As summer grinds to a halt and the cool autumn breeze begins to whistle through the trees, you may find yourself slowly slipping into hermit mode. It can be so easy to reach past the suitcase in your closet, opting instead to pull out the dreaded winter wardrobe. As Canadians, we know better than anyone that winter is coming. But, that does not call for early hibernation.
Autumn is undoubtedly the best season for travel in Canada (sorry, summer people. It just is.) Typically “off-season” for tourists, the autumn months are favoured by travellers seeking cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. While the picturesque fall scenery is most spectacular in the more eastern regions of the country, British Columbia and Alberta remain popular autumn holiday choices due to the various outdoor activities heightened by crisp weather and stunning fall colours.
For the adventurous at heart, camping, hiking and even canoeing remain an option during the autumn months. In fact, many outdoor enthusiasts prefer the scenery and the climate this time of year. For the foodies, museum goers and sightseers, there are plenty of fall related events and festivals scattered across the country. With so much to see and explore, the fall season in Canada is truly the best-kept tourism secret.
BANFF NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA
For those who want less wine and cheese and more lakes and leaves, a back-country vacation in Banff National Park is just what the doctor ordered. Rent a trailer or pitch a tent at Lake Louise Campground! Book an overnight horseback riding trip through the mountains or cycle the area’s many trails. For a delightful treat, book a scenic dinner aboard the Royal Canadian Pacific Train.
ALGONQUIN PROVINCIAL PARK, ONTARIO
Providing arguably one of the most beautiful displays of fall foliage, Algonquin Provincial Park is an absolute “must see.” Previously closed (and extremely coveted) campsites open up during the cooler months as the threat of bugs decreases. Canoe along the sparkling water in search of Moose, which are plentiful in the area during mating season. Lay out under the stars and fall asleep under the vast sea of twinkling lights — an experience unlike anything found in Canadian cities.
Have a soft spot for wildlife? Plan a boat excursion and watch the majestic Beluga whales make their way through the local waters. Book a visit in mid-late fall to maximize your chances of spotting a polar bear, or experience the magical Northern Lights with a late November trip. Pro tip: dress warmly. Very warmly.
Sip ice wine, nibble on brie and watch blissfully as the fall leaves blanket the ground in a mass of yellow, orange and red. Tour one of the region’s renowned wineries or leisurely browse the town’s quirky, quaint shops. Indulge in a delicious dinner at the historic restaurant, Cannery, and spend the night in one of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s beautiful bed and breakfasts. For a luxurious experience, book a stay at local favourite, Pillar and Post.
With the Stratford Festival running into late October, a day trip to Stratford is the perfect way to experience local culture, embrace the fall weather and support Canadian theatre. For a traditional Stratford experience, pay homage to Shakespeare with a ticket to Twelfth Night. Wander through open-air art fairs and produce markets before dinner at one of the region’s renowned restaurants. Or, grab a fall inspired latte to sip on as you stroll along the water’s edge, mingling with the area’s many ducks and geese.
TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Not ready to say goodbye to the beach just yet? Grab a wet suit and surf the waves (yes, you read that correctly). While the water will have drastically cooled down since the summer months, it is still warm enough provided you dress appropriately. Local surfers thoroughly enjoy the early autumn season, noting that the waves are brilliant and the water is incredibly refreshing. Witness a few professionals in their element during the Queen of the Peak surfing competition. Alternatively, book a boat tour and catch a glimpse of the grey whales in the area before they migrate south, or hike the trails at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Let’s state the obvious: Canada is a beautiful country. Our rolling green hills, snow peaked mountains and shimmering fresh water lakes are the envy of countries all over the world. It is important that we recognize the sheer brilliance that stands before us. This autumn, take the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses — explore the opportunities our beautiful country has to offer. Inhale the crisp autumn air, feel the leaves crunch under your feet and truly absorb the beautiful sights, sounds and smells that surround you. VC™