Canada: Top 10 hidden gems for winter

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When the snow falls in Canada, the fun begins. Canada is a popular destination for winter travel, with fun activities like skating on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal to hitting the slopes at Mont Tremblant. Beyond these well-known destinations are a number of hidden gems visitors and residents alike will be thrilled to discover, and also the 150 Hidden Gems selected by Canadians during the country’s 150th anniversary.

1. St. Jacob’s Sparkles

Canada Winter Travel: St. Jacobs Sparkles

Source: St. Jacobs

Small town festivals are big on charm. The town of Jacob’s Ontario is a popular summer destination, but the winter themed activities that take place as part of St. Jacob’s Sparkles are not to be missed. The entire town is decorated for the festive season, where pedestrians sip apple cider and watch carollers as they line the streets singing holiday songs. Visitors can also enjoy sleigh rides pulled by either deer or horses.

2. Assiniboine Park Zoo

Canada Winter Travel: Assiniboine Park Zoo

Source: Flickr

Shake off the snow and get an up close look at Canadian wildlife including polar bears, muskoxen, Arctic fox, wolves and other northern species at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

3. Carnaval de Quebec

Canada Winter Travel: Carnaval de Quebec

Source: Flickr

Quebec City transforms into a winter paradise with Carnaval de Quebec activities for everyone to revel in, while winter strolls past the beautiful Palace Royale in Old Quebec create amazing, snow-covered memories. Adventurous winter travelers can have a truly unique and authentic Canadian experience by taking part in a dog sled ride through forest trails with an option to stay overnight in the forest.

4. Ice skating or fishing

Canada Winter Travel: Ice Fishing

Source: Flickr

4. The great lakes are just as great in the winter, if not even more stunning. Visit Sudbury, Ontario to ice skate around the perimeter of Ramsey Lake, or give ice fishing a try at one of the 330 freshwater lakes in the Greater Sudbury area.

5. Vancouver Island

Canada Winter Travel: Vancouver snowboarding

Source: Flickr

Explore the natural scenery and abundance of trails on Vancouver Island this winter by ski, snowboard or snowshoe. For the thrill seeker, heli-skiing is also available – but definitely not for the faint of heart. Heli-skiing is when skiers are taken up the mountain by helicopter.

6. Niagara Icewine Festival

Canada Winter Travel: Icewine Festival

Source: Flickr

The Niagara region of Ontario is well known for its wine tours, and wine appreciation certainly doesn’t stop when the snow flurries arrive. The Niagara Icewine Festival is an exciting celebration of food and flavours that guarantees a great time.

7. Grand Falls

Canada Winter Travel: Grand Falls

Source: Flickr

When the temperatures drop, the Maritimes become a winter wonderland. Visit The Grand Falls in New Brunswick to see the falls transform into awe-inspiring columns of ice, or add Fredericton’s annual FROSTival to your winter travel checklist.

8. Peggy’s Cove

Canada Winter Travel: Peggy's Cove

Source: Flickr

Another popular summertime destination in the Maritimes, Nova Scotia’s own Peggy’s Cove, is breathtaking when blanketed in a thin layer of snow. Pull on your warm winter clothes and watch the sunset against a backdrop of crashing waves and ice.

9. Northern Lights

Canada Winter Travel: Northern Lights

Source: Flickr

There are 11 Provincial Parks in Northern Saskatchewan, including Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. Plan a visit to take in the winter scenery and get a glimpse of the dazzling Northern Lights visible in the sky over the park.

10. Ottawa Winterlude Festival

Canada Winter Festival: Rideau Canal Ice Skating

Source: Flickr

Tis the season to go dashing through the snow, on a one horse open sleigh! Spend some time this winter Canada’s capital and bask in an old fashioned sleigh ride through Ottawa’s Greenbelt, or savor the festivities during Ottawa’s Winterlude festival which includes ice skating on the beautiful Rideau Canal.

For more ideas on what to do and where to stay while visiting Canada, visit our destination guides for Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. Across Canada, there are innumerable sights and activities to explore all year round.

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