The Ultimate Canada Bucket List | 30 Things to Do in Canada

July 18, 2023

While its flag looks innocuous and it’s home to the world’s most polite people, Canada can be quite intimidating. The country is so big, in fact, it could fit the entire European Union, twice. It’s home to 10 provinces and three territories spanning six time zones and fronting three oceans. Still, just because Canada is massive, doesn’t mean a vacation there has to be overwhelming. Even if you just visit one province on your trip, you’ll find plenty of bucket list-worthy activities and world-class attractions. From staying up to see the Northern Lights to getting sprayed by Niagara Falls, here are 30 epic things to do in the Great White North.

30 Epic Things to Do in Canada

Beautiful scenery of Aurora borealis over Rocky Mountains in Medicine Lake at Jasper national park, AB, Canada.

1. See the Northern Lights

It’s possible to see the Aurora Borealis year-round in Canada. While this colorful phenomenon may be most active in the Northwest Territories, where they’re visible 240 nights a year according to Destination Canada, you can also see them in the south. In fact, Jasper National Park is the world’s second largest dark sky preserve. The best time to see them in Jasper, or Alberta, is October through March.

Nearest KOA:
Hinton / Jasper KOA Holiday

Gold panning, man is looking for gold with a gold pan in a small stream.

2. Pan for Gold in the Yukon

In 1896, a prospector named Skookum Jim discovered gold not far from the Klondike River. As word spread, tens of thousands of prospectors began flocking to the Yukon, and eventually Alaska, in hopes of striking it rich. Today, the capital of Klondike country is Dawson City where you can learn all about this exciting time in world history. And the best part? There’s still gold in them there hills! You can pan at public claims, for free.

Nearest KOA:
Valdez KOA Journey

A dogsled ready for a ride in the snowy Alaskan landscape.

3. Go for a Dog Sled Ride

Dog sled racing is one of Canada’s unofficial national sports and it exists in every territory. Ideally, your visit is timed with one of the country’s many races so you can cheer on the mushers from the sidelines. But if it’s not, you can still go for an exhilarating ride behind a team of hardworking dogs. Many outfitters like Kingmik Dog Sled Tours in Banff operate year round.

Nearest KOA:
Cranbrook / St. Eugene KOA Journey

First Nations totem poles stand tall against a blue sky in Vancouver's Stanley Park.

4. Get to Know the Indigenous Groups

Canada is home to three unique indigenous groups: the First Nations, Inuit and Métis​​. Throughout the country there are plenty of places including cultural centers like the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation and art galleries and museums where you can learn about Canada’s first human inhabitants. In fact, one of the most visited sites in all of British Columbia is Vancouver’s Stanley Park, home to nine First Nations totem poles.

Nearest KOA:
Lynden / Bellingham KOA Journey

View of mountains and the icefields along the Icefield Highway in Jasper National Park, Alberta.

5. Walk on a Glacier in Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is home to the Columbia Icefields which include Athabasca Glacier, the most-visited glacier in all of North America. While it’s free to visit, if you want to walk on Athabasca Glacier, you’ll have to sign up for a tour led by professional guides. If you’d rather see these massive sheets of ice from the comfort of your car, drive the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff. It often shows up on lists of the world’s most scenic drives.

Nearest KOA:
Hinton / Jasper KOA Holiday

6. Go Whale Watching

While Vancouver Island and Victoria are popular places to photograph everything from orcas to humpbacks, Canada’s east coast also boasts world class whale watching. Off the coast of Prince Edward Island, for example, you can see nearly a dozen marine mammal species including pilot whales, minke whales, sperm whales and as of recently, beluga whales which are not native to the area.

Nearest KOAs:
Borden / Summerside KOA Journey
Cavendish KOA Holiday

Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake in Banff National Park 14 km outside of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, at an elevation of approximately 1885 m.

7. Visit Lake Louise

Even if you’ve never heard of Lake Louise, which is located in Banff National Park, you’ve probably seen pictures of it. Because of its crystal clear turquoise waters, it’s one of the most photographed lakes in the world. While it’s not illegal to go for a swim in Lake Louise, you may want to bring a wetsuit.  The water looks tropical, but it comes from nearby glaciers so it’s usually just a couple of degrees above freezing.

Nearest KOA:
Cranbrook / St. Eugene KOA Journey

The winding Cabot Trail road seen from high above on the Skyline Trail at sunset in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

8. Drive the Cabot Trail

Most scenic drives are point to point, but the 185-mile-long Cabot Trail, often seen in car commercials, is a loop on Nova Scotia’s beautiful Cape Breton Island. As you drive through the island’s highlands, you’ll have uninterrupted ocean views – keep your eyes peeled for whales – and there are plenty of places to pull over and enjoy a hike to a hidden waterfall or a sandy beach.

Nearest KOA:
North Sydney / Cabot Trail KOA

Polar bear family of three in Canadian Arctic sunset.

9. See Polar Bears in the Wild

According to the Canadian government, Canada is home to 64-80% of the world’s polar bear population. While most of these 16,000 bears live in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Manitoba also has a healthy population. In fact, the town of Churchill is the polar bear viewing capital of the world. Here, you can see them by boat, helicopter or tundra buggy – lifted vehicles designed to traverse the tundra.

Nearest KOA:
Winnipeg West KOA Journey 

Two women shopping. One is pointing out something through the window of a store.

10. Shop at West Edmonton Mall

Although most goods are cheaper in the U.S., if you love shopping or record-breaking attractions, you’ll have to check out Canada’s largest mall. It boasts more than 800 stores and is so big it’s home to the world’s largest indoor lake and the world’s largest indoor wave pool. With so much to see and do, West Edmonton Mall welcomes more than 30 million visitors annually. For comparison, Disneyland receives around 18 million.

Nearest KOA:
Hinton / Jasper KOA Holiday

Quebec City and Old Port aerial view, Quebec, Canada.

11. Walk the Cobblestone Streets of Quebec City

Founded in 1608 by an intrepid Frenchman and then later occupied by the British, Quebec City is a blast from the past that looks straight out of Europe. It was North America’s first city to make UNESCO’s World Heritage list, and today it’s the only standing fortified city north of Mexico. While you can tour the citadelle, perhaps the best thing to do in Old Quebec city is to simply wander the cobblestone streets and admire the unique architecture.

Nearest KOA:
Quebec City KOA Holiday

The Thousand Islands lies on the border of Ontario, Canada and New York Stae, USA on the St Lawrence River, green trees and bright blue summer sky

12. Island Hop at Thousand Islands National Park

The aptly named Thousand Islands National Park (there are nearly 2,000 isles to explore) is found on the St. Lawrence River that serves as the border between Ottawa and New York. Whether you’re island hopping via boat cruise or kayak, you’ll probably go past several private islands, and their Gilded Age mansions, once owned by some of the wealthiest people in the world.

Nearest KOA:
1,000 Islands / Ivy Lea KOA Holiday

The city of Toronto rises from the lake at twilight.

13. Dine on top of the CN Tower in Toronto

If you think Seattle’s Space Needle is impressive, your jaw might hit the ground when you see Toronto’s CN Tower. At 1,815 feet tall, it’s three times as high as the Space Needle and twice as high as the Eiffel Tower. For a really memorable experience, dine in the tower’s 360 Restaurant, which boasts the world’s highest wine cellar. Every 72 minutes it completes a full rotation.

Nearest KOA:
Niagara Falls KOA Holiday

Blurred skaters move quickly along an icy canal at dusk.

14. Skate the Rideau Canal Skateway

Stretching for nearly five miles, Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway is the world’s largest ice skating rink. As long as there is ice that is at least 11.8 inches thick, the canal is open to the public who can skate for free seven days a week and stay warm with hot chocolate and boozy adult beverages sold at stands along the canal. (Note: the window of time the rink is open is quite narrow – usually late January to late February.)

Nearest KOA:
Renfrew / Ottawa West KOA Journey

A low angle view of two teams playing hockey.

15. Attend a Hockey Game

Canada dominates global hockey competitions. In fact, it took home the gold medal in six of the seven first Olympic games featuring ice hockey. While you’ll find Canada’s national sport in any province, if you want the most thrilling experience, try to get tickets to a Montreal Canadiens game at the Bell Centre in Montreal. It holds more than 20,000 fans and is the world’s largest ice hockey arena.

Nearest KOA:
Montreal South KOA Journey

The Hopewell, or Flowerpot Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. The area has two tides a day and one of the highest average tides in the world, averaging 16metres.

16. Visit the Bay of Fundy

Because of its unique shape and being nestled between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest tides. This means that at low tide you can walk on the bottom of the bay (Atlantic Ocean) and at high tide, the water can be as high as a four-story building. Thanks to these wild tides, you’ll find otherworldly formations like the Hopewell Rocks – more than two dozen seastacks with names like Elephant, E.T., Bear and Mother-in-Law.

Nearest KOA:
Sussex KOA Journey

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Beautiful View of the Canadian Snow Covered Mountain Landscape with Man skiing down the run during a cloudy and foggy winter day.

17. Ski or Snowboard at Whistler

With more than 200 marked runs spread out over more than 8,000 acres, Whistler Blackcomb, a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics, is one of North America’s largest ski resorts. Technically, it’s two resorts, connected by the world’s highest cable car (and longest free span between towers) above ground. That’s right, the Peak 2 Peak Gondola is in the Guiness Book of World Records.

Nearest KOA:
Lynden / Bellingham KOA Journey

High in the rocky mountains, under the clouds, people walk along the metal suspension bridge to the top. White clouds in the sky.

18. Walk Across the Cloudraker Skybridge

If you visit Whistler in the summer and you’re not afraid of heights, walk across the death-defying Cloudraker Skybridge. This pedestrian suspension bridge, only open June through August, is more than 400 feet long and looks down on Whistler Bowl and the Canadian Rockies below. While you’re up on top of West Ridge you can also check out the Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk, a viewing platform that extends out over mountain top.

Nearest KOA:
Lynden / Bellingham KOA Journey

Close-up of a chef adding gravy to Poutine. French fries, cheese curds and gravy.

19. Try Poutine

If you visit Canada without trying its national dish, it doesn’t count. Consisting of gravy, french fries and cheese curds, poutine isn’t exactly diet-friendly, but it sure is delicious. If you want to sample to taste the best of the best (or maybe participate in a poutine-eating competition), schedule your Ontario vacation to coincide with the annual Poutine Fest in Sault Ste. Marie.

Nearest KOA:
Sault Ste. Marie KOA Holiday

Golf ball on tee in the evening golf course with sunshine background.

20. Golf at Cabot Cliffs

With stunning water views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (every hole has a view) and a layout designed by the legendary Rod Whitman, it’s no surprise that Cabot Cliffs is ranked on the list of the world’s top 100 courses. Don’t have time to play all 18 holes, no worries. Cabot Cliffs’ newest course, The Nest, is a 10-hole par three that takes half the time.

Nearest KOA:
North Sydney / Cabot Trail KOA

Iconic View of Morant's Curve with Train Passing and Canadian Rocky Mountain Landscape in the background during colorful sunset. Located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

21. Ride the Rocky Mountaineer

Arguably the world’s most scenic train, a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer is a feast for the eyes. It has four routes in Canada, all of which showcase the country’s most breathtaking vistas (and thanks to outdoor viewing platforms, you don’t have to look at them through glass). Whether you start at sea level in Vancouver, or above the clouds in Jasper, you’ll never want to get off.

Nearest KOA:
Hinton / Jasper KOA Holiday

Cowboy taking a wild ride on a bucking horse at a rodeo. Afternoon sun illuminates swirling dust thrown by the kicking bronco.

22. Attend the Calgary Stampede

Every summer, the city of Calgary welcomes more than one million visitors who brave the crowds to watch the world’s best cowboys and cowgirls compete in a 10-day rodeo. The Calgary Stampede also features a concert series (there are four massive stages), nightly shows (the festival has been hosting chuckwagon races for more than 100 years) and a Midway with plenty of rides and games for the kids.

Nearest KOA:
Lethbridge KOA Journey

23. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum

Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is one of the world’s largest museums and is home to 13 million fascinating objects from all over the world. There are three levels of galleries where you can view everything from dinosaurs – don’t miss Gordo: one of only three complete Barosaurus skeletons in the world – to ancient art. While most of the museum caters to adults, it also has two “hands-on” interactive galleries designed for kids.

Nearest KOA:
Brighton / 401 KOA Holiday

Happy couple canoeing in a lake in Canada.

24. Go Canoeing

According to Lonely Planet, canoeing is synonymous with Canada. It’s perhaps the best way to get off the beaten path whether you’re in the arctic (where canoes are called umiaks) or in metro Vancouver. One of the best places to canoe, of course, is Newfoundland and Labrador where a canoe safari can have you paddling around everything from caribou to humpback whales.

Nearest KOA:
Gros Morne / Norris Point KOA Holiday

25. Cast a Line

Between the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and the Great Lakes, Canada boasts world class fishing from coast to coast. For some of the best deep sea fishing, head to Halifax, the world’s second-largest natural harbor, and book an excursion with an outfitter that can take you miles off shore. Don’t feel like venturing that far? You can fish for fresh calamari from the city’s docks.

Nearest KOA:
Halifax West KOA

Close-up of a live Canadian lobster.

26. Treat Yourself to the World’s Best Lobster

Maine isn’t a bad place to start. But if you want to indulge in the world’s best lobster you’ll have to head to New Brunswick. It’s home to Shediac, the self-proclaimed “Lobster Capital of the World” where not only will you find fresh crustaceans around every corner, but you’ll also be able to pose with the world’s largest lobster statue. It weighs nearly 200,000 pounds!

Nearest KOA:
Sussex KOA Journey

Lighthouse at Dalvay, in Cavendish National Park, on the north side of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

27. Visit Prince Edward Island

Most people associate Prince Edward Island with “Anne of Green Gables” which is set there. While reading about the island is entertaining, visiting this idyllic oasis just off the coast of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is next level. Here, you can find some of the country’s best beaches (think soft sand, not rocks) and its most colorful lighthouses. There are more than 60 on the island.

Nearest KOA:
Cavendish KOA Holiday

Early morning fog clearing as the sun rises in Baker Inlet in coastal British Columbia in the Inside Passage.

28. Cruise the Inside Passage

Stretching from Seattle to Skagway, the iconic Inside Passage is one of the world’s most scenic cruises. Still, you don’t have to do the entire 1,000-mile route, which takes at least a week by ship, to experience it. BC Ferries has a 16-hour Inside Passage cruise which sails between Port Hardy, located on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and Prince Rupert, just south of the Alaskan border.

Nearest KOA:
Olympic Peninsula / Port Angeles KOA Journey

Admiring the beautiful view from the tour boat at the fjords of the Western brook pond in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

29. Explore Gros Morne National Park

Insta-worthy mountains, fjords, beaches, bogs, cliffs, etc. Gros Morne National Park has them all. It’s no wonder the Vikings landed here, and stayed (you can even tour what remains of their 11th-century settlement). Today, Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the only places in the world where you can see the earth’s mantle.

Nearest KOA:
Gros Morne / Norris Point KOA Holiday

The view of the Horseshoe Fall, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

30. Get Sprayed by Niagara Falls

While Niagara Falls can be viewed, and experienced, from both the American and Canadian sides, the Canadian side has the best views of Horseshoe Falls, the largest waterfall that makes up Niagara. The Canadian side is also more built-up than the American side, so whether you want good food, family-friendly entertainment or outdoor adventure, you’ll find everything you’re looking for and more.

Nearest KOA:
Niagara Falls KOA Journey

KOA Author Katie JacksonKatie Jackson is a writer and media specialist based in Montana’s Big Sky Country. Living and working everywhere from New York to Nicaragua, Katie is no stranger to adventure. When she’s not traveling the world (or writing about it!) she’s busy chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus. Follow Katie’s travels on Instagram @katietalkstravel.

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