Canada is marked by huge and iconic cities; concrete jungles where dreams are made of that pull in folks from around the world, from nearby small towns to overseas locales. But sometimes, despite the cool dance clubs and hot brunch spots, you just need to get off the streets and hit the road.
So rather than hitting yet another trendy restaurant with a hipster-infested line out the door, try leaving it all behind for a day to explore what’s on the metaphorical menu an hour or two outside the city’s doorstep.
Go off the grid, go somewhere new, and seriously, put your phone on airplane (so you can still use the camera to snap some beautiful #latergrams).
Here are a few hidden gems around the country that may get you jumping in your car leaving the city behind next weekend.
WikimediaThis quaint, classic town offers a perfect counterpoint to its surrounding Tech Triangle of Ontario. St. Jacobs, Ontario is an hour and a half drive southwest of Toronto, just north of Waterloo. Replete with history and rural charm, the market boasts fresh produce from local Mennonite farmers while the galleries, shops, and theatres offer a cultural experience that simply can’t be found in the big city.
WikimediaFirst off, the place name pretty much sells itself, especially if you live in rain-laden Van City. The Sunshine Coast is part of the B.C. mainland, stretching 180 km along the Salish Sea from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound (which is much more beautiful than it sounds). The coastline is marked by countless naturally beautiful spots, from the Sunshine Coast Trail and Savary Island to Dakota Ridge in the winter. Once winter rolls around, you’ll remember your time on the coast fondly, so make the most of it.
WikimediaJust a stone’s throw from St. John’s, Newfoundland, the town of Bay Bulls offers the day-tripper everything from birding and hiking to whale-watching and, er, iceberg-watching. The natural beauty here is almost overwhelming, but that kind of becomes the norm in the east coast once you leave the small cities behind.
WikimediaThis is a must-visit for anyone who has ever been engrossed in the adventures of “Anne of Green Gables.” A 30-minute drive away from P.E.I.’s capital, Charlottetown, it’s a tiny town powered by tourism and agriculture. Lay out on the beach, hike the red cliffs, enjoy a lobster boil, or visit Anne’s house and find some local named Gilbert to fall in love with.
WikimediaImagine stepping into the most beautiful, most Canadian postcard you’ve ever seen. This is even better. About a two-hour drive west of Calgary will bring you to Lake Louise, which pairs incredible mountain views with a glistening glacier lake to lay claim to being one of the planet’s most stunning natural wonders. Located inside Banff National Park, you can hike to see glaciers, waterfalls and just generally experience the iconic Rockies the way they were meant to be experienced. Warning: civilization may pale by comparison when you return home. We’re pretty sure this is worth it, if only for the photos alone.