If you haven’t been in the loop for the past few centuries, the United States is pretty big. So big in fact that it’s the fourth largest country in the world, yet despite this it shares only two land borders. To those summer travel junkies who have always wished they could hop in their car and drive to a foreign land rich in culture, worry not. It so happens that our only two land neighbors in Mexico and Canada are also pretty large countries. Like the USA, Mexico and Canada have a variety of cultures existing within their borders.
But will you need a New Passport?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, I should mention what the exact requirements for entering Mexico and Canada are. For those that do not have one, you’ll need to acquire a new passport. Alternatively, if you plan on driving over the border like this guide suggests, you could bring a passport card with you instead. Passport cards work like new passports but they can only be used to cross certain land and sea borders. You could also just carry both and feel ultra secure.
Canada is almost cheating in this game of near the border tourist spots. Why? Most of Canada’s population lives within 30 miles from the US-Canadian border, so most industry, including tourism, is focused in this area. Let’s start this off with one of the more “foreign” feeling locations in Canada though.
Ah, Quebec. Quebec gets a bad wrap, mostly because of the common stereotype of the french being rude to foreigners. While the residents of Quebec are not technically French, they came to be from a French colony. We can neither confirm nor deny whether Québécois carry the same reputation as their brethren over in Europe, but if you want to see what it’s like to be immersed in French life without going to France, this is the place. The primary language spoken in the Canadian province is of course French, so it’s kind of like France lite. Don’t expect everyone to speak English just cause Canada acknowledges both French and English as its national languages!
Located near New York, you can actually view Niagara Falls from the US side of the border, but while your there you may as well cross on over and say you went abroad. Niagara Falls is famous for looking better than every single other waterfall, Scientists the world over have joined hands in agreement that Niagara Falls is definitely the most datable source of water on Earth. All joking aside, watching water tumble over stone into more water can be quite awe inspiring if there’s enough water being tossed around. If you haven’t ever been to Niagara Falls, rest assured, there is enough water being tossed around.
Vancouver is one of Canada’s major cities. The city itself is only located about 3 hours from Seattle if you drive, this makes it a great place to go if your in Seattle and want to see a more extreme version of it with nicer people. Kidding. Vancouver is known for its seafood, its hockey, a booming movie industry, and the fact that it rains 160 days out of the year. Vancouver is out on the world scene taking shots at Japan, Toronto, Hollywood, and England it seems. Cost of living in the city is also rather high, so I guess you could also compare it to San Francisco. Lucky for you all, hotels and AirBnB’s are not as pricey as rent is in the city.
The largest city in Canada! It boasts a population of roughly 3 million people and sits on Lake Ontario. Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Province that Toronto is located in is called Ontario. Toronto has much in common with Vancouver, it even has a much larger film industry presence due to even larger tax breaks and stand out architecture. The CN Tower which looms over Toronto is open to the public, and after a short 1 minute ride to the top you’re able take in all of Toronto at once.
While the destinations located in Mexico don’t have the luxury of being kissing distance from the border, they do inhabit a much warmer part of the world. This means you may have to plan for a bit more of a road trip than the Canadian entries in this article. If you plan on traveling during the winter in hopes of escaping the cold, or if you’re just trying to take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight the summer provides, these locations are sure to be worth the drive.
Baja California literally translate to “Below California” and believe it or not it’s just south of the US-Mexican border in the state of California. How convenient. The Baja region of Mexico is home to many an activity, Tijuana which is a bustling party town is literally on the border. If that doesn’t do it for ya, there are also several coastal towns that can provide many a beach goers a good time. There are wall watching tours available as well, so if you’d like to see some cetaceans basking in all their glory. Even further south of Baja California is Baja California Sur, which is home to La Paz and a whale museum. So if you wanna go all in on the whole whale thing, there you go!
While Mexico City doesn’t have access to beaches like the rest of our Mexican entries, it does have a population larger than that of New York City, making it one of the largest cities in the world! Naturally this means that the City is brimming with culture and many activities for tourists, whether they be on the more touristy side of things or not. You could begin the trip by easing in with a day trip to Teoihuacan, then go off the deep end and indulge in some not-so-casual Lucha Libre action. All in all, Mexico City has much to offer to the casual and avid tourist alike. Even if you don’t plan on making Mexico City, it’s still a great place to stop by if you’re heading to somewhere like the next location on this list.
Cancun is renowned for being a stellar vacation spot for the youth of the world. In the USA venturing to Cancun during Spring Break could even be considered a rite of passage, if you’re into that sort of thing. Cancun is a great spot to visit for great beaches and partying, however like our next destination, it’s a way of a drive from the border. Starting from Houston, Texas, you’re looking at a 34 hour drive. Might want to pack a few snacks for the trip. On the upside, before you hit the beaches, you can stop at various other locations in Mexico on your way to Cancun to make the most out of your trip!
Tulum is just a bit south of Cancun so it shares many of the same problems with it as far as transportation goes. Like Cancun, Tulum is a beach paradise, with one added caveat: it’s the only beach in Mexico that also sports ancient Mayan ruins. The city itself does not receive as much attention as its neighbor in the north Cancun does, so this might be an excellent alternative if you’re trying to stay away from too many tourists. That all being said, Tulum is quite the place to behold, and as a host of ancient ruins the area does receive some attention from travelers looking to take advantage of the locale’s unique set up.
That’s all the locations we have for you today! If your interested in learning more about either Canada or Mexico, you can get more information here and here. If you’ve never had a passport or passport card and were interested in obtaining one, we can help with that as well! We at The Passport Office have been aiding travelers with their passport expediting process since 1993. Visit our website to find out more information about how to expediting your new or passport renewal process.