About a year ago I began my journey as a travel nurse in Canada
Since packing up my car and leaving for my very first nursing contract, I have been to almost every province in this gorgeous country within the past year! Most Americans group Canada into one small category, but do you realize how huge Canada actually is!? We have a population of 37 million people and the land area is the second largest in the entire world! It would take you over 7000 km (4350 miles) to drive across Canada, or about 80 hours of driving. We have mountains, prairies, forests, arctic tundra, big metropolitan cities and oceans.
So when you look at a map of Canada…where should you visit!?
THE WEST COAST
Let’s start with the West coast. I’ve done contracts in both British Columbia and Alberta. A lot of people working in Seattle know how close it is to Vancouver, Whistler and Victoria so if you are working in Seattle take advantage of some days off to go explore across the border!
BC has the warmest weather in all of Canada. Highlights include camping, hiking, waterfalls, whale watching, skiing and driving through gorgeous vistas surrounded by mountains and the ocean. Alberta is home to Banff National Park, one of my favourite places in the entire world. There are gorgeous glacier fed lakes with beautiful crisp turquoise water. It’s breathtaking. The west coast is a great Canadian vacation spot all year round!
The prairies are where I grew up! Manitoba and Saskatchewan are generally very flat and usually covered in snow with a bone chilling wind. Not always though!
Winnipeg is a really nice city to visit during your Canadian vacation. And you can visit The Forks historical site, catch a hockey game, relax at the outdoor Thermea spa, or see polar bears at the Assiniboine Park Zoo! Or go see real polar bears way up in Churchill on the Hudson Bay. Saskatchewan is full of farm land and is a great place to catch a CFL football game which is a bit different than American football. Most people drive straight through the prairies but there are some hidden gems throughout!
I was born in Ontario and this is where I live when I’m not out on assignment. I live in Northern Ontario which is quite isolated from the huge metropolitan area of Southern Ontario which is known as the GTA or Greater Toronto Area.
Northern Ontario is gorgeous, right on Lake Superior and covered in natural forests with numerous hiking trails and waterfalls. Southern Ontario is a lot more urbanized and it’s where most of Canada’s population resides. Toronto is so much fun to visit! Go up the CN Tower, visit Niagara Falls, go to a museum, relax in the Muskoka region, or explore our capital city of Ottawa full of history.
Did you know that Canada has two official languages- English and French!? Although there are French speaking people scattered all throughout the country, most live in the province of Quebec. I recently visited Quebec City and Montreal this past summer and let me tell you- it’s an amazing place to take a vacation.
It’s so packed full of history of the French colonizing here and there is so much to see and do! Go see Montmorency Falls, walk through Old Quebec which feels just like Europe or hike up Mont Royal for a beautiful view of the Montreal skyline! You can practice your French a little or you can get by with just English if that’s all you know! Make sure you try the famous poutine dish- french fries smothered with cheese curds and gravy! Quebec is a good place to visit in the winter too; there are tons of festivals and even an ice hotel that you can stay in!
THE EAST COAST
I have a new found love for the East coast of Canada as I just visited this past summer as well! The people here are so unbelievably nice and being next to the ocean just makes me so happy! Spend some time enjoying the millions of bars/restaurants Downtown Halifax, eat all the seafood you can, go whale watching, deep sea fishing, surfing, and even go see Green Gables from the famous Anne of Green Gables book!
Driving through the Cape Breton Highlands is breathtaking as is walking on the ocean floor in the Bay of Fundy. Make sure to listen to some local live music which is always impressive with it’s Irish flair.
So there you have it!
Now it’s time to decide which area of Canada you want to visit! I haven’t even included the beautiful northern territories such as the Yukon. It’s overwhelming when you sit down to plan a vacation but if you narrow it down to mountains, ocean, or cities it becomes a bit easier to plan! No matter where you go in Canada for your Canadian vacation, you’ll always meet genuinely kind people who will want to serve you nice strong beer! You’ll see what our colorful “Monopoly” money is all about and use “loonies” and “toonies”! You’ll constantly be surrounded by a giant melting pot of cultures with unlimited ethnic food choices. You’ll see Tim Hortons on every corner which serves the best coffee and donuts! And you’ll always have beautiful surroundings as a view. Enjoy your Canadian vacation, eh!