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15 Best Places to Visit During a Summer Vacation in Canada

Canada is the ideal destination for a summer vacation given its pristine landscapes, diverse cities and range of multigenerational entertainment. Its top attractions include national parks, beaches, zoos and aquariums, museums, amusement parks — and even a world-famous rodeo.

Woman standing on a hill and looking at the ocean and rugged coastline

Many people visit Canada during the winter to ski and take part in other fun winter activities. Yet, when summer arrives, Canada has even more to offer with warm temperatures, charming cities, and incredible outdoor recreation. Are you wondering about the best summer destinations in Canada? Don't worry! Canadian Train Vacations is here to help you. Our local travel experts can help you plan the best Canada summer vacation, arranging transport, hotels and excursions.

The many waterfront cities, towns and resorts are among the best places for a summer vacation in Canada. They offer breathtaking natural landscapes and a variety of land and water activities. The long daylight hours in summer also means abundant opportunities to pull out your camera and take stunning photos. For a more urban vacation, summer is an ideal time to visit the country's cities, with their cultural attractions, including summer festivals.

Canada is a fantastic place to visit any time of year, but it's especially welcoming in summer. Here are some of the best places to vacation in Canada in summer.

1. Cape Breton Island

Condé Nast Traveler readers named Cape Breton the best island in North America! During a summer vacation in Canada on this beautiful island in Nova Scotia, you'll enjoy the coastal life, eat fresh seafood, and admire the scenery. The area's Cabot Trail is an excellent place to view the ocean and spend some time outdoors. Guided bicycle tours are another enjoyable way to explore this area. You can also see the area's natural wildlife on a guided boat cruise to observe the bird and whale populations. 

One of the best ways to experience Cape Breton is on a Canadian Train Vacation itinierary, as many trips start or end in Halifax, which provides easy access to this scenic island. To get to Cape Breton Island, one can take the Canso Causeway from mainland Nova Scotia, a Marine Atlantic ferry from Newfoundland, or fly into J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport in Sydney. Maritime Bus provides service to Whycocomagh, North Sydney, Port Hawkesbury, and Baddeck from the mainland.

View of river winding through valley, mountains and Atlantic coastline from the Franey Trail

2. Victoria

Victoria is on magnificent Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is one of the best summer vacation places in Canada. This coastal city can only be reached by ferry or plane. The capital of British Columbia, it is ideal for foodies and those looking for exciting cultural experiences. It is known as "the Garden City" because of its many well-kept green spaces, such as the massive Beacon Hill Park and nearby Butchart Gardens, a must-see garden oasis. 

Visit the Butterfly Gardens, where kids can interact with geckos, tropical birds, flamingos, and hundreds of free-flying butterflies. Take a stroll down Johnson Street and do some window shopping. Summer festivals abound in this city, including a beer fest, a vegan festival, and a Fringe festival. With its oceanside location, Victoria is home to some amazing whale-watching tours.

This place also has historic buildings. Climb the 87 steps to the top of Craigdarroch Castle's Tower for the best view in Victoria. It also has Canada's oldest lighthouse on the West Coast.

Victoria also offers easy access to amazing beaches and scenic hiking trails, including parts of the West Coast Trail, the "hike of the lifetime." 

View of inner harbour and Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria

3. Saskatoon

While coastal havens in Canada almost always get all the recognition, Saskatoon in the prairies is also worth visiting. With its city-meets-country vibe, Saskatoon is the ultimate spot for the urban-but-outdoorsy family. Foodies love this area due to the many local farms that provide natural foods and homegrown goods, especially berries in the summer.

Visit the Western Development Museum to learn about pioneer life and enjoy a ride on the Prairie Lily riverboat to view the sights. This area is also home to Grasslands National Park, a popular destination for family holidays. You can travel to Saskatchewan by road, plane, ferry, rail, or bus. Make a point of visiting this location during the summer.

a couple walks over an open grassy hill in the prairies
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4. Niagara Falls

Summer is a great time to visit the dazzling Niagara Falls — every traveler's bucket list should include a visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The combined flow rate of the three waterfalls (Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and Horseshoe Falls) is the highest of any North American waterfall. The SkyWheel, a 175-foot tall Ferris wheel, boat tours, the casino, and other popular attractions in Niagara Falls provide chances for romance or family fun.

Niagara Falls can be seen in various ways thanks to diverse activities. You can see the gushing waterfalls from every angle imaginable, from helicopter tours and underground mazes to boat rides. There are also many wineries in the area to visit.

Niagara Falls is a 1.5-hour drive from Toronto along the QEW highway.

Aerial view of Niagara Falls during daytime

5. Prince Edward Island

If you ask a Canadian what are the best places to vacation in Canada in the summer, they will probably say Prince Edward Island. Walking along the red sand beaches, with their unique old lighthouses, you'll feel like you've stepped into a postcard. The gorgeous Cavendish Beach on Prince Edward Island is yet another popular summer destination in Canada. You can go clam digging or take part in a lobster dinner.

You can also take a walking tour of Charlottetown, where guides dressed in period costumes will offer you a history lesson on this Canadian city. Another cultural activity is going to a production of "Anne of Green Gables," the long-running musical at the local arts festival.

Popular outdoor activities on this Island include kayaking, golf, standup paddle boarding, and parasailing.

There are three options for getting to Prince Edward Island. You can drive across the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick, take a ferry from Nova Scotia, or fly into Charlottetown Airport.

sandy beach and red sand dunes at Prince Edward Island National Park, sunny day

6. Alaska Highway, Yukon

This summer, take a trip along the Alaska Highway through the Yukon for a faraway and wild Canadian adventure. This long stretch of road, also known as the ALCAN Highway, connects the United States to Alaska, passing via Yukon and British Columbia along the way. It's a memorable scenic drive filled with hot springs, small towns, mountain ranges, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

There are numerous breathtaking views of high mountains and massive ice fields along the way. You can go mountaineering here, explore the vast ice fields, and take a flightseeing trip to view the ice fields below.

A car drives down the Alaska Highway with towering mountains in the distance and fall colours

7. Tofino

Tofino is another popular summer destination in British Columbia, and it's a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. This West Coast destination has something for everyone, whether you're looking for sand dollars on the beach, want to hike old-growth rainforest in Pacific Rim National Park, try catching a wave on a surfboard, rest in the hot springs cove, go whale watching, or join a bear-watching boat tour.

It's also fun to kayak in the Clayoquot Sound, go deep-sea fishing, and visit the Tofino Botanical Garden in this part of Canada. Tofino is a beautiful place to visit, with charming inns and campgrounds if you want to rough it. It's one of the best summer vacation places in Canada.

A group of surfers walk across a sandy beach in Tofino

8. Halifax

Halifax, in Nova Scotia, is jam-packed with family-friendly activities. When you take a trip to Halifax in the summer, you can enjoy spectacular water views, plenty of local history stories, and delicious seafood. Take the view from Citadel Hill, where actors dressed in costumes will give you a history lesson.

Also, public gardens are nearby, which are ideal for a summer picnic. Stroll down the boardwalk for a scenic view of the water and let the kids play in the ship-themed playground. The Discovery Centre, Nova Scotia's only hands-on science centre, will also appeal to children. Trips to Peggy's Cove are widely known among visitors to experience the picturesque neighborhood along the rocky coastline with its iconic lighthouse and the fishing village culture.

If you want to enjoy some delicious lobster, crab, and fish dishes, go to Salt Shaker Deli in Lunenburg, a World Heritage Site, about an hour and a half outside Halifax. You can travel to Halifax by air, ferry, cruise, or land.

An aerial view of star-shaped Citadel Hill National Park and the core of downtown Halifax next to the ocean

9. Whistler

Although most people associate Whistler with the famous ski resort, it is also an excellent summer destination. Whistler, located in British Columbia in the Coast Mountains two hours north of Vancouver, provides a genuine Canadian west-coast mountain encounter.

Whistler has it all for nature lovers. At the base of the Blackcomb Mountains, there is a family adventure zone. You can hike the Valley Trail, spot bears, and even raft the Cheakamus River in this Pacific Coast Mountain location. There's hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, horseback riding, jet boating, and canoeing — plenty to keep you busy. When it's time to unwind, take a break from the adventure and head lakeside to sandy beaches with concession stands, play areas, and BBQs. Whistler Village offers a vibrant night life, with restaurants, pubs and dancing.

To reach here, fly into a primary airport such as Seattle (SEA), Vancouver International (YVR), or Bellingham (BLI), then transfer to Whistler.

Woman and man hike on alpine trail through wildflowers, Whistler

#1 Travel Tip: Take in the views on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola

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Ride this world record-breaking gondola in Whistler for spectacular views of towering volcanic peaks and coastal rainforest. Bring your camera as these scenic surroundings are picture perfect!

Louise Weiss
Director of Legendary Hospitality

10. Quebec City

Quebec City, the capital of Quebec, is one of North America's oldest cities, founded in 1608 by a French explorer. It is famous for its walled Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The downtown area maintains a charming vintage vibe thanks to majestic architecture and cobbled streets.

The castle-like Chateau de Frontenac and the charming buildings of the Old City boast a European charm. The city still proudly wears its French heritage on its sleeve today, as evidenced by impressive architecture such as Place Royale and the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, which houses the Saint Geneviève chapel.

City parks, such as the Plains of Abraham, are nearby and ideal for a scenic picnic. Away from the city, numerous hiking trails lead through lush pastures with stunning cliffs overlooking the Saint Lawrence River. At the Aquarium du Québec, you can interact with polar bears, seals, and walruses. You also can devote the day to The Baie de Beauport, the city's beach. Prepare to be captivated by Canada's French capital.

View of Chateau Frontenac and Quebec City skyline at sunset

11. Alberta Badlands

The Alberta Canadian Badlands, which include Dinosaur Park, is a one-of-a-kind destination in Canada. There have been numerous discoveries of dinosaur bones here, helping to make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Badlands Trail provides excellent views of unusual rock structures, such as hoodoos and pinnacles. To learn about dinosaurs, visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which is filled with profound dinosaur skeleton exhibits.

The Canadian Badlands are a 35,000-square-mile area unlike anywhere else on the planet. Horseshoe Canyon, antiquity pictograph and petroglyph engravings, and sandstone boulders are also must-sees in the area.

Person and their dog hiking in the badlands of Drumheller

12. Montreal

Art and culture are abundant in Montreal in Quebec, another popular summer destination in Canada. When the weather is nice, this bilingual city has plenty of festivals, culinary events, and restaurants with outdoor seating to visit. Meanwhile, music lovers can attend the International Jazz Festival and other local music events.

You can also visit famous sites such as Notre Dame, the Montreal Biodome, and Mount Royal. Visiting Montreal is an excellent way to get a taste of Europe without needing to travel there. Make a pit stop at Atwater Market for some gelato. Montréal is reachable by plane (via the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport), car, train, boat, and bus.

View of a busy street in Old Montreal

13. Fundy National Park

Summer days are spent at Fundy National Park, where visitors enjoy a pristine coastline and the world's highest tides.

This New Brunswick park offers a taste of Atlantic Canadian culture and numerous outdoor activities, such as kayaking at low tide and yurt camping. While in the area, you should also visit the Kouchibouguac National Park, Fort Beauséjour - Fort Cumberland National Historic Site, Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site, and Andrew's Blockhouse National Historic Site.

Fundy National Park is situated on provincial Highway 114 near Alma, New Brunswick. There is no direct public transportation to or from the park, so you must drive here.

A person stands on a boardwalk viewpoint and looks at a waterfall in a lush forest

14. Toronto

Toronto is a famous vacation destination all year, but it's a must in the summer if you like festivals, concerts, and sporting events. Toronto combines urban and beach bum vibes, and there's even a neighborhood east of the city called 'The Beaches,' with four beaches to choose from. Summer markets in Toronto offer farm-fresh produce and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Throughout the summer, Toronto comes alive with various events, such as Blue Jays home games and food festivals. The Bruce Trail is one of many excellent places for hiking, and Niagara Parks is ideal for biking. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates easy-to-navigate the city's subways, buses, and streetcars.

Toronto Island ferry cruises past the Toronto city skyline

#2 Travel Trip: Visit the St. Lawrence Market

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This market in Toronto includes an antique market, a food market, and a marketplace with more than 120 traders. There is also a gallery upstairs, which features free exhibits reflecting the history and culture of the city.

Blog Author - Athena McKenzie
Athena McKenzie
Content Manager

15. Jasper National Park

Jasper is a relaxed mountain town that serves as a great foundation for discovering the Canadian Rockies, with easy access to stunning mountains and alpine lakes. Views abound as hikers travel from Mount Edith Cavell's peaks to Maligne Canyon's caverns. Hike to Pyramid Lake, kayak Lake Edith or Lake Annette, or take a boat tour through Maligne Canyon. With over 2.7 million acres to explore, visitors can see wildlife from caribou to wolverines to moose.

The Icefields Parkway, southeast of Jasper, should be on everyone's bucket list with its dramatic views of several glaciers. It can be done as a road trip or explored on a guided small-group tour. 

The Via Rail train and Rocky Mountaineer both stop in the town of Jasper, and this destination is included in many trips by Canadian Train Vacations. Do note that Jasper does not have a public transportation system.

Person in a canoe paddles across the turquoise water of Maligne Lake and looks towards the mountains

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should I go for a summer vacation in Canada?

Banff in the Canadian Rockies, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and Toronto are some of best place to vacation in Canada in the summer.

What is the prettiest place in Canada?

Lake Louise in Alberta is often considered one of the prettiest places in Canada. Alberta offers the most distinct natural landscapes in Canada, with the Rocky Mountains and rolling grasslands, dry badlands, and vast swaths of boreal woodland. The province is also home to two of Canada's most famous national parks, Banff and Jasper, which have beautiful lakes and glaciers.

Which destination is best for a summer vacation in Canada?

Banff National Park is easily one of Canada's best vacation spots and is a haven for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. It offers a range of activities and accomodations to suit any style of traveller, from camping to luxury resorts.

About the author: Athena McKenzie is the Content Manager at Fresh Tracks Canada. An experienced lifestyle journalist, she has written about travel, design, arts and entertainment. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Zoomer Magazine, Elle Canada and... Read more

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