Travel

Where to escape for the weekend in Canada this winter

Looking to take in our beautiful country this winter? Here are five destinations perfect for a long weekend getaway
(Courtesy of Ste. Anne's )

This winter, instead of dreaming of a balmy beachy getaway, embrace that "we the north" pride by checking out one of these five destinations for a weekend escape. Included are two of my favourite, plus I chatted with travel expert and writer Michele Sponagle [https://twitter.com/Msponagle] to get her take on where to vacay in the Great White North.

(Source: fairmont.com/montebello)

#1. Fairmont Montebello, Montebello, QC
We've been hearing tons of chatter about the picturesque snowy Quebec hamlet otherwise known as the Fairmont Chateau Montebello (a.k.a the world's largest log cabin). Here, a snow-filled getaway is packed with dog sledding, ice fishing, skating, cross-country skiing, gourmet meals, a beautiful indoor pool, spa and, of course, lots of fire-side hot toddies. Located between Ottawa and Montreal, this luxe compound also happens to be a short drive away from Park Omega [parcomega.ca/en/], a wildlife safari featuring Canadian creatures from various regions of the country (think bears, caribou, wolves and coyotes). And there's a serious cherry on top: kids under 5 eat at the resort for free!

(Source: steannes.com)

#2. Ste. Anne's, Grafton, ON
Another oldie but goodie that keeps us coming back for more? Ste. Anne's spa, a super mellow countryside retreat just outside of Toronto. This is the place to go for two winter essentials: cocooning and pampering. In other words, it is  perfect for a solo retreat or bonding getaway with your boo, BFF, mom or sister(s). A major selling feature is the dinner dress code: greased-up massage heads and robes. Check! A day or two filled with a couple of spa treatments, steams, delicious comfort-food, and some yoga and meditation classes will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Don't forget to BYOB (yep, you can cruise the hallways in your robe with your vino in hand—no sneaky high school-style travel cups needed here).

Next up, I turned to my pal Sponagle, a Canadian freelance writer and author who has not only travelled the country extensively, but worked with the Canadian tourism board. Her take on the country's radest winter gems below.

(Source: pacificsands.com)

#3. Pacific Sands, Tofino, BC
"Tofino, BC, is just a short hop from Vancouver or Victoria, and it is one of my fave spots in Canada! It's stunning, quaint and romantic. Book a stay at the Pacific Sands and you can hear the waves of the ocean crashing into the rocky shores while you fall asleep. The over-sized windows give perfect views of the winter storms that whip up along the shores of Vancouver Island. Take a misty walk through the rainforest or snag a table at Wolf in the Fog, one of Canada's newest top rated restaurants. Need to eat on the run? Taco Fino has some of the best and freshest fish tacos on the planet served out of a food truck. Keep the flames burning and cuddle up in a spa suite, overlooking Chesterman Beach, offered by The Wickaninnish Inn's Ancient Cedars spa.

(Source: fortgarryhotel.com)

#4. Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg, MB
"Winnipeg is my pick for girlfriends' getaway. The one thing I love about the 'Peg' is that they just jump into winter and don't whine about it. Yes, it's very cold, but they know that when you're dressed correctly, you'll manage quite nicely. I love Raw Almond, the pop-up restaurant that is set up on the frozen ice of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. It's a three-week happening that is cooler than cool with the city's top chef's feeding guests. To chase away a chill, the gorgeous hammam at Ten Spa (in the Fort Garry Hotel) is the perfect antidote. It's one of my top spa picks in Canada and not well known. Visitors to Winnipeg must also visit the beautiful new Canadian Human Rights Museum. For cocktails, I love Rae & Jerry's for retro cocktails that are the real deal. This place has been untouched by time since 1957 when it opened.

(Source: tattingstoneinn.com)

#5. Tattingstone Inn, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
"Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, is last but not least. My dad's family is from this area so I've seen it at every season. Winter is pretty magical, especially if you can time your visit to see the bald eagles that come for the winter around Sheffield Mills. The birds eat shellfish and scraps of chicken put out in the fields by local poultry farmers. As many as 500 birds have been spotted. The main hub of the Valley is Wolfville. It has plenty of great B&Bs, like the Tattingstone Inn (built in 1874). My new fave spot in town is Annapolis Cider Company, which makes some great boozy sippers using local apples. You can do a tasting to find out which is your favourite. The best coffee is Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op, Canada's first fair trade coffee co-op. Also snowshoeing through Grand Pre National Park, now that the summer crowds are gone, is sure to put anyone into a serene state of mind."


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