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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

A walk down Church Street in Toronto’s Gay Village makes it clear that the city welcomes LGBTQIA travelers. But it’s not the only destination waving the rainbow flag in the Great White North. Canada as a nation is committed to inclusivity, and LGBTQIA travelers looking to escape up north can feel secure at almost any tourist hot spot. These 10 places (that are not Toronto) belong on every LGBTQ itinerary.

RELATED: 10 best destinations in Mexico for LGBTQ travelers

Whistler

Photo courtesy of Whistler Pride

This tiny ski town is one of the biggest surprises in Canada for LGBTQIA travelers. Whistler Pride and Ski Festival is arguably North America’s most prominent LGBTQ winter event. It’s held each January, and will celebrate its 29th edition in 2022. Here, it’s all about the slopes, so hit up an après somewhere friendly like Longhorn Saloon & Grill, maybe for all-day Champagne on Saturday? Meanwhile, Crystal Lodge provides the modern comfort you’ll want after a day on the slopes.

Calgary

It’s not obvious that this quaint city hosts Canada’s premier Gay Rodeo, which draws thousands of attendees to the only event of its type outside the U.S. Locals flock to bars like the Backlot, whose owner described his venue as “people-friendly,” despite its usual categorization as a gay bar. LGBTQIA travelers will feel at home here with or without chaps and leather boots. It’s a small city when it comes to accommodations, but Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel offers all the basics, plus a pool!

Montreal

The heart of Montreal’s gay district, rue Sainte Catherine, is filled with plenty of bars and clubs, but Bar Renard brings a bit of calm and elegance to the partying. This inclusive space has a wide selection of wines, microbrews, and cocktails to pair with nibbles to start the evening. Skip the big hotels and cozy up in L’Escogriffe B&B to soak up a bit of the local charm in the heart of Montreal’s Gay Village. Plus there’s a private deck! That has us all saying oui!

Vancouver

Portrait, LGBTQI Pride Event, Afro, Pride, Laughing

Canada’s west coast has its own rugged appeal while maintaining just as much queer inclusion as its eastern counterparts. Among the hangouts worth checking out are 1181 Lounge, which is proud to welcome everyone and brings a bit of industrial chic design to Davies Village, Vancouver’s LGBTQ hub. Down the street from 1181 Lounge, the Burrard Hotel offers contemporary comfort without having to get a ride to and from the nightlife.

Banff

Banff

Outside the big cities, Canadians are just as inclusive. In Alberta’s Canadian Rockies, Banff and Lake Louise are popular among LGBTQIA travelers looking for a natural escape. Inclusivity is everywhere. High Rollers offers bowling, pizza, and beer to make up for its lack of pulsing nightlife. The Fairmont Banff Springs is a favorite hotel offers a fairytale-like experience; it’s set within a UNESCO heritage site in the mountains.

Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada

Rideau Canal (UNESCO) at Sunset with Chateau Laurier in background

Canada’s capital city isn’t the capital of LGBTQ life, but it doesn’t shy away from it either. Swizzles is a favorite local nightlife spot and labels itself a “bias-free bar.” Monday’s comedy nights and Thursday’s drag shows make it much more than just a place to grab a drink. The Alt Hotel Calgary offers all the essential comfort you need staying downtown, close to the action and the waterfront.

Quebec City

Montreal steals a lot of the French-speaking shine in Canada, but Le Drague Cabaret Club in Quebec City proves that this smaller, arguably more charming part of Quebec has appeal for LGBTQIA travelers. It’s a little slice of Europe in North America, featuring cobbled streets and French spoken everywhere. Hôtel Hippocampe is the city’s premiere accommodation for a male-only environment and is just a 10-minute walk from Le Drague Cabaret Club.

Halifax

Up and coming Halifax is poised to join Toronto and Montreal as a gay hotspot in Canada. Nestled on the ocean, it boasts maritime charm and dashes of history as one of Canada’s historic ports. Glitter Bean Café is a collective striving to make inclusive spaces beyond nightlife venues for queer, non-binary, and trans patrons. Take a pass on the big hotels and head to Garden South Park Inn, which provides Victorian charm befitting of quirky Halifax.

Edmonton

Edmonton, Canada

Downtown Edmonton’s skyline, Alberta Canada

Small city charm collides with big city vibes when it comes to LGBTQ events in Edmonton. Walk along Jasper Avenue or use the city’s queer history app to explore the city. Then head to Evolution Wonder Lounge for karaoke, drag, and burlesque performances with LGBTQIA locals. Be sure to ask about getting the best view at the Westin Edmonton, one of the only dog-friendly hotels in the downtown area.

Winnipeg

Its main attraction is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, so it’s hard to imagine Winnipeg being anything but a draw for LGBTQIA travelers. You’ll fit in here no matter who you are, and especially when sipping drinks at the Good Will, an inclusive social club and venue that dabbles in all sorts of musical and live performances (set to reopen soon; check their web site for the latest). The Fairmont Winnipeg will bring a touch of elegance to your stay.

Tagged: Banff, Canada, Montreal, Toronto

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Bryan Pirolli

Bryan Pirolli

Bryan Pirolli

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