To paraphrase Forrest Gump, Canada is like a box of chocolates. Its rugged outdoor adventures give intrepid travellers plenty to chew on but Canada also has some soft centres. Here’s a handful of signature experiences to consider between whitewater rafting and scaling glacial peaks…..
DON’T FALL IN, LOVE
Where: Niagara Falls, Ontario
Why Go? It might seem cliche’d but Canada’s thunderous Horseshoe Falls at Niagara have been attracting everyone from the romantic to the royally deranged for more than 150 years. Standing safely at the very edge of the tumult, the Falls are an awesome sight while each evening, 21 spotlights paint them in luscious hues.
Don’t miss boarding the ‘Maid of the Mist’ and venturing to the edge of the maelstrom as the Falls rage 52m above. Check out the Legends and Daredevils feature film at Niagara’s Imax theatre to see who survived ‘going over the edge’ before booking a Falls’ view table at the Casino for buffet dinner and ‘show’.
Added Bonus: The nearby picture-postcard village of Niagara-on-the-Lake boasts a dramatic colonial history, up-scale boutiques, cafes and tea rooms plus entry to Niagara Peninsula’s excellent wine growing region where cellar doors profile cool climate Rieslings and world-famous ice wines.
GOING OFF THE RAILS
Where: Rocky Mountaineer – Vancouver to Calgary
Why Go? It’s one of the world’s great rail trips, that’s why. Besides, where else can you get a 360 degree panorama of Canada’s spectacular Rocky Mountain landscape of flinty peaks, crystal-tipped rivers and glassy lakes while sipping a local wine and grazing on couture canapes.
Don’t miss capturing ribbons of snow melt tumbling over plains, towering Douglas Fir forests and serrated mountain ridges carved with scalpel precision and, as the train wheels tap dance over the rails, the wooden cabin where Doctor Zhivago romanced Lara in the movie that set many hearts a-flutter in 1965 sited near Lake Louise.
Added Bonus: With seamless service, gourmet food and fine wines, there’s nothing to distract you from enjoying the ride. You don’t even have to worry about luggage, it’s waiting for you in your room at each overnight stop.
PARIS MATCH XX
Where: Montreal, Quebec
Why Go? Culturally rich and stylishly hip, the croissant-shaped island of Montreal celebrates its vibrant diversity through food, music and an innate joie de vivre. Known locally as Canada’s kissing capital, French speaking citizens proudly celebrate their Gallic heritage by greeting visitors with a smacker on both cheeks.
Don’t miss nibbling local delicacy racine petits fruits, tiny wild blueberries dipped in chocolate while reclining in a horse-drawn carriage as you ride around the Old Town’s web of cobblestone streets while graciously restored 18th century buildings housing stylish boutiques, galleries, cafes and bars become especially romantic at dusk when street lamps softly burnish centuries-old stonework.
Added Bonus: Like Paris, Montreal is a bike-friendly city of distinct neighbourhoods so saddle-up and cycle around Plateau Mont Royale’s bohemian precinct where music, art and food markets are a daily celebration.
Where: Quebec City
Why Go? Be lured by piano accordionists into cozy inns serving poutine, arguably the world’s most fattening snack of fries, gravy and cheese curds, in North America’s only walled city and the continent’s indisputable cradle of French culture. Just three hours from Montreal, delight in roaming the cobblestone streets of Quebec City’s Petit Champlain Quarter where geraniums spill out of window boxes of Normandy-inspired field stone cottages and sitting in Place Royale, the square where Leonardo di Caprio’s character in ‘Catch Me If You Can’ was captured.
Don’t miss taking the funicular ride to the Boardwalk overlooking the St Lawrence River where stylish couples have promenaded since the Belle Epoque before strolling the historic Plains of Abraham where the British General Wolf claimed victory over French by defeating General Montcalm in 1759, something that the Quebecois haven’t quite got over!
Added Bonus: The table d’hotel menu served daily from noon to 5.45pm at Aux Anciens Canadiens at 34 rue St Louis where cheap, traditional country fare and Quebecois specialties are dished up in an historic Jacquet House dating from 1676.
JOIN THE GOLD RUSH
Where: Dawson City, Yukon
Why Go? For the freedom you’ll feel when you hit the Klondike-Kluane loop in an RV on a five day expedition from Whitehorse to Dawson City. Follow in the footsteps of the gold rush stampeders and relive old TV Westerns as you walk Front Street’s boardwalks past candy-coloured clapboard shopfronts in a town once known as the Paris of the North.
Don’t miss The variety show at Diamond Tooth Gerties, Canada’s oldest casino, a tour of the SS Klondike moored on the mighty Yukon river and visiting local artists’ studios. Cross the Yukon and drive the Top of the World Highway that spans mountain ranges and vertiginous chasms before dipping into Alaska.
Added Bonus: Embrace the great outdoors and picnic lunch on the banks of glacial rivers. Know ‘the bear facts’ before hiking to the treeline then, safely back in the RV, follow massive rivers of snow melt that unlock Kluane National Park’s ice-bound heart, the world’s largest protected area. Awesome!
VIA Rail Canada has an excellent schedule of intercity passenger rail services across Canada. www.viarail.ca
Air Canada and affiliates operate daily flights linking cities across Canada. www.aircanada.com
CanaDream rents motor homes of different sizes throughout Canada. www.canadream.com
Niagara: Doubletree Fallsview Resort & Spa by Hilton, 6039 Fallsview Blvd, Niagara Falls, Ontario T (905) 358 3817 www.niagarafallsdoubletree.com
Montreal: Hotel St-Paul, 355 McGill Street, Square-Victoria T (514) 380 2222 www.hotelstpaul.com
Quebec City: hotel Manoir Victoria, 44 cote du Palais T (418) 692 1030 www.manoir-victoria.com
Whitehorse: Gold Rush Inn, 411 Main Street, Whitehorse, Yukon T (867) 668 7432 www.goldrushinn.com
More information: www.canada.travel
Tags: Belle Epoque, Boardwalk, British General Wolf, Canada, CanaDream rents motor homes, cradle of French culture, Dawson City, Doctor Zhivago, Doubletree Fallsview Resort & Spa by Hilton, Douglas Fir forests, Forrest Gump, Front Street, funicular, General Montcalm, glacial peaks, gold rush, Gold Rush Inn, gourmet food and fine wines, Horseshoe Falls at Niagara, hotel Manoir, Hotel St-Paul, intrepid travellers, Jacquet House dating from 1676., Klondike-Kluane, Klondike-Kluane loop in an RV, Kluane National Park, Lake Louise, Legends and Daredevils, Maid of the Mist, Montreal, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara's Imax theatre, North America, North America's only walled city, Old Town, Paris, Paris of the North, Place Royale, Plains of Abraham, Plateau Mont Royale, poutine, Quebec, Quebec City, Quebec City’s Petit Champlain Quarter, Rocky Mountaineer, romance, rugged outdoor adventures, RV, SS Klondike, St Lawrence River, Top of the World Highway, ux Anciens Canadiens, Vancouver to Calgary, variety show at Diamond Tooth Gerties Canada, VIA Rail Canada, Whitehorse to Dawson City, whitewater rafting, www.2onthewing.com, www.aircanada.com, www.canada.travel, www.canadream.com, www.goldrushinn.com, www.hotelstpaul.com, www.manoir-victoria.com, www.quebecregion.com, www.rockymountaineer.com, www.tourisme-montreal.org, www.travelyukon.com, www.viarail.ca, Yukon, Yukon River