vineyards okanagan valley

Taste the fruit of the vine in the Okanagan Valley. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Sugar Shacks, Mountains and More: Find Canada’s Best Long Weekend Getaways in Every Season

Flexible work schedules are making long weekend jaunts more common, as travelers take advantage of the realization that long weekends are fair game all year.

Canada is a nation of four distinct seasons, each offering different tastes and activities. With this in mind, plot your getaway to your ideal destination at the perfect time of year. Here’s a roundup highlighting top spots to visit in every season.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

best weekend getaways in canada map
(Illustration: Yeji Kim)


See Vancouver Bloom

Spring comes earlier in Vancouver than it does to most other regions in Canada. While other cities are scooping snow, Vancouverites are leisurely riding their bicycles around Stanley Park and posting verdant selfies from the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

spring tulips in vancouver
Enjoy colorful blooms in Vancouver. (Photo: Getty Images)

In March, the daffodils and tulips will start to surface, bringing color to the city. However, if you wait until April, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is inspired by the Japanese cultural tradition of hanami (flower viewing) and makes for an ideal activity for both beginner and veteran photographers.

Taste the Sweetness of Quebec

If it’s the iconic flavor of maple syrup that you’re after, there’s no better moment than early spring in Quebec.

In the French-speaking corner of Canada, the spring ritual of visiting a cabane à sucre (sugar shack) is rooted in the history of harvesting maple-tree sap and transforming it into syrup. Many cabins offer sleigh-riding, maple toffee and musicians performing Québécois folk songs — all will offer an insane amount of food to eat; be sure to show up hungry.

These days, some higher end “shacks” are incorporating modern influences. The most famous of those is celebrity chef Martin Picard’s Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack, where decadence is the name of the game.

Continue tasting the region’s freshest flavors with a visit to the Grand Marché de Québec, where vendors sell seasonal vegetables, fruits and other goods, like preserves, cheeses and baked goods. Arrive hungry — and curious — as you explore more than 100 vendors and their wares, watch cooking demonstrations or simply chat with friendly merchants.


whale jumping
A whale watching tour is unforgettable. (Photo: Getty Images)

Splash Around Victoria

Victoria, on Vancouver Island is Canada’s mildest city with comfortably warm and generally dry summers. The main attraction during the year’s hottest months is to play in and around the ocean. Locals spend afternoons at the many beaches (Willows Beach is a great place to start) and eat dinner at one of the open-air patios around the Inner Harbour.

It’s the most comfortable time of year to engage in one of the city’s most popular attractions: whale watching. To increase the adventure ante, take a kitesurfing lesson, or slip into a kayak to explore the Victoria Gorge.

Slow Down on Prince Edward Island

The pace of life is slower on Prince Edward Island, and that’s one of the biggest attractions. (Local heroine “Anne of Green Gables” being the other crowd favorite.)

The Confederation Trail — which stretches the length of PEI and is part of Canada’s Trans Canada Trail system — is the perfect way to explore the island, namely by bicycle (electronic or old-fashioned pedal).

Each Saturday, the bustling Charlottetown Farmers’ Market is the best place to sample many of the region’s finest locally produced products, from fresh sausages to giant brownies to fried local potatoes.

When you want to simply listen to the soundtrack of the sea breeze, head to Greenwich Beach for long stretches of sand and gentle waters (and very few other humans).


Sip the Harvest of the Okanagan Valley

If you have a craving for Tuscan vineyards but want to take advantage of the Canadian dollar, the Okanagan Valley is an ideal option.

This acclaimed wine-producing region is home to everything from unassuming, family-run boutique vineyards to large commercial operations — the only challenge will be figuring out where to begin.

First timers might want to start at Mission Hill, Canada’s only five-time “Winery of the Year” winner and home to one of the most beautiful restaurants in the region.

For those in search of wines with narratives, head to Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America, where sauvignon and stories are the perfect pairing.

Fall for Ottawa

With maple leaves providing a palette of maroons and golds, the nation’s capital is especially handsome in the autumn months.

Fall is the perfect time of year to enjoy the harvest at the ByWard Market, a charismatic outdoor market operating since 1826. Pro tip: To have really “done” the market, one must sample BeaverTails, a much-loved Canadian pastry.

Afterward, hop across the river to witness the maple leaves in their full glory at Gatineau Park, where leisurely trails, picturesque lakes and panoramic lookouts enable visitors to access the apex of autumnal beauty.


Glide Down Slopes at Mont-Sainte-Anne

person on snowmobile
On skis or snowmobile, the powder is perfect. (Photo: Getty Images)

Canada is a prime destination for downhill ski aficionados. Located 25 miles northeast of Quebec City, Mont-Sainte-Anne is the province’s lesser-known yet equally as awesome ski resort.

Tucked into a rugged section of the Laurentian Mountain chain, the big attraction is — of course — zipping down the hills on skis or snowboards, but the town also offers opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking.