Looking for a great low-key destination for your next weekend getaway or searching for the perfect rural spot for next year’s summer rental? You’ll want to head to one of these scenic, charming small towns. Quiet yet close to a number of attractions and amenities, these quaint spots offer a slower pace that can feel decidedly refreshing.
According to rumour, Queen Elizabeth II called this Ontario gem “the prettiest town in Canada.” Attractions include long-running annual festivals and art galleries, the uniquely-shaped Huron Historic Gaol, and the lovely courthouse square downtown, where farmers’ and flea markets take place in the summer months. But you could also skip it in favour of relaxing time spent at the town’s stunning freshwater beaches, which are also known for their beautiful sunsets.
St. Andrews, New Brunswick
Known as Canada’s “premier historic seaside resort” and designated a National Historic Site, St. Andrews-by-the-sea was established in 1783 and is one of New Brunswick’s oldest settlements. This charming, picturesque coastal town offers easy access to the Bay of Fundy’s many maritime attractions—including whale watching, beaches, and dive tours in the summer months—alongside a host of distinctive historic attractions and local museums. A destination with year-round appeal, St. Andrews also boasts architectural delights, a bustling downtown core, and scenic trails for nature lovers.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Established in 1753, this beautiful port town is worth visiting just for the colourful houses and pretty downtown strip alone. A UNESCO World Heritage site (one of only two urban communities in North America to be designated as such), Old Town Lunenburg features centuries-old colonial buildings and a vibrant waterfront rich in history. Nearby, scenic ocean drives and great seafood spots abound.
This Charlevoix-region destination, known for its importance to the Group of Seven and as the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil, is ideal for culture and arts lovers looking for a relaxing getaway. You can find a number of art galleries and independent boutiques in the walkable downtown area, and decadent spas and family-owned agritourism attractions nearby. Plus, Baie-Saint-Paul’s location in a valley near the St. Lawrence River provides for dramatic vistas and beautiful autumn colours.
This quaint town at the heart of Prince Edward County has many charms that you can enjoy in the off-season, when visitor numbers are much more manageable. Expect wonderful restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients, stylish boutiques run by city expats and more. Plus, the lovely beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Parks are just minutes away.
Tofino, British Columbia
Located in the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region on Vancouver Island’s west coast, Tofino offers an outstanding treasure trove of natural attractions for every visitor. Whether you’re looking to take in the beautiful skies as the storms roll in, explore tidepools and secluded inlets, or hike through old-growth rainforests in the warmer months, it’s a destination like no other. And the town offers a host of unique accommodations ranging from rustic treehouses to the award-winning Wickaninnish Inn, too.
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