CanadaConsulting

Our big neighbor to the north is a lot like us but in many ways is very different. The parts that are alike make it easy to get around. The parts that are different give us a chance to experience a different culture.

Our favorite places in Canada are:

Quebec - often touted as Paris without the jet lag. Montreal - the big cosmopolitan city. Quebec City - very historic and quaint. The Laurentians - mountain playground just outside of Montreal. Charlevoix - on the St. Laurence river - small town but beautiful countryside.

British Columbia - mountains, forests, and seashore. Vancouver - another beautiful cosmopolitan city. Victoria - historic city on nearby Vancouver Island. Whistler - ski area in the Canadian Rockies about two hours from Vancouver.

Toronto - just a big city but home to the best collection of plays west of Broadway.

Trips to Consider

There are several escorted tours and some wonderful cruises that feature Canada but it is also a destination that lends itself to self exploration. Two of our favorite trip suggestions focus on the coasts.

East Coast - take advantage of the proximity of Montreal, Quebec City, and the Laurentians to spend a few days in three very different destinations. If you fly into Montreal and stay in the city center (we are especiallly partial to small hotels in Old Montreal), you don't need to worry about a car. There is lots to do, great restaurants, interesting shops, and a true French flavor.

Pick up a car and make your way to the Laurentians. In the winter it is a ski resort. In the summer there are some great golf courses. In either season the ski village is a great place to visit. Summertiime hiking in the hills will give you a chance to get in touch with the beautiful countryside.

You can keep the car and drive to Quebec City but you hardly need a car when you get there so a trip back to Montreal to turn in the car makes sense. Getting from Montreal to Quebec City by train is a good choice. Once there, you are even more immersed in the history of the oldest walled city in North America. Once again you can experience restaurants, shops, and a French atmosphere not that different from a trip to Paris.

There is one more interesting option if you want to extend your trip a little longer. About four hours from Quebec City, along the banks of the St. Lawence Seaway, is Charlevoix - home to a great Fairmont hotel and casino. The drive takes you through some beautiful small towns. From Charlevoix there are a number of side trips available into the wilder and very scenic forests that start just a few miles from the river.

West Coast - there is a smilar situation in the west with the combination of Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler. Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city of exceeding beauty. It hosts a wonderful cruise port and is the jumping off point for many Alaska cruises. Vancouver is a comparatively modern city. It boasts a thriving Chinatown, museums, a huge downtown park (Stanley Park), as well as restaurants and shops of all sorts.

Victoria (located on Vancouver Island) is a three hour ferry ride (or 30 minute helicopter flight) from Vancouver. It is the seat of government for British Columbia and maintains a decidedly English flavor. Buchart Gardens and high tea at the Empress Hotel are two of the highly recommended activities when visiting Victoria. At certain times of the year, Victoria is a great jumping off spot for whale watching and other outdoor activities.

After returning to Vancouver, you can pick up a car and drive into the Canadian Rockies for a visit to Whistler (about 3 hours up the road). While the Laurentians on the east coast might be confused with big hills, there will be no doubt that you are in the mountains when you visit Whistler. Beautiful scenary and winter skiing or summer hiking are the attractions here. The ski village is a great place to find shops and restaurants.

Additional Information

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Small Hotels in Canada

We are fans of small intimate hotels and Canada is a great place to find them.

A favorite Quebec travel option is to just go from Inn to Inn with a hotel group called Hotellerie Champetre. This is a collection of city inns, resorts, and woodland inns. If you are familiar with Relais and Chateaux hotels, this group is similar. All pride themselves on their restaurant and unique charm - all this without the high cost of their more famous Relais and Chateaux cousins.

Quebec hosts 25 of these properties. A trip from one to another can be a very enjoyable getaway.