After moving from Halifax to work at Nunavut Arctic College in Iqaluit three years ago, Rae-Lynne Patterson gained a new appreciation for spring. “We’re lucky in Iqaluit because we don’t ever get a complete 24 hours of darkness in the winter,” she says. “During our shortest days we have about four hours of daylight. But it’s still a relief when spring rolls around and I can get outside and enjoy activities like going for walks on the still-frozen sea, snowmobiling, and when it gets even warmer, playing softball and hiking.”
Travelling for the greater good
If you’re looking for a trip to test your strength and soul, put your hands and heart to work with a volunteer vacation. You can head to Churchill, Manitoba to help researchers monitor climate change by conducting studies on soil, plant, and permafrost samples. Or, if polar bears aren’t your thing, work with skilled tradesmen from Habitat for Humanity Canada to build affordable, low-income housing for those in need.
Hiking is a great way to savour the spring landscape. But a hike is more interesting when you’ve got a geological treasure at the end of your journey. Explore a cave on your next adventure and ponder how many years it took for stalactites to form in the Scenic Caves in Collingwood, or unearth the natural history behind carbonate “moonmilk” deposits in the Nakimu Caves in Glacier National Park. If you don’t know where to start spelunking, find a grotto near you with Caving Canada, which links to tours and provincial caving sites.
After months of cold winter weather wreaking havoc on your hair and skin, it’s time to treat your body – and yourself! – to a little TLC. “Most women are so busy that after a long winter, when they want to truly relax, there’s no better way than to indulge in a little pampering,” says Marie-France Gravel, owner of Diva Expeditions, a travel company that books trips exclusively for women, based in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.
If your idea of the perfect escape involves a nurturing environment where your sensitivities are celebrated, a retreats geared for women may be the rejuvenator you need. Work on body awareness on a mountain in Nelson B.C., or learn to map your own soul with a spiritual session in Toronto. Offering massage, healthful cuisine, yoga, self-development seminars, meditation and more, retreats are designed for those whose hectic lifestyles sometimes get in the way of healthy living.
Escape life’s stresses at one of Canada’s luxury spas. Find the perfect wrap, scrub or rub to suit your needs at SpaCanada.com. As you ponder your options – acupressure one day and ayurveda the next? – promise you’ll keep up the tradition when you get back to your regular routine with a luxurious spa at home.
Slipping away with the one you adore is great for spicing-up a lasting relationship or accelerating a new one. “It gives you perspective and freedom to communicate in a different environment, without all the usual distractions of home and work life,” says Maureen Mattson, 38, a writer for Excellent-Romantic-Vacations.com in Vancouver.
The sky is calling
Stargazing is the perfect excuse to lie on blankets and enjoy the moonlit sky. Why not make a vacation out of it and travel north of the 53rd parallel to observe the most magnificent celestial phenomena of them all – the northern lights? Book an escorted tour from Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Fort Simpson, Muncho Lake, Flin Flon or Churchill to stay over in a lodge or tipi, or check SkyNews for special aurora borealis updates and plan it yourself.
Feed your passion
Indulge all your senses in a vacation you’ll remember as much for the sights as for the flavours. In Montreal, dine on fresh fish over Jazz at the Tsirco on rue Drummond then head to Laval for some of the city’s finest crème brûlèe at Ailes du Palais. Pick a city you want to visit and check out Restaurant.ca for reviews of top eateries. Or, play the wildcard and go with the featured ‘Resto of the Week’.
Travelling as a family adds an entirely new dimension to spring break vacations, as Paula Emery, a 38-year-old student and mother of a newborn baby and two step-children from Calgary recently discovered. “When I was single and did a lot of climbing and mountaineering, my vacations were about destination and accomplishment. It was very personal,” she says. “Now that I have a family, vacations are about being with the most important people in my life. Watching them try something new in a different setting is incredibly special for me.”
The joys of discovery aren’t restricted to vacations in far off lands. A mini-vacation to a children’s museum or science centre is like a portal to a new world. Teach your little hockey player about “Rocket” Richard at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec or take a virtual voyage to the bottom of the sea in Sudbury, Ontario’s Science North. Make a two-day visit out of your next excursion so there’ll be plenty of time for outer-space exploration and archeological digs.
Whether your family is intrigued by history or just curious to learn more about Canada’s Aboriginal people, Aboriginal Tourism Canada will help you plan cultural, spiritual and eco-tourism trips. You can rough it camping or go with the tour that includes the five-star Totem Resort. Visit a Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung ancient burial ground and share stories over a bonfire, or view the early petroglyph art of the Tsimshian people found on the beaches of northern B.C.
Ranch vacations have all the charm of time spent at a cottage or B&B, with the added bonus of multiple activities to keep you moving. Watch your children forge a connection with animals, learning to groom, feed, and ride a horse. Then, kick back on a hayride to finish off the day. Just dig out your cowboy boots and check the Vacation Ranches & Farms Canada for the perfect spot for your family.
Good girlfriends keep you grounded, share honest advice and make you laugh until you cry. So it’s important to schedule uninterrupted fun-time with your favourite ladies as often as you can. “My annual trip with the girls is an opportunity for me to remind myself just how strong we are. The sense of independence I take away from these trips is amazing – almost as amazing as the bond the trip fosters between me and my friends,” says Sue Fekecs, from Hamilton, Ont.
Hit the road
If the warming weather is making you eager to put some miles on your bike, invite the girls on an organized cycling tour. Biking adventures are a great way to enjoy the blooming scenery before the weather gets too hot. Cut across the base of the GaspÃ© Peninsula and follow the Restigouche River on the Tour Atlantic, or draft your buddies on a one-week loop along the Sunshine Coast. Find a tour operator that suits your skill level and destination with CycleCanada.com.
Haul some bass
The manly tradition of taking off into the bush to fiddle with fishing lures over coffee and beer is deemed sacred. So why not join in this ritual – with a feminine twist? A fishing trip is perfect fodder for confessions and gossip. Whether or not you reel in enough pike for supper, you’ll return to your fishing lodge with plenty of stories to share over a bottle of Chianti.
Bright lights, big city
Feel like you haven’t had a good booty-shake in ages? Then you’ll need to round up your best gals, book a swanky hotel in your favourite city and paint the town. Click on “Package Finder” on TravelCanada.ca for package deals, grab a local paper for shopping, and check listings on Clubvibes to get your groove on. Carrie Bradshaw? Pishaw!