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When looking for a place to travel, most people choose between a far-off city rich with culture or an exotic destination with breathtaking views. But if you’re looking for a vacation destination that has both, combining a historic urban setting with the beauty of nature just waiting to be explored, head north—to Québec City. Outside the city’s bustling streets and urban landmarks, adventurers of all shades can find a path to explore, an activity to enjoy, an extreme sport to tackle, or just a scenic view to take in.
Enjoy the views (or the cruise) on the Saint-Lawrence River
After arriving in Québec City, there are a few things you just can’t miss: Château Frontenac, Rue Cartier, and—most historically—the Saint-Lawrence River. Stretching almost 2,000 miles from Lake Ontario to just downstream from Québec City, the river is literally too big to miss, and too fun to pass over. Visitors can capture a picture of Québec City’s skyline while taking a ride on the Québec Lévis Ferry. The ferry sails year-round, but be sure to take a ride in the winter when it glides through the ice on the river’s surface. For an even larger-than-life nautical experience, take a guided sightseeing cruise with AML Cruises, where you’ll learn about the history of Québec City, its surroundings, and the river while admiring all the beautiful sights, like the Chute Montmorency Falls. To get truly up-close-and-personal with the Saint-Lawrence, stop by the Baie de Beauport and enjoy a slew of water activities, like kayaking, kite-surfing, and paddle-boarding. Finally, those who wish to admire the river in all its splendor can take a walk along the historic Promenade Samuel-De Champlain, a two-mile-long boardwalk that was gifted from the government of Québec to the capital in celebration of its 400 anniversary.
Hit the trails at the Parc de la Jacques-Cartier
Don’t forget your hiking boots: This incredibly expansive national park is home to over 60 miles of trails that traverse some of the area’s most breathtaking landscapes. After a quick 30-minute ride outside Québec City, you’ll be surrounded on all sides by a vast, mountainous plateau that’s cut right down the middle by one of Québec’s most beautiful glacial valleys, the Vallée de la Jacques-Cartier. One of the park’s biggest highlights is the Jacques Cartier River, which has sliced a 1,800-foot-deep channel into the plateau. Smooth in some places and rough in others, the river is the perfect destination for all sorts of activities, from kayaking and fishing to inner-tubing and paddle boarding. The park is open year-round, so come spend a sunny day exploring its beauty in bloom, and be sure to return to enjoy winter sports of all sorts.
Zip through the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
Getting the best view of this park doesn’t come from standing at the right vantage point—it comes from flying through the air. Starting this September, visitors can cross the park at full speed on a double zip line, which allows two people to zip almost-1000 feet over the coves. During this adrenaline-fueled ride, you’ll see the spectacular Montmorency Falls standing at a whopping 272 feet tall (that’s almost 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls). The falls are especially impressive in wintertime, when its splashes freeze and form the famous Sugar Loaf, a gigantic cone of ice at the base of waterfall. Another fun way to experience the falls is along any of the three via Ferratta routes located nearby. These allow you to climb along the cliffs near the falls while suspended on iron cables. However, if thrill-seeking isn’t quite your style, adventure can still be found by foot along hiking trails, where playgrounds abound and picnicking is encouraged.
Repel into the Vallée Bras-du-Nord
If after a few days of exploring the shops and sights of Québec City you’d rather take some stress off your feet, why not do so by strapping on a harness and repelling down a canyon? A perfect activity for novices and experts alike, canyoning is offered in a few picturesque spots, one of the most notable being the Easter Island Waterfall. After a 45-minute walk across Bras-du-Nord’s river gateway and through a yurt village, visitors begin their ascent of the waterfall, at the top of which is an incredible view of the valley. Depending how adventurous you feel, you can choose to repel down a course between three and six stories high, all of which end in a stream that flows through the valley, but only one of which will reveal the mysteries of Easter Island. This valley also provides the perfect terrain for cross-country biking, with world-famous trails for both beginners and expert-level bikers, all along the streams and around the mountains of the region.