Luxurious Summer Escapes Across Canada

How to get out of the city in comfort, style and safety this summer.

By: JEREMY FREEDDate: 2020-07-10
Summer vacation season is here, and while international travel restrictions make jaunts to the US and Europe problematic, there are still plenty of great options for getaways closer to home. With travel restrictions loosening across Canada, there has never been a better time to explore some of this country’s most beautiful corners. These escapes, selected for their spectacular scenery, luxurious lodgings and great local food and drink, will satisfy your summer wanderlust while keeping you safe. And don’t forget to @ us in your summer vacation selfies.

Ontario: Prince Edward County

This island on the north shore of Lake Ontario is no longer the hidden gem it once was, but the tradeoff to visitors in 2020 is an abundance of cool new places to eat, drink and stay in The County. Just two hours’ drive east of Toronto, Prince Edward County offers a wide variety of activities for adults and families alike, including some of the province’s best wineries and seasonally-focused restaurants. Book a room at the Drake Motor Inn, the newest property from the beloved Toronto hotelier and take advantage of amenities like 24-hour concierge and contactless check-in. Sample the goods at top rated local wineries like Hinterland and Closson Chase on your own, or via chauffeured Rolls-Royce, then cool off with a swim at Sandbanks Provincial Park. For dinner, head to the Drake’s nearby Devonshire Inn for a sophisticated take on locally-sourced ingredients.

Quebec: The Eastern Townships

A short drive East of Montreal is one of Canada’s most vibrant regions for organic agriculture, and a prime destination for summer travellers in search of an escape from the city. Manoir Hovey is a century-old estate on the shores of lake Massawippi now operated by Relais & Chateaux, and offers a great location from which to explore the award-winning wineries and fromagers nearby, as well as some of the region’s best mountain biking and hiking. Get back to nature at Mt. Orford National Park, a 58 square kilometre preserve of mature maples, cool lakes and green mountains, then unwind with a spa treatment at Balnea, a lakeside retreat in nearby Bromont. Reserve ahead for dinner at Minton in North Hatley, where chef Simon Proulx uses the bounty of local seasonal ingredients to create some of the area’s best farm-to-table cuisine.

Alberta: Jasper National Park

After an anxious spring under lockdown, we could all use dose of majestic scenery right about now. For this, nothing compares to the Rocky Mountains. While Banff is always a popular choice, the more northern drive to Jasper means fewer people crowding the mountain vistas and crystal lakes, and more peace and quiet for you and your travel companions. For ultimate luxury, stay at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, a mountain resort featuring rooms with patios overlooking the emerald green waters of Lac Beauvert. From here, head into the mountains on foot or horseback, play a round of golf at the hotel’s 18-hole course, or soar over the glaciers on a guided heli-tour. After dark, take in an astronomy lesson at the world’s 2nd largest Dark Sky Preserve, including a gaze into the largest and most powerful telescopes in the Canadian Rockies.

British Columbia: Vancouver Island

Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island is not the most convenient place to reach (we suggest a private seaplane charter from the Vancouver harbour), but it rewards those who make the journey with spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and some of the province’s best seafood. Spend an afternoon learning about the fascinating cultural and natural history of this region on a guided kayak tour of the Harbour Islands, or hike among the giant red cedars and Sitka spruces that make up the the rainforests of Pacific Rim National Park. After a day of adventure, head back to the Wickanish Inn for a dinner of locally-sourced sustainable caviar and fresh rockfish paired with BC’s best wines in the hotel’s Pointe Restaurant overlooking the Pacific.

Jeremy Freed is a Toronto-based freelance journalist. His writing about menswear, travel, design and sustainability appears in Sharp, GQ, the Globe and Mail and many more.

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