I’m a Canadian, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The more I travel, the more I fall in love with my country, and it turns out Lonely Planet shares my Canad-adoration. If you haven’t heard already, Canada was rated #1 in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017, and although that might come as a surprise to many, us Canucks aren’t the least bit surprised.
We’ve been the giant but still hidden gem of the Americas since forever. We’ve been the quiet and overlooked sidekick to our loud and flashy neighbours down south for far too long, and in 2017 we’re stepping out in all of our Canadian glory.
Here’s why my home and native land was the clear choice for Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017:
We’re pretty cool, as far as people go
Yes, we say ‘sorry’ a lot. Is that a bad thing? We’re polite, friendly and diverse, but trust me; we like to have fun too. You’re gonna appreciate all of those things when you’re lost in Kensington Market, looking for the best poutine at 2am, or riding the TTC in rush hour.
Being a tourist here is easy – we’ve got a big ol’ country with lots of room for you to explore at your will, and 35 million people here to help you have a great time.
It’s our birthday party
We may not have much in the way of ancient ruins, but we’re turning 150 years old in 2017, and we look really good for our age. We’re celebrating all year long (we’ve actually already started) and we’d love you to come join the party.
You know that us courteous Canadians would 100% come to your birthday party (and bring a gift no less), so return the favour and join us. There will be lots of fireworks and balloons, promise.
We’ve got a little bit of everything
Like winter sports? That’s our jam. Like beaches? We’ve got those too, and our summers in the south get HOT.
Fun cities? Farmland? Wine country? Quaint fishing towns? Mountainous terrain? Huge forests and National Parks? Icy tundra? Rainy and mild coastal climate? Desert? Plains? Volcanoes? Icebergs? Marsh? We have all of the climates and terrains you could ever want, so quite literally something for everyone.
Do it all, or stick to one – either way you’ll have a grand old Canadian time.
Cottage country is heaven on earth
There is absolutely no place I’d rather be on a summer weekend than cottage country, and it’s one of the places that tourists always fall in love with when they visit.
It’s exactly how you wanna spend a summer day – swimming in the lake, drinking on the dock, snacking 24/7, BBQing, fishing, laughing around the camp fire – and there is something so anchoring and peaceful about cottage country that brings us back every weekend for more of the same.
Toronto is the greatest
There are a lot of Toronto haters – especially in Canada – but let me tell you why Toronto is my favourite place.
No, we aren’t NYC when it comes to iconic buildings or traditional attractions, but we do have one thing that I love more than anything – culture. We are one of the most multicultural cities in the world (and we’re damn proud of it too), and it definitely shows on every face, street corner and neighborhood in the Six.
I grew up with people from all over the world, and I strongly feel as though that made me a better person. Our multiculturalism has influenced our music and fashion, and our diverse food scene is nothing short of spectacular. Toronto is a great big city that still maintains a Canadian vibe, and although it has its flaws it’s still my favourite city.
We’re invading pop culture
Drake, Justin Bieber, Ellen Page, the Weeknd, Ryan Gosling, Jim Carrey, Ryan Reynolds – need I go on? We have some real talent up here, and finally we’re getting noticed by the whole world.
If you’re really a fan of a Canadian artist, there’s no better place to see them than in their hometown. Something so magical happens when Drake is performing in Toronto, and you’ll feel as if the entire country is on attendance, just for the sole purpose of adoring our national treasure.
Come and see some of our emerging local talent as well, and you’ll have all of the bragging rights when they blow up to become Beiber 2.0 or the RyGos of the next Nicolas Sparks book-turned-movie sensation.
Did I mention our sports teams? Canadian fans are loyal, optimistic and love a good time. We show up, win or lose, and along with having some top notch teams, we host huge sporting events like the Olympics, Pan Am Games and the Rogers Cup.
And if you’re a movie buff, TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) is one of the world’s best film festivals for debuting outstanding movies and breakout stars.
We’re progressing, period.
Our 2016 has been pretty crisis-free politically, which is a pretty significant thing to say given the way 2016 has gone.
Canadians in general are content (or at least indifferent) with our current political appointments – our cabinet (think government, not dining room) is diverse, inclusive and qualified. Our Prime Minister is a 44 year old former teacher with a decent approval rating. The impending national legalization of marijuana in 2017 has a lot of Canadians and newfound fans alike thinking that we’re a pretty cool place to be (and possibly live) next year.
We have universal health care, strict gun laws and same sex marriage has been legal here since 2005 (and it’s not going anywhere). We’re not perfect, but at least we’re working towards it.
Things are definitely on an upswing for us, and although that may not seem like anything worth celebrating, we’re pretty damn happy to call Canada our home right now.
The it list
Convinced yet? Good. My pull out couch is here waiting for you…
Here are some of my favourite spots to go and get the best of what we’re offering in 2017:
Toronto, Niagara Falls and Cottage Country
Visit our biggest city and eat your way around the world, visit Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake for a taste of Canadian wine country, and spend a few days in Muskoka just relaxing and enjoying a glorious Canadian summer.
For lighthouses, seafood galore, top-notch hospitality and the quiet coastal life.
Vancouver and surrounding BC
For warmer weather, amazing outdoor activities, another epic big city, surfing and 360° natural beauty.
For a little taste of France, with Canadian hospitality.
Banff & Lake Louise
For some of the best skiing anywhere, the most gorgeous lakes and jaw dropping natural scenery.
The true North
For an amazing dose of Aboriginal culture, Northern Lights, wildlife and rugged wilderness.
Ontario and Quebec in the fall
Our fall leaf colours are absolutely spectacular – come up for Canadian Thanksgiving in October and enjoy some turkey with us, too.
2017 is Canada’s year! We’ll be expecting you with open arms, Blue Jays caps and warm mittens