Canada: Main Sights
Oh, its big all right. Damn big!
Exactly what makes Canada the world's second-largest country in the world has more to do with its people than the 10,000 kilometers of land separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They are equally as appreciative of the thousands of manmade and natural attractions that draw millions of visitors each year and will stop on a dime to tell you about the best poutine joint in Quebec, lobster restaurant in Nova Scotia or sushi bar in Vancouver.
Satisfying your appetite for all things Canadian goes deeper than anything served on a plate. The CN Tower in Toronto is the world's second tallest free-standing structure and commands presence in Canada's busiest city. Of course, it has nothing on the Rockies which separates the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia in Canada's far west. If a picture is worth a thousands words, the Rockies are an encyclopedia of nature's brilliance and beauty.
Between Alberta and Ontario, are Manitoba and Saskatchewan, better know as Canada's prairies. These long, flat stretches of land have supported families for some 200 years with wheat and farming industries. They're quite possibly Canada's most untouched, habited, area.
Predominantly French-speaking Quebec is almost a country in itself. In fact, they've tried to separate on a number of occasions but to no avail. The French culture remains however, embroidered in the walls of Old Quebec, while the city of Montreal is full of life, fashion, fun and adventure. It's definitely the center of Canada's party scene.
Out East, as the Canadians say, are the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. Each offers a unique take on Canada's easygoing, friendly nature, not to mention its scenic beauty. Atlantic Canada rivals the Rockies as Canada's picturesque destination.
Top 10 Canadian Attractions
1. Niagara Falls
A flood of powerful water rushes over the falls with such brute force it drenches the boat-full of onlookers waiting in the Maid of the Mist below. Getting this close to the falls means getting wet. But that doesn't deter the armies of sightseers who flock to Niagara Falls every day. More than 6 million cubic feet of water pass over the three falls - American, Horseshoe and Bridal - during peak tourist hours. In winter, the frigid water stiffens, forming an ice bridge that further unites the Canadian and American borders.
2. Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Emotions overwhelm spectators witnessing yet another colorful aerial ballet in Canada's Northern Hemisphere. The spectacular phenomenon is best viewed during fall and autumn, when the days are longest. Watch as earth's deepest colors seemingly dance graciously to music heard by only Mother Nature. The high is natural, the memories lifelong.
3. CN Tower
Sizing up the world's second tallest building is a pain in the neck. Plenty of time is given to work out those kinks once the crystal clear elevator located on the tower's north side shoots 447 meters up to the observation deck, 342 meters for the revolving restaurant. Glass-bottomed floors present a surreal feeling of weightlessness on par with only Toronto's skyline, which seems distant atop this engineering marvel.
4. Cabot Trail
Whittled along the outside of Cape Breton's rolling hills, just off the Atlantic coast, is 950 square kilometers of rugged coastline and raw splendor. Named after explorer John Cabot, the Cabot Trail is an escape of camping, hiking trails, kayaking, golfing and wilderness nestled on Nova Scotia's northern tip.
5. Old Quebec City
Footsteps on cobblestone streets reverberate off the stone walls now housing converted souvenir shops and restaurants in the heart of Old Quebec. There was a time when these walls, built by the French and British armies, protected the city. The oldest fortified city north of Mexico now warms up to the idea of English, French and Spanish visitors entering its gates.
6. Banff & Jasper National Parks
If you were to sit down and try to design an area of the world that would be the most spectacular, the most awe inspiring and the most scenically overwhelming, odds are it might look a lot like Banff and Jasper National Parks. It’s almost as if the postcard was dreamed up after seeing this place; everywhere you look there is something else that will take your breath away.
Mountains, big mountains, are all over the place – standing tall, rising above the tree line, summer grey and winter white monoliths of stone. The wild pines curve up their flanks like a cloak of green. Fast-flowing rivers chart their own course through the hills, curving in among the peaks. Enormous glaciers flow down the peaks and nearly touch the road. Lakes are the color of turquoise, so blue that you have to wonder if there is something unnatural behind their hue.
Banff's deviant chain of mountains dares every alpine and outdoor enthusiast at first glimpse to tackle the sleeping giant. Characterized by three major areas - Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Norquay - Banff National Park puts heads on swivels, emotions on edge and awe in the heart of millions of visitors every year.
7. Peggy's Cove
For more than a century the amber warning has protected the livelihood of Nova's jagged east coast, including the 50 or so people who call Peggy's Cove home. Among the world's most recognizable lighthouses, the red and white tower is a photographer's paradise, not to mention a reminder of the ocean's awesome power.
8. Bay of Fundy
Acting as mediator between the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick takes command, power and the world's highest tides. Luckily, the Bay of Fundy encompasses all three. Even its schools of humpback whales, miles of hiking trails, beachfront caves or massive freestanding rocks can't tame this beast. The Bay Fundy simply won't allow it.
9. Stanley Park
Every city needs a playground and Stanley Park is Vancouver's. The 1,000 acre hunk of bike trails and woodland features statues commemorating Lord Stanley, native totem poles and towering red cedars, some of which reach heights of 250 feet. One cedar in particular is believed to be the world's biggest, measuring 30 meters in diameter alone.
10. Parliament Hill
This symbol of Canadian democracy is popularized by its accessibility and sheer design. Tours of the historic Peace Tower, which overlooks the Ottawa River, and legislative assembly, when not in session, are given on a daily basis. Shoot the breeze with a politician in the hallway for a real perspective on who governs Canada's democratic government.