Canada’s 8 Coolest Museums

Canada is fortunate enough to be loaded with awesome museums, whether you are interested in learning about the dinosaurs that once ruled the badlands of Alberta or the first people that set foot in British Columbia. Perhaps you are interested in weapons and counterfeit money, or what happened during the Holocaust-don’t fear, Canada has you covered. From coast to coast impressive museums continue to amaze visitors and while some may be suited for adults, there is plenty of fun for the kids too! Check out the 8 coolest museums in Canada, and why you should drop everything and visit them today.

8. Canadian Museum of History – Gatineau, Quebec

It is Canada’s national museum of human history, and its purpose includes collecting, studying, preserving and presenting material objects that illuminate the human history of Canada. One of the most impressive parts of the museum is the Grand Hall where a beautiful wall of windows gives way to a picturesque view of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. The museum attracts over a million visitors a year to gaze at the collection of huge totem poles, First Nation artifacts, streetscape galleries and life-size replicas recreations such as an airport lounge circa 1970. In addition, this awesome museum to home to the Canadian Children’s and Postal Museum, along with an IMAX theatre making this attraction super family friendly.

mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com
mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

7. Canada Science and Technology Museum – Ottawa, Ontario

It is the largest of its kind and located in the capital city of Canada, Ottawa. This museum displays all sorts of cool exhibits, focusing on the past, present and future of science and technological developments in Canada. What makes this museum so cool is the fact that much of it is hands-on, climb-on and walk through exhibits. Currently the museum is closed and undergoing a major renovation, expected to open in 2017 and is thought to be bigger and better than ever. Visitors should expect five main galleries including a Children’s Gallery, Artifact Alley and Crazy Kitchen. From trains, planes, automobiles, rockets and space travel simulation; this museum will offer a plethora of excitement.

Science and Tech Museum, ottawa

6. Royal Tyrell Museum – Drumheller, Alberta

This popular Canadian tourist attraction is both a museum and a centre of paleontological research. Hosting more than 130,000 fossils, this museum is located in the middle of the Late Cretaceous Horseshoe Canyon Formation. Visitors will love wandering through the ten signature galleries devoted to paleontology that include 40 dinosaur skeletons, including one huge T. Rex. There are plenty of hands on experiences to be had here including strength tests where you will discover how strong these fascinating creatures really were. Visitors can also watch actual technicians prepare fossils for research and display, fossils that happened to be found right in Alberta. As well, visitors can join the Dinosite program which allows you to search for real fossils, see real dinosaur remains still in the ground and learn about ancient Alberta during the 90-minute hike through the badlands.

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com
Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

5. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – Toronto, Ontario

It is considered by many to be one of the best museums in Canada and also happens to be one of the coolest. Located in Toronto, this museum is dedicated to art, world culture and natural history and attracts over a million visitors a year. Visitors will want to spend an entire day discovering the 40 some odd galleries that feature over 6 million items including a notable collection of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites. The CIBC Discovery Gallery is where you can get “hands-on” at the ROM and although geared towards children, adults will also enjoy the interactive activities including digging for dinosaur bones and touching different specimens and artifacts. Expect awesome interesting exhibits that are constantly changing, slumber parties for adults and plenty of tours and workshops to keep everyone interested.

Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com
Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com

4. Human Rights Museum – Winnipeg, Manitoba

This impressive museum is the newest on this list, opening in September of 2014, dedicated to exploring the subject of human rights with a special emphasis on Canada. Offering a journey from darkness to light, visitors start off on the ground level and gradually make their way up seven floors that reveal more and more daylight. With a total of six levels of exhibits and 11 galleries and one Tower of Hope that offers panoramic views of Winnipeg, expect to spend at least a day here. Galleries include “Examining the Holocaust”, “Rights Today” and “Canadian Journeys”, just to name a few. Interactive presentations, multimedia technology and world-class design make this an amazing encounter with human rights.

winnipeg

3. Royal British Columbia Museum – Victoria, British Columbia

It is known as one of the world’s top regional museums, one of Canada’s most visited and located on the picturesque Inner Harbor in Victoria. Three permanent galleries trace the natural and human history of British Columbia and include life-sized mammoths, live tidal pools and replica streets and shops. The First Peoples Gallery is especially impressive with its ceremonial masks, totem poles and full-sized log house recreation. Visitors here can even watch as native carvers work on new totem poles in a long house located just behind the museum. Featuring the largest IMAX in BC, numerous family events throughout the year, interactive exhibits and more; it’s an easy choice calling this one of the coolest museums in Canada.

Doug Schnurr / Shutterstock.com
Doug Schnurr / Shutterstock.com

2. Vancouver Police Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia

It is North America’s oldest police museum and houses over 20,00 artifacts, photos and documents. Located in a heritage building that was once the Coroner’s Court, the morgue, autopsy facility and crime laboratory; this museum brings in visitors of all ages. A self-guided tour will take visitors through the history or crime and law enforcement in Vancouver. Exhibits include an extensive gallery of confiscated weapons, gambling devices, prohibited drugs and counterfeit money, a true crime gallery with real evidence and photos, and an intact and authentic autopsy suite. Kids will love playing dress up with the real police uniforms where as adults can take in one of the “movies in the morgue” features.

Photo by: Kim Werker via www.vancouverisawesome.com
Photo by: Kim Werker via www.vancouverisawesome.com

1. Biosphere Environment Museum – Montreal, Quebec

It is the only environment museum in North America and both kids and adults go crazy for this unique attraction that is both indoors and out. This architectural masterpieces and symbol of Expo 67 invites visitors to learn more about meteorology, climate, water and air quality and other environmental issues in a fun way. An outdoor Artic photo exhibit celebrates the regions biodiversity and beauty while educating visitors on the environmental changes that are happening there. The immersive show “Design the Future” on the other hand invites visitors to reconnect with the natural environment around us to grasp the importance of climate change and how we will adapt to that. An abundance of games, hands-on activities and galleries await visitors to this unique museum in Montreal.

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

The 8 Best Sledding Hills in North America

Winter is coming and one of the best ways to enjoy the cold snowy weather is to bundle up and go play in it, whatever age you are. Luckily you don’t need any special skills to enjoy the snow, indeed all you need is a sled. Tobogganing, sledding, whatever you want to call it is one of the most popular free winter activities that can put a huge smile on your face, no matter what age you are. Here in North America there are some pretty epic sledding hills that will shoot your down at colorful speeds and leave you breathless. Getting up is the only hard part here. From Ontario to Colorado to Halifax to Ottawa, we have rounded up the best 8 sledding hills in North America.

8. Firecracker Hill – Telluride, Colorado

This ski town is known for it’s awesome powder, incredible resorts and laid back feel but skiing just isn’t the only thing you can do here. The town may not have an official sledding park but one local hill is where to go to get your sled on. On the southern side of Telluride Town Park lies Firecracker Hill, follow the orange cones that the city puts out to mark the walking path to the hill. Don’t worry if you don’t have own your sled, the Telluride Nordic Center will rent you one for just a few bucks a day. You will find a mix of locals and visitors at this hill, riding anything from GT snow racers to saucers to mini snowboards. Obey the signs, recognize this is avalanche country and slide down this awesome hill in the ski town of Telluride.

Photo by: The Denver City Page
Photo by: The Denver City Page

7. St Andrews Heights Toboggan Hill – Calgary, Alberta

This hill is known for it’s massiveness, incredible speed and downhill length. It has been tempting daredevil sledders for years. Located in the St. Andrews neighborhood, to reach this hill park in the Community Hall lot and then make your way to the top. A quick warning, it is a heavy hike to the top and be prepared if you have younger ones to pull them most of the way. To understand how big this hill is let’s use statistics. It has a run of about 150m, a drop of 17m and then a run out of 100m. That is a lot of hill to come down, and a lot to go back up. The end of the run is separated from the road by a fence to keep sliders safe. Expect to see a ton of people using this hill in the winter time, including junior snowboarders who practice here before hitting the big slopes.

Photo by: 102.1 The Edge
Photo by: 102.1 The Edge

6. Grand Mesa Old Powderhorn, Grand Junction, Colorado

It is referred to as “Old Powderhorn” by locals and it part of the old Mesa Creek Ski Area, located about three miles past Powderhorn Ski Resort. The parking area is located on the south side of the road and once you have bundled up and got your sled ready, its time to head up the trail head. There are plenty of trees to avoid coming down and the ride can be described as a wind-burning, adrenaline pumping, heart-stopping kind of ride. Expect the tiniest of snowdrifts to send you airborne and we recommend wearing your thickest snowsuit. Best for older kids and adults as there are plenty of trees that pose a threat of crashing into. Or at least bring a sled that you can steer.

Photo by: The Denver City Page
Photo by: The Denver City Page

5. Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum – Boston, Massachusetts

Head to Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood where Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum is located, offering 281 acres of exotic trees and flowering shrubs, which in the winter is host to an abundance of awesome sledding hills. Peter’s Hill has to be the favorite here as it offers incredible views from the top and no trees to contend with on the way down, making it safe for all ages. It also boasts the highest and longest slope in the area. The steep Weld Hill is the favorite amongst daredevils as it offers a ride of 350 feet long with parts that are at a 60-degree slope. We suggest hanging onto your hat as you race down these hills.

Photo by: Shutterstock via Boston Magazine
Photo by: Shutterstock via Boston Magazine

4. Mount Royal Park – Montreal, Quebec

This Montreal park is popular all year round but really comes alive in the winter thanks to all the visitors that take part in sledding down the hills, whether on rented tubes or sleds of their own. For decades this has been the place to take part in winter fun and the slope at the corner of Cote-Ste-Catherine and Parc looks tame from afar but in fact offers an incredible speedy and bumpy ride. Families and people of all ages flock to this hill with tubes, crazy carpets and even traditional wooden sleds. Straw barriers keep riders from going into the streets and there are even washrooms and a cafeteria on-site so you can warm those hands and grab a snack.

Photo by: J'aime le mont Royal/Facebook
Photo by: J’aime le mont Royal/Facebook

3. Citadel Hill – Halifax, Nova Scotia

It is undoubtedly the best hill to sled on in the city of Halifax and when the snow flies, people of all ages are flocking here. What makes this hill so popular is the awesome incline, lack of obstacles and location. Head to the south and west faces as they offer the best sledding, especially the slope that leads down to the Garrison Grounds. Grab your GT snow racer, a crazy carpet or even a cafeteria tray and prepare for one adrenaline-rushing ride down the best hill in the city. This hill does get busy with locals and visitors and your biggest obstacle here may just be the other sledders. Luckily this hill has a spacious landing area for sledders, ensuring that everyone stays safe.

Photo by: Destination Halifax
Photo by: Destination Halifax

2. Dutch Henry Tubing Hill, Leadville, Colorado

It calls itself the highest, fastest sledding hill in all of Colorado, and it just happens to be conveniently located one-minute south of downtown. The hill here is open seven days a week and free to all visitors who bring their own sled. Rentals of tubes are available on weekends during the day for a small fee. Big, steep and fast are the only three words that come to mind when you head to this hill and sledders should prepare themselves for a wild ride. Not recommended for younger kids, head to this hill with a group of friends, adults or older kids.

Photo by: Colorado Come To Life
Photo by: Colorado Come To Life Tourism

1. Carlington Park, Ottawa, Ontario

It is known as one of the top sledding destinations in North America, and that should come as no surprise considering its steepness and the wild thrills it offers, essentially this former ski hill offers two hills in one, the highest being the steepest and showcasing a platform before the second hill. Not for the faint of heart, this hill is usually riddled with many jumps carved into the snow and expect to be sharing the hill with amateur snowboarders. Lights make it tempting to slide down this hill at night, for an even more extreme thrill. Parking is provided here at the J. Alph Dulude Arena and just use caution and avoid areas that are fenced off for riders. Enjoy one of the wildest rides in North America at Carlington Park in Ottawa, Ontario.

Sledding

Top Places to Celebrate New Years Eve in Canada

It is one of the most awaited festivals all over the world, where people come from all nooks and crannies to indulge themselves in one epic partying spree. In fact, planning your New Years Eve can be downright stressful and overwhelming. From free outdoor music concerts to dazzling displays of fireworks to black tie galas, the choices are endless. And that’s not even the hard part. Deciding where to ring in the new year can be tough, do you stay in your hometown and attend a local party or make your way into a different city to see how they do it? If you want options, you got them. Here are our favorite places to ring in the New Year in Canada:

6. Toronto, Ontario

Whether you are looking for family fun, adults only, a retro party or an intimate pub, the lively city of Toronto has the right celebration for you. The Mod Club in Toronto is the place to head if you are looking for retro, it is wonderfully designed with the famous event “From Britain with Love”. The Britain inspired theme of this event has made a landmark in the city of Toronto, making numerous visitors coming to the city on the New Year’s Eve. However, that’s not the only party in the city. Head to Nathan Phillips Square on New Years to skate on the famous outdoor rink, enjoy a local DJ and local live music and take in the spectacular fireworks display at night.

Canadapanda / Shutterstock.com
Canadapanda / Shutterstock.com

5. Ottawa, Ontario

It is the capital of Canada and one can expect that they go big when it comes to ringing in the new year, and boy oh boy do they ever. Head to Ottawa City Hall where the celebration is known as the TD Hogmanay Scottish New Years Party. Visitors here will have the chance to skate to Celtic music, ice sculpt, scotch taste, listen to live music and more. And when midnight strike, prepare for an amazing display of fireworks off the roof of city hall. Or head to the family event, Rick Chiarelli’s New Year Eve where there are plenty of alcohol free events and includes countless entertainers, from magicians to dancers to face painters, and of course some pretty awesome fireworks. Or head to Metcalfe Square and Sparks Street where a free outdoor concert will help you bring in the new year, along with one giant flare and dazzling lights in the sky.

Photo by: Maclaine
Photo by: Maclaine

4. Vancouver, British Columbia

One unique way to ring in the new year is to celebrate on the water. The city of Vancouver offers a variety of choices when it comes to NYE cruises and most come complete with drinks, dancing and complimentary champagne when the clock strikes midnight. Pride of Vancouver Charters and its Luxurious Pride vessel is one of the best ways to celebrate. This cruise provides entertainment, dancing and a delicious buffet, all in the luxury cruise ship tradition. If you are single and looking to meet someone to help bring in the new year snap a spot on the queen of Diamonds cruise where a great party brings up to 400 other singles who are also looking to meet someone. Countdown parties, midnight fireworks and plenty of fun is to be had on this New Years Eve experience.

Vancouver new years eve

3. Montreal, Quebec

Montreal is really known for its one famous party at the L’Olympia de Montreal, where 2500 people gather to drink, dance and ring in the New Year in one crazy insane party. But that’s not the only big party in town. Clubs such as Roxbury, Rouge Nightclub and La Boom can see crowds between 800-2000. Some of these parties even include an open bar and all your drink tips. If you are after more dinner and dancing and less club hopping the choices are endless from the Hyatt Regency Gala New Years Eve party to the La Finale New Year’s Eve at Jargo. No matter where you go or what you want to do, Montreal is one of the hottest places to be.

Photo by: Tourisme Montreal
Photo by: Tourisme Montreal

2. Calgary, Alberta

The city of Calgary certainly knows how to include the whole family when it comes to New Years Eve celebrations, but don’t let that fool you, there is still plenty of adult only parties too. If you do have the kids in tow though, why not head to Calgary Olympic Park where you can bundle up and enjoy skating, music and family fun, ending with a spectacular display of fireworks at midnight. The zoo offers fireworks a little earlier in the evening for those who want to get their kids in bed earlier, along with zoolight displays, fire pits, wild entertainment and plenty of hot chocolate. For the adults who are looking for a good time head to one of many events including the Mystique Ball, the Black and White Ball at the Casino or the Beatmatrix Gala where you will feel as though you have transported right into Atlantic City. Surely this city is one of the best places to be to ring in the new year.

Photo by: City of Calgary
Photo by: City of Calgary

1. Niagara Falls, Ontario

It is Canada’s largest free New Years eve concert and fireworks, making it this the number one place to be to ring in the new year. In fact, this concert actually draws about 40,000 people to Queen Victoria Park and along with an epic line up of musical guests, there are two awesome fireworks displays (one at 8:45 for the wee ones and midnight). To help welcome in 2016 Demi Lovato will be the headliner along with other guests such as Sam Roberts Band and Serena Rider. With an abundance of awesome places to eat and stay, this is one Canadian tradition you should do once in your life. Did we mention the falls are also lit up in beautiful colors?

new years eve niagara falls

The 12 Coolest Corn Mazes in Ontario

It’s that time of the year again, the time of fall fairs, pumpkin spice lattes and really cool corn mazes. The province of Ontario in Canada seems to do corn mazes best, with the abundance of farms and markets in the rural areas. Some of the coolest corn mazes involve additional puzzles to solve throughout, special haunted night walks and “date nights” where you and your loved one can get “lost” in love. From Ottawa to London to Guelph, make sure you head to one of these 12 corn mazes this fall.

12. McMaze at Cedar Fox Farm -St. Andrews West, Ontario

Visitors come from all over Ontario to tackle the corn maze at Cedar Fox Farm, as well as to engage in the abundance of fall activities here. There are a variety of mazes here but the four acre maze is the favorite of them all. Each year features a different theme and in 2015 the maze is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 4H club. The large corn maze is 4 acres in size and full of twists, turns and dead ends. It will take participants anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete. Other cool mazes to explore here include the Haze Maze, a maze made entirely of walls and fog, and the door maze, which consists of 25 decorated doors which may or may not open to let you through. The emphasis at this farm is families and even during the month of October when other farms have haunted mazes and other scary additions, you won’t find that here.

Photo by: McMaze
Photo by: McMaze

11. Richardson’s Farm and Market -Dunnville, Ontario

This corn maze has only been in operation for 12 years but remains one of the best in Ontario due to the hard work and dedication put in by the employees of this farm. This farm offers both a five acre corn maze for kids and adults and a mini one acre maze for the littlest ones. Instead of a normal corn maze that offers so many twists, turns and dead ends, this corn maze offers choices of two routes at many of the intersections. Watch out if you take the wrong route though as you will be walking a long way back once you hit the dead end. While you are here you may as well chuck some pumpkins at the targets, play in the straw bales and visit the animals.

Photo by: Richardson's Farm and Market
Photo by: Richardson’s Farm and Market

10. Naumans -St. Clements, Ontario

This family fun farm is bursting with activities from pick your own gardens to a farmers market to tube slides to pumpkin slingshots and corn cannons. The celebrated corn maze though is not to be missed here. Sticking with their family traditions, the daughter of the owners of this farm designs the corn maze every year, full of twists, windy paths and of course dead ends. The maze is absolutely mammoth, taking up over ten acres and small children must have an adult accompany them. The maze can take anywhere from an hour to three hours, depending on your sense of direction. The farm and maze opens on September 12th in 2015 and this is also the perfect place to pick up your pumpkins as they offer thousands on display and acres where you can pick your own. With over 20 varieties of pumpkins to choose from, there is something for everyone.

Photo by: Nauman Farm
Photo by: Nauman Farm

9. Waterloo Country Corn Maze -Crosshill, Ontario

It is one of the few stand alone corn mazes that aren’t accompanied by a farm or other activities but that shouldn’t stop visitors from heading over to the Waterloo Country Corn Maze. Each year brings a different theme to the maze and in 2015 the theme is Natural Disasters. Open from Labour Day weekend until the end of October there are a variety of ways to explore this twisty tourney maze. Come search the maze and discover the impact that natural disasters have had on our world, bring a picnic to enjoy and let the kids dig in the corn box. Friday and Saturday evenings call for a moonlight maze adventure, just make sure you remember your flashlight. Why not take your date to the maze on Mondays when “date night” is in effect. Day or night, visitors here are expected to have a lot of laughs and a lot of fun finding their way through this intricate maze.

Photo by: Waterloo County Corn Maze
Photo by: Waterloo County Corn Maze

8. Kusterman’s Berry Farm -Mount Brydges, Ontario

They are known for their elaborate corn mazes which feature awesome themes such as Angry Birds and year after year produce incredible designs. In 2015 this farm is celebrating the OHL Hockey team the London Knights by designing their corn maze as a tribute to them. Although you won’t be able to see it while you are searching your way through it, make sure to pick up a map so you can discover just how awesome it looks from above. The maze is about 7.5 acres and involves numerous games throughout to keep both kids and adults occupied. Open six days a week throughout the fall, Thursdays through Tuesdays, visitors are welcome to enjoy the train rides, zip lines, farm animals, playgrounds, sand hills, punch maze, hill slides and much more.

Photo by: Kustermans Berry Farms
Photo by: Kustermans Berry Farms

7. Snyder’s Family Farm -Bright, Ontario

It proclaims itself to be “Kitchener-Waterloo’s most exciting Halloween Destination” and certainly doesn’t disappoint with its plethora of activities for the whole family. The corn maze is at the front and center of this exciting experience as you stroll through five acres filled with activities and an awesome lookout tower. For something a little more scary try one of their haunted hunts where you tromp through the corn maze at night, take a trail of darkness hay ride and try and tackle the barn of fear; a 100 year old barn which becomes too scary for many and making it through the whole thing is an accomplishment meant to be celebrated. Open every weekend in September and October and certain weekdays in November, there is always a good time to head here.

Photo by: Snyders Family Farm
Photo by: Snyders Family Farm

6. Leaping Deer Adventure Farm and Market -Ingersoll, Ontario

It is hailed as being Oxford County’s largest corn maze and at just over ten acres, this maze is full of fun activities and more than just corn planted inside. Besides the challenge of making your way through this maze, the farm has hidden much to be discovered inside and that may in fact just be the greatest challenge yet. The maze is shaped this year as a leaping deer and platforms throughout allow visitors to look out and see some of the shapes. Admission to the corn maze also includes a plethora of activities such as pedal cars, pig races, a giant sand box and the Johnny Popper Wagon Ride. Open from August through October on weekends, visitors have a whole three months to visit this adventure farm, and try to find their way through one intricate corn maze.

Photo by: Leaping Deer Adventure Farm
Photo by: Leaping Deer Adventure Farm

5. Strom’s Farm and Bakery -Guelph, Ontario

It is open weekends from September 19th until October 31st and visitors here will have the chance to experience this epic corn maze either during the day or at night. Every year this farm chooses a different organization to support and not only designs the maze to represent that organization but also donates some of the admission money to them. Not only do you get to experience an awesome maze but you get to support a great local cause as well. If you plan on attending the moonlight maze walk, make sure you pack a flashlight and only strollers not wagons are permitted in the maze at any time. Other activities at this farm include duck races, pumpkin slingshots, rope and straw mazes, a pick your own popcorn field and a market with vegetables and plenty of baked goods.

Photo by: Strom's Farm and Bakery
Photo by: Strom’s Farm and Bakery

4. Downey’s Farm & Market -Caledon, Ontario

You will have to work together with friends and family to complete this corn maze that is spread over four acres and this farm promises you the ultimate fun getting lost. You will have to work together to find all the stations in order to find your way out and new this year is the finger funnies maze game. This game takes place in the maze and visitors will search for the 5 game stations and get a color pattern. Matching the color pattern to a chart which will give you a hilarious funny challenge to perform in front of your friends and family. In 2014 the maze was shaped like a giant tractor. Pumpkinfest is open from Sept. 26 – Oct. 31, 2015 and this is when you will find the corn maze, wagon rides, farm animals, live entertainment and more.

Photo by: Downey's Farm Market
Photo by: Downey’s Farm Market

3. Cooper’s CSA Farm and Maze -Zephyr, Ontario

This market garden and family owned farm produces a wide range of quality vegetables using sustainable and ethical practices, and produces one pretty amazing corn maze. The maze opened to the public on August 28th this year and will remain open until November 1st. The maze is spread out over 10 acres and offers many challenges, activities, twists and turns. On October 24, 25 and 30th the maze is turned into a special “trick or treat” maze, which is a hit amongst all the kids. Admission here is only $9 for anyone over the age of three and includes the corn maze, horse swings, giant corn box, wagon rides, animal encounters and mini mazes for the wee ones. Make sure to check out the farm store for some incredible baked goods, preserves and produce.

Photo by: Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze
Photo by: Cooper’s CSA Farm & Maze

2. Saunder’s Farm -Ottawa, Ontario

Saunder’s has the largest collection of mazes in North America, including some pretty epic corn ones, along with hedges, grapevines and more. Each maze is designed to test your perseverance and problem solving skills with an abundance of activities throughout. Try your hand at the mile maze or how about the musical maze, both will take you on quite the adventure. If you have little ones with you it is best to visit during the day when things aren’t as scary as when night falls the haunting begins. Besides the crazy amount of mazes what awaits you here is the barn of terror, ghost town stage and haunted hayrides. Open on weekends from September 26th to November the absolute best time to go here is right around Halloween when the place is completely decked out! Although admission is pricier than other corn mazes, you get a slew of activities to participate in.

Photo by: Saunders Farm
Photo by: Saunders Farm

1. Thiessen Orchards -Leamington, Ontario

This apple orchard has taken corn mazes to a new level and this is by far the best corn maze in Ontario. Not only is this incredible maze hard and challenging with its dead ends, twists and turns but it offers a second challenge to all visitors. The corn maze has been turned into a farm scene investigation where there has been an accident but foul play is suspected. Seven farm animals will need to be investigated and there are six locations throughout the maze where you will find an animal, weapon, and a location to eliminate. Punch your card to keep track of your clues and help put the guilty animal behind bars. This giant game of ‘who done it’ is fun for both kids and adults alike, although the mini-maze for kids is almost a sure hit among the little ones. Opening on September 8th, 2015 this farm is open seven days a week and promises fun for the whole family.

Photo by: Thiessen Apple Orchard
Photo by: Thiessen Apple Orchard

The 12 Most Unique Hostels For Your Next Adventure

Hostels were once regarded as shady, filth ridden places that most people agreed should be avoided at all costs. While this may still true of some places out there, thanks to the internet gifting us all with access to immense amounts of information, including hotel reviews and visitor testimonies, lodgings around the world have been forced to step up their competitive game. Staying in a clean, comfortable and centrally located room no longer means forking out hundreds of dollars a night or greatly compromising on quality. It also means that tons of creative, one of a kind accommodations have come out of the woodwork, offering visitors an experience that is so much more than just a bunk-bed dorm and shared facilities. So for those on a budget and looking for a truly unique stay, here are 12 of the world’s most amazing budget hostel accommodations:

12. Hostel Old Plovdiv – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

You can let your old soul shine through and reminisce about days gone by in this boutique-style hostel furnished almost exclusively with antiques. Housed in a historic building in an ancient part of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the property exudes an old-world vibe that is in keeping with its surroundings, and provides a truly unique home base as you explore this beautiful city. While the hostel maintains character from top to bottom, architecture to décor, the hosts make sure to offer a wide variety of amenities for the convenience of their guests, including free breakfast, WiFi and parking, as well as a host of organized adventure and culture-based daytime excursions.

Photo by: Hostel Old Plovdiv
Photo by: Hostel Old Plovdiv 

11. Dawson City River Hostel – Yukon, Canada

For those of you who are looking to explore the Canadian North and for whom the idea of “unique” translates to “rustic”—and we do truly mean rustic, not just exposed beams and wood trim—Canada’s northernmost hostel is the place for you. Located on the western side of the Yukon River, overlooking the city of Dawson, the region is not connected to the city power grid or water supply, allowing owner Dieter Reinmuth to stay true to his vision of providing a true northern-living experience. This place will bring out your adventurous side as you disconnect from those newfangled notions of electricity and technology, and immerse yourself in the nature of simplistic cabins, outdoor cooking and fire-wood heated bathing facilities. Visitors also have access to bikes, canoes, and heaps of information on what to explore in the area, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to broaden their horizons and/or break out of their modern-living comfort zone.

Photo by: Dawson City River Hostel
Photo by: Dawson City River Hostel

10. Capsule Ryokan – Kyoto, Japan

In true Japanese-style efficiency, the Capsule Ryokan in Kyoto offers the very traditional style of hostel bunk beds with a very unique twist. Each bunk can actually be enclosed “capsule style” and transformed into your very own quarters, complete with personal air conditioning, a wall-mounted flat screen TV and a storage locker. The hostel also offers traditional Japanese-style private rooms, a common lounge area and a refreshing dose of culture—daily kimono fittings!

Photo by: Capsule Ryokan Kyoto
Photo by: Capsule Ryokan Kyoto

9. City Hostel Seattle – Washington, USA

This artistic paradise is unique not only in concept but in its very décor –each room is one of a kind, decorated by a different local artist. The fact that it’s housed in the historic Lorraine Hotel (popular celebrity haunt of the 1930s) and offers free movies in its in-house movie theater only adds to its super eclectic vibe. This, along with its free breakfast, extremely helpful staff and a central location has earned it a place as one of the best-rated budget accommodations in the city of Seattle.

Photo by: Hung On The World
Photo by: Hung On The World

8. Ottawa Jail Hostel – Ontario, Canada

If you’ve ever had a hankering to spend the night in the slammer (you know, without all of those pesky legal and ethical hurdles), take a trip to Canada’s capital city and live your dream! The Ottawa Jail Hostel is a 150 year old converted prison in heart of the city, and provides accommodation in cells themselves (dorm-style) and in former officers’ quarters (private rooms, usually for families). The hostel also offers a variety of freebies; WiFi, breakfast and daily jail tours are all included, as well as the priceless feature of awesome hosts, who, on their website state, “If you are lucky, you can also meet a ghost…free of charge! No need to thank us.” Free ghosts AND a touch of sass? Sold.

Photo by: Deano World Travels
Photo by: Deano World Travels

7. Clayzy House – Ko Lanta, Thailand

Attention all free-spirited, adventure-seeking, eco-conscious music and art lovers (yep, that’s right), because the Clayzy House hostel community on Thailand’s west coast just might become your second home. Built entirely by hand from local materials such as mud, bamboo and driftwood, the hostel provides both tree house style and dorm accommodations and exudes a laid-back, artsy vibe for travelers who love nature and don’t mind “roughing it” (floors are made of mud and washroom facilities are shared.) The place also offers frequent open mic nights, seemingly endless floor-to-ceiling artwork and a pristine location that is just steps from the beach. Additionally, the on-site bar, common area slung with hammocks and steady stream of reggae and rock music have helped solidify the hostel’s reputation as having one of the best shared accommodation atmospheres in the world, with many past lodgers admitting they stayed much longer than initially planned.

Photo by: Lanta Clayzy House
Photo by: Lanta Clayzy House

6. Tulia House Backpackers – Mombasa, Kenya

While much of this hostel on Mombasa’s coast fits the bill for standard budget accommodation, with both private and dorm-style rooms, it offers one truly unique (and extremely cool) opportunity—the chance to spend an African-style night. Visitors have the option to forego typical bunk bed dorms and stay in a traditionally constructed building that is complete a sand floor and curtained exterior walls, and sleep on a suspended Funzi hammock (linens and a mosquito net are provided for comfort). The hostel also has a stellar social scene, with outdoor movie nights, poolside BBQs, beer pong tournaments and speedboat excursions to nearby beach bars.

Photo by: Afriken Travel
Photo by: Afriken Travel

5. Fauzi Azar Inn – Nazareth, Israel

Housed in a 200-year-old mansion in the heart of Nazareth’s Old City, The Fauzi Azar Inn provides a stunning home base for travelers interested in exploring Galilee. The inn offers uniquely decorated dorms and private rooms and is centrally located within walking distance to all major sites, including the souq (open air market), the Basilica of Annunciation and the White Mosque. The hostel building itself is also a sight to behold, featuring a hand-painted ceiling and marble floors, and the hospitality and endless efforts of the hosts are unparalleled, offering visitors free breakfast, free daily walking tours and free cake!

Photo by: Five Holles
Photo by: Five Holles

4. Mushroom Point – Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Exactly as the name implies, both the communal dorm and the private rooms in this small hostel are straw huts shaped to look like mushrooms, earning it a place as one of the most creative hostels out there. Another distinguishing feature is that there is not one bunk bed to be seen across the entire property, with sleeping facilities equipped with rattan-made round beds (big enough for two) draped in mosquito netting. The few bungalows on the property each offer private bathrooms and small patios, and the place as a whole boasts top-rated food, beautiful gardens and a prime location just minutes from the beach.

Photo by: Down From the Door
Photo by: Down From the Door

3. Kadir’s Tree Houses – Olympos, Turkey

Have you ever considered switching lives with a sometimes-drunk, extremely well-fed squirrel living in a forest? If so, here is your chance. In all seriousness, Kadir’s is a one of a kind budget accommodation found in a truly stunning location in Turkey’s Antalya region, just minutes from Olympos beach. The hostel offers the choice between bungalows (air conditioned and standard) and its most unique feature: traditionally-built tree house dorms. The property also has 2 bars, a seafood restaurant and a snack bar, as well as an extremely lively social scene. Breakfast and dinner are also included, proving that despite all of the recent positive publicity and rapid expansion to Kadir’s, travelers remain the number one priority.

Photo by: Kadir’s Tree Houses
Photo by: Kadir’s Tree Houses

2. Jumbo Stay – Stockholm, Sweden

For you long-range flyers perpetually wondering if you will EVER be able to sleep comfortably on a plane, wonder no more. The answer is still obviously “no,” but you can definitely pretend in Sweden’s Jumbo Stay. The hostel-hotel offers accommodation in a converted Boeing 747, ranging from dormitory style quads to a converted cockpit suite with panoramic views. It’s also conveniently located at the city’s Arlanda Airport, making it extremely handy for travelers who want a cool place to stay as they pass through.

Photo by: Jumbo Stay
Photo by: Jumbo Stay

1. Chateau Bahia – Quebec, Canada

If you’ve been meaning to satisfy your childhood dream of living in a fairy tale castle but just can’t seem to remember where you put that spare 2 billion dollars, your troubles are behind you. This wooden castle, which took 18 years to construct, offers both dorm-style and private rooms, and comes complete with a banquet room, 4 towers and 7 turrets. Your stay includes free breakfast and—for an added fee—a nightly candlelit dinner in the banquet hall, as well as a slew of activities both in the castle and in the surrounding forests of the Gaspé Peninsula. For those who consider themselves handy and have at least 2 weeks to spare, the hostel also offers free stays for anyone willing to help with additional construction.

Photo by: Chateau Bahia
Photo by: Chateau Bahia

 

10 Historical Landmarks Every Canadian Should Visit

Canada is a relatively new country in the grand scheme of things and isn’t usually considered as a historical tourist destination. Most people who visit Canada come for the expansive, diverse and stunning landscape, and for good reason; Canada has some of the most impressive natural wonders in the world. But Canada does have an important and rich history, and you would be remiss to explore Canada without a visit to one of the nearly 1000 national historic sites and landmarks found across the country.

10. L.M. Montgomery’s Home -Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Readers of the Anne of Green Gables series, one of Canada’s most well-known literary works, will be familiar with the National Historic Site. Located in rural Prince Edward Island, near Cavendish, is this quaint landmark; included in the historic site are the Green Gables house, the Cavendish home and the surrounding landscapes, including several lovely hiking trails ideal for a relaxing stroll. Even those who are not familiar with the books or the author will appreciate this beautiful home and the scenery typical of Prince Edward Island; plan for the day and bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds!

Anne of Green Gables House

9.  Rideau Canal -Ottawa, Ontario

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa is an impressive feat of engineering and architecture, and is a favorite destination among both tourists and locals. Officially connecting Kingston to Ottawa, this 202 kilometers of canals is a beautiful chain of lakes, rivers and canals perfect for a day out canoeing or sight-seeing. The exact location of the UNESCO site is in Ottawa; originally built for military purposes in the 1800’s, the series of lock stations and fortifications are architecturally impressive and still completely operational- many still hand crank operated!  It is a favorite for locals too; during the winter months you can strap on some skates and travel nearly the entire canal- make sure you grab a beaver tail and some hot chocolate at one of the many kiosks set up along the way!

Rideau Canal Ottawa

8. Batoche, Saskatchewan

Established in 1872, this Métis settlement was the site of the historical Battle of Batoche during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 and is now a National Historic Site in Canada. Situated in the heart of the prairies on the South Saskatchewan River, it is here that Louis Riel was infamously defeated and a new country was formed. Walking through this historical landmark, you realize what an important moment this was for Canadian history; in fact, you can still see some of the bullet holes from the final battle. Not just for history buffs, take the family and spend the day walking in the shoes of Métis settlers on the shores of the river and learn how the old way of life disappeared and a new one began.

Batoche, Saskatchewan

7. L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador

Visit the L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site on the tip of the island of Newfoundland and you can see evidence of the very first European settlers to set foot on North American soil. Scattered amongst this striking landscape is evidence of an 11th century Viking settlement; the only known location of a Viking settlement in North America, this site holds a tremendous amount of historical importance in terms of migration and discovery. Spend some time looking for the excavated remains of the wood-framed turf buildings (like the ones found in Iceland and Norse Greenland), and wandering around the site. The scenic, yet unrelentingly harsh landscape makes it all the more impressive that an entire culture managed to settle and live here hundreds of years ago.

L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland

6. Fortifications of Québec -Québec City, Québec

As the only fortified city north of Mexico, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is rich in history and architectural beauty, akin to historical cities scattered all over Europe. Walk the walls around Old Québec, nearly 4.6 kilometers in length to marvel at the views of the city and beyond, and to marvel at the military engineering of the fortifications developed in the early 1600’s. Old Québec is a beautiful city to explore by foot; many pedestrian only streets make it easy to get around, and the slower pace makes it easier to take all your pictures! There are also plenty of delicious cafés and quaint shops (although venture off the main streets for a less touristy experience), and plenty of maple syrup inspired treats to keep you going during the day!

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

5. Dawson, Yukon Territory

Way up north, in the harsh, unforgiving, stunningly beautiful landscape of Canada, you will find Dawson, Yukon, the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush and a charming town, well preserved and rich in history. Although small, there is plenty to do here; adventure enthusiasts will enjoy the outdoor landscape made for hiking and rafting, yet those searching for a more relaxing visit will enjoy the traditional pubs and boardwalks through town. Those feeling lucky can try their hand panning for gold in the Klondike Gold Fields and enjoy a tour through some of the still operational gold mines. Dawson is worth the trek up north, but given its remote location, be sure to stay awhile and enjoy the surrounding areas to make the most of your trip!

Pecold / Shutterstock.com
Pecold / Shutterstock.com

4. Fort Garry Hotel -Winnipeg, Manitoba

Those afraid of ghosts may want to skip the Fort Garry Hotel- the infamous Room 202 is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman, but those brave enough won’t want to skip a visit to this landmark. A National Historic Site located in downtown Winnipeg, this famous hotel is one of Canada’s grand railway hotels, and built in 1913, it was the tallest structure in town upon completion. The architecture is reminiscent to other chateau style hotels in Canada, like the Fairmont Chateau next on the list, and is a unique and beautiful addition to the industrial core of Winnipeg.

Photo by: Fort Garry Hotel
Photo by: Fort Garry Hotel

3. Fairmont Chateau Frontenac -Québec City, Québec

One of the most beautiful and grand buildings in all of Canada, the Fairmont Château Frontenac in Québec is considered as one of the most photographed hotels in the world, in part because of its sheer size and grandiose nature on the Québec skyline. Designated as a National Historic Site in 1980, this hotel was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company in the late 1800’s to promote luxury travel and tourism; it was a hotspot for wealthy travelers and those searching for a glamorous experience. This is the most prominent building in Québec and surely can’t be missed when exploring the area; spend some time exploring the glitzy, over the top décor inside and the intricate architecture on the outside- bring an extra memory card  for your camera when visiting this landmark!

Chateau Frontenac

2. Terry Fox Memorial -Thunder Bay, Ontario

All Canadians are familiar with Terry Fox; in fact, he is probably one of the most well-known Canadian icons, recognized nationally and around the world. Visiting the Terry Fox Memorial, overlooking Lake Superior, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by this man’s courageous and inspirational quest to make the world a better place. Terry Fox was a humble young man who has inspired generations of Canadian’s to raise money and improve the lives of cancer patients worldwide; because of him, hundreds of millions of dollars has been raised for cancer research. All Canadian’s can find something to relate to in Terry Fox and the life he led; because of this and his relatability, this Terry Fox memorial is possibly one of the most emotional and inspirational in all of Canada.

"Terry Fox" by Richard Keeling - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.
Terry Fox” by Richard KeelingOwn work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

1. Fortress of Louisbourg -Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Located on the Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, this National Historic Site is one of the most important sites in defining Canada as it is today. The Fortress of Louisbourg was settled in 1713 and fortified later in the mid-18th century, and was the site of historic Anglo-French battles crucial to our history. Enter the fortified city and feel what it was like living in a fishing, port city during the 1700’s. Take one of the many walking and guided tours available, or spend some time exploring on your own; whatever you choose you will be sure to leave with a better understanding of how the original settlers of Canada lived hundreds of years ago.

LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com
LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com

7 Scenic Spots for an Epic Picnic

There are few more idyllic, memorable, budget-friendly activities than enjoying an outdoor picnic. Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic spot to nosh wine and cheese, a family looking for a day outing, or a big group planning an event or reunion, there are loads of spots that will enhance the overall experience with scenery, amenities and unique features built right into the setting. And there are many who agree that food just tastes better outside.

7. Irvine Regional Park, CA

Located in Orange, CA, Irvine Regional Park is a mecca for family fun, and that includes a picnic. In addition to numerous picnic tables and outdoor grills, there is a host of activities to partake in after you’ve finished your potato salad. There are bike trails (bike rentals available), equestrian trails, pony rides, paddleboats and fishing. There is even a train that the family can hop on for a ride across the park, as well as a zoo.

Photo by: Gavin Farrington
Photo by: Gavin Farrington

6. Huayna Picchu, Peru

Looking for a picnic perch with a view? You can’t get much better than spreading your blanket out atop Huayna Picchu in Peru, breaking your bread and taking in the vistas all around you. At an elevation of 9,000 ft., stopping atop this mountain after a reportedly grueling hike not only gives you a chance to rest and refuel your body after the hike, but a chance to refresh your soul as well, with a stunning panorama of the 15th century ruins of Machu Piccu, including the Urubamba River Valley and the iconic city of Inca.

Huayna Picchu, Peru

5. Gatineau Park, QC

Gatineau Park, located just across the Ottawa River, has 5 different picnic areas within their network of parks. The park is very popular with mountain bikers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Charcoal BBQs are available at various locations throughout the parks, as well as lots of picnic tables.  The Etienne Brule Lookout is a popular picnic spot and offers fantastic views of the Ottawa River and connects to hiking and biking trails.

Gatineau Park, QC

4. Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ

You’ve heard of dinner and a show? How about lunch and a view? And as far as views go, you can’t replicate the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim has over 300 miles of trails to wander and take in this wonder of the world. Desert View Drive, which winds along the south rim of the Canyon leads to the Desert View Watchtower. Along this road are several lookout points and picnic areas. If you’re looking to extend your stay and camp, reservations are highly recommended. There are three campgrounds at the South Rim, including tent sites that can accommodate up to 50 people and three vehicles- so if your picnic plans are for a large group or reunion- this is a good spot for you.

Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ

3. Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park, Bristol UK

This fun park expands over 50 acres along the River Avon and has loads of family activities, including a petting zoo, mazes, a toddler village, and indoor and outdoor play areas. The park offers a “Riverside Experience” with miles of trails to follow along the river, providing idyllic picnic spots along the way.

Avon Valley
Photo by: Avon Valley Adventure and wildlife park

2. Shannon Falls Provincial Park, BC

In Squamish B.C., Shannon Falls cascades down over Howe Sound, and are the third tallest falls in British Columbia. A meandering trail through the forest will get you down to the base of the falls- which is where you’ll want to head for photo ops and great views. If you feel like a longer hike, this trail hooks into the Stawamus Trail, which spreads its way out to three different summits. Shannon Falls Provincial Park is well-equipped for picnickers with a concession stand and picnic area located next to the parking lot. This area is for day-use only, making it ideal for a daytime hike and picnic to take in the views.

Photo by: Panoramio/Schalk Mouton
Photo by: Panoramio/Schalk Mouton

1. Villa Borghese Park, Rome

Villa Borghese is Rome’s answer to New York’s Central Park with vast amounts of green space, walking trails and ponds. This park spreads out over 226 acres, and is populated with statues, museums, fountains, theaters and a zoo. There is a wide patchwork of lush, idyllic gardens in which to stop and smell the roses- literally. There are lots of grassy patches under trees to spread out your blanket and feast on your Italian picnic basket. Afterwards you can wander to one of the many man-made lakes and feed the ducks.

Villa Borghese Park, Rome

10 Destination Races Worth the Trip

Any runner will tell you that there are few greater moments than when you cross that finish line during a race. It’s not just about having completed the race, but marks the achievement of all of the training that you’ve done to get there. If you feel like you may have plateaued a little in your training, or want some extra incentive, here are a few destination races that will make you want to get those feet moving.

10. Big Sur International Marathon -Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

This April race has the tagline of “running on the ragged edge of the western world”, which is a pretty apt description of the vistas that runners will take in during their race. Runners understand uniquely the effort/reward relationship in training, and they’ll take full advantage of some spectacular ocean views after tackling the challenging hill that spans almost two miles about a third into the race up to Hurricane Point. This race winds its way along the Pacific Highway, and is closed for the most part to vehicular traffic, providing for a serene, scenic run experience.

Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon
Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon

9. Not Since Moses -Five Island, Nova Scotia

Wanting to change your run routine up a bit? How about going for a run on the ocean floor? That’s exactly the terrain that runners get to cover in this August race at Sand Point, Five Island, Nova Scotia. Runners can choose between 5km and 10km distances, and will get to run across the Bay of Fundy at low tide. While the tide is out, runners run alongside scenic, ragged cliffs.

Photo by: Runner's World
Photo by: Runner’s World

8. Swiss Alpine Marathon -Chur, Switzerland

This 30-year old race began as “a race for the insane”, most likely named so for the number of height inclines and uphill portions in the races, as well as the extra challenges that are present when running at higher altitudes. It has evolved over the years to appeal to a wide variety of runners abilities and also promotes itself as a family friendly event by offering several different distances from a grueling 78km ultra marathon to a 500m kids fun run. It takes place in and around Davos in the Swiss Alps in July.

Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon
Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon

7. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend -Orlando, Florida

Who couldn’t use a little magic to carry them through the tough times in their next big race? How about magic from the Magic Kingdom and surrounding parks? The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend offers several different distances over a single weekend, including a full marathon that winds its way through four of the Disney parks, and the Goofy Challenge (which is truly goofy) that involves running a half marathon on the Saturday, followed by the full marathon the following morning. This race weekend occurs in January every year.

GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com
GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

6. National Capital Marathon Race Weekend -Ottawa, Ontario

The Ottawa Race weekend is Canada’s largest race weekend and several of the races consistently sell out every year. This particular race weekend usually takes place during the second last weekend in May before the summer heat really sets in. Distances include the full marathon, half marathon, 5km and 10km as well as a Kids Marathon. Runners are treated to some great views along the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill and other famous landmarks as they wind their way through downtown Ottawa and over the bridges to Gatineau, QC. Almost the whole route is accessible for spectators, so runners can expect lots of fan enthusiasm, beginning to end.

Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr
Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr

5. Reggae Marathon -Negril, Jamaica

Sun, surf, Reggae music and cold beer when you’re done running? Sounds like a runner’s delight (although the beer may not usually be part of post-run recovery, but when in Rome…). Set for the first weekend in December every year, the Reggae Marathon goes in Negril with a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distances. This event is promoted as having “good vibes and irie spirit”. Once you’re done, there is a party on the beach with Red Stripe Beer and lots of live music.

Photo by: Jamaica Experience
Photo by: Jamaica Experience

4. Great Wall Marathon -Tianjin, China

The Great Wall of China may already be on your bucket list, but what about combining that visit with a once-in-a-lifetime run at the same time. Promoted as “5,164 steps into history”, this race offers full and half marathons, as well as an 8.5 km race. This course is challenging, with lots of steps and inclines, but the views are reportedly worth the work. Runners will wind their way through towns and villages as well. This race takes place on the third Saturday in May every year.

Photo by: Great Wall Marathon
Photo by: Great Wall Marathon

3. The Polar Circle Marathon and Half Marathon -Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

If running in one of the most remote, yet scenic spots on the planet appeals to you, then this is your race. Otherwise known as “the coolest marathon on earth” (for obvious reasons) these races take place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in October. Runners will run through glaciers tongues, along ice caps and along some more forgiving gravel-based terrain. This route takes them just north of the Polar Circle.

Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon
Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon

2. Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon -Kauai, Hawaii

After running through the Polar Circle, runners may want a more temperate climate, namely the islands of Hawaii. Held annually in September, these races let runners wind their way through tropical rain forests and stunning views atop oceanside cliffs, the kind that lessen the burn in your thighs as you climb those hills.

Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon
Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

1. Bay Shore Marathon -Traverse City, Michigan

This May race offers a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distance run. As far as scenery goes, this run is tops. Runners will be treated to lovely views of Lake Michigan on one side and Traverse City’s orchards and cherry trees on the other. This course is known for being fast and flat which is popular for runners seeking those elusive personal bests.

Photo by: Bayshore Marathon
Photo by: Bayshore Marathon

7 Awesome Canadian Food Festivals

With a country so diverse in tastes and cultures, it’s no wonder that Canadians develop and attract a unique breed of food enthusiasts who find cause to celebrate any and all things pertaining to the culinary arts. Cold winters and remote locations have no bearing on the Canadian foodie spirit, with food-centered events highlighting every season of the year and spanning across provinces coast to coast. From hilarious celebrations of Canadian food staples to sophisticated culinary and tasting events, here are 7 of the most awesome food and culinary festivals to check out in this incredible country.

7. Prince Edward Island Fall Flavors Festival

A month-long culinary event, the Prince Edward Island Fall Flavors Festival takes place this year from September 4 to October 4. Featuring a number of small sub-festivals, namely the Beef N’ Blues, International Shellfish Festival and Lobster Party on the Beach (yum!), the festival also boasts a myriad of other events across the island consisting of both educational and cooking/tasting components. This year’s event is already poised to be one for the books, with big name Food Network chefs such as Michael Smith, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson (among others) all slated to host a variety of drool-worthy culinary experiences.

Photo by: The PEI Fall Flavours Festival
Photo by: The PEI Fall Flavours Festival

6. The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival

As the country’s largest producer of mustard, it’s no wonder that this province holds a festival to celebrate all things yellow. Organizers invite tons of local chefs to exhibit their best creations using this indispensable ingredient and battle each other for the coveted “Yellow Chef’s Coat” awarded to the People’s Choice best dish. Combined with an awesome lineup of music, and a kid-friendly atmosphere, this is one end-of-August event you won’t want to miss.

Photo by: The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival
Photo by: The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival

5. Ottawa PoutineFest

With a tagline like #spreadthecurd, it’s pretty easy to read the vibe of this May festival in Ottawa dedicated solely to the mighty Canadian Poutine. It is here that you can indulge in both tradition and crazy poutine flavors showcasing everything from Lobster to Caribbean Fusion. Add in some live music and an abundance of poutine-centered activities like a Poutine Eating Contest, Potato Sack Races, Spud Up Relay and Potato Shoot Out, and you’ve got yourself one memorable, truly Canadian food-loving party.

Ottawa Poutine

4. Eat! Vancouver

This eight day celebration of Vancouver’s extremely diverse culinary scene concluded a successful 13th run in May of 2015. Taking place at various venues in Vancouver’s downtown core, the festival focuses specifically on food and cooking and hosts a variety of hands-on workshops and cooking classes, as well as a Canadian Flavors Gala, Dinner Series, Hospitality Symposium and Pastry Tasting and Panel.

Photo by: GoToVan via Flickr
Photo by: GoToVan via Flickr

3. A Taste of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Fitting every definition of a culinary adventure, this three day event features the top five Niagara restaurants and the top five wineries, with tastings ranging from cheese and wine to full course gourmet meals. Also included is a shuttle between each location, embodying the event’s nature as a true food and wine tour. In fact, having become so popular in recent years, organizers have been forced to hold the event three times a year, with opportunities to attend now available in January, March and April. Capacity is limited, so if this event is up your alley, make sure to move quickly to snag one of the 130 coveted tickets per date.

Wine Tour

2. Winterlicious

Toronto’s answer to the growing popularity of prix fixe culinary events, the next installment of Winterlicious will be held January 29 – February 11, 2016, and will feature the participation of over 200 restaurants across the city’s diverse neighborhoods. The festival series also offers a wide variety of special events centered on the Winterlicious theme, including culinary classes and demonstrations, dinner theater, tasting and pairings and intimate chef workshops.

Photo by: Toronto
Photo by: Toronto

1. Dine Out Vancouver Festival

One of the biggest food events in the country, Dine Out Vancouver is a 17 day culinary extravaganza that sees 277 of Vancouver’s very best restaurants providing diners with delectable prix fixe menus. First held in 2002, the January event has grown to attract thousands of foodies (both local and visiting) and features over 30 one-time events available only during the course of the festival. Check out next year’s event (January 15-31, 2016) for unforgettable meals paired with local wines, brews and cocktails, and a host of events including tastings, film feasts, food tours and food-photography seminars (we all do it).

Photo by: Dine Out Vancouver Festival
Photo by: Dine Out Vancouver Festival

Canada’s Top 15 Best Value Cities to Visit in 2015

A recent study by the popular hotel booking site Trivago, released the top 15 best value cities in all of Canada to visit in 2015. The study took the average price of a hotel room, combined it with the satisfaction of hotel guests and looked at everything there was to do in that city. What they found was 15 cities that boasted incredible value, amazing hotels and plenty of things to do whether you are looking for romance, family vacation or just an escape to a new city.

15. Toronto, ON

With the Pam Am games making its way to Toronto this summer, we were actually surprised to see this city still end up on the list as hotel prices in the city jumped. Luckily it seems that Toronto is home to enough hotels, rentals and other accommodations that the prices don’t seem as astronomical as one might think. With access to professional sports fields, the CN Tower, the new Ripley’s Aquarium, the five-star restaurants and festivals throughout the city; there is certainly no shortage of things to do. Public transportation got a facelift for the Pan Am games and getting around the city is cheap and easy. The average accommodation price per night in the city is $179 with lots of deals to be found online, making Toronto a perfect place to visit this year.

Toronto

14. Vancouver, BC

Vancouver is one of the most expensive places to live in Canada, but quite affordable if you just want to visit for a few days. With an average hotel price of $179, this city is a prime spot for tourists from all over the world. Summertime brings visitors who walk along the seawall, dine on delicious seafood and explore the nearby towns. One of the best times to head here is in the fall, when the hotel prices drop significantly, the leaves start changing color and the weather is still nice enough to enjoy the outdoors. Vancouver transit makes it easy to get around the city at a reasonable price and there are plenty of free activities for everyone to enjoy, including Stanley Park, walking the beaches, visiting the many art galleries and visiting Granville Island.

Vancouver from the Water

13. Ottawa, ON

The capital of Canada makes this list with an average price of accommodation being just $155 a night, a bargain considering more than 80% of travelers are happy with their hotel stays. Visiting Canada’s capital is something everyone should do as the city of Ottawa is full of history, excitement and spectacular architecture. The summer is the absolute best time to head here as the warm weather and festivities make the city feel alive and buzzing with excitement. It also happens to be when hotel prices are at its highest though. It is a good thing then that the city offers incredible value. Tour the parliament buildings for free, head over to the RCMP stables for a chance to look around and perhaps a musical performance if you are lucky or spend an afternoon at one of the city’s beaches. Ottawa is teeming with markets, bike paths, picturesque picnic areas and outdoor art throughout the city for you to enjoy.

Ottawa, Ontario

12. Calgary, AB

It is one of the most expensive places to live on this list but visiting here gets you good bang for your buck and promises an unforgettable vacation, minutes from the beautiful mountains. A hotel room in this city goes for an average of $172 a night and many travelers choose to make Calgary their home base while they explore the city and the surrounding mountains. Plan your vacation around one of the many free summer festivals and you won’t have to reach deep into your pockets to explore all this city has to offer. Besides festivals, visiting the numerous attractions here cost little to nothing, including one of the world’s largest indoor botanical gardens, the plethora of art galleries, shops and the free entertainment during the stampede. Ride a portion of the CTrain for free, grab an inflatable tube and float down the Bow River or simply explore the downtown area and all its charm.

Calgary, AB

11. Niagara Falls, ON

Niagara Falls is home to the most inexpensive average hotel room on this list, coming in at $112 a night. If you have never been to the Canadian side of the falls, there is no better time to visit than 2015. Besides getting an incredible deal on hotels, Niagara Falls is packed full of activities, many of which can be done at little cost. Cruise the streets down by the falls which are packed with wacky fun houses, arcades and rides that are lit up with flashing lights and sounds. Visit one of the casinos and try your luck at one of the many games or slots. Walking along the falls and watching the spectacular firework show that happens in the summer won’t cost you anything either. Surrounding this area also happens to be a large number of wineries that you can tour for free, with tastings only costing a few dollars.

Niagara Falls 1

10. Montréal, QC

The city of Montreal is a perfect getaway, whether you are looking for a romantic escape or heading there for the slew of incredible music festivals and culture. With an average nightly price for accommodation being $172, one can enjoy this city while not breaking the bank. Exploring the city is best done on foot, whether you are traversing the streets of Old Montreal, taking the Golden Square Mile tour or curbing your hunger in many of the city’s most appetizing attractions. Montreal is also loaded with opportunities to try something new for free, including outdoor yoga classes and ballroom dancing. The city teems with rooftop patios and sidewalk cafes; perfect for people watching and relaxing. Take in one of the many free concerts and performances that happen throughout the city year round and enjoy one of the finest cities in all of Canada.

Montreal Canada

9. Edmonton, AB

It may not be the first place you think of when you think vacation in Canada, but Edmonton has a lot to offer and at the average price of just $151 a night, you can’t go wrong heading to this city. If you are looking to explore the outdoors, Edmonton might be just right for you. The city is famous for its North Saskatchewan River Valley, which offers over 100 kilometers of recreational trails, wildlife viewing, city views and Canada’s largest historical park, Fort Edmonton Park. One thing to splurge on when visiting here is the West Edmonton Mall. It is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in North America complete with amusement park, artificial beach, indoor wave pool, casino, movie theatres and an indoor lake. If you happen to visit here in the winter, head outside the city away from the lights and look for the Northern Lights. They are often visible from December to March.

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com
Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

8. Québec-City, QC

It is one of the most romantic cities to visit in all of Canada and with an average room price of $161 a night; many couples choose to visit Quebec City anytime of the year. In the winter the city comes alive with Christmas lights, turning the historic part of the city into a true winter wonderland. In the summer, the cobblestone streets are full of tourists, outdoor cafes and festivals. There are many historic churches that boast incredible architecture, an impressive number of parks and green space and a plethora of boutiques and shops to discover. The cuisine in the city is incredible, the people are friendly and strolling through the walled city of Old Quebec anytime of the year promises to be absolutely charming. For free entertainment, one should head down to the boardwalk along the St. Lawrence that is always full of buskers and entertainers during the summers.

Quebec City

7. Victoria, BC

It is one of the most beautiful cities on this list if you are into stunning mountain views, ocean harbors, colorful houses and natural beauty. It also happens to be a bargain when you look at the average nightly price of accommodations only being $143. The city is full of things to do and see, whether you want to splurge and visit the famous Butchart Garden or the Royal BC Museum, or whether you are looking to stick within a budget. Strolling the causeway, home to breathtaking views of the water, parliament and skyline is a popular activity for both locals and tourists. It is here when you can snag a seat on the Harbour Ferry and discover floating restaurants, historic homes, classic yachts and shipyards during the 45-minute narrated tour. Between the parks, mountains, beaches and art; there is no shortage of things to discover in this city.

Victoria coast line

6. Mississauga, ON

If you want to be close to the city of Toronto but don’t want to shell out the money, Mississauga is the absolute perfect place to stay. With an average room price of just $123 a night, spending less on a hotel means more spending money in your pockets. Many vacationers choose to make Mississauga their home base and travel into the city to explore the many activities and sights that Toronto offers. If you are looking for things to do in Mississauga though; why not head to the parks in Port Credit or feel like a kid again at Playdium Arcade. Mississauga is also home to a wealth of restaurants featuring cuisine from all over the world and it pays to check them out heading into Toronto for a great meal. Whether you are staying here for the city itself or looking to spread your budget by staying outside of Toronto, Mississauga is a great value city.

Atomazul / Shutterstock.com
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com

5. Kelowna, BC

Kelowna’s location along the eastern shoreline of Okanagan Lake creates a diverse landscape where outdoor recreation thrives and people from all over the world flock to this incredibly beautiful city. The lake itself draws many tourists interested in boating, kayaking and swimming while the rolling terrain is great for hikers, golfers and bikers. In the wintertime skiers and snowboarders head to Big White Mountain. The plethora of outdoor sports is what makes this city so affordable to visit. Pack a picnic, grab your kayak rental and head out for the day. Perhaps strap on a pair of snowshoes and explore the region. Head out and visit the wineries where they offer free tours and cheap tastings. With an average nightly room price of just $140, Kelowna is the perfect natural outdoor getaway.

Kelowna BC

4. Winnipeg, MB

Winnipeg is a diverse city that combines breathtaking architecture with ample green space to create this unique backdrop for a vibrant city. Visitors here will find warehouses that have been converted to restaurants and shops, outdoor festivals and concerts and an abundance of art and culture. The city is home to over 1,100 restaurants and is known for its top notch food scene that is well-priced. One of the most popular things to do in this city is head to The Forks, a downtown area where the two rivers meet that is home to the market, artisan shops and interactive fun. With an average room price of $141 a night, this cultural melting pot beckons visitors from all over the globe. It is recommended you head here in the summertime because the winter here can be downright freezing cold!

Winnipeg, MB

3. Mont-Tremblant, QC

This city located in the Laurentian Mountains is most famously known for its ski resort located at the foot of Mont Tremblant Mountains. Winter sports enthusiasts flock here to downhill ski, snowboard, snowshoe, dog-sled and cross-country ski in some of the best snow in the country. But winter isn’t the only season that flourishes here. Summertime brings eco-adventures, hiking, canoeing, cycling and fishing with Lac Tremblant at the centre of most of these. An average room price in this city will run you $189 a night, keeping in mind that winters are the most expensive. Many of the hotels offer discounts if you book early in the season and work with the ski resort to combine lift tickets with hotel prices. Book early, pay once and enjoy this awesome destination, summer or winter.

Mount Tremblant

2. Kamloops, BC

Kamloops is a hidden treasure amongst the West coast of Canada and with a highly affordable average nightly room rate of just $119; it won’t stay hidden for long. Home to the 5th best golf course in Canada, one of BC’s biggest ski hills and an abundance of outdoors to explore; visiting Kamloops and sticking on budget is easy. Many of the activities and restaurants are lower priced than the surrounding areas such as Vancouver or Kelowna, making this city incredibly budget friendly. Popular activities include a visit to the BC Wildlife Park, a hike to the waterfall, a visit to the farmers market and taking in the largest cowboy festival in Canada. There are endless possibilities for winter or summer, making this the number two valued city in all of Canada.

Kamloops
Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / Shutterstock.com

1. Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

It is the city with the most expensive average accommodation on this list at $203 a night, but seeing as Niagara-on-the-Lake is known as one of the prettiest towns in all of Canada; it comes as no surprise that it can be pricey. You won’t find high rise hotels here either; instead you will find historic homes, charming B&B’s and beautiful cottages that offer luxury amenities. This 19th-century village is home to award-winning restaurants and wineries and world-class theatre. Strolling the charming streets, touring the wineries and walking along the river won’t set you back anything. This romantic getaway is often visited by those looking for an intimate experience, complete with fine dining, great wines and cozy accommodations; which are exactly what they will find in the charming town.

Niagara On The Lake