Western Canada, more commonly referred to as the West, is home to the Canadian provinces Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. These rugged, culturally diverse provinces are full of adventures, outdoor amazements, fantastic ski opportunities, and many other attractions.
10 things to do in Western Canada
If you're thinking of visiting Western Canada this year, here are some of the sights and cities you won't want to miss.
1. Vacation in Canmore, Alberta
Located in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, Canmore is known for its stunning nature features, including waterfalls and lakes, and plenty of places to ski, fish, and even rock climb. If outdoor adventures aren't your style, check out the shops, restaurants, and art galleries in downtown Canmore— you'll be surrounded by mountain views while supporting locally-owned businesses or visiting a welcoming pub. If you want to visit Western Canada's national parks, Canmore is a great base camp.
2. Explore Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada
While you're in Alberta, don't miss Banff National Park! Though the park is known for its skiing, there's plenty more that brings three million visitors to the park every year— to take in the gorgeous scenery, walk, cycle or drive past lakes and glaciers, bighorn sheep and bears.
3. Check out Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site in Alberta
Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site provides historical insight with archaeological remains of forts, period costumes, and exhibits informing about the fur trade that helped shape Canada. Whether you're hiking, watching bison herd, or sitting around the fire with an Indigenous drummer, this vacation is one you won't forget.
TIP: Stay in a home exchange close to the historic site, like Annette's home that boasts a wood-fired pizza oven and steam sauna!
4. Drive along British Columbia's Sea-to-Sky Highway
The scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway Route links Whistler with Vancouver, and the drive can be done in a leisurely weekend, with 163 kilometers of driving (101 miles). The spectacular views will ensure your drive is never boring, and there are plenty of places along the way to stop for anything from scuba diving to a history lesson on the area's local Indigenous people.
TIP: Spring and fall can be the best times to visit the Sea-to-Sky Highway, as it can get extremely busy during the summer months.
5. Be a tourist in Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, a vibrant seaport in British Columbia, is one of Canada's most ethnically diverse cities. The thriving city is known for its art, theater, and music scenes, and you won't run out of things to do. Museums, an aquarium, beautiful hikes, local markets, and live music add to the bustling culture of British Columbia. In this city, you're surrounded by mountains wherever you go, whether you choose to enjoy a hockey game or an afternoon of kayaking.
6. Enjoy a seaside lunch at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia
No trip to British Columbia is complete without seal-spotting in Fisherman's Wharf, located in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Grab fresh seafood off a boat, read a book in the park while your kids play, and purchase a souvenir from one of the wharf's unique shops. On a sunny day, a leisurely stroll, kayaking adventure, seafood lunch, and watching seals play is one of the best ways to spend your time in Victoria.
7. See the northern lights in Churchill, Manitoba
Manitoba, the Western Canada province furthest east, is an outdoor adventurer's dream destination. More than 80 provincial parks provide access to excellent hiking, snowmobiling, biking, canoeing, and fishing. The northern lights can be seen from Churchill, Manitoba up to 300 nights a year. This winter adventure is something you absolutely need to cross off your bucket list, and you'll have front seats to the show of a lifetime in Manitoba.
TIP: In Churchill, Manitoba, the peak viewing time for witnessing the Aurora Borealis is between February and March.
8. Enjoy a family-friendly outdoor vacation in Manitoba
Manitoba is packed with opportunities for families with kids, providing fun and affordable activities that everyone can enjoy. Spend an afternoon at a museum, spot beluga whales and polar bears, try a dog sledding adventure, or ice fish on one of the province's many lakes and rivers. A road trip to Manitoba is sure to be one that will make wonderful memories for the entire family.
9. Explore Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, Canada
For fans of Canada's national parks, Prince Albert National Park is sure to impress. It's beautiful in any season: birdwatch and walk the trails in the spring, spend summer in the beach town Waskesiu, stargaze and horseback ride in the fall, or cross-country ski during the winter. There's no bad time of year to visit this stunning park.
10. Tour Canada's only Medieval-style castle in Saskatchewan
Take a guided tour of Stone Hall Castle in Regina, Saskatchewan, and be transported back centuries to a very different time and place. This refurbished castle brings a medieval European experience to Saskatchewan, with original 17th century oil paintings and stunning architecture.
TIP: While you're in Regina, stop by Bushwakker Brewpub, and try some seasonal housemade brews crafted with pride.
Where to stay in Western Canada
Looking for accommodations for your vacation in Western Canada? HomeExchange has more than 1,000 homes in Western Canada, offering affordable stays with all the comforts of home. Spend a week at a luxury condo in the Canadian Rockies, or a long weekend in an oceanfront cottage in British Columbia.
Nervous about planning a trip during a global pandemic? We've made our guarantees even better so you don't have to worry. You can make stress-free vacation plans safe in the knowledge that if you have to cancel due to COVID-19 restrictions, we've got you covered.
Here are 10 beautiful home exchanges in Western Canada.