5 Best Canadian Long Weekend Getaways
Planning a long weekend getaway—without leaving the country? These Canadian summer destinations are surefire hits.
Best Long Weekend Spots: Vernon, B.C.
Just 45 minutes from Kelowna Airport, four hours from Vancouver and six hours from Calgary, this North Okanagan gem nestled between Swan, Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes offers something for everyone. Nature lovers and adventurers are spoiled for choice. Beaches on both lakes range from accessible to off-the-beaten path, depending on your needs. Families will appreciate Kin Beach on Okanagan Lake for its wide sandy shore, large playground and picnic tables all located close to parking, while the Cosens Bay and Juniper Bay beaches within Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park require more of a walk. Hikers and mountain bikers can explore the trails in Ellison Provincial Park or head up to Silver Star Mountain Resort for lift-accessed options. Food and drink lovers, too, will have plenty to keep them busy! Vernon is home to multiple wineries, as well as craft distillery Okanagan Spirits and cidery The BX Press. Top agritourism attractions include honey experts Planet Bee and working farm Davison Orchards.
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Best Long Weekend Spots: Canmore, Alta.
Less than a 90-minute drive from Calgary, this Rocky Mountain town is a paradise for outdoorsy types—and with views of tall peaks from anywhere in town, you can’t help but be inspired to explore. Top attractions include all types of active endeavours, from canoeing and caving to hiking and horseback riding. All are easily doable as a day trip or, for the more adventurous, on a multi-day tour. Those feeling less sporty can still experience the splendour of the mountain scenery, whether by boat, bus, canoe or even helicopter. Once you’re back in town, Canmore proper is worth a leisurely stroll to browse the shops and galleries. Thirsty? Drop in at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company to sample its brews—both beer and low-sugar, caffeine-free craft soda—or enjoy a meal on its popular patio with views of the famous Three Sisters mountain range.
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Best Long Weekend Spots: Ottawa, Ont.
An easy drive from Toronto or Montreal and with direct flights from across Canada, our capital offers attractions from the cerebral to the culinary and everywhere in between. Family-friendly to-dos, for instance, include the Canadian Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of History, where interactive exhibits showcase how people live around the world. Kid-friendly activities abound elsewhere, too, such as the Valleyview Little Animal Farm or a Pirate Adventures cruise on the Rideau Canal. You could also pursue a nature-themed itinerary that combines learning with exercise and relaxation. Start at the Canadian Museum of Nature to check out the dinosaur bones, mammal gallery and live insect collections. After lunch, head across the river to Quebec and the hiking, biking and horseback riding trails of Gatineau Park, then soothe tired legs with a soak and a steam in the pools and treatment rooms of the uber-relaxing Nordik Spa-Nature.
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Best Long Weekend Spots: Baie-Saint-Paul, Que.
A popular winter destination thanks to nearby ski hill Le Massif, this Charlevoix town less than 100 km from Quebec City shines in summer, too. Among the province’s oldest towns, it’s a beacon for art lovers, with cute streets lined with boutiques and galleries. Alongside its regular collection and special exhibitions, the contemporary art museum—le Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul—hosts an international art symposium every August, with a program that includes lectures and performances as well as a “live artistic creation experience” with invited artists. Baie-Saint-Paul and the Charlevoix region are a wonderland of gastronomy, too. Not only are there plenty of chef-led restaurants for all tastes, but also multiple agritourism experiences, such as the Laiterie Charlevoix, whose cheese-related offerings include a shop, guided tours and a cheesemaking museum with a vast collection of dairy paraphernalia from across Canada.
Best Long Weekend Spots: Lunenburg, N.S.
Just an hour outside of Halifax, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned as the home of the Bluenose, the famed fishing ship that adorns the Canadian dime. Although a plate of lobster or fish and chips and a heritage tour should be on your to-do list, the town is so much more than a living maritime museum. Lunenburg and its surrounding region abound in shoreline to explore on land or on sea, including beaches, hiking trails and kayaking and boat tours. While you’re on the road, stop in at local wineries or farms for a taste of local agritourism. In town, there are plenty of art galleries and boutiques to keep shoppers busy, plus tastings at Ironworks Distillery to sample the locally made vodka, rum, apple brandy and cranberry and blueberry liqueurs. Then refuel at one of the many restaurants, whether it’s mussels and chowder at the casual Salt Shaker Deli or a seven-course tasting menu at the award-winning Fleur de Sel.
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