Choosing a vacation destination can be a challenge for observant Jews. That is doubly true for those of us in the Orthodox community. Just ensuring access to kosher foods alone is a difficult task in many foreign locales. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t places within easy reach that are extremely Jewish-friendly.
A Great Family Retreat
All three of the following Canadian destinations are home to vibrant and thriving Jewish communities that make them welcoming to other members of the Diaspora. In fact, they’re also great locations for calling together extended parts of the family for unique and fun-filled gatherings (remember though, some foreign visitors need to submit a Canada eta application prior to traveling there). Best of all, they each contain distinct types of experiences, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. When you add in the favorable currency exchange rates, Canada becomes a vacation destination you can’t afford to miss out on. To help those who’d like to plan a trip, here’s a guide to the best Canadian Cities to visit for the Jewish traveler.
As the largest city in Canada (and the fifth-largest in North America), Toronto is a must-see destination for any Jewish traveler. The city is also home to a Jewish population of 188,710 people, so it’s something of a home away from home when traveling there. From the gorgeous skyline view of the CN Tower to Ripley’s Aquarium, home of the largest underwater viewing tunnel in North America, it’s more challenging to decide what attractions to skip than which to go see. If you have enough time, scenic Niagara Falls is only an hour’s drive away, too.
If you’d like to experience some of the charms of Paris without the costly transatlantic flight, Montreal is where you need to go. In fact, Montreal’s French-speaking population is second in size only to the city of light, so the comparison is quite apt. Start your trip with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the heart of the city, known as Vieux-Montréal. You’ll find waterside cafés and street performers that display the city’s French flair. Then move on to the stunning 185-acre Montreal Botanical Gardens, which offers floral delights year-round. Make sure to stop in to see the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, with its collection of artwork that spans centuries and cultures.
If you’re yearning for a destination that strays away from new-world or old-world urban concepts and instead embraces a more rough-hewn outdoor spirit, head for Calgary. Known as Canada’s Wild West, it features the world-renowned Calgary Stampede and is a mere hour away from Banff National Park, right in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The surrounding mountains offer hot springs and ski resorts if you are looking for relaxation or outdoor fun. If you’ve brought the kids along (or if you still like to act like one), make sure to visit the Telus Spark Science Center and the Calgary Zoo for some educational fun.
If your family is looking for a great vacation destination that won’t break the bank and doesn’t eat up time off with lengthy travel arrangements, you need only look to the north. There are several easily accessible destinations right next door in Canada that offer plenty to do and see. In addition, Canada currently has the fourth-largest Jewish population on Earth, so you won’t be out of place no matter where you go within the country.