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National Park season is about to kick off, and with gas prices low across the country, a road trip to your closest wilderness area is certainly in order. But don’t forget about our neighbors to the north, who also boast a wild range of national park adventures, from mingling with polar bears in Manitoba to island hopping in Ontario. Here, four Canadian parks many know and love — and four of the country’s more underrated, best-kept secrets.
With non-stop festivals and foodie delights at every turn, Montreal attracts hordes of tourists eager to sample the culture and style of this sophisticated metropolis. But after you’ve viewed a Cirque Du Soleil performance and munched on a St. Viateur bagel, it’s time to dig into Montreal’s more unexpected experiences. Here are some alternatives to the big-ticket attractions.
Like to cruise without the crowds? Vacationing with a smaller cruise company may be right up your alley. And Blount Small Ship Adventures — now offering up to 40 percent off on three itineraries booked by February 27 — is giving travelers the chance to get a taste for less.
Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? Travel journalist Donna Tunney — ShermansTravel’s cruise expert — has all the latest news. Check back every Tuesday for trends, new amenities, and money-saving ideas that help you plan a perfect vacation at sea.
If you know who Lady Mary, Tom Branson, and the Earl of Grantham are, read on. Crystal Cruises has taken the wraps off a two-night, post-cruise trip to the land of Downton, themed after the popular series about early 20th century English aristocrats. It’s an extension of the luxury line’s 17-night cruise departing July 8, 2015 from Reykjavik to London. Cruisers, who will pay $4,600 per person for the land tour (we never said it was cheap), will live like royalty while visiting Highclere Castle, the fictional home of the Grantham clan. They’ll arrive in vintage 1920s cars (chauffeured, of course) and be guests of honor at a private champagne reception and tour, among other Downton-related activities. Cruise fares on this itinerary — which crosses the Arctic Circle on its way to London — start at $1,730 per person if booked by January 2.
As tourism destinations, many major cities across the globe — New York and Paris, Stockholm and Sydney — are certainly monumental or historical or beautiful or all of the above. What they often aren’t, however, is cheap. The good news is that if you’ve got your mind set on visiting any of these metropolises, you can often find free activities to enjoy when you’re there. We’ve built a list of museums, cultural events, and even transportation that won’t cost you a thing in 10 notoriously pricey locales.
When you think of whale watching, you might imagine sitting on a boat with a pair of binoculars, waiting for the world’s biggest creatures to appear before your eyes amidst the waves. But this isn’t the only way to see whales up close and in their natural habitat — without having to see them in a tank.
Typically known as a winter pastime, you can go whale watching almost any time of the year in places like California and Oregon’s Depoe Bay. Specific regions of the Golden State, including San Diego, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco experience larger numbers of whales mid-December and January to mid-March and April.
If you can’t wait that long, you can spot whales in Maui and Vancouver in the fall. Sightings in Maui start as early as October, running to March or April. There’s still time left to find them in Vancouver, where the season starts in March and ends in late October.
Here’s where and how you can see whales, on boats and from shore, both with and without a tour package.
Some of the world’s best views come from the middle of the world’s scariest bridges. That’s not to mention the adventure you’ll get from crossing these sometimes rickety but always thrilling expanses. Here are our picks for the world’s 10 scariest bridges with amazing views, sure to get your heart pounding.
The Thousand Islands, located on the U.S.-Canada border, is actually a misnomer. There are, in fact, 1,864 islands floating like dots on the Saint Lawrence River. (To qualify, as an island, all must be above sea level, have a certain size, and must have at least two trees). People visit the Thousand Islands for many reasons: to see the many castles, marvel at the bird species, go boating, and to appreciate Ontario’s spectacular nature scene while swirling a glass of wine or two at sunset.
Here are some ways to visit the area on a budget:
If you’re headed to New York City on your next getaway, why not get out on the water? Manhattan is an island, after all, and the city offers a wealth of boat tours and packages that will give you breathtaking views of the skyline and the harbor. Here are three of our favorites.
Already a mainstay in Asia for decades, night markets are now taking hold all over the world. With a buzzy, carnival-like atmosphere, they’re the place to be for finding shopping and food deals as well as for rubbing elbows with locals out for a night of casual fun. Some markets run year round, some are seasonal, and some are weekend events. Here are five around the world worth noting:
Canada: International Summer Night Market
The city of Richmond in British Columbia is home to three major night markets, but the International Summer Night Market is the largest and most popular. It draws approximately 20,000 people every weekend to the trinkets, handicrafts, and even fresh produce from nearly 200 vendors. Between purchases, you can sample good eats like Singapore-style jerky, enjoy live entertainment, play nine holes of miniature golf, or pose for photographs with the two 9-foot inflatable pandas on display. The market runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, May 9 through September 14. Admission is 2 CAD ($1.86 USD). Tip: Print online coupons before you go to save at select vendors, and hit up the ATM — most vendors only accept cash.
The Canadian resort town of Banff was founded in the late 1880s as a retreat for the rich, so it’s no surprise that you can spend a small fortune in this hot spring haven. Still, with a little planning, a trip to the birthplace of Canada’s national park system can most certainly be affordable. Here’s how:
Call it street food, street grub, or — like those smooth and slick Montrealers call it — cuisine de rue. But whatever the nickname, the wheels are rolling, the grills are sizzling, and hungry diners are bellying up to food trucks all over town.
While these mobile kitchens might not be new to the residents of some lucky American cities, they’re a relatively new arrival in Montreal, no thanks to strict regulations and policies. Like back home, locations can vary, but Streetfood Quest conveniently maps them out. (The website itself is French only, but it’s easy enough to navigate.) The next time you’re in town and hungry, check out these pioneers that have paved the delicious way:
By now you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding SeaWorld. As a result of the documentary film Blackfish, and its exposure of what animal rights advocates claim is mistreatment of the orcas used in SeaWorld shows, calls for a boycott of the marine mammal theme park chain have grown. The debate goes on: SeaWorld released an open letter stating that, among other things, their research on captive whales benefits those in the wild, but the Oceanic Preservation Society then rebutted the claims.
And there are signs that public opinion is turning against the theme parks. The company recently posted a 13 percent drop in attendance. If you the claims have gotten the better of your conscience and you’re looking for an alternative, here are seven places in North America where you see the same animals that you’ll find at SeaWorld, but in their natural habitats. Read more
Summer is a great time to visit our neighbor to the North, thanks to an abundance of festivals and excellent weather. You can jet to Toronto to discover the city’s vibrant food scene, visit Montreal or Quebec City for their Old World charm, or cool down in Mont Tremblant‘s fresh mountain air. The trouble is, summer airfare to Canada tends to skyrocket in the summer months.
We recently discovered this summer airfare sale from 4-star Porter Airlines, however, which makes it makes it pretty easy and affordable to get there. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy their exclusive airport lounges and free snacks onboard.
Sample fares from New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago include:
- Toronto… from $86 each way
- Quebec City… from $127 each way
- Montreal… from $127 each way
- Mont Tremblant… from $146 each way
- Ottawa… from $127 each way
Click here to book on the Porter website. The sale ends on June 16. Travel is valid on select dates now through November 5.
Summer’s the time to get out and get on the trail – but why share a popular hike with the massive crowds when there are more serene paths to follow? For an outdoors experience that truly allows you to appreciate nature in all its glory and in ultimate peace, here’s where you should go:
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