It’s now more important than ever to spend some quality time outdoors and in nature. While travel is still up-in-the-air, heading out for a staycation in your home city might just be what you need to get away from the television and get that much needed mental health boost. There are a number of proven benefits to being outside and immersed in nature, and each season in Canada provides us with wonderful options for outdoor activities to please everyone.
Whether you want to get away for a weekend outdoors or plan an adventurous day trip, there are plenty of nature escapes from coast to coast. Here are some great outdoor activities for 2021 to boost your health and wellness for the new year.
Please note: Travel restrictions for Canadians is changing all the time. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest global health updates and guidance from the Government of Canada and the World Health Organization, along with the country that you’ll be travelling to before undertaking any type of travel.
Outdoor winter activities
Snowshoeing in the Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are full of outdoor winter activities and adventures for solo travellers, friend groups, and families alike. And you don’t have to be a pro skiier to enjoy the beauty of these mountains–why not try snowshoeing as an alternative? This affordable outdoor activity is something you can do at your own pace, and gives you the opportunity to get outside and explore new trails this winter.
There are a ton of great places to head out to in the Rockies, including Shadow Lake Lodge (Banff), Lake O’Hara Lodge (Yoho National Park), and Sunshine Village Resort (Banff). But you can also find snowshoeing opportunities in Ontario and Quebec.
Check out the best places to visit in Canada in winter and add a few to your bucket list.
Go ice skating
There’s nothing more Canadian than playing hockey with your friends and skating on some ice at your local park. Even Canadians living abroad will take an opportunity to ice skate when it comes their way. Whether you’re in the city or living somewhere rural, there’s almost always a chance to lace up your skates and hit the ice at an outdoor rink.
While some popular rinks are closed temporarily at the moment, many are still operating at reduced capacity so you can still get some quality outdoor time on the ice. To skate this winter, you’ll just need to plan ahead with your skating partners and book a time slot at an outdoor rink in your home city. For some places to book, check out the The Emera Oval in Halifax, Nathan Phillips Square, and here are some ice skating rinks that are open in Montreal this winter.
Experience the northern lights
The natural wonder that is aurora borealis is undoubtedly one of Canada’s most impressive sights. From Northwest Territories, Yukon, and northern Alberta, some of the best destinations to experience the northern lights are right here in Canada. The best months to catch a glimpse of the northern lights is from October to March, making this a great Canadian winter activity for the whole family.
Outdoor spring activities
Canada is full of some truly amazing wildlife, but one type of creature that never seems to get the true appreciation they deserve is the birds. Grab your binoculars, head out on the trails and see what type of birds you can spot.
Recent studies have shown that bird-watching can effectively help boost our mood–so there’s no better time than ever to plan an outdoor excursion and spot some new bird species. A few places that are highly regarded for bird-watching in Canada include Inglewood Bird Sanctuary (Calgary), Sheffield Mills (Nova Scotia), and Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve (Newfoundland and Labrador). If you can’t head out on a trip to watch some birds, this is also an activity you can do from your own backyard!
See the cherry blossoms in Vancouver
One of the tell-tale signs of spring is when flowers start to show their faces and brighten our days. If you’re looking for outdoor spring activities where you can simply enjoy the colour nature brings to our lives, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is the place to be. Here you’ll find cherry blossom-themed activities to take part in while enjoying the ephemeral beauty of the blooms.
But of course, cherry blossoms aren’t the only spring blooms that are celebrated in Canada. Get outdoors this spring in a city near you–check out the Canadian Tulip Festival (Ottawa), Royal Botanical Gardens Edible Weekends (Burlington), and PEI Potato Blossom Festival (O’Leary).
Vancouver isn’t the only place you can see cherry blossoms–check out these festivals.
Outdoor fall activities
Fall is harvest season in Canada for many fruits and vegetables, so if you’re looking to get in touch with your green thumb (and savour some juicy local fruit) then plan a weekend outdoor activity with your friends and family at a local farm and go apple picking.
And don’t let harvest season stop there–another great outdoor activity in fall is harvesting cranberries. If you participate in the Cranberry Harvest at Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery, not only do you get a chance to harvest but you can take the cranberry plunge, sample goodies, and take a wagon tour. What a fun outdoor activity for the kids! Make sure to bring some delicious berries home for some Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
If you prefer to keep your fruits in your wine, then here are some great wineries to check out in Niagara.
See the fall colours
After the colourful show that is the Northern Lights, the changing of the leaves is at the top of the list of natural wonders to experience in Canada. In early September (sometimes earlier!) across Canada, the leaves transform to magical shades of yellow, orange, and red for all to enjoy. And with the temperature slightly dropping during this season, it’s an ideal time put on your favourite fall sweater and spend an afternoon enjoying the fall colours with your friends.
Need some recommendations for trails? Here are the best spots for fall hiking near Montreal. For a perfect weekend getaway in the fall, book a stay at an eco lodge and spend your vacation out in nature.
Outdoor summer activities
Hike 1,000 Devils National Park (Saskatchewan)
For an unforgettable way to experience the unique beauty of the Canadian Prairies, a hike at 1,000 Devils National Park makes for one of the best outdoor summer activities in Canada. Located in southern Saskatchewan, this is a 6 km trail through the Canadian Badlands in Grasslands National Park.
It should be noted that Parks Canada rates the hike as “very difficult” so it’s not for the faint of heart. However, there are some other exceptional parks that you can explore if like Alberta’s Johnson’s Canyon, Ontario’s Rouge National Urban Park, or Quebec’s Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve.
We’ve also got a list of the best island hiking trails all over the world so you can plan your next global trek.
Weekend camping at a national or provincial park
Canada is home to some of the best camping in the world, you can find somewhere great to stay in any province or territory in the country. Some recommended camping spots include Alice Lake Provincial Park (BC), Parc National de la Pointe-Taillon (Quebec), and Gros Morne National Park (Newfoundland & Labrador).
If you’re looking to truly get away, then Tulabi Falls Campground in Manitoba is the place for you. It features less than 40 stalls against the backdrop of Nopiming Provincial Park. Here you can fish, canoe, hike, or simply spread out a blanket on the ground and gaze at the stars.
Enjoying outdoor activities in Canada
Many of us know that while Canada is a beautiful place, our weather can be somewhat unpredictable. If you’re headed out for the day or weekend to enjoy what nature has to offer, make sure you double (or triple) check the weather to ensure that you’re dressed appropriately. And, as always, make sure to check all local government guidelines before booking any travel.