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Canada See And Do

Montréal , Québec

Some of the world's leading architects have left their mark on Montréal. Expo 67 brought Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome on St. Helen's Island, as well as the hive of cube-shaped dwellings known as Habitat 67 (2600 Pierre-Dupuy Ave.; 514-866-5971; The four International-style buildings in Mies van der Rohe's Westmount Square, dating from 1968, are covered in a grid of windows and raised on black columns, not unlike Mies's Seagram building in New York City (1 Westmount Square). Architecture buffs can also trek to Nun's Island, just south of downtown, to see a couple of simple, geometric-grid high-rises (100 and 200 Gaspé St.) and an Esso gas station also designed by Mies.

A bit less esoteric is the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Quality, not quantity, is the motto for this restrained downtown venue. Exhibits range from architectural models to meditations on a theme using objects, images, videos, or music: A show in 2003 explored lifestyle and design in India by displaying televisions blaring Bollywood music videos; another on architectural periodicals (on view through September 2007) encompasses 70 different magazines from the 1960s and '70s. You can breeze through the exhibitions in minutes or pore over them for hours. Roundtable discussions and film screenings are often held in tandem with exhibitions. The CCA's Mellon Lecture series can be fascinating or fatiguing, depending on the speaker (1920 Baile St.; 515-939-7026;; closed Mon. and Tues., free on Thurs. evenings).

Banff Centre
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff , Alberta
Canada T1L 1H5
Tel: 403 762 6100

The Banff Centre helps to solidify Banff's claim as the capital of Canadian mountain culture. The Banff Mountain Film Festival (usually held in early November) pioneered the mountain film genre, whether for hard-core mountaineers or armchair wannabes. It offers seminars on such diverse subjects as the "ancient roots" of skiing, the people of China's Altai Mountains, and adventure filmmaking. From May to September, the Centre hosts its own Summer Arts Festival, with more than 200 musical performances, art exhibitions, and theater shows spread out over the tourist season. Since its founding in 1933, the Centre has also served as a training ground and performance space for dance, music, opera, and other art forms. Check out the schedule online; you might be surprised at what interests you.

Banff National Park
Banff National Park , Alberta
Tel: 403 762 1550

With 1.6 million acres of mountain wilderness, more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails, and the bustling town of Banff at its center, Banff National Park is the major draw to this region. You could spend months here and never quite experience everything. Of course there's the skiing in winter. And in summer, crystal-blue Lake Louise, a great spot for canoeing, hiking, or simply taking in the views. If getting around on foot or skis isn't your thing, there's always the Bow Valley Parkway—which runs from Banff to Lake Louise. The abundance of bears, elk, and deer, paired with a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit, makes for a safe and relaxing drive-through wildlife watch.

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Bard on the Beach
Whyte Avenue
Vanier Park
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6J 3J9
Tel: 604 739 0559

This annual June-September festival of Shakespeare en plein air—or in open tents, anyhow—has a backdrop no set designer could compete with: a waterfront park in the Kitsilano neighborhood surrounded by ocean, sky, and mountains. The festival runs alternating performances of four different Shakespeare plays with two evening performances Tuesdays through Fridays and two afternoon and two evening shows most weekends. Seating is by general admission, so arrive early to "select and sticker" your seat. Cushions are recommended, as are comfortable layers for when the temperature drops quickly after sunset. Tickets are about $30 each. Look out for the special festival spin-offs, from Bard-B-Q and wine tastings to auctions and opera recitals.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge
3735 Capilano Road
North Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V7R 4J1
Tel: 604 985 7474

This 450-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge, which gently (terrifyingly?) sways 230 feet above the tree-lined Capilano River Canyon, is the world's longest. The Treetops Adventure attraction, opened in 2004, added an additional 650 feet of bridge linking eight Douglas fir trees up to 100 feet above the forest floor. The bridge gained some notoriety in 1999, when a 17-month-old infant fell from her mother's arms and survived a 154-foot plunge into the trees below. But it's safe, really—though even mild acrophobics should stay far, far away.

Although shorter than the Capilano bridge, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is every bit as breathtaking—and it's free. Swinging 20 stories above Lynn Creek in North Vancouver, the bridge offers views of the steep cliffs and tree-lined edges of the canyon (open daily at 7 am; closing times vary by season; 3663 Park Rd.; 604-990-3755).—Kasey Wilson

Capilano bridge open daily except Christmas; hours vary by season.

Caribana Festival
Toronto , Ontario

The Caribana festival began in 1967 as a gift from the city's Caribbean community to mark Canada's centennial. Now it's Toronto's biggest cultural attraction, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors in July and August. The rhythms of calypso pulse throughout humid Toronto, and the parade snakes along Lake Shore Boulevard, with gorgeous floats, toe-tapping music, and brilliant costumes. In Yonge-Dundas Square, you'll find all official festival information, tickets, and souvenirs. The event also takes over Olympic Island, transforming it into a miniature Caribbean, with steel-pan bands, other entertainment, and lots of tasty island food.

CN Tower
301 Front Street W.
Toronto , Ontario
Canada M5V 2T6
Tel: 416 868 6937

At 1,815 feet, the CN Tower offers a staggering view panoramic view of the city. Visitors ride to the top in a glass elevator that stops at the Indoor Observation Deck (1,136 feet). Descend a level to the Glass Floor, and look down to the ground through the Perspex panes. Don't worry: the glass can hold the weight of 14 hippos. At the top, the Sky Pod (1,465 feet) commands a view 100 miles south to Niagara Falls on a clear day (don't bother making the ascent if it's overcast).

Open Sundays through Thursdays 9 am to 10 pm and Fridays and Saturdays 9 am to 10:30 pm; varies by season.

Cross-Country and Snowshoeing
Fernie , British Columbia

The resort has a ten-kilometer network of groomed trails. Another ten-kilometer trail loops around town (both free). Three-hour ski or snowshoe tours are available Thursdays and Sundays, 1–4 ($29 per person, with a two-person minimum). You'll hardly notice what a great workout you're getting, because the guide will keep you entertained with local lore (if you haven't heard the legend of the "Griz" yet, you will now). Call 877 333 2339 for reservations. Note that equipment is not included.

Distillery District

One of the world's largest Victorian industrial centers was reborn in 2003 as a hip arts district of galleries, theaters, restaurants, and boutiques. The charming collection of stone buildings and intimate cobblestone lanes of the former whisky-making complex on Mill Street is the perfect place to idle away an afternoon. Grab a cup of java at Balzac's, sample some of the sublime chocolate creations at Soma, or buy something to wear at Lileo. If you've got something more artistic in mind, check out the glass creations at the Sandra Ainsley Gallery or take in a play at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, home to Soulpepper (, which is among Canada's best theater companies.

Downhill Skiing
Fernie , British Columbia

The ski area has an average annual snowfall of ten meters, five magnificent alpine bowls, and a total of 107 runs. For new arrivals, a complimentary Mountain Host Tour departs at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily from the base area. First timers: Head to the Mini Moose and Mighty Moose lifts. Intermediate skiers: the Deer and Elk lifts access groomed, rolling slopes. Or take the Boomerang to the Cedar Bowl, where most runs are intermediate. Diehards: The high-speed Timber Bowl Express and White Pass Quad will sweep you to higher, more challenging terrain. Lift day pass: approximately $53.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
145 Queen Street W.
Toronto , Ontario
Canada M5A 1E8
Tel: 416 363 6671

This recently unveiled opera house is a stunning example of contemporary formalist architecture, but don't let the visuals fool you: They built it for the acoustics. The foundation was insulated with 500 rubber pads to keep out subway rumble, and audience seating was kept down to 2,000. According to critics, the audio experience is suitably grand. The Canadian Opera Company makes its home here, and the works presented range from the classical to the modern: The venue opened with Wagner's Ring cycle, and the free concert series includes jazz and world music. The season runs from September through June, and rush tickets can be bought the day of the performance. If opera isn't your thing, the center is also home to the National Ballet of Canada (

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Granville Island
Beneath the Granville Street Bridge
Vancouver , British Columbia
Tel: 604 666 5784

Mini-ferries called "aquabuses" take you from one of several downtown stops (including Yaletown at Davie Street and the southern end of Hornby Street) to this happening enclave underneath the Granville Bridge—home to artisans, art galleries, and one of the best daily farmers markets anywhere, the Public Market. The "island" is actually a small peninsula attached to the south shore of False Creek and just a five-minute ferry ride from the Hornby Street stop. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here, munching your way through the market and browsing the fun little shops and galleries in the surrounding maze of streets. Check out the Wood Co-op, with its impressive selection of beautifully crafted wood furniture, art, and housewares (1592 Johnston St.; 604-408-2553). If you have children, hit the Kids Market for two levels of shops selling toys, books, kites, and marionettes (1496 Cartwright St.; 604-689-8447). For a full-size meal, stop in for cedar-planked salmon or sushi at the Sandbar restaurant. In the summer, a visit to the Water Park and adventure playground is a must for parents with young children.

The Griz Festival
Fernie , British Columbia

Held in February, this festival is a tribute to the "Griz"—the hero responsible for Fernie's spectacular powder, according to legend. As local lore has it, the Griz wrestled with a grizzly bear as a child, and now roams the mountains eternally, clad in a bearskin coat and cap, shooting his musket into the clouds in order to trigger a snowfall. The festival includes sporting events, competitions, and parades. The citizen who best embodies the spirit of the festival's namesake during the week becomes honorary Griz for the rest of the year.

Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay W.
Toronto , Ontario
Canada M5J 2G8
Tel: 416 973 4000

Once the site of railroad yards, docks, and warehouses, this waterfront area was reclaimed by the government in the '70s and turned into the Harbourfront Centre, one of the most important cultural venues in Canada, hosting thousands of performances, exhibitions, and concerts annually. The year-round Harbourfront Reading Series ( is renowned, and if you're here in October, consider the International Festival of Authors. On summer weekends, you can browse in the International Marketplace in front of the centre, with everything from Native crafts to Indonesian textiles.

Hockey Hall of Fame
30 Yonge Street
Toronto , Ontario
Canada M5E 1X8
Tel: 416 360 7735

For all its highbrow cosmopolitanism, Toronto is, nevertheless, the biggest hockey city in the world. Even tropics-dwelling nonskaters can find something fun to do at the Hockey Hall of Fame, thanks to great interactive exhibits, which let visitors try to score on an NHL goalie or experience just what it's like to face a slap shot. Hockey pilgrims, meanwhile, can gawk at hallowed memorabilia like historic skates and sticks, as well as the net in which Wayne Gretzky scored his 802nd career goal in 1994 (thus establishing an NHL record for all-time career goals scored, as any local will tell you). The Great Hall, with its glass-encased trophies, including the original Stanley Cup, has a churchlike tranquility.

Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 5 pm, Saturdays 9:30 am to 6 pm, and Sundays 10:30 am to 5 pm.

Ice Climbing
Banff + Jasper

Combine Banff's plummeting rock walls and cold winter temperatures and the result is a series of frozen waterfalls—prime ice-climbing terrain. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures has certified guides who will give two-day classes for novices, or lead more experienced climbers up routes in Cougar Creek (near Canmore) and Cascade Mountain in Banff National Park (403-678-4164; They also rent and sell equipment, such as the pointy crampons that let you kick footholds into the giant Popsicles, as well as axes, ropes, and harnesses. See, ice is not just for cocktails anymore.

Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park , Alberta
Tel: 780 852 6176

Encompassing the alpine meadows of Mount Edith Cavell, the surging Sunwapta Falls, the awe-inspiring Athabasca Glacier (which is easily accessible from the Icefields Parkway, but is melting more every year), and the waters of Miette Hot Springs, this Rocky Mountain park is almost as large as Connecticut. About four hours north of Banff, it's one of North America's most-visited backpacking areas, thanks to its network of well-maintained hiking trails. Other local activities include white-water rafting, canoeing, skiing, horseback riding, and golf at the excellent Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (Old Lodge Road; 780-852-3301; Many hotels and resorts are clustered in the town of Jasper, but lodges and campgrounds are scattered throughout the rest of the park as well.

Jasper Tramway
Whistler's Mountain Road (two miles south of Jasper off Highway 93)
Jasper , Alberta
Canada T0E 1E0
Tel: 866 850 8726 (toll-free)
Fax: 780 852 3093

This family-friendly sky ride lifts visitors 3,193 vertical feet up Whistler's Mountain. Not recommended for the acrophobic, the gentle seven-minute airborne journey affords aerial views of glacier-fed lakes, the Athabasca River, and the town of Jasper. From the tram's stopping point, it's a 30-to-45-minute hike to the top of the mountain. Bring warm clothes if you plan to tackle the 8,085-foot summit.

Open seasonally 10 am to 5 pm (9 am to 8 pm late July through August). Closed mid-October through mid-April.

Kensington Market
Toronto , Ontario

This lively neighborhood situated just west of Chinatown is an ongoing street-level festival of ethnic food and shopping. Legend has it that no other market on Earth offers the same variety of produce, and a five-minute amble down its streets can take you past everything from West Indian mangoes to Portuguese salted fish, Chilean empanadas to Mexican-style tacos. Try to catch the Kensington Karnival, a colorful pageant on December 21 that celebrates the winter solstice, complete with a candlelit mummers parade. At any other time of year, grab a burrito at Big Fat Burrito, head to the Embassy Bar for a pint of local draft, or check out the second-hand duds at Courage My Love.

Kiteboarding and Windsurfing in Squamish
Squamish , British Columbia

When the snow melts, the region around Whistler is still blessed with outdoor options. Saltwater sports are only an hour south of the village in the town of Squamish, along the Howe Sound. The word Squamish means "strong wind" in the Squohomish tongue, and it's not uncommon to find wind-lovers squeezing into wetsuits in the bathrooms at Quinn's Café. They're there to catch 30- to 35-knot thermals and skip along the sound past a landscape of glaciers and snowcapped volcanoes. Get more info at the Squamish Windsports Society (, and rent gear at Sea to Sky Ocean Sports (604-892-3366;

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Vancouver , British Columbia

The Vancouver equivalent of Haight-Ashbury, this '60s hippie community across False Creek from downtown Vancouver is now a laid-back family neighborhood of beachfront parks and streets lined with historic wooden homes, bookstores, and cafés. The main drag, West Fourth Avenue, is known for its trendy shops, though lately the selection seems to lean heavily toward maternity and baby wear, yoga gear, kitchen items, and other housewares. Sophie's Cosmic Café is a great spot for breakfast, which is available all day (2095 W. Fourth Ave.; 604-732-6810).

Kootenay National Park
Kootenay National Park , Alberta
Tel: 250 347 9615

Located just west of the Alberta border, this 543-square-mile park contains the Radium Hot Springs mineral pool (5420 Highway 93; 250-347-9485) and Stanley Glacier's hiking trails. Due to bridge repairs (expected to be complete by the end of summer 2007), the roaring waters of the ice-carved Marble Canyon are off-limits, but the nearby Paint Pots—a stunning trio of red, orange, and yellow ponds colored by oxide-rich springs—are currently accessible just off the highway. Most visitors take in this park's sweeping landscapes through their car windows as they drive along Highway 93, so even when tourists inundate the surrounding areas (all summer), the foot-traveled parts of Kootenay remain relatively serene and undisturbed.

Mile End
Montréal , Québec

The Orthodox church on St. Viateur Street signals that this artsy, hipster enclave was once a Polish ghetto. Although it's now home to indie rock bands like the Arcade Fire, Islands, and Wolf Parade, Mile End still hangs on to its past. After Sunday services, aging Poles mix with local creative types to slurp borscht at Euro Deli Bathory (115 St. Viateur St. W.; 514-948-2161). And members of the large Hasidic population run errands along Park Avenue, oblivious to the twentysomethings and young parents sipping cappuccinos or waiting in line at St. Viateur Bagel (263 St. Viateur St. W.; 514-276-8044; If you feel like picking up a pair of Françoise Hardy–style vintage boots or a postcard from the 1970s, head to Local 23 (23 Bernard St. W.; 514-270-9333); for new Montreal designer threads (Fairyesque, Anatasia Lomonova), head to its sister store, General 54 (54 St. Viateur W.; 514-271-2129; There are also some concert halls in the area, such as the Mile End Cultural Centre (5390 St. Laurent Blvd.; 514-285-2611;, but to experience life like a true local, walk along one of the neighborhood's colorful alleyways, where you'll cross paths with little kids playing catch and university students strumming guitars on their fire escapes.

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts
379–380 Sherbrooke Street West
Downtown Montréal
Montréal , Québec
Canada H3G 2T9
Tel: 514 285 2000

Located downtown, near the McGill University campus, the Museum of Fine Arts flanks Sherbrooke Street, with a tunnel linking the original 1912 structure to Moshe Safdie's dramatic 1991 stainless steel and glass expansion. The museum's permanent collection encompasses pretty much everything—from Canadian, Amerindian, and Inuit art to Old Masters to contemporary works—but it's not as overwhelming as the Met or the Louvre. There is an especially strong collection of European 20th-century works by Matisse, Picasso, Dalí, Otto Dix, and other modernists. Admission to the permanent collection is always free, but special exhibits are $15 for adults. Recent faves include a Jean Cocteau retrospective, pieces from Catherine the Great's Hermitage collection, and lithographs by Odilon Redon. Tickets are half price on Wednesday evenings, but the scene becomes zoolike during the last two weeks of a popular exhibit.

Closed Mondays.

Mountain Biking
Banff + Jasper

Unlike most American national parks, where trail riding is rarely allowed, Banff offers more than 140 miles of designated biking trail. Trails are carved out of the kind of tacky, grippy soil that knobby wheels work especially well on, not unlike the terrain in Sun Valley, Idaho, and Bozeman, Montana. Not that the trails are necessarily easy: The altitude makes the Canadian Rockies a wheeze-inducing experience for lowland riders. But mostly, visitors ride through subalpine meadows, over pine-studded ridges, past steaming hot springs, and beneath rocky tusks, such as the dramatic Mount Assiniboine. The Lake Minnewanka ride remains the best way to experience Banff's postcard terrain; located just outside of Banff town (go north on Banff Avenue till you reach the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road), the shoreline trail links forests of spruce via 20 miles of roller-coaster single-track. At the same trail head, there's the more intermediate Cascade Fire Road—a leisurely nine-mile gravel trail through the Cascade Valley. Park regulations prevent outfitters from leading mass off-road tours, so if you're looking for help, check out the Mountain Bike and Cycling Guide found at the Banff Information Centre (224 Banff Ave., Banff; 403-762-1550). Another, slightly shorter, classic just outside the park is Jumping Pound/Cox Hill: 12 miles of single-track through wildflower-rich meadows, rocky staircases, big mountain views, and winding, technical descents. In all cases, be aware of bears, especially in late summer, when they are gorging themselves with berries, trailside.

Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal
185 St. Catherine Street West
Downtown Montréal
Montréal , Québec
Canada H2X 3X5
Tel: 514 847 6226

Located just east of St. Catherine Street, the city's main drag for shopping, this is where to find the latest and flashiest the art world has to offer—the museum has displayed everything from conceptual tree-house video installations to abstract murals composed of tiny pieces of cut-up plastic bottles. The permanent collection has over 7,000 contemporary works, with a focus on Québec and Canadian artists (notably Jean Paul Riopelle and Jeff Wall). There are also temporary exhibits from the likes of Janet Cardiff, Edward Burtynsky, and Atom Egoyan. A guided tour (available on weekends and Wednesday evenings) is useful in making sense of it all.

Free on Wednesday evenings. Closed Mondays during the winter.

Musée de la Civilisation
85 Rue Dalhousie
Québec City , Québec
Canada G1K 7A6
Tel: 866 710 8031 (toll-free)
Tel: 418 643 2158

The theme of this museum—civilization—is broad to the point of vagueness. Happily, the curators have taken this as carte blanche to be wildly creative. Exhibitions are dynamic (expect holograms, videos, and ambient sounds), often interactive, and sometimes downright bizarre. Three permanent galleries share the space with seven ever-changing temporary exhibits. Of the permanent galleries, the best is "People of Québec...Then and Now," including busts and portraits, furniture, coins, and pop-culture objects.

Open Tuesday through Sunday 9:30 am to 6:30 pm late June to early September; Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm early September to late June.

Musée National des Beaux Arts de Québec
Parc des Champs-de-Bataille
Québec City , Québec
Canada G1R 5H3
Tel: 866 220 2150 (toll-free)
Tel: 418 643 2150

There are more than 27,000 works of art here, from the beginning of the colony to the present. You'll discover countless artists whose haunting sculptures and paintings will leave you wondering why they are unknown outside Canada. The museum is housed in two buildings, one of them a former prison (one cell has been preserved as an exhibit), linked by a soaring glass-roofed hall. The café-restaurant serves up artistically presented food using Québec ingredients and commands a terrific view of Battlefields Park and the St. Lawrence River.

Thursday through Tuesday 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesday 10 am to 9 pm June to August. Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday 10 am to 9 pm, September to May.

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Museum of Anthropology
University of British Columbia
6393 N.W. Marine Drive
Point Grey
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6T 1Z2
Tel: 604 822 5087

You'll see a whole lot of totem poles while you're in Vancouver; they're the most striking evidence of the First Nations Indian population living in the area. The poles, usually 15 to 30 feet high and made from local red cedar, are intricately carved with faces and figures depicting important historical and tribal events. This compact museum is the best place to learn more about the totem tradition; the high-ceilinged Great Hall displays dozens of poles (many over 100 years old) and explains how they were made and what they symbolize. There are plenty of other draws, too: a huge trove of Northwest Coast art, masks, textiles, jewelry, and canoes, plus two traditional First Nations houses re-created on the grounds. In 2008, the museum underwent a $55 million expansion that increased its size by 50 percent. It's part of a larger project to relaunch the MOA by January 2010 to coincide with the Cultural Oympiad.

Closed Mondays mid-October through mid-May.

Old Montréal
Montréal , Québec

Horse-drawn carriages still trot through the winding cobblestone streets where, in the 17th century, French settlers erected a city hall as well as a market and some stables. These days, the carriages cart visitors on 30- to 60-minute tours through the area between the Old Port and the modern city center. You might feel a bit cheesy clomping along while cars zip past, but rest assured you'll be getting a better view of the scenery and, thanks to the interesting guides, an understanding of the historical context for the well-preserved colonial buildings. This district isn't just for tourists: Some of the hippest and most affluent segments of society call Old Montréal home. A recent influx of excellent bistros, such as Club Chasse et Pêche; cafés like Olive + Gourmando (351 St. Paul St. W.; 514-350-1083;; and boutiques on St. Paul Street cater to this crowd. The city's best hotels, such as the St. James and the Nelligan, are also clustered in the area, lending it a sense of modern cosmopolitanism. Be sure to take the 20-minute tour of the neo-Gothic Basilica of Notre-Dame, whose pews are dappled in a mystical blue light streaming through the extensive stained glass. Call ahead, as visiting hours are subject to change (110 Notre Dame St. West; 514-842-2925;

Olympic Park
Montréal , Québec

The 1976 Olympic stadium, designed by French architect Roger Taillibert, is a white, sloping beacon that can be seen from almost any east-facing point on the Plateau. The Olympic games are long gone, and so are the Expos, the baseball team that called the stadium home until 2004. Still, there's something magical about the structure's massive, extraterrestrial facade. For $10.50, you can get a great view of the city by taking a cable car to the tower-top observation deck (4545 Pierre de Coubertin Ave.; 514-252-4141;; closed mid-Jan.–mid-Feb.). Nearby is the flourishing Botanical Garden. Highlights include the Chinese Lantern Show in September and October, and the lilac garden in May; for a complete calendar of blooms, consult the garden's website (4101 Sherbrooke St. E.; 514-872-1400; Kids will delight in the nearby Insectarium, where visitors can gawk at a wide array of creepy crawlies. The stick bug terrarium is fun for a game of "I Spy." The gift shop might inspire a game of double-dare, given the bug-filled lollipops and crunchy barbecue- or cheese-flavored insects for sale (4581 Sherbrooke St. E.; 514-872-1400;

Montréal , Québec

Laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame), the gorgeous hilltop green acres of Mount Royal are perfect for strolls, picnics, and admiring the forever view, south over the city and on toward the United States, from the lookout terrace near the summit. Walk up from the top of Peel Street to begin your ascent ( At the corner of Sherbrooke and Papineau streets, the turn-of-the-century landscaping at Park La Fontaine is a mix of French manicured gardens and English-style "tamed wilderness." And it's said that Leonard Cohen once owned a home around the beautiful fountain in Saint Louis Square (bounded by Saint Denis Street and Laval Avenue).

Place Royale
Québec City , Québec

This picturesque square, surrounded by restored 17th- and 18th-century buildings, is one of the oldest inhabited areas on the continent. The 1686 bust of King Louis XIV gives the Royale its name. Once the town marketplace and business center, the square is now the scene of folk dances and impromptu concerts. The Église Notre-Dame-Des-Victoires, the oldest stone church in Québec (1688), is worth a peek inside (32 Rue Sous-Le-Fort; The model boat suspended from the ceiling was a votive offering from early settlers who hoped to ensure safe voyages.

Open December through mid-April.

Montréal , Québec

The Plateau, just north of downtown, is the pumping heart of Montréal bohemianism. A tableland adjacent to the city's namesake mountain, Mount Royal, it's a mélange of doe-eyed university students, elderly Francophones, and budding yuppies, all of whom cross paths on St. Laurent Boulevard and St. Denis Street. Unlike in other major metropolises, affordable rents allow for this socioeconomic melting pot, although newcomers are finding out fast that the city isn't as cheap as it used to be. A promenade along Duluth Avenue, with its knickknack-filled antique stores and Portuguese cafés, such as Chez José, is a perfect way to spend a mellow afternoon (173 Duluth Ave. E.; 514-845-0693). The Plateau is also where you'll find L'Express bistro and Martin Picard's Au Pied de Cochon.

Queen Street West

Anchored by the CHUM CityTV station at Queen and John streets, this prime patch of urbanity went bohemian in the late '80s and seems to be resisting the temptation to sell out to the big brands. The main draw here, besides the people-watching, is the shopping. Canadian brands like Roots and Le Château are well represented, alongside boutique offerings such as elegant menswear spot Boomer, feminine frock–seller Girl Friday and Preloved, which sells one-of-a-kind pieces made from reconstructed vintage sweaters, dresses, and hoodies. When the labors of consumption prove overwhelming (or when your credit card gives out), there are plenty of patios on which to hunker down and order a pint of local brew (try the Creemore Springs Lager).

Rock Climbing in Squamish
Squamish , British Columbia

The Coast Mountains surrounding Squamish Valley contain more than 1,000 mapped routes, many single-pitch walk-ups suitable for beginners. Hard-core climbers—those who've lived in a VW van for the last decade while eating celery and smoking cigarettes to keep optimally skeletal—gravitate to Squamish's legendary big wall ascents. Their holy grail: Stawamus Chief, whose 2,140-foot face makes it not only taller than the Rock of Gibraltar but also the second-largest granite monolith in the world, behind Yosemite's El Capitan. Squamish Rock Guides can provide instruction and guided excursions (604-815-1750;

Rogers Centre
1 Blue Jays Way
Toronto , Ontario
Canada M5V 1J1
Tel: 416 341 3663

Open since 1989, the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome) is the home of both the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and the Canadian Football League's Argonauts. Famous for its fully retractable roof, spanning more than 11 acres (with the roof closed, a 31-story building would fit inside the stadium), the gigantic arena has a maximum seating capacity of 65,673 and a 110-foot-wide video board. Take in a sports game or concert here if you can, or enjoy a tour, offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the hour (but not during events).

Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen's Park
Toronto , Ontario
Canada M5S 2C6
Tel: 416 586 8000

This museum's renowned collection is centered on natural history and world culture—don't miss the archaeological exhibits and the Bat Cave—but lately it has played second fiddle to its notorious renovation. Known as the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, this 50,000-square-foot eruption of jutting angles, sharp points, and mathematical planes is the work of famed architect Daniel Libeskind. Thrusting out over Bloor Street, this deconstructivist work of architecture has divided critics across the board. Come for the design, stay for the dinosaur skeletons.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 10 am to 5:30 pm, Fridays 10 am to 9:30 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5:30 pm.

Skiing and Snowboarding
Québec City , Québec

Justifiably, the Quebec City area draws a great many snow lovers every year, as you can make the city a base to reach the three nearby mountain resorts. The easiest way to get to them is to take the Hiver Express, a daily shuttle service from most major hotels that heads to all three. It's about $25 round-trip per person (418-525-5191;

About 50 minutes east of Québec, Le Massif has 43 skiing runs open from December to early April and boasts an impressive 2,526-foot vertical drop. The picturesque resort is in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and the owners have been careful to develop the area without spoiling its natural beauty (lifts are mainly concealed by trees). The views of the ice-floe-filled St. Lawrence River are also pretty spectacular.

Mont-Sainte-Anne is 25 miles from the city and has 65 ski trails (many of them lit for night skiing) and 13 lifts, and is usually open from December to early May. This is the kinder, gentler area, ideal for beginners. It also 132 miles of groomed cross-country trails. Of the seven heated shelters along the trails, three can accommodate overnight guests—a great chance to enjoy some skiing under the stars. In summer, it also offers mountain biking, hiking trails accessible by the lifts, and golf.

The closest area, only 20 minutes north of Québec, is Stoneham. It has 32 downhill skiing trails, including 16 runs for night skiing and 3.7 miles of cross-country tracks. The terrain park for snowboarders includes a super pipe and an "extreme zone."

Le Massif
1350 Rue Principale
G0A 2L0
Tel: 877 536 27774 (toll-free)
Tel: 418 632 5879

2000 Boulevard du Beau-Pré
G0A 1E0
Tel: 800 463 1568 (toll-free)
Tel: 418 827 4561

1420 Chemin du Hibou
G0A 4P0
Tel: 800 463 6888 (toll-free)
Tel: 418 848 2411

Skiing and Snowboarding
Banff + Jasper

The Rockies that delineate the Alberta-British Columbia border just west of Lake Louise soar above 11,000 feet, so they intercept many eastbound storms. The clouds consequently dump most of their water in B.C., leaving the Alberta side relatively sunny and dry. The snow is light, like Utah's or Idaho's, while gracing huge peaks that could be twins with Europe's Alps.

Four miles above town atop a switchback road, Ski Norquay is the closest mountain to Banff (403-762-4421; Any modern-day rider will be impressed that Canadians skied the steeps of Norquay with the leather boots and flimsy bindings that comprised state-of-the-art gear when the resort was founded in 1926. (It was also home to Canada's first chairlift.) Since you can virtually ski here on your lunch break, it's full of locals (there's actually a ski-by-the-hour option). Follow the Banffites to the demanding 34-degree pitch of Memorial Bowl before slowing down on the less steep terrain near the Cascade Quad Chair.

Sunshine Village claims Canada's longest ski season (403-277-7669;; it usually has snow until late May. A 3,514-foot vertical rise also makes it one of the continent's highest resorts— one chairlift goes to nearly 9,000 feet. Since 1998, previously off-limits terrain has been opened to experienced skiers and snowboarders. Delirium Dive, the Wild West, and Silver City areas are "free-ride zones," where hazards aren't marked and route selection is up to you. Those who partake must have a partner and bring an avalanche beacon and shovel. A special phone number, 403-762-6511, regularly updates the status of these areas.

At 11 square miles, Lake Louise Mountain Resort is Canada's largest ski area, sprawling across four mountain faces (403-522-3555; Amid alpine bowls and forested gullies, Lake Louise has 139 runs and an impressive 3,250-foot vertcal drop. And boy, does it look like the Alps, with craggy granite spires and vast snowfields. Off its backside are the Powder Bowls: a series of chutes and wide-open pitches that beckon fast, sure powder-skiers. With runs tracing World Cup courses (called, helpfully, Men's Downhill and Ladies' Downhill) Lake Louise is also an ideal place to give into gravity and get vacuumed down a fast, steep, groomed fall line.

Another marquee mountain destination lies an hour outside the park, on the British Columbia side of the border: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (866-754-5425; Kicking Horse is a giant, with 4,133 vertical feet and 2,750 skiable acres. It's a haven for experts, with 71 controlled-avalanche slide paths to drop into. There is bus service during the ski season to Kicking Horse from Banff and Lake Louise on the Powder Express (reservations required; call 403-760-5465).

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Skiing and Snowboarding around Vancouver

If you don't have time for a side trip to Whistler, Vancouver has a handful of terrific little ski areas (and summer hiking destinations) just a quick drive from the city. The aerial tramway to the summit of Grouse Mountain alone is worth the visit—bring your camera for the views of Vancouver from 3,700 feet up. In the winter, there are 200 acres of mainly intermediate skiing terrain, with a few beginner and expert slopes mixed in. (There's night skiing until 11 pm.) In summer, the various hiking trails include the popular Grouse Grind, the city's sweatiest hiking trip and one taken each year by over 100,000 locals. The two-mile track climbs from the parking lot to the mountain's Peak Chalet, where there's a year-round café, a fine-dining restaurant, a wildlife refuge, and hiking to further peaks. The average hiking time is one and a half hours, but those in a rush should know the record: 26 minutes, 19 seconds. Be sure to wear sensible shoes and to carry at least one water bottle. If you don't want to schlep back down, spend $5 to ride the gondola.

Cypress Mountain, north of downtown Vancouver, is the largest downhill facility on the North Shore and the place to ski after a big snowfall. For the advanced skier, it boasts some excellent mogul skiing, especially the Top Gun run under the Sky Chair; the half pipe draws a lot of boarders, too.

Mount Seymour is located over the Second Narrows Bridge, ten miles north of Vancouver. It's where many Vancouverites are exposed to skiing or snowboarding for the first time. All-season tires and chains are recommended for both these mountains.—Kasey Wilson

Skiing and Snowboarding in Whistler
British Columbia
Canada V0N 1B4

Have no fear of pulmonary edema here: Whistler sits so close to the island-dotted, glacially luminescent waters of Howe Sound—a.k.a. sea level—that its base elevation is only 2,214 feet. But far above the verdant Whistler Valley, the jagged peaks of the Coast Mountains soar to 7,000 feet and beyond. At higher elevations, Whistler and Blackcomb resemble the glaciated, moonscapes of the Alps; at lower elevations, the mountains are more similar to the tree-lined slopes of Vail. The resort typically gets 30 feet of snowfall a year, but since the Pacific Ocean is so close, the snow tends to be heavy and wet, at least by Colorado or Utah standards. The result? Straight, skinny boards get mired in the coastal concrete, but wide planks don't, so Whistler Blackcomb attracts snowboarders and skiers with fat boards. For equipment rental, try Can-Ski, which carries a wide selection of gear from Atomic, Salomon, K2, and more, and has four Whistler locations near lifts (604-938-7744; 866-976-6273).

Skiers and boarders have their choice of mountains: Lift passes work at Whistler and Blackcomb, and gondolas for both rise from the main village. Even better, since the December 2008 opening of the Peak 2 Peak gondola—which spans nearly two miles between mid-mountain stations—skiers and riders can transfer without descending to the base. The two massifs are home to more than 200 runs, which keeps the crowds spread out and lift lines manageable (866-218-9690;

Blackcomb, which opened in 1980, is the slightly younger peak and has a mile-high vertical drop (5,280 feet, in case you'd forgotten), the longest at any North American resort. Thankfully, access to the upper mountain is speedy via the Glacier and Seventh Heaven quads. The lifts reach two distinct glaciers—Blackcomb and Horstman—and gnarly chutes such as the Couloir Extreme, a nearly vertical coffin-width chute. After a big snow, veteran skiers and riders head to Spanky's Ladder, a five-minute hike from the top of the Glacier Express chairlift. There you'll find a ridiculous array of expert runs, including the infamous Wind Lip and the unforgettable Sapphire Chutes. Intermediate skiers, meanwhile, blitz the consistent pitches of Cruiser, Stoker, and Merlin's—although quadriceps tend to give out before the runs do. Blackcomb is the slight favorite for snowboarders, as it is more open and has fewer moguls than Whistler. It also maintains three terrain parks (including the experts-only "Highest Level" park) and two pipes for those who like their tricks.

With 4,757 acres and a peak of 7,160 feet, Whistler is 1,300 acres larger and 300 feet shorter than Blackcomb. It's considered the classic skiers' mountain, thanks to its tight trails and the steep lines plunging down Whistler Bowl, West Bowl, and the Cirque. Beginner and intermediate skiers, meanwhile, love the downhill groomer Burnt Stew, which connects to Sidewinder to make for a full seven-mile run. Whistler's lift system, which seemed antiquated just a few years ago, is now among the most modern in the world. The Symphony Express, a high-speed quad lift that rises 1,670 feet to the rim of Symphony Amphitheatre, was added in 2006, opening 1,000 high-alpine acres to backcountry skiing.

Lastly, more adventurous—and wealthier—powderhounds can employ helicopters to reach untouched Coast Mountain terrain. Coast Range Heliskiing flies to 200,000 acres of backcountry terrain above the Pemberton Valley, 25 minutes north of Whistler. Daily, multiday, and custom packages are available (800-701-8744;

Fernie , British Columbia

Fernie has some of the best snowboarding in North America. Snowboarders have unlimited access to the main ski area, and there are also a half-pipe and an excellent terrain park, open when snow conditions permit, on the Upper Falling Star run, with hip jumps, six new rails, a wall jump, bank turns, and assorted rollers. The natural terrain, however, is the biggest draw to serious snowboarders. Be prepared to slog up some lengthy traverses to get to the best-kept secrets, but when you get there, you'll be glad you made the effort.

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Stanley Park
West End
Vancouver , British Columbia
Tel: 604 257 8400

Described as a "1,000-acre therapeutic couch" of majestic evergreens, formal gardens, hiking trails, and kids' activities, Stanley Park is the third largest public park in North America. Set at the northwest corner of Downtown, it occupies a bulb-shaped peninsula that juts out into English Bay and Burrard Inlet. The park's summit, Prospect Point, is at its northern edge and has sweeping views of the inlet, North Vancouver, and the Lions Gate Bridge. Looking straight down from the point, you'll see the parade of walkers, bikers, and in-line skaters plying the park's prize attraction, the 5.5-mile seawall path that runs along the perimeter.

The entire park can be walked in two and a half hours at a brisk pace, but if you're pressed for time or have little ones in tow, you can also drive through the park and hit some of its high points—like the eight soaring totem poles carved by the Squamish people near Brockton Point. Bring your camera and in the evenings, maybe your earplugs: Nearby is the Nine O' Clock gun, an old English sea cannon placed in the park more than 100 years ago and fired nightly. The most developed area of the park includes the Vancouver Aquarium; the nearby Miniature Train, a delight for kids of all ages; and the Children's Farmyard, a petting zoo with barns full of sheep, goats, and pot-bellied pigs (and one grouchy llama).

In December 2006, hurricane-force storms uprooted and damaged some 10,000 trees in the park. All the roads and hiking trails have been cleared of debris and are again open to the public, along with the seawall. But Stanley Park is so beloved by locals that any change to the natural landscape is an issue of study and contention. Even an offer of a free concert by hometown hero Bryan Adams was turned down, as was a request from Jaguar to use the seawall as a backdrop for the unveiling of its snazzy coupes. That said, numerous annual events are held in Stanley Park; call the Parks and Recreation Board office for information and maps.—Kasey Wilson

Summer Sports
Fernie , British Columbia

The alpine trails, lakes, and summits around the Elk Valley are spectacular hiking terrain. The Elk lift is open June 1 to September 5 to take outdoor enthusiasts up the mountain. Other pastimes include mountain biking and white-water rafting. Both can be booked through the resort's Mountain Adventure Center (250 423 4655, open daily 9–5, Jul. 1–Sept. 5). Thrill seekers will love the all-day Bull River raft trip ($78), a progressively more exciting ride climaxing in three knuckle-whitening rapids: "Bubblicious," "The Sandwich Maker," and "The Toilet Bowl."

Toronto International Film Festival
Tel: 416 968 3456

The largest film festival in North America isn't Utah's Sundance, and it isn't New York's Tribeca—it's the nonstop blitz of screenings, starlet sightings, and glitzy premieres that is the Toronto International Film Festival. If you're into celebrity-stalking, then plant yourself at a bar or restaurant in Yorkville, and results are pretty much guaranteed. A much better idea is to get tickets to any of the 400 films shown at theaters across the city. Tickets are available in advance online, by phone, or in person at the Festival's office (55 Bloor St. W., main floor). It is possible to buy tickets at theaters, but only on the day of the screening, and only if they're not sold out—with this festival, a little planning goes a long way. The manic ten-day run starts every year in early September.

The Toronto Islands
Toronto , Ontario
Tel: 416 203 0405

A pastoral, car-free retreat from the Big Smoke (and incidentally the place where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run), the islands are a brief ferry ride (less than ten minutes) from the waterfront. Locals come to cycle, rollerblade, jog, and picnic. Kids will enjoy the old-fashioned Centreville Amusement Park, with its petting zoo and antique carousel (open from May through September). The ferry departs every 15 minutes from Bay Street and Queens Quay at Harbourfront.

Upper Hot Springs
Mountain Avenue (two miles south of downtown Banff)
Banff National Park , Alberta
Canada T1L 1K2
Tel: 403 762 1515

Even before their "discovery" in 1884, the hot springs at the foot of Sulphur Mountain were considered sacred (and darn comfortable) by natives. Its sulfur-scented waters get as hot as 116 degrees coming out of the bedrock, but the spring-fed outdoor pool at the spa is kept at a milder 104 and 105 degrees. The Banff Upper Hot Springs, as they're officially known, now features a spa, large dressing rooms, restaurant, gift shop, and, most endearing, a grand bathhouse restored to its original, 1932 appearance. Entry fee is around U.S. $7.

Open daily 9 am to 11 pm.

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Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way
Stanley Park
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6B 3X8
Tel: 604 659 3474

Visitors with kids should plan to spend at least half a day at the aquarium—it's chock-full of activities and interactive exhibits designed just for children. Among the daily doings are shows with dolphins, sea lions, and the resident beluga whales; otter-feeding sessions; and the new Clownfish Cove, where kids can handle starfish and other gentle sea creatures in touch pools, watch puppet shows, join in sing-alongs, and create sea-themed arts and crafts. The little darlings will be screaming with delight—which is why anyone liking a quiet aquarium experience should plan to go after 4 p.m., when families tend to clear out.

Open 9:30 am to 5 pm September through June, 9:30 am to 7 pm July and August.

Whitewater Riverboarding
Banff + Jasper

Kayakers float atop rapids; riverboarders ride in them. An especially intimate way to experience a body of water, the sport demands you don a wet suit, gloves, helmet, and booties, then grab onto a boogie board and plunge into icy snowmelt. Kicking with diving fins helps you steer, but you're really more akin to a piece of driftwood—rushing along with the current as it courses through swirls, boils, holes, and waves. This full-body workout provides a trout's-eye-view of the river, and it's nothing like rafting. Canadian Rockies Rafting (877-226-7625;, located just east of Banff National Park, charges $89 for a half day, which includes about two hours on the Class II and III Kananaskis River. You must have a group of eight or more to book a riverboard adventure.

Wreck Beach
Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks West
Point Grey
Vancouver , British Columbia

Canada's largest nude beach has become a mecca for an estimated 100,000 sun worshippers determined to avoid tan lines each summer. Officially, the 3.6-mile stretch of sand and rocks stretches from the Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks. On the northern flank, you find a greater concentration of gay men. The central stretch, removed from the water, is Vendor's Row, an ad hoc food court of falafels, empanadas, and cool drinks. There's often a good supply of cold beer and wine, too. On Wreck's southern edge, volleyball nets, boogie boards, Frisbees, and old hippies mix together happily. A strict code of conduct is upheld by the regulars who want to keep their stretch of sand peaceful and hassle-free, so don't come here to gawk and giggle.—Kasey Wilson

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Vancouver , British Columbia

This downtown district, once a maze of railyards and dilapidated warehouses, has been getting trendier ever since it was cleaned up for the 1986 World's Fair. These days, swanky residential lofts, chichi boutiques, and upscale restaurants occupy the old buildings. Most of the action is centered on Mainland and Hamilton streets. Be sure to check out Fine Finds, which stocks an eclectic mix of mostly Vancouver- and Canada-made items, like Barefoot Venus bath and body-care products, Matt & Natt and Ga Ya handbags, and fashions by Peel Designs (1014 Mainland St.; 604-669-8325). The Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery is one of the best places to view and buy contemporary First Nations art (1024 Mainland St.; 604-685-9298).

50 Bloor St. W
Toronto , Ontario
Tel: 416 922 2333

The city's most expensive shopping district is a former hippie enclave where Neil Young got his start back in the late '60s. Like so many of that generation (excluding Mr. Young), Yorkville went seriously up-market in the 1980s. Today it's the place to find high-end brands like Prada, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton. The priciest hotels in the city can also be found here, along with Pilates studios, smoothie shops, and hair salons (try Lid Inc. if you need a new 'do). Be sure to check out Holt Renfrew, Canada's answer to Saks Fifth Avenue, with everything from Canadian designers like Dsquared² and Pink Tartan to European heavy favorites such as Canali, Diesel, and Dior. Need a quick bite? Head to the Montreal Bread Company—Canada's welcome answer to Subway—for the roast beef with caramelized onions.

Ziplining in Whistler
Whistler , British Columbia

Miners employed cable-pulley travel as far back as the mid–19th century, yet the technology has only recently been enlisted by eco-tourism outfitters, such as Whistler's Ziptrek Ecotours (604-935-0001; For around $90 U.S., Ziptrek escorts you to a platform high in an old-growth fir, secures you via a climbing harness to a wheeled pulley, then wings you along a series of ten cables, totaling 7,680 feet, at speeds of up to 45 mph. It's thrilling, and scenic to boot: You're flying hundreds of feet above churning, glacier-fed Fitzsimmons Creek. By the final cable, increasingly comfortable customers pull the "upside-down Jesus": inverted body with outstretched hands.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.