TRAVEL

Turn Your City Into The Ultimate Vacation Spot

07/16/2013 04:46 EDT
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LAKE LOUISE, CANADA - JUNE 26: Canoes are rented at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise boathouse on June 26, 2013 in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. Major flooding along the Bow River in June washed out the Trans-Canada Highway 1 for nearly a week, forcing park visitors to cancel their vacation plans. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Each year, Canadians wait eagerly for hot weather to arrive. When it does, it would be a shame to leave town, especially because tourism businesses around the nation ramp up with their best efforts to impress and entice visitors. Let this summer be the one where you're a tourist in your own hometown.

Here are 9 reasons why you should stick to your cities on the weekends instead of hightailing it out of town or wasting vacation days when you can have just as much fun in your neighbourhood as you can abroad.

Turn Your City Into The Ultimate Vacation Spot

Music festivals

Canada has seen an explosion in jazz, blues, and pop music festivals. Some of them, like the Montreal Jazz Fest and Ottawa Bluesfest, are among the best events of their kind in the world. Add in newcomers such as Montreal's Osheaga, which this year features The Cure and Beck, and Le Festival d'ete de Quebec in Quebec City, with The Black Keys and Stevie Wonder among the headliners, and you've got all the reason you need to stick around town.

Fairs

The Calgary Stampede enters its second century in 2013 and does so in a big way as recently retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, back from his historic stay aboard the International Space Station, serves as the Parade Marshal. The Stampede is the largest-grossing festival in Canada, bringing in $200-million in economic activity to Cowtown. The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto and Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver are other gigantic fairs known for their midway fun and carnival games that are always worth an annual visit.

Culinary finds

People travel from around the world to visit Canada's most highly regarded restaurants. Why not make it a point to dine at these yourself? Montreal's Joe Beef was named the No. 1 restaurant in Canada for 2013 by Vacay.ca, which had previously crowned Vancouver's Vij's as the nation's best in 2012 in its annual listing of the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada. Other culinary gems across Canada include Raymonds in St. John's, CHARCUT and Rouge in Calgary, Atelier in Ottawa, Les 400 Coups in Montreal, and Chives in Halifax.

Beer and wine festivals

Craft brewing in Canada is a $10.2-billion industry and an offshoot of all that sudsy flavour is an increase in beer festivals around the country. They're a great way to boost your knowledge of our nation's favourite alcoholic beverage while enjoying some of the finest beer in the world. Wine tours and festivals are also popular in the wine-growing regions of the country, including British Columbia's Okanagan Valley and Ontario's Niagara Peninsula.

Urban parks

Whether you're in Wascana Centre in Regina, Prince's Island Park in Calgary, or Stanley Park in Vancouver, you're going to enjoy some of the finest urban parks on the planet. Canada's green spaces are there for you to enjoy. Kept safe from commercialization, they are an accessible and inexpensive way for you to recharge and reconnect with nature, even if it's only a short walk or bicycle ride from home.

Museums

A visit to the local museum isn't what it used to be. Case in point: ROM Friday Night Live, a series of parties that takes place at Toronto's largest museum. DJs crowd the opulent lobby while some of the city's top food vendors serve up delicious fare for attendees. The first series of ROM Friday Night Live for 2013 wraps up on June 21, but keep an eye out for additional dates this summer. These days, you'll find unique, and often inexpensive, events in several museums across the country.

Water sports

You don't have to be on the coasts to revel in water fun in Canada. The South Saskatchewan River cuts through Saskatoon and anyone can take a kayak or canoe out to see the city from a unique perspective. Likewise, Torontonians can paddle on the east end of the city through the Rouge River as well as row through a collection of nearby islands on Lake Ontario. Montrealers have the Lachine rapids to enjoy white water thrills.

Art festivals

You'll find Fringe Festivals, known for avant-garde performance and theatrical art showcases, in many communities this summer. Add in other intriguing cultural events such as the Circus Festival (Montreal) and Buskerfest (Toronto), and you've got a vibrant arts scene happening from coast to coast. These events are often fascinating and what you discover just might inspire you to take up a hobby that sparks an exploration of your own imagination.

Fireworks

Vancouver's annual Celebration of Light is one of the biggest reasons for west coasters to stick close to home in summer. The festival, which runs July 27 to August 3 this year, features eye-popping pyrotechnics over the waters of English Bay during a competition series that is always lovely to see. Of course, for the rest of the country, there are July 1 celebrations that include lots of fireworks in honour of Canada Day.