If you’ve previously travelled to the Great White North, chances are you’ve ticked off some of Canada’s big-name attractions. But with almost 10 million square kilometres to discover, there are plenty of unique things to do in Canada.
If you’ve already visited Niagara Falls, Banff National Park, and Old Quebec, we have you covered. Here are some lesser-known (but no less inspiring) places to see. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re into history and culture, breathtaking landscapes, or recreational activities.
While planning your trip, be sure to search online for Toronto Canada rentals to find a unique place to stay. Whether you want an apartment in the heart of all the action or a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, you’ll find something that will appeal on rental websites, like Rentola, for example.
Explore the Rideau Canal National Historic Site
Connecting Ottawa with the Saint Lawrence River (and eventually Lake Ontario), the 202-kilometre-long Rideau Canal opened in 1832 in case war broke out with the United States. Over the years, it has played an important role in the movement of goods and people, in particular the settlement of Upper Canada.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal is now primarily for pleasure boating and forms part of the “Great Loop” – a network of waterways across the United States and Canada. It has several historic locks (many of which are still functioning) and lined with 19th-century blockhouses once manned by British Forces. Of particular note is the Commissariat Building, which is one of Ottawa’s oldest stone buildings and is now home to the Bytown Museum.
In the wintertime, the Rideau Canal freezes over and becomes the world’s longest outdoor skating rink.
Cycle around the Toronto Islands
Scattered just off the coast of Toronto’s Harbourfront district is a chain of 15 islands, which separate the city from the rest of Lake Ontario. It is home to North America’s largest urban car-free community and is a popular destination to explore by bicycle.
Jump aboard a ferry at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal (with bikes transported for free) and spend a day cycling between the archipelago’s beaches, parks, and local landmarks. Kids will love letting loose on the rides of the Centreville Amusement Park while history buffs can visit the 1808-built Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
If you prefer to explore the Toronto Islands from the water, canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent at the Boat House.
Visit the Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Next up on this list of unique things to do in Canada is the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Located just outside Saskatoon is this archaeological site and cultural complex, which showcases the 6,000-year history and heritage of Saskatchewan’s Northern Plains people. It takes its name from a Cree word meaning “being at peace with oneself” – something that many visitors experience while exploring the park.
Hike to the ancient sites of tipi rings and medicine wheels or sample Indigenous cuisine during a Han Wi Moon dinner under the stars. The area was historically a hunting ground for several Indigenous groups and a herd of plains bison has recently been reintroduced.
Before leaving, be sure to pick up traditional artworks and handicrafts from the Wanuskewin Gift Shop.
See the Northern Lights in Aurora
If you’ve ever wanted to see the Northern Lights streak across the night sky, head to the teepee village of Aurora near Yellowknife. The Northwest Territories is one of the best places in the world to see this natural phenomenon, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis.
In the winter and spring, you can go dog sledding, snowshoeing, and ice fishing before settling in for the nighttime spectacular. Summer and autumn experiences include guided hikes to Cameron Falls, tours of Yellowknife, and dreamcatcher-making lessons.
Aurora Village is Indigenous-owned and operated, with its team proud to share the Aboriginal heritage, culture, and traditions of the region. Its gathering of teepees recreates a traditional village environment overlooking the pristine waters of a private lake.
Cruise through Iceberg Alley
Stretching along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Iceberg Alley is famed for the 10,000-year-old chunks of ice that float along its waters in the spring and summer. While it’s possible to view these majestic giants from the land, a boat cruise or kayaking excursion allows you to get up close and be humbled by their immense size and beauty.
The Twillingate Islands offer occasional whale sightings during iceberg viewing adventures off the northeastern shore of Newfoundland. Birdwatchers should head to Witness Bay to see puffins nesting from May to September while northern gannets gather in St. Mary’s Bay by the hundreds.
The best time to visit Iceberg Alley is between April and August, with picturesque St. John’s a popular base. Serving as the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, it is clustered with colourful row houses now occupied by gourmet restaurants, craft breweries, and independent boutiques.
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