From whale watching to discovering Canada's newest UNESCO World Heritage site, there is lots to see and do across Canada as I discovered earlier this month at the Canadian Tourism Commission's GoMedia conference in Charlottetown. Here is some of the latest news on events and attractions across the nation to help you plan your next Canadian vacation. The best part? No passport is required for any of these trips!
-- The Okanagan-Thompson region is famous for its wineries and culinary scene. Orofino Winery has a 1.6 km dinner -- you can't get more local than that! There are also lavender farms, bee farms, cheese-makers and more. Many wineries also have lodging as well as cooking classes, fine dining and yoga in the vineyard.
-- Sun Peaks resort will be easier to get to this ski season with additional WestJet flights to Kamloops from Vancouver or Calgary. The ski-in, ski-out family friendly resort has programs for all abilities, including a race camp for children. Rates this winter start at $119 per night and include a lift pass.
-- Banff National Park's annual Snow Days festival will take place from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9. Canada's Sochi Olympic snow team will help kick off the festival before they fly to Russia for the 2014 Games. There will also be events at ski resorts, a parade and interactive installations such as a 12-metre-high ice wall that visitors can climb! -- Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts run its own ranch and bakery to supply the best bison and elk meat, and baked goods. A Chef's Table package at Buffalo Mountain Lodge features wine pairings and local ingredients for $120 per person including wine, tax, tip and a gift. The resort is five minutes from downtown Banff.
-- Top Chef Canada's Dale Mackay is opening Ayden Kitchen and Bar in Saskatoon. Following the eat local food trend, the restaurant will feature the best local produce and even have its own butcher shop. Look for it in late October.
-- Regina is gearing up for the Grey Cup in November. More than 45,000 people are expected to attend the game, and accommodations are going fast. The tourism representative I spoke with suggested people look to cities around Regina for accommodation options.
In fall 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will open in Winnipeg -- the first national museum outside of Ottawa.
-- The new Ripley's Aquarium -- the first in Canada -- will be unveiled in Toronto at the end of September. The 12,500 sq-metre, 5.7-million litre aquarium will house marine life from around the world. The city's Nuit Blanche art event is set for Oct. 5.
-- Ottawa's Diefenbunker -- a four-storey bunker built during the Cold War to protect politicians and military in the event of a nuclear attack -- will hold a haunted zombie evening for Halloween. The Diefenbunker is also the location of Canada's Cold War Museum.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Labrador is celebrating Red Bay, which was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the new Trans Lateral Highway. A former Spanish whaling station, Red Bay is also one of North America's top underwater archeological sites with many sunken Basque whaling ships in the harbour. The Trans Lateral Highway connects the west and east portions of Labrador -- a five to seven day drive when stopping to enjoy the quaint villages of Labrador.
-- The Maritime region is home to spectacular whale watching -- 13 species can be seen along the north shore of the St. Lawrence from May to October.
-- From late February to early March, tourists can see, touch and hold baby seals in the Magdalen area.
-- February 2014 is the 60th anniversary of the Quebec Winter Carnival. A $15 passport gives guests access to all events, except dog and horse sleigh rides.
-- Fredericton will hold its first poutine festival on Nov. 10. Local chefs will be creating their own versions of poutine using local ingredients.
-- In nearby Prince William, the Kings Landing Historical Settlement will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year with special events and hands-on fun for families. Kings Landing was created when a dam had to be built on the St. John's river, and many historic houses were moved to the living history museum.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
-- Culinary travel is a big trend in Canada's smallest province and seafood leads the way. Tourists can take boat tours to catch lobsters or oysters, and even "Feed the Giants" on a tour that sails to waters inhabited by 500-kilo-plus tuna.
Visitors to Dawson City can sample the unique Sour Toe Cocktail -- recently in the news because one tourist decided to actually swallow the pickled toe -- visit a working gold mine or pan for gold.
-- Visitors to Yellowknife can borrow a bike (free) to explore the city on two wheels. New public markets selling local food and arts have also opened.
-- The northern portion of Wood Buffalo National Park is great for spotting wildlife -- particularly bison -- hiking or visiting the salt plains.