Fly from the Great White North to the Sunny South this winter and check out one of these six outdoor adventure destinations, all accessed via non-stop flights from major Canadian cities:
Every year more than a million Canadians escape the icy clutch of winter and head south in search of glorious sunshine and outdoor adventure. Featuring non-stop flights from major Canadian airports, affordable accommodations and activities suited for every type of outdoor enthusiast, these six destinations should be on every Canadian traveller’s hit list:
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Miami is the gateway to the Florida Keys and its spectacular watersports scene. Kayak around small islands or explore the Everglades by boat. Head down to Key West to scuba dive or snorkel at coral reefs and sunken vessels. Cyclists: bring plenty of sunscreen if you plan to bike the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail from Key Largo to Key West. Much of the 170-km route is very exposed to sun. Also, there is plenty of easy hiking along beach trails or through the small towns that dot the keys. At the end of a long day of adventure, kick back in a seaside tavern and watch the sun set over the open ocean.
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
Located on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston has the longest sidewalk in the world. Enjoy 16 km of sea-front walking, running or biking. The calm waters and gentle breezes make the water around the city perfect for wind-sports. Look for the designated areas of beachfront if surfing is your thing. Galveston Island State Park offers nice camping facilities, protected areas for swimming and pleasant nature trails. Don’t be surprised if you see people wandering around with binoculars and a notepad; the area is extremely popular among birders. A short drive away, the Big Thicket National Preserve is a heavily forested National Park with excellent camping and hiking.
Mesa, Arizona, U.S.
You’ll find some of America’s best desert hiking trails in Usery Mountain Regional Park, a short distance from Mesa’s city centre. Although the hikes are not strenuous, plan extra time for spotting desert wildlife and enjoying the views. Almost 50 km of trails are also available for mountain biking and horseback riding. Or, try tubing on the Salt River — bring an inner tube, a cooler and shoes you never plan to wear again. Drift, race or paddle down the river for anywhere from three to six hours, enjoying the cool water and warm sun.
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Not only is this a great city to visit for culture, but just minutes away from downtown you’ll find rolling hills, serene lakes and wooded trails. Warner Parks are popular with hikers for their abundant wildlife. Equestrians and cyclists also appreciate the maintained trails and peaceful surroundings. Cedars of Lebanon is also great for horseback riding and camping. Spend the night in a cabin or at a campsite. Percy Priest Lake is the perfect destination for a day of boating and fishing, or head to the Harpeth River for prime canoeing. Hardy cyclists can tackle the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 720-km roadway through dramatic and picturesque landscapes. (Multiple exits let you ride just about distance you choose.)
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
Many people think of Puerto Vallarta as a romantic honeymoon destination with splashing waves and glorious sunsets. It is all that, but also so much more. This is the place for rock climbing, surfing and zip lines. You can go flying over rivers and jungle canopies with nothing but a steel wire between you and the ground far below. Or try snorkeling or scuba diving off the coast and see an amazing array of sea life in all colours of the rainbow.
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
The countryside around the city is excellent for cycling — whether you prefer gentle slopes or a more strenuous ride. Or try horseback riding on Stone Island. With miles of beaches, Mazatlan is excellent for swimming, surfing and, yes, sunbathing. Rent a kayak and enjoy a leisurely paddle along the shoreline. Then, take the time to wander the old part of town and enjoy a taste of real Mexico.