Canada is more than its hulking-mountain, craggy-coast good looks: it also cooks extraordinary meals, rocks cool culture and unfurls wild, moose-spotting road trips.
The Great Outdoors
The globe's second-biggest country has an endless variety of landscapes, and nature is why many visitors come. Sky-high mountains, glinting glaciers, spectral rainforests and remote beaches are all here, spread across six times zones. They're the backdrop for plenty of 'ah'-inspiring moments – and for a big cast of local characters. That's big as in polar bears, grizzly bears, whales and everyone's favorite, moose.
The terrain also makes for a fantastic playground. Whether it's snowboarding Whistler's mountains, surfing Nova Scotia's swells, wreck diving in the turquoise waters off the Bruce Peninsula or kayaking the white-frothed South Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories, adventures abound. There are gentler options, too, such as strolling Vancouver's Stanley Park and swimming off Prince Edward Island's pink-sand beaches.
Sip a café au lait and tear into a flaky croissant at a sidewalk bistro in Montréal; slurp noodles or head to an Asian night market in the Vancouver area; explore Toronto's rich performing arts scene; join a wild-fiddling Celtic party on Cape Breton Island; and kayak between rainforest-cloaked indigenous villages on Haida Gwaii: Canada is incredibly diverse across its breadth and within its cities. You'll hear it in the music, see it in the arts and taste it in the cuisine.
Canada is a smorgasbord of local food. If you grazed from west to east across the country, you'd fill your plate with wild salmon and velvety scallops in British Columbia, poutine (French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) in Québec, and lobster with a dab of melted butter in the Maritime provinces. Tastemakers may not tout Canadian food the way they do, say, Italian or French fare, so let's just call the distinctive seafood, piquant cheeses and fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies our little secret. Ditto for the award-winning bold reds and crisp whites produced by the country's vine-striped valleys.
The arts are an integral part of Canada's cultural landscape, from the International Fringe Theater Festival (the world's second-largest) in Edmonton to mega museums such as Ottawa's National Gallery. Montréal's Jazz Festival and Toronto's star-studded Film Festival draw global crowds. And did you know Ontario's Stratford Festival is the continent's largest classical repertory theater? Even places you might not automatically think of – say, St John's or Woody Point – put on renowned shindigs (an avant-garde 'sound symposium' and a big-name writers festival, respectively).