It’s time. Spring has sprung, my lovelies! Well, almost. It’s still a few weeks away, but it’s too exciting to hold off any longer. Yes, that sweet euphoric high you’re riding can only be induced by one thing: the promise of summer and its short sleeves just around the corner. Even if there is still a bit of powder on the ground, you’re on the precipice of throwing your snow pants into storage with abandon. And you can finally go on vacation without your pipes freezing over! That means it’s time to get out there and explore the top destinations in Canada. Here are some of the best places to visit this spring:
People are always saying you should stop and smell the roses, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a nose-full of tulip. In fact, I recommend it (just pop a Claritin first). When you visit Ottawa during mid-May, the annual Canadian Tulip Festival greets you with colourful blooms and international dancers. After your dose of Dutch blooms, a hike in Gatineau Park is a peaceful way to spend a warm afternoon. If you’re feeling peckish after your trek, a smoothie should tide you over until the dinner bell clangs. But don’t spend six bucks on an overpriced concoction from a zinc and ginseng peddling shop (you know the one). Stop by one of the area’s blueberry farms–such as Canaan Blueberry Farm–to pick your own antioxidant-rich ingredients straight from the bush.
A quick day trip from Ottawa this spring is a shutterbugs’s dream. Hello, perfect holiday card picture, fancy meeting you here. Drive 90 km south to the heritage farm community of Upper Canada Village, or turn your compass NE and go to Parc Omega nature reserve, where the wildlife are out in throngs this time of year. You can finally figure out what the fox says (if it really is, “Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding,” please let me know)! Save your outdoorsy activities for the day time, and spend the night relaxing in luxury at sleek and modern ARC The.Hotel or the palatial charm of Fairmont Chateau Laurier.
Plan your trip:
Read the Ottawa City Guide
View Ottawa Hotels
Waterloo Region, ON
Sometimes a walk on the quiet side is just what the doctor ordered. You want to feel like you’re meandering through a country song, not living la vida loca. Waterloo is the perfect place to abscond to when just such a mood strikes. Visit the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival in April – the largest one day maple syrup festival in the world – to eat your weight in syrup-covered pancakes and chow down on old-fashioned toffee. Take a quick drive (less than 20 km) to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory where monarchs aren’t the only winged creatures around. Bat specimens are on display, and other bugs flutter their way inside. If you feel like a highbrow evening is in order, visit Kitchener and grab seats for the Centre in the Square theatre. Continue your odyssey into relaxation with a stay at the Langdon Hall Country House and Spa or Delta Waterloo.
Plan your trip:
Read the Kitchener City Guide
View Waterloo Region Hotels
Vancouver in the spring is a great place to get your romance on. Or, you know, hang out with the fam. It’s up to you. Whether you’re wooing someone or taking the kids on an adventure, don’t miss the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival between late March and mid-April. Blooms fill the air and light up local branches; it’s almost enough to make you throw your arms out and spin around beneath falling petals (rom-com montage style). We won’t stop you. April also brings Sakura Days, a two-day event that showcases Japanese performing arts, culture, and cuisine.
Spring is also whale watching season in Vancouver. Even if you don’t make it out for a tour, check out Jack’s Pub & Green Room Diner in Tofino and Starboard Grill in Port Alberni for spectacular water views and perhaps the distant splash of a massive fin. If you always envied Helen Hunt’s character in “Twister,” pack your best 90s camcorder and get ready to—sort of—recreate her storm chasing glory. We can’t promise the weather will be quite as exciting, but storm watching is a favourite Vancouver pastime in early spring.
Vancouver hotels make it easy to relax in style. Set up shop at the Pan Pacific hotel for the first glance of off-shore storms or at OPUS Hotel near the route of the Blossom Barge.
Plan your trip:
Read the Vancouver City Guide
View Vancouver Hotels
The snow may not be completely gone, but get ready to put away your snowboard and see a more colourful side of Calgary. The warmer season starts with the 4th Street Lilac Festival taking place each year in late spring or early summer. Street buskers, bands on stage, and parade performances are just some of the creative things happening here.
If the chaos of the festival makes you crave a little alone time, just shuffle off to the Glenbow Museum (pro tip: admission is free the first Thursday of the month between 5-9 pm). If you’re seeking a foodie affair, as you should, keep in mind that Poutine Week falls in mid-April and Calgary International BeerFest is in early May. Swimsuit season is still a few months off, so we say #TreatYoSelf.
Complete your spring time visit in Calgary with a stay at what experts call a “fancy schmancy” hotel. It’s easy to live the good life here. We suggest booking a room at Nuvo Hotel Suites, which is just a short walk from the lilac festival. Or stay at the Kensington Riverside Inn where tons of the best spring activities are a leisurely stroll away.
Plan your trip:
Read the Calgary City Guide
View Calgary Hotels
Spend even a day along the Newfoundland Coast, and you might feel like you’re living the life of cartoon royalty. When you go trekking along green hillsides and Newman Sound at Terra Nova National Park you’re practically in a magical forest. Meanwhile, you can also sail through Iceberg Alley while humpbacks jump in the distance. Bring your Instagram game, ‘cause you’re gonna need it. Iceberg viewing season revs up in March and continues through early summer. Small towns like St. Anthony, Twillingate, Bonavista, and more along the Newfoundland coast boast some of the best views of these majestic frozen masses. Fun fact: Newfoundlanders use icebergs in locally made vodka, gin, rum, and beer. Because why not? When it’s time to retire for the night, we recommend a waterfront room at the red-roofed Murray Premises Hotel.
Plan your trip:
Read the Newfoundland Guide
View Newfoundland Hotels
Iqaluit in the Nunavut Territory
The winter chill factor is real in Iqaluit, Nunavut. It’s really real. By the time spring rolls around, visitors and locals will be clamouring to get outside and rejoice at the sight of the sun. In fact, the Toonik Tyme Festival was invented to revel at the start of spring. This April’s celebration includes dozens of events that also show appreciation for the Inuit culture and traditions. Fashion, history, and food are just the beginning. Don’t forget to look up once in a while. The famed Northern Lights are visible until about April, and you don’t want to miss your shot at witnessing their spellbinding luminescence for yourself.
For a walk on the cool side of things, be sure to experience the floe edge. This dramatic10-km wide block of ice is controlled by the ways of the waves. While you’re visiting this special ecosystem from March to June, you’re likely to spot an abundance of arctic wildlife also soaking up the first sign of spring. Thanks to Hotel Arctic and Capital Suites, it’s easy to catch some shut eye, even as the sun begins to shine nearly 24 hours a day.
Plan your trip:
Read the Nunavut Guide
View Nunavut Hotels
Spring is calling your name all across Canada! Don’t wait for summer to stretch your legs and embark on an exciting adventure. Where will you shake off the cabin fever this spring?
Canadian Tulip Festival
Thanh Nguyen, LOBO
Cynthia Wong, Wendy Cutler
Iceberg and Whale, Quirpon Island, Western – courtesy Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism/Finn Beals
Whales, Quirpon Island, Western – courtesy Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism/Benjamin Heath
Whale Watching in Bay Bulls, Avalon – courtesy Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism/O’Brien’s Boat Tours
Whale Double Breach, St. Vincents, Avalon – courtesy Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism/Dylan Furst
All other photos: courtesy Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
Michelle Valberg/Nunavut Tourism