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Victoria Day travel: Toronto, Alberta lead top long weekend spots in Canada

Data from Expedia and Vrbo show that Canadian cities are particularly popular this year, but Niagara Falls notably lacked interest

Victoria Day travel: Toronto, Alberta among most popular long weekend spots in Canada (Photo by Gado/Getty Images)
Victoria Day travel: Toronto, Alberta among most popular long weekend spots in Canada (Photo by Gado/Getty Images)

The Victoria Day, "May 24," long weekend is just around the corner, with many Canadians looking to spend time in cottage country, or exploring a new destination this year.

According to data from Expedia, flight searches are up 25 per cent for this summer. For the upcoming long weekend, data from Expedia and the vacation rental site Vrbo show that domestic destinations are particularly popular this year, but U.S. states like Hawaii, Nevada and Florida are expected to see some Canadian visitors.

One notable change this year is that Niagara Falls did not make it to the list of top destinations for Victoria Day weekend travel, although it was number one on the list last year, based on Vrbo data.

RELATED: Niagara Falls rated biggest 'tourist trap' in Canada

Based on Expedia search data, these are the top Canadian and U.S. destinations Canadians are looking at for the Victoria Day long weekend:

  1. Toronto

  2. New York

  3. Banff, Alta.

  4. Montreal, Que.

  5. Vancouver, B.C.

  6. Ottawa

  7. Quebec City

  8. Victoria

  9. Okanagan Valley, B.C.

  10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Based on Vrbo data, these are the top vacation rental destinations in Canada and the U.S. for Canadians:

  1. Canmore and vicinity, Alta.

  2. Kihei, Hawaii

  3. Victoria

  4. Vancouver, B.C.

  5. Kelowna, B.C.

  6. Ontario (general area)

  7. Kissimmee, Florida

  8. Whistler, B.C.

  9. Lahaina, Hawaii

  10. Montreal, Que.

Best time to book a vacation rental

If you missed out on an opportunities to snatch up a vacation rental for the Victoria Day long weekend, you still have some time to look for September's Labour Day weekend.

According to Vrbo, booking by July 7 for a Labour Day long weekend vacation rental is the best practice, based on available inventory.

Vrbo's 2023 vacation trends show that demand for vacation homes with "cowboy western charm," including log cabins and farmhouses, are particularly popular. Global demand is up by 30 per cent, with Canadians showing a particular interest.

A photo of downtown Toronto taken from a helicopter facing southeast. The CN Tower features prominently in this photo which overlooks Lake Ontario.
A photo of downtown Toronto taken from a helicopter facing southeast. The CN Tower features prominently in this photo which overlooks Lake Ontario.

What to do in Toronto for the Victoria Day long weekend

For Canadians looking to explore a city for the long weekend, without leaving the country, Toronto is the perfect fit.

The downtown core is home to popular attraction like the CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium, and the Rogers Centre where the Blue Jays are playing the Baltimore Orioles this weekend.

But for someone who loves the outdoors and staying active, Toronto also has several bike routes and bike trails to experience, including Toronto Island, High Park, Sunnybrook Park, the Waterfront trail and the Don Valley bike path.

Toronto is a very pedestrian-friendly city and visitors can walk to different neighbourhoods to get a feel for the city. The Kensington Market area is a must-visit for anyone coming to Toronto. The Ossington strip and Dundas West have some great bars, restaurants and vintage shops. On the east end of the city, the Danforth has some amazing Greek food and the Gerrard East neighbourhood has great range of food options, including The Real Jerk where Rihanna filmed her "Work" music video with Drake.

The city will have Victoria Day fireworks on display at Ashbridges Bay Park on Monday, beginning at 10:00 p.m. Just north of the city at Canada's Wonderland, the park will have fireworks at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Canmore, Canada, Sunrise
Canmore, Canada, Sunrise

What to do in Canmore, Alberta

Canmore, Alta., boast an incredible "mountain culture," located just an hour away from the Calgary airport.

Hiking, biking and climbing are all at your fingertips, and some of the unique experiences in Canmore include the alpine helicopters, where you can have a sightseeing tour high above the Rockies. You can also take the Canmore Raft Tours down the Bow River.

For fans of HBO's The Last of Us, this Alberta area was prominently featured in the first season of the series. The Canmore Engine Bridge is what Joel and Ellie cross before coming to Jackson, Wyoming on the show. It's certainly a great spot for any fans visiting the area.

As beautiful as the Canmore area is, right now expected visitors should be aware that Environment Canada has released an air quality statement for much of Alberta, including Kananaskis - Canmore, warning that wildfire smoke is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility.

"Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations," the statement reads. "Everyone can take action to reduce their exposure to wildfire smoke."

"Stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes uncomfortable or you or someone in your care feel unwell. Contact your health care provider or local health authority if you develop severe symptoms or need advice. ... If you must spend time outdoors, a well-fitted respirator type mask (such as a NIOSH certified N95 or equivalent respirator) ... However, respirators do not reduce exposure to the gases in wildfire smoke."