8 Historic Canadian Forts That Still Exist Today

Canadian forts offer a glimpse into the past, built over the last two centuries to defend the young country. Nowadays they stand as a testament to the history of Canada and offer visitors a chance to go back in time. Many of these historic forts have been rebuilt time and time again, in order to give visitors access to them. Beautiful views, fun activities and a great lesson in Canadian history await visitors to these eight historic Canadian forts.

8. Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, Victoria, British Columbia

This coastal artillery fort was built in the 1890’s, intended to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. The site is adjacent to Fisgard Lighthouse, the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada. Visitors here have the chance to tour secret bunkers, military command posts, and original 19th-century buildings.

Hear personal stories of soldiers and their families, explore the nearby tide pools and bring a picnic and spend the whole day here. Known for its breathtaking views, the fort overlooks the beautiful coastline and out into the mountains. Open every day except Christmas, most visitors choose to visit the fort and the lighthouse in the same visit.

7. The Citadel National Historic Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Fort George is the fortified summit of Citadel Hill, first fortified in 1749, the year when Halifax was founded. A series of four different defensive fortifications have occupied the summit of Citadel Hill. While it was never attacked, the Citadel played an important part in the defense of the Halifax Harbor and its Royal Navy Dockyard. The star-shaped structure offers an incredible view of the city and the harbor.

Visitors should plan on taking a guided tour to learn more about the fort’s history from 1749 through WWII. Make sure to visit the Army Museum while you are here to view over 70,000 artifacts chronicling Atlantic Canada’s military history. Visit in July and be a part of the Great Canadian Backyard Campout where you can set up camp inside the walls of the citadel.

6. Fort Chambly National Historic Site, Chambly, Quebec

This imposing stone structure has been guarding part of one of the largest navigable waterways in North America for more than two centuries. It was first constructed in 1711 to defend the colony and three wooden forts preceded the stone fortification. For many years this fort was the main footing of the defensive chain of fortifications along the Richelieu River, which was the easiest route into New France.

The fort was lost to the British in 1760 in The Conquest of New France, captured by American forces in 1775 and finally restored in 1882 by a citizen of Chambly. Today visitors can see a fully reconstructed version of the fort where they can learn more about New France history and culture.

5. Fort St. James National Historic Site, Fort St. James, British Columbia

It was one of the first permanent fur trading posts in the West, built in 1805-1806 and has been rebuilt a total of four times. Visitors here will get a good look at life in 1896 that includes a fur warehouse, storage facility, trade store, and gardens. It displays the largest group of original wooden buildings representing the fur trade in Canada and the story here revolves around the relationships and interactions between the fur traders and Native Peoples of the region.

Its location on Stuart Lake offers fun for outdoor enthusiasts including hiking, sailing, fishing and mountain biking. Special event days happen throughout the year including Salmon Day with its ‘iron chef’ cook-off and Harvest Day.

Via Salmon Trails | Northwest BC Culture

4. Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, St. Andrews, Manitoba

The original Fort Garry was destroyed in 1826 by a devastating flood, leading the Hudson’s Bay Company to search for a higher ground to build the next fort. Thus Lower Fort Garry was built, 32km north of the original in 1830. What makes this fort so significant is the fact that Treaty 1 was signed here.

Visit here from May to September when costumed interpreters recreate like at Lower Fort Garry in the early 1850’s. Original buildings and walls, hands-on activities and original-to-era furnishings are all a part of the experiment. Around Halloween, candlelight tours are offered through the fort, along with hot chocolate around a campfire.

Via National Post

3. Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada, Amherstburg, Ontario

It was formally known as Fort Amherstburg, built in 1795 by Britain in order to ensure the security of British North America against any potential threat of American Invasion. It here where Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh met during the War of 1812 to plan the siege of Detroit. Unfortunately, this border fortification was torn down after the War of 1812. The fort was rebuilt and it’s the second structure that survives today.

Ideally located along the Detroit River, visitors here are privy to some true Canadian flora and fauna including sugar maples, swans, and geese. Throughout the year there are special events such as the haunted fort tours during October and Christmas celebrations that show visitors how soldiers over two hundred years ago celebrated the holiday.

Via Ontario’s Southwest

2. Fortress Louisburg, Louisburg, Nova Scotia

The original settlement was made in 1713 by the French and developed over several decades into a thriving center for fishing and trade. Fortified against the threat of British Invasion during the time of empire building, Louisburg was besieged twice before finally being destroyed in the 1760’s. Luckily for visitors, archeologists have reconstructed the fortress as it was in the 18th century.

Today the site features more than a dozen buildings to explore as well as daily demonstrations recreating life at the fort that includes cooking, dancing, music and military drills. This is more than just a fort to explore, with its three 18th-century restaurants as well as a delicious bakery to explore. One of best things about visiting this fortress is the help you are giving the local economy, which has struggled economically with the decline of the North Atlantic fishery.

1. Old Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Ontario

It is known as Canada’s bloodiest field of battle, due to more than 3,000 troops who lost their lives during the Siege of Fort Erie from August 3rd to September 21st in 1814. The original fort was built in 1764 and was the first British fort to be constructed as part of a network developed after the Treaty of Paris concluded the Seven Years’ War. The fort was first a supply base for British troops, before the War of 1812, a base for troops during the American Revolution and later an important crossing point for the Underground Railroad.

The annual Siege of Fort Erie takes place on the second week of August each year and is most definitely the favorite time to check out this historical fort. It is then that re-enactors from all over North America descend on the fort to re-create the historic battles, complete with plenty of firepower.

The Best Urban Parks in Canada

Canada is known for some of its incredible National Parks but often what gets overlooked in this great nation are the incredible urban parks that have popped up from coast to coast. What makes one urban park better than another? Great access to activities, varied landscapes, incredible scenery and plenty of things to see and do, are what sets these eight urban parks above the rest. From the famous Stanley Park in Vancouver to the largest urban park in Canada to lesser known parks in the east coast; here are the best urban parks in Canada.

8. Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

This park is considered to be one of Winnipeg’s crown jewels and offers over 113 hectares of woodland and plains along the River’s south side. Attractions here include the park zoo whose star attraction is the Polar Bears and the comprehensive exhibit that they are housed in. Known to be one of the most comprehensive zoological exhibits of its kind in the world, visitors have the chance to watch the playful bears in a stimulating environments inspired by their natural habitat. The park boasts more than just the zoo though, including gardens, playgrounds, restaurants, nature trails, a steam train and more. The park conservatory boasts over 8,000 flowers, trees and plants while the Gallery Museum features local artists and a permanent Winnie the Pooh artifact collection.

Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

7. Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

Located on Victoria’s southern shores, Beacon Hill Park is an oasis of both landscaped and natural beauty, offering spectacular views during every season. The outer rim of the park is where nature lovers flock to, to Oceanside bluffs where paragliders and kite enthusiasts often can be seen. The inner park is where visitors will find most of the activities though. Wander through the manicured gardens and over bridged streams while music drifts out of the Cameron Bandshell. Or take the kids the the miniature golfing or petting zoo. Wildlife is abundant throughout the park with over a hundred species of birds, river otters, painted turtles and more. This park also happens to have the important status of being the western terminus, the Mile “0” of the 8,000km Trans-Canada highway and so happens to be a very popular tourist photo opp.

Mile 0

6. Pippy Park, St. John’s Newfoundland

At the northern boundary of St. John’s lays one of Canada’s greatest urban parks, Pippy Park, abundant in scenery and breathtaking views. The 27-hole golf course features some of the spectacular views of both the oldest city in North America and miles of rugged coastline, chances are you might even see an iceberg or whale while walking this course. If visitors want to spend more than just a day exploring this awesome park, the campground offers 216 sites on private treed lots that are steps away from playgrounds and the Botanical Gardens. There is a plethora of scenic trails that allow visitors to explore a variety of landscapes including wetlands, rivers, parklands and more. The rare Leopard march orchid can also be spotted here in the Botanical Gardens and offers visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it up close and in person.

whale

5. Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary

It is the largest urban park in all of Canada, and just so happens to be one of the best, located in the southern part of Calgary and over three times the size of Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park. Fish Creek flows the entire length of the park and joins the Bow River at the east side, offering visitors a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors here will be privy to 200 bird species, deer, owls, beavers and coyotes which all call this park home. One of the most popular features of the park is Sikome Lake, a man-made lake where thousands of people flock to each summer to swim. A variety of unpaved walking, hiking and bicycle trails are also prevalent throughout Fish Creek Park. Two restaurants are located here, one which offers fine-dining and the other a bakery and café and an Artisan Garden is located in the east end. There are a ton of things to see and do here and if you happen to be a resident of Calgary, consider yourself lucky that you get to enjoy this park anytime at your leisure.

deer

4. Rockwood Park, St. John New Brunswick

This park offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in an unspoiled setting where unusual topography and geography are prevalent. The billion years of history here can be seen in unique rock formations, caves and waterfalls and this park often refers to itself as an all-season natural amusement park. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity for hiking, fishing. Boating, climbing, camping, golfing and mountain biking while those looking for something a little more low key can visit the Cherry Brook Zoo, located in the north section of the park. Other awesome amenities include beaches, gardens, stables, campgrounds and picnic sites, along with 890 hectares of forest and the beautiful Lily Lake.

rockwood park NB

3. High Park, Toronto

It is Toronto’s largest public park and in recent years the city has invested a lot of time, energy and money into making it one of the greatest urban parks in Canada. High Park is home to a greenhouse, zoo, restaurants, off-leash dog park and more. The signature Sakura cheery blossom trees in Hillside Gardens are the star attraction during April and May when they are in full bloom. Grenadier Pond is the place to head for fishing off the south rim while visitors who want to swim or skate can head to the designated pool and rink. From wandering through the nature trails to playing on one of many playgrounds to taking in a sport at one of the great facilities, there is certainly no shortage of things to do here.

high park

2. Mt. Royal Park, Montreal

It is the best urban park in all of Montreal and so happens to be one of the best in all of Canada, laying in the midst of Montreal island and including 200 hectares and the highest spot in the city. The park is home to over 180 species of birds and 20 mammals and enough hiking and biking paths to keep any active visitor busy. In the winter time enjoy the 20km of cross country trails, horse drawn carriage rides and an awesome tubing and tobogganing run. Other features of this impressive park include Beaver Lake, a sculpture garden, Smith House – an interpretative center, and two belvederes. Designed by famous architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park, visitors can assure that there is no shortage of spectacular views of the city below and varied landscapes to explore.

mt royal

1. Stanley Park, Vancouver

It is known for being one the best parks around the world, and recently held the title of “best park in the world” by Trip Advisor, therefore no trip to Vancouver should be complete without visiting Stanley Park. This lush green space covers over 400 hectares of parkland and west coast rainforest. Things to do at this park include visiting the indoor/outdoor aquarium, walking the 8.8km stretch of seawall and discovering the Brockton Point’s First Nations totem poles. The park is also absolutely loaded with gardens, beaches, landmarks, sculptures and lookout points, along with a golf course and a Lost Lagoon. Whether you spend an hour, a day or three days exploring this park, one thing is for sure – it is easy to understand why this is truly the best urban park in Canada.

totem

 

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

8 Best Winter Adventure Parks Canada

So you want to have a winter adventure but you have no desire in strapping on downhill skies or a snowboard. Luckily for you, Canada is one step ahead and has been designing winter adventure centres for the non-skiers. From tube parks to Nordic centers to a former Olympic Park, these eight winter adventure parks in Canada will have you strapping on your boots, pulling on your mittens and going out to play in the snow.

8. Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park, British Columbia

There is no special equipment or training required to ride these hills, with over 1000 feet of sliding bliss and is no shortage of fun to be had. Multiple lanes, a special conveyor lift and a park that is easily accessible from Whistler Village making this one of the most popular winter activities here, other than skiing or snowboarding of course. The Tube Park is open from December until April, weather permitting and is open at night for special sliding. There are seven lanes to enjoy, from a smaller gentle slope for the young kids to longer faster lanes. Tubes are sized for kids and adults, with double tubes also being available. With heated washrooms, food and beverages for sale, a full sound system and a fire pit with seating; it’s easy to enjoy the whole day or night here.

Photo by:  Go Whistler via Facebook
Photo by: Go Whistler via Facebook

7. Calgary Olympic Park, Alberta

This one-of-a-kind attraction is located just 15 minutes from downtown Calgary and has been welcoming visitors since 1988, when it was the premiere site of the XV Olympic Winter Games. Yes, there are awesome ski and snowboard hills here, after all it is the second largest ski school in Canada, but there are also other awesome winter activities to take part in. Have you ever dreamed of being in a bobsled, racing down sheer ice at over 100 km an hour? Now is your chance as the fastest sport on earth is available to the public. How about taking part in the sliding sport of the Luge, an adventure that will take you through five twisting turns in just 40 seconds, also known as one of the most dangerous winter sports on earth. Olympic Park also offers public skating and two kilometers of groomed trails for cross country skiers, perfect for both day or night skiing. A whole day can be spent at this impressive venue without strapping on skies once.

Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock.com
Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock.com

6. Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario

Get the most out of winter at one of Ontario’s premier winter resorts, Blue Mountain. Here families and people of all ages can enjoy an abundance of winter activities. Blue Mountain’s newest winter activity is its Hike N’ Tube, where riders don’t have to strap on skies to experience the thrill of flying downhill. Instead they can sail down by tube, perfect for younger ones as young as three. The Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster is perhaps one of the most loved attractions at this adventure park. This winter coaster takes riders on an exhilarating experience as it twists and turns 3,560 ft. down the mountain through varied terrain. Riders control how fast they go and can expect to reach speeds up to 42 km/hr — if they are real daredevils. Snowshoeing, skating and playing in the heated outdoor aquatic center are all other awesome activities to take part in at Blue Mountain Resort.

Photo by: Blue Mountain via Facebook
Photo by: Blue Mountain via Facebook

5. Glissades, Quebec

Hailed as being one of the largest snow tubing parks in Canada, it is clear that Quebec takes its winter adventures very seriously. The snow tubing park itself boasts a whopping 32 slopes, ranging from beginner to expert along with two magic carpets and a chairlift. With a 250 vertical drop, lighted runs for evening sliding and over a thousand tubes to rent, you can be sure this will be one fun-filled day. In addition, this park boasts the opportunity to slide down one of 7 slopes with multiple people packed into winter canoes. Choose to slide down with either eight or 12 people in this epic experience. Here is also your chance to try out the four-man bobsleigh with three runs that are more than half a kilometer long. It has a unique lift that will take you to the top, provided you are wearing helmets, this sport can be safely enjoyed. With huge amounts of snow, this is one of the best winter adventure parks in the country.

Photo by: Glissades des Pays d'en Haut via Facebook
Photo by: Glissades des Pays d’en Haut via Facebook

4. Canmore Nordic Centre, Alberta

If you are looking for some unique winter activities to try, heading to Canmore Nordic Centre in Alberta is the right choice. Here you can take part in activities such as Winter Disc Golf. With eight holes available during the winter season and free access to the course, this otherwise summer sport is perhaps even more fun in the snow. Why not try your hand at the popular growing sport of fat biking? With designated single track trails, this hot new sport is easy to enjoy here. Ice skating, snowshoeing and tobogganing are other activities to take part in at the Nordic Centre, and the best thing about these is they are all free! Most winter enthusiasts head here for the cross-country skiing though, as there are more than 65 km of groomed nature trails to explore.

Photo by: Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park via Facebook
Photo by: Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park via Facebook

3. Cypress Nordic Area, British Columbia

Located less than 30 minutes away from Vancouver’s downtown, you will feel as though you enter a different world, one that seems more like a winter wonderland, loaded with fun activities for the whole family. The Nordic Area is where you will find plenty of access to cross country skiing- with over 19 km of groomed trails, and 11 km of snowshoeing trails that run through sub alpine meadows and snowy mountain forests. If you really want to get some thrills in though, head to Gnarly’s Tube Park where you can slip and slide your way down six different chutes that measure 100 meters in length. A tube tow does all the work bringing you back to the top and all you have to do is a pick a chute, lie back and enjoy. For the little ones who are too small to slide, they can enjoy the gentle sliding area that features a gentle slope with a 4 meter drop over 25 meters. Bring your own sled for this one or rent a crazy carpet.

Photo by: Cypress Mountain via Facebook
Photo by: Cypress Mountain via Facebook

2. Horseshoe Resort, Ontario

A variety of winter activities await visitors at this awesome winter resort. Winter tubing is the most popular activity here, as the adventure park features five big chutes to fly down. A magic carpet whisks riders to the top ensuring you can go time and time again, without getting tired. Open during the day and at night, sliding down is an experience not to be missed. Fat biking is also available at this park and the 20 km trail is perfect for beginners and intermediates. Ride your way through the loops and track and discover why this is one of the fastest growing winter sports. Snowshoeing can be done on the 35 km of groomed trails through the Copeland forests which offers incredible scenery and landscape. And let’s not forget about the mini-sled program where kids get to learn how to snowmobile. With all these activities, its hard to choose which to do first at this awesome adventure park.

Photo by: Horseshoe Resort via Facebook
Photo by: Horseshoe Resort via Facebook

1. Valcartier Village Vacances, Quebec

It is the largest winter adventure park in Canada, offering loads of activities for anyone of any age. Offering over thirty different tubing slides and adventures, this winter park takes the top spot on this list. Thrillseekers should head to the Himalaya slides, where the four longest and steepest slopes are houses and riders can expect to hit up to 80 km/hr. If you want fast but not that fast the Avalanche area features 9 inner tube slopes ranging from easy to difficult to very difficult. It is in this are where you will also find the Snow Rafting and Tornado slides. Two experiences that lets you take on the slopes as a group, from 12 passenger rafts to 8 passenger spinning circles of fun. With a half pipe, children’s only area, skating path and more; this is the ultimate winter playground in Canada.

Photo by: Village Vacances Valcartier via Facebook
Photo by: Village Vacances Valcartier via Facebook

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 7 Best Places for a Winter Wedding

The time for winter weddings is now, before they start becoming the norm and venues start to become unavailable. Why would anyone want to have a winter wedding, you may be asking yourself. Besides the beauty of the gently falling snow, twinkling lights, and gorgeous white shawls the bridesmaids can wear; consider the untapped, breathtaking venues. From Canada to Sweden all the way to Iceland; these are the seven best places for a winter wedding. Don’t blame us when you want to switch your wedding date from summer to winter!

7. Swedish Ice Hotel (Jukkasjarvi, Sweden)

mikeuk / Getty Images

From December to April, couples can say ‘I do’ here at the Swedish Ice Hotel, the world’s largest hotel made of ice and snow. The choices for ceremonies here include the Ice Church, one of the most unique locations in the world. Every year it is hand-carved by designers, different than the year before, and can hold up to 40 guests. The walls and ceilings are made of snow while the altar details and benches are made of ice. If you are a civil ceremony, the majestic Main Hall or one of the hand-carved art suites are perfect. The extras here include hand-carved ice blocks with your names in them, plenty of champagne, and world-class food. Couples can spend the night huddled together in a luxury suite, snow room, or anything in between. Don’t worry about being cold; this hotel has you covered with specialty sleeping bags made for two.

6. Budir, Iceland

olgashev4enko / Shutterstock

If you are looking to be married in a beautiful yet desolate landscape, there is no better place for a winter wedding than Iceland. Hotel Budir is where you lovebirds will want to head as they offer an unforgettable wedding experience. Situated on the oceanfront, the hotel is surrounded by a lava field with the Snaefellsjokul glacier in the background. The small, yet breathtaking church is located right beside the hotel although many people choose to get married on the white sandy beach or on the moss in the midst of the lava field. After the ceremony guests and the couple will head to the hotel for dinner, the restaurant here is considered one of the most romantic restaurants in all of Iceland. The happy couple can book to stay in the one suite while all other guests can occupy the additional 27 rooms.

5. Yoho National Park (British Columbia, Canada)

Lauzla / Getty Images

The secluded Emerald Lake Lodge in the heart of Yoho National Park is the perfect winter wedding destination. During the winter snow envelops the area and turns Emerald Lake into a true winter wonderland. There is a choice of three venues at this lodge, featuring seating from 24-88 people. Ceremonies can be held outside, with the mountains as the backdrop, or in the same room as your reception. Simple flowers, candlelight, and twinkling lights will set the stage for the utmost romantic experience. Snow-capped mountain peaks, crackling fireplaces, and snow gently falling make getting hitched in the Rocky Mountains, one of the best ideas for a winter wedding.

4. Dunton (Colorado, USA)

dszc / Getty Images

Think rustic charm meets natural splendor of the hot springs meets cowboy boots and cocktails in the saloon, that is what wedding guests will expect at this winter wedding venue in Colorado. The Dunton Hot Springs Resort is set deep in the San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies and this restored ghost town turns into a winter wonderland with luxury cabins, an outdoor chapel, a saloon, and absolutely breathtaking landscapes. Enjoy sweeping views of 14,000-foot mountain peaks, alpine springs, and frozen rivers as you say, “I do” under gently falling snow. Enjoy a world-class dinner created by the finest chefs using organic ingredients to create the menu you have always dreamt about. Experience heli-skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling as a new married couple, as well as letting your guests experience a wide range of activities that await you in the winter months.

3. Quebec City (Quebec, Canada)

NicolasMcComber / Getty Images

This truly romantic destination is the perfect place to tie the knot any time of the year, but it gets even more magical in the winter months, alas a bit chilly, but definitely worth it. The European-inspired atmosphere, gourmet dining, stunning churches, chic hotels, and legendary hospitality make this a day you will never forget. Arrive at your ceremony in the legendary horse-drawn carriages, say ‘I do’ at a traditional sugar shack, or even get hitched at the Ice Hotel. Stay in a gorgeous hotel such as the Fairmont, customize your meal at one of many restaurants throughout the city and wander the historic streets of Old Quebec with the thousands of twinkling lights and beautiful decorations. There is truly no bad place to have your winter wedding in this iconic romantic destination.

2. Colorado, USA

Image courtesy of Jeffrey D. Walters / Getty Images

If you just can’t imagine having a wedding day without being blanketed by a covering of snow, Colorado is the perfect winter wedding destination for you. Colorado is blessed with a number of ski resorts, where you and your partner can get a few ski-runs in before or after the ceremony, as well as get married atop a mountain with stunning views and enjoy a luxury lodge experience. Or choose to exchange vows in one of many small chapels that are tucked into the Rocky Mountains. Whatever snowy experience you are after, it is easy to find in this state. From Aspen to Breckenridge to Telluride the choices are endless of winter weddings here.

1. Lake Tahoe, USA

vernonwiley / Getty Images

You will have to bundle up when you get married in Lake Tahoe in the wintertime as the temperature drops, but it will be well worth it when you are standing atop a mountain saying “I do” while looking out into the beautiful views. Stunning snow-capped mountains, fine dining, and elegant venues are located all around the lake, along with dramatic sunsets that seem to be even better in the wintertime. Think s’more stations, outdoor fire pits, mulled wine, and crackling fireplace indoors. The choice of where you choose to say your vows, well that’s up to you. The possibilities here are endless and whether you are looking for an intimate gathering or a full-blown winter wedding party; you will be sure to find it at Lake Tahoe.

8 Historic Canadian War Sites You Can Still Visit Today

If you are a history buff looking to explore the many war site in Canada, you’re in luck. From Nova Scotia to Ontario all the way to Saskatchewan, there are an abundance of places to visit, which were at one point, battlefields during the numerous wars. Some of the sites are designated National Historic Sites with activities, events and interactive displays while others are living museums and fortified towns. If you have ever wanted to put your feet onto an actual battleground, now is your chance with these 8 Canadian Historic War Sites.

8. Nancy Island Historic Site, Ontario

It is one of the lesser-known war sites in Canada, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. The story here goes that The Nancy was a British Schooner, a fur-trading vessel during the war of 1812. It was on the Nottawasaga River on August 14th 1814 when Lt. Worsley, the commander of the ship did everything he could to defend her form the American attack. Unfortunately the Nancy was destroyed, although the crew lived to fight another day. Today on Nancy Island visitors can see the hull of the Nancy, built in 1789. Also on the site there is a replica of a 19th century Great Lakes lighthouse and a video presentation that shows visitors the crew’s heroic story. In the summer make sure to tour the site, participate in a cannon demonstration and interact with a historical character.

"Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Kanada; Nancy Island Museum" by Christian Budach - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Kanada; Nancy Island Museum” by Christian BudachOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

7. Plains of Abraham, Quebec

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place on September 13th, 1759, was a pivotal moment in the Seven Years War and in the history of Canada. General James Wolfe led the British invasion force to defeat the French troops leading to the surrender of Quebec to the British. The battle only took 30 minutes, as the British soldiers climbed the steep hill in darkness and through a single deadly volley of musket fire, defeated the French. Today it stands as one of Canada’s most important historical parks and there are numerous exhibits throughout for visitors to explore the story through uniforms, maps, interactive games and period reproductions.

Plains of Abraham, Quebec

6. The Fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

It was during the Seven Years War that British troops were looking to gain control of Quebec with Louisbourg being their gateway to the St. Lawrence River. They attacked this military fortress that was erected over the course of three decades. The British brought a major artillery assault to this fortress, causing major structural damage and with 14,000 British soldiers and only 9,000 French soldiers; the Brits had a significant advantage. Setting the enemy’s ship on fire and then the main centerpiece of Louisbourg on fire meant that the French had no choice but to surrender. This fortress may have been lost to history if not designated a National Historic Site in the 1960’s and today it is one of the largest reconstructed 18th-century French fortified towns in North America.

LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com
LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com

5. Ridgeway Battlefield National Historic Site of Canada, Ontario

The Battle of Ridgeway was fought on June 2, 1866 between Canadian troops and an irregular army of Irish-American invaders who called themselves the Fenians. It was the first modern industrial-era battle to be fought by Canadians, the first to be fought only by Canadian troops and the first to be led exclusively by Canadian officers. It was actually a defeat for Canadians, and the first and only armed victory for the cause of Irish Independence between 1798-1919. As it happens the Fenians only held Ridgeway for a short amount of time, in which a rapid convergence of largly British and Canadian reinforcements convinced many of them to return in haste to the United States, where waiting US authorities took their weapons. Visitors can find out more at the Battle of Ridgeway Memorial Park site where there are outdoor interpretative displays and panels.

Photo by: Eric Lorenzen Photography
Photo by: Eric Lorenzen Photography

4. Chippawa Battlefield, Ontario

The Battle of Chippawa was actually a victory for the United States Army during the War of 1812 when they invaded Upper Canada along the Niagara River on July 5th, 1814. It was the longest and bloodiest military operations of the War of 1812. The actual site of where it took place was on the fields of Daniel Street’s farm near the banks of the river and started when a force of 2,000 men attacked an invading American army of 3,500. The fighting lasted all day until the Brits were forced to withdraw and the Americans won, but only for three weeks, until the bloody battle of Lundy’s Lane was fought and won by the Brits on July 25th. Niagara Parks has preserved the 300 acres of the pristine battlefield, one of the last remaining sites from the War of 1812 and visitors are encouraged to go on the self-guided walking tour that retraces the events of the war.

Photo by: Ontario War Memorials
Photo by: Ontario War Memorials

3. Battle of the Chateauguay Historic Site, Quebec

It was October 26th 1813, during the War of 1812 when a British force of 1,630 regulars, volunteers and militia from Lower Canada and Mohawk warriors repelled an American force of about 4,000 who were attempting to invade Lower Canada and attack Montreal. The Battle of the Chateauguay was one of the two battles that caused the Americans to abandon the Saint Lawrence Campaign, a major strategic effort put on by the Americans. This site has been turned into a Historic National site in which visitors can come to learn more about the battle and how the Canadian took victory. The interpretation center is where visitors can have interactive experiences learning about the lives of soldiers and more. Outside visitors can tour the archaeological landscape that witnessed the battle or head to the beautiful monument that commemorates the battle.

"Lieu historique national du Canada de la Bataille-de-la-Châteauguay 02" by Benoit Rochon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Lieu historique national du Canada de la Bataille-de-la-Châteauguay 02” by Benoit RochonOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

2. Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan

Batoche is the site of the historic Battle of Batoche during the northwest Rebellion of 1885, which pitted Canadian authorities against a force of rebel Metis. The Metis settlement of Batoche was established in 1872 and by the time the battle took place it numbered 500 people. The battle resulted in the defeat of Louis Riel and his Metis forces, resulting in the collapse of the Provisional Governments. Batoche is now a National Historic Site where visitors can come and learn more about the history of the community and its inhabitants via a multimedia presentation. There are several restored buildings with costumed interpreters who depict the lifestyle of the Metis between 1860-1900’s.

Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan

1. Fort Henry National Historic Site, Ontario

It was at the beginning of the war of 1812 that local militia erected a blockhouse and battery on Point Henry to defend the important naval base on Point Frederick, as well as to monitor maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. On November 10, 1812 this battery was involved in repelling several American warships that were attacking the Royal George that was taking refuge in the Kingston Harbor. Distrust continued after the War of 1812 between the British and the Americans and the original fort that was built was demolished to make way for a more extensive fort, built between 1832-1836. Although this new fort was never attacked, it has now becoming a livening museum for visitors that come from all over the country.

Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

7 Places to Camp This Fall in Canada

Although the lazy days of summer are behind us, the opportunity for outdoor vacationing is still very present. Camping in the fall is awesome. The crowds are smaller, the searing heat of summer is gone, but warm days and cool nights arrive (perfect for sleeping). It’s also the perfect point of view to absorb the changing of the leaves as nature weaves one of her most spectacular seasonal sights. If you are planning on camping in Canada this fall, here are a few campgrounds you’ll want to check out.

7. La Mauricie National Park, Quebec

The tree-lined landscapes in La Mauricie National Park, located mid-way between Montreal and Quebec City, are a sight to behold in the autumn. It’s a tapestry of contrasts with the reds and golds of the changing leaves, against the vast forests of coniferous trees, maintaining their green as the year marches on. This park is popular with canoe campers and car campers alike, with the opportunities for outdoor leisure as vast as the open spaces that surround them. Looking for some panoramic views? Drive around the Ile-de-Pins, and stop along at the lookout points; hike the Solitaire Lake Trail or around the Gabet Lake Trail and pause for some serious scenery.

La Mauricie National Park

6. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia

If hiking the arduous West Coast Trail is on your bucket list, you only have until the end of September annually to do it. The mild September temperatures and drier weather make it a more pleasant experience, although the sense of the accomplishment, along with the once-in-a-lifetime scenery along the way is compelling enough in terms of motivation. The West Coast Trail is not the only scenic jewel in the Pacific Rim National Park though. Visit the Rainforest (yes, there’s one in Canada). There is the incredible Long Beach, where you can participate in 9.5 km Long Beach Challenge run every autumn. There is lots of opportunity to camp here, with many serviced campsites open through October. Camping in the Broken Islands group is particularly good in September, in part because you still have summer-like weather without the summer crowds.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

5. Jasper National Park, Alberta

Jasper National Park has lots of camping opportunity for those wishing to extend their camping season through the fall. Most of Jasper’s campgrounds are summer only, but a couple of them remain open and fully operational through the middle of October. Jasper National Park does offer Otentiks like many of the other National Parks, which are generally available through to the middle of October as well. Now that you’ve determined where to sleep, how to spend your waking hours?  Tackle the surrounding mountains for a hike or a mountain bike, during a season where the temperatures are downright comfortable. Visit the Miette Hot Springs, located within the park, which are the hottest mineral spring waters in the Rockies.

Jasper Park

4. Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

As far as unique scenery goes, witnessing the highest tides in the world pull in and out of the shore is hard to beat. The Yurts and the OTentiks (A-frame tents) that are available for rent in Fundy National Park overlook the shores of the iconic Bay of Fundy. Talk about a room with a view! Imagine waking up to the sites of the rolling Bay at your doorstep and then going for a walk on the ocean floor (when the tide is receding, of course!). Fundy National Park has a “Red Chair Program,” which means that there are giant red Adirondack chairs placed at various vantage points around the park, intended for you to pause, relax and absorb the view.

Fundy National Park

3. Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ontario

Located just outside Picton, On, Sandbanks Provincial Park is immensely popular with day-trippers and campers through the summer months. This is due in part to it’s amazing, long, shallow, sandy beaches that make it hard to believe you’re in Ontario (and not in some seaside tropical locale). While the water may be a little chilly for camping through the fall, this lengthy beach is a walker’s (or runner’s) delight. After your walk on the beach, you can enjoy some of the best food and wine in the region or go antiquing while touring around in nearby Prince Edward County. Another fall highlight: this park’s location makes it a hotspot for bird migration, so there is lots of natural wildlife to observe. At Sandbanks, there are 500 campsites, as well as a handful of cottages available. The cottages are available year round, but for those looking to embrace the great outdoors and camp proper, sites are open through mid-October.

ValeStock / Shutterstock.com
ValeStock / Shutterstock.com

2. Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario

Bon Echo Provincial Park is located in Cloyne, ON and has some of the most unique and beautiful scenery in Eastern Ontario. It is set upon Lake Mazinaw, featuring Mazinaw Rock, which juts 100 metres up from the shoreline. Boat tours of the lake are available seasonally and offer an up close and personal view of the pictographs. The jagged rock face has over 200 Aboriginal pictographs upon it (which is one of the largest such collections in Canada). This place is a hiker’s paradise, with several trails of varying difficulty and length around the park. (Abes and Essens Lake Trail) are particularly vibrant in the fall when the leaves turn, and the panoramic views can’t be beat. There are campsites available along some of the trails. In addition to the car camping sites, Bon Echo is fitted with a number of heated Yurts which can increase the comfort level on those chilly fall mornings.

Bon Echo Provincial Park

1. Algonquin Park, Ontario

When you think of sweeping, regally coloured vistas that characterize the colours of fall, it is hard not to picture the rolling countryside and forested terrain of Algonquin Park. Very popular with outdoor enthusiasts year-round, the fall offers a special combination of seasonal activity, made awe-inspiring when it takes place against the colourful backdrop that the season provides. Sugar and Red Maples are at their fiery best from mid-September through mid-October. Other tree types will follow suit, with the canopy of colour remaining pretty vibrant through November. Several of Algonquin Park’s developed campgrounds are available for use through until Canadian Thanksgiving. If you are looking to camp a little deeper into the fall, check out Mew Lake Campground, which has full hookups and service year-round. There is also a collection of hiking trails that connect through the campground, which gives you easy access and a bird’s eye view of the fall foliage.

Algonquin Park Canada

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