From the east coast, through Quebec and Ontario, out to the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia on the west coast, there's plenty of opportunity to enjoy leisurely outdoor fun throughout Canada. Here are 10 great options for anyone headed to the Great White North.
Eastern Townships | Quebec
Eastern Townships, Quebec — Photo courtesy of John Cameron
Just north of Vermont and an an hour south of Montreal, Quebec's Eastern Townships offer a good selection of top quality inns, resorts, hotels and spas for all budgets. Scenic cycling and hiking trails, mountains and lakes and championship golf courses all provide ample opportunity to work off the extra calories of this popular foodie destination and add to your vacation enjoyment.
If you time it right, you can listen to monks performing Gregorian chants at the Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey before stopping into their boutique for top-quality chocolate and cheese – all made on-site.
Dude ranch experience | British Columbia
Dude ranch riders — Photo courtesy of John Cameron
If you're heading to British Columbia, your Canadian outdoor leisure adventure should include a visit to a dude or guest ranch. Similar to their U.S. counterparts, these week-long vacations receive high marks for the value of the leisure dollar. Excellent food, top-notch horseback riding instruction, beautiful trails to suit all abilities, a convivial social atmosphere and a range of outdoor activities keep the dudes coming back year after year.
Fox Harb'r Golf Resort and Spa | Nova Scotia
Fox Harb'r Golf — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell
Fox Harb'r, Nova Scotia’s only five-star property and gated community, once hosted Tiger Woods. While you could arrive in style via the private airstrip or marina, the drive is a scenic two hours from the Halifax International Airport. Owner Ron Joyce, of Tim Hortons coffee fame, provides his highly addictive substance in all the suites and the otherwise high-end dining room.
The back nine holes hugging the Atlantic Ocean offer true links-style golf while the front nine feature super fast greens on odd-shaped holes carved out of the forest. A nine-hole par 3 course – perfect for the kids – is free with all reservations.
CTMA Cruises | Montreal
St. Lawrence River — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell
CTMA Cruises depart from the Bickerdike Basin Pier near the Old Port of Montreal and provide visitors a glimpse of the city and life along the St. Lawrence River, views that others rarely see. This departure point is a favorite of filmmakers for its unparalleled views of Montreal en route down the St. Lawrence River, all the way to the Magdalen Islands where another ferry continues on to Prince Edward Island.
Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course | Huntsville, Ont.
Hole 10 at Deerhurst Golf Resort — Photo courtesy of John Cameron
“A great golf course starts with a great piece of land,” says Thomas McBroom, co-designer of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course in Ontario's cottage country.
Utilizing Muskoka’s granite rock faces, tree-topped hills, lakes and ponds, McBroom and his mentor, Bob Cupp, created a beautiful – and playable – course. Watch out for deer crossing the cart path as it meanders through maple, white birch and pine trees. Across a narrow wooden bridge, spanning two pink and grey granite cliffs, sits an undulating practice green.
Canada's capital city | Ottawa
Cycling Ottawa's RIdeau Canal — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell
Ottawa’s favorite festival, Winterlude, encourages participants to traverse the frozen canals of this capital city on skates. In the other three seasons, visitors can hike the Gatineau Park trails and cycle the Rideau Canal.
Head underground to the Diefenbunker Museum for a look into Canada’s secret cold war past. Be sure to tour the Parliament buildings and grounds, as well as the sculpture garden of the National Art Gallery nearby.
Mont-Tremblant | Quebec
Mont-Tremblant is a 1.5-hour drive from Montreal, serving as a playground for those who want to get out of the city. During winter, it’s a prime ski destination. The rest of the year finds the mountains and forests transformed into excellent golf tracks.
Thanks to the topography of the Canadian Shield, golfers can enjoy championship golf experiences with dramatic elevation changes.
Cross country skiing Canmore Nordic Center — Photo courtesy of John Cameron
With endless ways to enjoy the outdoors, any winter getaway to the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park should begin here. The countless peaks and vast wilderness offer snow enthusiasts ample opportunities for leisurely cross-country and downhill skiing, dog sledding, backcountry hiking and snowshoeing.
Lake Ontario from Via Rail train Toronto-Montreal — Photo courtesy of Sherel Purcell
This pretty limestone city, which was once Canada's capital, sits at the junction of Lake Ontario, Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence River. You'll find ample award-winning museums to explore and excellent dining to satisfy any foodie's desires.
It's easy to get out of town, via Highway 15, for an afternoon stopover at the Jones Falls Lock station on the Rideau Canal. You can learn all about water management systems that accommodate boats, and paddlers can camp here with the option of using the locks or portaging their vessels.
Trinity Bellwoods Park | Toronto
In Toronto, you can walk, run, cycle, skate, swim, sail or play tennis at waterfront and city parks. In particular, check out the 37 acres of Trinity Bellwoods Park – a favorite among artists, dog walkers and kids, making it a great spot for people-watching. And for something really out of the ordinary, this park offers slackline poles where tightrope walker wannabes can practice their craft. If you want to try it out, you'll need to bring your own line.