In the age of torrential emails, buzzing cellphones, and down-to-the-second scheduling, it’s more important than ever to find time to relax—and often that means heading to a town where the pace of living isn’t quite so frantic, and where the soothing sights of nature are closer at hand. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some of the most relaxing towns in Canada, and what you can do there to unwind. Take a deep breath and read on.
Tofino, British Columbia
Nobody’s more laid back than surfers, which is why the famous surf town Tofino is a great place to go when you need to relax. The island town is known for its startlingly beautiful views and fantastic beaches. It’s a great place for summer beachcombing and swimming, but the Tofino website also encourages people to visit during storm season, where they can stay in a beachfront cabin and “hunker down for a perfectly cozy storm-watching experience.”
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Hike the Rainforest Trail. This rainforest walk is short but incredibly beautiful. Two boardwalk trails run through a forest of ancient trees, and the sounds of modern life are left completely behind under the canopy.
Orillia is just an hour and a half away from Toronto, but it feels like a different world. The town sits on the shore of Lake Simcoe, and there are several beautiful beaches and parks there to while the days away. Orillia was the inspiration for Canadian humorist Stephan Leacock’s book, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. The book paints an affectionately humorous picture of the town and its people, and the small-town charm that inspired it is still on full display.
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Rent a boat and navigate across Lake Simcoe to the Trent-Severn Waterway. This canal system is 386 kilometers long and runs through many lakes and cottage-country towns. It would take a week to traverse the whole thing, but even checking out a small portion of the waterway is a beautiful and calming way to spend a day.
Dawson City, Yukon
While the Yukon might not be the first place you think of when planning a relaxing getaway, the northern city has a lot to offer visitors, from golf courses to historical sites to the beautiful Northern Lights. The stark beauty of Northern Canada is unlike any other place on earth, and Dawson is an extremely hospitable place from which to enjoy it. Colourful buildings and plenty of cafes make it a cheerful place to spend time, even when daylight hours dwindle.
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Take a ride on the Klondike Spirit, a paddlewheeler boat that cruises the Yukon River. All that’s required of you is to sit back and take in the sights as the Klondike Spirit brings you through some of Canada’s untouched northern beauty.
Nakusp, British Columbia
HelloBC describes Nakusp as “a great place for rejuvenating body and mind.” The town is certainly well located for enjoying all that nature can offer. It’s between two mountain ranges, and right by the beautiful Arrow Lake. The pace of life in interior BC tends to be slow, which is great for those looking to get some R&R. In Nakusp, you can spend your days hiking in foothills, checking out the beach, or even checking out a local spa. Even in the winter, Nakusp is a beautiful retreat.
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Soaking in the Nakusp Hot Springs. The gloriously warm, naturally heated springs are surrounded by beautiful, cedar-covered foothills. There’s no better way to relax than to soak your stress away.
St. Andrews, New Brunswick
The identity of the town of St. Andrews is so wrapped up in the ocean that it’s more commonly referred to as “St. Andrews By-the-Sea.” The town was founded in 1783, and there are many well-preserved historic buildings there, making it look like a place out of a storybook. This seaside-resort town is small, but there a lot of pleasant ways to spend the days there: golfing at one of the many courses in the town, dining at seaside restaurants, taking a whale-watching cruise, or just looking out over the beautiful ocean view.
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Head to the Kingsbrae Garden, a beautiful space full of amazing flowers and plants. There are sections for perennials, roses, heath and heathers, rhododendrons, and more, as well as a cedar labyrinth, and even a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party garden for kids.
Niagara-on-the-Lake exists right in the sweet spot between small-town calm and big-city culture. It is a quaint lakeside town full of parks, heritage buildings, and beautiful flowers, but it is also home to the historic Shaw Theatre Festival, heritage museums, and many art galleries. After all, when you’re relaxing, you may want a slower pace of life, but you don’t want to get bored. Niagara-on-the-Lake has options no matter what level of activity you’re looking for.
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Take a wine tour at one of the many surrounding wineries. This area of Ontario is one of Canada’s biggest producers of wine (nearby Brock University even offers a program in oenology, aka the study of wines) and a great place to see what Canadian wineries have to offer. After all, nothing is more relaxing than sipping a full-bodied glass of wine in a naturally beautiful setting.
Lake Louise, Alberta
Almost any small town is relaxing in the summertime, but what about when you need some time off in the middle of winter? Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta is a winter wonderland worth checking out. With ski runs in the surrounding mountains, picturesque log cabins, and even a festival celebrating the start of winter, Lake Louise knows how to weather the winter months happily and comfortably.
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Skating on the lake itself. Lake Louise is known as one of Canada’s best outdoor rinks. Gliding over the ice while surrounded by majestic mountain peaks is a truly magical experience that will make you love winter again.
Woody Point, Newfoundland
Woody Point is a historical seaside town where beautiful old buildings are nestled in the hillside facing the ocean. It was designated a Registered Heritage District because it’s home to many old buildings dating back as far as the 1870s, including the beautiful Woody Point Heritage Theatre, which is now the home base for the Writers at Woody’s Point Festival. Even though Woody’s Point is tiny, it’s a great place for a writer’s festival. Its beautiful views and secluded atmosphere make it a perfect place for some quiet introspection.
Best way to spend a relaxing day: Reading a book while overlooking the water. So much of our stress comes from being eternally linked to our screens, but Woody’s Point is a perfect place to get away from that and spend some time with our old friends, books. And if you’re there during August, be sure to check out Writers at Woody’s Point.