Our favourite hidden gems to be discovered in Canada
Whilst we love those incredible "Must-Sees" in Canada such as Lake Louise, Niagara Falls, the CN Tower Toronto, Ottawa's Parliament Hill, the Rockies and Banff National Park...there are also some hidden gems that we'd like to tell you about.
Dawson City, Yukon
Located high in north-western Yukon Territory and with a population of just over 1,300 people, not many people know about Dawson City. In the 19 century is was the centre of the Klondike Gold Rush, with a population of 40,000 and boasted bustling hotels, bars and dance halls so earned the nickname “the Paris of the North”. and with many of its historic buildings preserved, it looks like a town from one of the old Westerns. We’d recommend you book a tour to get the most out of a visit to Dawson City to try out panning for gold at Claim 33 and visit Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site. Finally no trip to Dawson City would be complete without a visit to Canada’s first casino - Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall.
Suggested holiday: Self-Drive Yukon & Alaska Explorer
Dancers at Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall
Newfoundland and Labrador
As you might imagine, the remote province of Newfoundland & Labrador has more than its fair share of hidden gems – here are just a couple:-
L’Anse Aux Meadows - Located on the tip of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Northern Peninsula, this is an ancient Norse settlement and UNESCO World Heritage site. Its buildings have been restored and you can see the Vikings’ base camp and learn about the thousand year history from costumed interpreters.
Gros Morne National Park – Boasts some of the most dramatic fjords, alpine highlands and spectacular coastline in the world. Take a hike in the park and spot moose, caribou, foxes, beavers and, out in the ocean, seals and whales.
Suggested holiday: Self-Drive Newfoundland & Labrador Explorer
Western Brook Fjord, Gros Morne National Park
Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
At the Bay of Fundy, which sits between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, you’ll discover Hopewell Rocks. These rock formations, stand at 40 to 70 feet tall, were created by tidal erosion some 600 million years ago. This is the location of the highest tides in the world, twice a day, every day. Check out the tide times so that you can be there at high tide…..then low tide – when you can stroll the ocean floor and gaze up at the magnificent rocks.
This incredible tidal reach also creates another sight you must see – the tidal bore that pushes up the Petitcodiac River to Moncton – time your visit right to see this dramatic phenomenon.
Suggested holiday: Atlantic Maritimes Escorted Tour
Hopewell Rocks at Sunrise
Basin Head Provincial Park, Prince Edward Island
The entire province of Prince Edward Island could be described as a hidden gem – it’s the smallest province in Canada in both land area and population. The famous bit about PEI is Anne of Green Gables and our favourite thing about PEI is the delicious seafood particularly lobster and mussels. The red sand beaches are also well-known but less well known are its singing sands of Basin Head Provincial Park. The jury is out on whether these sands actually sing but they do make some sort of sound, also described as a whistle and a squeak. If you go here, do let us know your verdict. But apart from that you’ll also discover that PEI enjoys the warmest ocean water north of the Carolinas, which is possibly a better reason to visit this hidden gem.
Suggested holiday: Maritime Canada by Motorhome
Odd museums in Toronto & Ottawa
You’ll find slightly strange museums all over the world, and these are our favourite lesser-known quirky museums in Canada:-
Diefenbunker is the dark horse when it comes to Ottawa’s museums, it was built between 1959 and 1961 to shelter Canadian government officials in the case of a nuclear attack.…. Although former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker never visited his “Diefenbuker,” Kevin one of our North America Specialists visited last year - "A massive former underground military complex in a field in the middle of nowhere best describes the surreal day out we had to see the Diefenbunker Museum just outside Ottawa. Built at the end of the 50`s to house Canadian officials in the event of a nuclear war it is a perfect time capsule of a bye gone era.”
One for the fashionista’s, the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto has hundreds of exhibits, showcasing the style, function and meaning of footwear, from ancient Egyptian sandals to haute couture creations.
Suggested holiday: Toronto and Ottawa Twin centre
Diefenbunker Cold War Museum
Manitoulin Island, Ontario
Manitoulin Island, is the largest freshwater island lake on the planet, with over 100 inland lakes…..alternatively described as “islands in lakes on an island in a lake”. It’s located in one of the Great Lakes - Lake Huron, and is the world’s largest freshwater island. It really is a beautiful place to spend a few days. Drive along the meandering scenic roads, stroll the gorgeous hiking trails and discover the delightful shoreline.
Suggested holidays: Self-Drive Great Lakes Treasures OR Eastern Canada, Niagara Falls & the Great Lakes by Motorhome
Cup & Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island, Ontario
Algonquin Log Cabin
Sleep under the stars in the Algonquin Provincial Park. Leave the crowds behind and spend a couple of nights in the Algonquin Log Cabin located in the heart of the park on the shores of Surprise Lake. There is no mobile phone signal or even electricity in the cabin so you’ll certainly be hidden away. You can also choose to spend a couple of nights camping in a tent, to cook your freshly cooked fish over the campfire and listen to tales and myths of the Canadian Wilderness. After a day exploring the miles and miles of streams, rivers and lakes in this stunning place, you’ll certain sleep soundly.
Suggested holidays: Algonquin Canoe and Log Cabin Adventure
Algonquin Log Cabin
Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta
Located in the Canadian Badlands, two hours drive east of Calgary, the Dinosaur Provincial Park has a landscape that would be perfectly at home in a cowboy film. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site where 150 full dinosaur skeletons have been unearthed, discovering more than 50 species. You can take a two hour Fossil Safari to discover the fossils which are everywhere – teeth, bones, shells and coprolite – fossilised dinosaur dung. It’s a great experience to dig and discover …but remember you’re not allowed to take the fossils home.
Suggested holiday: Experience Dinosaurs, Prairies & the Great Outdoors Self-Drive
Digging for fossils at Dinosaur Provincial Park