There are smells that get our mouths watering. Smells that tell us we’re in the midst of nature or a grand adventure. And then there are smells that tell us we’re home. When we travel, it’s the smells—sweet, sour, and everything in between—that stick in our memory banks.
As part of our Travel Sensations series, we searched the country for the destinations with the most aromatic profiles.
Perth, ON – Garlic
When the scent of roasted garlic hits you, that pungent almost-sour smell can knock you off your feet. For a festival you can smell before you see it, don’t miss Perth Garlic Festival. Thousands of “Garlic Heads” descend to the park for cooking demos, treats, and gifts. (Bring gum.) To see where some of the area’s sweetest garlic is grown, head to Swallowtail Farm and inhale the pungent aroma. Pick up their spices and sauces, so your kitchen can smell equally as ripe.
Nain, NL – Wet Soil
The smell of wet earth takes you back to something primal. The damp, heavy scent means adventure and sights unseen. Allow that heady smell to hit your sinuses when you travel deep into Torngat Mountains National Park near Nain, Newfoundland. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can also hike through Kuururjuaq National Park the next day. You’ll want that dirt stink with you even when you travel home.
Delta, BC – Coffee
Coffee, with that rich earthy scent, has a way of slapping you awake. Just by smelling the bubbling caffeine, you’re up and at ‘em. Prepare for a mean case of the jitters when you attend the popular Beanstock Coffee Festival, which offers unlimited brews and tastings. It’s not a single surprise that the headquarters of this event is in Delta. The area is also home to tons of popular coffee houses like L’Aromas Coffee, where the smell of coffee and freshly ground beans hits your nose like a freight train, and nearby Stir Coffee House, with their powerful brews.
Winnipeg, MB – Books
The scent of books—musky at first, then mellowing into a nice wood smell—has a way of setting your imagination aflame. There’s a wealth of excellent independent bookstores in Canada, but for the scent of books you’ll want to surround yourself with all day, we recommend Whodunit in Winnipeg. The mystery bookstore is overflowing with thrillers and detective tales. If you’re looking for rare books (extra pungent!), stop into Bison Books. They have over 20,000 used and out-of-print books with that beautiful musky smell of old-school knowledge.
Burlington, ON – Roses
The sweet, full fragrance of roses has a way of making cupid wings go aflutter and the corners of your lips curve into a smile. Make a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens, the biggest botanical garden in Canada, which just re-opened its magical rose section. Want to treat your travel partner with some surprise roses? A quick trip to Flowers by the Dozen has the perfect sweet-smelling bouquet for you.
Gold Bridge, BC – Leather
The simple scent of leather, with its warm, rich smell, can spark images of cowboys and horses just from one sniff. When you’re visiting Chilcotin Holidays, imagination becomes reality. Soak in the essence of leather riding boots and belts as you learn how to throw a lasso and ride along the landscape. Once you’re done with the horses, you don’t have to hang up your belt and knapsack. Go for a nice hike along High Trail, and let the smell of grass mingle in with the leather.
Nanton, AB – Candy
It doesn’t matter if you’re eight years old or 80, when you smell the syrupy smell of candy, the scent goes straight from your sinuses to your bloodstream. The sugar is strong at the Candy Store in Nanton. Shock your tongue with sour gummies that tickle the roof of your mouth and hard candies that will turn your lips into neon blues and purples. You’ll walk out smelling like the Sugar Plum Fairy. And if you find yourself needing a second sugar rush later, just head into Wild Thyme Cafe, where the smell of pie will curl around you when you walk in.
Pakenham, ON – Christmas Trees
Sharp, fresh, thick—the heavy pine smell of Christmas trees hits you hard. While you might not spot Santa and his elves at Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm, the holiday spirit is alive and well when you visit. And if you’re visiting the area in the warm season, just head to nearby Fitzroy Provincial Park and inhale the scent of crisp centennial trees.
Whitehorse, YK – Baked Bread
The smell of freshly baked bread is like coming home. When you’re travelling, a slice of familiarity makes all the difference in the world. That’s why we recommend Alpine Bakery. It’s one of the oldest bakeries in Whitehorse, and everything is organic. Plus, they donate one percent of sales to environmental causes. In other words, when the sweet scent of baked goods wraps around you, don’t feel bad for adding extra cookies to your order. You’ll also want to stop into Baked Cafe, a popular spot that offers freshly baked delights like scones and croissants.
Toronto, ON – Popcorn
If the only time you eat popcorn is when your co-worker makes some in the communal kitchen, you clearly have never travelled to Toronto aka the home of Toronto Popcorn Company. This artisanal company cooks up over 100 flavours. Your senses will be smacked with everything from the scent of chocolate drizzle and caramel to BBQ sauce and jalapeno. While you’re walking around the city, you may also get a whiff of popcorn from the famous Kernels, with its flagship shop in Toronto Eaton Centre.
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