5 Daytime Activities to Enjoy While Waiting for the Aurora

Sunday, February 4, 2024

If you’ve made chasing and witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights your next big adventure, there’s a perfect destination to do so. Canadainfo-icon is among the few places to see the beautiful light show, with countless viewing opportunities awaiting you during the long northern winter months.

Once the night falls, the enchanting aurora borealis graces the Canadian skies and puts on a glorious spectacle. It can leave you wanting more of the celestial sight, even as the sun shines during your stay. Fortunately, Canada gives you a treasure trove of daytime activities to make your wait for the Northern Lights more unforgettable.

1. Go On a Road Trip

After buying a used car and ensuring it’s in tip-top condition, why not take it on a road trip? Alberta is a great place for your new-to-you vehicle to navigate, as some of Canada’s most captivating and diverse drives can be found here.

  • Cowboy Trail - Located along Highway 22, Cowboy Trail exudes old Western charm with horseback trail rides, guest and working ranches, significant landmarks, rodeos, and so much adventure for visitors.
  • Icefields Parkway - Banff’s renowned route houses over 100 prehistoric glaciers, turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife to see during your road trip. You'll have endless photo opportunities, hiking trails to explore, and pit stops where you can breathe fresh mountain air.
  • Kananaskis Country - This breathtaking route stretches out to eastern Alberta, with nine provincial parks, groups of wildlife, and year-round outdoor adventures for everyone.
  • Canadian Badlands - A journey transporting you to a dinosaur-dominated period in Canadian history awaits in the Canadian Badlands. Roam around the fascinating rock formations and fossil beds all over the geologically rich areas surrounding Drumheller, learn more about dinosaurs at the Tyrell Museum, or visit attractions with the spirit of the Wild West.

Furthermore, Alberta houses multiple aurora viewing spots, allowing you to catch the dancing lights during your road trip alone or with your friends or family.

2. Explore the Great Outdoors

Canadian provinces and territories never run out of opportunities to see and explore their natural wonders.

If you’re headed to the Northwest Territories, you can go dogsledding around the great Northern backcountry through a range of tours and experiences, starting with two-hour day trips up to full-week training courses. It’s a thrilling adventure led by canines raring to take you around their immeasurable winter playground.

Yukon’s capital, Whitehorse, also offers fun outdoor activities. Go on a half or three-day canoe ride from the city’s riverbanks or trek across Miles Canyon, a stunning canyon formed by the mighty Yukon River. You can also visit Sky High Wilderness Ranch and go horseback riding at Fish Lake, where visitors enjoy immensely calm rides amidst a scenic backdrop of snow-capped mountains only found in the area.

3. Sample Local Cuisine

Once the Northern Lights begin dancing across the sky, it makes you blissfully unaware of the time. The amazing natural spectacle can leave you excited afterward, leading to some late nights.

Sleeping in during vacations is inevitable, but don’t fret if you wake up late. You’ll find many restaurants near your accommodation to eat brunch at.

Inuvik has Alestine’s, which serves contemporary Northern cuisine from a charming cabin, while Yellowknife houses the Woodyard Pub with a tremendous locally brewed craft beer selection. Furthermore, there’s the famous Bullock’s Bistro for filling helpings of fresh local fish and unlimited bread baskets.

4. Discover the Rich Heritage of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

The traditions and achievements of Indigenous communities have shaped Canadian culture, and there’s no better way to appreciate these contributions than learning about them.

If you’re after pre-aurora borealis viewing activities to please your inner cultural buff, consider adding these enriching experiences to your itinerary.

  • Iqaluit in Nunavut highlights traditional Inuit culture, including its impressive arts and crafts, many festivals, and resident creatives. Moreover, it’s near three territorial parks with mind-blowing landscapes, stunning nature, and numerous archaeological artifacts from the Thule people.
  • Besides multiple aurora viewing points, Alberta offers several cultural activities to curious visitors. Start with an overnight stay in a teepee at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, where Knowledge Keepers tell stories of the Blackfoot people, or connect with the land further while learning how to use local flora for medicine from a Cree guide in Canada’s oldest National Park.
  • Planning a trip to Ontario? Make room for these cultural activities in your itinerary:
    • Cross ancient hiking trails walked on by the Anishinaabe First Nations in Manitoulin Island.
    • Join a pow-wow that honors Indigenous cultures through dance, food, and music.
    • Drop by the Petroglyphs Provincial Park, where Canada’s biggest cluster of Indigenous rock art can be seen.

5. See Canadian Wildlife

Many associate Canada and its wildlife with the beaver. However, that buck-toothed little fellow isn’t the only animal you’ll spot during your trip.

Canada offers several of the world’s most unique and greatest wildlife sightings to experience beyond top aurora viewing spots. Nunavut is one prime destination for these incredible viewings, notably those of beluga whales and 250,000 migrating caribous. A summer vacation in the Canadian territory lets you witness pods of belugas gathering at the mouth of some rivers for five weeks, while late spring and early autumn bring you the breathtaking sight of Qamanirjuaq caribou.

If you’ve always wanted to see polar bears, your chances may reach the highest in Churchill, Manitoba. “The Polar Bear Capital of the World” serves as a stopover for these amazing animals, with a landscape combining a boreal forest and a tundra.

Most importantly, Churchill gives you countless polar bear-viewing opportunities all year round. Make sure to schedule your trip in October or November for the best chance of spotting polar bears.

Pass the Time with Amazing Daytime Adventures

The best things in life are often worth the wait, which holds true for the Northern Lights. Canada’s thriving cities and enduring communities offer many noteworthy attractions and interesting experiences to spend time on while waiting for the enchanting light show. So, bring daytime activities into your Canadian adventure, gas up after buying a used car, and create memorable moments before your aurora viewing night.