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Road Trip

You Gotta Eat Here! 12 Restaurants That are Worth the Drive from the Big City

You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci (photo: Geoff George)

You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci (photo: Geoff George)

Canada’s big cities are home to all manner of acclaimed restaurants. Each year local and visiting foodies flock to by the thousands to the likes of Vij’s and Hawksworth in Vancouver, Canoe and The Black Hoof in Toronto, and Chives in Halifax. But there’s also great food to be had off the beaten path. On his Food Network Canada show You Gotta Eat Here, John Catucci travels across the country in search of the most mouth-watering dishes at hometown-favourite eateries. In advance of You Gotta Eat Here‘s season-three premiere on April 4, Catucci tells Where about some excellent restaurants that are well worth a road trip.

Click onward to see the restaurants that are worth the drive from Canada’s big cities!

BC Wineries: 5 Awesome Ways to Tour the Wine-Makers of British Columbia

By KAT TANCOCK

BC Wineries

BC Wineries: Experience them by helicopter (Photo: courtesy of Valhalla)

When it comes to wine tours, conventional wisdom dictates that if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. BC wineries, however, have never been fond of convention. These New World players are coming up with clever ways to experience vineyards, and introducing people to new BC wineries and vintages along the way. Here are five west coast tours that showcase BC wineries in a way that you’ll never forget.

See our photographic tour of five awesome way to tour BC wineries »

Locally Produced Spirits: 5 Amazing British Columbia Distilleries

Just some of the ingredients used by Victoria Spirits

By KAT TANCOCK

Along with a renewed interest in locally made, artisanal foods has come a revival in craft spirits. In British Columbia, home to many high-quality base ingredients, a number of small-scale distilleries have opened their doors to make tasty drinks out of fruit, organic grains, even potatoes and hemp seeds. Most products are not available in stores, so if you want a taste, you’ll just have to visit. Here, a slide show of our picks for five of the best »

 

Driving Ontario’s Big Chute Marine Railway

By ALINA SEAGAL

Big Chute dam (Photo: Yulia Rabinovich)

It is one of the most picturesque drives in southern Ontario, yet very few know about the winding road to Big Chute Marine Railway north of Port Severn, two hours from Toronto. On this route, you’ll see Ontario at its best while passing stunning views of marshes, rocky formations, lakes, islands and thick forests, ending up at the railway boat lift at Lock 44 on the Trent-Severn Waterway, the only inclined-plane boat lift left in North America.

See the map »

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Foodie Excursion: Niagara-on-the-Lake

By MARCELLA DEVINCENZO

© 2011 Creative Media

A foodie adventure is always a great reason to travel. The pretty waterfront Victorian town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, at the heel of Ontario’s greenbelt, has a wealth of wonderful restaurants and shops that make use of local produce and wineries—especially during the autumn harvest. There is a lot you can learn from a city just by the food and the people who create the dishes.

Get the map. (more…)

Markets, Lakes and Gorges: Guelph to Southampton, Ontario

The Southampton shore. (Photo by Alistair Edmondson)

By Meghan Wilson-Smith

Fall driving in southwestern Ontario means landscapes of lush, ready-to-be-harvested fields of rich yellows, oranges and greens, and sunny skies dimpled with heavy wet clouds whisked by on a breeze just cool enough to bring out the wools. Air-conditioning off, windows open, and nothing but the splendor of the great Canadian north in your windshield.

Start: Guelph
End: Southampton
Overnight: Southampton

Get the map.

ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS

1. Guelph is already a pretty special town, a vibrant city core with a popular farmers’ market on Saturdays. It retains many small town values while delivering on big city comforts. It’s also a great take-off point to some of the quaintest of towns en route to beautiful Lake Huron.

2. Just a half-hour outside of Guelph, the town of Elora and the stunning Elora gorge are musts. Heading north on Highway 6 you’ll see a small sign for the Fergus and Mount Forest to the north or Elora to the west. Bend west a bit and head straight to Elora. The town is mostly made of limestone, as if it were an extension of the gorge it sits on. It has lovely shops and great hiking. (25 km)

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Niagara’s Other Wine Route: St. Catharines to Beamsville

By Waheeda Harris

A visit to Ontario’s wine country is the perfect way to spend an autumn day or an overnight escape to the area of Niagara locals call “the Bench” on the edge of the Niagara escarpment. Here you’ll find memorable vintages, a relaxed drive, and several distractions for your palate.

Start: St. Catharines, ON
End: Beamsville, ON
Overnight: Jordan Village, ON

Get the map.

Roadside Attractions

1. Kick off the journey by heading along Pelham Street North, which leads out of St. Catharines to the vineyards. Make your first stop at Short Hills Provincial Park to see the trillium, Ontario’s provincial flower, and hike paths lined with sugar maples and black oak trees showing off dazzling shades of yellow, orange and red. (15 min, 8 km)

2. Less than five minutes from the park is Henry of Pelham Family Estate, one of the first vineyards to produce wine from 100% Ontario-grown grapes. Make sure to taste the critic’s choice: Reserve Baco Noir or Reserve Cabernet/Merlot. Visit the Coach House Café & Cheese Shoppe for some pairing items and take advantage of the vineyard picnic areas. (3 min, 1.3 km)

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Road Trip: Outaouais and La Petite Nation

Photo by Quoi Media

By Tim Johnson

Tracing the languid flow of the big, beautiful Ottawa River along its northern banks, the Outaouias region of Quebec is a pleasing a mix of water and wild. Add in a dash of Quebecois cuisine, some high-flying adventures and one of the quirkiest hotels in the nation and you’ve got a great drive. And best of all? The region, which includes an area around Montebello known as La Petite Nation (an old Algonquin term), lies roughly halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, so you can take it all in en route, driving from one of Canada’s best cities to another.

Roadside Attractions

1. The charming village of Montebello, right on the river about a two-hour drive west of Montreal, is a place where you’ll want to linger, with its abundant green spaces and compact main street lined with cute shops and cafes.

2. Just north of town, hidden out in the woods, the Fairmont Kenauk—an institution since 1930 and a private club until the 1970s—offers stylish access to the great outdoors.  Now owned and operated by luxury hotelier Fairmont, the Kenauk spans a stunning 65,000+ acres of Quebec wilderness and includes 70 lakes and countless hills and small mountains. Go fishing, take out a canoe or kayak, shoot some clay pigeons with a 12-gauge, hike, bike, and even bed down for the night in one of their lovely, rustic cabins—each of which comes with its own private lake.

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Road Trip: Vancouver Island Coastal Drive, From Victoria to Tofino

Photo: James Wheeler

By Tim Johnson

A place where the mountains meet the sea, Vancouver Island’s beauty is known the world over. At times wild and untamed, the Island can be equally refined and sophisticated as well as quirky and interesting. Traversing the two-lanes that link British Columbia’s capital with its best-known surf town is a pleasurable experience—especially if you make time for lots of stops along the way. (more…)

Road Trip: Eastern Townships – Sherbrooke to Montreal

Photo by Waheeda Harris

By Waheeda Harris

Although not a lengthy distance, this part of La Belle Province is packed with heritage towns, tempting boites and plenty of Quebecois charm. Many distractions can be found in the Eastern Townships in the towns of North Hatley, Magog, Orford and Brome before ending the journey in Montreal.

Modes of Transport

Driving can make this into a day trip, but take the time to meander off Autoroute 10 to discover some of the lures of the region. Cycling is another way to enjoy the leisurely pace of the Townships, and if a day on two wheels has tired you out, the Taxi-Velo can come to the rescue.  From point A to point B its 157 kilometres as the crow flies (just under two hours), but consider taking a long weekend and  another 50-75 km for side trips.

Roadside Attractions

Make time in Sherbrooke to visit the 11 al fresco murals that are found throughout the downtown. Each one reveals some history of the town, its citizens and the region, as well as a snapshot of the changes that occurred in the 20th century. (more…)

Road Trip: New Brunswick’s Acadian Coastal Drive

Photo by Tim Johnson

By Tim Johnson

As rich in culture as it is natural beauty, New Brunswick’s Acadian Coastal Drive offers a lovely mix of sun-kissed beaches, delicious roadside cuisine and the wonderful joie de vivre of the Acadiens. Although it’s just 150 kilometres from Moncton to Miramichi, you should take your time and enjoy—split the drive into two or three days to make sure you properly soak up the sun, tucking into some poutine râpée and seafood pizza along the way. (more…)

Road Trip: Calgary to Cranbrook on the Crowsnest Highway

A view of the Kootenays near Cranbook. Photo by That Angela

By Waheeda Harris

Modern day explorers still lust to explore the unknown – and for those wanting to point their car towards unchartered territories, the Crowsnest Highway from Alberta to British Columbia provides eye-catching views of the Rocky Mountains, historic places of interest and small town hospitality.

Modes of Transport

Highway 22 from Calgary is the way to get to the Crowsnest Highway via Turner Valley, which originates in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Although easily done by with four wheels, this old train route can be used by cyclists who will appreciate the wide highway shoulders through the mountains. Approximate driving time from Calgary to Cranbrook is four hours, 46 min and a distance of 379 km one way.

Roadside Attractions

It’s been 100 years since this rock slide happened, but the Frank Slide is still the main attraction of wee Frank, Alberta, located east of the Crowsnest Pass. When 82 million tonnes of limestone moved almost two kilometres in less than two minutes, the immense fields of rock are worth a stop to walk through the pathways (free admission).  For those wanting an up close and personal experience of the Rocky Mountains, Fernie, British Columbia offers several trails for hiking and mountain biking.  Adrenaline junkies will appreciate the wild ride of the Al Matador trail, (free access) which ascends 1200m in elevation as you navigate the single track. Make sure to point your camera lens at the Three Sisters, aka Mt. Trinity, a popular mountain of three peaks.

An hour west of Fernie, stop in historic Fort Steele, a former gold mining town that will transport you back to the 19th century. A ride on the steam train locomotive or a wagon ride will be a welcome late afternoon distraction from the road.  Once you reach Cranbrook, spend time at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, featuring antique rail cars, train memorabilia and the restored Royal Alexandra Hall from the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Royal Alexandra Hotel, which had been located in Winnipeg.

Eats

Start your roadtrip with a hearty breakfast at the The Chuckwagon Café on Highway 22, part of the Cowboy Trail and less than an hour from Calgary in the rolling hills of Turner Valley. Located in a barn, the café serves up traditional eggs and pancakes that will make you feel like you can take on a day on the range.  In Cranbrook, take advantage of the weekly Farmer’s Market held every Saturday morning for locally grown and made edibles and for a fine dining experience, make a reservation at Heidi’s, a favourite of the area. Their secret? The owners trained at the International Institute for Tourism and Management in Austria.

Sleep

If you’re lured to stay in the heart of the Rockies in Fernie, the Mt. Fernie Timberlodge ($385-449 per night) accommodates up to 10 travellers in an Alpine-style chalet. Weary from all that outdoor activity – guests can amble up a spiral staircase leading to the chalet’s treehouse with a hot tub with views of Mt. Fernie and Mt. Proctor.  For the final rest stop in Cranbrook, forget the highway motel strip and kick it up a notch with a stay at the luxe Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort. Ask for the John Huber Express ($599.95 per night), choosing from the Naughton or Newcastle staterooms, with décor and amenities inspired by luxury railway travel of the past.

Read

The perfect accompaniment for the Crowsnest Highway, which lies along a former Canadian train route, would be the classic writing of mystery maven Agatha Christie. Three novels feature a train theme, and can be easily found in paperback or audio book: Miss Marple in 4-50 From Paddington, and Hercule Poirot in The Mystery of the Blue Train and Murder on the Orient Express.