By Steve Proctor Not so long ago, I was sitting…
Fall is my favourite time of year in Ontario and Quebec, Canada.
The forests here, with an abundance of maple and oak trees, have great potential to produce brilliant orange and red autumn colours. To me, it’s the perfect time for a getaway, not only to get outdoors to enjoy the fall colours, but also to cozy up by the fire and savour the local harvest.
To be honest, you can go just about anywhere in either province in October to enjoy the colours.
But, I thought I’d share five of my favourites if you’re looking for a blissful fall experience.
Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Mont Tremblant is a huge park set within the Laurentian Mountains northwest of Montréal. In the winter, it’s a bustling ski resort. But, in the fall it’s a little quieter and it boasts some of the best colours anywhere. There are plenty of things to do, including hiking, canoeing and horseback riding. The ski lift to the top of the mountain provides a not-to-miss view.
What makes this a perfect getaway experience is the top-notch resorts and restaurants in the area. After the outdoor activities, I like to have a soak in a spa and dig into a traditional Quebecois feast, or sip some wine by the fire. That’s what makes the weekend special.
Where to stay: Hotel Quintessence
Gatineau Park, Quebec
One of the unique things about Gatineau Park in Quebec is that’s it’s just 15 minutes away from Canada’s Capital of Ottawa (pictured at top). You can go from city to hiking trails in a short drive.
In addition to the outdoor activities, I always enjoy a visit to the town of Wakefield on the Gatineau River. I like to wander the cute shops, enjoy some treats from the bakeries, and make a mandatory stop at La Confiserie for the best fudge I have ever had (go for the maple flavour). To top off a perfect afternoon, stop in (or stay) at the Wakefield Mill Hotel. If it’s warm enough, you can sit on a terrace and sip a beverage of your choice while overlooking a waterfall. A very soothing spot!
Where to stay: The Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa
Eastern Townships, Quebec
I visited the Eastern Townships in Quebec last summer, and can hardly wait for the opportunity to go in the fall. This is an area of farmland and rolling hills in the southeastern corner of the province.
It’s known for its great fall colours, but also for its charming villages, vineyards and traditional French-inspired gourmet experiences. It’s a great place to wander and eat – – my two best things!
Where to stay: Auberge Les Pignons Verts
Algonquin Park, Ontario
Algonquin Park in Ontario is the place to go if you’re looking for more of a pure nature experience. It’s a large provincial park made up of maple hills, rocky ridges and thousands of lakes. It’s a place for those quintessentially Canadian experiences: canoeing, listening to the loons on the lake, and sitting around a campfire. Don’t forget the marshmellows!
Campgrounds stay open into the fall, but you do need a Park Permit.
Thousand Islands, Ontario
The Thousand Islands is actually a group of over 1800 islands in the St. Lawrence River between Canada and the United States. It used to be a fashionable retreat for the elite in the late 19th century, but the focus is on outdoor activities now.
It’s also home to elaborate island mansions, like Boldt Castle on Heart Island. It’s a little touristy, but you can take a cruise around the islands and stop in at the castle. I’ve done the cruise, but haven’t stayed in the accommodations in the area. In any case, you can’t beat the island views, especially when the autumn colours are putting on their best show.
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