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Blessed with a spectacular Pacific Rim location, Vancouver is a study in contrasts and cohesion. Set between the mountains and the sea, the city blends cultures and landscapes, allowing visitors to enjoy a modern, cosmopolitan city alongside the great outdoors. You could spend all weekend exploring Stanley Park, but you don't want to miss the panoramic vistas from the Capilano Bridge or the Sea to Sky Highway, or the opportunity to ski or explore a mountain trail. A temperate year-round climate makes Vancouver enjoyable in any season, though the winter months do bring a string of rainy days.
Whistler, British Columbia, is a short trip from Vancouver by road or air. The stunning landscape, pedestrian-only Village and genuine, down-to-earth mountain culture make Whistler an unforgettable year-round destination. Winters provide reliable snow for skiing, snowboarding and Nordic sports while golf, mountain biking and hiking fill the warmer months. Festivals, spas, restaurants and bars combine with endless outdoor activities to make Whistler the ultimate place to escape and unwind.
Gracious Quebec City is perched on the banks of the St Lawrence river, 150 miles east of Montreal. The only fortified city north of Mexico celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2008. Visitors can happily meander through the Old City on foot. Browse shops along rue Saint-Louis, rue Saint-Jean, Artists' Alley and le Petite Champlain, the oldest shopping street in North America. Tour the Citadelle and see the Canadian troops stage military ceremonies. Admire the gables and turrets of the grand Chateau Frontenac.
The "joie de vivre" is palpable and contagious in this vibrant, culturally diverse and cosmopolitan city of two million inhabitants. Whether sipping a capuccino at an outdoor café, gambling at the huge Casino de Montreal complex or exploring historic Old Montreal, you can't escape without experiencing the excitement and energy that pervade the entire city. Montreal draws tourists all year round; even a series of cold winter days (and it does get cold) can be avoided in the vast Underground City with its restaurants, shops, walkways and subway, or enjoyed through the broad array of winter sports. The truly international flavour here is evident in the numerous fine restaurants, with cuisine from around the world, and in the self-contained ethnic communities, such as Little Italy, a lively area of espresso bars and delectable cuisine. For sizzling nightlife, check out the Rue Crescent's clubs, bars and restaurants. The historical division between the French and English influence has significantly diminshed, but distinctive sections still remain.
One of Canada's best-kept secrets, Toronto is on par with New York City, San Francisco and Chicago when it comes to cultural attractions and urban activities. The best place to start is at the top, and in this city there's no mistaking where that is. The landmark CN Tower is the tallest structure in the world and also an important telecommunications hub. Take the lift to the top for a breathtaking view of the city and its surrounding areas. Right next door at the SkyDome you can see a Blue Jays baseball game or just walk around the massive stadium. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum, the largest in Canada, with fascinating archeology and natural-history exhibits, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, with a fine collection of European and Canadian works. Don't miss the funky stores and ethnic restaurants on Queen Street West, or the elegant boutiques and fine eateries of Yorkville. Also head down to Harbourfront, a complex of unique shops and restaurants right on beautiful Lake Ontario. From Harbourfront you can hop on a ferry to the Toronto Islands for a picnic and outdoor recreation. Toronto is an especially great destination for families as most attractions are child-friendly. Plus, it is an incredibly clean, safe and easy city to get around either on foot or by public transport.
Catapulted to fame for its part in the 1988 Winter Olympics, this former coal-mining town in the Canadian Rockies is a perfect base for visiting some of the country’s most impressive national parks. First stop for most visitors is the ski trails in Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. Contemplate natural wonders at the Museum and Geoscience Centre, and mush through the snow on a sled-dog tour.
Located on the sunny shores of Lake Okanagan, mellow Kelowna offers a cure for whatever ails you. Are you stressed? In desperate need of some fun? Spend the weekend golfing, relaxing on the beach or exploring a nature trail. The Okanagan Valley, stretching from Osoyoos at the US/Canadian border north to Vernon, British Columbia, is chock-full of orchards. The BC Orchard Industry Museum is a great place to learn more about the history of farming in the region. The area is also known for its vineyards, and many offer wine-tasting and tours. History buffs should schedule a stop at the Father Pandosy Mission, established in the mid-19th century. Top off your day of relaxation or adventures with a spirit-lifting moonlit cruise on the lake.
Niagara Falls is a top destination with a split personality of sorts, being a citizen both of the United States and of Canada. Views are generally accepted to be better on the Canadian side, with more to do and Ontario's excellent wineries adjacent. Visit the Clifton Hill District and enjoy a Las Vegas-style dinner show at Greg Frewin Theatre. See the Falls from below aboard the Maid of the Mist or on a helicopter tour above. For other ideas on how not to experience the Falls, visit the Daredevil Museum.
What do you bald eagles, migrating whales, coal mining and Alexander Graham Bell have in common? (Besides that your grandfather can probably spout factoids about all of them.) Cape Breton, that's what. With learning opportunities at every turn, the island is an eclectic blend of rich histories. Hear Celtic music in the pubs of the Ceilidh Trail, get a taste of 18th-century military life at Fortess Louisbourg and see what life was like for early Scottish immigrants at the Highland Village Museum in Iona.
Named for Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford has grown to become Canada’s premier arts town. In addition to the annual Stratford Festival, performing from April through October, Stratford is always filled with theatre, music and visual arts. The preserved 19th-century architecture and acres of parks and gardens (along its own Avon River, no less) are certain to charm. Stratford has also gained a reputation for culinary creativity, showcased at some of the finest restaurants in the country.