Canada, the destination up north

Canada has definitely caught the eye of one traveler or another. It’s vibrant cities and natural wonders are sure to lure some in and was named the number one country to travel to in 2017 by Lonely Planet, which is quite the great feat. It definitely lives up to being the world’s second-largest country.

Planning on visiting Quebec? This province is very French-cultured, so be prepared to indulge in some of the most sophisticated hotels in the world. The Hotel Museé Premieres Nations, in Wendake and Quebec City, is a boutique hotel. This intriguing hotel is one where guests can view and purchase original Wendake crafts. They also serve a Labrador tea ceremony every day. For those who plan on traveling in January-March, opt for the Hotel de Glace, in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, right outside Quebec City. This one-of-a-kind hotel is made every January-March, a literal ice palace. Made with 15,000 tons of snow and 500,000 tons of ice, this 44 room hotel includes fireplaces and fur-lined sleeping areas. There’s also the frozen chapel, frosty cocktail glasses, chandeliers, and a bar all made of frozen water. This is a perfect way to make all your friends green with envy, just make sure to pack your parka!

Four hundred years of history lie in the walls of Old Quebec. What better to do than take a walking tour of the former city? Old Quebec is a UNESCO world heritage site. Make sure to go to the Parliament Building, the Plains of Abraham- where the British and French faced off for control of the city, and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts, the city’s museum of fine art. The tour doesn’t just stop there, continuing on to the Citadelle of Quebec, the largest fortress of the British in North America. Don’t miss out on The Château Frontenac, a hotel, can only be described one way: a castle. The Dufferin Terrace, upon which the castle sits on, is an attraction in itself. From there, catch a ride on the funicular (an old timey vertical railway) and head down into the Quartier du Petit Champlain. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in North America. This tour will most likely take up a whole day, depending on how long you spend at each attraction, so plan accordingly.

For explorers, the Banff and Jasper National Parks may be at the top of your list, but there may be something better. Over the Great Divide, British Columbia’s Kootenay Rockies region houses four mountain ranges sure to rival the more famous Banff and Jasper Parks. Whether you are hiking, skiing, camping, climbing, cycling, or sightseeing, British Columbia’s Yoho National Park, Kootenay National Park, Glacier National Park, and Mount Revelstoke National Park are sure to make quite a dent in your cellphone or camera storage.

In Whistler, urban communities are never too far from nature’s escapes. In between zip-lining and biking in the summer, or heli-ski and snowboard in the winter, Whistler’s hidden nature relaxation spots will make you forget about the real world. Relax with a taste of Scandinavia at one of Whistler’s favorite spas, where you can play hot and cold between burning hot tubs and ice-cold pools. If you’re a big spender, have one of the spa’s four massages done to leave with no weight on your shoulders. The best part? No phones, truly offering you some well-deserved time off. For something that a bit more practical, head over to Lost Lake and relax on the pier, or jump in when the sun gets too hot. For the art connoisseur, wind down with some yoga by a Monet at the Audain Art Museum. This event only happens once a month, so mark your calendars!

The food scene in Canada is heating up! Michael Moffat, chef at Play Food & Wine in Ottawa, is making fine dining at an affordable price. Carnivores will attack the hanger steak, a steak marinated for 24 hours with citrus, mirin, tamari, and brown sugar with a caramelized surface, served with fries and sautéed mushrooms. Grant van Gameren, the chef at The Bar Isabel in Toronto, is self-taught, serving authentic Spanish dishes, including whole grilled octopus and artisanal cocktails. Gameren cooks late into the night, until 2am. Nick Liu, chef at DaiLo in Toronto, firmly believes that Fusion is from Canada, so it makes sense that Liu’s cooking is New Asian with Euro aspects. It’s quite a surprise seeing Japanese bolognese with soba noodles and tataki beef, and Liu’s signature: spicy sweetbreads with traditional Cantonese sweet-and-sour sauce. Upon leaving any of these restaurants, your hunger will be satisfied.

It’s no doubt that this place is made for everyone. Hikers, campers, art lovers, thrill seekers, nature lovers, future historians, and anyone who likes to eat good food. Canada certainly lives up to being a large country, and it deserves the title of number one.

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