Editor’s Note: This the second of a two-part blog looking at how Canadian cities like Edmonton, Winnipeg compare to places like New Orleans and Chicago as alternative urban travel destinations given the turmoil in the USA. The first blog compared Calgary to Austin, Portland, Nashville, Denver and Seattle, as hipster cities.
Recently, MetroNews published an article looking at what Canadian cities tourists might consider visiting this year rather than American cities, given the current turmoil in the USA.
While MetroNews picked off the obvious ones I thought it would be fun to share suggestions that might not be so obvious.
For those thinking New Orleans would be a fun place to visit, you might want to consider Edmonton - Canada’s Festival City. New Orleans is known for its laid-back culture and year-round festival atmosphere, much like Edmonton where in the summer, they host back-to-back-to-back festivals… Jazz Festival, Folk Festival, Blues Festival, Street Performers Festival, The Works Art & Design Festival and the grand daddy of all - the Fringe Festival, one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Edmonton also boasts some spectacular contemporary architecture – Rogers Place arena, Art Gallery of Alberta and their City Hall. Their river valley is spectacular too.
And then there is something called the West Edmonton Mall.
Link: Edmonton Tourism
While MetroNews chose Toronto as an alternative to Chicago, what about Winnipeg? In fact, in the early 20th century, Chicago was worried Winnipeg would usurp it as the major transportation hub of the midwest. Winnipeg’s Exchange District has one of the best collection of early 20th century architecture in North America.
Visitors will love the Forks with its Human Rights Museum, Children’s Museum, Children’s Theatre, creative playground and one of the best minor league ballparks in North America. There is also the must-see Art Gallery of Winnipeg (largest collection of Inuit Art in Canada) and Assiniboine Park’s Polar Bear exhibit.
And while Winnipeg doesn’t have a lake with a beautiful beach downtown, Grand Beach is just an hour away and it is a “sight for sore eyes“ (in a good way) in the summer.
Link: Visit Winnipeg
After a recent trip to Montreal, I think it would make a great alternative not only to Chicago, but also to Boston, Philadelphia or San Francisco. Montreal has its mojo back and this year is celebrating its 350 anniversary, making it one of the oldest cities in North America. Old Montreal is like walking back a hundred years in time, as are its two major public markets - Atwater and Jean Talon.
Like Edmonton, it too is a huge festival city. The Montreal Jazz Festival should be on everyone’s bucket list. The Black & Blue Festival is one of the world’s largest gay festivals (Montreal’s Gay Village along St. Catherine St. East has a great evening vibe). They even have Mural Festival to celebrate their extensive collection of street art.
Don’t rule out Montreal for a winter visit either. That’s when they light up the night with Montreal En Lumiere and Nuit Blanche festivals. Indeed the lights are much brighter in downtown Montreal.
Montreal is a joy to wander any time of the year and see what you discover; fun surprises lurk around every corner. Real urban explorers will want to test their skills at navigating the 30+ km underground tunnel system that connects hundreds of downtown buildings.
I can’t say enough good things about Montreal as a tourist destination.
Link: Tourism Montreal
Victoria could be a very good alternative to anyone thinking about heading to San Diego. Its charming harbor, beaches, vibrant food and café culture, quaint antique district and world-class museum have won many people over.
Shoppers too will love wandering the shops in downtown, Chinatown and Oak Bay. Two downtown hidden gems are the downtown Value Village (we always find great art there) and Capital Iron next door. The Super Chance consignment shop in James Bay Village is a must visit, for treasure hunters preferring more of a curated collection of “finds.” We have almost always found something wonderful there.
The Ross Bay Cemetery is a fascinating experience where you can visit the gravesite of artist Emily Carr (Canada’s Georgia O’Keefe). Across the street is the Dallas Road beach, a great place for beachcombers and to watch kite surfers.
If a more traditional sand beach is more to your liking, head to Willow Beach with its view of Mount Baker. Just a few blocks away on Estevan Avenue is quaint Willows Village where you will find the funky Crumsby’s Café (family fun) and the tiny Willow Galley (fish & chips shack).
Link: Tourism Victoria
So as you begin to finalize your travel plans for 2017 - Canada’s 150th birthday year – there is not better time to “Think Canada.”
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