Joao Canziani

It’s official: Our neighbor to the north has never been more deserving of the world’s attention. T+L brings you the lowdown on four urban hot spots, from Montreal and Quebec City to Toronto and Vancouver.

April 13, 2010

Vancouver

A coastal playground basks in its post-Olympics glow.

Stay

Opening just in time for the 2010 Winter Games, the Great Value Fairmont Pacific Rim (doubles from $229) couldn’t have asked for a more auspicious debut. Spacious guest rooms with subtle Asian touches, plus a top-notch spa, are hallmarks of the Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver (doubles from $384). Great Value The St. Regis Hotel (doubles from $152) has one of the best locations in town, across from the Holt Renfrew department store and in walking distance of most city sights.

Eat

No-nonsense trattoria La Quercia (dinner for two $76) showcases made-to-order risottos and an unusual grappa list. In Yaletown, regional ingredients—from porcini mushrooms to Qualicum Bay scallops—get star billing on the menu at Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill (dinner for two $137), where med student turned much-lauded chef Pino Posteraro runs his open kitchen like a master surgeon.

Shop

Flanked by art galleries, the design shop 18Karat carries covetable goods at reason-able prices—handwoven baby alpaca throws from $186 and mouth-blown glass candleholders for a mere $10. Fashion stylists and Kitsilano trustafarians flock to Gravity Pope Tailored Goods for clothing and accessories that range from streamlined menswear by local label Wings + Horns to leather-wrapped chain necklaces by Natalia Brilli.

Nightlife

The Diamond at Maple Tree Square (cocktails for two $17), an izakaya-style lounge in Gastown, doubles as a cocktail bar in the wee hours of the morning, when everything else is shutting down. The second-floor former brothel evokes a Prohibition-era watering hole, thanks to stripped brick walls and 1920’s chandeliers. Bartenders pride themselves on off-the-cuff concoctions.

Biggest Adrenaline Rush

Why hike up north Vancouver’s infamous “Grouse Grind” with the masses when you can soar 4,100 feet above sea level, straight off grouse mountain’s peak? book a 30- to 40-minute tandem flight from First Flight Paragliding ($235).

Top Sights by Foot

Vancouver Art Gallery
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

BC Place Stadium
Granville Island Ferry terminal —Suzanne Mozes

Toronto

Sprawling and diverse, this fast-paced commercial capital harbors an edgy, artistic soul.

Stay

Modern art gallery meets 1940’s Hollywood at the 77-room Hazelton Hotel (doubles from $472), in the posh Yorkville neighborhood. Interiors are full of luxe details—suede-paneled walls, Italian granite floors, and private dressing rooms lined with floor-to-ceiling mirrors.Great Value Close to the city’s rowdy nightlife district, Hôtel Le Germain (doubles from $235) is nevertheless a haven of quiet contemplation, with Zen-like display shelves and cream-colored sofas in the airy, split-level lobby.Great Value New on the radar: Thompson Toronto (doubles from $220), the first foreign outpost of New York City’s decidedly downtown brand.

Eat

Toronto has its share of excellent Chinese food, but the haute dim sum at the Metropolitan Hotel’s Lai Wah Heen (dim sum for two $55) might just be the best in town. On the new restaurant row of Harbord Street near Spadina Avenue, chef Cory Vitiello of the Harbord Room (dinner for two $90) serves up creative interpretations of bistro standards—Ontario lamb three ways; a saffron pot de crème—on his small, ever-changing menu.

Shop

Home to local food purveyors for most of the week, the St. Lawrence Market becomes an antiques fair on Sundays, with more than 80 vendors hawking everything from rare prints and Bakelite bracelets to kitschy secondhand treasures. Quirky paraphernalia—stag-topped shot glasses, Canadian Mountie cocktail napkins, and the like—make up the merchandise at Drake Hotel General Store.

Nightlife

For an evening of offbeat camara-derie, replete with dive-bar staples (pickled eggs; an eclectic jukebox), it’s worth seeking out the slightly off-the-beaten-path Communist’s Daughter (drinks for two $11), where the barkeep sings gypsy jazz tunes while pouring pints for a roomful of regulars.

Hot Ticket

Cannes and Sundance get much more of the hype, but serious cinephiles know that the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 9–18) is the place to preview indie releases from all around the world. It’s also a good indicator of future Oscar buzz (past winners: Slumdog Millionaire, Precious).

Top Sights by Foot

Royal Ontario Museum
Queen’s Park
Kensington Market
CN Tower —Alysha Brown

Montreal

Discover culinary hot spots and a lively street culture.

Stay

The eight-year-old Hôtel Le St.-James (doubles from $407), with 60 polished guest rooms and an exceptionally attentive staff, has fast become Montreal’s grande dame. Book a treatment in the underground spa, if only to see it—one side of the former bank vault was part of the original 1725 city wall.Great Value Housed in two buildings, including an old leather factory from the 19th century, the 24-room Le Petit Hôtel (doubles from $160, including breakfast) appeals to young entrepreneurs with its tech-savvy touches like free Wi-Fi and plasma TV’s outfitted with Wii Fit stations.Great Value Another new hotel with a piece of the past: Le Westin Montréal (doubles from $185), which consists of a 22-story tower and the former headquarters of the city’s Gazette newspaper. The indoor glass-bottomed pool, seemingly suspended over the hotel’s main entrance, makes an indelible first impression; a basement corridor connects to the city’s famous subterranean shopping mall.

Eat

Decadent foie gras and raw-milk cheeses are staples in every Québécois chef’s kitchen. Both are on hand at La Salle à Manger (dinner for two $90), where chef Samuel Pinard and his gang of six make almost everything in house—from pastas and bread to the cured sausages hanging in the glass meat locker. At Kitchen Galerie (dinner for two $70), just steps from the Jean-Talon farmers’ market, diners sit at a counter and watch chef-owners Mathieu Cloutier and Jean-Philippe St.-Denis cook up whatever’s freshest. (With only one other employee, the chefs are also the restaurant’s servers, sommeliers, and dishwashers.) Celebrating its 30th anniversary this December, L’Express (lunch for two $70) is still the spot for expertly prepared French classics such as the generous pot-au-feu or the citrusy octopus-and-lentil salad.

Shop

Independent bookstores thrive on downtown streets. Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, in the booming Mile-End neighborhood, specializes in underground comics and illustrated novels, including titles written and produced by the store’s own publishing house. Fans of vintage clothing shouldn’t miss the 15-year-old Friperie St.-Laurent, in the Plateau district, for its well-curated selection of designer hats, scarves, and party dresses from the 40’s to the 70’s. Stop in at the new boutique Instock to pick up cult clothing brands Supra and Elm, plus works by up-and-coming Montreal artists.

Nightlife

Residents take happy hour (referred to as “5 to 7”) very seriously. These days, a cheerful after-work crowd heads to La Buvette Chez Simone (drinks for two $8.50) for locally brewed McKeown cider and tasty bar snacks like grilled calamari and olives marinated with fennel.

Insider Tip: Looking for the Canadian equivalent of a 7-Eleven? Ask for a dépanneur—a word derived from the verb dépanner, or to troubleshoot. Most of montreal’s english speakers refer to them simply as “the dep.” —Stirling Kelso

Quebec City

Find a francophile mecca, with fairy-tale turrets and cobblestoned streets made for romance.

Stay

Built in 1893 as an ode to Loire Valley châteaux, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac (doubles from $266) is one of the city’s major landmarks. Aristocrat-worthy furnishings, such as carved headboards and antique tapestries, make up for the minuscule size of some rooms (ask for one with a view of the St. Lawrence River).Great Value Loews Hôtel Le Concorde (doubles from $178), just outside Old Town’s storybook walls, gets top marks for its views.Great Value A formerly gritty Holiday Inn, Hôtel Pur (doubles from $155) fits right into rapidly gentrifying St.-Roch. Interiors are awash in charcoal grays and stark whites, with graffiti-inspired art, mod Japanese soaking tubs, and windows that look out onto surrounding steeples.

Eat

Don’t be put off by the waitstaff outfitted in period style—even local taxi drivers swear by Aux Anciens Canadiens (dinner for two $75) for home-style Québécois dishes such as duck braised in maple syrup sauce and pheasant served with pork and beans. In a town brimming with boulangeries, Paillard (lunch for two $22) stands head and shoulders above the rest: manned by a Parisian master baker, it turns out whisper-light patisserie, sandwiches on crusty baguettes, and irresistible vanilla-pear jam.

Shop

The oldest grocer on the continent, J.A. Moisan stocks English teas, French soaps, and picnic fixings (our favorites: wild boar sausage and a wedge of locally made Cumulus cheese). Clothing boutique Blank is Quebec’s answer to American Apparel—a source for eco-friendly basics like perfectly fitting tees and baby-soft hoodies, all made in the province.

Nightlife

In the heart of St.-Roch, the warehouse-like restaurant Le Cercle morphs into a dynamic performance space after dark. Events range from poetry slams, film screenings, and DJ sets to concerts by folk and indie bands from around the country.

Sidewalk Attraction

Cirque du Soleil began as a humble group of street performers from a small town in Quebec. See them pay homage to their roots when troupe members perform for free under a Highway overpass five nights a week this summer (June 24–Sept. 5; quebecregion.com).

Top Sights by Foot

Musée de la Civilisation
Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
La Citadelle de Québec — Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

5 Quintessential Canadian Experiences

Wilderness excursions, a railroad trip, and a wine region on the rise.

Train Travel

The four-day, four-night transcontinental journey on Via Rail’s Canadian is a truly epic ride. Less well known, however, is the Jasper–Prince Rupert route (888/842-7245; viarail.ca; from $193 per person), a two-day trip that speeds you from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, with an overnight stop (hotel not included) in Prince George. What you’ll see out your window: pioneer settlements and fishing villages, not to mention bald eagles, totem poles, and almost more waterfalls than you can count.

Cruising

Inuit-owned and operated Cruise North Expeditions specializes in trips to the Canadian Arctic on a simple, comfortable 116-passenger ship staffed with naturalists and historians. The Arctic Safari itinerary (July 13–23; 866/263-3220; cruisenorthexpeditions.com; from $4,478 per person) delivers on its name, with wildlife viewings of ringed seals, walrus, Arctic penguins, and polar bears. Visits to native communities and meetings with elders afford a rare glimpse of traditional Inuit life.

Vineyard Tour

In southern Ontario, picturesque Prince Edward County has recently emerged as a gastronomic capital, with a flourishing wine industry and boutique farms tucked amid pastoral villages and freshwater beaches. Stay on a vineyard at the 21-room Huff Estates Inn & Winery (doubles from $174, including breakfast, tour, and wine tasting), in Bloomfield, then follow the self-guided wine tour—details available for download at tastetrail.ca.

History Lesson

A Unesco World Heritage site in the prairies of southwestern Alberta, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump provides a fascinating look at the culture and traditions of the Blackfoot people. Herds of bison were stampeded over the cliffs for thousands of years, a form of communal hunting and a primary source of food and clothing. An interpretive center built into the sandstone foothills presents exhibitions on ecology and archaeology.

Adventure Lodge

Snorkel or kayak amid belugas or get up close and personal with a polar bear at Lazy Bear Lodge (doubles from $134, including transfers and breakfast). Located in Churchill, Manitoba, a remote Hudson Bay community reachable only by plane or train, the lodge consists of 33 rooms in rustic yet cozy log cabins and a restaurant serving local game. Daily excursions give guests unparalleled access to the animals in their own habitat.

L’Express

Open since 1980, the restaurant is still the spot for expertly prepared French classics such as the generous pot-au-feu or the citrusy octopus-and-lentil salad.

Musée de la Civilisation

Known for its immense diversity, the Musée de la Civilisation (Museum of Civilization) combines permanent historic displays with rotating, interactive exhibitions about everything from dragons to the evolution of hats. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the museum has a dramatic limestone-and-glass façade that contrasts with the colonial architecture of surrounding Lower Town. Permanent displays include “People of Quebec…Then and Now,” which details 400 years of Québécois history, and “Encounter with the First Nations,” which explores the cultures of 11 aboriginal tribes. The museum shop is housed in the adjacent Estèbe Home, a 1751 structure known for its wood carvings.

Toronto International Film Festival

Since its start in 1975, Toronto International Film Festival has grown to become one of world’s best, considered by many to be second only to Cannes. Roughly 300 films from more than 60 countries are scheduled over approximately 10 days of early morning screenings, black-tie galas, and midnight schlockfests. The September festival has spun out into satellite programs, including the TIFF Children’s Film Festival and TIFF Cinematheque (a foreign film repertory theater). Since 2010, the festival has been housed at the contemporary-styled, TIFF Bell Lightbox, a five-story film center in the heart of the downtown theater and restaurant district.

Kitchen Galerie

Just steps from the Jean-Talon farmers’ market, diners sit at a counter and watch chef-owners Mathieu Cloutier and Jean-Philippe St.-Denis cook up whatever’s freshest. (With only one other employee, the chefs are also the restaurant’s servers, sommeliers, and dishwashers.)

Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum, located near Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto, attracts over a million people each year. Opened to the public in 1914, the Neo-Romanesque brick façade received a dazzling—if controversial—upgrade in 2007 with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal wing. Architect Daniel Libeskind's deconstructionist plan for the Crystal (five interlocking prisms supported by steal beams) seems to crash into the original building. The museum's permanent exhibits focus on world cultures and natural history, including a stunning gem collection that inspired Libeskind's design for the Crystal, the Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art, and the second-level dinosaur galleries.

Hôtel Le St.-James

Stepping into the St-James feels like stepping back into a genteel, Gilded Age manse. Housed in a gracefully restored 19th-century bank building just a few blocks from the Notre-Dame Basilica, the hotel’s large guest rooms are piled with Oriental carpets, antiques and paintings from the owner’s private collection, yards of chintz drapery, leather button settees, and enormous wooden beds.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Recently renovated 1893 landmark hotel set above the St. Lawrence River within the walls of Old Quebec. Aristocrat-worthy furnishings, such as carved headboards and antique tapestries, make up for the minuscule size of some rooms.

Hôtel Le Germain Toronto

Situated in the entertainment district, Hôtel Le Germain is housed in a converted red-brick warehouse with a stainless-steel and glass façade. Inside, the lobby features two-story glass walls, a double-sided fireplace, and photographs by Toronto-based artist James Lahey. There’s also a library and a complimentary state-of-the-art cappuccino bar. Elevators painted with wispy clouds lead to the 122 guest rooms, each designed with high ceilings, warm wood accents, blooming tulips, and a glass-enclosed shower that looks out onto the room (with optional privacy blinds). The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast buffet as well as local, seasonal and organic dining at Victor Restaurant and Lounge.

La Buvette Chez Simone

A cheerful after-work crowd heads to this trendy wine bar for locally brewed McKeown cider and tasty bar snacks like grilled calamari and olives marinated with fennel.

La Salle à Manger

This neighborhood bistro hits all the marks of Nouvelle Montréal cuisine: taxidermy in the dining room, chalkboard of nose-to-tail specials, and scruffy hipster chefs in baseball caps. Chef Samuel Pinard and his gang of six make almost everything in house—from pastas and bread to the cured sausages hanging in the glass meat locker.  Sit at the bar amid the regulars snacking on plates of sublime pork rillettes and rabbit pâté.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

This classically designed 'scholars' garden in Vancouver's Chinatown was the first of its kind built outside of Asia. Named in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the father of modern China, the garden (completed in 1986) was designed to mimic the energy and tranquility of a 15th-century Ming scholars garden. Reflecting principles of Feng Shui and Taoism, the popular Chinatown destination achieves harmony through a balance of opposites. Asymmetrical sprays of rocks and Asian flora are juxtaposedto pleasing effect against twisting paths and tranquil waters.

Vancouver Art Gallery

Premier art gallery in the city, exhibiting classic and contemporary art. VAG is undergoing a renovation that will see it moved to a new space sitting on two acres just a few blocks east of the current building. The new design, created by architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, was unveiled in September 2015. 

Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver

This downtown luxury hotel is close to high-end shopping and a wide range of restaurants. MARKET, the in-house restaurant, is spearheaded by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a world-renowned Michelin-starred chef, with a focus on seasonal, regional ingredients, particularly fresh seafood.  

Fairmont Pacific Rim

Built in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel towers a lofty 48 floors above the Burrard Inlet waterfront, with panoramic views of the North Shore Mountains, Stanley Park, and Coal Harbour. The hotel, which occupies the first 22 floors, is connected to the Vancouver Convention Centre, making it a convenient place to stay during large events or business meetings. The 340 standard guest rooms and 37 suites welcome patrons with Mascioni linens and bedside touch screens to control lighting, temperature, curtains, and entertainment. The sixth-floor pool is a great spot to relax before or after a meal at Giovane, an Italian-inspired café and wine bar.

St. Regis, Vancouver

Located in downtown Vancouver one block from Canada Line rapid transit, St. Regis is a boutique hotel  geared toward business travelers. After an $11-million renovation in 2008, the hotel kept its century-old charm intact, but brought the property up to modern standards. Complimentary amenities include a full breakfast, Wi-Fi, in-room bottled water, and unlimited, free long distance calling anywhere in the world. On-site restaurant, Gotham serves up steaks and double-cut lamb chops, as well as seafood staples like ahi tuna and lobster. 

La Quercia

Although guests can order off an à la carte menu, patrons often opt for La Quercia's seven- or 10-course tasting menu. The homey interior has light wood floors, artwork lining the walls, and a small bar. Executive chefs Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme create Italian dishes in their casual Kitsilano eatery, and daily “fresh sheets” are written on a chalkboard listing local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. Highlights are squid quinoa with pork belly, gorgonzola risotto, and filet of sole bottarga (salted fish roe). The wine line skews mostly Italian. 

Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca

Chef/owner Giuseppe “Pino” Posteraro serves Mediterranean cuisine at Cioppino’s and its sister restaurant next door, Enoteca. Two large patios allow diners to watch Yaletown passerbys, while foodies sidle up to the two open show kitchens. Pino calls his style of cooking cucina natural — a classical style of cooking that emphasizes the use of only the freshest of ingredients. Flavors are clean and he’s especially noted for his light pasta dishes like tagliolini al granchio — handmade, thin egg pasta with Dungeness crab in a light tomato sauce. Cioppino’s serves ocean-friendly seafood choices, as well.

18Karat

Flanked by art galleries, this design shop carries covetable goods at reason-able prices—handwoven baby alpaca throws from $186 and mouth-blown glass candleholders for a mere $10.

Gravity Pope Tailored Goods

Housed in the historical Crawford Block building in Edmonton, Gravity Pope has supported local fashion designers and collections since 1992. The 1800-square-foot industrial space is minimalist with white marble floors, antique mannequins from Paris, pale blue washed walls, and original turn-of-the-century fixtures. Styles from Vancouverite John Fluevog, Marc Jacobs, and Paul Smith are showcased, and women and men get equal retail billing. The independently owned boutique also carries a selection of footwear and accessories, including handbags and luggage.

The Diamond

Well-named cocktails, such as the rum-based Grass Skirt and the gin-based Buck Buck Mule. Small, elegant menu including ceviches and charcuterie, with the cuban sandwich as the house specialty. 

BC Place Stadium

From sporting events to summer festivals, this year-round, open-air facility touts the biggest cable-supported retractable roof in the world. Originally opened in 1983, the stadium underwent a massive renovation and reopened in 2011. The stadium offers attendees such amenities as private guest suites, club lounges, dedicated entrances for VIPs, and extensive food and beverage options. It has a seating capacity of 52,000. BC Place Stadium is home to British Columbia’s first Major League Soccer club, the BC Lions.

Granville Island Ferry

Operating in False Creek since 1982, this ferry service is the original one providing transport aboard its fleet of 10 vessels, which includes four 20-passenger diesel-powered ferries. The Little Blue Ferries offers routes to several destinations, including the Maritime Museum, Stamps Landing, and Granville Island, which is the most popular one. Granville Island is home to the Public Market, as well Granville Island Brewery, a water park, restaurants, galleries, theaters, and a kids-only market. Sightseers can purchase an all-day pass, which grants access to all the attractions around False Creek, while commuters can buy a monthly pass. Little Blue Ferries also offers private sunset cruises (seasonal only). 

First Flight Paragliding

Instead of hiking up north Vancouver’s infamous Grouse Grind, First Flight Paragliding offers a more adventerous alternative: soaring 4,100 feet above sea level, straight off Grouse Mountain’s peak. The company's paragliding trips provide an aerial perspective with uninterrupted views of Vancouver, Capilano Watershed, and the Lower Mainland. Instructors guide participants through a 30 or 40-minute tandem flight covering everything from basic meteorology to launch techniques and demonstrations of basic turns. Once strapped into a six-point harness, the passneger is then guided by the pilot throughout the trip.

Hazelton Hotel

This 62-room, 15-suite, boutique hotel opened in the city's ritziest mixed-use neighborhood, midtown's Yorkville, in summer 2009. Common areas evoke a luxe aesthetic with dark wood, marble, and granite surfaces, suede-panelled walls, and Art Deco-inspired furniture. Standard rooms boast nine-foot ceilings, walk-in dressing rooms, and private balconies. The granite-clad bathrooms have separate rainfall showers and soaker tubs, plus LCD-TV embedded mirrors. Celeb chef Mark McEwan's onsite ONE restaurant has a modern steakhouse-style menu. High-end shopping, the Royal Ontario Museum, and many of the city's most popular restaurants and lounges are a short walk away.

Thompson, Toronto

The first foreign outpost for the Manhattan hotel brand, Thompson Toronto opened in 2010. Its location in King West Village puts it a short walk from the entertainment, art and design, and financial districts, as well as stellar shopping. Common areas in the 102-room property have a sleek, contempo aesthetic: clean lines, richly grained wood, marble, and hits of neo-Baroque damask. Guest rooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows and heated marble bathroom floors. Dining and bar options include chef Scott Conant’s Scarpetta, a 24-hour “modern diner,” and a rooftop lounge with infinity pool and skyline views of the city.

Lai Wah Heen

Lai Wah Heen, which translates to “luxurious meeting place,” serves an upscale dim sum menu that's often lauded as the best in Toronto. Located in the Metropolitan Hotel, the bi-level restaurant is simple but stylish, with 12-foot ceilings, black granite stairs, and beige walls hung with black-and-white Chinese calligraphy paintings. The lunchtime dim sum menu includes dishes like deep-fried taro paste dumplings filled with seasoned emu, while the pan-Chinese dinner menu features the popular Peking duck, prepared two ways: fried and served on steamed rice crêpes, and then wok-fried and served in lettuce leaves with assorted vegetables.

 

Harbord Room

Situated on Harbord Street’s burgeoning restaurant row, this small eatery serves an eclectic, globally inspired menu that incorporates regional ingredients. The homelike interior is designed with large windows, olive green banquettes, and a salvaged-wood bar, while the seasonal outdoor patio contains small shaded tables. Created by chef Cory Vitiello, the menu includes specialties like the Japanese tacos with sous vide pork belly (cooked slowly in a water bath) topped with avocado, pickled ginger, fried nori, mirin glaze, and shiso (perilla) cream. After 10 p.m., the Harbord Room transforms into a lounge with a late night menu and unusual handcrafted cocktails.

St. Lawrence Market

The historic St. Lawrnece Market has repeatedly been called one of the world's best markets. On the east end of the city, you'll find over 100 vendors selling everything from fresh, local produce to fish mongers and bakers. Not to be missed: Kozlik's mustard for some of the best this country has to offer, and Scheffler's Deli for a spate of local cheeses, meats and gourmet edibles. Note: Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Drake Hotel General Store

The namesake store of the trendy Drake Hotel, this nontraditional gift shop sells a wide array of unusual souvenirs, original antiques, local art, and items imported from across the globe. Inspired by old-fashioned general stores and flea markets, the shop is designed with reclaimed wood, recycled light fixtures, and Midcentury Modern furniture. The ever-changing inventory may include anything from anchor-shaped wine stops and colorful patterned socks to binocular-shaped necklace pendants and Mountie-themed cocktail napkins. In addition to the original hotel location, the company now has two satellite shops, one in Rosedale and one on Bathurst Street.

Communist’s Daughter

Hidden behind a narrow storefront in Little Portugal, this unassuming bar is marked by a large sign that reads Nazare Snack Bar (the building’s previous inhabitant) as well as a discreet chalkboard sign revealing the current name. As such, the clientele is largely limited to in-the-know locals. The small, dim interior is furnished with mismatched vintage furniture, old-fashioned photographs, and a popular jukebox playing jazz, indie, and rock music. A limited bar menu (think pickled eggs and a hummus plate) complements the short but well-selected beer and wine list. On weekends, live jazz and folk music is a major draw.

Queen’s Park

A stones throw from University of Toronto's main campus, Queen's Park is the home of the Ontario Legislature. The oval-shaped landmark includes a north park of footpaths, tall shade trees, and a large statue of Edward VI on horseback, while the south park, which fronts the main entrance to the legislative building, displays statues including Queen Elizabeth II, Sir John A. Macdonald (Canada's first Prime Minister), and celebrated Canadian poet, Al Purdy. The pink-hued legislative building was constructed between 1886 and 1893 in a Richardsonian Romaneque style that some criticized for being "too American."

Kensington Market

This eclectic neighborhood offers visitors a street market vibe where the world's cultures are woven into the ambience. From green grocers and head shops, to funky cafes, and bakeries, this is where Toronto shops on a leisurely morning or afternoon. It's spate of bars and restaurants means that it's also where some party once the sun goes down.

CN Tower

At 1,815-feet and 5-inches, the CN Tower is the world's tallest free-standing tower (defined as a building where less than 50% of the construction is usable floor space). Constructed in 1976, the tower is located in downtown's Front Street district between the entertainment district's hotels and restaurants and the scenic waterfront. A glass-floor observation deck on the 112th floor offers great views, but the more adventurous can put on a safety harness and walk the tower exterior for a view that's 1,168 feet above the street. 

Le Petit Hôtel

Housed in two buildings, including an old leather factory from the 19th century, the 24-room hotel appeals to young entrepreneurs with its tech-savvy touches like free Wi-Fi and plasma TV’s outfitted with Wii Fit stations.

Le Westin Montréal

The hotel consists of a 22-story tower and the former headquarters of the city’s Gazette newspaper. The indoor glass-bottomed pool, seemingly suspended over the hotel’s main entrance, makes an indelible first impression; a basement corridor connects to the city’s famous subterranean shopping mall.

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly

The shop specializes in underground comics and illustrated novels, including titles written and produced by the store’s own publishing house.

Friperie St.-Laurent

Fans of vintage clothing shouldn’t miss this 15-year-old shop for its well-curated selection of designer hats, scarves, and party dresses from the 40’s to the 70’s.

Instock

Stop in at this 2009-opened boutique to pick up cult clothing brands Supra and Elm, plus works by up-and-coming Montreal artists.

Huff Estates Inn & Winery

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

A unesco World Heritage site in the prairies of southwestern Alberta, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump provides a fascinating look at the culture and traditions of the Blackfoot people. Herds of bison were stampeded over the cliffs for thousands of years, a form of communal hunting and a primary source of food and clothing. An interpretive center built into the sandstone foothills presents exhibitions on ecology and archaeology.

Lazy Bear Lodge

Located in Churchill, Manitoba, a remote Hudson Bay community reachable only by plane or train, the lodge consists of 33 rooms in rustic yet cozy log cabins and a restaurant serving local game. Daily excursions give guests unparalleled access to the animals in their own habitat.

Loews Hôtel Le Concorde

An antithesis to the colonial buildings and fortifications of Vieux-Québec, the highly modern and angular Loews Hôtel Le Concorde has an enviable location at the edge of The Plains of Abraham in Battlefield Park. This position at the city’s top-most point gives many of the 406-room hotel expansive views, especially those rooms facing east towards the St. Lawrence River, the Gaspé Peninsula, and Île D’Orleans. The hotel is also located amidst the Grand Allee Avenue's trendy shops, and is home to L'Astral, a restaurant that fully rotates every 90 minutes. The full-service spa includes a fitness room with hot sauna, whirlpool, and heated outdoor pool.

TRYP by Wyndham Quebec Hotel Pur

A formerly gritty Holiday Inn, the property fits right into rapidly gentrifying St.-Roch. Interiors are awash in charcoal grays and stark whites, with graffiti-inspired art, mod Japanese soaking tubs, and windows that look out onto surrounding steeples.

Aux Anciens Canadiens

Paillard

In a town brimming with boulangeries, Paillard stands head and shoulders above the rest: manned by a Parisian master baker, it turns out whisper-light patisserie, sandwiches on crusty baguettes, and irresistible vanilla-pear jam.

J.A. Moisan

The oldest grocer on the continent stocks English teas, French soaps, and picnic fixings (our favorites: wild boar sausage and a wedge of locally made Cumulus cheese).

Blank

Quebec’s answer to American Apparel—a source for eco-friendly basics like perfectly fitting tees and baby-soft hoodies, all made in the province.

Le Cercle, Quebec

In the heart of St.-Roch, this warehouse-like restaurant morphs into a dynamic performance space after dark. Events range from poetry slams, film screenings, and DJ sets to concerts by folk and indie bands from around the country.

Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec

Rising from a bustling plaza in the center of Upper Town, this impressive cathedral belongs to the oldest parish in North America. Rebuilt twice since its completion in 1647, the Neoclassical structure retains its original bell tower and portions of the 17th-century walls. Inside, a long nave is surrounded by Palladian-style arches with carved gilt columns, a ceiling painted with clouds, and stained-glass windows imported from Paris and Munich. The cathedral also has a gold-plated altar, three Casavant organs, and a crypt containing the remains of 20 former bishops. Guided tours include both the basilica and the crypt.

La Citadelle de Québec

Sitting like a five-pointed star among The Plains of Abraham and just above Terrasse Dufferin, La Citadelle de Québec is a still-active military base (home to the French-speaking Royal 22nd Regiment) and a complex of buildings and fortifications built circa 1820. Because the fortress is an active garrison, all tours are guided. Tours always include sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River, the Gaspé Peninsula, and Île D’Orleans along with the history of the fortifications and the 22nd Regiment’s own weapon and regalia museum. Don’t miss the changing of the guards at 10 a.m. (summer months only).

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