Tag Archives: Canmore

Vacation in Canada – Where Should You Travel Now?

There’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy leisurely outdoor fun throughout Canada, from the east coast to the west coast, on these great vacation options for the Great White North.

Fox Harb’r Golf Resort and Spa | Nova Scotia

Fox Harb'r Golf Course fairway
Fox Harb’r Golf Course fairway Photo Credit: 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.

Eastern Townships | Quebec

Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey, Eastern Townships, Quebec
Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Just north of Vermont and 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.

Mont-Tremblant | Quebec

Le Maitre 18th green
Le Maitre 18th green photo credit: John Cameron

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.

CTMA Cruises | Montreal

Montreal from the deck of CTMA Vacancier
Montreal from the deck of CTMA Vacancier photo credit: 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.

Canada’s capital city | Ottawa

Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, Ottawa
Diefenbunker photo credit: John Cameron

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.

Kingston, Ont.

St. James Anglican Church, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
St. James Anglican Church photo credit: John Cameron

Kingston, named the first capital of Canada in 1841, 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 in this pretty limestone city.

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.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course | Huntsville, Ont.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course
Deerhurst Highlands Photo credit: 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.

Canmore, Alberta

Sunrise over the Rockies in Canmore Alberta
Canmore Alberta photo credit: John Cameron

With endless ways to enjoy the outdoors, any winter getaway to the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park should begin in Canmore. The countless peaks and vast wilderness offer snow enthusiasts ample opportunities for leisurely cross-country and downhill skiing, dog sledding, backcountry hiking and snowshoeing.

Dude ranch experience | British Columbia

Dude Ranch riders
Dude Ranch riders photo credit: John Cameron

If you’re heading to British Columbia, your Canadian outdoor 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.

Previously Published on USA Today 10Best.com

Start your Winter Getaway to the Rockies in Canmore

Canmore, located just 5 minutes east of the Banff National Park boundary, is the gateway to the Canadian Rockies. It’s not within the park, so there’s no park entry pass required.

Cross country skiing at Canmore Nordic Centre
Cross country skiing at Canmore Nordic Centre photo: Sherel Purcell

At the heart of the snow action sits the Canmore Nordic Centre. Built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, it hosts international cross-country ski tournaments and serves as the training ground for Canada’s national cross-country ski team. The Canmore Nordic Centre provides miles of cross-country and snowshoe trails for snow lovers of all skill levels and offers a complete rental shop to gear up for these winter sports.

The best way to enjoy winter here is to start early, especially if you’re renting equipment – mornings are less hectic at the Nordic Centre rental counter.  Early risers will be rewarded with great views of the alpenglow – the pinky-orange light that touches the mountain peaks at sunrise.

Grab a pair of snowshoes and drive further into the mountains to the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes trail or venture further west to the trails circling Johnson Lake. You can even rent a fat tire bike specially designed to glide over the snow-packed trails, normally reserved for cross-country skiers.

Cross country skiers at Canmore Nordic Centre
Cross country skiers at Canmore Nordic Centre

Downhill skiers and boarders are spoilt for choice. You can head to Mount Norquay 20 minutes west of Canmore, which offers the only night skiing in the region. Eighteen miles west, Sunshine Resort is a particular favorite of boarders. And further afield, the slopes at Lake Louise are worth the trek. Or just 30 minutes from Canmore in Kananaskis Country, try Nakiska, which hosted alpine skiers during the 1988 Olympics.

Three different dog sledding companies in Canmore will let you become a dog musher: bond with the huskies while traversing stunning mountain trails. One company, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, offers skijoring, a Scandinavian sport that combines dog sledding with skiing.

Whatever your choice of snow sport, remember the days are short here. The winter sun starts to dip behind the mountains in late afternoon.  At the end of the day, head to the nearest hot tub to watch the sun set over the mountains – best enjoyed while sipping a warming beverage – before heading out for dinner at one of the 90+ restaurants in Canmore.

Sage Bistro, Canmore, Alberta
Sage Bistro, Canmore, Alberta

“Where’s the best place to eat in Banff?”  “Canmore,” is the usual response. You’ll find highbrow as well as lowbrow here – and all of it delicious. For finer dining and regional specialties, look to Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Sage Bistro and, especially for breakfast, Chez Francoise.

For a more casual environment, look to the Miner’s Lamp Pub, which feature old photos of the town’s coal mining past, or the Iron Goat, named for the train that transported the coal from the mines.

Proximity to the Nordic Center and great food and drink choices aside, Canmore makes an excellent base from which to explore the Canadian Rockies. Accommodations are plentiful and offer better value than those at Banff, 20 minutes away.

Rundle Cliffs Mountain Lodge
Rundle Cliffs Mountain Lodge

Book a one, two or three-bedroom condo at Rundle Cliffs Mountain Lodge from Spring Creek Vacations. Situated at the base of Mount Lawrence Grassi, adjacent the Three Sisters mountains, all units are equipped with fireplaces, balconies and barbecues with direct mountains views. Enjoy your apres snow activity in front of a fire with a steaming cup of organic coffee, green tea or perhaps a local brew from Grizzly Paw or a glass of British Columbia red wine.

Need a break from the snow? Other activities of note here include a visit to Elevation Place, for a swim in the indoor pool, and a shopping trip to the Ammonite Factory, where you can interact with the artisans who make jewelry from these rare gems of southern Alberta. Previously published in USA Today 10 Best