Planning your next corporate retreat? Plotting a desperately needed family getaway? Merely looking to see a part of the world you’ve yet to visit?
These six Canadian lakeside destinations need to be on your radar. All are easily accessible from major airports, and all boast world-class recreation and landscapes that’ll leave you forever changed.
1. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (Lake Ontario)
Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of Ontario’s most popular lakeside destinations. In a province that boasts more than 100,000 distinct lakes, that’s really saying something.
Part of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s charm is its convenience: Perched at the mouth of the Niagara River, it’s just up the road from Niagara Falls; the populous Toronto metropolitan area is just a short drive around Lake Ontario’s distinctive “horseshoe.” If you’re in the area to catch a glimpse of North America’s most famous cataract, do yourself a favor and stop here for a relaxing afternoon.
2. Hecla Island, Manitoba (Lake Winnipeg)
A bit more remote, but no less memorable, is pristine Hecla Island, an oblong expanse of forest, marsh, and beach about 90 minutes north of Winnipeg.
Once home to a semi-autonomous Icelandic-Canadian fishing community, Hecla Island today is an accessible but uncrowded tourist destination for all four seasons. Visit in the winter and you’ll practically have the lake to yourself. According to longtime Lake Winnipeg resident and Gull Harbour Marina proprietor David Janeson, Hecla may be the best ice-fishing spot on the southern half of Lake Winnipeg.
3. Point Pelee, Ontario (Lake Erie)
Continental Canada’s southernmost point also happens to be one of the country’s most popular, distinctive lake beaches. Enjoy panoramic views of Lake Erie, and glimpses of the lake’s surprisingly diverse fauna, from this impossibly long spit.
4. Banff, Alberta (Lake Louise)
Canada’s Aspen? Not quite. Banff’s inimitable charm sets it apart from its commercialized Coloradan counterpart, as does the liquid turquoise gem that is Lake Louise. Spend a morning hiking the high country all around, retreat to town for a relaxing meal, and spend the rest of the day by the water, basking in the views. Sounds like heaven, no?
5. Kelowna, British Columbia (Okanagan Lake)
The cute little town of Kelowna owes much of its appeal to its proximity to Okanagan Lake, a landlocked fjord that reaches depths over 220 meters and boasts absolutely stunning mountain views on all sides. At minimum, your Banff-to-Vancouver road trip must include a detour down this way.
6. Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Region, Quebec (Lac-Saint-Jean)
When you can’t pick a single lakeside town, pick an entire region. Lac-Saint-Jean is arguably Quebec’s most photogenic, visitor-friendly lake, so there’s plenty of variety here. Sure, it’s over 200 kilometers north of Quebec City, but the drive is worth every minute.
Life Is Better on the Lake
They say life is better on the lake, and who’s to argue? Winter or summer, nothing compares to the feeling of freedom that accompanies a boat or bearcat ride out into that wide-open expanse.
Life is especially great at these six Canadian lake destinations, all of which blend unique character and endless opportunities for leisure with the timeless appeal of proximity to fresh water. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to make one your home-away-from home this year.
To read more on topics like this, check out the travel tips category.