I Backpack Canada » Sightseeing http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Thu, 30 Jul 2015 19:10:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Must-Know Etiquettes for Canadian Casinoshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/must-know-etiquettes-for-canadian-casinos/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/must-know-etiquettes-for-canadian-casinos/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:27:24 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7221 Canada has some of the best casinos of the world and the experience shouldn’t be missed. There are always some rules and etiquettes to follow in casinos and when you step into one of the Canadian casinos, as a tourist, you have to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself. Follow some of these tips to […]

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Canada has some of the best casinos of the world and the experience shouldn’t be missed. There are always some rules and etiquettes to follow in casinos and when you step into one of the Canadian casinos, as a tourist, you have to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself. Follow some of these tips to ensure your cool level remains at a constant high.

casino-nova-scotia

Lotto in Canada is fairly popular and you might want to try playing and experience the real ambience of the game. But if you’re traveler and plan to visit Canada but think you’re going to miss playing lottery when you arrive there, fret not. There’s an option for playing lotto anywhere you are. You can easily enjoy online lottery while travelling as well, through William Hill Irish Lottery. Just also make sure to know the standard etiquettes of playing online as well.

Irish Lotto 6 ball at William Hill siteGambling is individually regulated in Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories. It was legalized in 1969, and one of the best casinos you can visit during your trip is at Niagara Falls. The Las Vegas of Canada. Here are some rules and etiquettes to remember while gambling in Canada:

Gambling Age and Dress Code

To play at one of the casinos in Canada, you must show your government ID with a photograph to prove that you are above the age of 19, legally allowed to gamble. The legalized gambling options that you’ll find in Canada include slot machine centers, video lottery terminals, Bingo halls, and racetracks. Casino specific instructions will always be posted at the entrance. Keep in mind that most casinos are no smoking zones and generally, for smokers, the smoking area lies outside the building. Casino’s will server alcohol, but avoid over indulging as they aren’t shy when it comes to kicking drunk patrons out.

In terms of dress code, you can be casually dressed, but but sure you’re not over-doing it. Wearing your beach clothes and hat may get you turned around. While you’re playing in a Canadian casino, be aware that you won’t be served complimentary alcoholic drinks as the casinos aren’t permitted to do so. In casinos in British Columbia, no beverage is served on the gaming floor. Being drunk at the table is not appreciated and should be avoided at all costs.

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Bet Limits and Chips

Every table has bet limits posted for the players to see, but generally, they tend to be between $5 and $100. High limit tables are separated and will be clearly marked. If you want to play the slot machines, the betting limits will be between 1 cent and $5. Machines with higher limits will again be separately placed and marked. Just a quick rundown on the chips so that you don’t mess it up while playing. White or blue chips are $1, green chips $25, red chips $5 and black chips $100.

During busy times, casinos discourage players from playing on more than one machine at a time. If you’re playing on a slot machine and need to go out for a break, leave a personal item on the seat to indicate that it’s taken. If you find someone’s Player’s Card in the slot machine, put in on top so that they can find it if they get back.

Have any other tips for tourists in Canada interested in partaking in some Casino fun? Share them below!

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Why Niagara Falls Isn’t Totally Overrated for Young Adult Travelershttp://ibackpackcanada.com/why-niagara-falls-isnt-totally-overrated-for-young-adult-travelers/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/why-niagara-falls-isnt-totally-overrated-for-young-adult-travelers/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:36:27 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7165 Young travelers today tend to look for the road less traveled — the exciting, the enriching, and (perhaps most importantly) the inexpensive. They want to be culturally stimulated and naturally awed, and they want the opportunity to forge their own paths in unknown country. Niagara Falls, which has been a major travel destination for centuries, […]

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Young travelers today tend to look for the road less traveled — the exciting, the enriching, and (perhaps most importantly) the inexpensive. They want to be culturally stimulated and naturally awed, and they want the opportunity to forge their own paths in unknown country.

Niagara Falls, which has been a major travel destination for centuries, doesn’t exactly fit the bill. During the last few decades, the city around the natural wonder has developed into a tacky tourist trap, where overpriced hotels, restaurants, and attractions squeeze money out of well-meaning visitors. Travelers who come expecting breathtaking views are more likely to catch their breath on the seemingly unjust prices and copious crowds.

Yet, Niagara Falls is a unique destination in the world, utterly unlike any other waterfall or Canadian city, which means it absolutely should be a stop on any world traveler’s itinerary. Here are a handful of Niagara Falls activities sure to enchant even the purest of young travelers during a short trip to the falls and surrounding region.

Niagara Falls

Stage Productions

Though the region may not be as well-known as Italian opera houses or Broadway stages, Niagara actually boasts one of the most highly regarded theater festivals in the world. Every year, Niagara-on-the-Lake produces the Shaw Festival, a tribute to the brilliant, iconic works of George Bernard Shaw and his like-minded contemporaries. Shaw was known for his biting wit and social commentary, as well as his magical talent for making theater an absolutely immersive experience. And to feel the sensations of a Shavian play, thousands of travelers purchase cheap plane tickets on Flights.com between April and September to catch a weekend showing.

The shows change every year, but in 2015, the Shaw Festival is presenting the following productions:

  • The Lady From the Sea
  • Light up the Sky
  • Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Pygmalion
  • You Never Can Tell
  • And more!

Niagara Wine Country

Wine Country

Nothing quite says “excellent vacation” like free wine, and Niagara Falls’ superb wine trail certainly has plenty of it. Hundreds of vineyards knit the fertile landscape into a paradisiac quilt for wine-lovers, and nearly every winery offers visitors tastings of their award-winning wines. Travelers should stop in at these top-notch cellars to sample the best of the region:

  • Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery
  • Tawse Winery
  • Flat Rock Cellars
  • Five Rows Craft Wine of Lowry Vineyards
  • Peller Estates
  • Inniskillin

Small Towns

Much of the joy of romping around Central America or Southeast Asia is the opportunity to visit small villages and come face-to-face with a different cultural identity. Believe it or not, travelers can have the same experience in the Niagara Region, which is full of quaint communities that welcome visitors with open arms — and an added benefit is that they all speak perfect English.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is the most popular small town of the region, and it is just a short 20-minute ride from Niagara Falls proper. The town seems stopped in time, as the architecture in the town square is centuries-old and horse-drawn carriages are common on streets and parks. The shops around town are all locally owned boutiques, which brings travelers closer with the culture of the place. Niagara-on-the-Lake has frequently been voted the prettiest town in Canada, so it is a good stop for travelers looking for charm.

However, Niagara-on-the-Lake isn’t the only place where travelers can venture away from the hustle and bustle of touristy Niagara Falls. Nestled along the shores of Lake Ontario, dozens of small communities are worth visiting, including Jordan, St. Catharine’s, and Port Weller with the fascinating Welland Canal.

Beautiful Niagara

Hiking Trails

While the city may be overdeveloped, Canada and the United States have taken strides to make sure that ample natural space remains around the park for outdoor adventure. Thus, there are dozens of day hikes that take travelers deep into Niagara country for unforgettable views of the landscape. Here are some of the best hikes around the falls:

  • Niagara Glen Gorge Trail
  • Whirlpool Rapids and Devil’s Hole Trail
  • Niagara River Recreation Trail
  • Bruce Trail

Travelers who aren’t quite up to a forest trek — who perhaps are worn out by their earlier excursion on the wine trail — might prefer a leisurely stroll around Niagara Falls’ extensive parks and gardens. Absolutely beautiful when blooming during the spring and summer months, the Botanical Gardens are perfect for a picnic lunch. Alternatively, tired travelers can lie down in Queen Victoria Park and people-watch against the background of Niagara Falls, which is breathtaking in its natural beauty no matter how touristy the area has become.

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What did you think? Comment below!

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7 True Yukon Experienceshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/7-true-yukon-experiences/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/7-true-yukon-experiences/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 20:24:40 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7116 I’m happy to feature a guest writer on I Backpack Canada this week. I was recently approached by a fellow writer who wanted to share some of her stories and photos. Gemma Taylor of Off Track Travel has been hiking, paddling, driving and writing her way around Western Canada with her boyfriend Jean Robert since 2011. Together, they’ve […]

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I’m happy to feature a guest writer on I Backpack Canada this week. I was recently approached by a fellow writer who wanted to share some of her stories and photos. Gemma Taylor of Off Track Travel has been hiking, paddling, driving and writing her way around Western Canada with her boyfriend Jean Robert since 2011. Together, they’ve managed to cover a massive part of western Canada, including BC, The Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. I love seeing other writers’ and travellers’ stories and advice on Canada, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity! Be sure to check out her site for more posts like these! With that said, I’m going to shut it and let Gemma take over from here.

Canada’s Yukon is truly a place like no other. The name alone evokes images of wilderness and adventure. But where to start? Here are seven experiences which I believe sum up the Yukon best.

Photo by Gemma Taylor

Photo by Gemma Taylor

Hiking and camping on tundra in Tombstone Territorial Park

This protected area is a real rarity. Located only an hour from one of Yukon’s main two highways, Tombstone offers remarkably easy access to pure Yukon wilderness. In Tombstone, you can hike and camp anywhere. Seriously, it’s just a matter of choosing which direction you want to go and starting to hike if you have some back country experience. The lack of trees allows for unparalleled views and relatively straightforward navigation, though the squishy tundra can take some effort to cross. With few visitors even despite the road running through it, reaching solitude is not a problem. You can enjoy the magnificent views from a mountain summit all to yourself.

Photo by Gemma Taylor

Paddling the mighty Yukon River

Follow in the footsteps of the Klondike gold miners and journey up the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City. Rustic camp-sites line most of this section of the mighty Yukon, as do relics of the past. Up until the 1950s, the Yukon River was the main highway in these parts. Explore abandoned telegraph stations, stern-wheelers and trappers’ cabins. Slow down and get on river time; there’s no hurry here. Mountain goats and moose can be spotted along the journey as well as grizzly and black bears. With an average river speed of 10km/h, paddling the 700km route is less intimidating and more achievable than you may at first think.

Photo by Gemma Taylor

Photo by Gemma Taylor

Crossing the Arctic Circle

The Yukon is home to Canada’s only all-season highway passing the Arctic Circle. The Dempster Highway is a 740km dirt road that currently reaches all the way to Inuvik, NWT. The journey is the destination here, as the highway passes over tundra, spectacular wide-open landscapes and incredibly rugged mountains. This is a place that reminds you how small you are. Reaching the Arctic, your expectations are likely to be thrown out of the window. There may not be many people in this area but it is still vibrant with local culture and a variety of wildlife. And it gets hot in the summer, up to 24 hours of the day to match the sunlight. Just remember to take bug spray – the mosquitoes are alive and well throughout those 24 hours too.

Dog-sledding in a winter wonderland

Whipping through the forest on the back of a sled pulled by a team of dogs, mushing in the Yukon offers a winter experience like no other. With the Yukon River freezing over, the humble dog sled was once the main form of winter transport in the Yukon. February’s annual Yukon Quest race continues to keep the spirit of epic dog-sledding journeys alive. Visitors can get in on the action too with various mushing experiences on offer around the Yukon, which can be combined with visits to hot springs. A wonderfully low impact way to explore the wilderness, the dogs are likely to be as excited as you.

Photo by Gemma Taylor

 

Stepping back in time in Dawson City

With a year-round population of 2000, you may expect Dawson City to be a sleepy place. It is in fact anything but! Centre of the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush, Dawson City is now almost like a living and breathing museum. Costumed interpretors wander the streets in summer and tour visitors along the wooden boardwalks and around the preserved Gold Rush-era buildings. Thrice nightly cancan shows continue in Canada’s oldest casino, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, while brave souls in the Westminster Hotel down a drink with a dead appendage in it to join the ‘Sour Toe Club.’ The half-way point of the annual Yukon Quest, Dawson City knows how to party in winter too.

Experiencing the Midnight Sun / Watching the Northern Lights

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun” wrote Robert Service in 1907 and he was absolutely right. Summer days are long in the Yukon, averaging at 20 hours for much of the territory. With this much daylight, exploring doesn’t have to stop at dinnertime. The Yukon offers an entirely different perspective to what is summer; one that is seemingly never-ending and full of possibilities. On the other side of things, winter days may be short but in exchange they provide the opportunity of seeing the famed Northern Lights. Who needs long days when there is a dancing light show happening in the skies? Yukon skies shimmer with green throughout fall and spring too, but the dark nights of winter provide the best time to see the show.

Driving in Yukon territory

Photo by Gemma Taylor

Driving the Alaska Highway

The longest stretch (958km) of the famed Alaska Highway actually runs through Yukon Territory. Considered one of the best drives in the world, the ‘Alcan’ was originally built to connect Alaska with the continental USA during WWII. It may be a modern road today but it still evokes adventure, even if you don’t drive it all the way to Alaska! Lined by mountains and one-of-a-kind views, the road travels past some of Yukon’s most iconic sights, such as Watson Lake’s Signpost Forest (started by the road builders in 1942), the Yukon River, Kluane National Park and the stunning Kluane Lake. Short detours from the main highway lead to anomalies like the Carcross Desert and intensely coloured Emerald Lake. If you have time, take the ultimate road trip and drive the entire highway from Dawson Creek, BC, to Fairbanks, Alaska.

About the Guest Author of this Post

Gemma has been hiking, paddling, driving and writing her way around Western Canada with her boyfriend Jean Robert since 2011. Their most recent five month road trip stretched all the way to Inuvik, NWT. Sharing their outdoor adventures and travel tips on offtracktravel.ca, Gemma has also recently released an eBook ‘the Ultimate Guide to a Working Holiday in Canada’ to help enable others to go on their own Canadian adventure. Connect with JR and Gemma on Twitter and Facebook.

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Check out these Canadian Backpacker Tour Companieshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 03:47:20 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4480 There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian […]

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There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian backpacker tour companies are definitely worth checking out.

Moose Travel Network Backpacker Tours

moose-travel-network backpacker toursI’m going to start with Moose Travel Network, because they’re the only one I’ve had a chance to experience. Their staff are incredibly helpful and knowledgable. When you book a tour with them, you can pick from several routes, allowing you to see a variety of regions throughout BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. You’ve got a ton of flexibility as well, as they allow you to setup hop on and hop off style itineraries. If you decide mid way through your trip that you want to explore Banff a little while longer, it’s just a matter of letting your driver know, and then you take care of your hostels and you’re set. When you’re ready to pick up where you left off, just inform Moose Travel Network and you can hop back on the tour.

Their drivers ensure that they break up the drives between destinations with fascinating stops at stunning panoramic views, random trips and excursions, and some of the best food and drink joints along the way. Good music, laughs, and company are easily found on their trips.

Check out my interview with a Moose Travel Network Guide.

Read my experiences in the Rocky Mountains with Moose Travel Network.

Salty Bear Adventure Travel Tours

Salty-Bear-tours canadaSalty Bear Adventure Travel was started by a local Nova Scotian backpacker who was keen on showing off the maritimes to people from across the world. Salty Bear hires local Canadian drivers with a passion for their locale, ensuring you’ll know that what you’re seeing and experiencing authentically Canadian. Salty Bear is similar to Moose Travel, as they do drop offs at hostels, but will accomodate anyone if you’re staying elsewhere. They also supply tours along the way, ensuring that you get to experience the best tours along the way.

West Trek Tours

West trek tours backpackerWest Trek provides high quality adventure tours to backpackers both young and old, interested in seeing and experiencing the best of Canada. Explore the Rocky Mountains, mountain bike in Whistler, Surf in Tofino, Explore Victoria, Vancouver, and even parts of USA. Their award winning tour company is rated highly by visitors across the world.

Am I missing any other awesome Canadian Backpacker Tour companies? Don’t hesitate to share below in the comments.

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Kayaking with Belugas in Churchill, Manitobahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/kayaking-with-belugas-churchill-manitoba/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/kayaking-with-belugas-churchill-manitoba/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:58:32 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5362 The tip of my paddle sliced through the cold arctic waters of the Hudson River, a loud burst of air and mist erupted from the water. I watched as a smooth, silky white body of one of Churchill Manitoba’s yearly visitors, the belugas, gently peeked out of the water. As I swivelled my head I […]

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The tip of my paddle sliced through the cold arctic waters of the Hudson River, a loud burst of air and mist erupted from the water. I watched as a smooth, silky white body of one of Churchill Manitoba’s yearly visitors, the belugas, gently peeked out of the water. As I swivelled my head I realized I am completely surrounded. I let out a nervous laugh & quickly decided that it was time to make friends with these 2000 lb cetaceans.

kayak-beluga-hudson-bay

Paddling with Churchills Belugas

My sea kayak glided towards a pod of belugas headed straight for me. I worried that I found myself in an arctic version of chicken that I have yet to learn the rules to. Thankfully, they all dove before impact and barrel rolled underwater, studying the kayak and no doubt wondering what this cold, wet, bearded fellow above is all about.

I soon discovered that belugas love playing cat and mouse. Chasing a colourful kayak through these cold waters is considered a good time by belugas, and judging by how much I abided, I have to admit it’s my kind of game as well. After an hour of padding with pods of these magical creatures, encouraging as many to follow in my wake, they had all but completely wore me out.

beluga-petting-hudson-mb

An Encounter with an Infant Beluga

As I rested, watching the 4 other paddlers in my group laugh at the excitement of seeing belugas at every angle, I dipped my hand into the cold waters, hoping to get my newfound group of underwater friends attention. A grey juvenile beluga swam closer, inspecting my hand. We maintained eye contact, starring into one another’s eyes, studying. I held still, hoping with all my might that this young beluga might see me as friend and not a foe. The juvenile gracefully floated closer, nudging my hand with his nose. Suddenly he (or she) swam away, only to return a few seconds later to touch my hand again. “Hello to you too“, I quietly said. I pulled my hand from the water in shock, and yelled to the group “I just touched a beluga!“. Jealousy erupted in our group, as I spent the last hour kayaking in complete disbelief, laughing and shaking my head, wondering how I got so lucky. This was hands down one of the highlights of my life!

Polarbears & Belugas

While many people head north in search of polar bears, I traveled north to Churchill for the belugas. Not only because summer is their high season, but because as a child I was Raffi’s biggest fan, belting out the words to “Baby Beluga” louder than Axl Rose could scream. Despite being such a huge fan of his hit song, I had never seen a beluga in real life. I was convinced that this summer was to be the one that changed that, looking back, that was one of the best goals I had set in a long time.

kayaking with belugas in churchill

Churchill’s Kayak & Beluga Experts

The folks at Sea North Adventures offer travellers a wide range of adventures, including kayaking & snorkelling with belugas, exploring the Churchill Fort, or hopping on a zodiac in search of polar bears. The staff at Sea North Adventures have to be some of the hardest (and friendliest) workers in Churchill. When you don’t see them touring people through the frigid waters of the Churchill River, you might find them serving guests at the Tundra Inn Pub.

beluga-pod-manitoba-canada

VIA Rail from Winnipeg to Churchill

I boarded VIA Rail’s “Hudson Bay” train from Winnipeg to Churchill, a 40 hour ride that let’s you truly experience the vast distances and picturesque landscapes of the Canadian prairies, the boreal forest, and the sub-arctic tundra. This is by far the cheapest way to get up to Churchill, and despite the long hours on board a train, you’ll find that it’s just part of the journey. Part of what makes Churchill so intoxicatingly alluring! Be sure to try and remember your fellow VIA Rail passengers names as you’ll likely be seeing them throughout town when you arrive. While flying is an option to get to Churchill, VIA Rail is significantly more friendly on the budget, and in my opinion a better way of traveling to this small northern Canadian town.

churchill-manitoba-beluga-whales

Churchill is for the Adventurous

Churchill brings about a certain type of traveller. You’ll find that they all have something in common. Whether it’s their desire for the great outdoors, an insatiable quench for adventure, or a passion for arctic wildlife, you’ll come to realize those you meet in the small town of Churchill are here for a lot of the same reasons as you. What’s more shocking than this is the fact that residents of Churchill continue to possess these same qualities, and best of all, they’re willing to share their slice of heaven with visitors from all over the world. With a population of under 1000 people, you’ll come to find that each and every one of them have a story worth listening to. Be sure to take the time to listen, next to the belugas and polar bears, they’re the most interesting form of life this far north.

Special thanks to the folks at Frontiers North Adventures, Sea North Tours, and the warm folks at Tundra Inn for helping out with my Churchill Adventure. Another thanks to the helpful staff at Travel Manitoba for bringing me in to cover the region.

Please forgive the Instagram quality photos in this post, I wasn’t brave enough to haul my DSLR out for this kayak trip and I only ended up having my Waterproof Case for my iPhone to snap these.

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16 Winter Activities to Enjoy in Canadahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/16-winter-activities-canada/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/16-winter-activities-canada/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 18:25:00 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6856 Short on things to do in Canada during the winter? Check out some of these popular winter activities in Canada. Winter is a tough time of the year for everyone. It’s sometimes easier and more appealing to just hunker down in the warmth of your home and avoid the cold outdoors. Pushing yourself in the […]

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Short on things to do in Canada during the winter? Check out some of these popular winter activities in Canada. Winter is a tough time of the year for everyone. It’s sometimes easier and more appealing to just hunker down in the warmth of your home and avoid the cold outdoors. Pushing yourself in the winter to try new things, or pickup new winter hobbies is a great way to stay sane in these long winter months. This list below should hopefully kick you in the butt to get outdoors and learn how to embrace the cold and have some fun!

snowboarding-fairmont

Snowboarding / Skiing

One of the most popular winter activities in Canada. Snowboarding and skiing is available nearby just about any major city centre. Most people end up road tripping to the mountains, or the nearest ski/snowboard hill. Even in places like Regina, SK, my hometown, you can make a quick 45 minute jaunt over to Qu’Appelle Valley and enjoy the cute little valley resort of Mission Ridge. These little micro resorts aren’t exactly the best Skiing or Snowboarding you’ll come across in Canada, but provide a great weekend day trip.

Look for more information on Snowboard / Skiing in Canada?

Cross Country Ski Canada

Cross Country Skiing

The first time I went cross country skiing I was 13. It may look like an easy way to spend a sunday, and I’m sure it is if you do it often enough, but I still to this day think Cross Country Skiing is one of the most intense workouts you can do in the winter. Cross country ski rentals are available in many towns, and can be picked up very cheap at used sporting good stores or online at websites like Kijiji. Most Canadian cities also have Cross Country Ski clubs, where you and a group of similar aged people will head out and explore nearby trails.

Snowmobile Canada

Photo by Jordan Cameron – CC Licensed via Flickr

Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling, snow-machining, skidooing, same diff. Whatever you call it, just know that it’s one of the best winter activities you can get into. While there’s a high barrier of entry to snowmobile, if you can make friends with a snowmobile owner, or join a group or find a snowmobile rental company that can get you out on the trails, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you’ll have, despite the cold.

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Dog Sledding Canada

Dogsledding

Nothing says rugged Canadian winter sport like Dogsledding. Dogsledding is a little harder to just pick up as a hobby, but you can certainly find tour operators across Canada that are experts in the subject. Head out on a weekend trip and experience one of the most unique Canadian winter activities you can find. Bundle up, and explore the great outdoors with your own team of dogs. Mush!

Find out more about Dogsledding in Canada

Ice Skating the Oval

Ice skating

Many Canadians proudly claim to have learned to skate before they could walk. While I’m not sure exactly how that’s possible, it’s safe to say that we’re all a big fan of this winter passtime. Ice Skating is probably one of the cheapest, easiest ways to get outside and enjoy the fresh winter air. Most cities have free skate rentals at local outdoor skating arenas. Nearly every Canadian school has an Ice Rink near the playground. Outdoor rinks are almost always community run, allowing any ordinary person to enjoy this awesome winter activity.

Mount Pleasant Tobogganing in Saskatchewan

Tobogganing

Nothing says Canada quite like hurling yourself down on a hill with no form of steering. Despite the occasional injury, it’s still one of the best things to do in the winter across Canada. Find a local hill, rent, borrow, or buy a Toboggan, GT, Saucer, or Crazy Carpet, and let the fun begin. I was having a tough time tracking down hills last winter here in Regina, SK, so I decided to create a website dedicated to Regina Toboggan Hills. Hop on google and see if you can find something similar near you.

shopping canada

Photo courtesy of Mack Male – CC Licensed via Flickr

Shopping

While it’s not exactly the most adventurous thing to do in the winter, shopping is a great time killer, and on top of that, it’s great for the economy (let’s ignore that it’s hard on the wallet). Mall visitors greatly increase in the winter months, and with the weather being so cold, you have an excuse to shop for multiple layers.

Ice fishing Last Mountain Lake

Ice fishing

Ice fishing isn’t exactly the most exciting winter sport, but I have to admit, there is a peaceful serenity to cutting into the ice, dropping a line, and catching food in the face of -30 degree celcius weather. Hop onto your local tourism board’s website and look for ice fishing outfitters that can walk you through the process. Or make friends with an old fisherman. If they don’t ice fish, chances are they know somebody that does.

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Polar Plunge winter swim

Image courtesy of Suzanne Schroeter – CC Licensed via Flickr

Polar Bear Dips

Probably not everyones idea of a good time, winter swims are growing in popularity across Canada. Most of the time polar bear dips are done to support a fundraising event or charity, and it’s typically supervised by professionals or emergency services. I wouldn’t recommend this activity unless you’re nuts. Or like the idea of yours shrinking.

Warning: Please don’t attempt to swim during the winter alone. Hypothermia can kill you. Stay off thin ice too. That stuff is not good for your health.

Want more on Polar Bear Dips?

Check out the Courage Polar Bear website for more information.

ice climb canada

Image courtesy of Laurel F, CC Licensed via Flickr

Ice Climbing

Every wanted to climb an ice wall? Ice climbing is a fast growing sport in Canada, and challenges not only your strength and endurance, but also your fear of heights. Ice climbing courses are available with Whistler Alpine Guides, Yamnuska, and Summit Mountain Guides. Again, this isn’t exactly a “head out on your own” winter activity. You’ll need proper training, instruction, and safety in order to turn this into a regular pastime.

Pond Hockey Canada

Pond Hockey

The sound of blades slicing through hard ice. Pucks echoing off sticks, snow spraying stops. Pond hockey can be heard from miles away, and joining a game is just a matter of bringing a pair of skates and a stick out and introducing yourself. Most pond-hockey spots are privately maintained on public lakes or ponds. If you can’t track down an authentic pond-hockey arena, you’ll have to make due with the local outdoor hockey arenas that are free to play, and easily found near schools and parks.

ice wine canada niagra grapes

Image courtesy of Mya – CC Licensed via Flickr

Icewine Festivals

Ice wine is a sweet, very concentrated wine, made from frozen grapes. This curious type of wine is typically enjoyed as a dessert drink. While purchasing quality bottles of it can set you back quite a bit, icewine festivals allow you to sample multiple types of this very Canadian, very unique wine without having to spend an arm and a leg on one singular bottle.

Check out the Niagara Ice Wine Festival on January 23rd, 24th, and 24th (2015) at the Scotiabank Convention Centre. Or check out the Winter Wine Fest on January 9th, 10th, and 11th (2015).

sleigh ride canada

Photo courtesy of bambe1964 – CC Licensed via Flickr

Sleigh Rides

The winter variety of a horse-drawn carriage, sleigh rides might not be as popular as they once were 60 years ago. But you’ll often find local farmers that arrange sleigh ride tours within or around the community. I’d recommend talking to your local tourism board. Some sleigh ride operators require that you book a group, rather than singing up just yourself. But in Late December you’re more likely to squeeze yourself in.

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Snowshoeing

Little is known about the history of snowshoeing. Most experts claim that they appear to be an invention older than the wheel. Regardless of when humans figured these bad boys out, it’s safe to say it was a good invention, as they’re still regularly used by hunters, trappers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Snowshoes can be purchased for fairly cheap, but tour operators and outdoor outfitters will typically rent out snowshoes by the hour or by the day. Exploring winter trails by snowshoe provides you with the ability to get some tremendous winter photos that you wouldn’t have been able to get in ordinary boots.

peak to peak gondola whistler

Photo by Jon Wick – CC Licensed via Flickr

Gondola Ride

Sore from all the other fun winter activities you’ve enjoyed? Sometimes a relaxing gondola ride is all you need in order to make your day feel a bit more exciting. Whistler’s Peak to Peak Gondola, or Banff’s Gondola up Sulphur Mountain are terrific ways to view the mountain terrain. While they’re not exactly the cheapest activity to enjoy, it’s worth it in photos you can score.

kiteboarding ski

Photo courtesy of Jamie McCaffrey – CC licensed via Flickr

Winter Kiteboarding / Kiteskiing

Kiteboarding is a growing sport. Harness yourself into a giant kite, strap on your snowboard or skis, and let the power of wind propel you as you sail over snow drifts and icy terrain. You’ll easily hit the speeds that you’d experience when enjoying downhill ski or snowboarding. While the gear may be a bit out of your price range, kiteboarding tour operators are popping up all over the place. Allowing you to sample this winter sport without the initial cost.

Want more information on Kiteboarding / Kiteskiing?

Missing any of your favourite Winter Activities? Share them in the comments below!

16 Winter Activities to Enjoy in Canada is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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My favourite Canadian Architectural Wondershttp://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-architectural-wonders/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-architectural-wonders/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:03:37 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6798 Canada is known by most to be scenic view after view of wild and rugged nature. Surprisingly enough though, this nation is also home to some incredibly designed buildings. A couple of which were even included in the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, a list started by The American Society of Civil Engineers. I’ve always had a strange […]

My favourite Canadian Architectural Wonders is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Canada is known by most to be scenic view after view of wild and rugged nature. Surprisingly enough though, this nation is also home to some incredibly designed buildings. A couple of which were even included in the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, a list started by The American Society of Civil Engineers. I’ve always had a strange fascination with awe-inspiring buildings, perhaps from that one drafting class I nearly failed in High School. Either way, when I’m on the road, I love making an extra special effort to check out buildings. These are my current four favourites that I came across during my last cross Canada road trip.

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Banff Springs Hotel

Starting in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta is one of the most iconic hotels in Canada and has stood proudly as a destination of the highest quality for over 100 years. Designed by Bruce Price in a Scottish Baronial style, the resort has over 750 guest rooms, yet still manages to offer an incomparable peace surrounded by the mountains and woodland. Built between 1887 and 1888, it became one of Canada’s grand railway hotels and at one point was even the tallest building in Canada.

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CN Tower

Of course that’s now eclipsed by the magnificent CN Tower, standing over 1,800 feet high and overlooking the country’s largest city – Toronto.

The tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, it was completed in 1976 and to this day still holds a number of records including the world’s highest bar, largest revolving restaurant, longest metal staircase with 2,579 steps, and that’s not to mention being able to walk along the edge of itIt’s a truly spectacular building and is one of the most iconic buildings in Canada.

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Casino de Montreal

Shifting our focus down a thousand feet or so is the Montreal Casino, the largest casino in the country and one of the most interesting pieces of architecture in Montreal.

Opening in 1993, it consists of three interconnected buildings and is famed by its unconventional features which include low ceilings and even windows. The casino itself has never been more popular with gaming hitting new heights in the country both online on the likes of Canadian Royal Vegas games, and on the casino floors of this incredible building. Situated on the banks of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent, the casino also has an even more interesting feature, in the fact it’s surrounded by the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve – home of the Canadian Grand Prix.

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Chateau Frontenac

Another of Canada’s magnificent hotels, the Chateau Frontenac has been welcoming visitors to Quebec City since 1893, and is another of Bruce Price’s grand railway hotels.

Overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, this uniquely designed hotel has been the favoured stay of the likes of Sir Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and many other popular figures throughout history. The building’s Chateauesque architecture cuts a very imposing figure in Quebec’s skyline with its tall chimneys and steeply pitched roofs.

It’s both ideal for a look or a stay if you’re planning a visit one of the oldest cities in North America.

Have you visited any of these buildings? Can you think of other awesome buildings throughout Canada? Comment below and let me know!

My favourite Canadian Architectural Wonders is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Not Your Average Road Trip: 4×4, Skidoo, ATV & Dogsled Trailshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/road-trip-4x4-skidoo-atv-dogsled-trails/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/road-trip-4x4-skidoo-atv-dogsled-trails/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:28:01 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6781 Road trips are great. They can be a fairly inexpensive way to see the country. But what if you want more than simple sights? Somewhere that cruise control isn’t even an option. If you really want to feel the terrain, you’re going to have to get off of the highways, and explore the world where […]

Not Your Average Road Trip: 4×4, Skidoo, ATV & Dogsled Trails is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Road trips are great. They can be a fairly inexpensive way to see the country. But what if you want more than simple sights? Somewhere that cruise control isn’t even an option. If you really want to feel the terrain, you’re going to have to get off of the highways, and explore the world where the pavement is no more. Where machine meets dirt, hills, ruts, gullies, and obstacles. Canada is home to world class trails that are perfect for those interested in something a bit more extreme than heated seats.

off-road-truck-canada

CC Image Courtesy of Mike Agiannidis on Flickr

Ontario’s 4×4 Trails at The Concession Lake Trail

Proud truck owners unite from Spring to Fall on Concession Lake Trail in Ontario to test the limits of their trucks, be they GMC Sierra’s, 4×4 Jeeps, Lifted Chevrolet Silverado’s, or frankenstein 4×4’s crafted in some guys garage. This Canadian 4×4 trail is a relatively open trail with a few tight sections, some large rocks and obstacles to navigate over, around, and through. The Concession Lake Trail length is 20.47 km long, and is a surefire way to get a little mud between your nails.

Check out the Concession Lake Trail for more information.

Snowmobile Canada

CC Image courtesy of Jordan Cameron on Flickr

Saskatchewan’s Skidoo / Snowmobile Trails in Big River, SK

There’s nothing quite like tearing through miles of wide open trails, hitting jumps, leaning into sharp turns, and powering through piles of fresh powder. Saskatchewan is famous for its world class Snowmobile Trails, with more than 10,000km/6,000mi of trails spread across the province.Consider heading up to Big River, where more than 300 km’s of trail are waiting for you and your snow machine. Big River is famous for its scenic forest rides, many of which expand into abandoned logging roads that make for some memorable rides throughout winter.

Check out Tourism Saskatchewan’s Big River Snowmobile Trails page for more information.

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CC Image courtesy of Poo Dog on Flickr – ps: hilarious name

Alberta’s ATV Trails along The Iron Horse Trail

Rocky mountain views meet rugged terrain. The Iron Horse Trail in Northern Alberta, is one of the go-to destinations for Alberta ATV enthusiasts. With over 300 km’s of trail spread across a wide variety of topography, this rugged Canadian ATV Trail makes for a unique way to see parts of Alberta that are way harder to access by foot. This trail is used by cyclists, horseback riders, and hikers, so be sure to share the trail. There are several staging areas, and multiple campout locations, making this a superb trail to explore over a long weekend.

Staging areas are located in the small town of Smoky Lake at the “Tee” intersection of Main St & Railway Ave. There’s also staging areas at Abilene Junction, Mallaig, Glendon, Moose Lake, Ardmore, Cold Lake, St Paul, Elk Point, and Heinsburg.

Check out the Iron Horse Trail for more information

dog-sledding-canada

CC Image Courtesy of Jeff Nelson on Flickr

Northern Canada Dogsledding with MukTuk Adventures

Most people don’t own a team of trained dogs capable of sledding. This sort of activity isn’t exactly something you can just do yourself. But Dogsledding is such a wild type of “roadtrip” that I am obligated to include this amongst these other exciting types of travel. There are countless places across Canada that provide Dogsledding. If you’re going to participate in Dog Sledding, no place is more authentic than Dog Sledding in the Yukon.

Featured in the popular in-flight travel magazine enRoute, MukTuk Adventures is the perfect place to experience Canadian Dog Sledding. Their tour operation is located 20 minutes north of downtown Whitehorse. Their dogs are lovingly cared for, and they’re praised by their guests as being “bucket list” worthy. Muktuk Adventure’s winter tours include a dog sled across a frozen river and into the Takhini Valley, where you’ll be surrounded by mountains and wild, untamed wilderness.

Check out Muktuk Adventures for more information.

Have you experienced any “out-there” road trips in Canada? Share your stories below!

Not Your Average Road Trip: 4×4, Skidoo, ATV & Dogsled Trails is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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