We hate to tell you this, but you've been underestimating Canada all your life.
You've never thought to book a trip there, because you've fallen for more "culturally rich" places like Europe and more "exotic" places like South America.
Well you know what? We maple-leaf-lovers like it that way, because then we get Canada's exclusive sites, snacks and slang all to ourselves. Here are just a few of them.
1. A seven-month Whistler ski season.
Runs at Whistler Blackcomb are typically open from November through May. That's one of the lengthiest ski seasons on the continent.
2. A giant nickel.
When authorities vetoed Ted Szilva's idea to increase the size of Canadian nickels, he fired back by building this 30-foot chunk of change with a faux dinosaur in front...and you thought kitschy roadside attractions were only in America.
3. Crispy Crunch.
It's made by Cadbury, and it's just one of many exclusive sweets our "friends" up North have decided to keep as their own dark, chocolatey secret. The peanut-y, wafer-y center is enough to make you book a flight.
4. Lake Louise.
You can ski. You can do yoga. You can ski and do yoga at virtually the same exact time. Or you can row upon uncrowded waters in the summer sun.
5. The North American Swedish Fish factory.
Did you know our favorite gill-bearing gummies are actually made in Ontario?
6. Three of the most liveable cities in the world.
Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver all made the 2013 list of Most Liveable Cities in the World for their low crime rates, awesome culture, and stellar education. So if you visit Canada and decide to stay awhile (and you will decide to stay awhile), you're in good hands.
7. The original Tim Hortons.
No trip to Canada would be complete without a breakfast biscuit from this classy convenience chain, which started out serving only humble coffee and donuts of the highest quality. Take that, 7-Eleven.
They're everywhere, and they're awesome.
9. A real-deal walled city.
Quebec City is the only fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist. Plus it's on the water.
10. Half the world's polar bears.
More than 50% of our planet's furry white guys hail from Canada, and you can meet them when you drive in a tundra buggy, canoe the river, or stay in a lodge on their migration route.
11. Their very own Hershey's chocolate.
In 2013, Hershey's debuted a milkier, creamier version of their classic chocolate bar just for Canadians, who apparently prefer simpler ingredients and a less "gritty, cheesy" taste than Americans. Stock up while you're there.
12. The top summer vacation spot in the world.
Muskoka Cottage Country is the best-- National Geographic said so. Lakes and waterfalls weave through 17 historic villages, where canucks gather to hear the nightly wolf chorus.
13. Hockey skills.
The Canadian men have taken gold at three of the last four Olympics, and the women have dominated the last four Winter Games in a row. There was a picture of kids playing hockey on these people's $5 bill, for crying out loud! Take a hockey lesson from the greats while you're in town.
14. Public health care.
We're not even gonna try to open this can of worms.
15. A photogenic Parliament.
No, this isn't a castle. It's Parliament Hill, the aesthetically pleasing place on the banks of the Ottawa River where you can watch Senate and the House of Commons hard at work, making Canada into the best place ever.
16. The most adorable slang phrases you ever did hear.
Need to run to the biffy (aka toilet)? Don't forget your two-four (24-pack of beer).
17. A maple syrup monopoly.
That's right: we have over 8,000 businesses in Canada to thank for producing 80% of the Earth's syrup. Tour a real syrup farm to understand the magnitude of this nation's contribution to your pancakes.
18. An 18th-century fortress with geocaching.
At the Fortress of Louisbourg, you can hunt for modern-day treasure chests via GPS on the grounds of a settlement that helped Canada secure freedom from France.
19. Ryan Gosling.
Yes, you already knew that. And no, we will never, ever get over him.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post used a photo of bison, rather than elk, for item #8. This post also misidentified Alberta as a city; it is a province.