain hotels here! Accommodations include small modern hotels, charming inns, and cozy B&B’s. No matter where you decide to stay, make sure you book your room well in advance, as accommodations tend to be at capacity all season long.
Bonnechere Caves, Ontario
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
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.
There’s a lot to do around Bonnechere Caves, including theatre, paddling, fishing, museum tours, and birdwatching. Planning your trip in advance can help you get the most out of this vacation.
How to get to Bonnechere Caves
The easiest way to get to Bonnechere Caves is by taking Highway 60 from Ottawa towards Eganville. If you are coming from Toronto, take Highway 401 and then 41. The caves are less than a couple of hours drive from Ottawa, making them an easy and quick escape for your summer bucket list.
Accommodations Near Bonnechere Caves
If you’re planning on making a trip out of it, Ottawa is only 120 kilometres away from the caves. It’s the best accommodation option as you’ll find a variety of rentals in Canada’s capital. If you are visiting during the summer make sure to check out our recommendations for fun things to do in Ottawa in the summer.
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 village of Blue Rocks is a short six-minute drive from Lunenburg and is a hidden treasure known only to the locals. Considered as Lunenburg’s “answer” to Peggy’s Cove, this small hamlet is a dream for artists and photographers.
How to get to Lunenburg
The closest major city to Lunenburg is Halifax. It’s a good idea to find accommodation there and travel to Lunenburg by car for a day trip. Lunenburg is only an hour drive from Halifax International Airport.
Accommodations in Lunenburg
Throughout the town of Lunenburg, you’ll find here and there homes and buildings dating back more than 200 years that have been converted into charming vacation rentals. Add some flair to your Lunenburg trip by choosing a historic quaint close to the ocean and all that Lunenburg has to offer.
Osoyoos – British Columbia
Fine wines and culture go hand in hand at Osoyoos, one of the most celebrated destinations in British Columbia. It has a unique desert ecosystem and a variety of wineries, as well as opportunities to experience the indigenous culture.
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.
How to get to Osoyoos
Penticton, British Columbia is the closest airport to Osoyoos. From there, it is just an hour drive to the magical desert. Nearby Kelowna, also offers frequent flights from Canada’s major cities as well as a shuttle bus to Osoyoos. The shuttle costs $45 and takes 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Another option is take the 5-hour drive from Vancouver by taking the BC-1E or the BC-3E highways.
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.
The Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad is a hidden gem that you must visit. This miniature railroad is a perfect way to spend the day with your family, especially with kids.
Accommodations in Osoyoos
Osoyoos’ cultural and natural attractions are a great addition to your travel bucket list. Accommodation options in this community are plentiful with all kinds of amenities, from hospitable standalone villas to five-star luxury resorts.
Drumheller – Alberta
Are you planning a family trip this 2020? then Drumheller, needs to be in your Canada bucket list.
One of Alberta’s best-kept secrets, Drumheller in the Canadian Badlands, is a great child friendly holiday destination in Canada. Known as the “Dinosaur Capital of the World” this town is the perfect for families looking for a connection with nature and history.
Things to do in Drumheller
A visit to Drumheller is an opportunity to brush up on your archaeology skills, learn mining history and enjoy a majestic view of the valley.
Drumheller offers an immersive learning experience about all things dino. You can visit the exhibits, climb to the mouth of the largest dinosaur, and even try your hand at digging up a real fossil. Lesser known, but equally interesting attractions in Drumheller include a trip to the coal mines and a breathtaking view of canyons and hoodoos.
When to travel
The travel season to Drumheller starts from spring and lasts until the fall, with the summers receiving the highest footfall.
Traveling to Drumheller in either early spring or late fall makes it a more relaxed, less hectic experience than in the summer. During this time you can also enjoy all the off-season rates.
How to get to Drumheller
Just under two hours from Calgary, Drumheller is an excellent day trip option that can be reached by taking either highway AB-575 or AB-9.
Accommodations near Drumheller
To get the most our of your vacation, stay in Calgary and make a day trip to Drumheller.
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.
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
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.
Activities like sea kayaking are an exciting experience for the entire family. Another option in the Magdalens is kite-buggy riding, one of the most unique things to do in Canada.
Accommodations in Magdalen Islands
Cottage rentals in the summer are a big business in the Island and a great option for accommodations, however, if you’re planning to visit then, make sure you book your stay in advance. You’ll also find several seaside inns and B&Bs close to all the island’s main attractions.
Churchill – Manitoba
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.
Churchill has one of the highest populations of wild polar bears, so locals have learned how to co-exist with them. But as a foreigner , before visiting, it’s important to go through the Bear Alert Program as well as reading all precautions and protocols in case you encounter a bears.
How to get to Churchill
Churchill’s secludedness makes getting to it an adventure itself, especially if you take the train from Winnipeg. Churchill is about 624 miles/ 1004.23 km from Winnipeg, and can only be reached by train or plane. The two-day train journey is an exploration through lesser-known places in Canada. Flights are also from Winnipeg are shorter, however they book fast, especially during polar bear peak seasons.
When it comes to exploring unique destinations and experiencing all that Canada has to offer, it may take a decade just to scratch at the surface. To paraphrase Jack Kerouac, there is nowhere to go but everywhere. So what are you waiting for? Choose a destination from the list, book your stay, and start living your dream. If you run out of places to visit, also check our must do Canada bucket list from last year.