Whether we’d like to admit it or not, summer will be coming to a close, and fall will take its place before we know it. Lucky for us, fall’s arrival brings autumn’s changing colours across Canada – and all the more reason to plan your fall vacation around its natural beauty. The visual impact of the leaves is dramatic, and definitely worth a visit for leaf peepers – whether you’re staycationing in your own province or visiting from abroad.
Leaf peeping is particularly popular in New England, where tourists immerse themselves in the fall harvest spirit with a 5 to 7 day road trip through the Kancamagus Highway, often referred to as one of the best fall foliage viewing areas in the world. But if you’re on a budget like me, you can save money by visiting the best fall foliage spots within Canada.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching the leaves transform, you’re missing out! Witnessing fall foliage is an ideal fall getaway for travellers looking to capture the beauty of the changing season. Mirror reflections on the water and vibrant colour combinations are key components to taking the perfect fall photograph. In late September, fall often brings cool, moist conditions – a recipe for fog, morning dew and unbelievable sunsets.
In the north, the leaves peak a lot earlier, transforming their summer shades of green into reds, yellows and oranges in September. The further east you travel, the more vibrant the leaves become. Remember, you still need travel insurance if you’re travelling outside of your province. Your provincial health plan doesn’t cover all expenses if you have an accident or illness while away from your home province. To help choose your next fall getaway, here are our top 5 destinations for the best fall foliage in Canada:
Believe it or not, BC’s capital city is a perfect spot to see the changing leaves of Canada’s west coast. Particularly, Butchart Gardens, where the famous Japanese Garden is layered with vibrant maples and golden chrysanthemums. While you’re there, browse Victoria’s numerous tearooms, antique shops and galleries, and be sure to check out Sooke Harbour House, one of Canada’s leading resorts for an unforgettable meal. Victoria is also home to a cool collection of boutiques, authentic coffee bars, and incredible Victorian architecture, such as Hatley Castle and Craigdarroch Castle.
In autumn, the best time to visit the Butchart Gardens is late September to mid-October, when summer crowds dwindle down and the weather becomes mild. If you end up visiting in November, don’t miss their Greenhouse tour to get a behind-the-scenes sneak peek on how the garden is prepped for the spring and summer season.
The Rocky Mountains, Alberta
Not only are the Rocky Mountains beautiful in the winter months – fall is just as breathtaking. On the drive from Jasper to Banff, prepare to soak up one of the best views in the world at Icefields Parkways, with a plethora of fall colours from every vantage point. Of course, the evergreens don’t change colour, but from late September through October, the Canadian Rocky Mountains National Parks are alive with gold aspen and spruce leaves. Try visiting accessible spots like Johnston’s Canyon and Tunnel Mountain near Banff, or hike up to Lake Agnes from Lake Louise. For a birds-eye view, treat yourself to a gondola ride at the top of Sulphur Mountain, where you’ll glide up over the treetops and have a glimpse of local wildlife.
Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
Located in a World Biosphere Reserve, Bruce Peninsula National Park is home to thousand-year-old cedar trees boasting fiery tones, ancient limestone caves, and Georgian Bay’s calm waterways. One of the best ways to explore the park is on foot through the 800 km long Bruce Trail from the end of September to mid-October. Algonquin National Park is another great place in Ontario to witness fall colours, and because of its higher elevation, fall sets in early around mid-September to early October. Before you go, check out the Ontario Park’s Fall Colour Report for colour activity and more viewing spot suggestions. For timely information, you could also follow Ontario and Algonquin Park on Twitter to get details on local sightings.
Other must-see attractions in Ontario this fall include a quiet getaway in Sault Ste Marie, one of the oldest European settlements in Canada, and of course, Niagara Falls, where you can get up close and personal on the Maid-of-the-Mist tour – a truly exhilarating experience!
The Laurentian Mountains, Quebec
The Laurentian Mountains have something for everyone, in every season. In the fall, Quebec is littered with flora that changes brilliantly in the autumn months, from sugar maples to birch trees. In what could very well be known as North America’s greatest natural show, the Laurentian leaves offer a beautiful display of warm tones as the shorter days approach. Quebecers who live in and around Montreal usually take day trips to the Laurentians or the Eastern Townships to view the colours.
While Quebec City is a great destination through all four seasons, areas closer to the city like the Charlevoix region and Montmorency Falls are amazing fall getaway spots, only a short drive from Quebec City.
Set a weekend aside for a long-distance hike through the mountains, or have a meal to remember in the resort town of Mont Tremblant, just in time for their Symphony of Colours. The best time to visit is in late September to late October when fall leaves are at their peak. To plan your fall colour tour in Quebec, check out Quebec Original for a report on the evolution of fall colours for all regions of Quebec.
The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Internationally recognized as one of the world’s most scenic drives on Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail boasts some of the most beautiful trees in North America, especially in the fall. As you travel along the coast with the Atlantic Ocean in site, you’re sure to see some wildlife, and quite a few moose along the way. The scenery between Ingonish and Englishtown is a mix of sandy beaches, rugged headlands and lush valleys in the midst of orange, red and gold. If you have enough time on your trip, stop by the Celtic Music Centre in Judique for seafood dinners, concerts, and dancing.
The best time to plan a fall getaway to Cape Breton is in early October, when the colours reach their peak, the crowds are gone, and the temperature is just right.
Whether you’re planning to enjoy fall foliage within Canada or abroad, travel insurance can help protect you on your next fall trip. Here’s how to choose the right coverage for your upcoming adventures.
Where are you planning to travel this fall? Let me know in the comments below.
Safe travels, and happy leaf peeping!