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Canada's Hidden Gems

Heading north of the border? Late summer and early fall are the best times to explore the diversity of Canada. Hotels are offering deals up to 55% off and Air Canada currently has some active sales worth looking into.

Make the most out of an upcoming trip by seeking out lesser-known gems. Ideal for quick day trips or overnights, here’s a guide to our favorite getaways -- all within a two-hour drive from major Canadian cities.

After visiting Vancouver to experience its Pacific coastal charm, go north to Whistler, the mountain town where Olympic memories were made. Tour the venues of the 2010 Winter Games, jump on a panoramic gondola ride, or hike, bike, and golf before ski season starts. Alternatively, hop on a ferry to experience Victoria, Canada's colonial "garden city." Partake in afternoon high tea at one of the grand waterfront hotels, or visit Butchart Gardens, a flora-filled paradise.

Calgary is famous for its annual July stampede, complete with cowboys and cowgirls. Prices for hotels drop after the rodeo ends; venture out of the city to discover scenic vistas. Nearby Banff is a top destination, beloved for its postcard-perfect views, Banff National Park, and the iconic Lake Louise, framed by the Rocky Mountains.

Canada's metropolis, Toronto, boasts tall buildings, theatre, sports teams and more. Swap skyscrapers and concrete for the rush of Niagara Falls -- complete with casino gaming action and family-friendly attractions alike. Don't miss a ride on the "Maid of the Mist" boat, which takes visitors up close to the Falls. In northern Ontario, there’s Muskoka, a laid-back lakeside retreat popular with the rich and famous.

Montreal satisfies the need for a European-style vacation without the huge price tag. After you've had your fill of bistros, cafes and coffee shops, try Mont Tremblant, Quebec’s mountain playground. Then indulge your inner Canadian in Ottawa, the country's capital. Visit the six-toed cats on Parliament Hill or any number of national museums, including the newly renovated Canadian Museum of Nature.

For an authentic East Coast experience, head to Halifax, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. It boasts a beautiful harbor decorated with tall ships and some of the freshest seafood in the country -- especially the lobster. Drive along the scenic Lighthouse Trail and visit quaint fishing villages along the way, including Peggy's Cove, Lunenburg, Chester and Mahone Bay. Or sip locally grown wine in the Annapolis Valley.

Coast to coast, now’s a great time to find deals in late summer and early fall. Avoid the crowds and scoop up the best rates on hotels and flights.

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Tips by
Charmaine

Deal Expert, Toronto
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
See more Tips from
Charmaine Pang