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4 Canadian Hidden Gems You Should Visit This Summer

05/28/2015 01:04 EDT | Updated 05/28/2016 05:59 EDT
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Big-name destinations like the Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls get a lot of attention from visitors to Canada, but there are plenty of other less iconic spots in the country that deserve more love.

Since the falling dollar will encourage a lot of Canadians to travel in their own country this summer, we thought it would be a good idea to find out what those under-appreciated places are. We asked the people who know the provinces best, representatives of the provincial tourism agencies who can list every nook and cranny within their provinces' borders.

When asked for their favourite hidden gems, they were passionate with their responses and, in several cases, found it hard to single out just one. Here are their choices:

British Columbia: Nelson

Few provinces are as blessed with as many amazing tourist attractions as British Columbia. Canada's western-most province has natural beauty in abundance and Vancouver consistently tops international polls as one of the world's great cities, so what else is there to see and do? Josie Heisig of Tourism BC thinks that one place that is under the radar in her province is the town of Nelson.

"To me, Nelson oozes charm," said Heisig. "It has such an eclectic mix of residents; young families, true hippies and draft dodgers all live in this uber-picturesque community on the western arm of Kootenay Lake."

The town in the eastern part of BC boasts some impressive heritage brick buildings and is home to many fine restaurants, boutiques and coffee shops. It's also a great place to go for outdoor adventures during any season and you can relax at hot springs that are a short drive away.

Alberta: Waterton Lakes

Banff and Jasper -- and the road connecting the two -- boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, but it can get crowded. If you want the same spectacular scenery without traffic jams, there's another Rocky Mountain spot that doesn't get nearly as much attention. That spot is Waterton Lakes National Park.

About three hours by car south of Calgary and bordering the United States, many people claim Waterton is like what Banff was 60 years ago. Ashley Meller of Tourism Alberta says it is "pristine, unhurried and naturally gorgeous."

"With only a single highway leading into the park it's almost unheard of to leave the park without having sighted some kind of fauna first-hand," says Meller.

Saskatchewan: Northern Saskatchewan

Most people think Saskatchewan is a boring, flat prairie that you quickly drive across on the way to somewhere else, but the reality is the province has plenty to offer and, once you start heading north, the geography dramatically changes.

Jodi Holliday of Tourism Saskatchewan votes for Northern Saskatchewan as the province's most under-appreciated region. The top two-thirds of the province is mostly boreal forest and not at all like the stereotypical wheat and canola fields to the south.

Prince Albert National Park is the crown jewel of the area and is famous for outdoor activities and the location of Grey Owl's cabin. If you like history, you can tour the Loon Lake battlefield where the Northwest Resistance of 1885 came to an end. It was the last military conflict on Canadian soil.

Music fans also head north for the Ness Creek Music Festival in July and the Northern Lights Bluegrass & Old Tyme Music Festival in August.

Manitoba: Parkland

Cathy Senecal of Travel Manitoba said there was great debate in their office about what part of the province deserved more love from visitors, but one place that they all believed was under-visited was Parkland, an area in the western part of Manitoba.

In this land of horse whisperers, you will find the gorgeous natural scenery of Riding Mountain National Park and Duck Mountain Provincial Park. In Inglis, you will find that iconic symbol of the prairies, the grain elevator, but you won't find just one. The town is the site of the last row of five left standing in Canada.

Many of the people who settled this land were immigrants from eastern Europe and their historic churches dot the Parkland map, including the oldest Ukrainian Catholic church in Canada and the oldest Romanian Church, too.

Base your exploration of the region in the charming town of Dauphin.

Story by Mark Stachiew, Vacay.ca writer. Read more here.

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