Just Across the Border: Planning a short trip to the States


There are many advantages to being Canadian, not least of which is the abundance of natural beauty and cultural heritage of this country. However, it is fair to say that due to geographic location, traveling abroad can often be pretty time consuming and expensive. The one country that is an exception to this, of course, is the USA. With around 80% of Canadian residents living within 80 kilometers of the US border, a short trip to the States is a feasible and attractive possibility for many.

Not too far

The great news is that there is a huge array of potential destinations just over – or even right upon – the US/Canada border. The most obvious of these is Niagara Falls, and indeed this site is so iconic that it has to be worth a visit at least once in any Canadian’s lifetime. However, there are many other, if lesser-known, short trip options that are well worth exploring.

How to travel?

For many, potential destinations will vary according to how they travel. Getting into the US is straightforward for most Canadians: when traveling by air, a Canadian passport or Nexus card is all that is needed, and most flights are pre-cleared (allow extra time at check-in for this) so Canadians are spared the bother of clearing US immigration/border security when they land.

A road trip to the US is a great idea, and those who drive over the border may only need an Enhanced Driver’s License/ID (or passport). The rules around travel documents are slightly different for children, and sometimes for those adults traveling with them, so it is a good idea to check before traveling and make sure that all paperwork is in order.

Road trips

For Canadians driving into America, the quirky and fascinating border towns right on the line between the two countries are a good option. Derby Line, Vermont, actually straddles the border, as can be seen by the heavy black line on the floor of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House! Fortunately, it is possible to move from one side of the library to the other without having to go through border security.

Northern Vermont in general has much to offer visitors, including mountain skiing, breathtaking scenery, and wineries. It is also a short hop from Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire, which is a theme park at which Christmas is celebrated all year round. Why not travel further into New Hampshire and enjoy white water rafting, visit historic Portsmouth and savor the fresh coastal air?

For those who love the great outdoors, Eureka, Montana, is just nine miles south of the border at British Columbia, and offers outstanding hiking, stunning forests and lakes. This area is great for skiing and fishing. Montana is also home to Glacier National Park, which is an area celebrated for its spectacular drives.

Another road trip option is Idaho, which is particularly beautiful in summer. Silverwood theme park, Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge and Nez Perce National Historical Park are all deserving of a visit.

A short flight

For Canadians taking a short flight into the US, other options arise. Perhaps the most obvious is a trip to New York City; although do not discount the idea of a vacation spent driving around New York State – it is beautiful and full of historic and cultural sites. How about visiting Philadelphia? Philly is stuffed full of historical locations and artifacts: visitors can see the Liberty Bell and visit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed (and the Constitution written). For those traveling with young families, there is the Please Touch Museum, which is America’s first museum specifically designed for children of seven and younger, and the Philadelphia Zoo, along with a wealth of drama, music, dance and sport. Reading Terminal Market is the oldest farmers’ market in the US to remain in continual operation, and home to more than 80 outlets selling a wealth of food and drink.

As a major city, Philadelphia is always popular with visitors, so it is always sensible to book tickets for events in Philadelphia prior to arrival.

Take advantage

Given the proximity of so many attractions to the border, and the ease with which Canadians and Americans can move between the two countries, it seems almost wasteful not to visit them! The Internet can provide lots of further information about the destinations mentioned here – and many others. Why not have a look, get some inspiration and start planning that trip over the border today?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

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