North America Travel Guide

Hailing from the Great White North, clearly the idea of travelling in North America (literally) hits close to home for me. Admittedly, I don’t feel the same pull towards visiting destinations close to home as more “exotic” places like Asia or even the more familiar streets of a European city.

I will admit, however, that even without that sense of being away from home that I seem to, ultimately, be addicted to: There are some pretty damn amazing places to visit on this great continent. Below, you’ll start to find a few of the best…

When to visit North America

Okay, trust me: I recognize the sheer impossibility of answering this question in the above heading to anyone’s satisfaction in a few choice words. (But, hey, I needed to stick to the same structure in all these travel guides, so maybe you can give me a pass if my answer isn’t satisfactory. Deal?)

In a continent this massive and covering numerous climatic zones, there’s bound to be some inconsistencies in locking down when to visit. Which time of year to visit North America depends as much on your intended destination as your interests!

Canoes on Lake Louise, Alberta

Overall, the best time to visit North America is in the summer months between June and August or in the late spring and early fall. Of course, that’s super misleading as different destinations throughout the continent will experience different weather patterns at the same time.

To dial it in a little more, be sure to check the recommendations for each individual city or region you’re planning to reason. Here are a few things to keep in mind, however:

  • The winter months can get unsettlingly cold in the northern part of the continent. If you don’t like cold weather, avoid Canada and the northern United States in the winter. If you love skiing or winter sports or want to see the Northern Lights, however, this is obvious a great season to travel for you.
  • Alternatively, the southern United States and Mexico can offer a reprieve from the cold in the winter months for northerners.
  • Hurricane season occurs between June and November in the southern areas of North America. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather before travelling to the south at this time.
  • For hiking, autumn tends to be one of the best times of the year to visit North America. In popular hiking locations like Utah, the summer heat can get excessive. In spring, mosquitoes elsewhere in the continent can be a real drag. (Trust me, I grew up in Northern Ontario. You don’t want to deal with this!)

Where to go in North America

Much like the weather, in a continent as diverse and varied as North America, it’s impossible to sum up exactly what to expect. Moving across the continent, travellers can experience a seemingly endless area of landscapes from picture-perfect coasts to primeval forests to desolate deserts to swoon-worthy alpine scenery.

Canada

As the second-biggest country in the world, Canada is a good bet to hedge upon if you’re looking to stock up a veritable lifetime of experiences. While cities like Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto come first to mind when planning a trip to Canada, they, undoubtedly, play second fiddle to the wealth of natural beauty found here.

Lake in Banff, Alberta

Along the west coast, Canada’s finest scenery awaits. Wind-swept coastlines give way to coastal mountains that merge inland to east over a distance that would contain a European country or two. The east coast with its laid-back maritime attitude and seascape provides an equally beguiling escape.

Perhaps most compelling about Canada though is its diversity. Walk the streets of your favourite Canadian city and you’ll be as likely to stumble upon a curry house or ramen joint as a poutinerie.

Throw into the mix world-famous politeness and hospitality (and a healthy national obsession with hockey), and you’ll see why so many travellers instantly feel at home in the Great White North.

Ready to plan your trip to Canada? Check out these resources from our Canada Travel Guide!

Alberta

Banff

Calgary

Edmonton

Jasper

Lake Louise

Montreal

Niagara Falls

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Ottawa

Quebec City

Toronto

Vancouver

Victoria

Whistler

Winnipeg

United States

Much like its northern neighbour, trying to tie together an idea of what awaits travellers in the United States is simply impossible. The sprawl of the entire country east to west and north to south over several time zones and climate areas alone is a simple indicator of the variety of landscapes that you’ll stumble upon. From deserts ringed with canyons & mountains to lush forests sprawled over rivers and alpine mountainscapes, it’s all there for the taking.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

Perhaps more famous than its natural attractions are America’s cities. There’s hardly a person on earth who hasn’t dreamed of drowning in the bustle of New York City, celeb-hunting in Los Angeles, loosening their purse-strings in Las Vegas, or relaxing to some jazz in New Orleans.

Whichever side of the coin you’re on, the USA isn’t a travel destination that’ll disappoint you.

Ready to plan your trip to the USA? Check out these resources from our United States Travel Guide:

Anna Maria Island, FL

Asheville, NC

Atlanta, GA

Boston, MA

Charleston, SC

Charlotte, NC

Chattanooga, TN

Clearwater, FL

Cocoa Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, FL

Destin, FL

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Myers, FL

Gatlinburg, TN

Hilton Head, SC

Jacksonville, FL

Key Largo, FL

Key West, FL

Marco Island, FL

Memphis, TN

Miami, FL

Myrtle Beach, SC

Naples, FL

Nashville, TN

New Orleans, LA

Orlando, FL

Panama City Beach, FL

Pensacola, FL

Pigeon Forge, TN

Portland, OR

Sarasota, FL

Savannah, GA

Seattle, WA

St. Augustine, FL

St. Petersburg, FL

Tampa, FL

West Palm Beach, FL

Transportation in North America

Getting there

By air

Unless you’re entering by road from Central America (probably not the smartest decision these days!), you’ll arrive to North America by air.

From nearly every corner of the world, you’ll find flights to the major airports of North America including:

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • New York City John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Mexico City International Airport (MEX)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  • Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL).

Getting around

By air

Thanks to increased competition throughout the continent, air travel is becoming increasingly more affordable in North America. There are several low-cost carriers including Southwest and JetBlue in the United States and Porter, WestJet, and Air Canada Rouge in Canada.

By bus

Although bus is usually the cheapest way to travel in North America, it’s rarely the most comfortable mode of transportation given the large distances between many cities.

By train

More comfortable than buses, trains can be a good option for certain itineraries (and for train buffs, of course!). In the US, Amtrak has an extensive rail network that extends coast to coast.