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Admire Parliament Hill; Ottawa, Canada

It’s the capital of the second largest country in the world. Yet despite this claim to fame, many Canadians remain hostile to Queen Victoria’s naming Ottawa as Canada’s capital rather than Toronto or Montreal.

But – as we’ve seen throughout man’s history – great struggles often lead to great architecture, and Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings are no exception. Overlooking the Ottawa River from the limestone Parliament Hill, Ottawa’s 18th century Gothic style architecture Parliament Buildings feature some of Canada’s finest architecture.

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Get Soaked at Niagara Falls; Canada & U.S.

Visitors to Niagara Falls should plan their trip with two caveats.

Firstly, Niagara Falls straddles both the United States and Canada; the Canadian side is much, much more interesting, so be sure to bring your passport/visa if necessary. The Canadian town of Niagara Falls, just two miles (3 km) north of the falls, has plenty of nightlife, casinos, and cafes.

Still too busy for your tastes? Then consider the (relatively) smaller Niagara-on-the-Lake, located 16 miles (26 km) downstream.  But there’s a problem: lots of people flock there during the busy summer months. So no matter where you go, expect crowds. Lots of them.

Secondly, take note: while Niagara Falls is impressive, the view grows old quickly. Aim to spend one night here, book a tour of on the Maid of the Mist (a boat tour of the falls), then head out to the Finger Lakes region for a few days.

So is Niagara Falls really worth it? Like many other “must-see” sights – e.g. the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, Big Ben, etc. – it’s just that: a sight. And sights – no matter how impressive – tend to wear thin sooner than experiences. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them for awhile!Continue

Rideau Canal Skateway; Ottawa, Canada

Big doesn’t even begin to describe Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink.

Roughly 4.8 miles (7.8 km) long, it’s total surface is equal to 90 Olympic hockey rinks (read: a looong way).

The Skateway runs from Canada’s Parliament Buildings to Dows Lake (home to an outdoor art gallery on ice) then on to Carleton University for an average of 50 days each winter.

Its size and creativity helped designate the skateway as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Continue