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.
Ever wished the place you were traveling to would give you free money to spend while on vacation?
Well, the U.S. Virgin Islands are doing (almost) just that by offering $300 to lure you in during 2017. It's not because their tourism levels have taken a dip in the warm turquoise waters or a vat of delicious rum, but because they're going all out to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of Transfer Day, or when the Danish West Indies (the main islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, as well as several smaller islands) became the U.S. Virgin Islands on March 31st, 1917. Instead of celebrating their centennial anniversary of being a United States territory for one day, they're making it a year-long affair and they want you to enjoy it!
It seems pretty simple:
1) Go to www.visitusvi.com to book at a participating hotel, villa, camp, or resort
2) Use booking code "CP1"
3) Must stay a minimum of 3 nights
4) Travel must take place between January 2 - December 31, 2017
5) Must book hotel before October 1st, 2017
If you follow these steps, the USVI Department of Tourism will send you $300...in credits that you can use like cash. The catch is that they must be used to explore the island(s) to learn about USVI's culture and history -- it won't work to simply lounge on the beach ordering rum punches all day. With that said, you can use the $300 vouchers to experience museums, eco-tours, culinary tours, outdoor adventures, like kayaking, diving, hiking or snorkeling, and more with any of the participating sites and activities. In addition, if you travel anytime in March, you'll also get a special commemoration gift!
Furthermore, there will be special events and activities happening on all of the islands throughout the year, so make sure to check the official USVI Centennial website for the latest updates and information before you go!
USVI Fun Facts Before You Go:
But, wherever you end up going in 2017, Happy New Year and happy traveling!