The Eastern Townships, located 80 km southwest of Montreal, is a cluster of fascinating, quaint villages, dotted with lakes, farms, cottages, and rolling hills. The region has become a haven for nature fans and cottagers who have fallen in love with the beauty and diversity of the area. With so many different towns to explore (Sherbrooke, Magog, Cowansville, Granby, etc.) and year-round attractions and activities to choose from, the Eastern Townships are the perfect setting for a successful de-stress. If you’re looking for some reflection and relaxation on your next vacation, check out the myriad of options in the Eastern Townships.
Where to rent a cabin
There are four national parks in the Townships, all with some form of campground to unwind at. Park National de la Yamaska and Parc National Du Mont-Orford have cozy nature chalets available for rent. Nestled in forested areas, these cabins connect travellers to tons of great hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and biking opportunities. They’re also right next store to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the province. Each cabin sleeps four and comes equipped with cooking facilities, a microwave, a fireplace, and a private bathroom. If a national park feels a little too public for you, book your stay at the Gite Domaine Le Bostonnais, an authentic log home that’s part cabin, part B&B. Located on the banks of the Bostonnais River, it offers modern comforts with a unique ambiance. You could also reach out to Val-Saint-François Tourism Residences who can plug you into over a dozen rustic cabins for rent, located on exclusive resort sites, which may even give you access to your own private lake!
Where to get the best view
For an unsurpassed nature ogling experience, you have to visit Parc National du Mont-Mégantic. Hike to the top of the mountain and marvel at how far the stunning view stretches—encompassing Quebec, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (on a clear day). But the real magic begins when the sun goes down and the stars come out. Mont-Mégantic was designated as the world’s first International Dark Sky Reserve in 2007, and the night sky is unforgettable. If you want a closer or more informed study of the stars, the park is home to an Observatory and an astronomy lab called ASTROLab, which are full of rich discoveries.
Where to take a dip
There’s no shortage of gorgeous beaches in the Eastern Townships, and many are located on the shores of national parks. Beaches alongside Frontenac, Yamaska, and Mont-Orford are great options for everyone, especially those combining their swims with camping weekends. For a combination of nature and luxury, book a site at the camping grounds of Les Berges Du Lac on the shores of Lake Alymer and take advantage of their gorgeous beach, complete with picnic area, marina, and outdoor swimming pool beside the lake.
Where to go on a hike
Parc National du Mont Orford offers one of the most exciting hiking experiences in the Townships. There are over a dozen different groomed trails to follow, covering 30 km of mostly forested terrain. Seventy-five percent of Mont Orford is covered by mature sugar maples, resulting in an amazing fall season full of flamboyant colours. Hikers should also be on the lookout for wildlife in its natural habitat, including white-tailed deer and Great Blue Heron. More adventurous hikers can make their way up steeper terrain, climbing to viewpoints that have been touted as the most spectacular in the region.
Where to have a pint
So many towns, so many beer options! If you’re craving the classic pub experience head into Knowlton and grab a table at Marina Knowlton, where it’s all about beer and barbecue. They’re especially known for their grilled hamburgers, smoked meat sandwiches, and tasty sausages. The restaurant overlooks Lac Brome so you’ll want to snag a terrace seat in the summer months. If you’re willing to mix-in a more unusual beverage, there’s also a Tiki bar which specializes in Caribbean-style cocktails—an odd, but endearing twist on the lakefront bar experience. For serious beer connoisseurs, the Siboire microbrewery in Sherbrooke is the place to be. It’s a trendy joint, converted from an old train station, which offers tasting and tours in a fun, relaxing atmosphere. The beer selection is fantastic and the pub food is high quality. The fish and chips are a must-try.