Helene Clarkson Design

Getaway Guide: Canada For The Urban Traveler

Getaway Guide: Canada For The Urban Traveler

Canada is BIG (it's the world's second-largest country, geographically) and we don't want you to miss any of it! We're sharing a few of our favourite places from each Canadian Province and/or Territory fit for the urban traveler. We're also sharing some things to do, where to eat and our picks for a good night's sleep.

1. TORONTO, ONTARIO
Is it your first time visiting the Six? You're in luck, because Toronto is Canada's largest city and is filled with diversity, good food and shopping. Toronto can be compared slightly to New York City and you can easily maneuver around the city by cab, Uber or if you prefer public transport, you can easily grab a weekly pass on the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). This pass covers all the subway lines as well as buses and streetcars.


Can't Miss
: So much to see and so little time. Don't miss out on one of Toronto's most popular landmarks, the CN Tower. There is much to do here, including the revolving restaurant, observatory, glass floor and if you're feeling extra brave, the Edgewalk. Head to the Distillery District to see one of the most historic areas of the city. Walk along brick roads, browse the local shops, sip a local craft beer and don't forget to hang a lock on the famous Love Sign. Explore Kensington Market, an outdoor market filled with funky shops, street art and can't miss eats. Finally take a stroll through Yorkville which can be considered as the Rodeo Drive of Toronto. Bring your pocketbook as some of the biggest names in fashion are housed here like Gucci, Cartier, Versace, Kate Spade and more. (photo via Bon Plans Toronto)


Where To Eat
: If you're a foodie, then Toronto will be your paradise. From Peking duck to Neapoletan pizza Toronto has it all. It's hard to choose just one restaurant to visit, so we turned to the experts and chose the top-rated restaurant in Canada, which just so happens to be in Toronto. Alo, a renowned modern French restaurant offers a seasonal tasting menu that runs between $155 and $175 per person (not including drinks, service, and tax). (photo via blogTO)


Where To Sleep
: If you want to experience the real Toronto, the Gladstone Hotel is where you want to be. As the city’s oldest continually operating hotel and the only B-Corp certified hotel in Canada, the Gladstone Hotel boasts the highest standards in environmental performance, social responsibility and innovation through the arts, local food and drink and forward-thinking service and hospitality.

Perfectly positioned between two of Toronto’s most creative neighbourhoods, West Queen West and Parkdale, the Gladstone is a meeting place for local creatives and travellers. A destination in itself, this boutique art hotel will pull you into an arts, culture and dining adventure as soon as you walk through our historic Victorian doors.  Room rates start at $340 per night (photo via Gladstone Hotel)

2. QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC
Known as a pocket of continental Europe in Eastern Canada, this gorgeous city is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, cultural attractions, gastronomy and the cobblestoned streets of the old quarter; a UNESCO World Heritage site. Historic buildings, art-lined streetscapes, relaxing parks, world-class musicians, and theatre performances are some of Quebec City’s best attractions.


Can't Miss
: Get your dose of European charm in the Petit Champlain district (Quartier du Petit Champlain)—one of the oldest neighbourhoods in North America. Walk the narrow cobblestone streets and pop into the many boutiques and shops for a fashionable souvenir. Let your nose guide you to one of the many restaurants and bistros, and be sure to make time to indulge your sweet tooth with local maple syrup treats at the La Petite Cabane à Sucre. Complete your visit with a spa day at the only ice hotel in North America. The fairytale-esque Hôtel de Glace has been hosting guests for 15 years, and every year it presents new, fresh features and ideas. Grab a drink or two at the Ice Bar and then warm up in the outdoor spas and sauna. (photo via Vacay.com)


Where To Eat
: The French are known for their food, and Quebec City is no exception to that rule. From top-rated restaurants to casse-croûtes (greasy spoons) serving up the local delicacy, poutine—French fries served with cheese curds and gravy, you won't go hungry! Don't miss out on local specialties including tourtière, a simple meat pie made with minced pork or beef and a side of ketchup. Fèves au lard, a type of baked beans, often seasoned with maple syrup and poor man’s pudding (pouding chômeur), a cake made from very basic ingredients like stale bread, and an abundance of maple syrup. For authentic Quebecois cuisine, head to aux Anciens Canadiens. For French cuisine, visit the Restaurant Panache. Located in the Auberge Saint-Antoine hotel, Panache is the domain of chef Julien Ouellet, who uses local ingredients for a modern take on traditional dishes. (photo via Quebec Original)


Where To Sleep
: If you're feeling classic and regal the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is where you want to lay your head. Speaking of regal, this is, after all, a hotel that was visited by Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940s. Indulge in views of the St. Lawrence River and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Town. Restaurants on-site range from a farm-to-table buffet and 1608 Wine and Cheese Bar to the top-tier Champlain Restaurant. Whenever possible, herbs and vegetables come from the hotel's rooftop garden. Don't forget... One must-order at Champlain the old rum foie gras with peach compote and oyster mushroom chips. Room rates start at $340 per night (photo via Tripadvisor)

3. VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA 
This island destination has a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. Filled with creative, entrepreneurial types, the city has about 900 tech companies and counting—it’s becoming known as "Tectoria" and lots of gorgeous old brick warehouses, which now house stylish boutiques stocked full of local designs along with great bars, bakeries, and restaurants. 


Can't Miss
: Venture over to the LoJo district where blocks of restored warehouses, shops, and hotels built during the gold rushes of the 1850s and 1890s have been transformed into beautiful, independent boutiques (look for the green “we are local” signs). The historic heart of Victoria’s walkable downtown is Bastion Square, where the city was born as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in 1843 and the super-British vestiges of Old Victoria are still enchanting –– an afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress is an elegance not to be missed. Finally, one can not miss Canada's first Chinatown, and on Fisgard Street, the neon signs of the Don Mee Restaurant and the Fantan Café continue to lure patrons to old-school feasts of Szechuan seafood and sweet-and-sour pork. (photo via Tourism Victoria)


Where To Eat
: When you're on the coast, seafood is a must. If you hit up Ferris' Oyster Bar and Grill you can have your fill of fresh oysters and/or seafood one night and then come back a second night and head upstairs to find a hidden gem of a tapas bar –– Perro Negro. A casual, yet spirited Spanish tapas bar where you are encouraged to eat a little, eat a lot, share with friends, relax & enjoy yourselves. (photo via Tripadvisor)


Where To Sleep
: Steps from Victoria's inner harbour resides Magnolia, a 64 room boutique hotel that boasts personalized service, thoughtfully appointed rooms, fine dining, and tranquil spa experiences. Price: Room rates start at $229 per night (photo via Magnolia)

4. CALGARY, ALBERTA
Calgary is a cosmopolitan city with numerous skyscrapers, shopping, dining and with some 500 miles of multiuse pathways, the city claims to have the most extensive urban recreational network in North America. Calgary is also associated with cowboys, thanks to its 10-day summer rodeo, the Calgary Stampede, but its art, actors, dancers and musicians contribute to a thriving arts scene the shouldn't be overlooked.


Can't Miss
: Make like a local and arrange to have a bike delivered from Nomad Mobile Gear Rentals (60 dollars for one day). For a scenic ride from downtown, cycle the paths that follow the city-bisecting Bow River. The stretch of 9th Avenue Southeast running from Studio Bell through the neighboring Inglewood district has been dubbed the Music Mile for its clubs. Don't miss blues-centric Blues Can or the eclectic Ironwood Stage & Grill for live shows. (photo via Luxury Travel Advisor)


Where To Eat
: You can't visit Alberta and not eat beef! Calgary's former Simmons mattress factory, has been saved and now hosts three acclaimed restaurants. Try them all by dining at one, Charbar. Here the chef Jessica Pelland butchers animals, ages steaks and cooks them on an Argentine-style wood-fired grill. Grilled “asado style” steaks come with beef fat fries and vegetarians won't feel left out here either as there are loads of veggie options like a charred and raw vegetable salad best ordered with a side of Sidewalk Citizen sourdough from the neighboring bakery. (photo via For Two Please)


Where To Sleep
: Hotel Arts is a designer boutique hotel in downtown Calgary. It's within walking distance of all the amazing sights, shopping and it's home to two award-winning restaurants, the Yellow Door Bistro and Raw Bar. Amenities at this modern hotel include complimentary high speed wireless internet, an on-site fitness center, a seasonal outdoor pool with private poolside events, such as poolside yoga classes and complimentary Brooklyn cruiser bikes that you can use to explore Calgary. Room rates start at $100 per night (photo via This Beautiful Day)

5. WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
Located in the geographic center of Canada, rising out of the prairies, Winnipeg is the provincial capital of Manitoba. Its heart is The Forks, a historic site at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, with warehouses converted in to shops and restaurants, plus ample green space dedicated to festivals, concerts and exhibits. Nearby, the Exchange District is known for its well-preserved, early 20th-century architecture and numerous art galleries.

Can't Miss: The Forks is a historic site in downtown Winnipeg, and it’s location made it a natural meeting point for traders, settlers and various groups throughout Winnipeg’s history. Today, it is a market space and outdoor area for people to gather. Shops, restaurants, and food stalls line the walls of the market. During the winter, the area turns into a winter wonderland with skating rinks and trails that you can explore on skates. Feeling French? The Saint Boniface neighbourhood is home to one of the largest francophone communities west of Quebec province and is known as Winnipeg’s French Quarter. Winnipeg is also home to The Royal Winnipeg Ballet which is Canada’s premier ballet company and the longest continuously operating ballet companies in North America. If you’re in the city during a performance, get yourself a ticket to see this world-renowned ballet company. (photo via RWB)


Where To Eat: Winnipeg’s Exchange District is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, it is home to approximately 150 heritage buildings. Today the district has grown into a vibrant area full of restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, museums, and theaters. To get an understanding of this neighbourhood and the diverse food options it holds, head on a food tour with the Exchange District Biz. Enjoy a feast on foot and discover the best spots in the Exchange for some of the most popular restaurants in the district. You’ll leave both feeling stuffed and full of appreciation for this important neighbourhood in Canadian history. (photo via Where.ca)


Where To Sleep: The Mere Hotel is an urban, boutique hotel conveniently located on the waterfront in the hip and vibrant Exchange District. Stylish and contemporary it's the perfect place to get a good night's sleep and explore all that Winnipeg has to offer.  Room rates start at $100 per night (photo via Mere Hotel)


6. CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
The capital of PEI (Prince Edward Island), Charlottetown is a vibrant seaside town with the perfect balance of small town charm, big energy and island vibes. Its romantic streetscapes and stunning water vistas create an ideal escape for the urban traveler that wants to relax. Home to red-sand beaches, rolling potato fields, dozens of lighthouses, and incredible seafood, PEI will steal your heart from the moment you step foot on the island.



Can't Miss
: The Province House National Historic Site hosted the Charlottetown Conference of 1864, spurring the country’s birth. Victoria Row has shops, restaurants and the Confederation Centre of the Arts, with its musical based on “Anne of Green Gables” the longest-running Canadian musical. Make a point to walk along the waterfront at Victoria Park, sample the famous PEI seafood at the Water Prince Corner Shop, enjoy a pint of beer at the Gahan Brewery, and meander your way through town with a Cow’s ice cream cone in hand. (photo via Globe Guide)


Where To EatOne culinary experience you can’t miss is a church lobster dinner. The tradition of holding lobster suppers as a fundraiser continues all over the island, and frequently the only way to find one is to ask a local in town. Suppers are often held in churches, on church lawns, or sometimes as takeout if the venue is small. When visiting the island between June and October, keep an eye on local announcements and you may find yourself mingling happily with the rest of the community enjoying one of the great traditions of PEI. Otherwise, you can experience a traditional lobster supper at Fisherman's Wharf in the scenic fishing village of North Rustico, with a view of the beautiful Rustico Bay and the fishing wharf. It's a quick half hour drive from Charlottetown, just be sure to wear your Aro Cigarette Pants, you'll need the stretch! (photo via Welcome PEI)


Where To Sleep
: The Holman Grand Hotel is one of Charlottetown's most iconic locales where luxury meets comfort, perfect for the urban traveler. Relax and enjoy stunning views of the Charlottetown Harbour and know that you are just steps away from lively festivals, shopping, the theatre district and more. Room rates start at $160 per night (photo via Vacay.ca)
7. MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK
Natural beauty and a welcoming small-town feel are just two of the things that may draw you to this friendly New Brunswick city. 
 
Can't Miss: Savour your time in the city. Slow everything down, take your time, meet people, explore places, and get off the beaten path. Sip wines at a local vineyard, hit up a farmer's market or shop downtown for French-inspired goods. If you can, take a road trip down to The Hopewell Rocks and the Bay of Fundy, you’ll be amazed at the sheer beauty and rugged grace of the place while you experience some of the highest tides in the world. (photo via Tourism New Brunswick)


Where To Eat: From gastro pub fare to fresh seafood, Moncton’s culinary scene is earning some serious cred. The cuisine of New Brunswick is as diverse as the cultures who settled here; English, French, Scottish, Irish, First Nations, and the province has some local delicacies only found here or in the Maritime Provinces: Fiddleheads, lobster, oysters, dulse (a dark red seaweed), blueberries and Acadian specialties like chicken fricote and rappie pie. We suggest a dinner at Les Brumes Du Coude a French Bistro whose menu changes daily. Expect things like crispy duck confit, beef tartare, Bay of Fundy scallops, oysters and of course fresh lobster. (photo via Unis.ca)


Where To Sleep
: St. James Gate is a modern, boutique hotel located in downtown Moncton, you'll be steps away from the theatre, restaurants, bars and shopping. Room rates start at $100 per night (photo via St. James Gate)

8. HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA

Halifax is a vibrant hub surrounded by breezy seascapes, historic and modern architecture, a bustling harbour, delicious dining, shopping, festivals and a lively nightlife. With five local universities, the downtown life is hip and fresh, yet the cultural and architectural integrity of the city has remained intact. 

Can't Miss: From strolling Victorian gardens to surveying the city from a hilltop fortress (the Citadel) you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Halifax. This is a harbour city and we suggest heading for the water. Take a stroll along the Waterfront Boardwalk, lined with restaurants, shops, and museums. It’s a great place to sit back with a beer or an ice cream cone and watch the boats sail past. Nearby is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, where you can learn about Halifax’s shipping and boating history. You can also discover Halifax’s link to the Titanic. Visit the local cemeteries like Fairview Lawn and you will find where many of the victims were laid to rest. If you're in town on a Saturday be sure to visit the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. Established in 1750, it’s North America’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market. Nearby is Pier 21, which is Canada’s answer to America’s Ellis Island, where you can learn about the people who came in search of a better life and how they’ve contributed to the country’s history and culture. Finally, if your in the mood for a road trip, take a day to visit the charming towns of Peggy’s Cove best known for its iconic lighthouse, and plenty of fresh lobster and fishing boats. Then further south is Lunenburg, a larger but equally picturesque town with well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century colonial buildings. (photo via Tourism Nova Scotia)


Where To Eat
: World renowned for its seafood, Nova Scotia is Canada’s east coast seafood province, Five Fishermen is one of the most historic restaurants you can visit in Halifax. Originally an art school dating back 1817, the building became a burial for victims of the tragic Titanic and Halifax Explosion. If there is one thing you can get here, it's the classic Nova Scotia lobster. Divided into two restaurants, the Little Fish Oyster Bar is the casual restaurant on the main level, and there is the main fine dining restaurant on the upper level. (photo via Flicker)

Where To Sleep: The Lord Nelson is a landmark in Halifax, known for its luxurious interiors, prominent location across from the Public Gardens and history dating back to 1928. Some of the biggest celebrities to visit Halifax stay at this hotel, including rock royalty The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. Price: Room rates start at $120 per night (photo via Booking.com)

9. IQALUIT, NUNAVUT
For centuries, nomadic Inuit trekked to the Sylvia Grinnell River to spear char in the roiling summer waters. They called the area Iqaluit (ee-kal-oo-eet), meaning "place of fish." Iqaluit is the capital of the Nunavut; its largest community, and its only city, making it a destination for the most adventurous urban travelers. The climate is tundral so don't forget to pack your Anggi Sweater!

Can't MissNunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum is an art gallery in an original 1940s Hudson's Bay Company trading post warehouse. This small museum contains a collection of Inuit art and artIfacts. When you walk downtown be sure to check out Rannva the shop of local (and renknowned) fur and sealskin designer Nunatta Sunakkutaangit. (photo via Hike Bike Travel)


Where To Eat
Expect big portions at hugely inflated prices (most stuff is flown in). Arctic specials like char and musk ox are widely available. If you're in town during an Inuit feast, you may get to try seal meat, dried Arctic char and other local specialties. The Granite Room at the Discovery Lodge is the hub of Iqaluit's fine dining, including Arctic char and caribou. Sunday brunch is a popular local tradition. (photo via TripAdvisor)


Where To Sleep
The Discovery is Iqaluit's recently-renovated boutique hotel. Located downtown, it is conveniently situated between the main drag and the airport. Price: Room rates start at $230 per night and include a free airport shuttle (photo via The Discovery)


10. ST. JOHNS, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
St. John's is Newfoundland and Labrador's most populous city that combines urban convenience with small town charm. It's the perfect place for the adventurous traveler who enjoys the outdoors and/or the comforts of fine dining or a boutique hotel. Some of the most popular things to do in Newfoundland and Labrador include scenic drives, whale watching, iceberg viewing, bird watching, kayaking, camping and enjoying a sundowner at the end of the day. If you're lucky you may even be able to taste an iceberg, they make vodka and gin with them in Newfoundland!


Can't MissThe top of Signal Hill has one of the best views of St. John’s. It’s always windy, but it’s worth a trip up to the spot where Marconi sent the first wireless signal. Stop at the visitor centre on the way up for gelato from the Newfoundland Chocolate Company Cafe. Don't miss out on whale watching and iceberg hunting! Book a tour with Iceberg Quest. (photo via Trip Central)


Where To EatSt. John’s has a bustling food scene and is currently home to three of Canada’s top 100 restaurants: Mallard CottageRaymonds and The Merchant Tavern You should make it a point to get yourself to Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi for their weekend brunch. Not only do they serve up the most local of dishes in one of the province’s oldest wooden buildings, but they have an all you can eat cake table that needs to be seen to be believed. (photo via Destination St. Johns)


Where To Sleep: The Luxus Boutique Hotel and Lounge between the amazing views and the soaker tub you may never leave! This six-room boutique hotel’s effortlessly cool design and serene atmosphere make it worth five stars. The prices aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you're looking for a luxurious and memorable stay in St. John’s this is it. Price: Room rates start at $439 per night (photo via The Luxus)


11. YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Head north, way north, and you’ll find the city of Yellowknife. The capital of the Northwest Territories, this city is nestled between tundra and the lake shore, so wilderness isn't far from the city. It's the perfect place for the urban traveler who's ready for an introduction to Canada's great North. 


Can't Miss
You can’t go to Yellowknife without seeing the Northern Lights. In fact, the Northern Lights are so vivid here, that the Northwest Territories are according to the Canadian Space Agency, the best place in the world to spot them. Be sure to time it right — the lights are best seen in the autumn and winter. Part of the original townsite, Old Town is as interesting as it is picturesque. Jutting out into Great Slave Lake, this spot is home to history, culture, and community. Stroll the popular Franklin Ave. and soak up the vintage atmosphere. The shoreline is filled with quaint eateries, fishing and tour outfitters and a constant buzzing of float planes taking visitors on fishing trips. Don’t miss the Pilot’s Monument, at the top of the “Rock," the highest point in Old Town, the perfect spot for a breathtaking 360 degree view of the city. (photo via SpectacularNWT)


Where To EatAround since the 1920s  Bullocks Bistro is a true gem of Yellowknife. Famous for their fish and chips (the fish is caught fresh from Great Slave Lake) and their unique atmosphere, which involves an old timber-framed log cabin. (photo via Tawna Brown)


Where To Sleep
: Blachford Lake Lodge, located under the aurora oval (Northern Lights) and accessible only by floatplane from Yellowknife. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed in the summer of 2011. For Booking/Reservations: info@blachfordlakelodge.com 867-873-3303 (photo via Black Tomato)

 

12. SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN
Known as the "Paris of the Prairies" Saskatoon is filled with a pleasant mix of history, architecture, culture and natural beauty. 


Can't Miss: Wanuskewin Heritage Park (from the Cree word meaning "living together in harmony") aims to encourage a better understanding of the indigenous peoples who inhabited the region in earlier times. The park is the site of some exciting archaeological discoveries - some dating back at least 6,000 to 7,000 years ago. Downtown Saskatoon boasts amazing shopping on 2nd Avenue along with pubs and unique eateries. If you're lucky enough be visiting during the summer months, then the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival the can't be missed. (photo via Marla Janzen)

Where To Eat: Saskatoon's restaurant of the moment Ayden Kitchen and Bar is where one can expect homegrown and globally inspired comfort food, paired with properly hand-crafted cocktails, and wines, in a relaxed and inviting setting that evokes rich dark woods and antique curiosities. (photo via Wave Journey)


Where To Sleep: The James is a contemporary boutique hotel centrally located in vibrant downtown Saskatoon, on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River.  Price: Room rates start at $244 per night (photo via Booking.com)

13. WHITEHORSE, YUKON
Discover what makes the Yukon unlike any other place in the world, capturing the hearts and imagination of travellers Whitehorse is Yukon's capital and the largest city in the North. Stand anywhere in the downtown core and you can see the mountains beyond, thanks to a law that prevents the construction of buildings taller than four stories. It may not be a budding metropolis, but the town is bountiful in space, slow in pace and boasts some of the cleanest air in the world.
 

Can't Miss
A huge amount of emphasis is placed on preserving and celebrating the rich culture of the First Nations bands that have inhabited the area for thousands of years. A quick walk through Whitehorse will reveal a number of stunning First Nations sculptures, paintings and carvings. Pay a visit to the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre and you’ll be able to explore and understand their amazing culture and traditions. Don't miss out on a stroll along Main Street and pop into the beautiful boutiques! (photo via Reisebericht)


Where To Eat
: Grab your morning cup of coffee – and a scone – at Baked Cafe on Main Street in Whitehorse. The coffee is excellent, the pastries divine and it’s clearly a hit with locals. (photo via Kobayashi and Zedda)


Where To Sleep
: The historic Edgewater Hotel sits along the Yukon River Waterfront in the heart of Downtown Whitehorse. Tracing its lineage back to the Klondike Gold Rush this boutique hotel will be one for the history books.  Price: Room rates start at $194 per night (photo via Booking.com)

 

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