Vacation Destinations

Living near the Canadian/U.S. border affords my family the perfect strategic point of departure for our vacations. Two hours away is the U.S. A couple of days’ journey we’re on the East Coast. Freedom Friday provides me the opportunity to share some of the vacation destinations we’re thinking about traveling to this summer.

Old Montreal / Place Jacques-Cartier - Vieux-Montréal
Old Montreal / Place Jacques-Cartier – Vieux-Montréal

In the past few years, our vacations consisted of visiting my wife’s family in Nova Scotia. If you’ve never been there, I suggest you hightail it over and enjoy some East Coast hospitality. When I went there for the first time to meet my future in-laws, I barely had enough time to see the splendor that Dartmouth and Halifax had to offer. It wasn’t until later years that I’d fallen to appreciate Citadel Hill, Peggy’s Cove, and the incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean.

We wanted to try something different this year, something closer to home, in fact. We didn’t want to take away from our weekend getaway destinations (Barrie, Ontario in the spring and Niagara Falls in the autumn), but we didn’t want to trek far either. Ah, the joys of travel, eh?

Rideau Canal overlooking the Ottawa River
Rideau Canal overlooking the Ottawa River

Two locations came to mind: Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario. From our numerous journeys passing through these cities on our way to the East Coast, the idea grabbed hold of wanting to visit there one day.

Montreal is an amazing city I would recommend to anyone who is looking to enhance their cultural experience. The majority of its residence speaks French. I can get by ordering dinner, taking care of our accommodations, and asking for directions. It’s with the complicated matters I slip back into English, hoping the person I’m talking to will feel that I tried my best communicating with them in their own language. I’ve never had a problem. They’re great and a very warm people.

The hospitality in Montreal is equally amazing. One year, staying overnight, the hotel we’d chosen was reminiscent of an old-style ship. The hallways had portholes painted on the walls, railings affixed underneath. I felt as if I was on the Titanic, which incidentally was the top grossing movie of all time the year before. Coincidence? I think not. Nonetheless, the rooms had plush pillows, a spacious bathroom, generous closet space, and all the frills anyone could ask of a room. The hotel staff was superb with all our requests.

Which leaves Ottawa, our nation’s capital. We’ve never been. Not even overnight as we’ve done with Montreal. So, this may actually be where we’ll end up this summer. Having a peek at the vacation packages available online, I see a few attractions we may benefit from such as Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa River Parkway, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Notre Dame Basilica, National Gallery of Canada, National War Memorial, Peace Tower, Changing of the Guard, Laurier House, Rideau Hall, National Arts Centre, etc.

I’m excited already! This trip is a homeschooler’s delight, and I can’t wait!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you ever been to Ottawa? Do you have any recommendations of attractions to visit?

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18 thoughts on “Vacation Destinations

  1. Your travel posts always make me want to walk out on work and go on an adventure and/or relaxing vacation. Since I’m not really that brave, I just stare at the beautiful pictures on my work computer throughout the day. Enjoy your trip to Montreal or Ottawa!

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoy the photos on my blog. I hope you end up going on an adventure yourself. Difficult to waste a perfectly good feeling for wanting to explore the world!

  2. I’ve lived in Ottawa on and off for a few years ~10 yrs ago. Getting a free tour of parliament and up the peace tower is a must. The older castle museum (used to be museum of man but that moved and renamed to the museum of civilization; the old site now houses the museum of nature) is very awesome and supposedly haunted although I’ve seen no proof of that. I love visiting the Glebe for a walkabout just off the canal near Lansdowne (which will be torn down unfortunately and not open to visitors anymore — some of the old buildings are amazing where the fairs used to take place). The National Art Gallery is a nice building overlooking the river and houses a cross-section of Canadian art through time that seems to condense millennia of art movements from Europe into a couple hundred years. I second the recommendation for the Byward Market. Too bad St Albert’s burned down.
    For montreal, you can’t miss the bagels and famous smoked meat (and a wealth of great food of every kind really), the vieux port, the biodome… if you have kids you can visit the theme park LaRonde.
    Have a great holiday! I’ll be driving round the SW national parks of the US while I’m still south of the border.

    • Thanks for all the recommendations. Many of them I’ve already looked into and love the idea of visiting The National Art Gallery. The Glebe sounds interesting. I might just take you up on that tip. Enjoy your vacation as well. I hope the weather cooperates for you!

  3. Montreal is awesome…I’m starting to see it when I forget all the problems living here has, but no doubt architecture and design is gorgeous 🙂
    I go to Ottawa on day trips usually. There is the tulip festival that ends on Victoria Day. Also, you have to go walk along the Rideau Canal! And I usually go to Byward Market. There’s some cool restaurants there and crafts, arts, etc. Its fun 🙂

    • If we decide to go, Rideau Canal will be the first thing on our list. We’re looking forward to a different type of vacation this year, so Ottawa might actually win out in the end.

  4. I agree, Montreal is amazing. I haven’t been to Ottawa since I went for a drama festival in high school (totally not telling you how long ago that was!) and would love to go back. Looking forward to hearing all about the trip! 🙂

  5. I would love to visit Montreal some time!

    My mom, at age 70, got her CDL and drove a semi truck with my brother to Ottawa. She really enjoyed the trip.

  6. Thanks for this, we’ve been to Halifax and the surrounding area and loved it. I will be heading to Montreal in the next year or so to check it out. What was the name of the hotel that resembled a ship?

    • Hey Danny, I wish I could tell you. Been over a decade. It was one of those “let’s find a hotel and crash for the night” type of deals. Beautiful place. If I ever find the name, which I doubt, I’ll add the link here to my site and reply back with the address.

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