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The Best 10 New or Improved Attractions in Canada for Summer 2015

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  Best New or Improved Attractions in Canada for Summer 2015: A shot of Banff’s winner

Get summer-vacation inspiration with Canada’s Best New or Improved Attractions, as selected by the regional editors of Where. This annual awards program celebrates the most exciting brand-new or significantly improved attractions—or existing attractions observing major milestones—in 10 cities or regions across the country.

This year’s winners offer many appealing diversions for travellers exploring the Great White North—from hands-on activities like bobsledding on an official Olympic track, mountain climbing in Banff, and trying your hand at prospecting to intellectually stimulating institutions detailing early Ukrainian pioneers, Muslim culture, human rights and more.

Discover the winners of the Best New or Improved Attractions Awards for 2015 »

Vancouver’s Craft Beer Circuit

Easy drinking, hoppy or just plain experimental—a bevy of brews can be found around Vancouver. Explore the options at these breweries, all just a hop, sip and jump away

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The beautiful interior at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall. (Photo: KK Law)

The beautiful interior at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall. (Photo: KK Law)

1. BIG ROCK URBAN This Alberta outpost’s proximity to the SkyTrain makes it an ideal starting point. On tap: the brand’s stalwart brews alongside sips such as Hollow Tree Pacific Northwest Red Ale, inspired by the Lower Mainland and developed to please West Coast palates.

2. 33 ACRES The pristine aesthetic at this brewery and tasting room is a design buff’s dream, and the perfect locale for sipping 33 Acres of Sunshine, an unfiltered white ale, or 33 Acres of Life, a smooth California Common–style beer. Refuel with food truck fare or an espresso-based bevvy.

3. MAIN STREET BREWING Tucked away just east of Main Street, this industrial heritage space serves a rotating menu of cask-conditioned beer alongside a solid selection of regular draft options such as the Westminster Brown and the Saison No. 7, with its subtle splash of pepper and citrus.

4. BRASSNECK Reclaimed wood and zany artwork line the walls, while the frequently rotating taps attempt to keep pace with even the most enthusiastic beer lover’s thirst for new and inventive brews. Nano batches keep the pours fresh and eclectic, reflected in the eight or more offerings on tap.

5. STEEL TOAD This refurbished industrial space boasts an airy mix of glass and wood, and brews that range from the authentic Yorkshire Best Bitter to the more adventurous East Coast “Nineties” IPA with spicy rye undertones. Stay for inventive bites from the menu, then hop the SkyTrain for a quick—and perhaps wobbly—exit.

2015 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s

Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s. (Photo: KK Law)

Fueled by a wealth of flavours, Vancouver celebrates a bounty of fresh ingredients, from myriad seafood species to specialty farm-raised meats, along with winning wines. Every year, Where’s globetrotting readers weigh in on those tastes that left their mark well beyond the trip home. These accolades reinforce the city’s rep as an international culinary destination driven by diversity and a merging of influences through multicultural respect and understanding. (more…)

In The Know: Speakeasies Make a Modern Comeback in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Milk Tiger Lounge's co-owner Nathan Head mixes up a Vieux Carre, a classic New Orleans prohibition-era cocktail. (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

Milk Tiger Lounge’s co-owner Nathan Head mixes up a Vieux Carre, a classic New Orleans prohibition-era cocktail. (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

In the Prohibition era of the early twentieth century, going out for a night on the town was a clandestine affair. Bar patrons would quickly glance around for the coppers before slipping into an alley and rapping out a secret knock on an unmarked door to be admitted into a speakeasy for a glass or three of bootlegged moonshine.

Now that alcohol is as legal as apple pie, there’s no need for stealth. But, the impact that Prohibition speakeasies had on social diversity, operating practices, and even cocktail recipes still reverberates through drinking establishments nearly 100 years later.

Over the last few years, modern speakeasies have been popping up all over North America—genteel bars with a vintage or retro vibe, nattily dressed bartenders, and a focus on classically inspired and crafted cocktails. Don your fedoras and flapper dresses (or whatever kids are wearing these days) and check out Calgary’s contemporary interpretations of the speakeasy—secret knock not required. (more…)

26 Dinosaurs Are On Display at “Dinosaurs Alive”

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Something big has arrived! Relive your favourite dinosaur movie adventures (Jurassic Park anyone?) at Calgary Zoo’s Dinosaurs Alive exhibit. With life-sized animatronic dinosaurs around every corner, it’s bound to be a great adventure. While the crowd pleasers (like the T-Rex, of course!) will definitely be present, other lesser known species are also on display. In fact, here are 26 dinosaurs you can expect to see at Dinosaurs Alive.

 
While that may seem like a lot of dinosaurs already, it’s merely scratching the surface of what you can expect to witness at Calgary Zoo’s Dinosaurs Alive exhibit. Grab your tickets now — after all, you truly won’t be able to get a sense of just how spectacular these creatures are until you experience them in person.
 

Images are for representation purposes only.

25 Toronto Spa Treatments to Get You Ready for Spring

GOING TO THE SPA IS TYPICALLY CONSIDERED A LUXURY EXPERIENCE, BUT FOR WEARY TRAVELLERS IT CAN OFTEN BE A NECESSITY. WHILE YOU’RE IN TOWN, REFRESH FOR SPRING BY INDULGING IN SOME OF THESE FABULOUS (AND FABULOUSLY RELAXING) TORONTO SPA TREATMENTS.  BY LINDA LUONG

Toronto Spa Treatments

Gee Beauty

Toronto Spa Treatments for Your Beautiful Face

A litany of ailments can mar what ought to be your glowing visage: puffiness, redness, clogged pores, brown spots and blemishes, not to mention dryness resulting from the season’s harsh elements. Routine facials can help to remedy all that, leaving behind a natural luminosity.

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HOTEL INSIDER: Sterling Inn & Spa

By LINDA LUONG

Sterling Inn & Spa

ABOUT THE HOTEL
Located off the main Niagara strip, but still within walking distance of casinos and numerous other attractions in Niagara Falls, this thoroughly modern boutique hotel is easily recognizable by the milk bottle-shaped entrance. Though construction for the hotel began in 2006, the building itself dates back to 1928 when it was Cairns Creameries (and later Bordens Dairy), one of the largest cream producers in the region—hence the front façade of the building. In the 1980s, the building housed a popular nightclub and restaurant.

(more…)

7 Perfect Pizzas in Vancouver

By LAURA DENNIS

Cooking up a delicious pie at Novo

Cooking up a delicious pie at Novo

The days of greasy buck-a-slice being the only option are numbered. Recent years have seen an explosion of pizza joints popping up all over town. From stringently traditional to playful twists on the predictable, this is one delicious trend we can sink our teeth into. (more…)

HOTEL INSIDER: Oban Inn

BY LINDA LUONG

Oban Inn main entrance

ABOUT THE HOTEL
Dating back to 1824, the four-diamond Oban Inn is well regarded for its exceptional service and friendly staff. Wine lovers will appreciate the short drive to nearly 30 local wineries, or if you’re staying on the premises, enjoy the lush English gardens, on-site spa, restaurant, pool and hot springs.

Choose from rooms located within the main building, or four adjacent spaces with their own decks, or at the adjacent Oban House. Inn accommodations include deluxe double, queen or king-sized beds. Reserve the Oban Suite for a truly secluded hideout, complete with a seating area, spacious bathroom with a standalone tub, and pretty views of Lake Ontario and the golf course.

The pretty grounds—a blooming garden and gazebo, need we say more?—also make the Oban Inn a popular destination for intimate (up to 40 guests) weddings, along with a personalized honeymoon suite.

BY THE NUMBERS
Rooms
26, including four pet-friendly rooms.
Price Rates vary by season and are dependent on midweek and weekend bookings. November to April $140 to $210 per night, May, June and October $$240 to $300 per night, July to September $260 to $320 per night.
Conference Facilities A fully-equipped board room and a separate meeting room are each formally decorated and can accommodate up to 32 people. Take note of the Millroy meeting room, which faces Lake Ontario and connects to an enclosed sun room facing the gardens, where meals can be set up as well.

AMENITIES
The OSpa is a tranquil escape with a range of treatments including facials, massages, reflexology, manicures, pedicures and hair removal. A special menu features male-centric offerings such as hand and foot treatments, as well as side-by-side massages for couples (or any combination of two people). Be sure to visit the steam room before or after your treatment to maintain your zen.

The fitness facility is open year-round, while from June to September, the infinity lap pool and outdoor hot springs are both open.

Oban Inn can also arrange a private winery tour with expert guide Denis Davicino, who can take up to four guests ($75 per person) to several local businesses, complete with tastings. Tours for larger groups (up to eight people) can also be arranged, with two tour guides.

FOOD
A complimentary breakfast is served each morning, while lunches and dinners can be enjoyed in one of three spaces: Shaw’s Corner, a sun room, or fireside dining room. A seasonally-changing menu marries classic dishes with modern cuisine prepared with the bounty of local ingredients. The fall menu, for example, featured a kale salad with pomegranate seeds, slow-braised bison short ribs, and a Yukon potato soufflé with goat cheese and spinach crepe.

160 Front St., Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-866-359-6226 or 905-468-2165; oban.com

Oban Inn is a member of Ontario’s Finest Inns, Hotels and Spas.

Where Canada’s 10 Best New Restaurants

Canada’s best new restaurants of 2014, chosen by the editors of Where

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Where Canada’s Best New Restaurants is an annual award program that recognizes the top new dining destinations across the country. Where magazine’s editors deliberate at the end of each year to nominate an outstanding restaurant from their region.

This year’s selection celebrates cozy cuisine—like Prairie 360, Where Winnipeg’s pick, offering a curated mix of wild game and locally-sourced ingredients; or Tavern 1883, nominated by Where Canadian Rockies, that serves up “proper Canadian comfort food” in a charming mountain cabin atmosphere. Creative Italian fare is also in the spotlight—Bufala, selected by Where Vancouver, serves up down-to-earth rustic fare while Bar Buca, Where Toronto’s pick, showcases around 30 perfect-for-grazing small plates. Together, these restaurants and 6 more, represent the top 10 new restaurants in Canada in 2014.

Click on the slideshow to see all of Where’s Best New Restaurants of 2014.

5 Delectable Cheese Plates in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

The Lake House (Photo: Jason Dziver)

The Cheese Plate at The Lake House Restaurant in Calgary, AB (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Cheese is produced all over the world in hundreds of different varieties. It’s also one of the most deliciously indulgent foods, particularly when it’s made under the watchful eye of an artisan cheesemaker. Here are some of the best places in Calgary to sample rich, creamy (or crumbly) cheeses from around the globe.

The Lake House
Perched over the serene waters of Lake Bonavista in Calgary’s southeast, The Lake House is a rustically elegant restaurant focused on showcasing the regional flavours of western Canada. Appropriately, almost everything on the cheese list is produced in Canada and three are from within the province: a semi-hard, medium sharp gouda from Vital Green Farms in Picture Butte, Alberta; a firm, slightly salty goat cheese from Fairwinds Farm in Fort Macleod, Alberta; and an extra aged gouda with a rich, nutty taste from Sylvan Star Cheese in Red Deer, Alberta.
• 747 Lake Bonavista Dr SE, 403-225-3939, lakehousecalgary.com

Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro
Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro occupies a sandstone building on the busy, historic Stephen Avenue. Well known for an excellent wine list, Divino boasts an equally impressive cheese list with varieties from all over Europe and Canada, from the soft, ripe, buttery L’ Extra Triple Crème of Longueuil, Quebec to the pungent, creamy Stinking Bishop of Glouchestershire, England.
• 113 – 8 Avenue SW, 403-410-5555, www.crmr.com/divino

Blink Restaurant
A focus on the best local products and unexpectedly delicious flavour pairings are two of the reasons Blink won Restaurant of the Year in Where Calgary’s 2014 Where to Dine Awards. While the cheese plate doesn’t come with a list of options, it does feature some interesting tastes such as Etorki, a hard, smooth-textured sheep cheese from France with a subtle burnt caramel taste, and Cambazola, a triple cream blue cheese similar in style to a brie. There’s also an extra little treat on the plate—a piece of real honeycomb from Okotoks, Alberta.
• 111 – 8 Ave SW, 403-263-5330, blinkcalgary.com

Farm Restaurant
Expert cheesemonger Janice Beaton opened Farm to complement her next-door shop, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese. Though there’s more to the locally sourced menu than just cheese, Farm serves as a tasting room for the shop’s most delightful cheese and charcuterie selections. While the list is always evolving, it’s very robust and cheese lovers of all stripes are sure to find their hole-y grail here.
• 1006 – 17 Ave SW, 403-245-2276, farm-restaurant.com

Boxwood
Tucked away in the beautiful, historic Central Memorial Park in Calgary’s Beltline, Boxwood is the little sister of the renowned Teatro. Local, sustainable foods and mouth-watering rotisserie meats take centre stage here, but there’s also a Canadian cheese plate featuring Baluchon, an organic, semi-soft cheese with a taste of hazelnut from Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Quebec, and St. Benoit Blue, a semi-soft blue cheese with a creamy, slightly salty flavour made by monks at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, Quebec.
• 340 – 13 Ave SW, 403-265-4006, www.boxwoodcafe.ca

15 Great Reasons to Visit Toronto in 2015

BY CRAIG MOY

Perhaps you’ve heard: Toronto is one the most dynamic cities in the world. An endlessly fascinating place to live; an equally amazing destination to visit. Whether you’re an international jetsetter or on a cross-Canada excursion, travelling within Ontario or just looking to be a tourist in your own hometown, there are literally thousands of compelling reasons to visit Toronto. And for 2015, here are 15 more.

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