Top spots for fall foliage viewing in Canada
I hate to be the one to break the news, but we have only a few days left of summer. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's almost fall colours time in Canada, a time when our vast forests put on displays that attract visitors from around the world. Here are a few spots worth visiting in the coming weeks.
Muskoka is a great place to see the colours change, with quiet roads and wide open lakes that make the viewing all that more spectacular. The RMS Segwun and the Wenonah II ships run out of Gravenhurst through Oct. 12 and have special fall colour sightseeing trips. To me, there’s no better way to see autumn’s glory than from the bow of an old-time steamship plying the lake. The hills around Huntsville and Dorset also are ideal for fall colours, as is Killarney Provincial Park, north of Parry Sound. I’ve never had the pleasure, but folks who’ve tried it say the Agawa Canyon train trip near Sault Ste. Marie is one of the best ways to see the fall colours. The website 400eleven.com keeps track of fall colours for you. You also can try ontarioparks.com/fallcolour. Can’t manage a getaway from the GTA? Toronto and its surrounding suburbs have wonderful ravine parks and open spaces. Sunnybrook Park has lovely fall colours, as well as a riding stable where you can watch the horses go through their paces. Or take a dipsy-doodle drive over the bridges that span the Rouge River in northeast Scarborough.
DEAL OF THE WEEK
Globus family of brands has unveiled a new seven-day tour called Splendors of Italy that takes the pain out of packing. Rather than dashing to and fro, the Splendors of Italy trip features six nights in trendy Milan, with leisurely day trips to Florence, Venice, Turin and other cities on comfortable, high-speed trains. Travellers also can add three days in Rome at the end of their tour with Monograms, a sister company that specializes in independent travel packages. Travellers booking their Globus 2016 Italy vacation before Dec. 1 of this year can save 10%, up to $926 per couple. Visit globusjourneys.ca.
DESTINATION OF THE WEEK
Phoenix has a booming downtown, thanks in part to students attending classes at the downtown campus of Arizona State University. The city's Arts District/Roosevelt Row has funky cafes such as Jobot, as well as fun book stores and public art installations. Bitter and Twisted is a beautiful bar across from the posh Kimpton Hotel that serves serious cocktails. Toss in that great Arizona weather and lots of sports activities and you've got one of the great travel destinations in the U.S. It's still a bit warm now, but cooler weather should arrive in the next couple months.
The Icefields Parkway is best known for its Rocky Mountain views, glaciers and wildlife. The evergreens obviously don’t change colour, but you’ll find more than enough deciduous larch trees and aspens that shift from green to iridescent yellow and red in the fall. Take a gondola ride in Jasper, Lake Louise or Banff for gorgeous views of the countryside, or try the hike at Sunshine Meadows, where you’ll pass lovely mountain lakes and can work your way over the border into British Columbia. Edmonton has surprisingly pretty fall colours, especially if you stroll or ride your bike along the North Saskatchewan River valley. Try a ride along the Cowboy Trail south of Calgary for a gentle, pretty drive along the Rocky Mountain foothills. And be sure to stop in the town of Turner Valley for a great burger at Chuckwagon Cafe.
Rent an electric bike in Montreal with Dyad Cycles, then take it for a spin to the top of Mount Royal. You’ll be rewarded with sensational views in one of the world’s great urban parks, plus tremendous views of downtown and south towards the Eastern Townships and the U.S. border. Even better, make the drive from Montreal to Quebec City on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, taking in Trois Rivieres or dipping north into the Mont Tremblant area, where you’ll find fantastic hiking and changing colours from maple, birch and beech trees. Not to mention views that go on just short of forever. Also worth checking out is the Charlevoix region, just east of Quebec City on the St. Lawrence River. You'll find lovely inns and great art galleries.
ALSO WORTH A TRY
-Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg is one of Canada’s top urban parks.
-Butchart Gardens in Victoria is a world-renowned repository of flowers and beautiful trees.
-Newfoundland & Labrador gets more fall colour than you might expect. Try the Deer Lake and Corner Brook areas.
-Prince Edward Island is gorgeous in fall, with trees that sometimes match the red in Anne of Green Gables’ hair.
-Saskatoon sits on the South Saskatchewan River, and you’ll get great views from the city’s bridges or by walking the riverside trails.
Vancouver offers a surprising amount of fall colour in places such as Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park, where you’ll find more deciduous trees than you would in the mountains or areas further north. Rent a bike at any number of spots near Stanley Park and take a ride along the seawall for great autumn displays in shades of red and yellow mixed with deep green cedars and other evergreens. The Okanagan Valley serves up wonderful food and wine and some lovely fall foliage displays. Try renting a regular or electric bike with Heatstroke Cycle in Osoyoos, but remember not to drink and pedal.
The Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia is a great spot for a Maritimes getaway. You’ll find lovely views from the hills on either side of the valley, as well as pretty rivers and tall, white church spires popping up between the red and yellow maple trees. Small cities such as Bridgetown, Annapolis Royal and Wolfville have tons of charm. The city parks in and around Halifax are often ablaze with colour. Or try the drive along the coast near Mahone Bay and lovely Lunenburg, where you’ll also find colourfully painted homes in a dazzling array of hues straight out of the crayon box. And don’t forget Cape Breton, home to one of the world’s great drives, the Cabot Trail.