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What to Do in Canada

What to do in Canada anyway?

Moose, mountains and maple syrup: what else do you really need to know to have fun in Canada?

If you go down to the woods today...

Plenty apparently.

In fact, Canada’s esteemed national tourism board recently spent a lot of time and money on a campaign to convince potential visitors that the Great White North had more to recommend it than Mounties and lumberjacks and igloos and ice-rinks.

And it’s true. Canada’s biggest cities could pass for any of their better-known cousins south of the border–and frequently do in Hollywood films.

(Except that in Canada, the water is cleaner, food is better, gun laws are stricter, nature is closer and the people tend to be fitter, funnier and more polite.)

But still. Why fight stereotype? The truth is, there’s a lot of fun to be found in those good ol’ Canadian cliches.

So to get you started on your trip-planning, here are 10 suggestions for what you might like to do on a visit to Canada.

Feel free to improvise once you’re on the ground…

1. Meet a moose:

Or a bear. Or a beluga whale. The point is: there’s plenty of wilderness to be found in Canada and lots of wildlife still living in it. So if your bucket list includes a tour through the wild kingdom, you’ll want to take your binoculars out to those big open spaces called parks between Canada’s busy cities.

2. Climb a mountain:

Or ski one. From BC to Newfoundland, you’ll find the vertical highs you’re looking for: heli-hiking in the Rockies, heli-skiing in the Bugaboos, or whispering a “Hail Mary” on a free climb up the Squamish Chief, for example.

3. Feast on maple syrup:

Or sushi. Or Alberta beef. Our chefs–and their ingredients–are among the best in the world and your dining options here are as diverse as the multi-cultural population itself.

4. See some snow:

Or not. Canada has four distinct seasons, so you can choose your preferred backdrop: the cherry blossoms of May; the golden beaches of July; the fire-red leaves of October; or the sparkling snowdrifts of January.

5. Pick up a two-four of Molson Canadian:

For the hockey game, eh? But if your tastes run a little more high-brow, why not take a winery tour–or two? Canadian wineries are good and getter better all the time–some can even rival Napa.

6. Sleep in a tipi:

Or a lighthouse, caboose or ice hotel. “Bed” is a broad concept in Canada: there are many more choices than simply “luxury” or “budget”.

Paddling on Crystal Lake, near Whistler, BC

7. Salute a Mountie:

She might be wearing the classic Red Serge uniform. Or he might be wearing a turban. Whatever. Our famous Royal Canadian Mountain Police are always happy to pose for a place in your Flickr stream.

8. Practice your French:

Or your Farsi. Or Cantonese. Canada is officially a bilingual country–English and French–but the diverse cultural mix makes for great ethnic food and festivals.

9. Paddle a canoe:

Seriously: don’t waste Canada’s water. With three coasts and thousands of lakes, there’s no excuse not to experience the peace and beauty of a day out in a boat. Check out these top mini-cruises or learn more about Canada’s extensive ferry system.

10. Make fun of our loonies:

Yup, it looks like Monopoly money. And depending on the day, it can be worth about as much. (Right now–June, 2011–if you figure on $1 CDN = $1 U.S. dollar, plus or minus a nickel, you’ll be in the budgeting ballpark.) So take your own currency out for a day of shopping in Canada–the deals can sometimes make you giddy.

Related posts:

Things to Do in Vancouver

Easy day-trips from Vancouver

>>Ready to visit? Find cheap airfare to Canada here.