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Knowing when and where to travel
In Canada and the U.S.

Tips for international visitors and students

Old "wesstern style" busness buildings in Above: Old Town in Sacramento, California, original terminus of the first U.S. transcontinental railway. The sidewalks are made of wood.

Above: Old Town Sacramento, California, original terminus of the first U.S. transcontinental railway.

When should you travel to Canada and the United States?

The answers are simple:

Go anytime. But, visit in season or near season, if you can.


Somewhere is in season

Happily, somewhere in these countries is always in season.

Saving money by travelling completely off season to save money, as some guides suggest, is usually not worth it.

For example, visiting Vancouver, Canada, in November is no bargain; it is just one dreary rainy day after another. Skiers are the exception. Slopes are less than 30 minutes away and you are not far from former Winter Olympics venue Whistler.

Visiting this same city, with its ideal summer climate, during July or August, is like finding Heaven on Earth. You do not want to leave.

Visiting New Orleans during August equals a trip to an oppressively hot steam bath. An interesting experience, by the way, but nevertheless a steam bath. All day, all evening, and all night long.

March and April in New Orleans and in the gardens of the surrounding countryside, on the other hand, are a pleasure.


Winter travel

Taken at Jackson Hole Wyoming. Snowboarders hiking toward the slopes in heavy snow, with evergreen trees surrounding them.

Travelling in the winter?

Visit New York City, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (snow sticks to its flat areas and highlights the colours on its slopes), Orlando and other central Florida areas, Toronto, Tucson and nearby desert areas, and winter resorts in Canada or the U.S., if you enjoy skiing or snowboarding.


Summer travel

During the summer, travel where most Americans and Canadians holiday.

These places include the beach towns, eastern and western mountains and parks, including those in the Canadian and Colorado Rockies, the Ozarks, the shores of upper Lake Michigan, the Maritime provinces, including Prince Edward Island, and New England.

Popular cities during the summer include Charlottetown, Halifax, San Francisco, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Quebec City, Victoria, and Vancouver.

All have more temperate summer climates.

In addition, the central and northern California coastal areas, the California redwoods, Alaska, and the Oregon coast all make make good choices.

Portions of Hawaii are nice all year. In many cases, you can escape heavy rains by merely driving to the other side of your island.

In Canada and the United States, most areas are at their best during the spring, summer, and autumn.

Some, like the alpine drive though Rocky Mountain National Park or the high mountain drive through Yosemite National Park, are closed during the winter and spring due to heavy snow accumulation.

So, the safest bet for a wide-ranging tour is summer and early autumn, although Spring can be the most beautiful season in many places.

Yes, there will be crowds, and—yes—you will have to book accommodation in some places in advance, and—yes—you will pay more, but you will see Canada and the U.S. at their best.


Enjoyable all year

View from overlooking Hollywood High School in Hollywood California toward the skyline of downtown Los Angeles. The side of the building in the forefromt says, "Hollywood High - Sheikh Territory," with a painting of  the head of an Arab tribe, family, or village. American and Canadian high schools and universities  have nicknames such as this and the University of Southern California Trojans.

On the other hand, some places are fine all year.

Although it may be more enjoyable in the autumn or spring when it is not so hot or so cold, New York City is always fascinating.

New York's cultural activities peak in the winter, but summer brings culture outdoors into the great parks, including the famed Shakespeare performances in Central Park.

Moreover, the Broadway theatre season lasts all year.

In fact, the New York cultural scene remains vibrant except for late May and late August and early September.

Toronto, too, has a vibrant cultural scene in the winter and is enjoyable to visit during the so-called off season. Quebec City thrives on winter.

Travel anytime to Orlando.

Because of school holidays, Orlando, Florida, home of Disney World, becomes even more popular during its worst season, its hot and incredibly humid summer.
(When outdoors, do as smart Americans do there—dress in natural fibres—and dress in as few of them as good taste and the law allows.)

Although hot and miserable during the summer, Washington, D.C. has flowers everywhere during its long spring. Its cultural scene peaks during the winter.

Las Vegas may get cold in winter, especially at night, but the fun rolls on.

In the very middle of winter, usually December and January, central Florida beaches may be too cool for swimming, but you can still walk around in t-shirts and shorts most days.

That sure beats outdoor life in Edinburgh or Paris during this season!

To learn more about visiting the U.S. and Canada >

Best places to begin trip to Canada & USA

Sample USA winter itinerary - no driving

California's Super Bargain Rail Itinerary

Amtrak & Via Rail Canada pros & cons
Amtrak, Via Rail - scenic routes
Amtrak & Via Rail Canada booking tips

Bus travel - pros & cons
Greyhound - scenic routes

Day hikes with the Sierra Club

 

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