72 Action-Packed Hours in Eastern Canada

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Awesome Tips   Bucket List Worthy  

Photo credit: Chad Cooper
Photo credit: Chad Cooper

Most avid travelers have read plenty about Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. But Canada’s eastern provinces have just as much to offer travelers of all interests, even those venturing north in the winter months. In fact, winter is when some of the most interesting and distinctly Canadian activities can be enjoyed in provinces like Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland. This guideline to spending 72 hours in these three provinces will give you a taste of just how life-changing a visit to this part of the world can be. 

Day One

Photo credit: Niagara Icewine Festival
Photo credit: Niagara Icewine Festival

12 p.m.

Niagara Falls is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, so it’s no surprise your Eastern Canada adventure should start here. Maximize your time and experience with a sightseeing tour, such as a helicopter ride or one of several full-day tours, which include a number of favorite tours and experiences in a single 6-hour visit. Many experts and repeat visitors agree that seeing the frozen falls surrounded by ice-covered sculptures is just as impressive as seeing them in the much greener summer months.

6 p.m.

You’ll be a little exhausted and partially frozen from a winter day at the falls. But that’s nothing a cozy Canadian meal and locally-produced glass of wine can’t fix. Visit Niagara in January, and you’ll get a chance to experience the one and only Niagara Icewine Festival, which celebrates the Niagara Region’s iconic Icewine for the first three weekends of January. You’re guaranteed to get a taste of the delicious dessert wine and winter activities (like ice sculpting, marshmallow roasting, and live entertainment) that make this region so special.

Finish your night with a top-notch meal at AG, one of the area’s top farm-to-table establishments, or save some cash for later in the trip and enjoy an authentic and budget-friendly Canadian meal at the Blue Line Diner.

Day 2

Photo credit: Foret Montmorency
Photo credit: Foret Montmorency

6 a.m.

Quebec City sits roughly 9 hours northeast of Niagara Falls if you’re traveling by car, so an early start is needed to experience the wonders of this historic French-speaking city along the Saint Lawrence River in a single day. Those with larger budgets should consider taking the quick, 1-hour flight between the two cities. Don’t forget to grab a heart meal at Abby’s Breakfast and Lunch in Niagara Falls before starting your engine or boarding the plane.

12. p.m.

After a long morning of travel, there’s no better place to stretch your legs in Quebec City than at the Boreal Glide. This legendary cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trail at Foret Montmorency opens in October and stays that way well into spring. The 57-linear-kilometres of trails will introduce you to some of Eastern Canada’s famed natural beauty and adventurous spirit without puling you too far from the city.

Quebec City is home to so many world-famous restaurants, it can be difficult where to stop with an empty stomach. However, the quaint and centrally-located Pain Beni, will place you in the heart of the action and provide an unforgettable meal too. Try the French onion soup and frog legs.

3 p.m.

A single day in Quebec City is never enough. But you’ll still have plenty of time to snap photos of Le Chateau Frontenac (the most photographed hotel in the world), and travel through history at the Musee de la Civilisation. Simply walking the streets of North America’s oldest walled city will encourage you to plan a trip back for more.

6 p.m.

Outside of France, Quebec City is one of the top cities in the world for dining on authentic French fare. Dinner should be enjoyed at the world-famous Saint-Amour on Rue Sainte-Ursule or the Restaurant Legende, where innovation is combined with classic French and Canadian fare to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

End your evening with a show at Le Capitole theatre, built in 1903 and revived in the early 1990s, for a musical in English or French, a comedy act, or other live entertainment.

Day 3

Photo credit: CapeRace
Photo credit: CapeRace

6 a.m.

There’s no easy way to drive from Quebec City to the picture-perfect coastal city of St. John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador. However, a flight takes less than 2 hours, which leaves you nearly a full day of exploration in this colourful town that will make you want far more than that.

Cape Race Adventures offers some of the best ways to explore St. John’s, Fogo Island, and other areas of Newfoundland and Labrador in a short amount of time. The company’s Winter Culinary trip combines gourmet foods and cozy pubs with coastal hikes, pond skating, caribou tracking, and live music to create a winter getaway that’s impossible to forget. Itineraries range from 4 to 10 days, so while they’re not ideal for a 72-hour visit to the region, they’re an obvious reason to come back.

12 p.m.

No trip to Eastern Canada is complete without some fresh Atlantic seafood. The Saltwater Restaurant on Duckworth Street in St. John’s offers the freshest local seafood paired with unrivaled service to create an experience that will conclude your 72 hours of adventure with a smile and a satisfied stomach.

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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