Things To Do In Canada Now That Borders Are Reopened
After 17 long months of bans on non-essential travel, Canada opened its doors to fully vaccinated Americans in August and to residents of other countries in September.
Canada is ridiculously beautiful and incredibly massive with a lifetime of cool stuff to watch. We’re going to visit some of the best places to visit in between bites of a yummy poutine – but before cramming a car or suitcase full of hoods and buffalo prints for a trip to the Great White North, there are a few rules to keep in mind.
How do I get to Canada
For entry by land or air, all persons aged 5 and over must be tested within 72 hours of departure. You must be given a full molecular test – rapid antigen tests don’t count – and you can be retested when you arrive, but only if chosen at random.
You must also provide travel details and proof of full vaccination with one of four approved vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson – via the ArriveCAN online portal within three days of your trip. Children who have not yet been vaccinated can still come without quarantine. Get more information here.
If you are flying back to the US, keep in mind that you will need a negative test within three days of your return trip to re-enter the country (rapid antigen tests are fine, but always check the CDC website).
If you are traveling by car, everything is fine: the CDC does not require people who travel by car to test negative for re-entry. Hassle-free road trip, anyone? (Well, unless you’re Canadian, you can’t cross the land border into the US until at least October 21, 2021. Sigh.)
Knowing current restrictions
After tough lockdowns in 2020 and early 2021, Canada rolled back Covid-19 restrictions in general, but there are still rules to be followed.
In most cases, you will have to wear masks when walking around indoors. Many provinces – including Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia – require proof of vaccination before you can dine, visit museums, or go to bars, and some event spaces, including sports stadiums and festival grounds, still have capacity limits. Depending on your travel destination, you may also need to fill out additional paperwork before you are allowed to enter (e.g., you will need a PEI passport to visit Prince Edward Island).
Suffice it to say, be sure to check out local restrictions wherever you are headed. Then dive headfirst into these Canadian classics, from the great metropolises of the east to the expansive nature of the west.
Toronto is Canada’s premier city for international food and culture. | Sandro Schuh / Unsplash
Eat like royalty in Toronto
Don’t you dare go back to sleep Toronto. Stroll through the eclectic neighborhoods to experience one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Check out the amazing parks and beaches (Pro tip: the islands are where it is); and take part in the free glorious legal cannabis scene. Hungry? Toronto is that too Best place in Canada to try food from all over the world?: Oxtail, Egyptian brunch, moist pancake ice cream … the list goes on.
Feel the joy of life in Montreal
After a string of tough bans, Canada’s most artistic and hip city saw a renaissance this summer and is poised to keep the party going well into the final months of the year. Pay homage to the city’s rum runner days with a cocktail in a pub like Le Mal Nécessaire in Chinatown or (virtually) board the International Space Station The Infinite. In winter you can celebrate the blues with the DJs at Igloofest in cold weather or enjoy the spirit of the Great White North while skiing and snowboarding in the nearby Laurentian Mountains.
Road trip to Abraham Lake in the Canadian Rockies. | Kavram / Shutterstock
Road trip through the Great White North
Canada is only a bit bigger than the states, but with about 10% of the population. That means there are miles of open space to explore and some epic sights to see. In the fall, check out the colorful leaves of the Bruce Peninsula, a sublime coastal park with hidden caves, turquoise waves, and underwater shipwrecks. Combine a trip to Toronto with a road trip through Ontario with huge canyons, waterfalls (not just Niagara!) And a visit to the state capital Ottawa. Oh, and there’s that little thing in the west too, the Canadian Rockies – arguably one of, if not the, most amazing mountain range in the world.
Plan a snowy escape
Canadians learned long ago that the only way to survive the notoriously brutal winters is to hug them. Be like them and plan a winter getaway before the crowds. Discover the world-class ski areas in Banff, Alberta and Whistler, British Columbia for some of the best slopes in the area. Do you feel brave? Head to Churchill, Manitoba (aka the polar bear capital of the world) for a 4×4 bus excursion where the bears walk straight to your vehicle. Just do us a favor and don’t walk around Churchill alone at night. As much as you like those old Coca-Cola ads, we promise you won’t want to run into a polar bear after dark.
The Golden Skybridge in Golden, British Columbia | Photo courtesy of Golden Skybridge
See what Canada was up to while you were away
Canada kept busy while its neighbors to the south were gone. Out to the west in Golden, British Columbia the highest suspension bridge in the country was recently built at 426 feet above Hospital Creek Canyon; Soon there will be a brand new 4,000-foot zipline and tandem bungee swing. Ottawa is also banking on adventure with a new 1,400-foot zipline, the takes you across the water to Quebec with epic views of Parliament Hill.
Cultural attractions have also received a big boost. Winnipeg opened the $ 52.4 million Qaumajuq Inuit Art Museum with 14,000 works by 2,000 artists. And Montreals Biodome—A Science Center in the Velodrome from 1976 Olympia where you can Experience environments from a tropical rainforest to a sub-polar region–just completed a $ 25 million renovation.
Maybe just move straight to Canada
Canadians know very well how many panicked Americans have dreamed of moving here in the past few years – but let’s face it, Canada is a great place to live regardless of who is in the White House. You can keep the big cities and nature of the US, but you get free medical care and nationally legal weed. What is not to love?
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Joel Balsam is a freelance journalist and travel guide writer whose work can be found in National Geographic Travel, Time, The Guardian, Lonely Planet and Travel + Leisure. follow him @joelbalsam.