Now that the border between the United States and Canada is again open, you’re toying with the idea of going north. The beauty that is Canada awaits. The big decision is where to go. Take your pick, there’s likely no wrong choice.
Start here to create your list of possibilities.
Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, Vancouver Island
After months and months of too much time indoors, blow your mind with the thought of fresh air, wildlife, nature, great food and outdoor fun. This spot is for you. This eco-safari is in lush coastal rainforest, surrounded by the UNESCO listed Clayoquot Sound Biosphere, and the Strathcona Provincial Park. The 600-acre property sits at the head of the Bedwell River. It’s an ideal basecamp of sorts for exploring the wilds of the island.
Forget crowds. This is remote. You can’t get there by car. Take a 45-minute seaplane flight from Vancouver, or 35-minute boat ride from Tofino. Sounds heavenly. Wait till you see the luxuriously appointed white canvas tents in the style of turn-of-the-century prospectors. End-of-the-bed views and specially commissioned furnishings from local designers evoke a personal connection with the Vancouver Island landscape.
How shall you spend your time? There’s wildlife viewing tours, hiking through old-growth forests, horseback riding, canyoning, heli fly fishing, and more. Chef Asher Blackford’s local produce-driven sustainable dining, fine wines and one of the world’s most remote bars, The Ivanhoe, keep the good vibe going. Better still, unwind at the Lodge’s popular healing ground spa that showcases wellness ingredients from the natural environment of Clayoquot Sound.
Maybe you’re in the mood for something cosmopolitan. Put Toronto on your list, especially if you’ve already done Montreal. Toronto is for foodies and those that can’t get enough of art, music, architecture—all things cultural.
Take a trip to the east end to the recently opened Toronto Beach Club. Think awesome Mediterranean food. Cocktail specialties during the day include Cantaloupe Island, with cantaloupe, martini fiero, prosecco and soda, and the Pampered Rose, patron silver tequila, Martini & Rossi dry vermouth, rosewater, grapefruit oleo saccharum and soda. Come nightfall, go for a Toronto Riviera, patron silver tequila, pineapple, coconut water syrup, fernet-branca, lime, Peychaud’s bitters, or a Sienna Sour, bulleit bourbon, honey agrodolce, lemon, sumac and thyme.
For more eats there’s Bar Le Germain Patio in Hotel Le Germain Toronto Maple Leaf Square. Check out Chef Johnson Wu’s new Wusian Fusian and must-try Sammiches (elevated chicken sandwiches where the chicken wing is stuffed with fried rice).
Walk off all those calories at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which until late October has an exhibit that is a career retrospective of Andy Warhol, and opening early October is Picasso: Painting the Blue Period, which includes more than 100 art works from Picasso’s formative years and spans 15 countries.
Stay at the brand new 1 Hotel Toronto downtown. It’s in the heart of the city’s entertainment district. Choose among their four food and beverage outlets that includes a rooftop bar where you can swim and take in skyline views.
Then too, maybe you want a little bit city and a little bit country. Edmonton is an urban center in the midst of the wilderness. It is the largest northernmost metropolis, and the capital of Alberta, Canada. Any time of year is a good time to go. In summer enjoy 18 hours of sunlight a day or time your visit to see how snow transforms the river valley in winter.
Get your art fix at the Royal Alberta Museum or the Art Gallery of Alberta. Take in the sight to behold, the Northern Lights from the dark sky preserves. Edmonton has the second largest Indigenous population in Canada, full of talented performers, artisans, musicians and entrepreneurs. Immerse yourself in culture at Métis Crossing, take an Indigenous-led tour, discover the stories that have shaped Treaty 6 Territory at the Royal Alberta Museum, or taste the inventive meals created by trailblazing Indigenous chefs. Take in the newly opened Indigenous Peoples Experience at Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum. The Park includes the 1846 Hudson’s Bay Fort and then takes you through to 1885, 1905 and 1920, depicting the evolution of Edmonton’s early history.
Elk Island National Park has Geo Domes for glamping. They come with everything you need including a queen size bed, bedding, mini-fridge, Nespresso coffee maker, BBQ, water, firewood and more. You have the option to add a charcuterie board and wine and they will deliver it to your dome. There is also a UNESCO designated dark sky preserve in the park, free from light pollution, great for stargazing and viewing the northern lights. Hike or rent a canoe.
If you want a mountain town experience, look no further. Jasper is the largest of all the Canadian Rockies national parks and home to Mount Columbia, Alberta’s tallest mountain; Maligne Lake, the second-largest glacial-fed lake in the world; and diverse wildlife including grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, wolverines, elk and bighorn sheep. Talk about the great outdoors, it’s a place where you can bike, climb, camp, fish or hike in summer and in winter ski, snowboard and more in winter.
Jasper is the world’s second-largest Dark Sky Preserve, with some 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. Eat up. Jasper Food Tours have restarted. You can venture on a downtown guided walk and visit four restaurants with handpicked dishes and drinks. Consider too a Peak Nic, a hiking tour up a peak, followed by a hands-on back-country cooking lesson, where you’ll learn to prepare a gourmet meal in the outdoors using environmentally friendly outdoors cooking methods. A bonus, you eat that great meal you make.