Epic Vacations You Can Take This Summer Without Leaving Quebec
Whale watching, epic canoe trips, skydiving, and more.
There's still time to salvage summer. If you're scrambling to plan a last-minute, we've got some suggestions for you. Chances are, your summer travel plans have been exploded by the pandemic.
Maybe you were flying to Spain for a wedding, or Florida for a nice fish sandwich. Perhaps you've cancelled your plane tickets and have been left holding thousands of dollars of vouchers that you're praying will be redeemed by a tight-fisted airline.
If you're one of those people, don't worry, there are worse places to spend a sizzling summer than the good old province of Quebec.
In addition to the classic bucket list activities like whale-watching the in the picturesque coastal community of Tadoussac, we've included some ways to add some thrill to your otherwise sedentary summer.
Road-trip enthusiasts will also find some alternatives to their thwarted plans for a drive through the Maritimes, like epic canoe-camping trips and days-long bike rides through the beautiful Laurentians.
Watch Whales In Tadoussac
Part of the thrill of staying at the historic Hôtel Tadoussac is being only a stone's throw from the Saint Lawrence River where the world's southernmost colony of beluga whales are found.
The rest of it comes from the hotel's lovely outdoor pool, tennis courts, and restaurants.
After an eight-hour drive from Montreal, you'll want to start your vacation with a good breakfast from Café Bohème; try the smoked salmon pancakes for something a little different.
And from there you'll set off on an epic sea adventure with one of a number of whale-watching outfits in the area.
Once you've made it ashore, it's time for seafood in a cozy setting at any number of eateries in the area. Restaurant La Bolée has received excellent reviews; the snow crabs are apparently delicious.
On day two, you'll want to get out and scout the land along the breathtaking Saguenay Fjord, a 60-kilometre long body of water surrounded by towering cliffs.
The waters of the fjord have been preserved as a marine park where a number of riverside visitor centres with friendly staff will point you to well-marked hiking trails. Don't forget your binoculars.
It would be unwise to leave Tadoussac without checking out the famous dunes. A good way to do that is on the, a 1.4-kilometre loop located near the community.
Kite Surfing Adventure On L'Isle-aux-Coudres
What happens on the Saint Lawrence River every summer does not look safe, at all, but it does look like a lot of fun.
People skim across the water at high speeds, massive kites pulling them through the chop, as their boards fly many feet off the water.
They call it kitesurfing and one of the best places to do it in the province is L'Isle-aux-Coudres, an island in the river that's a five-hour drive from Montreal.
After spending the night in charming accommodations in the tiny community of Saint-Bernard-sur-Mer, you'll want to eat a few crêpes at La Fabrique de l'Isle because you can't surf on an empty stomach.
From there it's only a short drive to Suroît Aventures on the south coast of the island.
They have all the gear and know-how you'll need to get started. Their knowledgeable staff will strap a small board to your feet and outfit you with a harness and kite. From there, all you need to do is lean back and let the wind blast you at high speeds across the water.
Learning to manipulate your board and kite with panache will take a lot of coordination and balance, so it could take you a few days to get good, but keep at it.
They also offer paddleboard rentals and yoga, if taking a safer approach to life is more your style.
An Epic Ride From Montreal to Mont-Laurier
When it comes to taking in the scenery, nothing compares to a long bike ride.
And you can actually bike all the way to Mont-Laurier on the P'tit train du Nord, if your legs and butt are up for it.
The P'tit train du Nord is a more than 200-kilometre-long bike trail that winds its way through the Laurentians. It's built on an old railway line, which means there are no steep hills.
According to gobiking.ca, an expert cyclist would be able to complete the trail in one day, but the rest of us would be wise to do it in sections.
If you divide your ride into 50-kilometre increments you can complete the trail in four days.
It starts in Saint-Jérôme. Many cyclists park there and take a shuttle bus to Mont-Laurier so their cars will be waiting for them once they complete the trail.
But, you don't need to drive all the way to Saint-Jérôme to reach the trailhead as there are a series of bike paths that will get you there from Montreal.
If you're riding the southerly route you'll probably reach the community of Nominingue on day-one.
It's not exactly touristy but the town has a number of stores, bars and restaurants. You might be in the mood for a fancy meal at L'Île de France but there's no beating Casse-Croûte Chez Jojo when it comes to dining al fresco.
It has a number of hotels and there's also a camping option if you don't mind roughing it.
Next, you'll pass through the very touristy town of Mont Tremblant, the mini-Vegas of the Laurentians, and then Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts. You'll be impressed with fine views and delicious eateries throughout your journey.
An Epic Canoe Trip Through Papineau-Labelle
If you've never been on a canoe trip before, this reserve is the perfect place to get your feet wet.
It's only two hours from Montreal and its lakes, rivers, and forests are sure to make your experience a good one.
You can put in at Lac des Sept-Frères or Lac Montjoie. Make your reservations on the Sépaq website.
From there, prepare yourself for a primal experience.
You and your friends will wake up to cloud-covered mountains and beautiful forests. You'll really come to appreciate that morning cup of coffee after brewing it over an open fire.
You'll load up on carbs — oatmeal is good — and then set off for a day of paddling and portaging. There are "numerous" portages in the park, some of them are over a kilometre in length, so be fit, or pack light.
At night you'll set up camp under a swirl of stars.
If canoeing down rivers is your thing, you can take a multi-day trip down the 48-kilometre Rivière du Sourd, which has class III rapids. It starts at Lac du Sourd and ends outside the wildlife reserve at the river's junction with Rivière du Lièvre.
Skydiving Over Trois-Rivières
The door'll swing open high above the Saint Lawrence River valley and you'll be sure this is the worst decision you've ever made.
Suddenly, a person in a jumpsuit will come over and shout something to you over the roar of airplane engines and you'll gingerly make your way to the open door. The view is sure to elicit a spasm of anxiety you'll feel deep in your belly because it's your turn. And then you'll jump out of that plane.
And where better than Trois-Rivières to get your first sky diving experience?
For the jump, you can contact 3R Parachute, which offers a good package for beginners. Your day will include a short training on the ground followed by a plane ride up to 4,000 metres.
If you're a beginner, you'll be strapped to an instructor who will keep you safe while you enjoy about one minute of freefall before the parachute opens.
The company has modified the experience to keep jumpers safe from COVID-19, because safety is paramount when you're jumping out of a plane.
Once back on terra firma, you deserve to celebrate but never fear because le nightlife à Trois-Rivières is actually pretty good.
There are a number of dance clubs and bars. You can even enjoy a minivacation at a tropical destination at Coconut Bar, where you'll get a full-on tiki experience in the heart of the community.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.