Most Active Cities in Canada, Ranked

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We see you, lady with the athleisure pants and un-scuffed sneakers putting four Splendas® in your latte. And you’re not off the hook, either, guy-who-always-wears-gym-shorts-and-a-lanyard. Maybe you haven’t been to any of these active cities lately, but we think it’s time to put that sweatband and military-grade sports bra to the test in these top towns.

What makes a city an active city? For our 5-point scale ranking system, we looked at a variety of factors, including but not limited to:


  • Average number of marathons and hiking trails
  • Access to bike paths, trails, and races
  • Per capita gyms, including but not limited to CrossFit, yoga studios, rock climbing, etc.
  • Abundance of outdoor activities such as kayaking, canoeing, etc.

Usually, this is the part where we say “in no particular order,” but today, we’re going out on a limb to proclaim: Here are our picks of the most active towns in Canada, ranked.

21. Peterborough, Ontario

Total points: 10
Running and Hiking: 2
Biking: 3
Gyms and Studios: 2
Outdoor Sports: 3

To paraphrase Salt-N-Pepa, you’ve got to push it when you’re in Peterborough, Ontario. This means pushing your endurance along Trent Canal when you’re riding your bike next to dozens of pros. Pushing your body up just a little higher off the safe ground at Rock and Rope Climbing Centre. And pushing your paddle skills on Little Lake to one day earn a glittering spot at the Canadian Canoe Museum in town. Or, if you’d prefer to stand up as you propel the water far behind you, sign up for a class with Peterborough SUP. This is a town that wants to see you bring your best. So, bring it on.

20. Smithers, British Columbia

Total points: 11
Running and Hiking: 3
Biking: 2
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 3

Mama might have told us to be careful of men still wearing bibs, but clearly she’s never been to Smithers, British Columbia, where fly fishing pants (bibs) are a way of life around here. Fishing isn’t the only reason this town makes the list of most active places. Hudson Bay Mountain features primetime skiing trails, with 75 percent of the mountain dedicated to intermediate and advanced skiers. Smithers is also an excellent place to paddle (with rentals from Aquabatics) and hiking around Babine Mountains Provincial Park and Twin Falls Recreation Site. You may even want to pop into a local pilates or rock climbing gym around here. We’d just recommend stopping into West Coast Grill to refuel after the day—no bib required.

19. St. Catharines, Ontario

Total points: 11
Running and Hiking: 2
Biking: 3
Gyms and Studios: 2
Outdoor Sports: 4

St. Catharines, Ontario, may be known for its vineyards, but don’t start calling this city a lush. In fact, it gets high marks for its active population. This place rejects the idea that rowing machines are meant for the indoors—especially when it comes to the St. Catharines Rowing Team that’s been around since 1902. Crisp mornings are meant for the hard push of oars and shouts of teamwork for the numerous rowers around Martindale Pond. Biking is no joke here, either. There are nearly a half dozen high-performance bike shops in town, included the esteemed Liberty! store. For other activities, there’s always hiking along Bruce Trail, aiming for a hole-in-one at Garden City Golf Course, and boating in Port Dalhousie Harbour.

18. Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Total points: 12
Running and Hiking: 4
Biking: 2
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 3

If Wonder Woman decides to stop saving the world and start winning marathons, she’d probably start in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. This is where Sole Sisters, the largest 5k women-only race takes place each year and is always a hit amongst locals and aspiring Amazons. While Dartmouth technically became a community of Halifax in the 1990s, it’s still got plenty of local pride—and things to do. There’s canoeing in Lake Banook, running along the 7-km Dartmouth Multi-use Trail, and paddling on the Shubenacadie Canal and Waterway. There’s also intense workouts at places like Brass Performance and bendy stretches at Yogaheart. We’re just saying, you should prepare to feel like a superhero after a trip to this part of Nova Scotia.

17. Huntsville, Ontario

Total points: 12
Running and Hiking: 3  
Biking: 2
Gyms and Studios: 4
Outdoor Sports: 3

When a race challenges you to “Be somebody nobody thought you could be,” you know you’re in for a life changer. We’re talking about TriMuskokan, one of the many triathlons that take place in Huntsville, Ontario. Even non-competitive events dare you to push your limits, like the Spin the Lakes Cycle Tour that routes you through the winding hills. Huntsville also makes a point to give all visitors and residents a chance to move their muscles, no matter their age. That’s why there’s both youngster and senior ice skating at Canada Summit Centre, and available tennis courts for anyone training to become the next Serena Williams. There’s also Snap Fitness, which offers in-person instructors during the day and 24/7 online classes whenever you need them. Insomniacs, you have no excuses just because it’s 3 a.m. and most places are closed. Let’s see you work it.

16. Castlegar, British Columbia

Total points: 12
Running and Hiking: 3
Biking: 3
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 3

It may look as pretty as a postcard nestled against the Selkirk Mountain Range, but Castlegar, British Columbia, isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty. This includes biking along Merry Creek Trails and Meldiana Trail, renting a kayak or paddleboard from Scotties Marina, and hiking up the aptly named Brilliant Overlook to see views of the whole city. And if you don’t mind walking around with some chalk on your fingertips, make your way to Water Line Walls, a top rock climbing spot in the area. Or if you want to stretch without the sense of peril, Viva Hot Yoga has the perfect balance of physical challenge meets spiritual exercise.

15. Dauphin, Manitoba

Total points: 13
Running and Hiking: 3
Biking: 4
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 3

Some lakeside towns shut down for the winter, but it’s Dauphin’s commitment to braving the elements for annual ice fishing on Dauphin Lake that got our attention. Once the ice melts, this place only livens up more, with windsurfing and tubing on the water. Golf life is also competitive around these parts, with Dauphin Lake Golf Resort playing host to fierce tournaments each summer and fall. Being active isn’t just a personal to-do around here, though. Each year, Dauphin takes part in the Riding Mountain Challenge, which is the largest fundraising cycle series in North America, aimed at raising money for multiple sclerosis research. To put it simply: This is an all-seasons active town that makes a difference each year.

14. Bonnyville, Alberta

Total points: 13
Running and Hiking:   3
Biking: 3
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 4

Bonnyville, Alberta, tends to sneak under the radar, so we hope the city doesn’t mind if we give credit where credit is due. This small town of a little more than 5,000 people is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Bonnyville & District Centennial Centre, a $21 million hub that made space for minor league hockey, indoor rock climbing, and spin class. Once outside, you’ll need to look both ways before crossing North Cabin Trail in winter—one of the most popular snowmobile spots in the region. And let’s not forget splashing in the water at Bonnyville Beach in summer or hitting home runs at one of the six baseball diamonds at Peter Kushnir Ball Park. All we’re saying is, Bonnyville may be one of the best kept secrets in Alberta—not to mention a top active town in the county.

13. Perth, Ontario

Total points: 13
Running and Hiking: 5  
Biking: 3
Gyms and Studios: 2
Outdoor Sports: 3

If a man in a kilt starts running at you full speed ahead, don’t be alarmed. It just means you’ve arrived in the right town. We’re talking about Perth, Ontario, which plays host to Perth’s World Record Kilt Run every year, which welcomes kilt-adorned runners to either break the current world record or maintain the town’s legacy. Franky, we could stop there, but this place also offers boating at Last Duel Park, walking trails along the Wendy Laut Ribbon of Life, and martial arts at the Perth Athletic Centre. The town doesn’t limit its citizens either, which is why they have the Round Garden for the Blind, which is located at the Lanark County Administration Building and includes waist-level plants for visitors to touch and herbs to taste. And if you’d prefer to see the foliage whizzing by you, there are always bike rentals from Heritage Bikes. Just, you know, wear some underpants under that kilt.

12. London, Ontario

Total points: 13
Running and Hiking: 4
Biking: 4
Gyms and Studios: 2
Outdoor Sports: 3

London, Ontario, is an enchanting town, with pretty views that rush past you on bike or on foot. Springbank Park in particular is where you’ll want to get your handlebars in motion, along with the morning joggers and strollers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, at 7 percent, London has one of the highest percentages of locals who walk or cycle to work. But weekend warriors have their fun, too, especially at Boler Mountain, where there’s tubing and snowboarding in winter, with zip lining and mountain biking in summer. London is also well known for their charity runs. Each summer sees the Summer Night 5k, which benefits bereaved families in need of community support. It also hosts Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, where men walk one mile in high heeled shoes to raise money for Anova, the largest high-security shelter for women in the country. That’s London for you. It’s active, but it’s never without reason.

11. Dorval, Quebec

Total points: 14
Running and Hiking:  3
Biking: 3
Gyms and Studios: 4
Outdoor Sports: 4

It’s a little hard to discern if anyone in Dorval, Quebec, ever sits down. Surrey Trail always sees a flurry of mountain bikers and casual cyclists from dawn till dusk. It’s a city with some of the most rock climbing and CrossFit gyms per capita, with local favourites like Beta Bloc and CrossFit de l’ouest. Looking for something else? Let’s not forget that there are three baseball diamonds, two bocce ball courts, tennis courts, a rugby field, soccer field, mini soccer fields—the list goes on and on. To be honest, we’re not sure if park benches exist in Dorval, as everyone seems to be active 24/7 and loving it.

10. Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador

Total points: 15
Running and Hiking: 4
Biking: 3
Gyms and Studios: 5
Outdoor Sports: 3

Corner Brook may seem like a sleepy town, but its residents are doing anything but staying home. For starters, there’s the Corner Brook Triathlon that challenges visitors to run faster, swim stronger, and cycle harder. Then there’s hiking up Corner Brook Stream Gorge, for dizzy views of the landscape below. It’s also a city that has one of the highest ratios of population sizes to rock climbing and CrossFit gyms in the country. For the former, make a day of it at the YMCA Rockwall, and for the latter, don’t miss CrossFit Heavy Timber, which is a firm believer that a strong body and strong mind are connected. If you want to sleepwalk through life, Corner Brook isn’t the town to visit.

9. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Total points: 16
Running and Hiking: 5  
Biking: 4
Gyms and Studios: 4
Outdoor Sports: 3

Saskatoon does fitness its own way. Sure, there are over 30 yearly marathons, but the one that really gets people going is Mimosa Run, where you conclude the race with sweet, sweet bubbles from your own flute. And while it’s a bustling city, over 7 percent of residents still make a point to ride their bike or walk to work. Of course, when it comes to the weekends, you can’t go far without hearing the thumps of running shoes, clanks of gym workouts, and thwaps of tennis balls ricocheting off rackets. And for something a little different, there’s always skating at Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink and jumping high at Apex Trampoline Park.

8. Barrie, Ontario

Total points: 16
Running and Hiking: 4
Biking: 4
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 5

How’s the view from that canoe? Sorry, we know rhyming is out of fashion, but we can’t help it with a place like Barrie, Ontario. There’s just something happy about this active town. Kayaking, canoeing, snowboarding…your days are packed when you travel here. It’s also not for the faint of heart. Horseshoe Resort has over 52 percent of advanced ski trails, and when it comes to gyms, local favourites like CrossFit Barrie is all about pushing the limits. You can challenge yourself on your own journey, too, with mountain biking through Copeland Forest. And we’d dare you not to have a blast throwing axes at Iron Nation, or, conversely, finding your Zen in a place like BLiSS Ann Green Yoga.

7. Brockville, Ontario

Total points: 16
Running and Hiking: 4
Biking: 4
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 5

Think you have what it takes? Then get your tush over to Brockville, Ontario, in winter for their annual Freeze Your Buns series, where runners hit the pavement in chill-whipped conditions. Or maybe you’d prefer to trade your running shoes for flippers. In that case, Brockville happens to have over two dozen shipwrecks around the area—making scuba diving a top weekend activity around here (Dive Brockville Adventure Centre can hook you up with lessons). For everyday stretches, the town keeps muscles alert with a coterie of trails, bike routes, and paddle areas like Brock Trail, Mac Johnson Wildlife Area (known as “The Back Pond”), and 1000 Islands. And we haven’t gotten to the dozen gyms and studios around downtown—or Stingers Indoor Paintball. In other words, if you’re up for a challenge, you’ve met your match in Brockville.

6. Toronto, Ontario

Total points: 16
Running and Hiking: 4  
Biking: 4
Gyms and Studios: 4
Outdoor Sports: 4

Name your sport and you can find it in Toronto. You want standup paddle boarding? Yup, that’s here. Or better yet, how about SUP yoga with a studio like Toronto Island SUP, where you can view the metropolis at sunset? When you feel the need for speed vibrating under your foot pedal, there’s high-speed go-kart racing at spots like 401 Mini-Indy, or if you’d prefer the sensation of a rocking kayak, you can always bring your vessel from home or rent one from Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak. And for good measure, Toronto also puts on over 180 marathons a year and is one of the most bikeable cities in the country, with commuters logging in 96,000 daily trips.

toronto canoes

Photo by Shahrzad Ashkan via Trover.com

5. Prince George, British Columbia

Total points: 17
Running and Hiking: 4  
Biking: 5
Gyms and Studios: 3
Outdoor Sports: 5

When you go down the wild paths of Prince George, British Columbia, you’ll leave as someone who wears athleisure as you test your body’s limits instead of those posers at the grocery store, trying to look cute. This town doesn’t know what a boring Saturday looks like, not when there are a half dozen parks to hike through and 15 km of trails in Forests for the World. Or, you can snap on your helmet and take a class with Fem Bike BC, which offers women-only and co-ed mountain biking courses. Rainy days don’t deter this town. There are ice skating classes, junior hockey leagues, indoor rock climbing, and even yoga retreats with studios like Chinook Yoga. Luckily, downtown Prince George has plenty of boutiques, if you find yourself needing a few leggings.

hammock overlooking prince george

Photo by Kaila Walton via Trover.com

4. Calgary, Alberta

Total points: 17
Running and Hiking: 4   
Biking: 4
Gyms and Studios: 4
Outdoor Sports: 5

If you’ve ever watched “Cool Runnings,” you probably know why Calgary is on the list. Back in 1988, Calgary became the jewel of the world while hosting the Winter Olympic Games (and the Jamaican bobsled team). Today, the Olympic park, now called WinSport, is still a world-class centre for winter sports like hockey and skating, along with warmer season sports like summer bobsled and free falling. In other words, after a stop here, you’ll feel like a champion. This isn’t Calgary’s only claim to fame, of course. There are over 115 marathons a year, the Eau Clair to Crowchild route is one of the most popular runs in the country, and there’s even a group called CORE Society that’s been around since 1999 and connects locals with hiking and snowshoeing. If a bobsled team from Jamaica can make it here, you can push your limits here, too.

calgary bobsled

Photo by Hecktic Travels via Trover.com

3. Whistler, British Columbia

Total points: 18
Running and Hiking: 4   
Biking: 5
Gyms and Studios: 4
Outdoor Sports: 5

When you compile a list of the most active cities in Canada, you know that Whistler, British Columbia, is waiting patiently for its name to be called. Scratch that. Whistler ain’t got time to wait—not when there’s legendary skiing, zip lining, and whitewater rafting. Fancy a bike ride? There are over 450 km of bike trails surrounding the city. Been itching to try out a 4×4 off-road buggy? Canadian Wilderness Adventures can help you with that. Or maybe you’d like to say “Bye, Felicia” to everyday cares and jump off a ledge over Cheakamus River with Whistler Bungee (which is available if you want to jump solo, in tandem, or in a wheelchair). And we’d be remiss not to remind you that you can also take part in indoor rock climbing at Whistler Core and axe throwing at Forged. Whistler, we’d congratulate you on your appearance on the list, but you’re probably busy breaking a sweat.

bungee jumping in whistler

Photo by The Global Couple via Trover.com

2. Golden, British Columbia

Total points: 19
Running and Hiking: 5   
Biking: 5
Gyms and Studios: 4
Outdoor Sports: 5

There are some places that won’t settle for bronze. Golden, British Columbia, is one such place. Once you step on the soft dirt, the pine-infused air will remind you that no scented candle in your one-bedroom apartment matches this feeling of wild. There’s whitewater rafting on Kicking Horse River with expert guides from Glacier Raft Company, paragliding over the valley with Fly Golden, and summer mountain biking and hiking with winter snowmobiling and skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Plus, it lands in the top10 list of cities with the most rock climbing gyms per capita (don’t miss Dogtooth Climbing). In other words, a trip Golden is the golden ticket to getting your body to move in ways it forgot.

1. Vancouver, British Columbia

Total points: 20
Running and Hiking: 5
Biking: 5
Gyms and Studios: 5
Outdoor Sports: 5

Is it really a surprise to see Vancouver as the top standard? Sure, the glittering skyscrapers may seem to encase folks only interested in pencil skirts and powerpoint presentations, but that’s because you can’t see their hiking shoes in the bottom drawer. Vancouver gets high marks in each category. You simply can’t ignore the fact that this city has 130+ yearly runs, a hugely popular bike trail through Stanley Park, intensive hikes up Grouse Mountain, and neighbourhood blocks where you can always find an outdoors supply store or CrossFit gym (CrossFit 604 is a particular favourite). This is a town just a few seconds away from racing into a sprint. Better pack your tights and water bottle when you visit this fit city.

hiking in vancouver

Photo by Mirjana Zarnec via Trover.com

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About Author

Jennifer Cuellar

<p>Jennifer Cuellar is a writer, an avid explorer, and fan of all things Games of Thrones-related. When she’s not sipping tea in a café by the beach, she’s off writing about wondrous cities you simply have to visit. From mountain peaks to downtown streets, there’s a world of adventure waiting to be explored. She spotlights top cities to tour, which attractions you’ve got to see, and off-the-beaten path activities to try during your next vacation. Let’s go travel!</p>

8 Comments

  1. Guess you e never been to Canmore Alberta. Only the place where the 1988 winter Olympic events like cross country skiing biathlon etc were held, numerous World Cup cross country events as well as World and Canada cup mountain bike events. Not to mention the most Olympian medal athletes live here and most of the certified mountain guides . I’d say you missed the boat on your research here, but hey we all make mistakes.

    Reply
  2. You got some nice errors in this one including an awesome shot from Joshua Tree National Park, sources from the NPS… its mistakes like this that really makes a organization like Expedia loose credibility in the community.
    Also, how do you miss Squamish, Canada’s adventure capital along with the only true world class climbing destination in Canada? That place is off the hook with adventure sports

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