Staycations are where it's at 2021, and Quebec — with its rolling hills, beautiful lakes and endless drives — is a wonderful place to go exploring near to home. As Canada's largest province, it's chock-full of memories just waiting to be made.
Quebec offers an abundance of both history and nature, from its townships brimming with European charm to its vast provincial parks. You can fly, train or bus to many of Quebec's must-see destinations, but the best way to explore this far-reaching province is by car.
If you're craving the open road, take a cue from 95.9 Virgin Radio host Vinny, who knows a thing or two about road trips. As one of the hosts of Montreal's favourite radio station (and a born-and-bred Montrealer), he reaches road trippers and commuters every weekday morning.
Vinny knows that when it comes to exploring Quebec, you don't have to travel far to uncover lush scenery, wildlife and get some R&R. In fact, his favourite spots are all less than three hour's drive from Montreal.
Just imagine hitting the open road with the windows down and the radio pumping, cruising your way around picturesque villages, quaint architecture, lazy rivers and towering fjords.
Once you've checked out your favourite stops from Vinny's list of must-sees, all you need is a car, snacks for the road and 95.9 Virgin Radio on full blast.
Time From Montreal: 2 hours
Why You Need To Go: With so much to do and see, Mont-Tremblant is one of Quebec's most popular destinations no matter the season or the reason. From a panoramic gondola ride with a bird's eye view of the Laurentians to bike riding through one of the mountain's many trails, this spot is ideal for explorers and adventurers alike.
After a day spent wandering through nature in all its glory, you can wind down with a shopping spree in Mont-Tremblant's famed pedestrian village. Follow it up with an Instagram-worthy dining experience at one of the dozens of restaurants for a vacay done right.
Why You Need To Go: Less than two hour's drive from Montreal (during which you can jam out to tunes on 95.9 Virgin Radio), Saint-Sauveur is another popular Quebec destination that makes for a great day trip. With a massive outdoor pool and water park, restaurants like Gibby's and spas like Vinny's fave, the Polar Bear's Club Spa, Saint-Sauveur is a must-visit for Montrealers.
Spend the day soaking and steaming in the spa's thermal waters, view the Laurentians from horseback or shop to your heart's content. No matter how you choose to spend your time, there's no shortage of fun to be had at Saint-Sauveur.
Why You Need To Go: According to Vinny, Estérel Resort is "an oasis." With a four-season spa that boasts lake and mountainside views, it's easy to see why. Estérel Resort is all about escaping the daily grind, so what better way could there be to make use of a vacation day? Estérel's all-inclusive packages make it a one-stop-shop for all things R&R.
If you're in the mood for a solid sweat sesh, you can venture through the Laurentians via paddleboard, canoe, kayak, pontoon boat or bike. Foodies will especially love the range of fine dining, including the renowned Bistro à Champlain restaurant.
Why You Need To Go: With more than 225 species that call it home, Zoo de Granby is the largest zoo in the province and offers a great day out for the whole family. Due to continued health and safety guidelines, reservations are required for the summer 2021 season, so be sure to save your spot to get in on all the action.
Slender-tailed meerkats, white rhinos, Japanese macaques and snow leopards are just some of the many animals you'll get to spy here. Learn all there is to know about Granby's conservation efforts while you're at it, too.
Why You Need To Go: Just off the island, La Ferme Quinn is a go-to destination for farm-fresh fruits and veggies, including apples, cucumbers, kale and almost every type of berry you can think of. With fall just around the corner, now's the time to plan your apple-picking adventure to stock up for all those pies you're sure to make.
If baking isn't quite your thing, don't stress. According to Vinny, La Ferme Quinn has the "best apple pie ever." You can also load up on muffins and a ton of other baked goodies that may or may not make it through the car ride home.
Why You Need To Go: Combining rustic charm with jaw-dropping architecture, Le Château Montebello might just take your breath away in the best way as it's situated within nature itself. Fun fact: Le Château Montebello is the world's largest log cabin, and it was rated one of the top 10 resort hotels in Canada by Travel & Leisure.
To make your staycay complete, there's an outdoor pool and cabanas, a sports chalet boasting everything from tennis to mini-golf, a nautical pavilion for those who like to kayak, canoe or paddleboard, hiking trails and even 90-minute guided ATV rides.
Why You Need To Go: You don't need to travel far to uncover the beauty of Quebec. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Centre de la Nature is a massive urban park that spans 50 hectares.
Whether you're in search of a chill picnic, wanting to uncover nature via the Centre's five kilometres of pedestrian paths, or looking to entertain the family at Piscine Saint-Vincent or the on-site petting zoo, Centre de la Nature has it all. There's even a tropical greenhouse that boasts a stunning array of plants and animals, so be sure to have your camera at the ready.
Why You Need To Go: Charm and character combine with history to make Quebec City a must-see (and see again) spot. Walkable and sure to satiate your wanderlust, Quebec City is a great spot to spend your vacation days. Crank up the radio while you're en route and listen to 95.9 Virgin Radio hosts talk all things pop culture and more before you pull up in one of the province's most iconic destinations.
Once you're there, soak up a bit of history at Château Frontenac then traverse the Plains of Abraham, the site of the famous Battle of Quebec. You can also peep a stellar view of the St. Lawrence River from Dufferin Terrace, zipline above Montmorency Falls, shop and eat to your heart's content — however you choose to spend your time, Quebec City has plenty to offer.
Why You Need To Go: Touted as a "super cool experience" by Vinny himself, Parc Omega is a safari park with a 12-kilometre route that winds throughout. You're likely to see wolves, deer, bears, bison, birds and more at this year-round attraction.
For the brave-of-heart, you can also spend a night or two in a cabin, chalet, lodge or pod that's surrounded by a pack of wolves. Each accommodation has a glass facade to allow uninterrupted views of nature and wolves alike.
Why You Need To Go: Since it's always five o'clock somewhere, what better way to spend a day than at a winery? Located just minutes from Montreal, La Bullerie is the first Quebec vineyard that specializes in sparkling wines. With the likes of white, red and, of course, rosé, you can sip and santé while you take in the picturesque views of wine country.
If you fancy a picnic while you're there, La Bullerie offers one of their very own that includes choice cheese, fruit and a local dessert. It's the ultimate daytime date location.
Try The City's Newest Asian Market In Montreal's 'Second Chinatown'
Price: Around $5 to $25 per dish
When: September 10 to 12 (Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.)
Address: Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest (between rue Lambert Closse and rue de Bleury)
Why You Need To Go: If you enjoy the Asian night markets in Montreal's original Chinatown, then you'll love the city's newest pan-Asian street food festival, which will take place in the city's "second Chinatown" in Shaughnessy Village. There's even going to be a corgi party with 100 corgis.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, accompanied by the mayors of Quebec's other four major cities, put out a statement on Tuesday imploring the Federal government to make a "firm commitment" to fight gun violence and gun trafficking.
"What we want is a clear plan [...] either we head towards an American-style society where the use of guns becomes banal and tragedies happen daily or the federal [government] takes responsibility" and acts on the issue, Plante said at a press conference.
"Cities are taking responsibility and continuing to do everything in their power to prevent violence, fight organized crime and keep our communities safe," the mayors said in a joint statement shared with MTL Blog.
"But we cannot do it all alone. We need a concerted, comprehensive, pan-Canadian effort."
The mayors cited the need to give more resources and funding to policing efforts like the border services or local law enforcement to fight against a surge of gun violence and gun trafficking.
Median condo prices in the Montreal area are up 20% compared to last August, according to a report by the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). But some areas saw even bigger price increases.
The report looked at several general areas within the greater metro area, including Montreal Island, the North and South Shore, Laval, and the MRC of Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
Of these, the report shows the North Shore saw the biggest increase in median condo prices between August 2020 and August 2021 with a 27% jump.
The QPAREB used data from Centris for the report and calculated median prices by dividing "all transactions into two equal parts: 50 percent of transactions concluded at a lower price than the median price and 50 percent concluded at a higher price."
The association noted that "some transactions may be excluded from the calculation to obtain a more meaningful median price."