Canada offers up unique experiences that you won’t find in any guidebook — you just have to know where to find them. To help you explore like a local, we’ve asked friends from across the country to share their top spots and experiences from the cities they call home. Bundled by interest or passion, consider this your local’s guide to traveling through the country’s vibrant cities and boundless wilderness.

 

Thanks to Tamara Elliott, Jason Fitz, Julia Weber, Jeff Frenette, Stoked for Saturday, and Kael Rebick for their local tips.

Canada might be known for its picture-perfect landscape and natural wonders, but our cities also offer an explosion of world-class galleries, incredible public art, and urban panoramas.

Vancouver Mural Fest - Vancouver

Where art takes over

In 2016, Vancouver brightened up its streets with the first of many mural festivals. In the Mount Pleasant area of the city, you’ll find beautiful art around every street corner. Roam the area and find murals tucked away (this map is a good place to start), then grab a coffee or beer at a local brewery to make an afternoon of it. Our inside recommends Cartems for an artisan donut and Brassneck (right next door) for a tasty craft brew.

The Wonderland Sculpture - Calgary

The power of public art

At the foot of Calgary’s tallest skyscraper, the Bow Tower, is the Wonderland sculpture, a perfectly exceptional exhibit of public art. The 36-foot tall sculpture of a young girl’s head by famed Spanish artist Jaume Plensa is just one visible sign of the city’s recent urban transformation. With the skyscraper in the background, it’s an exceptionally photographable scene.

Kensington Market - Toronto

The art of good living

It might show up in most tour guides, but Kensington Market is a straight-up must for all travelers. The culture, art, music, and food is simply exceptional and unlike anywhere else in North America. It is truly Toronto’s most diverse and exciting atmosphere.

Inkwell Modern Handmade - Halifax

Local art that can hang

Inkwell Modern Handmade is an awesome local boutique that specializes in handmade print and letter presses for thoroughly original paper art. It’s a great spot to grab unique cards or wall prints.

Bank Street Art - Ottawa

The mural mile

Throughout Ottawa you’ll find stunning urban murals created by talented local artists. Our local tipster’s favorite stretch runs down Bank Street. Start at Bank and Wellington to follow Bank Street through downtown to see the eclectic mix of street art.

Art in the Open - Prince Edward Island

Art on island time

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One week each summer, Prince Edward Island’s capital city, Charlottetown is treated to a veritable buffet of art. Throughout the downtown, visitors and locals are invited to explore Art in the Open. This festival highlights the vibrant art of the island and brings the local arts community together. Taking place downtown, it’s a great way to explore the neighborhood while checking out performances. Grab a booklet and check it out.

Art and music go hand and hand. Explore some of these top spots for music and events across the country.

Artgang - Montreal

Edgy gallery and boutique

Artgang Montreal hosts the city’s best indie art shows. When there’s no show on the schedule, enjoy their constantly rotating exhibits. Some of Montreal’s raddest clothing can even be found in the shop.

Argyle Fine Arts - Halifax

Unexpected craft

Halifax boasts a strong (but admittedly modest) art scene. Argyle Fine Art is the city’s most progressive modern gallery, showcasing established and emerging Canadian artists.

The Power Plant Gallery - Toronto

Unmistakably modern art

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The Power Plant is one of Canada’s leading public galleries. The Harbourfront Centre venue is devoted to groundbreaking contemporary art at Toronto’s waterfront cultural hub. Many of the exhibitions use installations and multi-compositional approaches to immerse, challenge, and inspire visitors. The Power Plant has made a name for itself hosting independent solo shows of seminal and emerging artists from all over the world.

Leo Mol Sculpture Garden - Winnipeg

Outdoor masterpieces

On the banks of the Assiniboine in Manitoba, you’ll be treated to a garden full of sculptures by Leo Mol. The surroundings are almost as beautiful as the art, so take some time to explore all the bronze statues around the grounds. This is the perfect place to relax after exploring Winnipeg’s best food and coffee.

After a day full of art, why not grab a drink? Here are some of our favorite spots from coast to coast.

Graffiti Alley - Toronto

Art for art’s sake

A photo posted by Matt Long (@landlopers) on

There’s nothing quite like Toronto’s Graffiti Alley anywhere else in North America. Our local tipster is constantly amazed by the talent of Toronto’s street artists. The breathtaking alleyway is a public art gallery in its own right and don’t let rain stop you from checking it out — it’s even more breathtaking to capture the colors in the reflection of a puddle.

Vancouver Biennale - Vancouver

Art and seek

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More open air art in Vancouver can be found around the city thanks to the Vancouver Biennale. No matter what neighborhood you’re in, chances are you’ll see one of the sculptures that this initiative brought to the city. Besides the art that exists year round, Vancouver Biennale hosts events so you can discover even more of Vancouver’s art scene. Check out the exhibition map and see what spots are nearby on your next visit.

Queen Street West Galleries - Toronto

Authentic and unconventional

The trendy (but not too trendy) Queen Street West neighborhood is full of tons of galleries to explore. There’s a reason so many local designers and artists call Queen Street, one of the world’s most authentic artistic enclaves, home.

 

Canada’s thriving art scene is noticeable across the country, accenting picturesque vistas with distinctly Canadian creations. Stop by a gallery, public art avenue, or viewpoint and take it all in.

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