Staycation: Where to Go in Canada in 2021
A staycation in Canada is about experiencing our wide open spaces and our great outdoors. Here, destinations to visit when travel returns. Photo: GettyImages/ Robert Postma / Design Pics
A staycation in Canada is all about experiencing our wide open spaces – one of the most important travel trends to come – and our great outdoors. And, while we can’t quite travel yet, we fully advocate dreaming now and travelling later to those places in our true north.
The best part? Some of these experiences across Canada will not only keep your wanderlust thriving, they will also have you adding them to your bucket list. And they definitely all rank as trips of a lifetime, right here in our own backyard.
From spectacular views to road tripping in sports cars to seriously surrounding yourself in nature – so good for the mind, body and soul – here’s a short list of sky’s-the-limit where we want to go next in Canada.
Drive The Sea-to-Sky Highway connecting Vancouver and Whistler is one of the most gorgeous stretches of road in North America. Go all out on the drive by booking Scenic Rush’s Sea-to-Sky Exotic Driving Experience, which puts you behind the wheel of four luxury supercars. The three-hour journey costs $695, with an extra $75 to add a passenger or co-driver. Scenic Rush reopens for business in April 2021.
Chase ice bubbles A trip to the awe-inspiring frozen wilderness of David Thompson Country, Alberta will spark your imagination. Try a different kind of hunt: search for ice bubbles on Abraham Lake (created from water-dwelling bacteria expelling methane gas). If you don’t want to go it alone, Pursuit Adventures leads guests on half- or full-day tours, Journey to the magical icefalls and ice bubbles, beginning with a guided snowshoe or winter hike through fragrant pine forest, toward a scenic viewpoint overlooking the Cline River Canyon. Head into the canyon itself, stroll alongside the frozen creek and marvel at surrounding icefalls. Picnic lunch, hiking poles and ice cleats are included.
Stargaze On a clear night, the sky above Prince Albert National Park glows with a clearly defined Milky Way and an infinite number of stars. When conditions are right, the haunting Aurora Borealis comes out to dance; meteor showers add to the chaos in August, October and December. Bring your telescope to the park and set up camp under the sprawling sky for a display you’ll never forget.
Northern lights Churchill, Man.,, is one of the best places in Canada to see the northern lights. Frontier North’s Northern Lights and Winter Nights Enthusiast tour immerses visitors in the north with a multi-day adventure. By day, you’ll snowshoe, dogsled and dine on the frozen banks of the Churchill River; at night, travel to new and extraordinary locales to watch the northern lights sparkle to life. The trip costs $5,399 and takes place on select dates in 2021 and 2022.
Escape to nature Whether sleeping in a treehouse, retreating to a sustainably built pod or camping in style in an airstream, Au Diable Vert (“The Green Devil”) beckons with an immersive holiday in the Green Mountains of Quebec. At the Mountain Station, pick up an augmented reality headset that enables you to see the real night sky overlaid with the names of stars and planets. Or climb aboard a VéloVolant, attached to the trees with a cable so you can pedal along the treetops. Rates vary. The experience is open now through 2021.
Walk on the ocean floor Hopewell Rocks, situated along the Bay of Fundy, is home to the world’s highest tides. Here, visitors can seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk on the ocean floor among flowerpot-like sea formations. The walk takes a minimum of two hours. The park opens mid-May through mid-October.
Sunset spectacle Two hours before sunset at the Skyline Trailhead, north of Chéticamp, locals and visitors in Nova Scotia can set off on a guided tour in the picturesque boreal forest, leading to a jaw-dropping sight as the sun sets on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Along the way, you might see bald eagles, whales and moose, as your guide gives you the scoop on the area’s biodiversity.
Prince Edward Island
All things Anne Those who have read the beloved classic Anne of Green Gables know the story lauds the magical setting of Prince Edward Island. Whether you’re familiar with the book or not, give it a(nother) read and then plan your trip to its real-life setting, where you can browse the Green Gables Heritage Place, embark on an Anne of Green Gables-themed itinerary and visit author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Picnics Sometimes it’s the simplest experiences that create the most powerful memories. An hour’s drive from St. John’s in Ferryland, the Ferryland Lighthouse overlooks the edge of the continent where whales breach and waves crash. Here, you can order a sumptuous spread from Ferryland Lighthouse Picnics, including blanket and picnic basket, to settle along the coastline and watch nature’s spectacle. The experience is available during the summer months only.
Epic wilderness hike Enter the vibrant world of Kluane National Park on a multi-day hiking excursion led by Terre Boreale. The Kluane Colours adventure encompasses camping beside the Yukon’s largest lake, exploring the boreal forest, viewing glaciers and mountains and spotting wildlife such as caribou and marmots. The trip costs $2,490 per person and runs in August 2021.
Ultimate aurora-watching The Northwest Territories is the best place in the world to see the northern lights, and Blachford Lake Lodge is the perfect spot to see the lights in style. Here, you can stay cosy inside the hilltop lodge or in one of the surrounding cabins, soaking in the hot tub, lounging on the deck or venturing onto the frozen lake while the auroras shoot across the sky. With a coveted position directly underneath the Aurora Oval with no light pollution, the lodge offers middle-of-the-night wake-up service to ensure you catch the lights at their best. Aurora season runs between mid-August and mid-October, with bookings now available for the 2021 and 2022 season. Packages start at $1,500 for a two-night stay.
For adventure ideas in Ontario, see below:
A Note on Safe Travel in Canada
It’s important that anyone considering travel within Canada is aware of local restrictions and safety guidelines. The following resources are available to help Canadians:
– Visit Destination Canada’s website, CanadaNice.ca, for resources, including a user-friendly Interactive Map that shows current travel restrictions and safe travel requirements by province and territory for leisure travel.
– Destination Canada has consolidated links to government and health resources to help travellers make informed travel decisions.