May Long weekend marks the official start of Canadian summer. Across Canada, we collectively look forward to the long days and warm nights that come with the season.
Summer celebrations always begin with the long weekend celebrating Victoria Day on Monday, May 22. There are so many ways to celebrate and so many things to do across the country.
If you haven’t already head, this year is a great year to visit the National Parks because, for 2017 only, National Park passes are free!
Below is our list of our favourite spots in Canada to spend May Long weekend, West to East.
Whistler - GoFest
From May 19-22, The Great Outdoors Festival in Whistler, BC kicks off the summer season. Get out and discover the great outdoors with sailing, cycling, paddling, running, as well as arts and culture features like movies and music.
The Whistler-Blackcomb resort is already open for mountain biking, so pick up a lift ticket and try some amazing alpine trails and epic trail descents to the valley (cost $33-61 for the day). Trails are available for riders of all ages and abilities. To learn more, check out their schedule available on the GoFest website.
Hike and Bike the Front Range Mountains
The front range mountains and foothills near Canmore are easily accessible from Calgary and are the first to be clear from snow!
Trails in Canmore such as Ha Ling summit trail, Grassi Lakes, and Lady MacDonald trail are typically great for hiking at this time. For mountain biking, you’ll find dry conditions on the bike trails in Canmore and West Bragg Creek. If you’re not into hiking or biking, the views are perfect for a picnic with your friends and family.
Drive the Icefields Parkway
Known as one of the best drives in the world, the Icefields Parkway is a famous thoroughfare that connects Lake Louise to the town of Jasper, and runs through two National Parks.
The area offers great hiking and camping, and the mountains are still covered in snow which makes for the best scenery you’ll ever see and the photographs you’ll ever take.
Bonus: Drive all the way to the Columbia Icefields centre and check out the Athabasca Glacier, not far from the road.
Visit Banff Hot Springs
At only $7.30 per entry, a soak in the Banff Hot Springs is one of the best deals in town! The hot springs are generally from 10am to 10pm.
Pro tip: The springs are usually busy in the afternoons and early evenings, so we recommend going in the morning or late evening. Also, if you’re heading up to Jasper, check out the Miette Hot Springs.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort runs their gondola for sightseeing during summer. The trip offers stunning mountain scenery without the hard work of hiking, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a grizzly bear. We recommend that you’re prepared for snow, which lingers here into June or July at higher elevations. If you fancy a little luxury after your visit to the resort, stop in for high tea at Chateau Lake Louise.
Visit the Badlands
A must-visit place in the Canadian Prairies is the Badlands near Drumheller. It’s usually very warm here in spring and the landforms, formed by hundreds of years of erosion, are truly incredible. They are also rich in fossils and dinosaur history, which is great for both big kids and little. A family trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum to look at Dinosaur fossils and exhibits will never fail to leave a lasting impression.
Elk Island National Park
Elk Island is an important refuge for bison, elk and over 250 species of birds. You can also come here and go for a day hike, picnic, or camp overnight. There are lots of bison in the park, so you odds of getting stuck in a bison traffic jam are high! Best of all, the park is only a 35-minute drive from Edmonton.
Athabasca Sand Dunes
Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park in Northern Saskatchewan is the world’s most northerly sand dune field. The area is a beautiful wilderness park with six designated camping areas. Some sand dunes stand as high as 30m! The park is open year-round, but at this time of year, expect some snow, and bring warm clothes for camping, as the nights will still be chilly.
Riding Mountain National Park
In the spring, visit Riding Mountain National Park () which is a 3.5hr drive from Winnipeg. The park has plenty of cozy cottages, bed and breakfasts, camping and 400 km of trails to explore, with plenty of wildlife including waterfowl, moose, bison and bears. The park is extremely diverse and includes prairie grasslands, boreal forest and sandy beaches. Don’t forget your park pass, which is available for free this year to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.
Mary Louise Lake
Ontario is the most canoe-crazy province in Canada! With all the incredible canoe routes, it’s easy to see why. For the May long weekend, check out Mary Louise Lake in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, near Thunder Bay. This moderate 10 km paddle will allow you to get paddling after a long winter season, and to get your ‘canoe legs’ back! Paddle for the day or you can make a weekend out of it with a stay at the Mary Louise Lake Campground.
Encounters in New France
This year is a special one for Montreal as it marks the city’s 375th anniversary. Celebrations have already begun, and on May long weekend be sure to visit the “Encounters in New France” springtime market and outdoor event at the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum. This free outdoor event includes strolling musicians, crafts, performances and a market, all weekend long.
What is your favourite place to spend May Long Weekend? There is so much more out there to discover, so get out there to explore. Tell us, where’s your favourite place to spend May long weekend?
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