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Banff

Lake Louise Boathouse

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:

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glacier skywalk 4 - banff alberta canada - brewster travel canada - 620Walking out from a 918-foot-high cliff and stepping above a sweeping valley is not for the faint of heart, but thanks to the brand new Glacier Skywalk in Banff, Canada, we all want to give it a whirl. Standing on the glass-floored observatory platform at the end of the trail, we imagine, is as close to floating as we’ll ever get.  Read more

Banff National Park GuideThe first national park established in Canada (in 1885) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banff National Park occupies a sweet spot in the Canadian Rockies and includes unspoiled wilderness and beautiful mountain lakes, like Lake Louise. Want to include Banff in your vacation plans? Follow our tips: Read more

Amazing Canadian Train RoutesCanada features more than 3.8 million square miles of diverse landscapes ranging from rolling prairies to pristine glacial lakes. One of the best ways to explore the country is by train. Hop on board one of these lines for the rail adventure of a lifetime.

Rocky Mountain Routes: The Canadian Rocky Mountains serve as the backdrops for several incredible railway trips, including the incredibly popular Vancouver-to-Banff route offered by Rocky Mountaineer. Passengers travel by day, spend the night at a hotel in Kamloops and continue the two-day journey the next morning. Opt for the GoldLeaf package, which entitles you to watch the scenery from the glass-domed upper level and dine in an exclusive dining room in the lower level. Rates for the Vancouver-to-Banff experience begin at $935.

VIA Rail also provides service from Edmonton to Jasper. The scenery can be a little ho-hum as you head south, but once you hit the Rocky Mountains, you’ll “ooh and aah” the rest of the way. One-way travel on VIA from Edmonton to Jasper begins at $110. Read more

Set in the heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fairmont’s Banff Springs Resort and Spa has lured royals and celebs since its opening in 1888 – well before Kate and Wills crossed the Canadian border. Given the area’s stunning natural aesthetics and the grandeur of this iconic Canadian resort, it’s easy to see how this property singlehandedly kicked off tourism in the famed Canadian Rockies.

Today Fairmont’s Banff Springs continues to woo alpine and luxury enthusiasts alike, all in search of that decadent adventure in an otherworldly setting.

Slip in to one of Banff Springs’ 768 well-appointed rooms in the Scottish baronial-style castle property; no two rooms or views are alike. Each room offers cozy yet classic accommodations with sweeping Alberta mountain views.

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Considering all the brands of extra-soft, ultra-cushioned toilet paper on supermarket shelves and junk mail stuffed in mailboxes these days, and it’s no surprise the world’s forests are shrinking at alarming rates. Every year, according to the United Nations, the world loses 13 million hectares of forest. So, in order to raise awareness on sustainable management and conservation of these leafy (and pine-y and jungle-y) paradises – which are beloved destinations for adventure travelers – the UN has designated 2011 as International Year of the Forest.

And with spring in full bloom and Earth Day 2011 (Friday, April 22) on the horizon, this is an ideal time to visit one of the world’s most majestic forests. Even if you arrive by car or plane, try to explore them with minimal impact by walking, hiking, or biking.

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Aspen ski hotelWith several of the big ski resorts out west already reporting significant snowfall, it’s time to start thinking about your ski and snowboard plans for the winter. Hitting the slopes on vacation doesn’t have to mean a hard hit to your wallet, however, with these “ski free” packages from hotels in some of North America’s premier ski destinations.

Limelight Lodge, Aspen This family-owned lodge in central Aspen sits at the foot of the namesake mountain. The hotel’s Ski Package offers two free lift tickets for each day of your stay minus one (e.g. two 2-day passes for a three-night stay). Including the ski passes and accommodations, a three-night stay costs $915 and a four-night stay costs $1,315 – a savings of 30 percent. Three-night minimum stay required; some blackout dates apply. www.limelightlodge.com

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When the leaves turn golden and there’s a nip in the air necessitating a cozy wool sweater, it’s a wonderfully romantic time to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to a scenic lake – be it rustic and relaxing or chic and sophisticated. Here are four of my favorite lakeside locales in the U.S. and Canada:

Lake Placid This upstate New York hamlet, which hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics, takes the gold for small-town charm and romantic Adirondack décor. Whether you seek relaxation (quite walks, spa treatments, canoe paddles) or action (hiking, mountain biking, or even bobsledding – with or without snow), there’s plenty to keep you satisfied. Stay at historic Mirror Lake Inn, set on tranquil Mirror Lake (shown above; courtesy of Mirror Lake Inn) and located just a short walk from the shops and restaurants of downtown Lake Placid, from $225/night. Foodies might consider splurging on the inaugural Food & Wine Weekend at the luxurious Lake Placid Lodge, for three days and nights (Oct. 21-24) of guest-chef-prepared dining, from $2,995, including accommodations, breakfasts, wine-paired dinners and more.

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