Plan your summer vacation like a local with hand-picked guides to 11 Canadian cities

Wondering where to travel this summer? As flight delays and luggage chaos continues at airports across the country, and gas prices continuing to soar, the least stressful (and most economical) getaways this season might be close to home. With that in mind, we asked locals in major Canadian cities from coast to coast to recommend the best things to see, do, eat and drink in their respective necks of the woods. From music festivals to local brews to public art exhibitions, there’s no time like the present to get out and explore your own backyard.

Traveling to Banff? Be sure to take in the iconic views of the Rockies from the seat of a Banff Gondola.DEVAAN INGRAHAM/Banff Gondola by Pursuit

1. Banff, Alberta

From a hot cuppa to a sunset view of the Rocky Mountains
  • Must see: One of the most iconic views of Canada’s Rocky Mountains is from the seat of the Banff Gondola; it’s the best way to get into the mountains without breaking a sweat. Consider booking a ride at sunset for an unforgettably striking view.
  • Also great: For a caffeinated pick-me-up or a soothing herbal cuppa, stop into Jolene’s Tea House for a warm mug of hand-blended, organic tea.

See what else Banff local Sam Clark recommends for your next visit.

Cycle across Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park, part of the extensive Bow River Pathway system.Chris Amat/Handout

2. Calgary, Alberta

Start at the farmer’s market, end with a picnic
  • Must see: Crossroads Market, in the city’s southeast, is a perfect location to pick up seasonal fruit and vegetables, plus locally made treats and pantry staples – everything you need for a perfect picnic on Prince’s Island Park, part of the city’s extensive Bow River Pathway system.
  • Also great: For an unforgettable night out in the city, hit up 17th Avenue, a lively strip featuring bars and entertainment for every taste, including drag shows, bluegrass, jazz and string quartets. Night-owl foodies may also want to check out the 4th Street Night Market on Saturdays for buzzy food trucks dishing out delicious snacks.

See every destination local Phoebe Fung recommends in Calgary.

Hop on a scooter to take a tour of Edmonton’s public art.Dudley B Menezies/Explore Edmonton

3. Edmonton, Alberta

Scoot around town for public art and satisfying snacks
  • Must see: For some one-of-a-kind souvenirs, the Vignettes Design Series Festival’s Brick & Mortar pop-up highlights seven small businesses, partnered with local architects, designers and artists to create sharp, unique temporary storefronts.
  • Also great: Easily zip around town with the help of YEG Scoot or, for a guided (and eco-friendly) experience on two wheels, book a spot on the Mural Experience with Foodie Stop, a guided two-and-a-half-hour e- scooter tour of downtown Edmonton’s architecture and Old Strathcona’s Whyte Avenue, which features more than 60 Instagram-ready public murals.

See what else Edmonton local Rochelle Ignacio recommends for your visit.

Halifax is home to Canada’s longest-running jazz festival – a must see for any visitor this summer.Handout/Handout

4. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Wine, dine and unwind, Maritimes-style
  • Must see: The Halifax Jazz Festival, Canada’s longest-running jazz fest, is on until July 17. This year’s high-profile acts include Perfume Genius, Molly Johnson and Half Moon Run. If you need a break from the tunes, the nearby boardwalk is lined with cozy Adirondack chairs for a moment to chill out by the sea.
  • Also great: The Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia’s wine country, is just an hour from Halifax. Or, if you’re feeling snacky, stick to the city and pop into Luke’s Small Goods for sandwiches and DeeDee’s for delicious local ice cream.

See what else Halifax local Omar Ghandi recommends for your visit.

5. Montreal, Quebec

Party at the Museum, go back in time at Habitat 67
  • Must see: Nicholas Party’s exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a splashy, colourful, multimedia must-do. And a stop in Montreal is not complete without popping in to Habitat 67, the city’s famous Expo 67 residence; guided tours of the buildings are available.
  • Also great: Restaurateurs Ryan Gray and Emma Cardarelli are Montreal dining mainstays and their latest eatery, Gia Vin & Grill, is heaven for Italian cuisine-loving oenophiles (don’t miss their organic wine list).

See what else Montreal local Dexter Peart recommends for your visit.

6. Ottawa, Ont.

Immerse yourself in Indigenous art
  • Must see: The nation’s capital is currently home to two great destinations for Indigenous art and culture. For cinephiles, the Asinabka Festival features screenings from Indigenous filmmakers around the world, plus art exhibits and musical performances. Central Art Garage, in Chinatown, highlights contemporary Indigenous artists, and is often a stepping stone for emerging talent about to make it big.
  • Also great: Moo Shu Ice Cream works with local famers, brewers and roasters to create inventive flavours. Options include: ginger and ground cherry; lime leaf and fresh mint; and Do You Bay Leaf in Magic – a mix of concord grape ice cream and bay leaf ice cream.

See what else Ottawa local Joi T Arcand recommends for your visit.

Take a boat cruise to see many of Saskatoon’s public murals from the deck of the Prairie Lily.Louis Christ/The Prairie Lily

7. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Raise a glass to the Prairie Lily
  • Must see: Many of Saskatoon’s public murals are visible from the deck of the Prairie Lily, a boat cruise that meanders along the South Saskatchewan River. Don’t miss Inner City by Josh Jacobson, one of the city’s largest public works of art.
  • Also great: Order a chilled glass of wine and a half dozen oysters at the newly opened Pop Wine Bar.

See what else Ottawa local Adrian Chappell recommends for your visit.

8. Toronto, Ont.

Little Canada in the Big Smoke
  • Must see: On now at Yonge-Dundas Square, Little Canada is just what it sounds like: a teeny tiny scale model of the country. The model goes big on detail, featuring such local-friendly highlights as a miniaturized Fred VanVleet of the Raptors projected on a tiny screen, at an itty bitty Scotiabank Arena.
  • Also great: Toronto is an excellent city for food enthusiasts. People-watch over Peruvian fusion from the patio at Chotto Matte, go French at Bar Pompette, or get the full foodie lay of the land with the Great Canadian Food Tour by Chopsticks + Forks.

See what else Toronto local Xavier Guidis recommends for your visit.

Take in the beauty of Vancouver at Sunset Beach.Handout

9. Vancouver, British Columbia

Show your pride before winding down at Sunset Beach
  • Must see: Vancouver’s Pride parade takes place on July 31, snaking through the city’s downtown streets and turning Vancouver’s core into an epic, joyful party. Unwind after the festivities (or keep them going) with a sip and a snack at Pidgin, where you can enjoy one of the best Negronis in the city.
  • Also great: Few views of sundown are as beautiful as the one over Sunset Beach, which is part of Vancouver’s Stanley Park Seawall system (making it easily accessible by foot). Pack a picnic and a bottle of local wine and enjoy the show.

See what else Vancouver local Andrew Han recommends for your visit.

To hike, ride or run? Whitehorse is the active traveler’s dream.Abby Cooper/Yukon Tourism

10. Whitehorse, Yukon

Hit the trail, then grab a scoop
  • Must see: This northern city is an excellent destination for active travellers. A top pick: a hike, ride or run on the Chadburn Blue, a doubletrack trail in the scenic Gray Mountains.
  • Also great: Half Moon Ice Cream’s handcrafted flavors are the perfect treat after a strenuous day on the trails, as is a visit to Whitehorse’s Nordic-style spa, Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs, for a relaxing and meditative retreat.

See what else Whitehorse local Laird Herbert recommends for your visit.

Attention craft beer-lovers: Winnipeg is your next must-visit destination for a cold one.Mike Peters/Tourism Winnipeg

11. Winnipeg, Manitoba

Try a local brew – then try four more
  • Must see: The Manitoba capital is a great destination for craft-beer lovers: Oxus Brewing, Low Life Barrel House, the family-friendly Sookram’s Brewing Co., the pup-positive patio at Barn Hammer Brewing Company, the Beer Can at the Granite (which just opened a second location in Osborne Village at the Gas Station Arts Centre) and Hargraves St. Market are all perfect options for those looking to try a local tipple (or two or three).
  • Also great: Fortify yourself with a slice from Shorty’s Pizza, or satisfy your sweet tooth (and your Instagram followers) with a dazzling confection from Jenna Rae Cakes.

See what else Winnipeg local Amber Sarraillon recommends for your visit.

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