Oh, Canada: 3 of the best vacation spots

I’ve lived in a small town in Ontario, Canada my whole life but I absolutely love to travel. Growing up, my family went on a ton of road trips so we could see the country we live in. At the time, I didn’t appreciate how awesome it was that my family was able to see the world, especially with 3 kids. I can’t imagine what it was like to try to pack for 3 kids and take them in a van across Canada for 4 weeks. Either my parents were a bit insane or really thought it was important.

I absolutely love spending time outdoors – hiking, biking, skiing, swimming, skating – you name it, I probably do it. Canada’s landscape is pretty diverse, province to province, though I haven’t yet been to all of them.

Calgary, Alberta (and surrounding area)

My family and I travelled to Calgary last year while I was pregnant but I didn’t let that stop me. We visited several of the national parks, hiked and enjoyed the mountains. I knew, even before visiting, that I would absolutely love the change of pace from Ontario. The fresh air and overall calmness made for a really enjoyable vacation.

We stayed in downtown Calgary and drove a total of 1200kms in 5 days. This was my first time seeing the Rocky Mountains in person – it’s impossible to understand the scale from simply seeing a photo. Our first drive into Banff I practically screamed when the mountains finally came into view. As we got closer I had the overwhelming feeling of how big the world is and how much of it I still want to see.

A few of my favourite spots in Alberta:

  1. Banff. It’s exactly what you’d expect when you search photos on google. The mountains are gigantic, beautiful and definitely make you feel like the world is a whole lot bigger than you think. The town is quaint with a ton of shops, restaurants and local treasures to keep you occupied when you need a break from hiking. One of my favourite meals was at an old fondue restaurant called The Grizzly House.
  2. Johnston Canyon. We got an extra early start when we visited Johnston Canyon and it was worth every step of our uphill hike. Hiking through the Rocky Mountains is unreal but the views of the waterfalls is something you shouldn’t miss when planning your trip.
  3. Moraine Lake. This beautiful spot is just outside of Banff and offers views of crystal clear water. It’s normally a bit less busy than spots like Lake Louise and Jasper. We did another hike, this one was a bit shorter, and got ourselves a bit closer to the mountains.

Here’s a few of my favourite shots from our trip – the water really was that clear!

 

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax will forever have a very special place in my heart because it was my grandmothers favourite place. We travelled here when I was in my early teens and I fell in love with the beautiful shorelines, lighthouses and salty sea. I’ve always loved the ocean but our first road trip out East was my first time seeing and swimming in the ocean.

A few of my favourite spots in Nova Scotia:

  1. Peggy’s Cove. This spot is known for the beautiful Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, fishing and old town houses perched on the rocks. It was my grandmothers favourite lighthouse and quickly became one of my favourite as well. I will always have a special place in my heart for this charming spot by the sea, the fresh air, seagulls and rocky shore are breathtaking.
  2. Pier 21. This was probably one of the most memorable and special moments from my trip to Halifax with my family. It was the entry point into Canada for immigrants between 1928 and 1971. Walking into the museum, I felt a mixture of pride, terror and overwhelming appreciation for my grandfather who had travelled alone through this port at the age of 21. He didn’t speak the language and had only the clothes on his back and a few personal items that he brought with him from Italy. He’s since passed away but I’m so glad that he told us all the stories about his early life and the struggles he went through upon arriving in Canada.
  3. Whale watching. I’ve always been a marine lover and seeing a whale is nothing short of amazing. When we went on the tour, we ended up seeing bald eagles, dolphins and porpoises. The boats are generally pretty old but it adds to the charm and adventure of the whole experience.

Montreal, Quebec

There’s nothing like old town charm, historic buildings and quaint streets in the winter. The last time I visited Montreal it was in the middle of a blizzard, definitely beautiful but bitterly cold. The city is so different from my hometown that I always feel like I’m in some tiny city in Europe.

  1. Notre Dame Basilica. I absolutely love walking through old buildings and architecture. This church was built in the gothic revival style in 1672. The interior of the church is nothing short of mesmerizing – the decorations, vaults and architecture have been rebuilt from the original church because of arson but still maintain the gothic style.
  2. Montreal Biodome. This was the original site of the 1976 Olympic games but now hosts 4 different museums that make up the Space for Life. This particular museum has simulated environments from different geographic locations around the world – also including some of the animals native to that area.
  3. Old Montreal. One of my favourite parts about Quebec are the cobbled streets, local shops and the views of the old port. If you’re looking for cafes, restaurants or snacks you’re definitely going to find it walking through the streets of Old Montreal.

There’s still so much of Canada that I haven’t seen. I’m looking forward to exploring the Northern provinces, maybe even getting far enough to see Polar Bears!

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