The Best of Canada – Prairies to Rockies

Adventure is closer than you think. Spend less time in line-ups and more time on the ground exploring all this great country has to offer. Take advantage of last-minute travel to these spots, just far enough off the beaten path to be back in the office by Monday.

Photo: @reidov

Winnipeg

Follow the money to the Royal Canadian Mint Winnipeg on a guided tour of the high-tech manufacturing facility where billions worth of circulation coins are produced every year. Established in 1976, this state-of-the-art facility occupies 14,864 m2 of money-making wonder. Visit the boutique for souvenirs to add to your coin collection and discover how over 55 billion coins are produced for more than 75 countries around the world.

Just 10 kilometres from the mint, stop off at the Forks National Historic Site, for a variety of shopping, sightseeing, recreational and dining activities. Within The Forks hub, discover the Canadian Museum for Human Rights showcasing unique exhibitions dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Next up, wander through the bustling Forks Market, originally two adjacent stables for competing rail companies in the early 1900’s. And run, walk, sled or skate your way along the Red River Mutual Trail, a Winnipeg tradition and Guinness World Record for longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world.

Photo: @erikmcr

Calgary

This gateway to the Rockies is more than a pit stop. With so much to see in one city, you’ll want to spend some time exploring attractions like historical Heritage Park Village for a glimpse of the early development years in the Canadian West. Friendly on-duty staff are dressed in period clothing and many places of the park are operational. Stop by Gasoline Alley displaying classic motor vehicles, and hop on the steam train for a tour of our country’s largest living history museum by rail.

Check out Calgary’s famous world-class winter sports facility, Winsport, for programs on everything from skiing and skating all the way to Olympic level training. Come feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme – get on up it’s bobsled time! See where Cool Runnings was filmed and ride the luge. This ski resort and events venue offers year-round adventure with summer activities including biking, zip-lining, mini-golf and more.

Float leisurely down the Bow River in an inflatable raft, a great way to sightsee the downtown city skyline. Many companies like Lazy Day Raft Rentals provide mobile raft and kayak rental stations right along the Bow River. Launch from Baker Park on the west side of Bowness ending up in beautiful Prince’s Island or Edworthy Park. And stop by the Chinese Cultural Centre located on the north-eastern side of downtown, a breathtaking building modelled after the Beijing Temple of Heaven. Explore the lower-level Chinese Artifacts Museum where you’ll find replicas of Terracotta warriors, ceramics, sculptures, and all kinds of interesting art.

Photo: @jaasminek

Edmonton

Much more than the massive mall, (though we do recommend checking out West Ed if you haven’t) Edmonton has unique places to explore in and nearby this eclectic city. For shopping and entertainment all in one place, check out the ICE District. The revitalization of this 25-acre development in the heart of the city involved the creation of one of Canada’s largest multi-use projects that combines offices, condos, a public plaza, entertainment and shopping all in one location.

Explore the meeting place of the Legislative Assembly and the Executive Council known to Edmontonians as “the Leg.” Set atop the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, see the marble pillars and carved oak up close on a free guided tour. Great for picnicking on the landscaped grounds with plenty of benches, a wading pool to cool off in summer months and beautiful to tour during the winter holiday season.

Just a 35 min drive from the bustle of the city is beautiful Elk Island National park. The perfect spot for picnicking, hiking and stargazing around the campfire. Relax and recharge in this oasis of calm for day trips and overnight camping trips that doubles as an important refuge for bison, elk and more than 250 bird species. If you’re there after sundown, be sure to catch the Northern Lights at the Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve.

Photo: @art_visuals_

Just a 4-hour drive from Edmonton or 6.5-hour train trip, the scenic town of Jasper in Jasper National Park is a must-see full of snow-capped Canadian Rockies, forests, rivers and glacier-fed lakes. Tour the wonder on the Jasper SkyTram to reach the 1,277-metre summit of Whistlers Mountain. And hop a shuttle to the nearby Glacier Skywalk to view the cliff-hugging sights through the glass-floored observation deck perched 30 metres above the Sunwapta Valley.

Sightsee like a settler on horseback across the rugged 1,200 km trail system. See wildlife and hard to access areas of the park on a series of short rides from the Jasper Riding Stables, including a one-hour tour along the Athabasca River Valley and rides that overlook Pyramid Bench. Or make a multi-day trek on horseback through Tonquin Valley through glittering lakes and serene meadows

Ignite your Canadian spirit by exploring some of the spots listed above in our diverse, majestic country. And when you do, be sure to share your best of Canada with #BestOfCanada.