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10 Amazing Dream Weekend Getaways in Canada

by Gizelle Lau
August 13, 2008

In store for a much-needed getaway or vacation? I know I am! But unless I can miraculously get four weeks paid vacation, I'll have to stick to weekend getaways and long weekends to appease the restless and wandering traveler in me.

So, instead of dreaming about climbing mountains in the Himalayas, relaxing on a beach in Penang, or eating croissants in Paris, I'll have to stick to my "home and native land" - and discover the beauty, attractions, sights and adventures that Canada has to offer.

10 Amazing Dream Weekend Getaways and Short Holidays in Canada

This week, has put together a list of ten of the top unique getaways that Canada has to offer. From luxury food, wine, and spa getaways to true Canadian wilderness adventures, unique Canadian experiences, and sights that you'll faint at - this list that will bring you to the best activities, sights, adventures, and accommodations in Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

King Pacific Lodge in Central British Columbia & Killarney Lodge in Algonquin Park, Ontario

King Pacific Lodge in British ColumbiaIf you're looking for luxury married to the stunning Canadian wilderness, then King Pacific Lodge in British Columbia is your best bet. The lodge is found in the Great Bear Rainforest just off of the remote Princess Royal Island in central BC. A truly secluded haven, the lodge is accessible only by a charter plane from Vancouver, followed by a Champagne welcome-reception upon you arrival.

For the best in portaging, camping, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, biking, hiking and trekking, Algonquin Park has little competition with its hundreds of lakes and trails. Keep your eyes open for beavers, moose, turtles, deer, lynx and black bears. Killarney Lodge in Algonquin offers cozy private log cabin rentals on the lake - with canoes for the borrowing. Meals offered in the lodge offers delicious country cooking that is a true Canadian experience.

Sip and Spa in Niagara, Ontario & the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Okanagan Valley, British ColumbiaWind through the countryside backroads, through valleys, hills, and vineyards as far as the eye can see in these top Canadian wine regions: The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and the Niagara Region in Ontario.

Just 4 hours from Vancouver, The Okanagan Valley is home to more than 70 wineries supplying 95% of the wine in B.C. With rows of vines that slope down towards the water, the views are as stunning as the many local and friendly winegrowers, fresh produce, bed and breakfast owners, and luxury resorts and spas.

Going eastward, the overall Niagara region and the Niagara-on-the-Lake community are home to some of Canada's top wines, including its famous Ice Wines. In the cozy town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, you'll find some of the best spas in the Americas, including 100 Fountain Spa at the Pillar and Post Hotel and the Secret Garden Spa at the Prince of Wales Hotel. Stop by Peller Estates Winery or Vineland Estates Winery for some of the best food and wine pairing experiences in Niagara.


Culinary and Jazzy Delights in Montreal, Quebec

Montreal Jazz FestivalMontreal is the best place to celebrate wonderfully delicious smoked meat, poutine, foie gras, venison and maple-syrup-spiked foods in Canada. From $5 plates of fatty-grade smoked meat in its local shops to its $200 (per person!) fine dining tasting menus with a whole hung of foie gras - cheap eats and foodies come together in harmony in Montreal.

As a place that is so passionate about food, it is just as passionate about music. The Montreal International Jazz Festival or Jazz Fest, is the largest festival in the world. The 10-day festival usually takes place at the end of June or beginning of July and attracts over 2 million people. Small clubs to huge venues are packed with jazz aficionados enjoying the beautiful Montreal scene in the summertime. Absolutely delightful.

More on Montreal? Read our article on the Top 10 Highlights Chez Montreal.

Golf in Summer and Ski/Snowboard in Winter at Whistler, British Columbia

Hike in the summer, ski/snowboard in the winderWhistler has more to offer than just winter activities and adventures! When the snow melts away, the 2181-metre peak of Whistler and Blackcomb become your summer playground, with activities like mountaineering, hiking, a mountain biking park, rafting, canoeing - the list goes on. Whistler is also one of the best spots for golf in Canada - imagine teeing off at many of Whistler's championship golf courses with the stunning mountains in the foreground and the sun on your face. Something more relaxing? Hang out in Whistler's pedestrian village to check out the shops, restaurants and cafes, and spas.

If you're visiting Whistler Blackcomb during the wintertime, it's likely you're going to brave it out to carve up its remarkable slopes. As the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics' Alpine Skiing Venue, Whistler is growing and will have completed their new Peak2Peak Gondola, an eleven-minute ride from the peak of Whistler to Blackcomb. You must try Whistler at least once - you'll be amazed and awed by these massive peaks, you'll probably never be satisfied elsewhere ever again.

Dog-Sledding, Ice-Fishing, Snowshoeing and Snowmobiling in Cariboo Chilcotin Mountains, British Columbia

Experience dog sledding or heli skiing/snoboardingDuring the summer, there's rafting, fishing, ranches and rodeos for summertime. But the sparkling Cariboo Chilcotin Mountains were created for winter sports. Where else in Canada can you do all of the following in one place: backcountry & cross country skiing, dog sledding, downhill skiing and snowboarding, heli-skiing or snowboarding, ice-fishing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.

Mount Timothy is great for skiing/snowboarding without the crowds or if you're gutsy enough, heli-skiing Bella Coola region for powder paradise. For a unique experience, go dog-sledding, try the Hills Health & Guest Ranch or The Wolf Den/Nakitsilik Outdoors Adventures.

Find out more about Dog Sledding in British Columbia.

Winter Wonderland at l'Hotel de Glace (the Ice Hotel) in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, Quebec

Ice Hotel, QuebecThe Ice Hotel or L'Hotel de Glace is built anew every year, carved completely from ice: from its structure to its columns, beds, chandeliers, the bar, lobby, chapel for weddings, seating areas, and more. It is definitely a truly unique and Canadian experience, found only in Quebec. Just 30 minutes from Quebec City, the hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway or to bring the kids on a completely unique experience. Open from January to the end of March every year, the hotel is recreated each year. The indoor temperature varies from -3°C to -5°C and arctic sleeping bags on bedspring and mattresses on solid ice blocks are provided for guests.

Polar Bears and Northern Lights in Churchill, Manitoba

Polar bear after a swimThe town of Churchill, Manitoba is inaccessibly by any roads - to visit, you'll have to be flown in or take a 1 day + 21 hour train journey by VIA Rail to this town on the Hudson Bay.

From mid-October to mid-November when the ice begins to freeze, Polar Bear Tour Operators gear up for high-demand weekend and week-long tours which are often sold as packages that include accommodations, domestic transportation, meals, trips to see the Great White Bears, other activities and local attractions. Fall and winter seasons are also the best time to see the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. A 3day/2night package can cost $1600 to $2600 from Winnipeg to Churchill. But as the tours are becoming more and more popular, let's hope Al Gore was wrong about the demise of the bears by 2050.

See the polar bears with the Great Canadian Travel Company, the Lazy Bear Lodge, or the Tundra Buggy Adventure.

Banff Lake Louise & Canadian Rockies, Alberta

Banff Lake LouiseFor another breathtaking winter alpine experience, Banff, Lake Louise and Sunshine Ski Resorts in Alberta are three gems of the Canadian Rockies comparable to Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia.

Like Whistler, Banff Lake Louise is just as buzzing in the spring, summer and fall as it is during the winter ski season. Fishing, canoeing, mountaineering, whitewater rafting, hikes (and heli-hiking!), or enjoy the hot springs. Not only does Banff Lake Louise offer adventurous experiences and true Canadian alpine wilderness, but top Canadian cuisine, luxury day and resort spas, as well as art galleries and historic museums. Don't forget to stop by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for a stunning view and Afternoon Tea.

Champagne and Chocolates in Cozy St. John's, Newfoundland

Harbour in St. John's Newfoundland"Old World Charm . . . New World Comfort" sums up the Murray Premises Hotel that sits overlooking the harbour (the Narrows) in St. John's. Originally built in 1846 as a warehouse for salt cod, the Murray Premises boutique hotel was brought to life in 2001 to offer the ultimate luxury and comfort in St. John's, Newfoundland. Here, the cozy seaside town is matched with incredible comfort that is the perfect experience of what eastern Canada is all about.

Visit the Murray Premises Hotel for the perfect romantic weekend in cozy St. John's that includes accommodations with massive duvets, private Jacuzzis in every room, stone or electric fireplaces, breakfast and of course, champagne and chocolates. Can you feel the love tonight?

Luxury Culinary Getaway at Trout Point Cooking School in East Kemptville, Nova Scotia

Trout Point Cooking School in East KemptvilleThis one is hands down for the hardcore foodies. The Trout Point Cooking & Wine School (and Trout Point Lodge) is located in southern Nova Scotia and is known as one of the top North America cooking schools and gourmet food travel getaways, notably, by Conde Nast, Food & Travel Magazine and National Geographic. The lodge and cooking school has also been heralded for its eco-tourism initiatives and sustainable tourism methods.

The lodge is open from May to October each year and offers lessons in Creole-style cooking and seafood. The getaway includes hands-on experience, visits to local oyster farms, fishing ports, and lessons in Cajun techniques, cheese making, smoking and growing garden produce. Besides working in the kitchen, guests have the opportunity to savour gourmet meals and luxurious rustic accommodations - think cozy log cabins with roaring fires. Activities include kayaking, canoeing, swimming, whale watching and golf.

From us at to you: enjoy your weekend getaway in Canada, our True North, Strong and Free!

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Gizelle Lau icon

Gizelle Lau

Gizelle Lau is a freelance writer & photographer in Toronto, Canada with a passion for food and travel. 

Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: cities, culture, food/wine, paths-less-travelled, photography, wildlife

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