Why Yes, there are plenty of quaint calèches plying Old Montreal's cobblestoned streets, as well as shops chockablock with fleur-de-lis flags and hockey paraphernalia. But along the neighborhood's southwestern edge, design studios and upscale condos have taken over industrial spaces; cafés, bars, and some of the city's most ambitious chefs have followed.
How to Get There Direct flights to Montreal's Trudeau airport are available from 21 U.S. cities.
Where to Stay The recently renovated Place d'Armes Hôtel & Suites (55 Rue St.-Jacques W.; 888/450-1887 or 514/842-1887; www.hotelplacedarmes.com; doubles from $248) mixes 19th-century architectural details with sleek, contemporary interiors. We like the lofty rooms in the original Great Scottish Life Insurance building.
Where to Eat At Cluny ArtBar (257 Rue Prince; 514/866-1213; lunch for two $38), try a pressed charcuterie sandwich and the white-chocolate bread pudding. Chez L'Épicier (311 Rue St.-Paul E.; 514/878-2232; dinner for two $100) updates classics like duck confit with mango and chiles. Pick up a souvenir jar of artisanal olive oil at the attached grocery store.
Insider Tip Go in the first week of July for Festival International de Jazz de Montreal—this year's artists include Emmylou Harris, Paul Simon, and Mali's Amadou et Mariam. Some of the best acts play gratis on outdoor stages downtown.
8. BANFF, ALBERTA
Why When it comes to the Rockies, most travelers have overlooked this Canadian wilderness for the more familiar peaks of Montana and Colorado—until now. Brokeback Mountain was filmed in the area, bringing the region's rugged terrain center stage.
How to Get There Air Canada runs nonstop flights to Calgary from New York, Denver, L.A., and San Francisco. Banff is a 90-mile drive away.
Where to Stay With its Scottish-castle towers rising from the alpine forest at the convergence of two rivers, the 770-room Fairmont Banff Springs (405 Spray Ave.; 800/441-1414 or 403/ 762-2211; www.fairmont.com; doubles from $399) is as dramatic as it gets. Or check out the Juniper (1 Juniper Way; 877/762-2281 or 403/762-2281; www.decorehotels.com; doubles from $178), an eco-hotel constructed from native fir and Rundle stone.
Where to Eat Rimrock Resort's Eden Dining Room (Mountain Ave.; 403/762-1840; dinner for two $180) is known for its French cuisine, 1,100-label wine list, and valley views. Try the caribou in a berry glaze with mashed sweet potato in the woodsy restaurant at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge (700 Tunnel Mountain Rd.; 403/760-4484; dinner for two $90).
Insider Tip Summer is prime viewing time for Jasper National Park's Columbia Ice Fields or the Athabasca Glacier. Grab your fleece and hop aboard the Brewster Ice Explorer (www.columbiaicefields.com; $30 round-trip per adult), which climbs up the glacier.
9. LOS CABOS
Why While the highway between the sister towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo now sports a Costco and a Home Depot, this cactus-studded Sonoran Desert region at the tip of the Baja Peninsula retains the laid-back sensibility of a true Mexican outpost, where taco stands, sun-bleached resorts, and empty beaches give reason to linger.
How to Get There Author John Steinbeck had to charter a sardine boat to get to Los Cabos in the 1940's. These days you can take Continental's nonstop flight from Newark to San José del Cabo in seven hours. Other direct connections are available from Atlanta (5½ hours), Houston (four hours), and L.A. (three hours).
Where to Stay At Esperanza (Punta Ballena; 52-866/311-2226; www.esperanzaresort.com; doubles from $425), the 56 rooms have terraces overlooking Punta Ballena, where humpback whales feed during their annual migration. Hotel Twin Dolphin (Hwy. 1; 800/421-8925; www.twindolphin.com; doubles from $270) remains a favorite for its white-on-white simplicity, potent margaritas, and access to the best snorkeling bay in Cabo.
Where to Eat Rossy Taqueria (Km 33, Carr. Transpeninsular; 52-624/142-6755; lunch for two $15) dishes up succulent shrimp and scallops in corn tortillas; wash them down with an ice-cold Corona. For seafood risotto with roasted tomatoes and fresh Parmesan, head to Mi Cocina at Casa Natalia (4 Blvd. Mijares; 52-624/142-5100; dinner for two $100), in the courtyard of a historic adobe town house.
Insider Tip Rent a Jeep and drive an hour north to the colonial town of Todos Santos, where unpaved streets are lined with modern-art galleries. On the way back, look for dirt-road turnoffs to surfing breaks that attract California's top board riders.