Excess amounts of turkey, oversized carafes of wine, an extra Monday off from the 9-to-5 routine…sounds like a textbook romance to us. And yet, while we wouldn’t say no to the traditional thanksgiving lunch in Canada, we’re always up for spicing things up a little.
Our solution: why not keep the wine, keep the turkey, but change the table this Thanksgiving weekend?
With less than a week to spare before celebrations commence, we’ve put together four of our favourite weekend breaks in Canada (all of which are suitable for last minute bookings!) From the thunders of Niagara Falls to the mountain goats of Banff and mystical aurora lights of Whitehorse in Yukon, there’s something here for even the most dedicated festive-Scrooge to smile about…
Why? Renowned for its mystical beauty and thunderous appeal, Niagara Falls has oft been cited as one of the most romantic places in the world. One for nature lovers, this amorous locale offers some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.
What to do? Having been an established tourist destination for more than 200 years, Niagara Falls offers an extensive range of mini-experiences, enabling visitors to soak up the atmosphere from just about every angle. For a picture perfect adventure, don a bright blue poncho and hop on one of the Maid of Mist boat tours. Full-day excursions run until 24 October 2010, travelling through the dense mist spray of the Horseshoe Falls to the calming lull of the Niagara River. Not a water baby? For those less inclined to nautical adventures, check out the spectacular Skylon Tower, situated just steps from the Falls and offering a truly once-in-a-lifetime view from its 236-metre high observation deck.
Where to stay? There are a range of beautiful guesthouses and Victorian-style boutique hostels located in the Niagara Falls area. For a beautiful budget experience, check out the Always Inn, which is located just four houses back from the Niagara River Gorge and 25 minutes walking distance to the falls. Private rooms are still available over the Thanksgiving weekend from €23.14 per night.
Why? With its backdoor wilderness, beautiful natural parks and network of hiking trails, White Horse is a favourite locale for lovers of the great outdoors. It also just happens to be one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis (otherwise known as the Northern Lights).
What to do? Yukon territory offers one of the most phenomenal views in the world of the magical Northern Lights. While the exact forecast can only be predicted four or five days in advance, late September through March tends to be the best time to view this miracle of the skies. In order to avoid the distracting city lights, Aurora Tours of Yukon take place in the midst of Whitehorse countryside (and come complete with campfire, hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows for good measure!) Not up for the group expedition? For something a little more romantic, why not engage in a DIY mission and spend the day hiking through Whitehorse’s natural trails for a midnight Aurora viewing outside of the city centre.
Where to stay? Situated just 5 blocks from the Main Street, Beez Kneez Bakpakers Hostel is a great budget option, with dorm beds on offer from only €21.36 per night. The best news? Rooms are still available over the Thanksgiving long weekend!
Why? Fancy bumping into a bear, deer or mountain goat? Banff is the place to do it! Overflowing with wildlife – including its famous hot springs, the world’s second-oldest national park and some of the greatest skiing in North America – this Canadian Rockies locale is just as buzzing in summer, autumn, winter and spring.
What to do? For those seeking some pure unadulterated relaxation, you can’t miss a trip to the famous Banff Upper Hot Springs. Here in the midst of the National Park, visitors can soak outdoors in the 100% natural steamy water, or else indulge in a soothing Pleiades Massage and Spa. Once you’ve had the requisite dose of relaxation, why not try for a glimpse of those promised bears, elk, deer and the odd coyote? Some of the best local observation sites include the local Vermilion Lakes Drive, Minnewanka Loop, Norquay Road, Marsh Boardwalk Trail…or pretty much any of the hiking routes in Banff National Park! For those who want to view the action from a distance, take a trip on the eight-minute gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain for an unsurpassed cityscape panorama.
Where to stay? For those keen on some winter skiing, the HI-Banff Alpine Centre is a great budget hostel choice. Located on the snowy hills of Tunnel Mountain yet offering free public bus transportation in and out of town, HI-Banff offers the best of both the Banff party scene and the picturesque mountain life. Dorm rooms are available from €21.18 per night. Check out more hostels in Banff here.
Why? As Host Mountain Resort of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Whistler has certainly made a name for itself on the winter sports circuit. It also just happens to be a great place to snuggle up with a wine, turkey and hot chocolate in front of the fire!
What to do? Carve it up on the slopes of course! Whistler offers some of the most amazing and awe-inspiring massive snowy peaks in the world…so why not make use of them? For those wanting to get right into the action, grab a pair of skis and hit up the slopes on more than 8000 acres of mountain terrain. Fancy something slightly more relaxing (or just unable to keep your balance on the ice)? The new world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola offers a breathtaking 4.4-kilometre journey between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, making it the longest continuous lift system on the globe. The journey offers a 360-degree window into the Whistler alpine environment, allowing visitors to seek out the very best walking trails, mountain-top patios and fireside restaurant venues.
Where to stay? For a little bit of luxury, the Inn at Cliftop Lane features private double rooms complete with ensuite bathroom featuring Jacuzzi tub, hairdryer and fluffy terry cloth bathrobes. Rooms are on offer from €53.05 per night and still available over the Thanksgiving period. Budget travellers may also like the AWA Whistler Pemberton Hotel which offers private ensuite rooms from €21.52 per night.