Ottawa was shocked to have its first snowfall of the year two weeks ago. I don’t know about you, but my mind instantly started racing. Hibernation season starts soon. Cue panic mode. For me, I know that when it starts to get cold and damp, I just want to run away to a beach. November is the the calm before the storm: Exam season, budget review, the holiday madness. Who wouldn’t want to escape the chaos?
During this time of year, I love to escape to a relaxing place in order to mentally prepare myself for the change in weather and the chaos that December may bring. Whether you’re a student who just finished your midterms and you are in need of a spur of the moment mini vacay to clear your mind before the hustle and bustle of exams, or you have been working a little too hard at your 9-5 and need to get out of the city – Here are a variety of my favorite adventures and bucket-list destinations that I recommend.
Lose Yourself in Nature
Ever get that feeling of exhaustion where all you want to do is curl up on your couch and do nothing for the next week and a half? When I start to get overwhelmed, I know I am in need of a change of scenery. Nothing too extravagant, but somewhere where I can unplug, hear myself think, and escape reality for a little while.
If you are in need of some pampering, the spa will most definitely be at the top of your to do list. Living in Ottawa, the classic go-to is the Nordik Spa, located in Chelsea, Quebec, which is a quick 25 minute drive. Fun Fact? Le Nordik is the largest spa in North America with 7 outdoor baths, 8 unique saunas, infinity pool, a restaurant and lounge, and it’s open all year round offering different seasonal packages. Spend a full day there, and I guarantee you will be recharged like no tomorrow. Another option is the Wakefield Mill Inn located at the heart of the Gatineau Parks with charming lodging packages to go hand in hand with the perfect weekend getaway. Not to mention, you get the best of both world with scenery and relaxation!
Not interested in the spa? Hop in a car and head up to a cottage for the weekend with some friends or family! Sometimes, the best time spent is a weekend with Mother Nature. Disconnect with your phone, and connect with yourself. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, take up camping for a weekend by the Algonquin Provincial Park, or rent a chalet in Mont Tremblant. By changing up your normal routine and stepping out of your comfort zone, you are jolting your body with a burst of energy and inspiration.
Refuel, Get Out Of Your City
If you aren’t in the mood to explore nature but for big cities, I highly recommend taking a mini-road trip and be a tourist in a city or town close by.
I always find the best time to travel is in between seasons. In this instance, the in-between fall and winter is just about as perfect as a warm cup of tea. We are lucky this year that the snowfall didn’t continue past that one cold October day! Leaves are still continuously changing from yellow to red, and the air still smells fresh and crisp. If you have always loved the “big city never sleeps” mentality, Montreal is a definite go-to, not to mention it’s only 2 hours away. It’s charming, it’s trendy, and it’s authentic. Whether you feel like strolling down cobblestone streets admiring the beautiful architecture, or dressing up to try out the best food in town – Montreal has a lively ambiance that is contagious to all!
Another city that is a bit more low-key, but just as adventurous, is the well known Niagara Falls. Although it is a smaller city than Montreal, it offers a variety of exciting excursions that will definitely get your mind off work or school! Aside from watching the Falls on foot, dive right in and reserve your spot on the jet boating or Maid of the Mist tour! If that’s not thrilling enough, try the helicopter ride and see the falls from above! I truly don’t believe you experienced our famous waterfalls if you haven’t seen it from all angles. Not to mention… this year, they even opened up a zip line tour to the Falls – now that’s something worth exploring! Once that’s off your list, I highly encourage you to take advantage of any vineyards that are still open this season and try their famous wine. Pair that with a delicious cooked meal, and I’d say it’s a well worth trip.
If you have been to Montreal or Niagara one too many times, visit a small town that you have never been before. Wait – now before you say anything, I say that because small towns have a lot more to offer than you think! Not only are you exploring a complete new city or town, they are bound to be quieter and cozier than Montreal and Niagara – not to mention there are probably barely any tourists! Stay at a bed and breakfast, stroll around town, visit local businesses, and enjoy what nature has to offer before snowfall hits! (Hint: The scenery between Brockville and Gananoque is especially beautiful at this time, with the stunning views of the world-famous Thousand Islands!)
Pack Your Bags and Get Ready To Take Off
Looking to spruce up your getaway a tiny bit more and get out of Canada? Head over to Chicago if you have never “bean”! (Okay, that was cheesy), but seriously, go! First and foremost, yes, it is not called the Windy City for nothing, so make sure you pack a few extra sweaters, and secondly, think of how much deep-dish pizza you will be eating! From Millennium Park to Wrigley Field, Buckingham Fountain to the Willis Tower, a ride on the “L” is a classic way to experience Chicago. Make sure to also stop by the Lincoln Park Conservatory and stop in to see palms and greenery, even in this weather! Chicago is an edgy city with dozens of Museums and Art Galleries which makes is so interesting to tour, and it is not at all as crowded or busy as New York, so that’s a win-win for you if you are looking to unwind a little. Another must-do if you are visiting Chicago is to head on over to the Navy Pier where the Shakespeare Theatre is located. Rumor has it that it is one of the best way to indulge in Chicago culture!
Looking to just relax on a beach? Good ol’ Florida always has your back! Whether it is Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, or Miami, treat yourself to a relaxing weekend in the sun and leave your worries at home! You know what they say, the best cure for anything is usually Vitamin Sea!
Don’t let the cold weather or end of year chaos beat you down this year. Take a break from your daily routine and get inspired by new surroundings! Live boldly and fearlessly by traveling to various places to refresh your focus once in awhile. It’s truly the best way to reboot your system and energize your brain.
So, where will your next mini getaway be?
Born and raised in Ottawa, I’m currently trying to find my perfect fit in the world. I like to live my life with purpose, heart, and soul. I want to promote empowerment, encourage those to follow their dreams, and support those who need help or guidance.