Well, here we are. Standing at the gates of summer with our travel and vacation options more limited than we’ve ever known them. No international adventures to tick off the kind of stuff you’d find on The Great Global Bucket List. No all-inclusive beach vacations. Scratch out flying to the opposite coast, or even inter-provincial travel without worrying if a yellow gate will shut down over Highway 1. Welcome to the Summer of Local, and I’m here to help. Within your own province, I guarantee there’s an extraordinary, bucket list experience that’s ready, finally, for you to tick off. No more excuses. Check if they’re open and running, get in the car, and go do it. Whatever you do and wherever you go, be mindful of guidance from health authorities, keep it safe, and have fun.
If you live in or near Vancouver:
Get thee to the Okanagan, pick up some fine local wine, and float your bubbles with Coyote Cruises down the Penticton River Canal.
If you live in or near Victoria:
Drive north to Port Renfrew and hike to some of the world’s biggest and majestic trees in Avatar Grove. Here’s directions. While you’re at it, support the Ancient Forest Alliance who are doing vital work to protect these ancient wonders from logging.
If you live in or near Calgary:
The world-class Banff Legacy Trail is a 26.8km-long paved biking and walking route running on the south side of the Trans-Canada between Canmore and Banff. It’s got an elevation gain of just 30m, and takes about 2-3 hours in the saddle. You’ve seen it. Time to do it.
If you live in or near Edmonton:
Drive out to Elk Island National Park and channel an African game safari drive or bush walk as you search for the free-roaming bison, elk, moose, deer and over 250 species of birds.
If you live in or near Regina:
Their June tours were cancelled but hopefully that won’t extend into summer. Drive 115km south to Ogema to hop aboard the Southern Prairie Railway, and seek out the finest take-out pizza this side of Naples at Solo Italia.
If you live in or near Saskatoon:
It’s the year to drive 116km south to Watrous and float your lockdown-body in the healing, soothing waters of Little Manitou Lake. Your skin will enjoy a mud bath too.
If you live in or near Winnipeg:
They’re practically dinosaurs, the giant mutant catfish patrolling the deeps of the Red River waiting to be caught and released. No fishing experience necessary (trust me), call ahead and let City Cats will take care of it.
If you live in or near Toronto:
Forget Tuscany. This outstanding week-long cycle package from Great Canadian Trails combines two off-road trails, award-winning wineries, historical forts, and stunning Great Lake and Niagara Peninsula scenery. Check out the Bruce Trail packages while you’re at it.
If you live in or near Ottawa:
Le Boat, which operates the world’s largest fleet of canal boats, has bases in Smiths Falls and Seeley’s Bay. Putter along the Rideau Canal in a comfortable, fully-equipped self-drive houseboat, stopping off at various towns and villages.
If you live in or near Montreal:
Sorry North Shore Hawaii, maybe next year. In the meantime, slip on a wet suit, head over to Habitat 67, and see how you make out on the rapids of the St Lawrence. KSF offers surf rentals and lessons.
If you live in or near Quebec City:
Bring a corkscrew for this genteel, family friendly 4-5 day ride along a former train track in the beautiful Laurentians. The Ptit Train du Nord is a 200km-long mostly gravel trail takes you through lush countryside, charming villages and abandoned, restored train stations.
If you live near Fredericton or St John:
Leave the trees behind to zipline into the spray of the one of the largest waterfalls east of Niagara. Head to Grand Falls and fly across a 150m gorge, baptized by the spray .
If you live in or near Halifax:
Cape Breton. The highland scenery, the coastline, the music, the culture, the road-trip. There’s no place in the country like it.
If you live in or near Charlottetown:
We envy your beaches, especially when you know how to show them off. Experience PEI offers a 2-hour a private sandcastle building lesson with a professional sand sculptor on the island’s north shore.
If you live in St John’s:
Here’s my challenge: Head to Twillingate, pick up a bottle of Iceberg Vodka, find a small boat charter to a nearby iceberg, pick up a floating bergie bit, use an ice-pick to get some of that 20,000-year-old ice into your glass of vodka, and tell the story of the perfect iceberg cocktail for the rest of your life. Hopefully your weather will be better than mine.