From hiking on fossil fields and biking alongside glacial lakes to sliding through canyons and traversing cliffs on a via ferrata, the Canadian Rockies offer endless options for adventure. Three iconic landmarks offer the perfect home base as you explore this majestic playground: Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Whichever one you choose, the towering mountains and breathtaking scenery make the ideal backdrop for an action-packed summer trip.
Called shinrin-yoku in Japan, this rejuvenating mindfulness practice is a kind of natural therapy, allowing you to slow down and connect closely with the outdoor environment. It’s a combination of walking and meditation, during which you tune your senses into the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures of the forest around you. You might pause to hear birds singing, breathe in the distinctive aroma of pine trees, or feel lush moss growing on a rough piece of bark. Rather than hiking to a specific destination, you simply experience the forest’s calm. A two-hour private session includes a Fairmont guide, mat and tea.
Just outside Banff, Mount Norquay’s via ferrata (“iron road”) provides spectacular vistas of the town, forest-cloaked valley and surrounding craggy peaks. Four routes of varying lengths and difficulties encompass ladders, narrow bridges strung over dramatic couloirs, and high, cliffside traverses with steel cable pathways. The Explorer is a great choice for beginners, giving you a chance to cross a suspension bridge and try your hand at a few pitches. More advanced climbers may opt for the Summiteer, a thrilling, 6-hour experience featuring a rugged alpine ridge and a 3-wire bridge. Certified guides lead you every step of the way, and a safety harness attaches you securely to the route at all times. Afterward, head to the Waldhaus Pub & Biergarten at Fairmont Banff Springs for a well-deserved pilsner and Bavarian bratwurst on the sunny patio.
A fun evening adventure from Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the guided e-bike ride to Morant’s Curve. This famous bend where the Canadian Pacific Railway snakes alongside the Bow River is a fantastic place to snap photos of classic Rockies scenery. You might be lucky enough to spot a train rumbling past. For mountain bikers, the single-track Highline Trail is one of the most challenging and rewarding in the area. Riders pedal steadily up a narrow path over roots and rocks before descending to Moraine Lake, where blue-green glacial waters shimmer against a backdrop of jagged summits. Mountain, road and e-bike rentals are available in the hotel.
A quintessential Rockies experience, paddling may involve anything from a gentle SUP glide across a still lake to a canoe trip along the fast-flowing Bow River, famed for its colorful harlequin ducks.
There’s no better way to see Lake Louise than from the lake, especially when an experienced Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise mountain guide is leading a guided Voyageur Canoe Experience. Departing from the resort’s boathouse, this experience includes tales of indigenous peoples and fur traders as you paddle an authentic cedar strip and canvas voyageur canoe.
If you’re staying at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the Boathouse log cabin rents canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for quiet explorations of Lac Beauvert.
Run by Jasper Food Tours, Peak-Nic is a tantalizing blend of hiking, cooking and dining. Participants kick off the feast with a 4-kilometer hike up a picturesque peak before enjoying an interactive backcountry cooking lesson using environmentally friendly techniques. You’ll learn useful tips on the gear and lightweight ingredients needed for cooking outdoors, and will finish off eating a delicious meal in the open air with sweeping views across the Rockies. Choose from lunch or dinner, and be sure to book at least 48 hours in advance.
Narrow, steep-sided canyons lie tucked beneath the Rockies’ colossal peaks. You can hike, slither and wade through these dramatic chasms on a guided tour. If you have kids in tow, a good option is Morro Canyon, which is mainly dry, but lets you splash up to your knees in plenty of pools along the way. This full-day route contains eight rappels, the longest an exhilarating drop of around 20 meters. For a total dunking, the tight ravine of Ogre Canyon features multiple waterfall rappels, including the legendary “Turbowash.” Canyoning tours run May through October and include all safety gear and clothing, including wetsuits, helmets and neoprene booties.
Spanning Yoho and Kootenay National Parks, the Burgess Shale is a treasure trove of fossils dating back over 500 million years. Guided day hikes lead visitors to three key areas within the site, including a 10-kilometer route to the Stanley Glacier. This mostly gentle trail weaves past wildflowers, waterfalls and a brilliantly turquoise river to a basin filled with fossilized species, including ancient brachiopods and sponges. A steeper, 8-kilometer path to the Mount Stephen trilobite beds climbs rapidly above the town of Field for extraordinary views over the Kicking Horse River valley. For the ultimate challenge, the 22-kilometer trek to Walcott Quarry zigzags up a rocky slope, where you can search for amazingly preserved fossils and look out toward vividly hued Emerald Lake below.
Exploring the awe-inspiring landscape of the Canadian Rockies by land is unforgettable, but gazing down from above is even more memorable. Helicopter tours whisk you high above sweeping, ice-hewn valleys, hulking glaciers and milky blue lakes. A 55-minute ride provides a bird’s-eye view of the ancient Columbia Icefield, which spans a whopping 325 square kilometers with a depth of up to 365 meters. Alternatively, buckle in for the 30-minute Epic Summit Tour, an electrifying journey above gigantic crevasses, powerful waterfalls and the mighty Wilson Icefield. Reserve at least four seats to enjoy a private tour.
Bookend your trip with stays at the storied Fairmont Palliser in Calgary and elegant Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. Both offer the perfect start or finish to your summer adventure in the Canadian Rockies.
Susie Henderson is passionate about travelling and has written articles and travel guides for numerous publications and websites, including the World Travel Guide, Sky News online, MSN Travel, Mail Travel, The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She's lived in the UK, France, Spain and the US and is now based in Victoria, BC.
Sweeping sandy crescents, lush rainforests and lava-carved landscapes make Hawaiʻi an unbeatable destination enriched by world-renowned snorkeling, tasty tropical produce and a rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat or a fun-packed family getaway, Maui and Hawaiʻi Island offers all that and more.
Also known as Keoneʻōʻio Bay, this dramatic cove at the southern tip of Maui is known for its striking turquoise water and jagged ribbons of black lava rock that jut into the sea. It’s a fantastic spot for peeking into tide pools, as well as a popular hangout for pods of spinner dolphins and wild goats. Just remember to admire them from a safe distance! Explore archaeological traces of settlements from pre-contact Hawaiʻi, including salt pans and heʻiau or temples. The Hoapili Trail, or King’s Highway, circumnavigates Maui. Once a route for Hawaiian aliʻi or royalty, this bay portion of the trail is a great 5.5-mile round-trip path, which traverses craggy lava fields to Kanaio Beach. If you plan to hike it, it’s best to get an early or late start because the mid-day sun can be a scorcher. You’ll also want to keep in mind that there is limited, if any, cell service and no services on the trail.
Maui’s tropical climate and rich volcanic soil create ideal conditions for growing juicy fruits, macadamia nuts and root veggies like sweet potato and taro. The stand at fourth-generation Kula Country Farms is a great place to stock up on strawberries, blueberries and honey. The Upcountry Farmers Market on Saturday mornings offers fresh fish, elixirs and tropical seasonal fruits, including coconuts, mangos and papayas, in addition to local flowers such as protea, lavender and ginger. Nearby Surfing Goat Dairy runs a variety of tours where visitors feed and milk the goats and learn about cheese-making before tucking into more than 20 types of craft cheese. Coffee lovers should make a beeline for Oʻo Farm; their early-morning tour includes a gourmet breakfast, French press coffee and a stroll through the plantation. A VIP guided tour at Maui Brewing Company’s Kihei location takes you behind the scenes in the brewhouse, cellar and the production line with an expert beer curator. The tour ends with a guided tasting. For something more spirited, Hawaiʻi Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery offers a guided tour and tasting experience. You’ll learn what makes their water special, their organic philosophy and taste the different spirits they bottle.
An invigorating sunrise paddle on a 6-man outrigger canoe is among the fun lineup of cultural experiences curated by Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui. Originally used by the Polynesian explorers who settled Hawaiʻi, this traditional boat has played a vital role in the islands’ history. The resort hoʻokele, or navigator, teaches you key commands and sings a chant requesting permission from ancestors to enter the sea. Once on the water, you might encounter curious honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles), spy a whale or jump off for a swim. Back on dry land, you can try mastering a few phrases at a Hawaiian language lesson.
Located on Maui’s laid-back North Shore, Pāʻia is a surfing hub with a bohemian vibe. The town’s pastel-painted buildings are home to one-off boutiques and indie cafés. Family-run Moonbow Tropics has been specializing in Hawaiian shirts since 1994 and stocks a wide range of bold prints from labels that include Pete Huntingdon and vintage-inspired brand Pineapple. Across the road, Maui Girl sells eye-catching, functional swimwear worn by supermodels Chrissy Teigen and Gigi Hadid. Treat yourself to sashimi and ahi tuna with a generous side of onion rings at long-standing eatery Pāʻia Fishmarket before cooling off with one of Tobi’s Maui Hawaiian Shave Ice. It might be difficult to choose with refreshing flavors like passion fruit, lemon lime and guava.
Over on Hawaiʻi Island, plunging into the ocean is like floating in a gigantic aquarium. The startling array of marine life includes huge manta rays, best spotted off the Kona coast at dusk or after dark when they gather to feed. Sunset and moonlight snorkeling tours offer an unforgettable, close-up view of these magnificent creatures, with spotlights illuminating the water as the rays feed on plankton and dart gracefully beneath you. Another go-to snorkeling destination is Pauoa Bay, right beside Fairmont Orchid, where you’re likely to catch sight of turtles as well as schools of vividly hued fish and a colorful coral reef.
Pololū is one of a series of long, spectacular valleys along Hawaiʻi Island’s Kohala coast, gouged from volcanic terrain by centuries of rain erosion. Pololū Valley Lookout, at the end of the highway, delivers exceptional views over the verdant valley and towering sea cliffs. From there, you can follow a 25-minute hiking trail, descending steeply via switchbacks to the valley floor where you’ll arrive at a black-sand beach backed by ironwood trees and dotted with boulders. It’s worth coming first thing in the morning before temperatures rise, as the hike back up can be warm.
This Hawaiʻi Island favorite never ceases to thrill, whether it’s your first or fifteenth visit, as the ever-changing topography means each visit differs from the last. In September 2021, fissures erupted at the foot of the Halemaʻumaʻu crater of the active Kīlauea volcano, generating a molten, fiery orange lava lake, which spectators can see from a safe viewing spot. For outstanding views of the massive caldera and jagged crater, head to Kīlauea Overlook. But check the National Park Service website for updates on local conditions before you head out. An easy hike along the Crater Rim Trail passes steam vents, rainforest and white-tailed tropical birds swooping above the dramatic landscape. You can also take the birds-eye view of the eruption by helicopter.
When you stay at Fairmont Orchid, you join a resident population of 80,000 honeybees. Housed in four on-site hives, these busy pollinators produce rare kiawe honey, a smooth, creamy and truly delicious variety. Guests can learn about these insects and how the honey is incorporated into hotel menus on an Aloha ʻAina-Botanical, Bees and Chef’s Garden tour led by Director of Hawaiian Culture Kaʻiulani Blankenfeld. You’ll visit the hives and botanicals collection, as well as hear local legends about native plants like the naupaka. Tours are complimentary and run weekly.
Inspired to hit tropical shores? Your Hawaiian adventure awaits.
Susie Henderson is passionate about travelling and has written articles and travel guides for numerous publications and websites, including the World Travel Guide, Sky News online, MSN Travel, Mail Travel, The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She's lived in the UK, France, Spain and the US and is now based in Victoria, BC.
Mexico City provides a perfect balance between the bustle and energy of the streets and its art galleries, museums and fabulous restaurants. Sofitel Mexico City Reforma is just steps from the Angel de la Independencia on Paseo de la Reforma. After a day of business or exploration, there’s nothing better than a signature cocktail in the hotel’s 38th floor rooftop restaurant as the sun sets and the city comes alive before your eyes.
The hotel offers a striking fusion of Mexico and France, and this mix of cultures continues as you explore the vibrant boulevard that is Paseo de la Reforma. Reforma (as the road is known to locals) was built by Emperor Maximilian I in the style of the grand European boulevards of his time. It was originally named Paseo de la Emperatriz for his wife, Carlota, and renamed as Paseo de la Reforma in 1872.
Begin your exploration of Mexican history and culture with a visit to El Angel de la Independencia, considered one of the city’s iconic landmarks. The angel towers more than 40 meters (131 feet) above you, and is just steps from the hotel. It was built in 1910 to commemorate the centenary of Mexico’s War of Independence.
Turn right along Paseo de la Reforma and stroll past skyscrapers and embassies until you reach Estela de Luz, a towering minimalist monument commissioned for the bicentennial anniversary of Mexican independence from Spain. From Estela de Luz, follow the Avenida Juventud Heróica to the striking entrance into one of the largest urban parks in the western hemisphere: Bosque de Chapultepec. The Altar a la Patria (honoring the young cadets from the Battle of Chapultepec) with the Castillo de Chapultepec greets you upon entering the park.
Cárcamo de Delores. There is a little-known Diego Rivera work hidden in the center of the park. While a hydraulic structure might not normally make a list of must-sees, in Mexico City it absolutely should when it boasts a Rivera mural called Agua, el origen de la vida (“Water, source of life”). There is a small gallery in addition to the beautiful and complex Tlaloc Fountain, also by Rivera.
Chapultepec Castle. The castle, once home to Emperor Maximillian I, is now the home of the National Museum of History.
National Museum of Anthropology. The largest museum in Mexico, it offers extensive collections devoted to the archeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic cultures.
If you turn left along Reforma when you leave the hotel, you can mingle with businesspeople taking a break, join young people on skateboards and watch visitors marveling at the incredible public works of art. Keep an eye out for murals and sculptures such as the famous Leonora Carrington bronze crocodile sculpture.
Alameda Central, the oldest public park in Latin America (constructed in 1592), is a 30-minute walk from the hotel. Today, the bustling park attracts people to enjoy the monuments, art and fountains. No trip to Mexico City is complete without a stroll through this park before viewing Diego Rivera’s famous mural Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (“Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central”).
The Palacio de Bellas Artes, with its famous domed roof, is located at the other end of Alameda Central. It is one of Mexico City’s most photographed and iconic buildings. It features a shimmering golden roof and Art Nouveau style, but just wait until you head inside to see the striking Art Deco architecture. The palace is home to two museums, the Museo de Bellas Artes and the Museo de Arquitectura. The museums feature some of Mexico’s most admired and respected muralists, including Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo and José Clemente Orozco. When you see the metro station entrance outside Bellas Artes, you may think you’ve been transported to Paris!
The Monumento a la Revolución which, like so much of the city and Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, blends history, modernity and elegance. The views from the top of the monument, like those from the 38th floor of Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, help put the city’s sheer size and beauty in perspective.
From street food to world-class dining, you’re never far from a wonderful meal in Mexico City. In fact, two of the world’s 50 top restaurants are in nearby Polanco: Pujol and Quintonil. Be sure to reserve your table well in advance if you hope to dine at either venue. Before heading out for a day of sightseeing, step into the hotel’s Balta Restaurant for breakfast, where you can choose between a hearty plate of Mexican chilaquiles or a delicate Parisian croissant.
Sofitel Mexico City Reforma’s Cityzen Rooftop Kitchen serves French-Mexican fusion cuisine to guests while they contemplate Paseo de la Reforma and the Angel de Independencia from above. Before settling in for a cocktail and a meal, relax in the hotel’s urban spa and pool. You can unwind with a pre-Hispanic-inspired massage or admire the city below you while luxuriating in the indoor saltwater swimming pool.
Every room in the hotel has floor-to-ceiling windows, which means incredible views of Mexico City are never out of reach. What could be more exciting than falling asleep to the city’s twinkling lights and waking to the morning view of the city and the distant mountains?
Reforma is often referred to as Mexico’s Champs Elysées. Once you’ve experienced walking under the jacaranda trees, admiring the statuary and towering skyscrapers and browsing the smart shopping arcades, you’ll know why. Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, with its elegant, Franco-Mexican blend of art, culture, cuisine, and architecture is the perfect choice to experience the heart of Mexico City.
Cassie Pearse has lived in Mexico for five years. Pearse is a travel writer and blogger with a passion for all things Mexico, a regular contributor to a well-regarded Mexico travel magazine, and has written two books about Yucatán. A third book is scheduled to be released this summer.
For adults and children alike, Chicago is one big playground. This city has every angle, nook and cranny covered when it comes to fun. There's the adored (and free) Lincoln Park Zoo, 28 miles of beachfront, an enormous park with interactive art, climbing walls and skating rinks, and a campus filled with world-class museums.
Located in the center of it all and sandwiched between Lake Michigan's blue-green shimmering waters, the famous Michigan Avenue, the city's parade of gleaming glass skyscrapers, and just one block from the Fairmont Chicago, is Millennium Park. What was once a parking lot and railroad hub has been transformed into Chicago's hub of amusement and exploration with more than 500 free public programs and fascinating exhibitions. From mini-golf, picnic groves, rollerblading and ice-skating, there are endless opportunities, including an extraordinary playground.
Kids easily spend the day smiling when they're at Maggie Daley Park's 3-acre play garden designed “in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The garden engages all senses every season of the year. Custom-designed playground equipment sprawls across the acreage, along with an enchanted forest, a 40-foot climbing wall and a giant bridge. Adults often join in on the fun. Later, take the BP pedestrian bridge designed by Frank Gehry back to Millennium Park to continue your adventure. This 925-foot-long silver snaking bridge links the eastern and western areas of the park and inspires endless photo opportunities.
Stroll the 3.5-acre Lurie Garden and breathe in the floral scented air, then continue to explore or experience the seasonal ice ribbon for skating, climb the 19,000-square-foot rock climbing wall or pack a picnic and catch a concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (also designed by Frank Gehry). Consider a docent-guided tour of the seven unforgettable public art works that span over a half-mile of Millennium Park's campus.
Whether by foot, river taxi, or a quick car ride, all directions from the city's center lead to adventure, so staying in a central location maximizes your fun time. If you're traveling with kids, Swissôtel Chicago offers a Kids Suite, as every child is a VIK (very important kid). It's also located just a few blocks from Grant Park, and Navy Pier, which is one of the top picks for families for its amusement park rides (such as the famous Centennial Wheel), family-friendly dining and play areas. Everyone has their favorite sea creatures at the Shedd Aquarium, but you might discover a new one with one of their Unbelievable Animal Encounters. You could feed a shark, come face-to-face with a beluga whale or meet a penguin in person. After a morning spent learning about ocean creatures, spend the afternoon at the Field Museum exploring 4.5 billion years of history. You'll meet SUE, the T. rex and get an up-close-and-personal look at some of the biggest creatures in history.
Spend a little time off your feet with a river or lake cruise, or aboard the exciting, high-speed Seadog tour. Interested in an architecture river tour? A Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour is the real deal although at a more sedate pace than a Seadog tour.
Allow the concierge to assist you with the hotel's array of partnerships with museums (think behind-the-scenes tours or for tickets to a performance at the Harris Theater Millennium Park) and tours or rainy day activities like indoor mini golf, the tallest climbing wall in North America at Lakeshore Sport & Fitness, movie passes or a trip to visit the Fairmont's Lodge installation in winter or Lakehouse in summer.
Chicago's Magnificent Mile a.k.a. Michigan Avenue is not just a haven for shoppers (13 blocks of retail therapy including the ever-popular American Girl Store). The “Mag Mile” offers culinary discoveries by Michelin-rated chefs and world-class theater just steps from Sofitel Chicago. Baseball fans love perusing the exhibits or listening to vintage radio interviews at the Chicago Baseball Museum before heading to the ball game (ask the concierge about nabbing meet-and-greet tickets or a VIP box) at Wrigley Field to cheer the Cubs or for a White Sox Game.
Before you leave, save time to visit Skydeck Chicago, where you can step out onto a 4.3-foot ledge that's 1,353 feet in the air. You'll feel like you're standing on air, because you're in a glass box on the 103 floor of the tower. Gather the family for a one-of-a-kind selfie to remember your Chicago getaway.
Courtney Lochner is a Chicago-based writer and filmmaker. She's written and spoken about Chicago travel for NBC, 10 Best Books, and City Buzz. Her work has been featured in everything from Glamour Magazine to the Midwest Literary Review and as the co-founder of Cosmic Dust Films, she's written and directed three documentaries.
Washington, D.C., as the nation’s capital, is known for its history, art and culture. While exploring the monuments, visiting the memorials and wandering the new museum exhibits of the Smithsonian Institution are a major part of any visit to D.C., there is much more to discover. Secrets abound in the nation’s capital. These are eight of the best hidden gems in Washington, D.C.
One of the best kept secrets is Planet Word Museum, which opened in 2020. The world’s first voice-activated, immersive experience museum, housed in the historic Franklin School, offers three floors and 50,000 square feet of exhibits. Founded by a retired teacher, Planet Word brings to life the idea that words can be fun.
Just a 5-minute walk from Planet Word, Sofitel Washington D.C Lafayette Square offers luxurious French style, superb cuisine and incomparable service. The secret here? Rooftop beehives provide honey for the hotel’s honey-inspired cocktails. Opaline Bar and Brasserie is an ideal choice to start your day with a French pastry or to watch the world go by as you sip a cocktail featuring honey from those rooftop bees. Another hidden gem at Opaline is Le Goûter, a modern take on a traditional afternoon tea which visitors can enjoy every Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.
In between your morning croissant and evening cocktail, a 15-minute stroll from Sofitel Washington brings you to the National Portrait Gallery. Begun in 1962 as a holding place for photographs, the collection now includes more than 23,000 pieces from old daguerreotypes to modern digital images.
NPG houses the only collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House. The Obama portraits are on tour until November 2022. Beyond the nation’s leaders, revolving exhibits offer insight into such things as how the city’s neighborhoods were named or a pictorial history of Watergate.
The National Mall is a must-see during a visit to Washington D.C. Stretching from the US Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, this broad expanse of lawn is often called “America’s Front Yard.” As you leave the Lincoln Memorial and walk toward the Capitol Building, look for the shadows of the Washington Monument in the reflecting pool. But the National Mall offers many hidden gems beyond the monuments.
In the heart of the National Mall, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a free museum dedicated to contemporary art and culture. It celebrates the most groundbreaking artists of the 20th century and into the 21st century.
ARTECHOUSE, on the far side of the National Mall near the Tidal Basin, expands the boundaries of what a museum can be by creating a space where art, science and technology intersect. This immersive experience uses innovative, digital technologies to redefine and explore ideas. ARTECHOUSE offers emerging artists and visitors a new way to explore art beyond its traditional boundaries.
After a busy day of vibrant activity exploring the city, treat yourself to the quiet of the Courtyard Bar at the Fairmont Washington, D.C, Georgetown. The hotel features a secret garden theme woven into all its spaces. The most dramatic is the Courtyard Bar. In the warm months, visitors can enjoy the lush secret garden filled with the aroma of fresh herbs, handcrafted cocktails, Champagne and coastal bites.
For guests visiting in mid-June, the hotel is hosting its second annual Royal Ascot Garden Party on June 17, 2022. The festivities will take place in the courtyard and acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. Don your best hats or fascinators, sip Champagne and watch the races or play croquet.
Be sure to take time to view the hotel’s curated art collection which expands the secret garden theme by interpreting the surrounding local landscapes through traditional and contemporary media.
Once the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post (she owned General Foods), Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens is a treasure known for its art collections, history and breathtaking gardens. Located in Northwest D.C, it is about 15 minutes from downtown. The 25-acre gardens are a year-round treasure, with something to see in every season. In the winter months, the orchid blooms grace the greenhouse. In summer, wander through the rose garden, French parterre, a cutting garden or the dog cemetery where Post pets were laid to rest.
Glenstone, located 30 minutes northwest in Potomac, MD on 300 acres blends nature, architecture and art into a singular experience. Purpose built, and thoughtfully conceived, you may choose to follow outdoor trails along streams and through forests to see outdoor sculptures or discover the two primary exhibition spaces with permanent and rotating art installations of post-World War II artists.
There is always something new to discover and many hidden gems to uncover when you visit Washington, D.C.
Susan Lanier-Graham is an Arizona-based travel writer who loves to share life’s wow moments. She edits several print and online travel magazines, is a Certified California Wine Appellation Specialist, and a member of Society of American Travel Writers.
This coastal city has beaches, mountains and modern architecture to explore by foot, wheels or water in addition to urban oases for resting and recharging.
In 2010, when Vancouver hosted the Olympics, the world saw the wonders of its nearby alpine peaks and other winter sports havens. Yet it's an outdoor adventure hub year-round thanks to its mild four-season weather that never (not even during spring showers) keeps locals off its trails, paths, beaches and neighborhood blocks. Explore them on a getaway that delivers plenty of creature comforts for rest and recovery between adventures.
Start with Stanley Park, a massive oceanside urban park created in 1888, where you can walk, jog, bike or rollerblade sections of the 10-kilometer seawall (more than 13,000 steps) or hike rainforest paths and trails. You'll discover everything from a local craft brewery and an elegant tea house to the Vancouver Aquarium and a vintage cannon that fires nightly at 9 p.m. You can even play a short golf game at the Pitch & Putt. Vancouver also has dozens of acclaimed public courses for serious golfers, including Fraserview, often called the best public course in Canada. Dip a toe in the saltwater swimming pool or rent a paddleboard or kayak in English Bay, just outside the park.
Carved First Nations totem poles are a Stanley Park highlight. Each carving has a meaning, as does their location in Brockton Point, which was First Nations land. For an immersive eco-tourism experience, book a Talking Trees Package with a First Nations guide. You’ll hear about the storied past of Stanley Park, the people, and how the flora and fauna of the area were used by indigenous people. Then you’ll dine on indigenous cuisine with a modern riff at Salmon n' Bannock restaurant. To recharge from your day’s adventure, unwind in one of Vancouver's few rooftop pools at Fairmont Waterfront.
Other local favorites include biking and hiking the 55 kilometers of trails in Pacific Spirit Park near the University of British Columbia. The grueling Grouse Grind Trail in North Vancouver will test your strength and endurance. The 1.8-mile trail climbs 2,800 feet via 2,830 stairs, which is why you’ll be thankful there is a Skyride lift to take you back down. But the views from the top are worth it as you gaze out over Vancouver and the ocean. It’s the best reward for all the climbing. Thrill-seekers might want to test their nerves on the 450-foot Capilano Suspension Bridge. Since it’s 230 feet above the forest floor, you’ll see what the squirrels see as you cross the Capilano River.
From March to October, you don't have to go far out in the Pacific Ocean to see migrating whales. Gear up (waterproof floatation suits are typically supplied) and keep your camera handy aboard expedition boats you can catch right in Vancouver's downtown harbor.
Just steps from Jack Pool Plaza, recharge at the urban resort Fairmont Pacific Rim. Refreshed after washing off the day's ocean spray, immerse yourself in a cosmopolitan cultural environment. There's global art and fashion on display, plus live music and some of the city’s best cocktails and sushi available in the hotel’s seductive Lobby Lounge and RawBar. To be ready for your next waterfront excursion, enjoy elegant, locally inspired cuisine and cocktails crafted by award-winning bartenders at Botanist.
Vancouver is a cyclist's dream city, with more than 450 kilometers of bike lanes and routes incorporated into city streets and parks. Look for bike rental shops at park and trail gateways. Bloom-lovers and gardeners shouldn't miss the VanDusen Botanical Garden and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, stunning landscapes for strolling that are easily reached by bike.
Bike routes run through charming, residential neighborhoods like beachside Kitsilano and the lively, LGBTQ-friendly West End. Those also happen to be some of the dog-friendliest spots in the city, and are some of the favorite stomping grounds of Ella and Elly, Fairmont canine ambassadors (and trained guide dogs) of Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Ella and Elly are one reason to choose this vintage, classic hotel downtown with an unforgettable afternoon tea. Another is that the city's most luxurious shopping is in the building, including Omega, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Dior in the nearby Alberni Street shopping district.
Architects have long had a special perspective on Vancouver's natural beauty, making the city a hotbed of West Coast Modern architectural design that makes the most of stunning views, natural light and indoor-outdoor living. Explore the city's history by taking a self-guided walking tour of the historic districts by following maps created by Vancouver Heritage Foundation.
Get into the Modernist mindset at Hotel Belmont Vancouver MGallery, which calls a downtown heritage building home. It has recently been renovated with pops of mid-century pink and teal. After a day of walking, hiking, or climbing, unwind with retro arcade games, dancing and drinks in The Basement. You’ll also love the Instagram-ready private spaces (think: neon signs, flamingo wallpaper and blackboard walls) like The Den or The Kitchen.
No matter where you stay or play, be sure to share your adventures on social media with the #veryvancouver hashtag. We know your followers will love that beach sunset, mountain summit, blooming garden or pristine waterside moment that captures this naturally beautiful city at its stunning best.
Long layover at Vancouver International Airport? Consider a stay at Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel and the time is sure to fly by.
Vancouver-based food, drinks and travel writer Charlene Rooke lives in an Arthur Erickson-designed building just steps from the False Creek waterfront in Vancouver. Cherry blossom season each spring is her favorite time of year.
Discover Toronto, known as Hollywood of the North. It's a glittering destination for a weekend of living like, and perhaps even seeing, a celebrity.
Though its streets and soundstages are used as backdrops for numerous films and TV series, Toronto deserves a spotlight for an action-packed, glam weekend. It glitters every September, when the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) draws movie power brokers like a magnet. Here's the script for your own close-up in Hollywood North, or, as music fans call it, The 6ix ("the six" from the 416 area code, popularized by Toronto's famous son, rapper Drake).
"Hotels have long served as the living sound stages for celebrities," says Toronto Star columnist and longtime celebrity-watching journalist Shinan Govani. "The Royal York, which is no stranger to boldface [names], has seen 'em all over its decades," he says.
Fairmont Royal York opened in 1929, and has since hosted dozens of film sets: from Jackie Chan's The Tuxedo to Katie Holmes as Jackie O in The Kennedys. Script your stay with Fairmont Gold: a gleaming, new 18th-floor lounge and grand spaces for meetings. It’s ideal for finishing a spot of work or relaxing with a drink or snack during your glam getaway.
The nexus of film and celebrity started to move downtown from uptown Toronto's Yorkville, according to Govani, when TIFF Bell Lightbox opened on King Street West in 2010, near Fairmont Royal York. "[The hotel] is cooking again, in part because of the re-opening of its iconic Library Bar. A classic!" Govani says. The Art Deco-inflected lounge has its own bespoke Quill gin and vodka, and a Birdbath Martini as elegant as superspy James Bond's classic order.
Fairmont Royal York's lobby clock is the city's most cinematic meeting spot. Gather at Clockwork Champagne & Cocktails and order a Meet Me at the Clock (a Champagne cocktail with a heart of frosée ice) while you watch lobby scenes unfold.
Fairmont Royal York as your glam home base puts you in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District. Broadway-style shows, chic eateries and lounges make this the choice of celebs. Check the marquee of the TIFF Bell Lightbox for current screenings of Hollywood and indie films. Its shop has a serious library of movie-themed books, and delightful gifts and merchandise.
You can visit Toronto's most popular film locations by strolling the revitalized historic Distillery District (Chicago, X-Men, Cinderella Man filmed there, to name a few) and exploring Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall (famously featured in Handmaid's Tale). Bay Street, the spine of Toronto's Financial District, is worth a visit. It’s where many of American Psycho's exteriors featured famous towers, including the Toronto-Dominion Centre tower by star-chitect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
A tour of Casa Loma and its beautifully landscaped grounds in the city's northwest will show you to live in style. North America's most opulent private home when it was built circa 1911, its castle-like exterior was chosen for Wayne Manor in the Titans TV series.
Canada's national capital, Ottawa, isn't just home to political stars. Fairmont Château Laurier (often called "Parliament’s Third Chamber") has hosted everyone from Hilary Swank, Danny Glover, Liam Hemsworth, Paul McCartney and Emma Watson to Canadian icon William Shatner. Photographer-to-the-stars Yousof Karsh lived at the hotel for nearly two decades. You can see a selection of his black and white portraits in the Reading Lounge leading to Zoe's, or book the opulent Karsh Suite, which houses more of his star-studded work.
Charlene Rooke is a Canadian journalist who lived in Toronto for many years, during which she met Colin Firth, Clive Owen and other celebrities who were filming in and visiting the city during its famous film festival.
In Miami, romance starts at the top, as in on the roof. Captivating views of Miami Beach’s skyline during a rooftop picnic at Berkeley Park MGallery. With floral arrangements, personalized music and a champagne bucket, what better way to ignite love and get inspired to see more of the city sprawled before you? If you prefer a movie under the stars, it’s Novotel Miami Brickell’s rooftop for you and your loved one. The rooftop deck features a romantic vibe, with cozy seating areas, mirrored in the lobby with a tropical oasis design theme and a color palette echoing Miami’s sun and sand. You and your sweetie will love sharing a private nook with suede and velvet couches in warm blush tones separated by white palm trees as you enjoy a craft cocktail.
While Miami may be known for its beaches, its historic homes and gardens offer a feast for the senses. Step into an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and relive the Gilded Age with a visit to Vizcaya. The James Deering estate has 10 acres of formal gardens, a mangrove shoreline, and rockland hammock in addition to the richly decorated home.
Of course, Miami is known for its vibrant arts scene. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron who drew inspiration from the iconic Stiltsville homes built offshore in the 1930s. Against a backdrop of international modern and contemporary art exhibits, Heaven’s Gate by Marco Brambilla stands out as a cutting-edge video meditation on Hollywood. Before you leave, stop by the museum’s waterfront restaurant Verde. The expansive terrace is the perfect spot for lunch for two as you enjoy the sights of Biscayne Bay. The entrees are small works of art as are the craft cocktails.
Every visit to Miami should include a stop to see the Wynwood Walls. The walls feature more than 50 thought-provoking murals created by renowned street artists from around the globe. Book a private tour with a Wynwood Ambassador for a 50-minute, in-depth exploration of each mural and the artist behind it. The city revels in art, offering exciting public art in the Miami Design District to the innovative exhibits like The Willfulness of Objects at The Bass. No matter where you go, there’s plenty to see and discuss.
Miami’s dining scene is an excellent reason to visit. For a romantic dinner for two, the hot new spot Sexy Fish offers an opulent experience from the decor to the music to the sushi. Romantic Casa Tua will have you feeling like you’ve been transported to a friend’s home in Italy.
If your idea of romance dances to a Latin beat, explore Little Havana, the heart of Miami’s Cuban diaspora. For many, this neighborhood defines the city’s jovial vibe. As you stroll by cigar shops, rum bars and music venues, you’ll see locals play chess and gather to talk politics and life. Local landmark Versailles is the insider’s choice for the best Cuban sandwich in town.
Finally, what’s more romantic than spending the day aboard a private yacht? While the captain handles the navigation, you can enjoy a meal prepared by a private chef, dance to tunes curated by a personal DJ, or simply spend time with your sweetheart. It just might be the ultimate socialite experience.
With its pristine beaches, extraordinary art, and stunning arts and culture scene, Miami ignites passion like no other city.
Courtney Lochner is a Chicago-based writer and filmmaker. A devoted globetrotter, her travel work has been featured on NBC, 10 Best Books, City Buzz, and Inspirato Magazine. Courtney is the co-founder of Cosmic Dust Films and has written and directed three documentaries.