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What happens when a "gassy" Englishman rows into town feeling thirsty? A pub is born. And from that a city—in this case Vancouver. Though the pubs are plentiful, food and drink aren’t the only things to take in during your trip. In its 150 years, Vancouver has grown into a cosmopolitan city nestled in the great outdoors. Enjoy the snow-capped mountains, waterfront forests, cityside beaches, Olympic history and the world’s highest suspension bridge. Hipsters welcome. (Don’t worry, they don’t bite.)
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.
Quebec City may be the only fortified city north of Mexico, but it welcomes visitors with open arms. Explore the Citadel, where you might catch Canadian troops staging a military ceremony. As for food, you could splurge on afternoon tea at the Chateau Frontenac, or do as the locals do and snack on poutine—french fries with gravy and cheese curds.
Montreal, c’est si bon! This French-speaking city is considered the cultural capital of Canada, and is a cosmopolitan celebration of Québécois style. A horse-drawn carriage ride around the cobblestone streets and grand buildings of Vieux-Montréal will give you a taste of European flavour. The Basilique Notre-Dame is a confection of stained glass, and the Plateau Mont-Royal district will delight you with its quaint boutiques and cafés. Dig in to a massive plate of poutine to fuel up for a tour of the epic Olympic Park.
We've heard Toronto described as "New York City run by the Swiss," and it's true—you can find world-class theatre, shopping and restaurants here, but the sidewalks are clean and the people are friendly. The best place to start is literally at the top—the CN Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere.
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 Lake Okanagan, Kelowna offers a cure for whatever ails you. Spend the weekend golfing, relaxing on the beach or exploring a nature trail. The Okanagan Valley is chock-full of orchards, while many local vineyards offer wine tasting and tours. Stop at the mid-19th-century Father Pandosy Mission for a glimpse of Kelowna's history, then plan a moonlit cruise on the lake to end your day.
We won't lie: Niagara Falls is uber-touristy. There are wax museums and a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and if it's a fast-food chain, you can probably find it here. But even the most jaded hipster shouldn't pass up a chance to visit this town, because the Falls themselves are spectacular.
"For simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all." So said Alexander Graham Bell of the island he adopted as his home. Rich with Celtic, Mi'kmaq and Acadian heritage, Cape Breton is a delight for history buffs, music lovers and explorers of nature. Immerse yourself in 18th-century life at the Fortress of Louisbourg, explore the winding roads and Atlantic vistas of the Cabot Trail, and seek out a local Ceilidh for a lively and rousing experience.
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.