Now that many parts of Canada are starting to re-open, are you itching to explore some of the amazing places that our stunning country has to offer?
Canada is teeming with magical and unique towns that make for great experiences and unforgettable destinations. Many of these are hidden gems, off the beaten path. You’ll love uncovering these lesser-visited towns (and avoiding the crowds)!
Read on to learn about 10 of Canada’s Most Underrated Towns to add to your bucket list ASAP:
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Prince Rupert is located on Kaien Island in Northern BC. It’s a great launching-off base for exciting fishing and wildlife-viewing trips. Grizzly bears, bald eagles, and orcas are among the gorgeous animals you may spot in the area!
The town of Prince Rupert is home to a Tsimshian First Nations community and is known for its many amazing totem poles! You’ll have a blast viewing as many of these unique and beautiful totem poles as possible on your trip.
Best Time to Visit Prince Rupert
The best time to visit Prince Rupert is from June to September.
Best Things to Do in Prince Rupert
- See Grizzly Bears at the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park (the Grizzly Bear Sanctuary is north and inland of Prince Rupert)
- Check out the Butze Rapids trail and park, just outside of town. The trail takes about 2 hours to complete and winds through the forest, leading to reversing tidal rapids and a rope swing!
- Charter a boat and go out into the water, then try your hand at fishing for salmon, halibut, and even giant steelhead on the Skeena river.
- Visit the Museum of Northern British Columbia; its exhibits highlight the culture and history of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.
- Experience some of the most spectacular whale watching in the world with the opportunity to see Orcas, Minke whales, and Humpback whales that visit the protected waters of Chatham Sound.
Can’t-Miss Events in Prince Rupert
Seafest runs annually from June 7th-9th. This annual celebration attracts more than 10,000 people to the coastal town in Northern B.C. for three days of festivities and celebration.
Seafest is packed with events, activities, food booths, and entertainment in Prince Rupert’s downtown and on the waterfront.
Seafest has been canceled for the last two years, but Prince Rupert s looking forward to restarting the event soon!
Jasper may not be “underrated” necessarily, but surprisingly, it is actually very under-visited, especially when compared to Banff and Lake Louise!
Some of the most amazing sights in the world are found in Jasper National Park, but with the four-hour drive from Banff National Park, many people choose to skip it to spend more time in Banff instead. However, the long and beautiful drive through the Icefields Parkway alone makes visiting Jasper so very worth it!
Best Time to Visit Jasper
The best months to visit Jasper National Park are March through May, or September through November if you’re hoping for cooler temperatures and very few tourists around. June to August is a great time to visit as well, since the weather will be warmer, but attractions and viewpoints will also be a lot busier.
Best Things to Do in Jasper
- Explore local shops and restaurants in Downtown Jasper
- Ride the Jasper Skytram, a sightseeing gondola to see amazing mountain views
- Relax in the outdoor Miette Hot Springs (which have gorgeous mountain views!) after a long day of adventures
- Visit the Jasper Planetarium. Jasper is also one of the smallest towns in North America with its own planetarium!
- Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle on Pyramid Lake
- Take a dip in the glacier water of Lake Annette
Can’t-Miss Events in Jasper
Dark Sky Festival
Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival takes place in October and is packed with events, speakers, and activities that focus on science, space, and conservation. Don’t forget to take in the stars at the festival during nighttime events – you might even get to see the northern lights!
The 2021 Dark Sky Festival will proceed October 15-24 2021, but due to COVID-19, there will be some changes to comply with COVID-19 health and safety suggestions.
Sceptre, Saskatchewan (Great Sand Hills)
Did you know that Saskatchewan is home to sand hills?! That’s OK – many people don’t!
This underrated spot in southwest Saskatchewan is the location of the province’s Great Sandhills that cover 1,900 square kilometers. You’ll find it surreal to learn that this sand was deposited from glaciers many, many years ago.
Best Time to Visit the Great Sand Hills
The Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre is open from May 15 to August 31 so if you want to visit, it is best to go during those months. However, they are closed this season (2021) due to COVID-19, but they are looking forward to welcoming guests again next year!
Best Things to Do at Great Sand Hills
- Walk approximately half a kilometer along a narrow sandy trail to the sand dunes, climb to the top of a huge sand dune and enjoy the views!
- Here you can visit the world’s largest metal wheat sculpture.
- Go golfing at a couple of the golf courses in the area.
- The Great Sandhills Museum offers visitors information on the history of the Great Sand Hills and provides tours in the area.
- Keep an eye out for rare kangaroo rats burrowing in the sand (more common at night). You could also see pronghorn antelope, deer, coyotes, and many species of birds.
Can’t-Miss Events at Sceptre
Wild West Daze
The next town over from Sceptre is Leader, SK which is just 14km away! From June 18 to June 20, 2021 Leader puts on their Wild West Daze, which is fun for the whole family. Activities for the weekend include a slow-pitch tournament, children’s games, and bouncy castles, trade show, parade, and concert. There is also a beer gardens and concession on site. This could be a fun event to plan your visit to the Great Sand Hills around!
Bouctouche, New Brunswick
Bouctouche offers endless beaches and sand dunes, making it a truly stunning seaside destination! The town is located about 40 minutes north of Moncton.
The local Mi’kmaq First Nation people used to call Bouctouche “Tjipogtotjg”, meaning “Great Little Harbour” – and it is exactly that!
Best Time to Visit Bouctouche
The best time to visit Bouctouche is from June to September.
Best Things to Do in Bouctouche
- Visit Le Pays de la Sagouine, a fun theme park celebrating Acadian culture. Every day all summer long, colorful characters bring Acadian culture and history to life along the shores of Bouctouche Bay with songs, plays, shows, laughter, and good food.
- Visit the 2,000-year-old La dune de Bouctouche, a fine sand dune that extends 12 km into Bouctouche Bay.
- Observe local flora and fauna at Irving Arboretum along walking and biking trails.
- Browse through local produce, baking, crafts, and more at the local farmers market (open on Saturdays from June to September)
- Other fun activities in the area include birding, golfing, picnicking, swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, sailing, and xc skiing.
Can’t Miss Events in Bouctouche
On August 15th, celebrate National Acadian Day in Bouctouche! Take part in the second largest Tintamarre, the traditional “noise parade”, a walk that marks the occasion.
The event features Bouctouche’s rich coastal environment and farm products while offering solutions for environmental issues through music, culture, and outdoor events.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
This Nova Scotia destination is the fun and colorful town of Old Lunenburg.
This historic location is known for its distinct waterfront, decorated with bright and beautiful buildings. There are also loads of restaurants, distilleries, breweries, artisans, and unique shops to explore.
This Old Town Lunenburg is one of only two urban communities in North America named as a UNESCO World Heritage site!
Best Time to Visit Lunenburg
The best season for visiting Nova Scotia is between May through October. Some hotels and restaurants are seasonal and may close after October.
Best Things to Do in Lunenburg
- Step aboard the Bluenose II, a ship that is featured on Canadian dimes!
- Explore the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.
- Dive into Lunenburg’s art scene, with eight art galleries, several art and pottery studios, and a tattoo parlor.
- Drink rum at the Ironworks Distillery and learn about the fascinating history behind it (Nova Scotia became known for rum-running during Prohibition)
- Try one of the town’s traditional recipes, like Solomon Gundy, Lunenburg Pudding, Lunenburg Sausage, and sauerkraut, and learn how to shuck scallops like a local.
- Get out on the water with fishing tours, whale watching tours, canoeing, and kayaking.
Can’t-Miss Events in Lunenburg
Lunenburg Street Festival & Art Walk
Lunenburg Street Festival & Art Walk takes place in July. Visitors can expect musical performances, entertainment, art, crafts, culture, and much more!
The Folk Harbour Festival
The Folk Harbour Festival is Nova Scotia’s longest-running festival and one of the oldest in all of Canada! Experience the best of Folk music, dance, workshops, and conferences over the course of four days in early August that offer something for everyone.
Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories
The hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, more commonly known simply as “Tuk”, lies on the shores of the Beaufort Sea and north of the Arctic Circle. This traditional Inuvialuit hamlet of only about 900 people is known for its pingos, which are domes of earth-covered ice.
Because of its remoteness, Tuk is a prime place to experience the contrast between traditional and modern lifestyles.
Best Time to Visit Tuktoyaktuk
There isn’t really a bad time to visit the Northwest Territories!
Summer brings water activities, hot weather, and the insane midnight sun.
Autumn offers vivid colors plus blissful sightings of the Aurora Borealis.
The Northern Lights shows get even better when winter sets in, making the cold months the top tourist season.
In the spring, the sun returns, bathing the snow-capped land, making this the perfect time for snowmobiling, dogsledding, skiing, and more.
Best Things to Do in Tuktoyaktuk
- See the pingos! A pingo is a dome-shaped mound consisting of a layer of soil over a large core of ice, occurring in permafrost areas. Tuk has one of the highest concentrations of pingos in the world, featuring 1,350 pingos!
- Meet the locals and try unique local food, like muktuk (Beluga whale skin and fat), Eskimo donuts, smoked beluga, and muskox.
- Go on an adventure, such as snowmobiling to see the caribou migration or board a floatplane and fly over the Pingos and the Mackenzie River.
- Learn about the history of the area by visiting Our Lady of Lourdes which sailed the Beaufort Sea for decades
- Visit a beach and walk out into the chilly Arctic Ocean!
Can-t Miss Events in Tuktoyaktuk
Tuktoyaktuk hosts the Beluga Jamboree to celebrate springtime on the Arctic coast! This seasonal festival features activities such as snowmobile races, log sawing, harpoon throwing, drum dancing, igloo building, and square dancing.
Wellington, Ontario is home to amazing historic architecture, and its location in Prince Edward County means you’re always within reach of a winery!
Wellington is about two hours away from Toronto and is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. It features a spectacular beach, and the nearby Sandbanks Provincial Park has the world’s largest freshwater sand dunes!
Best Time to Go to Wellington
Summer is the most popular time to visit Wellington. Fall has cooler temperatures and gorgeous fall colors, while winters are cold and snowy. Spring can be wet and rainy here, but the temperatures begin to warm up.
Best Things to Do in Wellington
- Immerse yourself in nature at Sandbanks Provincial Park, where you can see the world’s largest bay-mouth barrier dune formation.
- Visit the Wellington Farmer’s Market and pick up some gourmet produce, jewelry, home-made delicacies, art, antiques, and listen to local jazz musicians.
- Spend a day on Lake Ontario. Have fun doing water activities and rent jet skis, pontoon boats, and kayaks.
- See Wellington’s iconic lighthouse and walk down the boardwalk at Rotary Beach.
- Go on a trip to all of the wineries and try all the tasty local wines.
Can’t-Miss Events in Wellington
Local Food Fest
Enjoy the tastes of Wellington at the Local Food Fest. It’s the perfect place to taste all the local foods! There are free workshops all throughout the day where you can learn about mushroom growing and foraging, sausage-making, fermenting, composting, beekeeping, container gardening, bread-making, backyard chickens, cider making, and more!
Mount Forest Fireworks Festival
The Mount Forest Firework Festival ignites the third weekend in July, each year! With great events, delicious food, rides for the whole family, and – of course – fireworks! The festival has been canceled for this year (2021) but will be back so keep it in mind for future trips.
Minnedosa, Manitoba is about two and a half hours away from Winnipeg. Located on the Little Saskatchewan River, Minnedosa offers a unique look into life in a prairie community, offering plenty of hiking trails in the area (as well as Minnedosa Beach).
Best Time to Go to Minnedosa
July and August are the best months to visit Minnedosa if you’re looking for warm, sunny days and pleasantly cool nights.
Best Things to Do in Minnedosa
- Visit the Bison Park. If you go in March-May you might get to see newborn calves! You can drive or go on a hike to see them in their enclosure.
- Explore the Ishii Japanese Garden, a tranquil, relaxing getaway that captures the essence of a traditional Japanese garden.
- Discover the Museum & Heritage Village, a pioneer village featuring 9 restored heritage buildings that are furnished with period artifacts from days gone by, water wheel, trout pond, and windmill.
- Take a dip into Minnedosa Lake, a man-made lake that offers all kinds of outdoor activities on and around the waters, from swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and even a water park!
- See breathtaking views while golfing at the Minnedosa Country Club, an 18-hole links-style course.
Can’t-Miss Events in Minnedosa
Minnedosa’s Annual Funfest
This annual festival happens in and around downtown Minnedosa. Here you can support local vendors selling baking, crafts, and more. Enjoy the Funfest parade as it drives by, sip a drink in the beer gardens, and enjoy some food at the BBQs!
Twillingate is a former fishing community on the Twillingate Islands in Notre Dame Bay.
Twillingate is about five hours northwest of St. John’s.
This town is rich in tradition, and in spring it’s one of the best places to watch icebergs float by!
Best Time to Visit Twillingate
The best time to visit Newfoundland is early July to mid-August, when the province is full of color and has pleasant temperatures.
If you want to see the icebergs, they are best viewed in late May and early June.
Best Things to Do in Twillingate
- Go on a boat tour and look for whales, dolphins, harp seals, seabirds, and icebergs. Twillingate is one of the stops along Iceberg Alley, a strip of ocean that stretches from Greenland and a popular path for icebergs to float through.
- Visit the Long Point Lighthouse and look out over the views of Notre Dame Bay.
- Walk through twisting lanes and pass colorful houses standing proudly on the shore. Twillingate has tons of scenic walking trails and hiking trails.
- Absorb the town’s long history at the Twillingate Museum.
- Take to the sea and kayak along the tall cliffs in the clear ocean waters. With luck, you might spot eagles, whales, icebergs, or seals.
Can’t-Miss Events in Twillingate
Fish, Fun, and Folk Festival
Head to the annual Fish, Fun, and Folk Festival during the last weekend of July. Join the excitement for everyone with scavenger hunts, parades, bonfires, fireworks, concerts, and much more!
The village of Tadoussac is a three-hour drive northeast of Quebec City and lies at the confluence of the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence rivers.
Tadoussac is a great whale-watching destination, with beluga whales visiting the waters here in warmer months.
Best Time to Visit Tadoussac
If you’re hoping to see whales, visiting in the summer is the best option. The most likely months for the best weather in Tadoussac are June, July, August, and September.
Best Things to Do in Tadoussac
- Look for minke whales, beluga whales, and blue whales from the shores, or go on a whale watching tour to try to view them up close and personal!
- Explore Tadoussac Bay: walk along the boardwalk, take in the view of the sea, the marina, and the sailboats. Walk to the end of the wharf and see the mouth of the vast Saguenay Fjord.
- Learn all about the history of Tadoussac, the first French settlement in North America by visiting Little Indian Chapel (the oldest wooden church in North America) and the Chauvin Trading Post.
- Visit Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay and hike along the top of the park’s cliffs and admire the amazing fjord.
- Visit The Hotel Tadoussac. The hotel stood in for The Hotel New Hampshire in the 1984 movie starring a young Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe.
Can’t-Miss Events in Tadoussac
Festival de la Chanson
Every year, this festival hosts around 40 francophone artists from all over Quebec, other Canadian provinces, and Europe. This internationally renowned festival transforms the village into a huge four-day musical celebration that you won’t want to miss if you’re in the area!
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