Let's face it. A lot of people (in the U.S. at least) have joked about, or maybe seriously considered, relocating to Canada lately, even crashing their immigration website after the U.S. presidential election in November. With Canada being the first nation to adopt a multiculturalism policy in the 1970s, it doesn't seem to be a bad option if you're seeking some sense of tolerance and celebration of diversity. But, even if you decide not to move, you should definitely visit as the country has more to offer in 2017 than you might be aware.
Canada has made its way onto several 2017 travel lists, including Travel & Leisure, Bloomberg, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Orbitz and National Geographic. The reason? The Great White North is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a nation independent from British rule as of July 1, 1867, and inviting everyone to a yearlong party. Several festivities are planned in the capital city of Ottawa and extra special activities will happen in Montreal as it also celebrates its 375th birthday.
However, one of the best perks of traveling to the northernmost North American country is that Parks Canada is offering free, unlimited access to any of the country's national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas from coast-to-coast for the entire year with its 2017 Discovery Pass. There are over 40 national parks and national park reserves (areas intended to become national parks, pending settlement of native land claims), as well as 3 national marine conservation areas. In addition, Canada boasts 976 national historic sites, 171 of which are managed by Parks Canada while the rest are administered or owned by other government or private entities.
It took me all of 3 minutes to order my pass on their website. All you need is a mailing address, no credit card required, and Parks Canada will ship your order within 3 business days using 1st class shipping! Talk about first class treatment before you even step foot in the country. You can also opt to pick up your 2017 Discovery Pass at your destination -- the recommended choice if you are traveling within 3 weeks of your pass/permit request.
Other helpful pass information:
But with so many parks and sites to visit, how do you begin to choose? There are comprehensive lists of the national parks and marine conservation areas, as well as the historic sites, but National Geographic puts Banff National Park in Alberta on its 2017 Travel List for the pristine wilderness. Canada's first national park is an extensive striking juxtaposition of the snowy peaks of the Canadian Rockies, green meadows and valleys, stunning waterfalls, cold glaciers and calm turquoise lakes. It offers incredible outdoor activities, such as mountain biking (best from May to October), hiking (best July to September), and winter sports (best November to May). There are also calmer activities such as horseback riding and kayaking, or you can take advantage of the numerous hot springs to relax after a long day of activity.
Some other options:
In addition to the parks,
If all else fails, take advantage of the stronge U.S. dollar against the Canadian dollar, get some ice wine, Canadian bacon and/or maple syrup, go to an ice hockey game, and maybe you'll run into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.