Do you start wearing shorts when the mercury first breaks 10° and refuse to put them away before the first snowfall? Do you own a Vitamix blender—but you only use it to make pina coladas? You might be addicted to summertime, and who could blame you? Long days, warm nights, and plenty of things to do that don’t involve shoveling. Well friend, Labour Day may be over, but you don’t have to let summer go quite yet. Here are 10 things you should do right now, before you start feeling that chill in the air.
See black bears before hibernation
What can climb trees, swim for miles, and live for 7 months without eating or drinking? Black bears! They’re known as some of the best hibernators in nature, and you can see them at Laurentides Wildlife Reserve in Saint-Urbain, Quebec, but only until mid-autumn. Head out with a park guide for a day of fishing, kayaking, and sightings of adorable black bears, who will be out feasting like it’s Thanksgiving to build up their fat reserves for hibernation. If you really want to get back to nature, you can stay in one of the reserve’s rustic cabins. Or, leave the woods to the bears and stay in town. The choice is yours.
Check off a quintessential summer activity
Here’s one summery thing that’s definitely a can’t-miss: the drive-in theatre. Oro-Medonte, Ontario, has one of the most retro theatres in Canada—the Sunset Barrie Drive-In Theatre. Step 1: Grab a chilly dilly (that’s a pickle on a stick). Step 2: Sing along to “O Canada,” which this theatre still plays before the movie. Step 3: Enjoy the old-school cartoons, then settle in for the 2-for-1 showing. If you’re making a weekend of it, Oro-Medonte has plenty of outdoor activities, too, like paddling the Black River. (You could do it in winter, but trust us, it’s not nearly as fun.) Chow down a delicious sandwich from B8’s Smokehouse & Deli and get out there!
Hit the beach one last time
If you somehow didn’t make it to the beach this summer, you’ve still got one last chance. Just head to Canada’s southernmost point in Leamington, Ontario. Point Pelee National Park has more than 20 km of sandy shore, but the best section to relax away your final beach day is West Beach. Take a walk to find the tip of the point (hint: just walk south!). When hunger strikes, admire snow-free lake views from the Seacliffe Inn restaurant, then celebrate the long days and warm temps with a massive banana boat sundae at Sweet Retreat ice cream parlour. Now that’s what we call a perfect summer day.
Enjoy a classic summer carnival
Labour Day might be over, but you haven’t missed your chance for an all-out, funnel-cake-filled carnival experience. You’ll have to move fast—Circle the Wagons is happening in Calgary’s Currie Barracks on September 9. This festival has it all: a giant inflatable obstacle course, wiener dog races, live music, and circus school for the kids (yes, circus school!). Plus, there will be lots of beer. Oh, speaking of beer, nearby Wild Rose Brewery has plenty of summer sips, including a raspberry ale and a crisp lager that screams “summertime!” For dinner, soak up the last of the sunshine on the patio at Spot On Kitchen & Bar.
Dig into one of PEI’s time-honoured traditions
Outdoor concerts and sunbathing are great summer activities and all, but here’s something your friends probably haven’t done. Clam-digging season on Prince Edward Island runs through mid-October, and it’s about time you experienced this Maritimes tradition. You could just grab a rake and a bucket and ask a friendly Malpeque Bay local where the clams are at, or you could join up with PEI Coastal Experiences for the whole shebang: a guided tour complete with a clam bake on the beach. Malpeque Bay is famous for its oysters, too. They’re sold all over the world, but taste best at the Malpeque Oyster Barn—where the views aren’t bad either.
Kick back in wine country
Admiring summer’s beautiful sunsets is about as relaxing as it gets—but when you add a refreshing glass of wine to the mix, it gets even better. Wolfville, in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley wine region, produces crisp white and sparkling wines that are the perfect complement to that summer sunset. Plus, there is a bus that runs in a loop to five area wineries—it’s called the Magic Winery Bus, and it really is magical. Our favourite stop is Domaine de Grand Pré, where breathtaking views, unique wine styles, and an award-winning fine dining restaurant all add up to one of your most unforgettable summer days.
“Catch” the end of salmon fishing season
Lazy summer days spent fishing are a favourite pastime of many a Canadian, and Tofino, BC is known as one of the best summer vacation spots for anglers. But if you were a little too lazy this year, don’t worry. You can still experience some awesome fishing in Tofino: After feeding all summer, the coho salmon are huge. They’re on the move from deeper ocean to their home rivers, and Tofino Fishing can show you where to find them. After angling the day away, try a different sort of fish for dinner—shellfish! Ice House Oyster Bar serves up a crab boil for two with Dungeness crab right out of Clayoquot Sound. Pair it with a rich, buttery chardonnay and you can practically taste the summertime.
Take flight with migrating seabirds
Every year, hundreds of thousands of sandpipers pass through Mary’s Point on their migration to South America. They stop to sift for tiny mud shrimp and gain energy for their journey—after all, they’re about to fly for 40 hours nonstop. You can still catch the “tail” end of this massive migration in Harvey, New Brunswick, as the last of the birds stop for their yearly feast. Speaking of feasts, this is also your last chance to catch the legendary Sunday brunch at Broadleaf Guest Ranch or enjoy sweeping views of the Bay of Fundy while you eat at Log Cabin Restaurant, which are both only open until October.
Party like it’s the end of summer
As if you needed an excuse to party one last time, the Canadian Country Music Awards are coming to Saskatoon September 7 to 10. Bask in the sun while you tap your toes to your favourite country acts at Prairieland Park, then catch them on the red carpet outside the SaskTel centre at awards time. When you need to refuel, the patio at Las Palapas is a great spot to enjoy good weather and good times: order up the enchiladas and soak up the tropical vibes. And to cool down from all that dancing, hit up Homestead Ice Cream. Get the Dog’s Breakfast if you dare. (Hint: it starts with 14 scoops of ice cream.)
Ride a final wave on the Kananaskis River
If you’ve never been river surfing in Canada, you’re missing out. The Kananaskis River in Alberta is one of the most famous spots, attracting intrepid river surfers from around the country—but the season usually ends in mid-October, so get going. The town of Kananaskis is the best place to experience the surfer spirit. From there, you can find famous river breaks like Green Tongue, Santa Clause, and The Mountain. When the surfing is done, share tales with the locals on the patio at Iron Goat Pub & Grill and catch just one more stunning summer sunset.
Are these end of summer getaways giving you a sudden case of FOMO? The only cure is to get out there and check them off your bucket list. See you soon!