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To hear and see Canada characterized in books and on television, crossing the border results in you entering a country where everyone likes french fries with gravy on them and speaks with the word “eh?” at the end of every sentence. 

Canada is nothing like that. When you leave the United States, you enter a country much like ours, albeit with a different form of government, different holidays and chain stores that may not be like the ones you find here in the Lower 48.

air canada centre toronto

Air Canada centre, Toronto

A visit to Canada these days is about as even as it can get in terms of money, thanks to an exchange rate that is around $1.00 to $1.05. You will also find many parts of Canada, including the country’s largest city (Toronto), have amenities just like those you would find in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, among others. Before you go, make sure you have updated papers such as passports or enhanced driver licenses to make crossing into the country easier.

1. See the cities

Major cities in Canada include Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Unlike the United States, most of Canada’s population is concentrated in these seven cities, and these cities feature many of the same amenities found in American cities. Visit nice restaurants, shop at major malls such as Eaton Centre (Toronto) or West Edmonton Mall (Edmonton). Take advantage of attractions found in cities, such as skiing in the mountains northwest of Vancouver, the Calgary Stampede rodeo, or lakeshore cruises offered in Toronto. Tour the sights of the nation’s capital in Ottawa, or enjoy a little French cuisine in Montreal.

2. Drive coast to coast

Where Route 66 is America’s version of a great highway that lets you enjoy the open road, the Trans-Canada Highway is a fun way to see Canada from west to east and take in the plains, the cities and the scenic routes that show off a bit of Americana north of the border.

If you wish to stay in the eastern half of the country and can only travel around a certain geographic area, then take a trip to Toronto, a city that will let you experience Canada’s melting-pot atmosphere within the confines of a major metropolis. Let us take a look at some things to do around the Toronto area and surrounding environments.

3. Enjoy the area attractions

Just like a visit to the Empire State Building in New York or the John Hancock Center in Chicago, the CN Tower in Toronto affords you the chance to go up and enjoy 360-degree views of the city. Day visits allow you a dramatic view of Lake Ontario or a sweeping view of the Toronto skyline. Trips up the tower at night give you the chance to experience the lit-up skyline of Toronto and distant cities and villages. Take a tour of City Hall. Visit art and science museums or perhaps take in an amusement park for the kids like Canada’s Wonderland.

4. Sports rule

You will not see much emphasis on college sports in Toronto, but there are plenty of pro teams to keep you interested. The Argonauts show off Canadian football and all of its quirks. A resurgent Blue Jays franchise may make things interesting for area baseball fans. Pick up Toronto Raptors tickets and watch Canada’s only National Basketball Association franchise. Soccer fans can enjoy Toronto FC, the city’s entry in Major League Soccer.

5. Take a drive

Once you are out of the hustle and bustle of Toronto, Canada Highway 400 will take you to the Ontario north country. Cities such as Barrie and Orillia beckon just an hour’s drive outside of the big city, and Ontario Highway 11 or the Trans-Canada can take you to Sudbury or North Bay. You may be surprised at how pristine and beautiful Canada’s outdoors looks, mere minutes outside of one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. Lake and water enthusiasts will especially love it.