Canada offers up unique experiences that you won’t find in any guidebook — you just have to know where to find them. To help you explore like a local, we’ve asked friends from across the country to share their top spots and experiences from the cities they call home. Bundled by interest or passion, consider this your local’s guide to travelling through the country’s vibrant cities and boundless wilderness.
Thanks to Tamara Elliott, Julia Weber, and Callum Snape for their local tips.
Most of Canada’s large cities and towns are nestled into beautiful rivers, harbours, bays, and seaside. Canadians are always finding new ways to use — and chill out on — our waterways.
Oasis Surf - Montreal
Ride the urban wave
You don’t have to be on the coast to surf — head to Oasis Surf in Montreal to ride some waves indoors. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, they also have a full-service restaurant so you can fuel up for another ride. Seasoned surfer? Drop-in (literally). New to the waves? Sign up an introductory session.
Twillingate Adventure Tours - Newfoundland and Labrador
Ice ice, baby
The only way to see Newfoundland is from the water. This Maritime province is home to some of the most beautiful and rugged coastline and Twillingate Adventure Tours provides the perfect way to explore. In the heart of Iceberg Alley (yes, it can be as chilly as it sounds!), you’ll be treated to breathtaking views, whales, and of course, icebergs.
River Surfing - Calgary
Ride the Bow
Yes, Calgary is located about 950 kilometres from the ocean, but you can still make a splash when you book a surf lesson at Rocky Mountain River Surfing. Surfing the river has become a sort of local pastime and these guys make it super fun. The unique confluence of Calgary’s Bow and Elbow Rivers means there are waves to catch if you can find the balance.
Paddle board the Rideau - Ottawa
Cruise the canal
There’s no better cure for a hot summer day than paddle boarding or canoeing the iconic Rideau Canal. It’s easy to pick up and there are plenty of stops on the canal where you can rent a paddle board, canoe, kayak, or even paddle boat. Afterwards head to Little Italy and refuel at one of the many restaurants. One of our local tipster’s neighbourhood favourites isn’t Italian at all, but EVOO Greek Kitchen.
Poolside yoga at Hotel Arts - Calgary
Give dolphin pose a new meaning
There’s yoga and then there’s poolside yoga. Grab a mat and head to hip Hotel Arts, a beautiful boutique hotel in downtown Calgary. They boast the city’s most happening outdoor pool. Classes are held every weekend during summer and the hotel also offers free bike rentals for guests who want to explore Calgary on two wheels. Cool off after your yoga session with a dip in the pool and one of their trademark pineapple mojitos. Or two.
Lynn Canyon - Vancouver
Vancouver’s favourite swimming hole
A quick 15-minute drive from downtown Vancouver will already have you deep in the temperate rainforests of British Columbia. Stop by Lynn Canyon, walk the 45-metre high suspension bridge, and take your first left to discover one of the best local natural swimming spots. Pack snacks and beverages (forget the cooler — you can keep them cold in the water) and enjoy this only-in-Vancouver experience.
Standup paddle boarding - Yukon
Say what’s up to this water sport
Take advantage of the summer by exploring the waterways of this breathtaking territory by way of paddle board. The glassy waters and serene surroundings make for a great adventure. SUP Yukon offers lessons, rentals, and even paddle board yoga. If you’re up for a challenge, head out on the water and strike a pose while you maintain your balance. It’ll be worth the photo, we promise.
Yoga on Parliament Hill - Ottawa
Where locals wanna asana
Ottawa’s extraordinary Parliament Hill serves as the riverside backdrop for a weekly summer yoga session. Hosted at noon every Wednesday, the free session is hosted by local teachers and is attended by hundreds of yogis of all levels. It’s good for your chakras.
Deep Cove - Vancouver
Kayak the Cove
Deep Cove – known locally as just “The Cove” – is located just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver at the base of Mount Seymour. The cozy waterfront community lies in a beautiful bay overlooking Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm. Visitors can rent a kayak from the marina and cruise across the water. Sometimes whales even stop by to hang. Our local tipster recommends adventuring up Indian Arm to float the day away with friends before making the short hike up Quarry Rock to watch the sunset.
Canada was founded on its majestic waterways. Today, Canadians are still finding new ways to enjoy and explore our backyard through its rivers, bays, and seas.