Banff—For the Explorer

In the southern third of Canada’s Alberta province sits Banff National Park. In addition to being the country’s first national park, it is one of the nation’s largest and most-visited. Full of breathtaking scenery, the park sits at the heart of the Canadian Rockies near the southeastern border. Visitors can glimpse black bears, grizzly bears bison, moose, bighorn sheep, wolves, and bald eagles while climbing one of the area’s many dazzling peaks.

 

Banff National Park includes more than scenery and opportunities for adventure. The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is an excellent place for visitors to begin their exploration of the Canadian Rockies. Originally housing a collection of paintings, this museum has grown to encompass the history of Banff and the culture of the Canadian Rockies. The Whyte Museum also includes four log cabins and two heritage homes.

 

When you’re ready to set out, be sure to carefully plan your routes and “to-hike” list; at 2,564 square miles, visitors should prioritize their expeditions. Not in the mood for hiking? Visitors can also mountain bike, rock climb, cross-country ski, and snowshoe.

 

If you want to experience the grandeur of this park without pulling on a pair of hiking boots, you have several options. The Banff Gondola brings visitors to and from the top of Sulphur Mountain, providing spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. The Upper Hot Springs are another great destination for those wanting to postpone the adventure; since 1880, visitors have visited these therapeutic mineral waters, which are maintained between 98 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Niagara Falls—For the Perennial Tourist

Most (likely all) Americans are familiar with Niagara Falls—a series of three waterfalls situated on the boarder between Canada’s Ontario and America’s New York. The Canadian side of Niagara Falls I known as Horseshoe Falls, and it offers some of the best views and the most attractions. The surrounding area is teeming with tourist life, full of observation towers, restaurants, souvenir shops, casinos, and several high-rise hotels.

 

In recent decades, Niagara Falls has been known as a romantic spot, a cheesy location, and a tourist trap. Now, the area is a felicitous combination of the three—in addition to stunning views of the natural landscape, there are several wineries, distilleries, a botanical garden, and a slew of quickie, pop-up wedding chapels and hotels. In becoming a tacky destination, the Canadian section of Niagara Falls has itself become an interesting piece of tourism and history.

 

With water speeds of up to 68mph, the sound of the falls can be heard for miles around. Whether you want to experience a typical family vacation, a romantic honeymoon, or an ethnographic study of American/Canadian tourism, this is a wonderful place to visit.

 

Quebec City—For the Francophile

Though the capital of the Canada’s Quebec province, Quebec City’s appearance is more like that of a French village. Perched on a hill overlooking the St. Lawrence River, this French-speaking and French-looking city is equipped with a booming financial district, cobblestone streets of an Old City, and more than 400 years of history. It has been ranked the #1 best place to visit in Canada, the 1# best ski destination, and the #1 best place to visit during the month of December.

 

Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) is the only old city north of Mexico to have remaining fortified city walls. The area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985, and it remains one of the city’s best-known attractions. Similarly, the Chateau Frontenac dominates Quebec City’s skyline; the “most photographed hotel in North America,” this was previously the residence of the British colonial governors of Lower Canada and Quebec. Visitors do not need to be guests of the hotel to take a tour of its most stunning rooms.

 

Art fans will delight in Quebec City’s offerings—home to the Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec (the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec) and the Musée de la civilisation (Museum of Civilization), there is no shortage of cultural icons and relics. Though you do not need to speak French to pay a visit to this charming city, it is a wonderful opportunity for language immersion; though most Quebec City residents speak English, French is the primary language.

 

Quebec City is an excellent alternative to an expensive trip to Paris. Visitors will inevitably save money on flights, lodging, and food, while maintaining comfort in the ability to speak English in all public settings.