With the first month of 2016 well under way, there is no time like the present to start thinking about the travel spots you want to hit up this year.
And with the low Canadian dollar and the attractive price of gas, Canadians might be thinking of staying closer to home this year. Translation: summer road trip.
With that in mind, the travel experts at Vacay.ca have released the hottest destinations that Canadians and visitors alike will most be drawn to in 2016…
1. Sea-to-Sky Country, BC
This beautiful stretch between Vancouver and Whistler features stunning mountain views, which are the perfect backdrop for an Instagram post or 20. Visitors can ride the sea-to-sky gondola up to the mountain summit to take in the most breathtaking views BC has to offer. Continue your drive and make a stop in Pemberton, Whistler’s farm-friendly neighbour, for some fresh local food. Finally, finish your drive in Whistler, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Visitors can celebrate by checking out the many festivals, parties and new restaurant openings that will be taking place.
2. Cabot Trail, NS
Canadians looking for a coastal road trip should make their way east and cruise the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. The 200-km stretch ambles through Cape Breton Highlands (Nova Scotia’s stunning national park), passes Ingonish beach, and then winds past one of the best golf courses in the Nation, Cabot Links. When you’re tired of sightseeing, you can indulge on fresh seafood and check out some of the local communities to learn more about Cape Breton’s rich history.
3. Tofino, BC
Canadians looking to enrich themselves with culture this year should visit Tofino, which still retains close ties to First Nations communities. Visitors can go surfing, check out vibrant restaurant options, or visit one of the many tranquil spa options on the island.
4. Ivvavik National Park, YT
For those looking to explore untouched land, make your way north to Ivvavik National Park, which is the largest of Yukon’s five wilderness parks. Visitors can explore the pristine alpine wilderness, check out the fast-flowing rivers, and take in the exceptional alpine views. According to Vacay.ca contributor Mark Sissons, “Ivvavik is one of the planet’s most breathtaking and remote trekking destinations, now made more affordable to experience thanks to fly-in access and a base camp run by Parks Canada.”
5. Toronto, ON
While Toronto is known for being a hub for culture and business, 2016 will be the year that the city becomes a huge sports destination. The NBA All-Star weekend will bring in the NBA’s most notable players to the city in February. In September, it’ll welcome more than 150 of the NHL’s best players for the World Cup of Hockey. And finally, in November, T.O. will host the 104th Grey Cup.
6. Irish Loop, NL
The Irish Loop is 312 kilometres of pure beauty. The drive begins in St. John’s and makes its way south along Routes 90 and 1, allowing drivers to stop to check out the unique food and music in Ferryland, Aquaforte and Trepassey, which is the site where Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928. As you drive along the coast you will hopefully be able to see some of the whales, caribou, moose and other wild animals that live in the area.
7. Calgary, AB
This summer guests can check out the highly anticipated opening of Studio Bell, formerly the National Music Centre, which is home to more than 2,000 rare instruments and a number of exhibits. Music lovers will also be pleased to hear that Calgary will be hosting the 45th annual Juno Awards April 3 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
8. Gjoa Haven, NU
In 2014, the HMS Erebus, which is one of two vessels that went missing during a Sir John Franklin expedition, was discovered here, resulting in tourism to Gjoa Haven increasing drastically. This location is rich in maritime history that dates back to before Canada even existed.
9. Montreal, QC
Montreal is a travel destination that is so culturally stimulating and leaves anyone that visits awe-struck and wanting more. The quaint cobblestone streets of Old Montreal will take you back in time and the cafes and galleries are full of so much charm you’ll never want to leave the city.
10. Canmore/Banff, AB
Canmore and Banff should be at the top of your Canadian travel bucket lists because they’re both accessible year-round and offer so many exciting outdoor activities. Visitors will be captivated by the beauty of these locations, whether you visit in the summer and can canoe across the crystal blue Lake Louise, or in the winter to go snowshoeing through the pristine mountain trails.
11. Halifax, NS
This July, jazz music lovers can check out the 30th anniversary of the TD Halifax Jazz Festival (July 13-17) and the Halifax International Busker Festival. The Atlantic Film Festival is also celebrating 35 years this year and the Atlantic Fringe Festival turns 25. If you don’t come to check out one of these exciting events, you can explore the city, indulge on delicious fish and chips, and listen to some live music while you watch the boats pass through the harbour.
12. Dempster Highway, YT
As you drive along the Dempster Highway, which now links the town of Inuvik with the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, you will see a variety of wildlife and rolling tundra landscapes. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and explore, as you can hike throughout the surrounding hills. There are also a number of Yukon adventure companies that offer hiking, backpacking, photo safaris and cultural tours.
13. Saguenay, QC
The Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean region in Quebec is known for its sculpted rocky cliffs, lush green forests and flowing waterways. Visitors can check out the many outstanding bike trails as they explore the rolling hillsides, or go on a kayak or canoe tour through Saint-Jean Lake and the Saguenay Fjord.
14. Ottawa, ON
With Canada turning 150 next year, there is no better place to get in on the action that in Ottawa. Spend your days exploring the parliament buildings and learning about the history of Canada, followed by evenings filled with endless food and entertainment options.
15. Okanagan Valley, BC
The Okanagen Valley is B.C’s very own wine country and includes Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Osoyoos, which are all in very close proximity. In the summer, visitors can tour through the many wineries, sandy beaches, and enjoy the water activities. In the winter, visitors can check out some of the nearby ski resorts and then take part in some serious apres-ski fun.
16. Quebec City, QC
When you visit Quebec City, you will not only lose yourself in the rich history and culture of the city, but also in the many quaint cafes and on the heated patios that line the cobblestone streets. Visitors that check out in the city in the winter months have to experience the Quebec Winter Carnival, which is one of the best cold weather celebrations in the world. In the summer, visitors can check out the Quebec City Summer Festival, better known as Le Festival d’été de Québec, which is one of the best music festivals in the country. This year the Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Keith Urban and Megadeth will be making appearances.
17. Fogo & Change Islands, NL
The Fogo and Change Islands reflect the rustic yet sophisticated side of the East Coast. Visitors will love exploring the many charming communities, dining on fresh local seafood, and meeting the friendly locals. This summer visitors can watch The Great Punt Race to There and Back and watch rowers take to the North Atlantic seas for a 10-mile race.
18. Saskatoon, SK
With the highly anticipated opening of Remai Modern, which is expected to be one of the most visited museums in the prairies, art installations and creative projects are popping up across Saskatoon, attracting art lovers from around the world.
19. St. Andrews By-the-Sea, NB
For a one-of-a-kind experience, travellers should make their way to St. Andrews By-the-Sea, which is home to only 1,800 people. Visitors can go on guided tours to learn about the fishing and farming that plays a huge roll in this small seaside community. Spend your days exploring the many lush gardens or head 200 kilometres northeast and explore the Fundy National Park to experience some of the most beautiful views of the Maritimes.
20. Muskoka, ON
There are a number of reasons why Ontario’s very own cottage country is a sought-after travel destination. If the pristine lakes and rolling hillsides weren’t a big enough indication, the countless festivals, concerts, farmers markets and outdoor events definitely add to Muskoka’s charm. Muskoka has everything you would ever need for the perfect holiday.