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Alternative Travel Destinations in Canada

April 24, 2015

CanadaMention the words Canada and travel and immediately, and a few cities and images come to mind: Toronto; Montreal; Quebec City; Vancouver; the great outdoors. Indeed, these places are integral places on the Canada tour but if you’re looking to get off the beaten path, here are some new travel destinations in Canada, whether you are here for a short or long-term stay.

1. Manitoba
Ontario’s next door neighbour is starting to get the attention it deserves. In addition to being one of the best places in Canada to get up front and close with wildlife like polar bears, beluga whales, caribou, and grey owls, you can also have a more urban experience in the evolved Winnipeg. The city is home to Canada’s first Museum for Human Rights; the Assiniboine Park Zoo; and a thriving dining scene thanks to events like the Raw & Almond pop-up dinners on the Assiniboine River every January. For those who love culture, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and if you need to relax, try the new Thermea by Nordik-Spa nature experience.

2. The Eastern Townships
A quick two hour drive from Montreal, the Eastern Townships is one of Canada’s lesser-known weekend getaways and one of its best. Book a night or two at theTravel Destinations in Canada quaint yet sophisticated Relais et Chateaux property, Manoir Hovey, and don’t miss their delectable cheese cart as part of their dining experience, which is just as popular as their lakeside view. For an idyllic experience, visit the Bleu Lavande lavender fields which are in season in July and August. The Eastern Townships is a nice complement to your time spent in Quebec City or Montreal.

3. Alberta
Not many think of the Prairies as a vacation destination beyond the Calgary Stampede in July; or Jasper or Banff for skiing in the winter or lakeside in the summer (make sure not to miss the stunning glacial lakes of Lake Moraine). Beyond the ski hills of Jasper, you can now visit the Glacier Skywalk, which hovers above the Sunwapta Valley along Alberta’s Icefield Parkway. There is also so much more for those who want an outdoor adventure in the province. For the family, follow the dinosaur trail in the Badlands, with a visit to the UNESCO world heritage site, Dinosaur Provincial Park, 200 km west of Calgary. And on the archeological theme, check out the Indiana Jones exhibition at the TELUS World of Science centre in Edmonton. Edmonton has become a cultural hub in Alberta and is an alternative to Calgary as an urban travel destination.

Travel Destinations in Canada 4. St. Pierre et Miquelon, Newfoundland
Newfoundland is quickly becoming one of the world’s best travel experiences thanks to Gros Morne as the default hiking destination, and a lot of press attention to Fogo Island for its stunnering scenery and luxury hotel, the Fogo Island Inn. However, not many know about the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, North America’s last piece of French territory. Actually a part of France, the islands have its own airport, use euros and is your chance to go to Paris without crossing the Atlantic!

5. The North West Territories
Yellowknife is one of the most remote destinations for some of the most idyllic Canadian adventures you can have like dog sledding; catching a glimpse of the Aurora lights; ice fishing, and hunting. Consider the Northwest Territories if you want an off-the-beaten path adventure in Canada beyond British Columbia.

We hope this post has provided you with some inspiration to get into the lesser known parts of Canada.

What are your favourite travel destinations in Canada?

Business Travel, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

Under the Radar Cities to Visit in the USA

April 14, 2015

Toronto is a great hub to our neighbour to the south but sometimes the more popular cities are just too…popular or expensive. While you’re in Toronto for a short or long term stay, we found these cities to visit in the USA that are quick jaunts which are alternative destinations to the more celebrated cities you may know and love.

Cities to Visit in the USA  1. If you like San Francisco, try San Diego You can still leave your heart in San Francisco but if you want a change of pace, go south of Los Angeles to San Diego. There’s tons of surf, sunshine, and fish tacos; the ideal combination for an idyllic getaway. As a stopover it’s much closer to cruise port destinations like Mexico. Plus, there’s over 90 craft breweries in the city. If you’re with the family, there’s plenty to such as exploring Legoland, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and whale watching (over 20,000 whales migrate here from December to April.)

2. If you like Nashville, try Savannah  though Tennessee is experiencing a Cities to Visit in the USA resurgence beyond Music City (we even named it one of our top destinations for 2015). Home to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), the city is full of design shops and good eats, just like Nashville. Affordable hotel and flight packages are also in reach so you can stroll amongst the oak trees and fountains, the ideal weekend getaway that may not be as busy as Nashville.

3. If you like New York City, try New Orleans We’ll admit that there really is no place like NYC in the United States but as an alternate destination full of great Cities to Visit in the USAfood, lively entertainment, great shops, and strong cocktails, New Orleans is a great second choice. Likely, it may be friendlier on your wallet and an opportunity to continue to support its residents 11 years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Check out its food and drink festivals like the French Quarter Festival in April; the New Orleans Wine and Food Festival, May 20-23; the Oyster festival on May 30, and the boozy Tales of the Cocktail festival in July, which attracts the nation’s best bartenders.

4. If you like Austin, try Oklahoma City Twenty years ago, the only thing Oklahoma City was known for was its downtown bombings. Now, it’s on the verge of attracting a similar young and vibrant demographic to Austin or Portland (Oregon). Artistic types will love the Paseo Arts and DeadCenter film festival in May and June, respectively, without the big crowds and high prices of Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival phenomenon. In late May, don’t miss out on the H&8th night festival, where live music and food trucks merge together for one night. And if you think you’re missing out on that famous Texan BBQ, chow down on Backdoor BBQ’s “Beastwich,” for fare compare. An hour drive from OKC is the BBQ ‘N Blues festival in Cushing, not something that would be unlikely in Austin. OKC may be the weekend escape you’re looking for this summer that’s a bit closer to your home away from home in Toronto.

5. If you like Portland, try Detroit Though Portland, Oregon easily wins our hearts for its enviable food and beer scene (and Cities to Visit in the USA  multitude of food trucks); easy navigation, and quirky characters, Detroit can offer the same experience without the plane ticket if you’re staying with us for a short or long term stay in Toronto. It has a thriving microbrewery scene; an art scene and many abandoned buildings that are great for photographers; and quaint neighbourhoods like Corktown, home to boutique hotels like Honor & Folly. Give it a try. You might be surprised!

What’s your favourite under-the-radar cities to visit in the USA? Where would you like to travel to in the United States this summer?

Business Travel, Family Vacations in Toronto, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

10 Things You can Carry on a Plane

March 27, 2015

Things you can Carry on a Plane Since 9/11, travel has gotten much more restrictive but it doesn’t mean that that are there aren’t certain things that you still can’t bring on a plane. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSCA) is the official source of what items to carry on a plane. Some are a bit quirky. Others are a bit more practical. When you are traveling, here are our top picks of things you can carry on a plane.

1. Axes. Looks like that Battle Axe League in Toronto is really taking off!
2. Breast Milk. Passengers flying with or without their child will be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than 100 ml provided it is presented to the Screening Officer for inspection prior to screening. Gel or ice packs are also permitted.
3. Corkscrews. Without the attached knife, your corkscrew is permitted on your carry-on or checked luggage. Things you can Carry on a PlaneYour swiss army knife will likely be confiscated.
4. Cremated Remains. Cremated remains in a container may be packed as part of your carry-on baggage. The container, however, must pass separately through the x-ray machine. For more information, please check the special procedures in place for screening cremated remains.
5. Razor Blades and blade cartridges. Razor blades that are encased in their plastic holders (disposable razors and razor blade cartridges) are permitted in carry-on baggage.
6. Ink/Toner Cartridges. You can carry-on but surprisingly, not check ink or toner cartridges in your baggage. Note: Ink cartridges things you can carry on a planewith a capacity of 17.6 oz. (500 g.) or more are not permitted in checked baggage for all flights – domestic, U.S. and international.
7. Juice for babies and baby food. Other things you can carry on a plane are baby formula, food, juice, water and other baby items – these are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be travelling with an infant under two years of age (0-24 months). You may bring gel or ice packs to keep your baby products cool. All items including formula must be presented to the Screening Officer and will be inspected.
8. Non-prescription medication. These items are considered to be essential non-prescription medications. You are allowed to carry volumes greater than 100 ml (3.4 oz.) in your carry-on baggage. These liquids must be declared to the Screening Officer separately. Documentation to support your medical needs or condition is not required; however, if you feel that it would help ease your screening, it should be presented to the screening officer along with your medically necessary items.
9. Protein Powder
10. Syringes. Must be for personal medical use, and the needle guard must be in place. The person must possess medication that is to be administered by means of the syringe or needle and biojectors. To facilitate screening, CATSA recommends that the medication be properly labelled (professionally printed label identifying the medication or a manufacturer’s name or pharmaceutical label – For more information, click here.

What are your essential items for carrying on a plane?

Community Events, Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Family Vacations in Toronto, Holiday Events, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

Five March Break Activities for the Family

March 17, 2015

Schools Out! March BreakIf you are not one of the 116,000 people traveling during the March Break period (March 16-20), this is your time to explore Toronto with your family. We have written about our favourite family-friendly activities in Toronto previously here, but here are a few March break activities and ideas to keep your children entertained during the week.

1. Disney Classics at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Watch some of the famed movie maker’s classics on the big screen and relive your childhood too! If you’re staying in one of our furnished suites downtown, there is no excuse not to go to these special screenings. There are also March Break camps and to start planning early, summer camps for your kids.

2. The Toronto Public Library’s (TPL) March Break Program. The TPL has a variety of activities for both kids and teens, including a Lego program and a first-aid babysitting course.

March Break Activities3. A Day Trip. One of  our favourite March Break activities for the day would be to the Kortright Centre for Conservation, where you and your kids can learn about sustainability, hike, and also participate in their maple syrup programs. Nearby, is the McMichael Art Gallery, a great alternative from the Art Gallery of Ontario to learn about Canadian art. March Break camps are also available here. The Toronto Zoo is another great idea for a day trip if your kids love animals; they have special programming for the week.

4. Stay In. Sometimes, a day at home is overrated. Cook with the kids. Break out the arts and crafts. Watch a favourite or new movie on the couch or have a sleepover for your kids and their friends. Many of our locations also have a pool so this might be a fun way to break up your days.

5. Visit the Aga Khan Museum. One of Toronto’s newest attractions, the architectural masterpiece is also your gateway to learn more about Muslim civilizations. The museum and all of its exhibitions are free every Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. There is also a special March Break camp for your kids. If you are brave enough and have the energgroup students jumping end of exam yeary, you could also plan an excursion afterwards to the Ontario Science Centre, which is located nearby.

What are your favourite March break activities to do with your family in the city? However, if you are traveling with your family, here are some of our tips to handle the journey with ease.

Family Vacations in Toronto, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

How to Avoid Expensive Holiday Airfares

March 12, 2015

Save on AirfareAs many of our guests are, you may be on the go and expected to travel frequently, whether for business or pleasure. (Check out our tips here on how to get the best deals.) But sometimes, the only time you can get is over the holidays –when everyone else is traveling. Here are some ways how to avoid expensive holiday airfares.

1. Do not book last minute. More likely than not, the closer you travel to your desired date of departure, the higher the price of your flight. You may be lucky and get a last minute fare -if others are not going to your destination or it’s not a popular destination – but the best advice is to book as far in advance as possible. This advice is especially useful for summer travel to Europe and the recommended time to book is around three to six months in advance, if possible. Rumour has it, however, that the ideal number to book in advance is 49 days or 7 weeks in advance.avoid expensive holiday airfares

2. Be flexible with your dates and times. Inflexibility could result in a higher airfare. If you cannot budge on your date or time or if you’re traveling on a weekend, this will increase the costs of your flight. But if you can travel on an early weekday (Monday to Wednesday or even a Saturday, as some experts say) or in the early mornings/nights or nudge your date a day or two, it could be worth the change in savings.

3. Track your fare. Services like Yapta and airfare watchdog enable you to track and analyze when your flight price will increase, which can help you make decisions.

4. Alternate modes of tranAvoid Expensive Holiday Airfaressportation. If your flight is too expensive, consider driving to your destination or taking an alternate airport like Buffalo (a popular option in recent years). What you will lose in time, you will make up in savings.

5. Points. If you can’t get around the cost for an airfare, using your airline points (if you are loyal to one airline), Air Miles, or a co-branded credit card that will accumulate points for you, will help towards the cost of your flight.

How do you avoid expensive holiday airfare or save on flights? We’d love to hear your tips! Do check out our top ten essential travel apps for your next trip here. Of course, if you’re staying in Toronto, check out our properties.