Canada, America's neighbor to the North, offers families a wide range of vacation opportunities. Here are five regions to consider:
1. Alberta: Home to super star national parks Banff and Jasper and more than 600 lakes, this massive western province is an outdoor adventurer's dream destination. As its flag advertises, visitors can expect snowy mountains, golden plains, evergreen forests and endless blue skies. All that, plus more than 300 days of sunshine each year, enabling great days on hiking trails and ski slopes. Canada's fastest growing city, Calgary, a beneficiary of a cattle and oil boom, offers visitors plenty including the famous Calgary Stampede as well as the Heritage Park Historical Village where period clad staff spin tales of frontier life on the Canadian Prairies. Further north, along the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton serves as the provincial capital and is considered the cultural soul of the region. Expect galleries, theatre, live music and shopping. Contact: www.TravelAlberta.com.
2. British Columbia: Perhaps you've heard of the Inside Passage. It's that scenic chain of channels, bays and islands that create Canada's diverse Pacific coastline. It's popular with kayakers, whale watchers, birders, boaters and adventurers. You'll also want to put the cities of Vancouver and Victoria on your radar. Located on the edge of wilderness, both urban areas offer hip dining with fresh seafood and farm to table offerings as well as and museums of interest to every age group. Don't miss the scenic drive from Vancouver to the mountain ski town of Whistler via the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Along what is also known as Highway 99, you'll pass sheer rock faces, waterfalls, fjords, alpine forests and the snow-capped Coast Mountains. Contact: www.HelloBC.com
3. Manitoba: If you yearn to see polar bears in the wild, Churchill, in northern Manitoba is the place to be. Located on the migration route between the bear dens and their feeding grounds, the town is ground zero for those who want the chance to learn about and glimpse the animals in their native environment. Tundra buggies transport visitors into the vast landscape outside of town to photograph and observe the seal hunters. Helicopter tours are also possible. Slot the destination onto your list for viewing the northern lights and Beluga whale watching in the summer months. Contact: www.TravelManitoba.com
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4. Prince Edward Island: Published in 1908, the novel Anne of Green Gables, has played a major role in drawing tourists to Canada's smallest province. Today, literary fans make their way to P.E.I to see the sites portrayed in the book and to learn more about is author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Visit the old farmhouse, where much of the famous novel was set and take part in activities at the Green Gables Heritage Place that include ice-cream making demonstrations, safe races, hiking on nature trails, carriage rides and tours offered by rangers dressed as characters from the book. Contact: www.TourismPEI.com
5. Yukon: This fabled territory, wild, mountainous and sparsely populated, attracts adventuresome souls eager for wide open spaces, outdoor adventure and quirky bits of history. Make your way to Dawson City, at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, to learn about the gold rush days and the great stampede of treasure seekers who hastened north in search of fortune. Visit the Dawson City Museum and stop by the Robert Service Cabin during the summer months for daily poetry readings. Hiking, fishing, cycling, canoeing and dog sledding are among the popular activities in the region. Contact: www.TravelYukon.com