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Guide to Canada's Top Cities

View of a downtown marina.

Photo: Joao Canziani

5 Quintessential Canadian Experiences

Wilderness excursions, a railroad trip, and a wine region on the rise.

Train Travel

The four-day, four-night transcontinental journey on Via Rail’s Canadian is a truly epic ride. Less well known, however, is the Jasper–Prince Rupert route (888/842-7245; viarail.ca; from $193 per person), a two-day trip that speeds you from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, with an overnight stop (hotel not included) in Prince George. What you’ll see out your window: pioneer settlements and fishing villages, not to mention bald eagles, totem poles, and almost more waterfalls than you can count.

Cruising

Inuit-owned and operated Cruise North Expeditions specializes in trips to the Canadian Arctic on a simple, comfortable 116-passenger ship staffed with naturalists and historians. The Arctic Safari itinerary (July 13–23; 866/263-3220; cruisenorthexpeditions.com; from $4,478 per person) delivers on its name, with wildlife viewings of ringed seals, walrus, Arctic penguins, and polar bears. Visits to native communities and meetings with elders afford a rare glimpse of traditional Inuit life.

Vineyard Tour

In southern Ontario, picturesque Prince Edward County has recently emerged as a gastronomic capital, with a flourishing wine industry and boutique farms tucked amid pastoral villages and freshwater beaches. Stay on a vineyard at the 21-room Huff Estates Inn & Winery (doubles from $174, including breakfast, tour, and wine tasting), in Bloomfield, then follow the self-guided wine tour—details available for download at tastetrail.ca.

History Lesson

A Unesco World Heritage site in the prairies of southwestern Alberta, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump provides a fascinating look at the culture and traditions of the Blackfoot people. Herds of bison were stampeded over the cliffs for thousands of years, a form of communal hunting and a primary source of food and clothing. An interpretive center built into the sandstone foothills presents exhibitions on ecology and archaeology.

Adventure Lodge

Snorkel or kayak amid belugas or get up close and personal with a polar bear at Lazy Bear Lodge (doubles from $134, including transfers and breakfast). Located in Churchill, Manitoba, a remote Hudson Bay community reachable only by plane or train, the lodge consists of 33 rooms in rustic yet cozy log cabins and a restaurant serving local game. Daily excursions give guests unparalleled access to the animals in their own habitat.

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