Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Thu October 27 2016

The Boy Next Door

Remember growing up and your older brother had that friend? He wasn’t as sexy as the school jock or as exciting as that kid constantly in detention, but he was the kid next door, and always there for you.

He was a dependable sort. Wholesome. He wasn’t exactly boring, but he didn’t make your heart race either.

But as you got older, he became better looking, thrilling, even. And by the time you shared your first kiss, you were deeply, madly in love with that unassuming guy who’s always been right there under your nose.

Yes, I’ve just made a ham-handed analogy comparing Canada to the boy next door.

Growing up, you always know the country is right there. You may know it has the longest coastline in the world, some of the most spectacular mountain peaks and landscapes.  Sure, there are whales, polar bears, the highest tides in the world, the Northern Lights, and even the Arctic Circle.

But, meh, you still want that boy in detention. It’s all Cuba and Colombia and China and whatever other place has been “off limits” up until now.

Canada? Well, there’s time enough to visit Canada.

Historically, the nation even tends to get under-represented on the world’s “best of” travel lists, although some of that changed this week when the editors of Lonely Planet ranked Canada as the number one destination to visit in 2017.

And just what makes Canada the must-see destination for 2017?

"Canada is always popular with us," said Lonely Planet's Canada Destination Editor Alex Howard, "but there's so much happening in 2017 that made it number one. It's the country's biggest birthday party in recent memory with the sesquicentennial next year, and they won't be shy about celebrating. Now is the time to start planning a trip." 

Also cited as a reason to visit was the low Canadian dollar (great value for international visitors). So okay, still pretty tame, boy-next-door kind or reasoning, but it ain’t nothing.

Because when you do get here, on your value-for-the-dollar-vacation, you’ll see Canada is all about the hiking trails, Niagara Falls, snow yoga, Banff, narwhal whales, lobster fishing, Whistler, bird watching, hockey, autumn leaves, outdoor spas, heli-skiing and Anne of Green Gables. And um, hello, the maritime provinces (AKA Acadia) only pretty much inspired everything Cajun, from the food to the language to the music.

Now in fairness, Lonely Planet did also mention Canada’s “energetic new leader, Justin Trudeau” as well as its “exciting fusion food and mysteriously underrated wine” as other reasons why Canada is tops. And what a culinary scene the country has. When you have as much territory, farmland and coastline as Canada covers, of course you’ll find some of the world’s best farm-to-table and sea-to-table cuisine. Don’t believe me? There’s the famed wines of British Columbia and the ice wines of the Niagara region, the cheeses of Quebec, blueberries from Nova Scotia, the maple syrup from the eastern provinces, the lobsters of New Brunswick, Price Edward Island mussels (and potatoes) and cod fish caught by traditional hand line fishing methods in Newfoundland. And let’s not forget Poutine. (Gravy and cheese curds over French fries, did you really need to ask?)

So yes, 2017 is going to be a great time to visit Canada. Sure, the 150th anniversary of the nation’s confederation means there are going to be festivals and celebrations galore across the country. But it’s also the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal. Not that familiar with Montreal? This is the place where American musicians and bon vivants fled during prohibition so they could keep on drinking and making music. Today, Montreal’s jazz scene is among the best in the world. But it also a place where cultures merge, and sometimes collide, and give birth to new technologies and a vibrantly blended, welcoming culture.

So, if you are thinking about taking a second look at this boy next store, this thrilling destination known as Canada, for the coming year, we’ve assembled a few articles from TravelPulse and TravelPulse Canada to help get you started on your destination planning…

Extreme Canada: 11 Adventurous Reasons to Head North

Best Places to Eat Lobster in Atlantic Canada

Polar Bears in Spring on Baffin Island

Five Great Canadian Birding Destinations

Explosive Pyrotechnics to Light Up Montreal

Canada in an Instant: The Trans Canada Trail

Cross Canada Train Ride with Uncommon Journeys

Canada in an Instant: Quebec by the Sea

Vancouver Named North America’s Top Airport…Again

The Best Hotels in Canada

Another great resource is Destination Canada’s Canadian Signature Experiences list. It offers a treasure trove of amazing, uniquely Canadian things to see and do.

So, start planning already. Because that boy next store is only going to get better looking, eh?