5 off-the-beaten-path March Break destinations

By Sara ChappelSara Chappel

Tofino

Photo by iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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Winter’s hit us hard this year—and many of us can’t wait to escape our chilly climate for tropical temps. But Canadian winters can be exciting. Entertaining. Even exotic.

And if you’re planning a March Break trip this year, our made-in-Canada destinations may just convince you that winter is worth sticking around for.

Be a storm watcher in Tofino, B.C.
If you’re sick of snow, head to Tofino—a year-round surfing outpost halfway up Vancouver Island.

Although the temperatures are mild, you won’t escape precipitation altogether. November to March is storm-watching season, with a chance to watch 20-foot swells and some of Canada’s most dramatic weather up close. Put on a rain suit and head to the beach for the full-on experience, or curl up in one of Tofino’s laid-back coffee shops and enjoy the storm from a cozier vantage point.

When the swells die down a bit, Tofino offers year-round surfing, with numerous surf shops offering lessons, gear and an insider’s look at Canadian surf culture.

The beginning of March is also the start of whale watching season, with the 27th Annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival kicking off the spring return of the grey whale from March 16–24.

Explore Newfoundland’s Humber Valley
Even if you’re not a skier, Canada’s winter offers plenty of outdoor fun—and the Humber Valley in western Newfoundland is the perfect place to experience winter sports beyond the skis.

Head to the year-round zipline along the snow-covered pine trees of the Marble Mountain Gorge; slip on a headlamp and explore ice-filled caves; or drive your own team of six blue-eyed Huskies through the snow, followed by a traditional lunch and snow-cooled taffy.

And if you can’t live without skiing, Gros Morne National Park offers plenty of cross-country and back-country trails, and Marble Mountain is a 520-metre downhill beauty.

Try rodeling in Charlevoix, Quebec
The Charlevoix region in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains knows how to treat travellers—in fact, the community of La Malbaie has been known as a resort destination for more than two centuries.

Take advantage of that historic sense of hospitality and experience some of the finest skiing in the country at Le Massif de Charlevoix, home of the National Alpine Training Centre, as well as one of Canada’s newest slide sports, rodeling, which is similar to tobogganing. Le Massif offers a 7.5 kilometre rodeling trail, which you can choose to descend head- or feet-first.

Of course, alpine skiing is easy to find in the Charlevoix region—along with the 770 vertical metres at Le Massif, you can also tackle a slightly smaller challenge at Mont Grands Fonds, with 335 metres of downhill fun.

Rough it (or not) in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
Much of what makes Algonquin Park a popular summer destination—scenery, location and activities—makes it a great winter vacation spot too.

Ski or snowshoe to a backcountry campsite, or, for a little more comfort, try a developed campsite at Mew Lake Campground. These first-come-first-served sites offer fully winterized comfort facilities, a ploughed parking lot, a nearby skating rink, and firewood sales.

If “glamping” is more your style, you can also reserve one of the park’s seven yurts – a large, six-sided tent with basic furniture and electric heat. These are booked up to five months in advance, so plan now for next year.


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