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Need a break from the routine? Get into vacation mode in your own city at these hotels, restaurants and diversions

International travel plans might be on hold because of COVID-19, but there’s still your own backyard to explore via this staycation guide to cities across the country. Pick your destination:



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The Seaside Hotel in North Vancouver.Levi Groeneveld VRX Studios/Handout

From downtown Vancouver, take a short 12-minute SeaBus ride over to LoLo, or Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver’s newly gentrified waterfront. Its Shipyards District, a reimagining of a century-old working dock, includes independent shops and galleries as well as the new boutique Seaside Hotel. Its 71 modern rooms are kitted out with floating-style beds and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views toward Burrard Inlet and downtown Vancouver. The hotel’s restaurant, Seaside Provisions, offers a dock-to-dine coastal-inspired experience. Arrive by kayak or on foot for Buck-a-Shuck happy hour featuring B.C. oysters such as Evening Cove and Royal Miyagi every Wednesday through Sunday 3-6 p.m. British Columbia residents also enjoy a 20-per-cent discount with the promo code LOCAL. 130-125 Victory Ship Way,


Joey Shipyards

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Joey Shipyards features local elements such as art by Shawn Hunt.Handout

A sprawling 9,500-square-foot ode to casual fine dining, Joey Shipyards features sophisticated local touches such as a light installation by design company Bocci, commissioned wood sculptures by artist Brent Comber and art by Shawn Hunt. 110-125 Victory Ship Way,

Two Rivers Specialty Meats

Butcher to the city’s best restaurants, local and sustainable Two Rivers Specialty Meats also up serves up a small curated selection of deli items to-go for locals working in the neighbourhood. Find an ever-rotating fresh menu featuring tortilla soup and sandwiches such as wagyu roast beef with house-made mustard and horseradish mayo on a potato bun from Lift Bakery ($8). 180 Donaghy Ave.,

Farina a Legna

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Part of an indie restaurant empire that includes Ask for Luigi, Di Beppe and Pourhouse, Farina a Legne has launched a weekend brunch featuring fare inspired by northern Italy including zabaglione, an egg-and-marsala custard served over panettone, along with a $10 bambini menu. 119 2nd St. E.,


Polygon Gallery

From modernist firm Patkau Architects comes the Polygon Gallery with its photography and media-based art. Nemesis Coffee recently opened on its lower level along with in-house Dope Bakehouse. 101 Carrie Cates Court,

Lower Lonsdale breweries

LoLo is packed with award-winning craft breweries that make up part of the newly minted Shipyards Brewery District. Within three blocks, hit Streetcar Brewing, Beere Brewing Company and House of Funk. 123A 1st St. E.,; 312 Esplanade E.,; 350 Esplanade E.,

Green Necklace

You’re in the middle of some of the greatest mountain biking in the world, but a more easy-going activity is to rent an e-bike from Reckless Cycles and hit the Green Necklace, North Vancouver’s 7.5-kilometre urban loop that’s a mix of historic buildings and green space. 150-125 Victory Ship Way,

– Amanda Ross



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Residence Inn Calgary Downtown/Beltline by Marriott is celebrating their first year with 20 per cent off weekend rates.Ingrid Misner | Artistic Impressions/Handout

Each room is a suite in the new Residence Inn Calgary Downtown/Beltline by Marriott, with separate living and sleeping areas and full kitchens that are easily stocked using the hotel’s complimentary grocery delivery service. With mountain views in west-facing rooms and downtown skylines in the east, it stands on the historic Alberta Boot Company’s original location, and pays homage to its roots with cowboy boot stitching above the headboards in every room. If you’re planning a road trip, free weekend parking is offered through January, 2021, and the hotel is celebrating their first year with 20 per cent off weekend rates. 610 10 Ave. SW,


Lougheed House

Chef Judy Wood recently took over the restaurant in the Lougheed House, where Fridays through Sundays she serves casual, French-inspired brunch, lunch and afternoon tea (with her own real clotted cream) in the sunny Victorian mansion, or boxed up to bring out to the garden. After you eat, admission to the entire house, a National and Provincial Historic Site, is just $4. 707-13 Ave. SW,

River Café

Besides brunch, lunch and dinner, the iconic River Café on Prince’s Island now offers exquisite packed picnics to pick up and enjoy by the water or on a patch of grass. In their cordoned-off area, which has well-spaced picnic tables and is strung with outdoor lights, you can add beer, wine or champagne to your order. They’ll even bring a blanket if it gets chilly. Order online by 11:30 p.m. the night before. 25 Prince’s Island,

Hawthorn Room

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The Hawthorn Dining Room in Calgary.Jeff McIntosh/STRJMC

The grand lobby bar in the Fairmont Palliser’s newly revamped Hawthorn Room, reopening Aug. 13, is a central spot for people-watching; they have an intriguing cocktail list, and their Daily Bread Beer is brewed with the restaurant’s unused loaves at nearby Last Best Brewing & Distilling. 133 9th Ave. SW,


Studio Bell

At the west end of Music Mile, the stunning 160,000-square-foot Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, reopens on Aug. 15, weekends only. The nine subtly curved and interlocking towers and terra cotta walls house 22 exhibition spaces spread across five levels – and there’s the 1968 Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, the first ever professional mobile recording studio. The newest exhibition honours singer-songwriter and author Jann Arden, the latest inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. 850 4 St. SE,

Calgary Pathways

This city is known for its bike and walking paths. Find a route that takes you through the bird sanctuary or the Weaselhead Natural Area, or pedal one of the largest urban parks in Canada: Nose Hill Park covers 11 square kilometres in the city’s northwest. In the inner city, head along the Bow River to Prince’s Island Park and down the iconic Peace Bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Multiple entry points,

Central Library

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Calgary's Central Library.Jeff McIntosh

A block from Studio Bell, the new Central Library has became a hub of activity for locals and visitors alike. Though the popular tours that cover the building’s architecture, art and local history section are temporarily on hold, staff are on hand to answer questions and assist. Special events are also limited, but kids and families can take part in virtual science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics challenges through the library’s website all summer long. 800 3 St. SE,

– Julie Van Rosendaal



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The James Hotel in Saskatoon.Handout

As the only true boutique hotel in the city, James Hotel is an optimal choice for those who want to be both central and feel well taken care of. From comfy beds to marble bathrooms, there is nothing to balk at when checking in to a room here. On top of it all, the hotel provides quite striking views of the Saskatchewan River and Meewasin Valley. Don’t forget to spend some time in the lobby bar, which features a menu of simple bites, such as charcuterie and devilled eggs, as well as friendly barkeeps who can mix up any classic cocktail you might be craving. 620 Spadina Cres. E.,



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Hearth's smoked pike in Saskatoon.Handout

Another example of a great, locally focused restaurant where the owners are known for their foraging abilities and a signature dish of Saskatchewan mushrooms with mornay sauce. It’s a must try. 2404 Melrose Ave.,


This restaurant uses heritage grain flour ground by local bakery the Night Oven to make a variety of pasta dishes. It’s a great example of Prairie “terroir” and a strong connection to the farms that surround the city. 423 20 St. W.,

Shelter Brewing Company

Known for its creative brews – try the Saison – Shelter is a reliably fun place for casual drinks and eats. Local food lovers and industry members alike swear by “Dylan and Cam’s” taco pop-up here as well. 255 2 Ave. S.,


Black Fox Farm & Distillery

Being both a distillery and a you-pick flower farm, an outing to this spot on the cusp of the city limits can be a family affair. Try a sip of the one-of-a-kind mustard seed gin before touring the gorgeous grounds. 245 Valley Road,

Remai Modern

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Remai Modern museum.Adrien Williams/Handout

An architectural feat in and of itself, this striking multilevel museum reopens on Aug. 13 and houses more than 8,000 art pieces. A Pablo Picasso collection, Anatomy of a Still Life, is on display until Oct. 4. 102 Spadina Cres. E.,

University of Saskatchewan Sculpture Garden

Located in the northwest corner of the university’s campus, the sculpture garden offers up stunning works of art nestled in tall-grass areas with winding pathways. Made primarily of limestone, the sculptures also serve as a fun photo op, and the views of the Saskatchewan River you’ll glimpse while strolling through make this outdoor experience extra memorable.

– Dan Clapson



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The Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.Melissa D'Souza/Handout

In the heart of Yorkville, walking distance to museums and the tree-lined grounds of University of Toronto, the Four Seasons has a good location – and, key for the summer, it also has a pool. Adjacent is the Spa Terrace, which offers a fresh summer menu (think watermelon tartare and crab tartine), and views from the property’s ninth floor. Currently, the spa is open for all treatments except facials. When available, the hotel offers early check-ins and late checkouts. COVID-19 protocols are in place to ensure a safe stay (turndown service is by appointment, room service is left at the door), and an Ontario resident rate for impromptu stays can be booked until midnight Aug. 3. 60 Yorkville Ave.,


Distillery District

The historic area has become the patio district as umbrella-covered tables and chairs have been spread throughout the lanes of the Distillery. Most restaurants are offering takeout that can be enjoyed at the patio seating, and a handful, including El Catrin and Cluny, have contactless dining with menus accessible on your phone. Mill and Trinity streets,

Bar Reyna

The restaurant has developed a weekend picnic basket menu that is all about indulgence. Choose from a menu focused on veggies, snacks or sandwiches. Each comes with three cocktails, a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. Order ahead. 354 King St. E.,

Aunty Lucy’s Burgers

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Aunt Lucy's Burgers in Toronto.Handout

Wednesdays through Sundays you can find this pop-up on the patio of the Annex hotel. Choose between smash burgers, fried chicken or grilled cheese, accompanied by perfectly crispy French fries. Top it off with a cocktail from the hotel’s bar. 296 Brunswick Ave.,


Heli Tours

Get a new perspective on the city from the seat of a helicopter. Intimate groupings for tours, which are now capped at three people and run only on the weekends, mean every seat has a good view for the aerial tour of downtown, which takes passengers on a 15-kilometre route past Toronto’s tallest buildings and major sights. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Hangar 1,

Toronto Islands

You might have been planning a trip to the Mediterranean this summer, but there’s still the option for an island getaway, if just for a day. Ferries are running to all three islands, and though Centreville Amusement Park is closed, some food and drink outlets are operating. Tickets are limited to 5,000 a day, and must be purchased online ahead of time.

Museum of Contemporary Art

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The Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto.toni hafkenscheid/MOCA

Reopened for visits Thursdays through Sundays, MOCA has several exhibitions that take advantage of the gallery’s expansive space, including Carlos Bunga’s A Sudden Beginning. One piece, Occupy, fills a room with cardboard boxes – an image of potential and transition. And Forno Cultura’s café has reopened in the museum, offering indulgent baked goods. 158 Sterling Rd.,

– Maryam Siddiqi



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The Le Germain Hotel in Ottawa.Handout

Check in to industrial chic Hotel Le Germain Ottawa, close to the Byward Market and Parliament Hill. Guests can start their mornings with the property’s Nama-Stay yoga videos before a complimentary deluxe continental breakfast is delivered to their room. The lobby’s selection of artworks is a nod to the property’s neighbour, the Ottawa Art Gallery, and guests have complimentary access to the gallery during operating hours (currently visits must be prebooked). But the hotel’s best amenity is that checkout time is set by the guest and, right now, if your stay is two nights, the second one is discounted 50 per cent. 30 Daly Ave.,


The Moon Room

This hip watering hole has opened two rustic outdoor spaces – the Side Lane Patio and the Back Garden Terrace, the latter with a view of the establishment’s gardens, which provides produce for snacks and cocktails on the menu. Check the website for daily libation options, such as the Reverse Manhattan made with small-batch Albertan-made Centennial Rye Whisky. 442 Preston St.,


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A Grain of Life Bowl at Prova in Ottawa.Handout

Overseen by chef Pravin Bagali, the brunch options include oven-baked eggplant with double-smoked bacon, grilled cheese with provolone, havarti, cheddar and apple or the healthy (and Insta-worthy option) Grain of Life bowl with quinoa, avocado and flowers. Cocktail lovers shouldn’t miss the gingersnap Bellini. 101 Lyon St. N.,


Chef Jason McLelland offers three or four savoury items and a dessert on a concise seasonal menu that changes every two weeks. Gather close friends for a newly launched private dining experience where the chef team will tailor the dinner options to group requests. Takeout is available for those wanting to picnic nearby on the banks of the Ottawa River. 173 Hinchey Ave.,


Gatineau Park

Sneak in some forest bathing by hiking or biking the park’s 361 square kilometres of trails. There’s also political history to be found within this green zone: William Lyon Mackenzie King built rustic Kingswood Cottage in 1903, and his estate, which includes extensive English-styled gardens, was donated to the park after his death. 33 Scott Rd.,

Nordik Spa-Nature

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Nordik Spa-Nature baths.Handout

Head to the village of Old Chelsea in Quebec for some me-time. Guests can embrace the thermal cycle of soak, steam and sauna, as well as blissfully block out the world floating in silence in the salt-water pool. 16 Nordik Rd.,

C’est Bon Gourmet Food Tours

Pedal your way through the capital city and discover local producers and chefs during the Bikes & Bites Tour. The 3 1/2-hour tour combines cycling lesser-known bike trails and walking between several independent eateries to sip and savour Ottawa’s cuisine. Tours are currently held by appointment only, so be sure to book ahead.

– Waheeda Harris



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The Uville in Montreal.Anatoli Igolkin/Handout

Take a trip back in time with the Uville Hotel, which opened last fall on the verdant Place de la Grande-Paix park in Old Montreal. The Uville provides something of a history lesson thanks to a collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada that includes elements of historical films and photos in its design. Interested in Expo 67 or John Lennon’s 1969 bed-in? There are theme room for both. Additional COVID-19 safety measures have been implemented, including contactless check-in and 48-hour minimum room vacancy between guests, so you can relax worry-free as tasty Italian meals from Restaurant Épik, such as mushroom-sauce ravioli and pesto focaccia, are delivered straight to your room. 204 Place d’Youville,



Daytime dining gets the high-end treatment at this St. Jacques Street restaurant made elegant by arch-shaped overhead lamps. You’ll want to sink into the leather booth while feasting on eggs with blood pudding and sourdough. 244 St. Jacques St.,


This cozy Villeray eatery feels like stepping into a seaside Italian restaurant in the 1970s, though these days they’re only open for takeout and seating on their reservations-free patio. Grab a box of their maccheroni Bolognese and a pint of homemade raspberry sorbet to cool down. 380 Villeray St.,

Le Roseline

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Le Roseline in Montreal.Handout

This Lower Mile End newcomer is a daytime café packed with chic grandma style that becomes a wine bar by night. The natural-wine-heavy list is served alongside savoury treats such as farm-fresh crudité platters and beef tartare. 5014 St. Laurent Blvd.,


Musée d’Art Contemporain

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The MAC in Montreal.David N. Regen, David N Regen/Handout

Dive deep into the MAC’s video collection with the Points of Light exhibit, on until Oct. 11. It’s a look at the evolution of the moving image that brings together six works spanning almost 40 years. 185 Ste Catherine St. W.,

Les Amis de la Montagne

Catch a breath of fresh air at Mount Royal Park, a 692-acre green space that’s home to more than 20 species of birds. Attend a weekend Tree Talk to learn about conservation and the mountain’s natural environment. 1260 Remembrance Rd.,

Cinéma Moderne

If it’s feeling like a movie night, check out this Mile End film-loving hub. The adjacent café-bar is currently closed, but the theatre still screens independent flicks galore. Keep in mind that social distancing is in effect, starting with online ticket purchase. 5150 St. Laurent Blvd.,

– Caitlin Stall-Paquet

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