The Canadian bucket list: essential places to see in your lifetime

The Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

When it comes to travel, many of us tend to set our sights abroad. There’s a big world out there to see. But what we often forget is that there’s a big world to see even within Canada. We live in a country with all kinds of different ecosystems, diverse terrain, and endless wildlife. Canada is home to Arctic tundra, lush rainforests rolling plains, and towering mountains. In fact, there’s more than a person could see in one lifetime.

Which is why we’ve created a list of essential places to see before you die. The list of places to visit in Canada is almost endless, but if we had to narrow it down, these are the spots we’d recommend checking out before you kick the bucket.

The badlands of Alberta

If you’ve never been to the Canadian badlands around Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park, you may be shocked to see that this kind of terrain even exists in Canada. This striking, arid region was once home to dinosaurs. Now it’s full of hoodoos, purple-banded rock formations, and sprawling grasslands that every Canadian should see at least once.

Mount Logan in the Yukon

Mount Logan is the highest peak in Canada—yes, higher than any of the Rockies. It’s 19,551 feet in elevation and is located in Kluane National Park, a giant park filled with valleys, glaciers, and endless networks of trails. It’s the sort of unique landscape that can only be found in the north.

The Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy can be enjoyed from either of two sides—Nova Scotia or New Brunswick—and both offer some of the best seascapes in Canada. The bay is home to the highest tides in the world, not to mention the Hopewell Rocks, the Reversing Rapids, and Cape Enrage (which is a lot nicer than it sounds). Sea breezes and rugged coastlines are the hallmarks of this uniquely beautiful area.

Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

Cathedral Grove is one of those places whose epic scale and age will shake you. The trees there tower—they reach up to 250 feet in height, and some have a circumference of nearly 30 feet. This incredible old-growth forest has been around for thousands and thousands of years. Some of the trees have bark stripped off from nearly 1,000 years ago, when it was used in ceremonies by indigenous people. Nature and history are visible right on the surface of this incredible forest.

Little Manitou Lake in Saskatchewan

Few people know that Canada has its own mineral-dense lake comparable to the Dead Sea. Little Manitou Lake is small but incredibly buoyant. Its saltiness (it’s five times saltier than the ocean) means swimmers can float easily in its waters, and it’s small, so it gets quite warm. Throughout history, the lake has been considered healing by local first nations, and many people still flock there for its legendary healing properties.

The vineyards of Niagara

Sure, the falls are great, but if you like wine at all, the wineries at Niagara-on-the-Lake are an even bigger attraction. Imagine rows upon rows of grape vines, as far as the eye can see, lushly green and surrounded by picturesque farmland. Every trip across Canada needs a break, and this is the ideal place to stop and sip.

Muskoka, Ontario

If you’re a cottager, you already know it: the best cottage country lives in Canada. In our hearts, Muskoka is one of the wonders of the world. Beautiful water, charming towns, and amazing cabins and luxury cottages everywhere. It’s not the most affordable place to buy, but there are lots of affordable rentals there for people who want to check it out. We’d recommend doing so at least once in a lifetime.

Tofino, Vancouver Island

If you like sandy beaches, surfing, tacos, or any combination thereof, Tofino is the place to go. The sandy surf at Tofino is nearly mythical. This district is tiny, but it’s home to not only to legendary waves, but also great local tacos and microbrewed beer. If you want to really relax, there aren’t many places that can top it.