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6 must-visit parks across Canada with canine appeal

Chester the Dog sitting in the grass of a park
With roadtrip, camping and park season upon us, we invited Chester, an 8-year-old Weimaraner, to share his travel plans for other dogs and pet parents looking for inspo. These are his top six picks across Canada.

Dearest human, giver of treats, benevolent tummy scratcher.

I can see it's been a long day. Put your feet up — can I bring you some slippers? — and let me take care of our summer vacation planning.

It just so happens I have compiled a list of the most perfectest places across Canada where you (we) are guaranteed to have the BEST DAY EVER (sorry, I got excited there).

Think: cooling off in a lake, squirrels, hiking trails, squirrels, Instagram-worthy views, squirrels, picnic lunches, and also, there will be squirrels.

From leash-free city spots (hallelujah!) where we can socialize like locals, to National Parks with SO MANY NEW SMELLS — again, I apologize for my outsized enthusiasm. *sloppy face lick*

Shall you and I agree to make this summer's travels the most memorable adventure yet? Here's what I'm thinking:

Chester the Dog lying in sand

West Coast wild

1. Barking Bay and Canine Cove, Whistler BC

Sometimes a name tells you everything you need to know about a place. These two Whistler swimming spots (the first on Lost Lake and the second in Rainbow Park) are making a serious splash with dogs who love the water (HELLO!). Leash-free on the beach? YES PAW-LEEZE! I'm telling you, I could play frisbee here all day.

2. Sue Higgins Park, Calgary AB

My Facebark pals say that Calgary is one of the most dog-friendly cities in Canada, so I think we should check it out for ourselves. Especially the 62-hectare fenced and leash-free doggie paradise located along the city's beautiful Bow River. There are trails and training areas and three different swim spots if we decide to go for a dip before our grilled steak dinner. When in Alberta, right?

Let's also check out these off-leash areas:

  • Malvern Park, Burnaby BC
  • Macaulay Point Park, Victoria BC
  • Terwillegar Park, Edmonton AB
  • Three Mile Bend, Red Deer AB
Chester the Dog running with friend in long grass

Central Canada cool

1. High Park, Toronto ON

I'm up for making more friends this summer so let's pack some extra treats (the good stuff) and head to High Park's Dog Hill where we have a good chance of meeting some new besties. The park's leash-free area has a creek to cool off in, forested trails to explore, a drink station and (just for you) picnic tables to relax at while I go network and find out which dog-friendly microbrewery we can head to post-park.

2. Forillon National Park Gaspé, QC

With nine me-friendly trails to check out, the Gaspé Peninsula's at the top of my list for possible vacation adventures. The Les Graves trail offers beachy swimming spots along Gaspé Bay AND a lookout point where you and I can stop to rehydrate and gaze out meaningfully towards the Appalachian Mountains

With any luck someone will be standing by to capture the moment for the 'gram. And human, not only will you want to keep that camera handy for all my adorable antics, but we might also spot whales and harbour seals, too.

Let's also check out these off-leash areas:

  • Stony Swamp Conservation Area, Ottawa ON
  • Sherwood Park, Toronto ON
  • Parc des Jardins-Lavigne, Gatineau QC
Chester the Dog standing on rocks looking at ocean

East Coast explorin'

1. Centennial Park, Moncton NB

Being the master of doggie diplomacy that I am, I've only *heard* about little dogs who don't get along with big dogs and vice versa. The humans who run this park seem to be aware of these canine factions, too, which is why they've set up separate off-leash spots for large and small dogs, so that everyone can have a good time in this forested retreat. Outside of these spots, you and I can practice our best on-leash skills across more than 94 hectares of forest.

2. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Ingonish Beach NS

Since we both love the feeling of salt water in our hair and fur, let's be sure to hit up this National Park that's a little slice of Scotland right here in Canada.

I'm welcome on 25 out of the 26 trails here. The 26th one is a moose-only zone and I'll gladly give the big guys their space. We can take the Lone Shieling path through the Sugar Maple Forest where there's a satisfying swimming creek, or the Coastal trail along quieter beach areas bordering the Atlantic.

Let's also check out these off-leash areas:

  • Point Pleasant Park, Halifax NS
  • Truro-Bible Hill Park, Truro NS

So what do you think? Road trip time?

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