Some of the first things you might typically think of when someone mentions the Great White North are maple syrup, moose, and Mounties. And snow — lots of it. While those things are fairly common up here, there is also an abundance of beautiful sights to see from coast to coast. So, pack your anorak and passport; it’s time to travel across Canada.
Victoria, British Columbia
No matter how many times you’ve been there, the beauty and elegance of Victoria never gets old. You can cruise from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper quickly and be there in less than three hours. The Clipper also goes to Vancouver, Whistler, and other areas on Vancouver Island, and there are sail and flight packages with Kenmore Air as well. But because Victoria is so close, you can go for a day trip or overnight. Enjoy afternoon tea, explore the world-famous Butchart Gardens, take a ride about town on a double-decker bus or by horse-drawn carriage, and make sure to save a lot of room to eat — the dining scene is full of choices, from a fancy French meal for two, to chef-driven local hot spots.
Distance: 165 miles from Bellevue (includes ferry crossing). While you’re there: Go see Craigdarroch Castle and learn the story of the coal miner who built it. thecastle.ca
Tofino, British Columbia
If you’re looking for an easy weekend getaway, then a trip to Tofino is perfect. You’ll find breathtaking wooded hikes such as the Rainforest Trail, and of course miles (or kilometers, because Canada uses the metric system) of coastal sights, like Clayoquot Sound. Get a sample of the freshest local seafood on the Tofino Food Tour. The anorak you packed will probably come in handy here. Just like home, temperatures tend to cool and rain always happens. Be prepared — wear layers.
Distance: 316 miles from Bellevue (includes ferry crossing). While you’re there: Grab a beer at Tofino Brewing Company. tofinobrewingco.com
One of the most well-known (and photographed) Canadian wonders is tucked away in the Rocky Mountains. Banff is a gorgeous tourist spot, with a ton of things to do along Banff Avenue. At the center of town, you’ll find Park Distillery. This award-winning restaurant has awesome meals and even better spirits, such as Maple Rye and Espresso Vodka. But if you’re looking for some poutine, I’d suggest driving just 15 minutes to the neighboring town of Canmore. Swing by 514 Poutine for some of the most authentic Québécois cuisine in Alberta! Pro tip: The snowflakes fall from October to April on the regular, so pack accordingly.
Distance: 595 miles from Bellevue. While you’re there: Unwind at Banff Upper Hot Springs. hotsprings.ca
Besides being one of the more fun names to pronounce, Saskatoon is also the heart of the prairies. And while it can get pretty cold here, you shouldn’t let it stop you from indulging in some local ice cream at Homestead. Also, there’s an awesome avant-garde museum, Remai Modern, where there’s also a Picasso gallery.
Distance: 1,034 miles from Bellevue. While you’re there: Visit the Saskatchewan Railway Museum. saskrailmuseum.org
Canada’s capital, Ottawa, is located right on the Ottawa River, which separates Ontario from Quebec. Overlooking the river is Parliament Hill, which is home to the capital building and other historic Canadian government buildings. Just down the street is Elgin Street Diner, a local favorite with a classic diner menu. If you travel here during the summer, keep in mind that July 1 is Canada Day, and the city comes alive with even more things to do.
Distance: 2,570 miles from Bellevue. While you’re there: Make time to explore the National Gallery of Canada. gallery.ca
Montreal is Canada’s second-most-populated city and is distinctly different from the rest of Canada. You’ll feel like you’ve left North America and gone right over to Europe! One of the most popular tourist attractions is the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. This Gothic-style cathedral is not only spectacular to view from outside, but also more gorgeous from the inside with brightly colored stained glass and detailed sculptures. To get a view of the entire city, head up to Mount Royal, and take a walk around the massive parks. For dinner, go to Lattuca Barbeque and then swing by Les Glaceurs-Vieux-Montreal for dessert. Pro tip: If you aren’t fluent in French, make sure to have Google Translate downloaded on your phone.
Distance: 2,691 miles from Bellevue. While you’re there: If you thought New York was known for its bagels, then you should try an authentic Montreal bagel from St-Viateur Bagel Shop. The line for this store can sometimes go outside and around the corner, so pack your patience. It’s worth it. stviateurbagel.com
Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
Home to 12 species of whales, the Bay of Fundy is a truly phenomenal place for a quiet, coastal vacation. You’ll find majestic views of the bay from any point along the coastline, but one of the best sights to see is at the Hopewell Cape. No matter the tide level, you’ll have amazing views of the naturally carved-out Hopewell Rocks. The difference between high and low tide here can be as extreme as more than 50 feet, so the coastline can look very different throughout the day. For lunch, go to Black Rock Bistro in Nova Scotia, which is known for serving locally sourced vegetables, seafood, meat, wine, and beer.
Distance: About 3,406 miles from Bellevue. While you’re there: Depending on your adventure-seeking level, you might want to check out NovaShores Adventures, where you can partake in sea kayaking and get a closer look at the capes, cliffs, and caves. Trips cater to all experience levels, too. novashores.com