Down by the water in Canada’s lakeside towns
Enormous expanses of glistening blue â€“ many of them larger than several European countries â€“ are dotted across Canadaâ€™s seemingly endless landscapes. Travellers visiting Canada, and locals alike, can not only take advantage of the beautiful country and urban scenery but also enjoy an environment that welcomes all with open arms. Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, brings you the Canadian towns that offer a classic lakeside escape and a warm welcoming atmosphere.
Vernon, British Columbia
Located right at the nexus of three lakes and just north of Lake Country, Vernon is primed for those in search of stupendous natural scenery. To the west is the expansive Okanagan Lake, while to the north is ethereal Swan Lake. However, itâ€™s the glacial Kalamalka Lake thatâ€™s the most notable, and is named after the Okanagan Indian chief who once lived on its northern shores. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this lake is its sheer, almost luminescent turquoise water, courtesy of dissolved limestone that crystallizes in the sunshine and reflects light. Dive in or skim across the water on a speedboat, weaving a frothy path of blue and green in your wake. Kalamalka has a range of beaches, many of which are shrouded in dense forest and adorned with wooden docks, primed for picnics and quiet afternoons. Country Cottage B&B is a short way from the shoreline, keeping you close for early morning lake dips.
Constellated by a series of lakes, Huntsville is the main town of the Muskoka region and often considered to be the gateway to Algonquin Provincial Park. Lake Vernon and Fairy Lake can be found west and east of the town respectively, but journey a little further beyond the urban perimeter and youâ€™ll see just why this region is fondly known as the â€˜Land of Lakesâ€™. Skirt past Skeleton Lake, where the rocky bluffs tower over the shoreline like a crooked giant. Then on towards Lake Joseph, where gently bobbing boats laze languidly on the water. Next, visit Lake Rosseau and wander through the woods and along the shore past Regency-style cottages, which once served as the holiday destination for US President Woodrow Wilson. Finally, meander back to your own lakeside getaway, the Sherwood Inn.
Lake Louise, Alberta
Arguably one of Canadaâ€™s most renowned lakes, Lake Louise and its namesake town have year-round appeal. In the winter time, the lake freezes over, with snow blanketing the ice and surrounding pine-cloaked valley in a thick, powdery coat. Fast forward a few months and the lake looks equally opaque â€“ this time a result of the waterâ€™s almost supernatural blue sheen. Itâ€™s a sight that has long held a special place in the imaginations of artists and visitors, and one that is truly only fully appreciated when seen in person. Depending on the season during which you choose to visit, the activities here are worlds apart â€“ ice skate on the lake in the winter or paddle out on one of the pocket-sized canoes in the summer (but even then, itâ€™s too cold for a dip). Stay at the aptly named Paradise Lodge and Bungalows.
Kelowna, British Columbia
The beating heart of Canadaâ€™s wine region, Kelowna is one of Canadaâ€™s sunniest locations. Straddling the finger-like Lake Okanagan, the bountiful supply of sunshine helps to bring out the best of the town and its gorgeous body of water. Row upon row of terraced peach and apple orchards crest the shoreline and, in harvest season, create a sweep of gold that contrasts with the lakeâ€™s cool cerulean hue. Journey along the waterfront to one of the many quiet pebble beaches for a picnic or solitary day out â€“ cross your fingers for a sighting of the elusive local sea monster Ogopogo. Summerhill Estate House, located just outside of Kelowna, boasts lake views and a swimming pool, hands-on cooking classes upon request, a chef-prepared organic breakfast every morning, a terrace and garden, and more, perfect for the 36% of Canadian travellers who feel that the facilities are the most important factor when selecting a place to stay.
Jasperâ€™s reputation for natural beauty is no longer simply a Canadian secret. Not your conventional lakeside town, itâ€™s an alpine centre home to a wealth of glacier-fed lakes. One of the most popular is Horseshoe Lake, a cragged strip of water lined with steep cliffs that enthusiastic cliff divers often leap off (the lake is also a stop-off on the Icefields Parkway route). For those who prefer to dip their toes rather than take the plunge, drive north of Jasper to Maligne Lake, widely dubbed as one of the areaâ€™s most beautiful lakes. Canoers with endurance can spend the day journeying in search of the lakeâ€™s lonely Spirit Island, though organized boat tours are also available. Admire skeletal pines clustered together in a quiet, almost ceremonial order, perched on a thin strip of land jutting out into the blue expanse. Itâ€™s a rather special picture and one youâ€™ll hold onto all the way back to A Gem Inn the Rockies.