1. Visit Haida Gwaii.
Take yourself off the beaten track and revel in the breath-taking views from North Beach on Graham Island right across to the shores of Alaska. According to Haida legend, this is where creation began.
2. Hit the Winnipeg folk festival.
You won’t be making your way to Manitoba in the dead of winter (except if you have the dough to spend some time with polar bears), but you should devote four days in July to check out Bahamas and Shred Kelly in the folk music capital of North America.
3. Enjoy a craft beer on a patio.
Wherever you are in Canada, we bet there’s a microbrewery around the corner. If you’re in Thunder Bay, Ontario, grab Sleeping Giant Brewing Company‘s Snow Goose Coffee Vanilla Porter. If you’re in Nelson, British Columbia, opt for NBC‘s Harvest Moon (an organic hemp ale). If you’re in Edmonton, Alberta, open one of Alley Kat‘s ambers. In short, grab a cold, local brew, sit back, and enjoy the lack of snow.
4. Take a multi-day canoe trip in Quetico Provincial Park.
Explore some of the thousands of interconnected lakes, rivers, and streams and 460,000 hectares of wilderness for a few days, or a few weeks, and enjoy the quiet solitude of the park.
5. Indulge at the Kaslo International Jazzfest.
This is the ultimate people-watching and jazz-listening experience. Stretch out under your beach brolly with a brew for the afternoon while spying on the local wildlife from behind your Foster Grants, and kick up your heels when the sun goes down and the party ramps up.
6. Star gaze in Elk Island National Park
After a day of watching bisons in their natural habitat, make your way to Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve. It is the closest dark sky preserve to a major urban centre (Edmonton), so appreciate the efforts from the park and the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area to reduce light pollution and enjoy a gorgeous, starry night.
7. Sea kayak in the Magdalen Islands.
If you want to explore the Îles de la Madeleine properly, you need to do it on the water. Paddling is the only you’ll get to discover the unique landscapes of the Quebec archipelago: interior lagoons, cliff formations (red sandstone, limestone, schist, alabaster), dunes, and beautiful beaches.
8. Learn some French.
You’ve lived in Canada your whole life and you don’t speak a single word of French? This summer is your chance to get to know how the rest of the country communicates. Also if you’re thinking of hitting the Magdalen Islands, you’ll definitely need some French.
9. Hike and camp in the Rocky Mountains.
Castle Mountain’s Rockbound Lake in Banff National Park is a 2-3 hour hike that will blow your mind. On reaching the slope’s plateau you’ll find yourself towered by mountainsides, larch trees waving under the sun, and polished rocks smooth as ostrich eggs covering the ground. At the edge of the lake the boulders stretch 10 feet tall and mountain walls curved as an amphitheater cradle the turquoise water — it’s like being in a Dali painting, totally surreal.
10. Explore the North.
Go night golfing or fishing for Artic grayling and Northern Pike in Yellowknife, Northwest Territory. Road trip around the Yukon, enjoy the midnight sun, and check out the Dawson City Music Fest. Go on a wildlife viewing spree in Nunavut (we’re talking narwhals, musk-oxen, bowhead whales, and walruses) and don’t miss the Alianait Arts Festival in Iqaluit.
11. Make and eat the ultimate Nanaimo bar
You don’t need to crank up the oven and run the risk of a heat stroke to make these, so what’s stopping you? This delicious Canadian treat also pairs really well with one of the cold brews aforementioned… Just saying.
12. Hike pristine wilderness before we make ski hills out of it.
Get out to the Jumbo Valley, one of the last bits of untouched wilderness left in this country, take in the beauty of the place, and realize of what the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort (a massive ski resort) will destoy — 6,000 hectares of grizzly bear habitat and the core of the territory of the Ktunaxa Nation. You can go solo or wait the last weekend of August to join The West Kootenay Eco Society and learn how you can help to keep Jumbo Wild.
13. Camp on Cape Breton Island.
Meat Cove campground at the tip of the island is the place where you want to pitch you tent and take in all of what this sparsely-populated Maritime Island has to offer. You’ll wake up, zip open your bedroom, and think you ended up in one of the best scenes of New Zealand from Lord of the Rings.
14. Try to understand the past, present, and future of the aboriginal people of Canada.
It does not matter where you read it (bonus point if it’s a the top of Jumbo!), but if you call Canada your home and you care about its people, then you need to grab Thomas King‘s The Inconvenient Indian. Not only it is compelling and funny, but it will help you grow a social conscience that you never thought you had.
15. Try WWOOFing.
From New Brunswick to Vancouver Island, there are farms looking for willing workers. Wwoofers can expect to work 4-6 hours per day in exchange for food and housing, often great company and experience, and a chance to check out off-the-beaten track places. The generosity of hosts can be amazing, leading to life-long friendships! It may be time for you to learn to milk a cow, eat veggies straight out of the dirt, and meet new people.