Many Americans still think of Canada as “United States Lite.”
But, our neighbor to the north offers far more in the way of history and culture than you might expect. The outdoor adventure opportunities alone are among the best in the world. For 2017, in particular, the country should be on your must-visit radar. Here are five reasons why.
The U.S. Dollar Is Strong
Obviously, we don’t wish economic hardship on anyone. But, the fact is the Canadian dollar is weak against U.S. currency right now, and many are predicting that trend will continue at least through 2017. The exchange rate (for American travelers) is nearly the best it’s been in recent memory. Those crossing the border will see immediate discounts of around 30-40% on everything from hotels and flights to restaurants and outdoor excursion packages.
Free Admission to All of Canada’s National Parks
Canada’s national parks rival those in the U.S. in breadth and beauty. Banff and Jasper alone are arguably the two most beautiful in the entire world. To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation (essentially, its “birthday”), the country is offering free admission to all 46 of its national parks. Grab a Discovery Pass from Parks Canada which provides unlimited access to every national park, plus many national historic sites and marine conservation areas. Then, head to New Brunswick to whale watch and witness the world’s highest tides (more than 50 feet!) at the Bay of Fundy or to the Yukon Territory to see Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan, in Kluane National Park and Reserve.
It’s Among the Safest Countries in the World
If you’re feeling a bit tentative about traveling abroad, it’s worth noting that Canada is routinely ranked among the safest countries in the world. While the culture is, in many respects, similar to that in the U.S., they have far fewer problems with gun violence and crime in general. This also makes Canada a good bet for solo travelers.
Canadian Cities Are Among the World’s Most Livable
Every city in Canada offers a different vibe, a different flavor, and a unique culture. Quebec (the city, not the province) and Montreal provide the vibrancy and elegance of Paris without the overseas flight; Vancouver offers almost every outdoor adventure opportunity imaginable (including skiing, hiking, scuba diving, and mountain biking all within an hour of downtown); Calgary is young, hip, and modern; and Halifax is home to a burgeoning wine scene and some of the best, freshest seafood in North America.
There Are Festivals … Lots of Festivals
Canada may not have invented the concept of the festival, but they sure have perfected it. The country hosts an insane amount of annual festivals that vary widely from city to city:
- May: Ottawa’s International Tulip Festival
- June/July: Jazz Festival in Montreal (among the largest in the world)
- July: Calgary Stampede (billed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”)
- September: Toronto International Film Festival
- October: Celtic Colours International Festival on Cape Breton Island
Plan your trip accordingly!