Exploring the Cabot Trail (Nova Scotia)
This wildly scenic driving loop around Cape Breton Highlands National Park delivers a surplus of dramatic coastal scenery. Take a few days to explore the area. You can hike blustery headlands, scope for whales on a tour boat, and dabble around a cove or two in a sea kayak.
Hiking Gros Morne National Park (Newfoundland)
When the earth's land masses broke apart and shifted 500 million years ago, a piece of the mantle, the very shell of the planet, was thrust upward to form awesome tableland mountains of rock here. Spend a week or more trekking coastal trails, venturing to scenic waterfalls, and strolling alongside landlocked fjords.
Watching the World Go by at a Quebec City Cafe (Quebec)
Perched just overlooking the pedestrian-only rue du Petit-Champlain, the terrace of Le Marie-Clarisse restaurant offers a catbird seat to the world. A more pleasant hour cannot be passed anywhere in Quebec City than here on a summer afternoon, over a platter of shrimp or pates. (In winter, cocoon by the stone fireplace inside: The rooms are formed of rafters, brick, and 300-year-old walls, and evoke the feel of a small country inn.)
Checking Out Toronto Theater, Dance, and Music (Ontario)
Sure, Toronto likes its blockbuster shows, which are usually housed at the Royal Alexandra or the Princess of Wales theaters. However, the offerings from the CanStage, Soulpepper, Opera Atelier, Tafelmusik, and the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People are innovative and consistently excellent, too. And seeing the Canadian Opera Company or the National Ballet of Canada onstage at their new home -- the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts -- is breathtaking.
Seeing the Polar Bears in Churchill (Manitoba)
In October or November, travel by train or plane to Churchill and the shores of Hudson Bay to view hundreds of magnificent polar bears, which migrate to the bay's icy shores and even lope into Churchill itself. In the evening, you can glimpse the famous aurora borealis (northern lights). Either take VIA Rail's Hudson Bay train (tel. 888/VIA-RAIL in Canada, or 800/561-3949 in the U.S.), a 2-night/1-day trip from Winnipeg, or fly in on Calm Air (tel. 800/839-2256).
Horseback Riding in the Rockies (Alberta)
Rent a cabin on a rural guest ranch and get back in the saddle again. Spend a day fishing, then return to the lodge for a country dance or barbecue. Ride a horse to a backcountry chalet in the rugged mountain wilderness. Forget the crowded park highways and commercialized resort towns and just relax. Brewster's Kananaskis Guest Ranch (tel. 800/691-5085 or 403/673-3737) in Kananaskis Village, near Banff, offers a variety of guided horseback trips, including food, lodging, and the horse you ride in on.
Sailing the Great Bear Rain Forest (British Columbia)
About halfway up B.C.'s west coast is an isolated region of mountains, fjords, bays, rivers, and inlets. It's one of the last places where grizzly bears are still found in large numbers, plus salmon, killer whales, otters, and porpoises. Maple Leaf Adventures (tel. 888/599-5323 or 250/386-7245) runs a number of trips on a 28m (92-ft.) schooner to this magic part of the world.
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