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    If you want a real taste of the food scene in Quebec, Canada, head over to the Eastern Townships. Nestled between Montreal and the U.S. border, this bucolic region is dotted with charming towns, historic buildings and hidden culinary gems.

    It’s a destination not to be missed by those looking to leave the beaten path in search of new foodie finds.
    We’ve created a food itinerary that maps out the most delicious digs in the region. Follow along and be sure to wear those stretchy pants.

    Day One

    Breakfast Of Eggs Benny
    Hop in a car and head to Le Café de la Brulerie for breakfast. This warm and inviting café, located in the town of Granby is the perfect place for a leisurely breakfast of eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. The warm and inviting atmosphere will keep you lingering long after you’ve wiped your plate clean.

    Breaking Bread At Lunch
    There’s no better place for a delicious and hearty lunch than La Mie Bretonne. This charming French bakery and pastry shop makes all of its bread (30 varieties and counting) onsite, using only local or sustainable flour. Their wide selection of sandwiches packed with local cheese, patés, and sausages, are sure to satisfy anyone’s hunger pangs. A cup of coffee and some homemade macarons will seal the deal.

    Afternoon Cider
    Next, make a quick pit stop at Union Libre Cidre et Vin to sample the local cider and walk around the beautiful estate. Union Libre is Quebec’s leading producer of Fire Cider, a drink made by fermenting heat-concentrated apple juice.

    Nightcap (With A Side Of Duck)
    End off the night at Auberge Brouërie Sutton to savor local beer and order one of their delectable Truite des Bobines or duck dishes to share. Better yet, come back in the fall when the Lac Brome Duck Festival, a food festival in the village of Knowlton, is in full swing.

    Day Two

    Brunch On The Orford Express
    Your second day of exploration begins on board the Orford Express -- a beautiful train that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the Eastern Townships. Discover the cities of Sherbrooke, Magog and Eastman while enjoying an exquisite brunch consisting of frittata, crêpes and seasonal fruit.

    eastern townships

    Bleu Benedictine Cheese
    While in the Magog region of Quebec, be sure to make a stop at L’Abbaye Saint-Benoit-du-Lac monastery, which recently celebrated its centenary. You don’t need to be religious to find yourself deeply devoted to their awe-inspiring Bleu Benedictine cheese and homemade jams. Take the guided tour to learn more about the life at the monastery.

    Dinner At Le Hatley
    After checking in at Manoir Hovey, a charming inn with a lakeside view, enjoy dinner at Le Hatley, the inn’s restaurant. The restaurant’s chef, Francis Wolf, serves up quintessentially Canadian meals made with the finest local and regional products. After dinner, enjoy the multimedia show Foresta Lumina at Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook and take a hike through the enchanted forest, it’s magic!

    manoir hovey tap room

    Nightcap
    There’s no better way to end your weekend discovering the Eastern Townships than at Manoir Hovey, a five-star inn located on the shores of Lake Massawippi. Find the perfect spot in the Tap Room Pub, order a glass of port, and plan your next trip to Quebec.

    Day Three

    Sugar Sublimity For Lunch (Because You’re On Vacation)
    An hour drive away from Manoir Hovey is les Sucreries de l’Érable, an old general store built in the 1800s. This place is known for its maple syrup pie, a popular Quebec dessert the owner claims to have perfected. Grab a cup of coffee and take a bite of this tree-tapped delicacy.

    Before this sweet indulgence, consider going to Vélo Volant at Au Diable Vert where you can ride through the treetops on a suspended recumbent bicycle. How fun does that sound?

    Dinner At Quatre Canard
    Situated at the base of Mount Bromont is Quatre Canard, a restaurant in Hôtel Château-Bromont, an outstanding hotel and spa in the city of Bromont. Indulge in local cuisine while sipping on a glass (or two) of local wine. If day three of your weekend getaway falls on a Sunday, consider having a leisurely brunch with friends or family.

    In Quebec’s Eastern Townships you'll find scenery that will take your breath away, road trips that lead to picturesque villages, unique gourmet experiences and precious memories to take home. See more here.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    The islands in Québec’s maritime regions are rich in scenery, wildlife, culture and culinary discoveries that are just waiting to take your breath away. It’s a collection of four tourist regions -- Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Côte-Nord and the Îles de la Madeleine -- all located along the St. Lawrence River. The stunning body of water is home to 13 different species of whales thus making whale-watching one of the most popular activities in the region. But in addition to that are beaches, hiking trails and excellent food that all collectively prove that a trip to the East of Quebec is a great choice for your summer vacation.

    The Incredible Beaches
    You want stretches of white-sand beaches? Look no further than the Îles de la Madeleine, also known as Magdalen Islands or the Maggies. Located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Eastern Québec, these islands have gorgeous white sand beaches. Pick your favourite spot, settle on a towel and enjoy uninterrupted hours of calm relaxation.

    maritime canoe

    The Opportunities For Outdoor Sports
    The Quebec Islands have all an athlete needs. From hiking and cycling, to kayaking and kite-surfing, there’s something here to entice everyone. Île aux Lièvres in Bas-Saint-Laurent, for example, is a hiker’s paradise with 13 kilometres of trails in varying levels of difficulty. Explore the forest, shores and wildlife in a day or stay the night at Auberge du Lièvre, a charming inn with spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River.

    The National Parks
    The maritime regions of Québec are home to 10 breathtaking national parks. Whether you’re looking for adventure or seeking peaceful escape, this summer vacation is for you. Pitch a tent on one of Lac-Témiscouata National Park’s 76 campsites or dig through the paleontological site of Miguasha National Park. You also have to see the limestone monoliths at Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. These stunning rock structures stand confidently amongst lighthouse stations and rare vegetation at this national park.

    Excellent Seafood And Amazing Terroir Cooking
    The great thing about an island destination is that you’ll be spoiled with the best quality seafood. Does the idea of dining on lobster, scallops and snow crab make you salivate? Then they’ve got you covered. Anything you could possibly crave you’ll find right in Québec’s maritime regions. The culinary options go way beyond seafood too. Be sure to try cloudberries, a fruit local to Côte-Nord that’s best enjoyed in desserts or in an after-dinner drink. Game meat, local cheeses, bakeries, culinary workshops and regional alcoholic beverages complete the picture.

    maritime birds

    The Bonaventure Island Is For The Birds!
    No, we really mean it. If you’re into bird watching, this is the place to be. Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park in Gaspésie is home to the largest migratory bird refuge in North America. Every nook and cranny of the island is occupied by birds -- an estimated 200,000 of them, with 120,000 of that population being northern gannets. If you enjoy nature and bird watching, this island is a sight for sore eyes.

    maritime lighthouse

    The French Charm
    Let the charm of the maritime regions of Québec captivate you! Visit Île Verte (Green Island) and unwind in Maisons du Phare de l'Île Verte, a bed and breakfast located in two buildings adjacent to Québec’s first lighthouse. It’s also worth a trip to Minganie region in Côte-Nord to see the stunning pastel interior of Rivière-au-Tonnerre church. The structure was built by the townspeople in the early 20th century.

    maritime whales

    Whale Watching
    Seeing a whale in its natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Côte-Nord is recognized as one of the best places to do it. The coastline of this region, also known as the Whale Route, is 1,250 kilometres of awe-inspiring nature. Explore the area by boat or kayak to observe these magnificent mammals.

    After you’ve filled up on fresh air, spectacular views and unforgettable memories, you’ll now understand why the maritime regions of Québec can be tough competition for any other destination.

    The Québec maritime region in Canada is the perfect summer holiday destination. Taking a trip here is the best way to feel the French Canadian charm.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    If you truly want to escape from the stressors of life, head to the Laurentians region of Quebec, an area known for its incredible spa facilities. The mountains, rivers and lakes of the stunning region make any act of relaxation here all the more indulgent. But you haven’t truly lived until you’ve experienced the body-tingling results of a Nordic spa treatment amidst Quebec’s natural glory. So whether you want to enjoy a hot stone treatment like the one at Ofuro Spa, located 40 minutes away from Montreal, or visit Le Bagni Spa Station Santé, a nordic spa with access to an enchanting river, the Laurentians region and its 22,000 square kilometers of pure beauty has you covered.

    Imagine the invigorating sensation of working up a sweat in a wood-heated sauna, then plunging into an ice-cold river or outdoor pool. For optimal effect, repeat that process a few times until you finally unwind in a eucalyptus steam bath or fall asleep on a comfortable chair. Spa Le Finlandais even redefines the relaxation experience with novelties such as the bubble chair and the multi sensorial stations!

    Doesn’t that sound like pure bliss?

    The sharp contrast between hot and cold -- commonly referred to as Nordic or Scandinavian hydrotherapy -- is a centuries-old relaxation method but has only recently left northern Europe to take the rest of the world by storm.

    nordic spa

    Quebec, especially the Laurentians region, has become a top-rated destination for Nordic spas. From Nordic spas in the region’s small inns and hotels to the internationally renowned Polar Bear’s Club and Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant, the area is full of establishments offering the invigorating treatment. We present five reasons you should jump on a plane or hop in your car to La Belle Province and head straight to a Nordic spa.

    Your Immune System Is Stimulated
    Blood pressure rises and blood vessels contract when your body experiences the shocking sensation of a hot and cold treatment. This stimulation causes your metabolic rate to increase, activating your immune system. In other words, a nordic spa treatment increases the production of white blood cells helping you stay healthy.

    It Soothes Overworked Muscles And Aching Joints
    Those who train on a regular basis sing the praises of steam baths for helping muscles relax. Nordic baths, however, help overworked muscles heal and recover even more quickly.

    laurentians

    It’s A Great Way To Eliminate Skin Toxins And Tone Skin
    A hydrotherapy treatment will actually clean and tighten your skin, allowing for a healthy glow. (It’s not just in your head!) The hot temperature opens your pores to naturally eliminate toxins in your body while the cold will firm up your skin. Sold yet?

    It’s The Perfect Excuse To Do Nothing
    We’re conditioned to believe multitasking is the only way to be productive -- it’s partly why we’re so stressed all the time. But there’s absolutely nothing virtuous about running ourselves to the ground. Nordic spas, like all spas, permit us to do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about it.

    Read a book, jot in your journal, daydream or just take in the tranquil beauty of your surroundings and breathe. What are you waiting for? Take the plunge!

    From outstanding outdoor adventures to tranquil spa facilities, The Laurentians Region in Quebec is where you need to go to experience life up close.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    If you’re craving a taste of the great outdoors, Quebec has you covered. The province has a vast network of national parks, perfect for a quick weekend jaunt or an extended camping trip. We’ve created a foolproof guide to some of the province’s most beautiful national parks so you can experience nature at its finest and make memories to last a lifetime.

    sepaq tremblant

    Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
    Open year-round and just a couple of hours from the Ontario border, Mont-Tremblant’s 1,510-square kilometres of pristine territory await you.

    Attractions: With six rivers and 400 streams and lakes, this park is a favourite amongst fans of canoeing, paddling, kayaking and fishing. More than 40 kinds of mammals can also be seen here. Hiking is another popular activity at this national park, with over 82 kilometres of trails at varying difficulty levels up for grabs.

    Backpackers looking to spend the night at Mont-Tremblant can do so at one of 10 group huts that each accommodate up to 18 people. There’s also EXP. cabins available for couples looking for an intimate experience with nature. Here, floor-to-ceiling windows bring the nature indoors making for truly unique vacation.

    Fun fact: Parc national du Mont-Tremblant is home to the spectacular Via Ferrata Du Diable, an experience which allows visitors to safely scale a mountain while clipped into a steel cable.

    Parc national du Bic
    Located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, Parc national du Bic and its 33-square kilometres of magnificent trails, capes and bays will charm any visitor.

    Attractions: There’s almost nothing you can’t do in this park, from sea kayaking to wildlife watching in the summer. The sea breezes and breathtaking cliffs will call your name. Fully take in all that Parc national du Bic has to offer by staying in one of 11 yurts, a rounded tent-like structure. It’s truly an experience you will never forget.

    Fun Fact: Parc national du Bic is a great destination for wildlife watching, particularly birds and seals.

    grands jardins

    Parc national des Grands-Jardins
    Grands-Jardins, translated to the Great Gardens, got its name from visitors in the early 20th century who were taken aback by the ground lichen that grew in the area -- a rarity for the park’s northern latitude. The Great Gardens have become a prime destination for hikers, campers and explorers looking to see the stunning land for themselves.

    Attractions: Jump in a kayak or take a hike through the multitude of landscapes. If you’re seeking adventure, this is the place for you. Take on the via ferrata, a landscaped climbing route on Mont du Lac des Cygnes, if you want to see the park from a different vantage point. Keep an eye out for woodland caribou and red foxes while trekking through this national park too.

    Pied-des-Monts campground in Grands-Jardins has 17 Huttopia tents for those looking to stay the night. Unwind in one of these ready-to-camp structures and have a good night’s rest under the stars.

    Fun Fact: A meteorite two kilometres in diameter hit Grands-Jardins 360 million years ago, leaving a crater that is best viewed on top of Mont du Lac des Cygnes.

    Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata
    Tranquil water and sandy shores make Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata a must-visit destination. It’s namesake is the second largest lake south of the St. Lawrence River and is a body of water formed by the power of glaciers.

    Attractions: Water lovers will appreciate the idea of canoe camping on Grand lac Touladi. Wooden platforms are installed on the water’s edge to accommodate freestanding tents so you can glide through the water during the day and set up camp by the water overnight. You can also roam through the trees by foot or bike on one of many trails.

    Fun fact: There are more than 60 archaeological sites in Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata with some of them dating back to the Archaic period.

    Experience Quebec’s breathtaking nature and make memories that last a lifetime in Quebec’s national park network.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    For a romantic getaway with European charm, head to Old Québec where you can find charming cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and intimate French bistros right here on our own continent.

    Québec City was founded way back in 1608. The original section, known as Old Québec, is the only neighbourhood in North America that has preserved its bastions and gates, lending it an old-world European flair.

    We’ve rounded up steamy date ideas sure to sweep your beloved off their feet.

    Take A Romantic Stroll Through The City
    Old Québec is a UNESCO heritage site, meaning there’s no shortage of charming, age-old buildings lining the cobblestone streets. Spend a leisurely morning meandering through narrow alleyways and visiting antique shops in the Old Port area and exquisite boutiques in Quartier Petit Champlain. Or take a stroll on promenade Samuel-De Champlain, named after the city’s founder. It’s a stunning boardwalk with a view on the St. Lawrence River built around a reclaimed industrial wharf that features an observation tower, themed gardens and lots of walking paths.

    Take A Carriage Ride
    Nothing says romance like two lovers cuddling in a horse-drawn carriage beneath the stars. It’s a magical experience from a bygone era that perfectly suits a city that sometimes feels frozen in time.

    frontenac

    Enjoy An Intimate Tête-à-tête At Château Frontenac’s Bar
    Château Frontenac has access to the most stunning views in all of Québec City. Its imposing presence atop a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence River gives this landmark a special status all on its own. The 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar in the hotel offers an exquisite selection of top local cheeses and a vast selection of quality wines. Share a beautifully arranged platter while enjoying a tête-à-tête.

    Pack A Picnic And Head To Terrace Dufferin
    The Terrace Dufferin boardwalk overlooking the St. Lawrence River is the perfect spot for a romantic picnic for two. Pack a basket with a fresh baguette or buttery croissants from Café-boulangerie Le Paillard or l’Épicerie J.A. Moisan alongside an assortment of delectable local cheeses, charcuterie, homemade jams, and desserts for the perfect afternoon.

    A Candlelit Dinner At Saint-Amour
    Awaken your senses at Saint-Amour, a not-to-be-missed fine dining destination in Old Québec and a long-time foodie favourite. French terroir cuisine, a lush indoor garden, and one of the most impressive wine cellars you’ll ever come across -- if that doesn’t say romance, what does?

    poutine

    Poutine For Two
    Visiting on a budget and can’t afford to make every meal a grandiose affair? Money should never stand in the way of romance. Head over to Snack Bar Saint-Jean and re-enact the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp, but this time with a string of melted cheese. Share a poutine, an affordable and quintessentially Québec offering of French fries, gravy and cheese curds. This place stays open until 5 a.m. so you can save it for your after-hours fun.

    Spend The Day At The Spa
    Is there anything more relaxing and sensual than a day at the spa? Sibéria Station Spa is one of the best in town. Spend the day enjoying the outdoor hot tubs, relaxing in the Finnish-style sauna and eucalyptus steam baths or get a couple’s massage. You’ll love life (and each other) more than ever after all this pampering.

    Enjoy A Decadent Brunch At Le Clocher Penché
    The region’s famous joie de vivre certainly shows up in everyone’s love for weekend brunch. Poached eggs, duck rillettes, salmon tartar and buckwheat pancakes are on the menu at this stylish place in the classy Saint Roch district.

    They also prepare gourmet lunch bags for those picnicking in style, so take notes for next time. With Old Québec, there’ll always be a next time.

    Old Québec, a UNESCO world heritage treasure, is alive with history. See for yourself and book a trip now. So Europe. So close.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    Let’s face it, the people we love the most can often be the ones who push our buttons like no other. That’s especially true when on family vacation. But with advanced planning, a solid itinerary and these tips, you’re set for a stress-free time.

    Make Sure Your Destination Is Family Friendly
    The Outaouais region in western Quebec is the perfect vacation destination. There’s something to offer every family member as it’s bursting with outdoor adventures, museums and wildlife parks. That’s the most important thing for a stress-free time -- ensuring your accommodations and activities are kid-friendly. It will make the experience more fun for both you and the little ones.

    outaouais

    Stay Outside
    Summer is made for outdoor activities and there’s nothing kids love more than being able to move around at the park. Gatineau Park in the Outaouais is an ideal destination for a day trip or a fun-filled camping weekend. With hiking trails, parkways and horseback rides, Gatineau Park is a must-visit destination.

    Mix Culture With Fun
    It’s sometimes hard to plan cultural activities for the entire family. Luckily, Outaouais is home to fun museums and cultural centres that satisfy everyone’s criteria. Head over to the Canadian Children’s Museum, the Canadian Museum of History or better yet, the National Gallery of Canada. It’s known as the country’s finest art gallery and has self-guided family tours available.

    parc omega

    Hang Out Where The Wild Things Are
    There are a number of excellent wildlife parks in the Outaouais region that bring you up close and personal with animals. Parc Oméga wildlife park is an impressive spread of land where you can see bears, bisons and deer all in the comfort (and safety) of your car.

    Get A Good Night’s Sleep
    The Outaouais region in Quebec offers accommodations for every type of family. From cottages to bed and breakfasts, the options are limitless. But for a true Quebec experience stay at the Fairmont Le Château Montebello, known as the world’s largest log cabin. Unwind in one of six jacuzzi rooms and recharge for another day of adventure in a chalet-inspired suite.

    Discover the Outaouais region in Quebec, just few steps away from Ottawa, the nation’s capital. We promise you fun for the whole family!

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    There are few experiences as exhilarating and memorable as watching a whale in its natural habitat.
    The Charlevoix region, in Quebec, Canada has become one of the most popular destinations for the activity thanks to its picturesque bays and breathtaking scenery.

    But before you book that ticket and board the boat, here are some tips to help you have a whale of a time while riding those waves in search of Shamu.

    Set Sail On A Sunny Day
    Plan your expedition on a clear and calm day to increase your chances of seeing the majestic marine mammal in its natural habitat. The experience of seeing a whale break through the water’s surface on a clear day is a moment that can’t be missed.

    To fully experience the Charlevoix waters, consider going on a Katabatik aventure. You can kayak through the St. Lawrence River for the first part of your excursion, then hop on an inflatable boat affixed with two engines to view whales. This is the perfect option for the adventure seeker.

    charlevoix

    Take In The Surroundings
    As you wait for that million-dollar moment, be sure to take in the scenery of the Charlevoix region. There’s stunning coastal views, horizons that seem to never end and breathtaking cliffs that will leave you with goosebumps. Remember, whale-watching is as much about your surroundings as it is the marine mammal.

    On another day, visit Parc National des Grands-Jardins to get an up-close-and-personal look at the spectacular fauna and flora you may have seen as you rode those waves.

    Take A Guided Cruise
    There’s a number of guided whale-watching tours available for you to take while in Quebec’s Charlevoix region. With the direction of a certified naturalist-captain, an excursion on board the AML Grand Fleuve or the AML Zéphyr observation boats, for example, will make your experience all the better. You’ll see the majestic creatures and nature through the eyes of an expert.

    Dress The Part
    Wear a rain jacket, dress in layers and bring extra clothes in case you get wet. Also, don’t forget to wear comfortable rubber-soled shoes and a pair of sunglasses. You’re a sailor for the day after all, might as well dress the part! There are plenty of small boutiques throughout the Charlevoix region you can visit in advance of your outing. While you’re at it, stop by Boutique Charlevoix to pick up a memento made by a local artisan for a loved one at home.

    whale charlevoix

    Bring A Camera
    Bring a fully-juiced camera and phone on your whale-watching expedition. Exploring one of North America’s most breathtaking regions is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you’ll want to capture the breathtaking beauty on film.

    Visit the Charlevoix region in Quebec, Canada and dive into the scenery. Charlevoix. Be charmed.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    If you want a real taste of the food scene in Quebec, Canada, head over to the Eastern Townships. Nestled between Montreal and the U.S. border, this bucolic region is dotted with charming towns, historic buildings and hidden culinary gems.

    It’s a destination not to be missed by those looking to leave the beaten path in search of new foodie finds.
    We’ve created a food itinerary that maps out the most delicious digs in the region. Follow along and be sure to wear those stretchy pants.

    Day One

    Breakfast Of Eggs Benny
    Hop in a car and head to Le Café de la Brulerie for breakfast. This warm and inviting café, located in the town of Granby is the perfect place for a leisurely breakfast of eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. The warm and inviting atmosphere will keep you lingering long after you’ve wiped your plate clean.

    Breaking Bread At Lunch
    There’s no better place for a delicious and hearty lunch than La Mie Bretonne. This charming French bakery and pastry shop makes all of its bread (30 varieties and counting) onsite, using only local or sustainable flour. Their wide selection of sandwiches packed with local cheese, patés, and sausages, are sure to satisfy anyone’s hunger pangs. A cup of coffee and some homemade macarons will seal the deal.

    Afternoon Cider
    Next, make a quick pit stop at Union Libre Cidre et Vin to sample the local cider and walk around the beautiful estate. Union Libre is Quebec’s leading producer of Fire Cider, a drink made by fermenting heat-concentrated apple juice.

    Nightcap (With A Side Of Duck)
    End off the night at Auberge Brouërie Sutton to savor local beer and order one of their delectable Truite des Bobines or duck dishes to share. Better yet, come back in the fall when the Lac Brome Duck Festival, a food festival in the village of Knowlton, is in full swing.

    Day Two

    Brunch On The Orford Express
    Your second day of exploration begins on board the Orford Express -- a beautiful train that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes in the Eastern Townships. Discover the cities of Sherbrooke, Magog and Eastman while enjoying an exquisite brunch consisting of frittata, crêpes and seasonal fruit.

    eastern townships

    Bleu Benedictine Cheese
    While in the Magog region of Quebec, be sure to make a stop at L’Abbaye Saint-Benoit-du-Lac monastery, which recently celebrated its centenary. You don’t need to be religious to find yourself deeply devoted to their awe-inspiring Bleu Benedictine cheese and homemade jams. Take the guided tour to learn more about the life at the monastery.

    Dinner At Le Hatley
    After checking in at Manoir Hovey, a charming inn with a lakeside view, enjoy dinner at Le Hatley, the inn’s restaurant. The restaurant’s chef, Francis Wolf, serves up quintessentially Canadian meals made with the finest local and regional products. After dinner, enjoy the multimedia show Foresta Lumina at Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook and take a hike through the enchanted forest, it’s magic!

    manoir hovey tap room

    Nightcap
    There’s no better way to end your weekend discovering the Eastern Townships than at Manoir Hovey, a five-star inn located on the shores of Lake Massawippi. Find the perfect spot in the Tap Room Pub, order a glass of port, and plan your next trip to Quebec.

    Day Three

    Sugar Sublimity For Lunch (Because You’re On Vacation)
    An hour drive away from Manoir Hovey is les Sucreries de l’Érable, an old general store built in the 1800s. This place is known for its maple syrup pie, a popular Quebec dessert the owner claims to have perfected. Grab a cup of coffee and take a bite of this tree-tapped delicacy.

    Before this sweet indulgence, consider going to Vélo Volant at Au Diable Vert where you can ride through the treetops on a suspended recumbent bicycle. How fun does that sound?

    Dinner At Quatre Canard
    Situated at the base of Mount Bromont is Quatre Canard, a restaurant in Hôtel Château-Bromont, an outstanding hotel and spa in the city of Bromont. Indulge in local cuisine while sipping on a glass (or two) of local wine. If day three of your weekend getaway falls on a Sunday, consider having a leisurely brunch with friends or family.

    In Quebec’s Eastern Townships you'll find scenery that will take your breath away, road trips that lead to picturesque villages, unique gourmet experiences and precious memories to take home. See more here.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    The islands in Québec's maritime regions are rich in scenery, wildlife, culture and culinary discoveries that are just waiting to take your breath away. It’s a collection of four tourist regions -- Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Côte-Nord and the Îles de la Madeleine -- all located along the St. Lawrence River. The stunning body of water is home to 13 different species of whales thus making whale-watching one of the most popular activities in the region. But in addition to that are beaches, hiking trails and excellent food that all collectively prove that a trip to the East of Quebec is a great choice for your summer vacation.

    The Incredible Beaches
    You want stretches of white-sand beaches? Look no further than the Îles de la Madeleine, also known as Magdalen Islands or the Maggies. Located in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Eastern Québec, these islands have gorgeous white sand beaches. Pick your favourite spot, settle on a towel and enjoy uninterrupted hours of calm relaxation.

    maritime canoe

    The Opportunities For Outdoor Sports
    The Quebec Islands have all an athlete needs. From hiking and cycling, to kayaking and kite-surfing, there’s something here to entice everyone. Île aux Lièvres in Bas-Saint-Laurent, for example, is a hiker’s paradise with 13 kilometres of trails in varying levels of difficulty. Explore the forest, shores and wildlife in a day or stay the night at Auberge du Lièvre, a charming inn with spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River.

    The National Parks
    The maritime regions of Québec are home to 10 breathtaking national parks. Whether you’re looking for adventure or seeking peaceful escape, this summer vacation is for you. Pitch a tent on one of Lac-Témiscouata National Park’s 76 campsites or dig through the paleontological site of Miguasha National Park. You also have to see the limestone monoliths at Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. These stunning rock structures stand confidently amongst lighthouse stations and rare vegetation at this national park.

    Excellent Seafood And Amazing Terroir Cooking
    The great thing about an island destination is that you’ll be spoiled with the best quality seafood. Does the idea of dining on lobster, scallops and snow crab make you salivate? Then they’ve got you covered. Anything you could possibly crave you’ll find right in Québec’s maritime regions. The culinary options go way beyond seafood too. Be sure to try cloudberries, a fruit local to Côte-Nord that’s best enjoyed in desserts or in an after-dinner drink. Game meat, local cheeses, bakeries, culinary workshops and regional alcoholic beverages complete the picture.

    maritime birds

    The Bonaventure Island Is For The Birds!
    No, we really mean it. If you’re into bird watching, this is the place to be. Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park in Gaspésie is home to the largest migratory bird refuge in North America. Every nook and cranny of the island is occupied by birds -- an estimated 200,000 of them, with 120,000 of that population being northern gannets. If you enjoy nature and bird watching, this island is a sight for sore eyes.

    maritime lighthouse

    The French Charm
    Let the charm of the maritime regions of Québec captivate you! Visit Île Verte (Green Island) and unwind in Maisons du Phare de l'Île Verte, a bed and breakfast located in two buildings adjacent to Québec’s first lighthouse. It’s also worth a trip to Minganie region in Côte-Nord to see the stunning pastel interior of Rivière-au-Tonnerre church. The structure was built by the townspeople in the early 20th century.

    maritime whales

    Whale Watching
    Seeing a whale in its natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and Côte-Nord is recognized as one of the best places to do it. The coastline of this region, also known as the Whale Route, is 1,250 kilometres of awe-inspiring nature. Explore the area by boat or kayak to observe these magnificent mammals.

    After you’ve filled up on fresh air, spectacular views and unforgettable memories, you’ll now understand why the maritime regions of Québec can be tough competition for any other destination.

    The Québec maritime regions in Canada is the perfect summer holiday destination. Taking a trip here is the best way to feel the French Canadian charm.

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    If you truly want to escape from the stressors of life, head to the Laurentians region of Quebec, Canada, an area known for its incredible spa facilities. The mountains, rivers and lakes of the stunning region make any act of relaxation here all the more indulgent. But you haven’t truly lived until you’ve experienced the body-tingling results of a Nordic spa treatment amidst Quebec’s natural glory. So whether you want to enjoy a hot stone treatment like the one at Ofuro Spa, located 40 minutes away from Montreal, or visit Le Bagni Spa Station Santé, a nordic spa with access to an enchanting river, the Laurentians region and its 22,000 square kilometers of pure beauty has you covered.

    Imagine the invigorating sensation of working up a sweat in a wood-heated sauna, then plunging into an ice-cold river or outdoor pool. For optimal effect, repeat that process a few times until you finally unwind in a eucalyptus steam bath or fall asleep on a comfortable chair. Spa Le Finlandais even redefines the relaxation experience with novelties such as the bubble chair and the multi sensorial stations!

    Doesn’t that sound like pure bliss?

    The sharp contrast between hot and cold -- commonly referred to as Nordic or Scandinavian hydrotherapy -- is a centuries-old relaxation method but has only recently left northern Europe to take the rest of the world by storm.

    nordic spa

    Quebec, especially the Laurentians region, has become a top-rated destination for Nordic spas. From Nordic spas in the region’s small inns and hotels to the internationally renowned Polar Bear’s Club and Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant, the area is full of establishments offering the invigorating treatment. We present five reasons you should jump on a plane or hop in your car to La Belle Province and head straight to a Nordic spa.

    Your Immune System Is Stimulated
    Blood pressure rises and blood vessels contract when your body experiences the shocking sensation of a hot and cold treatment. This stimulation causes your metabolic rate to increase, activating your immune system. In other words, a nordic spa treatment increases the production of white blood cells helping you stay healthy.

    It Soothes Overworked Muscles And Aching Joints
    Those who train on a regular basis sing the praises of steam baths for helping muscles relax. Nordic baths, however, help overworked muscles heal and recover even more quickly.

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    It’s A Great Way To Eliminate Skin Toxins And Tone Skin
    A hydrotherapy treatment will actually clean and tighten your skin, allowing for a healthy glow. (It’s not just in your head!) The hot temperature opens your pores to naturally eliminate toxins in your body while the cold will firm up your skin. Sold yet?

    It’s The Perfect Excuse To Do Nothing
    We’re conditioned to believe multitasking is the only way to be productive -- it’s partly why we’re so stressed all the time. But there’s absolutely nothing virtuous about running ourselves to the ground. Nordic spas, like all spas, permit us to do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about it.

    Read a book, jot in your journal, daydream or just take in the tranquil beauty of your surroundings and breathe. What are you waiting for? Take the plunge!

    From outstanding outdoor adventures to tranquil spa facilities, The Laurentians Region in Quebec is where you need to go to experience life up close.

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    For a romantic getaway with European charm, head to Old Québec where you can find charming cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and intimate French bistros right here on our own continent.

    Québec City in Québec, Canada was founded way back in 1608. The original section, known as Old Québec, is the only neighbourhood in North America that has preserved its bastions and gates, lending it an old-world European flair.

    We’ve rounded up steamy date ideas sure to sweep your beloved off their feet.

    Take A Romantic Stroll Through The City
    Old Québec is a UNESCO heritage site, meaning there’s no shortage of charming, age-old buildings lining the cobblestone streets. Spend a leisurely morning meandering through narrow alleyways and visiting antique shops in the Old Port area and exquisite boutiques in Quartier Petit Champlain. Or take a stroll on promenade Samuel-De Champlain, named after the city’s founder. It’s a stunning boardwalk with a view on the St. Lawrence River built around a reclaimed industrial wharf that features an observation tower, themed gardens and lots of walking paths.

    Take A Carriage Ride
    Nothing says romance like two lovers cuddling in a horse-drawn carriage beneath the stars. It’s a magical experience from a bygone era that perfectly suits a city that sometimes feels frozen in time.

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    Enjoy An Intimate Tête-à-tête At Château Frontenac’s Bar
    Château Frontenac has access to the most stunning views in all of Québec City. Its imposing presence atop a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence River gives this landmark a special status all on its own. The 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar in the hotel offers an exquisite selection of top local cheeses and a vast selection of quality wines. Share a beautifully arranged platter while enjoying a tête-à-tête.

    Pack A Picnic And Head To Terrace Dufferin
    The Terrace Dufferin boardwalk overlooking the St. Lawrence River is the perfect spot for a romantic picnic for two. Pack a basket with a fresh baguette or buttery croissants from Café-boulangerie Le Paillard or l’Épicerie J.A. Moisan alongside an assortment of delectable local cheeses, charcuterie, homemade jams, and desserts for the perfect afternoon.

    A Candlelit Dinner At Saint-Amour
    Awaken your senses at Saint-Amour, a not-to-be-missed fine dining destination in Old Québec and a long-time foodie favourite. French terroir cuisine, a lush indoor garden, and one of the most impressive wine cellars you’ll ever come across -- if that doesn’t say romance, what does?

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    Poutine For Two
    Visiting on a budget and can’t afford to make every meal a grandiose affair? Money should never stand in the way of romance. Head over to Snack Bar Saint-Jean and re-enact the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp, but this time with a string of melted cheese. Share a poutine, an affordable and quintessentially Québec offering of French fries, gravy and cheese curds. This place stays open until 5 a.m. so you can save it for your after-hours fun.

    Spend The Day At The Spa
    Is there anything more relaxing and sensual than a day at the spa? Sibéria Station Spa is one of the best in town. Spend the day enjoying the outdoor hot tubs, relaxing in the Finnish-style sauna and eucalyptus steam baths or get a couple’s massage. You’ll love life (and each other) more than ever after all this pampering.

    Enjoy A Decadent Brunch At Le Clocher Penché
    The region’s famous joie de vivre certainly shows up in everyone’s love for weekend brunch. Poached eggs, duck rillettes, salmon tartar and buckwheat pancakes are on the menu at this stylish place in the classy Saint Roch district.

    They also prepare gourmet lunch bags for those picnicking in style, so take notes for next time. With Old Québec, there’ll always be a next time.

    Old Québec, a UNESCO world heritage treasure, is alive with history. See for yourself and book a trip now. So Europe. So close.

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    For me, the best part of traveling is when I chat with the locals. I learn from them what life is like in the town or city. Where do they eat? What shops do they visit? It can be an amazing way to explore a new destination.

    Or if you have already visited the area, you can rediscover the region in a new way.
    I have been visiting lovely Victoria, British Columbia since I was a child. When I was younger, my father would take me to all the regular tourist destinations.

    This time, I wanted to experience the province's capital through the eyes of a Victoria resident. So I asked a few locals what their favourite spots are.

    The locals were warm, friendly and eager to share the restaurants, music scene and shops that they frequent.



    Parks

    Cadboro Bay - A family friendly green space, Cadboro-Gyro park is adjacent to the beach. The park is a popular spot with children. It has large concrete climbing structures, in the shape of an octopus, a big salmon, a tugboat and the local Cryptid, the sea monster Cadborosaurus.


    Cook Street Playground


    Located at Beacon Hill Park and approximately one hectare in size, the Cook Street Playground is located between Cook Street and Nursery Road, across from the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club. The playground provides play and picnic opportunities for everyone.

    Cafes

    Ruth and Dean café is a favourite spot for the locals to grab a cup of coffee and relax. They are famous for their cakes, so be sure to arrive with plenty of appetite!

    Nourish Kitchen & Café uses natural ingredients to showcase their love of wholesome culinary techniques. A woman I was chatting with suggested this place. She told me it is a café she visits frequently.

    Restaurant

    Agrius is known to have delicious dishes and also be a part of the Slow Food Movement. This restaurant values local, sustainable and traditional approaches to food cultivation and preparation.

    Another favourite is Café Brio. They are an established restaurant in Victoria for 19 years and create Italian inspired rustic west coast dishes.

    Stay

    Fairmont Empress Hotel - This gorgeous accommodation has been hosting guests in Victoria since 1908. They have a world famous high tea which locals and visitors alike frequent. The lobby is warm and welcoming. When I think of the heart of Victoria, my mind always goes to the Fairmont Empress hotel.

    Music

    Interested in checking out the local music scene? The Sunset Room is a local favourite spot.

    Picnic lunch

    For organic healthy foods try Mother Nature's Market & Deli. Delicious wholesome foods you can pack with you for a picnic in the park.

    Books

    Munro Books listed by National Geographic as the third best bookstore in the world! Founded by Alice Munro, a Canadian short story writer and Nobel Prize winner.

    An established fixture in Victoria since 1963, the staff are extremely knowledgeable, there are rows and rows of books on every topic you can imagine, gorgeous architecture and chairs for you to sit while you flip through pages of your favourite books.

    Style & Home Decor

    Lower Johnson Street - This area is filled with gorgeous unique boutiques. There are also several home decor stores along this street. If you love to fill your home with beautiful items, this is the street for you.

    Getting There

    To get some spectacular views and try a different way of traveling to the island. Helijet has transportation from downtown Vancouver to Victoria, daily.

    Or another option is to travel by ferry.


    Stay tuned for the next installment in my travel blog series!

    Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest. Let's explore some wonderful places and have the very best 2016!


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    The northern region of Canada is a majestic area. This area represents one of the places in the world to visit, if only to take in the incredible sights of Earth's natural beauty. One of the most active sites for tourism is Nunavik, located in Quebec. The combination of open tundra, wild forests and exotic wildlife make it a sure addition to many a bucket list.

    The idea of a dream vacation to see snow-covered landscapes and exotic animals may offer a particular vision of the pristine nature of the North. Yet the area, despite all its wondrous beauty, still suffers from a variety of troubles normally seen in areas to the south. While some of these issues may have originated in these areas, more often than not, they are brought there by visitors.

    A perfect example was outlined last week by a team of Canadian researchers. They revealed new threat to health in the North. Their findings highlight a potentially dark side to travel in which the victim isn't the visitor, but rather the indigenous population.

    The team focused on a pathogen known as Cryptosporidium hominis. It's not a bacterium or virus, but a single celled protozoan creature. It has a dual life cycle consisting of a highly resistant dormant phase -- an oocyst -- and, when the environment is right, an infectious stage. When an oocyst gets into the gastrointestinal tract, it can undergo a transformation so it can invade human cells to grow and multiply.

    The result of this attack is known as cryptosporidiosis, and it can be a vicious illness. The most common symptoms are profuse diarrhea, cramping, nausea, vomiting and, at times, low-grade fever.

    Usually the infection is short-lived, lasting less than a week. But the infection can become persistent. If this happens, other troubles such as anorexia and recurrences of joint pain, headache and chronic fatigue may occur. The effects on children can be even more severe, resulting in complications with physical and mental development.

    The incidence of C. hominis is usually quite low as the only host for this particular pathogen is the human body. But outbreaks have been seen over the years.

    Most of the time, the event happens in an urban environment with a high density of people. Also the source is usually a setting where human fecal contamination can happen such as a breached public water supply or a recreational water park.

    When this pathogen starting causing troubles in Nunavik back in 2013, researchers were puzzled as to what might be happening. As far as they could tell, the pathogen had not been seen in the North to any great extent. This was unexpected and they needed to understand the dynamics of the current rise in cases and determine the risk for future troubles.

    Over the course of the next year, the team collected over 600 clinical samples from people living in 14 villages in Nunavik. In a lab in Montreal, the samples were examined for any sign of the pathogen. Upon identification of oocysts, they made a check in the positive column. Once the analysis was complete, they performed statistics to determine the incidence in terms of the overall population.

    When the data came back, the researchers were faced with a rather unbelievable result. In a population of some 100,000 people, between 250 and 325 people would be infected.

    To put this into perspective, in the rest of Quebec, that number would be less than one person. Expand that to the entire country of Canada and the number still would be only 2.4. Making the story even more troublesome was the fact the highest level of infections happened in children younger than five years of age.

    The dramatic results forced to the team to examine what might be happening. Although many possible options were suggested, such as food and water, due to the widespread nature of the outbreak and the host-limitation of the parasite, there was really only one answer: people.

    Someone brought the pathogen to Nunavik and started to spread it. Then, through travel and other interactions, people were transmitting the pathogen amongst themselves. The process happened silently over presumably years until the case load reached the tipping point in 2013.

    The results of this study clearly show the importance of humans in the dissemination of infectious diseases. More importantly, the data reveal how a pristine environment can become unhealthy and possibly dangerous to the communities when unrestricted travel, such as vacationing, occurs. Granted, the authors did not find a so-called patient zero, but they did point out the pathogen had never been seen in the area previously.

    This study also highlights the need for anyone wishing to travel to this region -- and indeed any remote region of the world -- to ensure their health prior to leaving.

    Although we may believe ourselves to be nothing more than visitors, when it comes to infectious disease, we may play a much greater role than believed. It's why a visit to a travel doctor both before and after the trip is not only a good idea, but also may help to preserve an environment for the future.

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    A trip to Costa Rica reveals the modern realities of an ancient medicine

    I am flying low over the Costa Rican coastline in a tiny single-engine plane, fingers gripping the seat-edge and palms clammy as it lurches sideways and dips suddenly, sending my stomach into a tailspin of its own. I stare out the window at the dense jungle below, trying to focus my vision, a whispered prayer leaves my lips. To what or to whom I pray I have no name -- my nauseated mind simply calls out for reassurance that all will be OK, that I will land and find the ground underfoot once more.

    Like the shaky plane ride that prompted my earnest prayer, so the perilous journey of life and the treacherous experiences of complete groundlessness is what brings us to pray, to seek out truth and answers. From a broader perspective, as a species facing the reality of our own self-annihilation, we as a community at large are seeking out even larger answers, for grounding, meaning and the means to preservation and planetary healing.


    Nine years ago, the ground had been pulled from own my feet when my mother passed away very suddenly.


    With these personal and global questions in tow, Europeans and North Americans have been flocking to Central and South America by the plane-fulls for decades now in search of answers to their deepest personal and cultural traumas, fears, existential sufferings, seeking a cure for pain and addictions.

    In this post-colonial era, we now look to the ancient wisdom cultures we once ignored, scorned and at worst, destroyed, for answers. The Western world is growing a seemingly unquenchable thirst for Buddhism and Yoga from the East and from the Americas, Shamanism and plant medicine.

    My own motivation for getting on that place was for a story -- for a better understanding not only of myself (which is an inevitable souvenir of any trip), but for a deeper understanding of what these seekers were actually finding in the jungle.

    Nine years ago, the ground had been pulled from own my feet when my mother passed away very suddenly. Within a year I was travelling around the globe searching for medicine men and women who could help me heal in a way I could not find at home. Now, with a heart-stitched back together and a career as a writer because of it, I am still obsessed with the search for spiritual growth, only now, with a lens on the whole culture of seekers and the global effects of this modern-day movement that's taking people around the world to go within.

    Back home, people had asked me if I was going to Costa Rica to do Ayahuasca, (now a firmly rooted assumption when one says they are studying Shamanism). This micro-tourist industry is so established that you can book your spiritual awakening online and transfer the funds from your 20th floor corner office, sit back and wait for your flight to enlightenment.

    That however, was not my fate. Instead, I decided to travel without a real plan other than to simply, (but also with great difficulty) trust that I would be led where I needed to go. I refrained my rational mind from poking holes in my"'wild-goose-chase-of -unplanned -trip" and instead opened my heart and my eyes, listening and looking for the signs to follow.

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    It worked. I quickly meet three new friends who were all preparing for a four-day ceremony with a highly reputed Peruvian Shaman, Don Jose Campos. Shamanism has risen to the surface of our pop-spirituality culture, yet is shrouded in misconception and romanticism. To clarify a complicated question, the term comes from the Siberian word "saman" of the Tungus people and means "one who is excited, moved, raised."

    While academic debates still rage over its usage, and misappropriation while referring to medicine men/ women and healers in other parts of the world like Latin America who would more correctly be called "curanderos," a useful catch-all definition is put forth by Roger Walsh as "a family of practitioners whose practices focus on voluntarily entering altered states of consciousness in which they experience themselves or their spirit(s) interacting with other entities, often by travelling to other realms, in order to serve their community."

    While shamanism is sensationalized and mystified for its foray into these altered states of consciousness, the key aspect is one of community service, which comes in the form of healing individuals. "Some people are drawn to the medicine for the wrong reason," one of my newly befriended seekers told me, "they hear that it's the most hallucinatory substance and they want to just trip out.

    This desire to misuse and abuse the medicine has led to "facilitators" adding other ingredients to ensure visuals, and this had made people sick, led to greed and given Ayahuasca a bad name. The truth is, you may or may not even hallucinate on it -- you have to give up all control, and you will get exactly what you need, and that's not up to you to decide."

    So what is the right reason to participate in a ceremony? "Before our ceremony last night" he told me, "Don Jose asked everyone, "Why are you here?" at first, we all thought he was asking, "why are you here for this ceremony," but then we realized that he was asking us why are we here on this planet -- what is our higher purpose or goal in life. This is the right reason to be in ceremony, a true desire to wake-up, not to escape reality but to become even more present to it.

    That night, I had a beautiful dream. I was singing a song I didn't understand the words to but it was waking up the vines of the jungle and and I sang I swung through the canopy, each branch and vine placing itself under my outstretched hand for me to hold on to. In the morning, the song remained with me for hours.

    At breakfast, I told my new friend about my dream and his eyes widened in time with his smile, "Do you know what that could be?" He asked. "An Icaro! It's a song sung by shamans of South America during healing ceremonies. They are taught to the shamans by plants and there are hundreds of them, used for many different purposes."

    Had the spirit of the vines really come to me in my dreams? If I heard the song again would I recognize it? Was this a real transmission I had received? Even after all these years of diving into the divine, I still questioned magic. "She is calling to you!" He said with a twinkle in his blue eye. I decided I wanted to go even deeper into the jungle, to learn as much as I could about this sacred plant medicine that had not only called to me in my dream, but was calling to seekers all around the world, to come and find answers -- to heal.

    This piece originally appeared on YOGANONYMOUS.com

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    Nothing pairs better during a hot summer day than a cold beer, and there's no better way to experience that cold beer than at the best beer festivals across the country. From coast to coast, Canadians have taken a dedicated interest in craft beer, and it shows; many new beer festivals have popped up in the last few years, and despite being relatively new, have grown to substantial proportions.

    Here are five of the best beer festivals to experience in Canada, with something for every craft beer drinker out there, organize your travel plans accordingly.

    Calgary International Beerfest

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    In sheer scale, the Calgary International Beerfest is the largest festival in Western Canada with 275,000 square feet housing over 500 beers from 43 countries. In addition this year has live music, cooking with beer seminars, educational programming, people's choice awards and a special area dedicated to craft distillers in Alberta. The event runs May 6 and 7 with tickets ranging between $19 and $40.

    Vancouver Craft Beer Week

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    The Vancouver Craft Beer Week has rapidly grown into the can't miss event for craft beer lovers in BC. With over 100 breweries and cideries pouring over 400 beers and ciders from across North America, the main event is a hit each year. During the week, individual events are scheduled around Vancouver to highlight unique beers, ciders and collaborations, adding to the week long celebration. Vancouver Craft Beer Week runs May 27 to June 5 with tickets to the main festival ranging from $35 to $40.

    Atlantic Beer Festival

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    Hosted in Moncton, the Atlantic Beer Festival is the premier event for breweries on the East coast. With over 70 breweries in attendance and some special guest breweries from across Canada, the Atlantic Beer Festival has been going strong for 11 years and counting. The festival runs May 26 to May 28 and tickets cost $55.

    Toronto's Festival of Beer

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    Launched in 1994, Toronto's Festival of Beer is one of the largest beer festivals in Canada. Over 30,000 people are expected to turn out to this year's event which features live music performances from bands live Big Sugar and House of Pain. The festival runs from July 22 to July 24, with tickets ranging between $42.50 and $80.50. Tickets to the Saturday event have already sold out.

    Festibiere De Quebec


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    No list would be complete without representation from the excellent craft brewers in Quebec. The Festibiere de Quebec is hosted in Quebec City and features local microbreweries, agri-food producers, artisan cheese makers, cideries and more. The festival runs August 18 to August 21.

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    When Kristy Wright Schell and her husband Adam Schell ventured out on Vancouver's English Bay they weren't expecting to get quite the whale show.

    The couple were out on their stand-up paddle boards on Saturday when a humpback whale breached right in front of them, — which Kristy captured on camera.

    About a minute and half into the video, the whale surfaces and spirals back into the water, only to show up again a few metres away. All while the Schells gasp in wonder.


    "There’s that awe-inspiring moment and you’re not sure if you’re excited or scared."


    "I would call it spectacular. Heart-stopping. There’s that awe-inspiring moment and you’re not sure if you’re excited or scared," she told The Huffington Post Canada on Monday. According to Schell, being on a paddle board makes for a much more intimate experience.

    They were a little apprehensive though, not knowing exactly where the whale would breach so Schell took precautionary measures.

    "There’s always a chance that something can happen. If you listen in the video you can hear me tap my board to let her know we're there. They can sense vibration," she said. "They're just as surprised as you are when they surface because they don't know you're there."

    It's the second incredible close encounter with humpbacks in the area this month. One kayaker almost got a whale tail to the face last week.





    Schell, who owns Stand Up Paddle Vancouver, a paddle-boarding school, says she's seen a variety of marine life in the bay recently. She believes this is the same whale she's been seeing in the area for the past three weeks.

    "The sightings are a sure sign that our bay is quite healthy. If there’s whales that means there’s fish and seals and krill," she said.

    She hopes the video will serve a greater purpose, alluding to a small oil spill in the bay last week.

    "I hope it inspires people to keep standing up for our ocean because we need to respect, admire and protect it," she said.

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    Photo Credit: GoToVan

    When you hear the names "Whistler-Blackcomb" or "Sunshine Village," you probably don't think about summer. June, July and August may not be the best months to throw on your snow gear and conquer the steeps, but they are the best months for action-packed thrills, sightseeing and adventuring at your favourite ski resorts.

    Even better, you'll probably be wearing shorts, a T-shirt and sunscreen instead of piling on the layers. These six Canadian ski resorts are ones you should consider for your summer adventures in the great outdoors.

    Whistler-Blackcomb -- Whistler, British Columbia

    Whistler-Blackcomb is commonly regarded as the world's best ski resort, and those accolades extend into the summer months, too. The resort offers a lineup of indoor and outdoor events in every season. Visit Whistler in the area's warmest months for the famed Whistler Farmers' Market, the North Face Whistler Half Marathon, trail running races, the Crankworx Freeride Mountain Bike Festival, the Wanderlust yoga and wellness festival, and an array of other action-packed adventures for the entire family.

    Lake Louise Ski Resort -- Lake Louise, Alberta
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    Photo Credit: edwin van burringen

    Lake Louise Ski Resort invites visitors to get outside and explore the beauty of the Canadian Rockies in all seasons. Summer is one of the most scenic times of year in Lake Louise, when the resort's hiking and guided walking trails are decorated with green leaves and alpine wildflowers. Summer wildlife viewing, rafting and rides aboard the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola are popular activities when visiting this breathtaking resort in the heart of Banff National Park.

    Kicking Horse Mountain Resort -- Golden, British Columbia

    Kicking Horse is more than the "Champagne Powder Capital of Canada." It's a place where summer visitors unleash their adventurous sides and push their physical and mental limits in the mountains. Kicking Horse features a state-of-the-art bike park (and bike rental center) with thrilling downhill mountain bike trails loaded with jumps, berms, wooden features, rock slabs and more.

    In addition to mountain biking, visitors can explore the Grizzly Bear Interpretive Center, hike rugged trails of ranging difficulties, attempt the Via Ferrata climbing routes, dine 7,700 feet in the air at the Eagle's Eye restaurant or enjoy a more mellow adventure aboard a gondola sightseeing tour.

    Marble Mountain Ski Resort -- Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador
    2016-04-18-1460983802-2316411-15157949727_ea55144b5f_z.jpg
    Photo Credit: Carrotflower Productions International

    You'll probably have to extend your stay at Marble Mountain to ensure you hit all of the resort's exciting summer adventures. Marble Zip Tours and the new Spider Challenge Course are favorites among kids and adults seeking thrills and birds-eye views of the Bay of Islands, Steady Brook Falls and Humber Valley. The resort also offers numerous hiking trails, so hikers of varying abilities can reach the peak of Marble Mountain and take in the views that make western Newfoundland so special.

    Venture minutes away from the resort, and you'll find one of Canada's best golf courses at Humber Valley Resort, scenic river rafting excursions, cave exploration, rock climbing adventures, kayak rentals and so much more.

    Sun Peaks Resort -- Sun Peaks, British Columbia

    When the temperatures start to rise, Sun Peaks quickly transforms from one of British Columbia's favourite award-winning ski destinations into a must-visit summer hotspot. Visitors flock to Sun Peaks in B.C.'s warmest months for its challenging 18-hole golf course located 1,200 metres above sea level.

    However, you don't need to be an avid golfer to enjoy Sun Peaks in summer. The Sun Peaks Resort Bike Park, 16 scenic hiking trails, kayak rentals, canoe tours, standup paddleboarding adventures, bungee trampoline, live music and abundance of village shops and cafes turn this action-packed resort into an outdoor playground.

    Sunshine Village -- Banff, Alberta
    2016-04-18-1460983859-6105131-20380134316_9d65935979_z.jpg
    Photo Credit: Douglas J O'Brien

    Sunshine Village is another ski resort located inside Banff National Park -- Canada's first national park and the most visited tourist destination in Alberta. The Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort becomes a hotspot for hiking, guided tours, dining and shopping in the summer months. In fact, the Sunshine Meadows hike at Sunshine Village was ranked Canada's No. 1 day hike by Lonely Planet. Late spring and early summer are the best times to catch the vibrantly coloured wildflowers blooming against the rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies.

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    I spend a lot of time thinking about how airports can balance the growing global demand for air travel with the impact our operations have on climate, the health and well-being of our eco-systems, and all aspects of sustainability. The world of global travel is changing. It's becoming more accessible and affordable; some might even say it's a necessity. Experts predict that air travel will double by the mid-2030s. It's boosting our economies, creating access to opportunities in local, national and international markets, and fueling adventure like never before. But it's also impacting our planet.

    Even as we all start planning for those big summer trips, we need to stop and take notice. It's important that we remain aware of our individual impacts, and actively consider how we can all make a change--even if it's a small one.

    Take the aviation industry, for example, which currently accounts for roughly two per cent of global GHG emissions, and up to nine per cent of the total climate change impact of human activity. With global travel and tourism poised for continued annual growth at a rate of 3.8 per cent over the next 10 years--equivalent to $11.4 trillion in worldwide revenue--airports are busy preparing by adopting cutting edge technologies and implementing innovative approaches to reduce harmful operations outputs.

    Below are four airports who received global recognition for their commitment to sustainability and their "love thy planet" mentality.

    1. Denver International Airport
    As the sixth busiest airport in the United States, Denver International accommodates more than 54 million passengers annually, and generates more than $26 billion a year for the state of Colorado.

    Denver is home to one of the largest alternatively fueled, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle fleets in the U.S., and a comprehensive recycling program that re-uses everything from oil and tires to aircraft deicing fluid (ADF).

    Denver is recognized for being:

    • the first international airport in the U.S. to have a certified Environmental Management System (EMS)

    • the first airport to be accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their National Environmental Performance Track Program.


    2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    Dallas/ Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport services more than 204 global destinations, is the 9th busiest airport in the world, and employs over 143,000 people in the northern Texas area. It welcomes more than 64 million passengers annually, contributes more than $37 billion to regional economic development, and is a major player in the local and surrounding community.

    DFW aggressively promotes energy efficiency as a fundamental business strategy, and has gone above and beyond in leading by example.

    Most notably, DFW was awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a membership to the Green Power Leadership Club for its efforts to purchase more than 30 per cent of the airport's electrical needs from renewable wind energy resources.

    3. Toronto Pearson International Airport

    As Canada's flagship airport (the largest and busiest), our operations support more than 400,000 flights a year to accommodate more than 41 million passengers annually--that's more than our country's population!

    We've got a big footprint, and for this reason, we've invested in a number of projects to help preserve our surrounding community. In 2009, Toronto Pearson committed to an aggressive goal for 2020 of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% from its 2006 emissions benchmark. As a result, we're among only 10 North American airports to receive an Airports Council International (ACI) Level II Airport Carbon Accreditation for GHG initiatives, and will work towards our Level III later this year. To help reach the GHG reduction goals, Toronto Pearson has implemented:

    • 21 hybrid vehicles;

    • An anti-idling policy;

    • Pre-conditioned air/400 Hz power to eliminate use of aircraft engines while parked at gate; and

    • A LINK train to eliminate inter-terminal busing.

    • And we've helped to create Partners in Project Green, which is one of the largest eco-business zones in the world.



    4. Honolulu International Airport

    Honolulu International Airport is home to the 12,000 ft. Reef Runway--the world's first major runway built entirely offshore--and through this runway, became the first airport to ever file an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

    Honolulu International has also sought to protect its native wildlife, namely, the Hawaiian Stilt. To protect the rare and endangered species sensitive to the impact of construction, the airport transformed Keehi Lagoon into a small island, and developed two large bird sanctuaries in nearby Pearl Harbour.

    Honolulu also remains committed to the reduction of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and received a Level II Carbon Accreditation for its GHG initiatives.

    The above four examples demonstrate that where there's a will, there's a way. Large scale operations like airports can make the biggest impact with only the slightest tweaks, and airports are living out this mantra by finding unique ways of addressing environmental concerns.
    In addition to Toronto Pearson's efforts, a number of fellow Canadian airports are upping the ante in the name of environmental prosperity, for example:

    • Vancouver International was the first Canadian airport to install a green wall (now the largest living wall in North America), home to 28,249 plants.

    • Montreal-Trudeau International has planted more than 800 trees, 10,000 shrubs and 39,000 perennials as part of their extensive greening program to combat 'heat islands' generated by asphalt surfaces.


    While there's no doubt the environmental game is more of a marathon than a sprint, we should be constantly asking ourselves what we could be doing better. Whether you're approaching it as a business or as individuals, every small contribution can make a difference.

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    Moving abroad to a new country is an incredible experience, but be warned: it comes with the risk of looking like a fairly unstable person considering the emotional roller coaster it takes you on.

    Exciting, daunting, nerve-wracking, stressful and elating... those are some intense feelings to deal with in one package. Saying that, in my opinion -- as someone who has moved abroad twice, to Australia and Canada -- it's one of the most fulfilling, worthwhile, life-changing experiences out there.

    And in saying that, it doesn't hurt (actually, I recommend it strongly) to be prepared for the influx of thoughts that might come your way through the process of moving abroad.

    "YAY" or "EEEEEK" or generally "I'M SO EXCITED!!"

    The moment you get that confirmation that you're moving abroad -- booking a flight, a visa coming through, getting a job -- cue excited squealing, jumping, celebratory drinks and all that good stuff.

    Knowing that a new experience is on the horizon, soaking in the new possibilities, things to discover and people to meet, your mind is likely to go into overdrive. A new country opens up a million travel doors and it feels like you could conquer anything. Everything in the world seems in its right place and you feel content with your lot in life. Things are happening and your smug face just can't hide the happiness (disclaimer: this might annoy others).

    2016-04-21-1461246337-4679366-Australia.jpg

    "What have I got myself into?!"

    After the initial euphoria has ended, the panic sets in. Wait a second, this is a huge life change. You have so much to do: you have to research banks, think about travel or health insurance, find somewhere to live and work.

    On top of all that, it's finally dawning on you that you'll have to say goodbye to your family and friends. Sure, depending on how far away you are, they might come and visit, but the reality is your day to day interactions won't be the same.

    But, if you don't find yourself thinking "What have I let myself in for?" every once in a while then you're doing it wrong.

    *Crying*

    Here come the goodbyes. The leaving parties, the final family get together, The Last Supper. Your emotions are not to be trusted at this time: you'll be happy one minute and sobbing into your glass of wine the next. You'll find some friends show how much you mean to them, giving you thoughtful gifts and how others don't really seem that bothered. You'll realize how family is the most important thing in the world and how much they love you.

    "Everything's amazing!"

    When you first arrive, the simple task of walking down a street is sort of mind-blowing. Everything is new and exciting; your senses are completely heightened, aware of the sounds, the smells, the little details to notice on buildings, people and surroundings.

    It feels like you're on a permanent vacation and you'll enthusiastically go exploring so you can see more of and fall in love with your new home.

    2016-04-21-1461245897-1849141-Toronto.jpg

    "Oh, wait, that's not how you do things here?"

    After you've stopped feeling like it's a fun trip, you start to notice the cultural differences. For example, when I moved to Canada (from England) these are the things I found myself saying:

    "You sell milk in bags? But... why?"

    "What do you mean you don't accept debit cards online?"

    "Oh, sorry, I forgot you add tax on afterwards..."

    And when I moved to Australia, these things befuddled me:

    "You call a pepper a what-now?" (Answer: capsicum. They call a pepper a capsicum.)

    "What do you mean I can't take my money out from any bank's ATM without a charge?"

    "Um... What did you say?" (This is in reference to the many strange phrases Australians have and their habit of making words as short as possible.)

    I can only imagine what it's like for someone whose first language isn't the same as where they've moved. These moments can be really frustrating and make you miss the comfort of being at home in a place where you just know how things work.

    But what's nice and helpful to remember is that you're learning and becoming more aware of how other countries function. The hard part will pass and you'll be all the more knowledgeable for it.

    2016-04-21-1461247414-5301443-12apostles.png

    "What if I don't like it? What if I can't find friends?"

    I call this the Fear of Not Settling In (if only it had a better ring to it...). Once you find a job, a place to live and it sinks in that you're living abroad for the forseeable future (I think this happens whether you're abroad for six months, two years or permanently) you might start to worry if you won't like your newly created life in this new country. Maybe you won't click with the locals, maybe you won't actually enjoy the country or your job. Or simply maybe you much prefer the way things are done at home.

    On the other side of things, you might have made the best decision of your life. Your adopted country may become your home away from home and the experiences and friends you've made there will permanently make an impression on you that will always keep you smiling.

    It's tough to make friends in a new country when you're starting from scratch and don't know anyone (unless you're studying abroad, which is what I did when I lived in Australia - that's super easy). Trying to find ways and places to make friends when you work all day is very frustrating, takes a lot of trial and error and the kindness of people you've just met.

    It's surprising how quickly all of these emotions take hold -- moving abroad is a really exciting, eventful time in a person's life, but can also be stressful or lonely. Balancing life between people at home and your new humble abode abroad can be difficult but the experience will have so many benefits -- plus, you'll have a whole new section of the world to explore, and it doesn't get much better than that.

    To read more about my experiences moving abroad, visit my blog, Kirst Over the World.

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    Planning a vacation to an idyllic tropical destination is never a bad idea, but it's not always feasible. Often, the further you go, the more you're likely to pay, but you don't have to leave the country to get the beachside escape you're craving -- you have more than enough options right at home.

    Save money, stretch your vacation dollar and plan a tropical-inspired budget-friendly holiday at some Canadian destinations that offer much of what you would get at a beachside resort or palm-fringed island. Cheapflights.ca has come up with eight options for getting some sun and fun right here in Canada.

    Wasaga Beach, Georgian Bay, Ontario

    2016-04-20-1461183924-6161914-WASAGABEACH.jpgImage: Steve Nicholson, Saturday, Long Weekend in May via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    You don't have to jet off to tropical destinations to find a beach you'll want to set up shop on. Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay is well worth a visit and also happens to be the longest freshwater beach in the world. The 14-kilometre stretch of soft sand is as inviting as that on any island escape and offers eight beach areas where you'll find find playgrounds, shops, food stands, picnic tables, bars and restaurants depending on what you feel like doing and who you're beach-hopping with. There are lots of options for places to stay around Wasaga Beach, from cottage rentals to hotels.

    Wards Island, Toronto, Ontario

    2016-04-20-1461184202-5778139-WARDSISLAND.jpgImage: mark.watmough, Toronto Islands 2014 via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    Just a quick ferry ride from bustling downtown Toronto you'll find Wards Island, part of the Toronto Islands that also include Centre Island and Hanlan's Point. The ferry ride is in itself a fun way to feel like you're getting far away from the city without actually travelling for long. Once you disembark, Wards Island was made for aimless wandering. There's a beach (busy on weekends but less so during the week), a maze of cottage-like homes to check out and the adorable Island Café offers the chance to sip grapefruit sangria under a colourful umbrella (and embrace the tropical-like vibes). In terms of where to rest your head, there are a few bed and breakfasts on Wards Island or some rental options on Airbnb.

    World Waterpark, Edmonton, Alberta

    2016-04-20-1461184053-6896841-WESTEDMONTONMALL.jpgImage: IQRemix, West Edmonton Mall via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    OK, so you might not think "mall" when you think about a tropical escape, but West Edmonton Mall boasts their very own tropical paradise in the form of World Waterpark. Here you'll find the world's largest indoor wave pool as well as close to 20 waterslides and other features for water play. If you'd prefer to relax rather than dive into the wave pool or zip down a slide, rent a cabana with seating for up to 10, lounge in a hot tub or sip a tropical drink at Pina Colada Bar.

    Chesterman Beach, Tofino, British Columbia

    2016-04-20-1461183991-2362936-CHESTERMANSBEACH.jpgImage: Alan & Flora Botting, Canada- Tofino- Chesterman Beach 1 via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    Almost three kilometres of white sand help make Chesterman Beach the most popular stretch of sand in Tofino for residents of the area and an idyllic escape right here in Canada. Setting up shop here for a few days is also a good option for anyone with an interest in surfing as Tofino is Canada's surf capital and Chesterman is one of the best beaches for beginner surfers. The area is dotted with charming bed and breakfasts so there are ample options for places to stay.

    Grand Beach, Grand Beach National Park, Manitoba
    2016-04-20-1461183959-8078673-GRANDBEACHMANITOBA.jpgImage: Robert Linsdell, Grand Beach via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    This three-kilometre white sand beach, on the shores of Lake Winnipeg (the sixth largest lake in Canada), is the perfect spot to soak up the sun and feel transported to more tropical climes. Grand Beach is known as one of the best beaches in North America so you know you won't be disappointed with your choice of Canadian sand and surf destination. There are also 12-metre high sand dunes to explore and snap Instagram-worthy pictures of. Camping is an option if you feel like sleeping under the stars, or cottage rentals are available adjacent to the park.

    Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan

    2016-04-20-1461184124-3946238-MANITOULAKE.jpgImage: Just a Prairie Boy, Little Manitou at dusk via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    One hundred kilometres southeast of Saskatoon is where you'll find Little Manitou Lake -- and this isn't just any lake. It's known as the Dead Sea of Canada for its rich mineral properties and the fact that, like the Dead Sea, the waters are so dense you can easily float without effort. If you feel like some extra pampering head to the Manitou Springs Resort & Mineral Spa to enjoy the mineral pool there. The pool is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and a day pass costs $12. Manitou Springs Resort also offers accommodation, or there are several other hotels and motels in the area.

    Parlee Beach Provincial Park, Pointe-du-Chêne, New Brunswick

    2016-04-20-1461184019-2244227-PARLEEBEACHNB.jpgImage: Jason Enslow, Parlee Beach Provincial Park via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

    Parlee Beach is home to the warmest saltwater in Canada so heading to here to get a taste of the tropics (without leaving the country) is the perfect alternative to going further afield. Parlee Beach offers supervised swimming, football, volleyball, ultimate Frisbee and even a sand sculpture competition. Choose from 190 campgrounds or find alternate accommodations close by. Nearby in Shediac you'll also find a quirky attraction like the world's largest lobster sculpture, which will likely inspire some funny photo ops.

    Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, Ontario

    2016-04-20-1461184166-6076619-GREATWOLFLODGENIAGARAFALLS.jpgImage: Roger Ahlbrand, GWL PANO via Flickr CC BY 2.0

    For families looking to feel like they've hopped a plane to a more southerly destination, Great Wolf Lodge can offer a closer alternative -- and a lot of fun for both kids and adults. The massive indoor water park resort has something for everyone's preferred activity level, from relaxing lazy rivers and kid-friendly attractions, to more thrilling water slides. There are also whirlpool hot spas to hang out in (including one for adults only) and cabanas to chill out in.

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