Cooler temperatures and bursts of yellow, orange and red dotting landscapes around the country signal that one of the most spectacular seasons in Canada has arrived. Fall, no matter your age, still somehow signals the chance to start anew. The season almost urges you to slow down, savour quiet moments, dig into harvest foods and discover new experiences. Here are a few of our favourite ways to safely embrace autumn this year.
Plan a stroll or a hike
Throw on a sweater and explore Canada’s wide-open spaces. Take a hike through one of 43 National Parks or choose from thousands of other provincial parks. Before you go, visit Parks Canada’s website to familiarize yourself with any reduced opening hours, visitor centre programming and new protocols. Once you have your plan in place, enjoy the great outdoors with your immediate social circle, research the current conditions and weather forecast, pack the essentials with you and leave no trace on your visit. From accessible boardwalks to multi-day adventures, these five parks are worth considering this fall. Want to learn more about the history of the land you’re exploring? Book a Talking Trees Tour in Stanley Park, Vancouver, with a local First Nations guide and cultural ambassador.
Looking for a city-based adventure? Grab a map (or download a GPS-based app) and marvel at the sights and sounds of our vibrant cities. A self-guided walking tour allows you to learn about the history, culture and landmarks across Canada while maintaining safe social distancing. Work up an appetite in your chosen city then grab a treat to go as you continue your adventure or stop at a local eatery to enjoy the atmosphere. Restaurants across the country have implemented local health and safety regulations to ensure you and your travelling group can enjoy dining again.
Plan to watch the seasons change
Venture beyond your backyard and road trip in and around Canada’s 347 million hectares of forest and 240,000 kilometres of coastline. Diverse landscapes across the country mean that as you drive, you’ll be treated to the seasonal transition of maples, larches, oaks and more depending on what province or territory you visit. Fall can be fleeting, so get out and explore as the season continuously transforms.
From the safety and comfort of your car (or the enhanced cleanliness of a rental car), bypass the highway in favour of the scenic route on a self-guided drive adventure. Cruise along the 298-kilometre Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, rated one of the most scenic drives in the world, or through the vineyards and orchards in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.
Enjoy breathtaking vistas at viewpoints and respect fellow travellers and their space when taking that perfect photo. Plan your route, check road conditions, weather forecast and winter tire requirements. Travel with intention, spending more time at each spot on your trip to really immerse yourself in the local culture. Also consider travelling mid-week to avoid crowds and be sure to keep essentials on hand like hand sanitizer, a reusable face mask and extra snacks and water to minimize your impact on smaller communities.
Plan to see those places on your list
Is there a museum or art gallery you always wanted to visit but could never find the time? Take advantage of the reduced capacity and feel like a VIP at our country's best exhibitions this fall. Many of the most popular attractions in our cities have reopened with timed-entry ticketing and enhanced cleaning protocols in place. Consider a visit mid-week to enjoy our national landmarks and iconic attractions during their quieter hours.
Learn about the diverse stories of those who have chosen to call Canada home at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, appreciate one of the finest displays of First Nations art in the world at The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, or see one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. Again, remember to bring a mask with you (or pick up a locally-designed one), carry hand sanitizer and observe any other guidelines to ensure everyone can enjoy themselves.
Plan to visit the people you’ve missed
Travelling to see your loved ones can still be done safely if you give yourself a little extra time to prepare—whether that’s an hour down the road or one province away. Keep your travel group small and if you’re planning to visit family or friends you haven’t seen in a while, make sure you have a back-up plan in place in case someone becomes ill. Keep safety protocols top of mind during your visit, including frequent handwashing, minimizing shared surfaces and enjoying outdoors spaces as much as possible.
From cosy cabin stays, to winery getaways, most hotels and other accommodations are reopened and ready to welcome you back. Many now offer contactless check-in and check-out, enhanced cleaning procedures, and social distancing measures set up in common spaces.
As it becomes cooler outdoors, dining will start to move indoors again and many of your local restaurants are back serving your favourite dishes. Call ahead and make a reservation and find out what new protocols (such as maximum party size) are in place for your visit.
Plan a perfect trip, the perfect day or mid-week getaway
When you’re ready to travel further afield, hop aboard a flight and head to the skies. Airlines continue to welcome passengers with increased health and safety protocols. Familiarize yourself with what you can expect while booking, at check-in and onboard. Many airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, are offering flexible bookings, insurance, enhanced health and safety screening pre-boarding and compulsory face masks for passengers over the age of two. These new processes to ensure your comfort and safety are clearly detailed on airline websites, so be sure to read them before booking and travelling.
And of course, in choosing your perfect destination, be sure to research where you can go and what you can do based on current travel restrictions and traveller self-isolation requirements.
In many ways, there’s never been a better time for Canadians to check out our own backyards.