Day by day itinerary
Montreal in the fall
Canada's most diverse metropolis, Montréal, is an island city that favors style and elegance over order or even prosperity, a city where past and present intrude on each other daily. In some ways it resembles Vienna—well past its peak of power and glory, perhaps, yet still vibrant and grand.But don't get the wrong idea. Montréal has always had a bit of an edge. During Prohibition, thirsty Americans headed north to the city on the St. Lawrence for booze, music, and a good time, and people still come for the same things. Summer festivals celebrate everything from comedy and French music and culture to beer and fireworks, and, of course, jazz. And on those rare weeks when there isn't a planned event, the party continues. Clubs and sidewalk cafés are abuzz from late afternoon to the early hours of the morning. And Montréal is a city that knows how to mix it up even when it's 20 below zero. Rue St-Denis is almost as lively on a Saturday night in January as it is in July, and the festival Montréal en Lumière, or Montréal Highlights, enlivens the dreary days of February with concerts, balls, and fine food.Montréal takes its name from Parc du Mont-Royal, a stubby plug of tree-covered igneous rock that rises 764 feet above the surrounding cityscape. Although its height is unimpressive, "the Mountain" forms one of Canada's finest urban parks, and views from the Chalet du Mont-Royal atop the hill provide an excellent orientation to the city's layout and major landmarks.Old Montréal is home to museums, the municipal government, and the magnificent Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal within its network of narrow, cobblestone streets. Although Montréal's centre-ville, or Downtown, bustles like many other major cities on the surface, it's active below street level as well, in the so-called Underground City–-the underground levels of shopping malls and food courts connected by pedestrian tunnels and the city's subway system, or métro. Residential Plateau Mont-Royal and trendy neighborhoods are abuzz with restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries, and cafés. The greener areas of town are composed of the Parc du Mont-Royal and the Jardin Botanique.
Québec City's alluring setting atop Cape Diamond (Cap Diamant) evokes a past of high adventure, military history, and exploration. This French-speaking capital city is the only walled city north of Mexico. Visitors come for the delicious and inventive cuisine, the remarkable historical continuity, and to share in the seasonal exuberance of the largest Francophone population outside France.The historic heart of this community is the Old City (Vieux-Québec), comprising the part of Upper Town (Haute-Ville) surrounded by walls and Lower Town (Basse-Ville), which spreads out at the base of the hill from Place Royale. Many sets of staircases and the popular funicular link the top of the hill with the bottom. Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and elaborate cathedrals here are charming in all seasons. The Old City earned recognition as an official UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, thanks largely to city planners who managed to update and preserve the 400-year-old buildings and attractions without destroying what made them worth preserving. The most familiar icon of the city, Fairmont Château Frontenac, is set on the highest point in Upper Town, where it holds court over the entire city.Sitting proudly above the confluence of the St. Lawrence and St. Charles rivers, the city's famous military fortification, La Citadelle, built in the early 19th century, remains the largest of its kind in North America. In summer, visitors should try to catch the Changing of the Guard, held every morning at 10 am; you can get much closer to the guards here than at Buckingham Palace in London.Enchanting as it is, the Old City is just a small part of the true Québec City experience. Think outside the walls and explore St-Roch, a downtown hot spot, which has artsy galleries, foodie haunts, and a bustling square. Cruise the Grande-Allée and avenue Cartier to find a livelier part of town dotted with nightclubs and fun eateries. Or while away the hours in St-Jean-Baptiste, a neighborhood with trendy shops and hipster hangouts.
Saguenay Fjord, Quebec, Canada
Just after visiting Saguenay, the wonderful Saguenay River pours into the massive St. Lawrence River. Before then, however, it slices through one of the world's most southerly fjords and dense forests of towering pine trees. The nature watching here is nothing short of sublime, with outdoor spots like the Parc National du Fjord-du-Saguenay offering panoramic vistas and sandy river-beaches. Island-sized blue whales cruise through the waters of the mighty rivers, and flick gallons of water into the air effortlessly with a single swish of their colossal tails. With hiking, kayaking and cycling opportunities inviting you to explore the spectacular scenery - you'll find endless ways to fall in love with this majestic outdoor escape. In fall, gorgeous colours ripple through the foliage, and in doing so, they provide one of nature's greatest performances.
Designated as the Island capital in 1765, Charlottetown is both PEI’s oldest and largest urban center. However, since the whole "metropolitan" area only has a population of about 65,000, a pleasing small-town atmosphere remains. The city is a winner appearance-wise as well. Peppered with gingerbread-clad homes, converted warehouses, striking churches, and monumental government buildings, Charlottetown’s core seems relatively unchanged from its 19th-century heyday when it hosted the conference that led to the formation of Canada. The city is understandably proud of its role as the "Birthplace of Confederation" and, in summer, downtown streets are dotted with people dressed as personages from the past who’ll regale you with tales about the Confederation debate.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Surrounded by natural treasures and glorious seascapes, Halifax is an attractive and vibrant hub with noteworthy historic and modern architecture, great dining and shopping, and a lively nightlife and festival scene. The old city manages to feel both hip and historic. Previous generations had the foresight to preserve the cultural and architectural integrity of the city, yet students from five local universities keep it lively and current. It's a perfect starting point to any tour of the Atlantic provinces, but even if you don't venture beyond its boundaries, you will get a real taste of the region.It was Halifax’s natural harbor—the second largest in the world after Sydney, Australia’s—that first drew the British here in 1749, and today most major sites are conveniently located either along it or on the Citadel-crowned hill overlooking it. That’s good news for visitors because this city actually covers quite a bit of ground.Since amalgamating with Dartmouth (directly across the harbor) and several suburbs in 1996, Halifax has been absorbed into the Halifax Regional Municipality, and the HRM, as it is known, has around 415,000 residents. That may not sound like a lot by U.S. standards, but it makes Nova Scotia’s capital the most significant Canadian urban center east of Montréal.There's easy access to the water, and despite being the focal point of a busy commercial port, Halifax Harbour doubles as a playground, with one of the world's longest downtown boardwalks. It's a place where container ships, commuter ferries, cruise ships, and tour boats compete for space, and where workaday tugs and fishing vessels tie up beside glitzy yachts. Like Halifax as a whole, the harbor represents a blend of the traditional and the contemporary.
A resort town since the 19th century, Bar Harbor is the artistic, culinary, and social center of Mount Desert Island. It also serves visitors to Acadia National Park with inns, motels, and restaurants. Around the turn of the last century the island was known as the summer haven of the very rich because of its cool breezes. The wealthy built lavish mansions throughout the island, many of which were destroyed in a huge fire that devastated the island in 1947, but many of those that survived have been converted into businesses. Shops are clustered along Main, Mount Desert, and Cottage streets. Take a stroll down West Street, a National Historic District, where you can see some fine old houses.The island and the surrounding Gulf of Maine are home to a great variety of wildlife: whales, seals, eagles, falcons, ospreys, and puffins (though not right offshore here), and forest dwellers such as deer, foxes, coyotes, and beavers.
From Wall Street's skyscrapers to the neon of Times Square to Central Park's leafy paths, New York City pulses with an irrepressible energy. History meets hipness in this global center of entertainment, fashion, media, and finance. World-class museums like MoMA and unforgettable icons like the Statue of Liberty beckon, but discovering the subtler strains of New York's vast ambition is equally rewarding: ethnic enclaves and shops, historic streets of dignified brownstones, and trendy bars and eateries all add to the urban buzz.
Wandering through the city's famous Historic District, you would swear it is a movie set. Dozens of church steeples punctuate the low skyline, and horse-drawn carriages pass centuries-old mansions and town houses, their stately salons offering a crystal-laden and parquet-floored version of Southern comfort. Outside, magnolia-filled gardens overflow with carefully tended heirloom plants. At first glance, the city may resemble a 19th-century etching come to life—but look closer and you'll see that block after block of old structures have been restored. Happily, after three centuries of wars, epidemics, fires, and hurricanes, Charleston has prevailed and is now one of the South's best-preserved cities.Although it’s home to Fort Sumter, where the bloodiest war in the nation's history began, Charleston is also famed for its elegant houses. These handsome mansions are showcases for the "Charleston style," a distinctive look that is reminiscent of the West Indies, and for good reason. Before coming to the Carolinas in the late 17th century, many early British colonists first settled on Barbados and other Caribbean islands. In that warm and humid climate they built homes with high ceilings and rooms opening onto broad "piazzas" (porches) at each level to catch sea breezes. As a result, to quote the words of the Duc de La Rochefoucauld, who visited in 1796, "One does not boast in Charleston of having the most beautiful house, but the coolest."Preserved through the hard times that followed the Civil War and an array of natural disasters, many of Charleston's earliest public and private buildings still stand. Thanks to a rigorous preservation movement and strict architectural guidelines, the city's new structures blend in with the old. In many cases, recycling is the name of the game—antique handmade bricks literally lay the foundation for new homes. But although locals do dwell—on certain literal levels—in the past, the city is very much a town of today.Take, for instance, the internationally heralded Spoleto Festival USA. For 17 days every spring, arts patrons from around the world come to enjoy international concerts, dance performances, operas, and plays at various venues citywide. Day in and day out, diners can feast at upscale restaurants, shoppers can look for museum-quality paintings and antiques, and lovers of the outdoors can explore Charleston's outlying beaches, parks, and waterways. But as cosmopolitan as the city has become, it's still the South, and just beyond the city limits are farm stands cooking up boiled peanuts, the state's official snack.
Like many southeast Florida neighbors, Fort Lauderdale has long been revitalizing. In a state where gaudy tourist zones often stand aloof from workaday downtowns, Fort Lauderdale exhibits consistency at both ends of the 2-mile Las Olas corridor. The sparkling look results from upgrades both downtown and on the beachfront. Matching the downtown's innovative arts district, cafés, and boutiques is an equally inventive beach area, with hotels, cafés, and shops facing an undeveloped shoreline, and new resort-style hotels replacing faded icons of yesteryear. Despite wariness of pretentious overdevelopment, city leaders have allowed a striking number of glittering high-rises. Nostalgic locals and frequent visitors fret over the diminishing vision of sailboats bobbing in waters near downtown; however, Fort Lauderdale remains the yachting capital of the world, and the water toys don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Silver Whisper, the sister ship to Silver Shadow, launched in 2001, with unmistakeable Italian luxury and 6-star service.