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When in Doubt, Ask a Canuck:

Tips on Exploring Canada Like the Locals Do

By: Christine Simmons

“What’s your recommendation?” It’s the most common question asked of locals by travelers looking for a new adventure in their town. Often times, exploring new places can be daunting for a novice traveler who wants to deviate from group tour excursions and venture out on their own. So what’s the best way to see Canada? Do as the locals do and get around with maps and tools native to Canada.

Mapmobility, one of Canada’s largest map publishers known for its detailed MapArt line makes Canadian maps available digitally through the Avenza PDF Maps app -- a free app for the iOS platform that combines the detail of Mapmobility’s paper maps with the interactivity of a GPS tool. Canadian visitors no longer need cell service to use the app and therefore aren’t charged high data rates when roaming Canada. As someone that knows his homeland well, Carl Nanders, business director of Mapmobility shared some of his recommendations of the best places to explore your way:

  1. Niagara Falls: Niagara Falls is an awe-inspiring vacation destination like no other. From the top of Skylon Tower to the base of Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls boosts beauty beyond your imagination. You can go right up to the base aboard the Maid of the Mist, walk behind them at Journey behind the Falls, or fly over them in a helicopter. Night time is equally impressive at the Falls, as it is lit up nightly. During the summer, fireworks add a little extra delight. And it's not just the waterfall itself that ignites this area. Niagara Falls is bursting with activities making it one of top 10 places to visit in Canada. From vineyards, golf, casinos, dining and trails to fun on the Clifton Hill main street, Niagara Falls is an experience you'll never forget.
  2. Canadian Rocky Mountains: The Canadian Rockies are home to Alberta's most breath taking mountains, lakes, waterways, and some of the best hiking and skiing in the world. Most famous areas are Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. But the sights don't end there. There are numerous provincial parks and recreation areas in the Canadian Rocky Mountains that provide year round adventures and activities. In these picturesque villages, you can enjoy simple amenities such as camping to quality five star resorts.
  3. Calgary Stampede: The Calgary Stampede is an annual Canadian rodeo which is held every July in Calgary, Alberta. The event is ten days long and is dubbed The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. The Stampede attracts more than one million visitors every year and features the world's largest rodeo. It also has a parade, midway, shows and concerts, agricultural competitions and exhibitions. Calgary becomes festival-like during the Stampede, with locals and tourists alike donning western gear. Events like popular pancake breakfasts and barbecues are held all over the city.
  4. Parliament Hill: Parliament Hill is located on the banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, Ontario. Originally used for a military base in the 18th and 19th centuries, the gothic looking buildings now serve as the home of the Parliament of Canada. It contains many architectural elements of national symbolic importance. Three million people visit Parliament Hill every year.
  5. Old Quebec City: Old Quebec is a neighbourhood of Quebec City, the capital of the province of Quebec. Old Quebec refers to the part of the city "within the walls". Take in the stunning Notre-Dame-de-Quebec Basilica-Cathedral and after stopping off at one of the city’s many museums, take a walking tour or a horse-drawn carriage ride to get a true feel for this historic district. Finally, feel the spirit of Canada as you dine and shop along rue Saint-Jean and rue Saint-Louis, where European charm will add to a unique experience.
  6. Algonquin Provincial Park: Algonquin Provincial Park is located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in Central Ontario. It is the oldest provincial park in Canada. The park is currently more than 7,000 square kilometres and features more than 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers located within the park. Some great lakes and rivers include Canoe Lake, Petawawa, and Nipissing. These were formed by glaciers during the last ice age. Because of its size and close proximity to the major cities such as Toronto and Ottawa, Algonquin Park is one of the most popular provincial parks in the country.
  7. Toronto, Ontario: The largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario, Toronto is a major scene for theatre and other performing arts with more than fifty ballet and dance companies, six opera companies, two symphony orchestras and a host of theatres. Known as one of the world’s top international tourist destinations, Toronto is home to one of the city’s prominent landmarks, the CN Tower which one stood as the tallest free-standing land structure in the world at 553 metres and held the world record for more than 30 years. Toronto features the Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto Zoo and the Ontario Science Centre which has hands-on activities and science displays appealing to children.
  8. L’Anse aux Meadows: Discovered in 1960, L’Anse aux Meadows is the location of an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland in the Canadian province. It is the only known Norse or Viking village in North America. Go back in time and explore one of Canada’s national historic sites and see how the first known European settlement would have looked. Learn about the people and how they might have lived centuries before Columbus ever touched North America.
  9. Dawson City: Tucked away in the middle of the Yukon wilderness, Dawson City is a well preserved living and breathing cultural and historic remnant of a time gone by. Once referred to as the “Paris of the North,” its name is synonymous with the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush. Today, Dawson’s ‘gold’ lies within its vibrant community of art, music, literary and natural history enthusiasts. Appealing to the ‘necessities’ of a discerning traveler, the city has modern amenities but offers rustic accommodations for a more authentic experience.
  10. Prince Edward Island: Many literature enthusiasts may know Prince Edward Island as the place where author Lucy Maud created and based her characters from “Anne of Green Gables.” The Canadian province consists of several islands and depending on the time of travel and which island is visited, Prince Edward Island provides various activities and festivals to attend. Shuck oysters, dig for clams, create chocolate delights or revel in the flavors that world-renowned chefs bring to the table in the annual Fall Flavours Festival.

For more Canadian travel hot spots, download the free PDF Maps app for the iOS platform and search Mapmobility’s catalog of extensive Canadian maps! Or, go to to learn more about how these maps work with your smartphone.