It’s January. And it’s cold. So should we go some place as almost as cold as Canada or should we say goodbye to winter, as weird as it has been this year, and go some place hot instead?

Sadly, this is a rhetorical question as I am not going anywhere that requires a plane ride. Instead, I am just going to dream as I check out DK’s Eyewitness Travel Where To Go When, the World’s Best Destinations ($25).


The book is broken down into a months, and each month offers what sounds like a great destination with glorious photographs, a map, basic getting around information, a week’s worth of suggestions on what you should do once you get there and, one of my favourite features, the dos and don’ts of the area you are traveling.

In January, Eyewitness Travel suggests conquering Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and spending three weeks in Africa’s east. Personally, I would skip hiking up 19,340-foot mountain, and spend more time on a safari or in Zanzibar at the beach.

St. Petersburg in Russia sounds lovely as well, and it’s good to know not to drink the water as it’s known for harbouring a nasty parasite. Yuck. Ottawa is featured in February, with the suggestion of enjoying a BeaverTails while you are skating, and avoiding the canal on mild weekends as the crowds reduce the ice to slush.

I may not be going anywhere this winter, but I already thinking about summer vacation plans.

I am a proponent of vacationing in Canada. I think people are too quick to leave Canada’s borders to discover the history of other countries. Canada has some amazing places – both natural and built – and some amazing history if people paid a little attention.


This year it’s even easier to discover some of Canada’s greatness. In celebration of #Canada150, the government is offering free admission to all Parks Canada location with the free Discovery Pass. I received mine in the mail recently, along with a map of all of Canada’s national sites, including 20 in Ontario.

To help, or hinder me – so many great locations, not that many weekends ­- Firefly Books sent me two books – 100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario, The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places ($29.95) by Chris Earley and Tracy C. Read and Backroads of Ontario ($29.95) by Ron Brown.


The front cover of 100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario, The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places is a picture of Flowerpot Island, which is one of my many summer vacation memories. The colour of the water on this book is just as I remember it – Caribbean blue and crystal clear, the depths

This book is divided into regions including Southwestern, Central South, Niagara, Eastern, Central North and Northern. Each double page spread offers a location with lots of information, several beautiful pictures (all, I would like to note, when the beautiful scenery is not covered in snow and ice) as well as some quick points as to why it’s a hot spot.

I want to check out the Bonnechere Caves, a solution cave; Lake Dore, a birder’s paradise; and Amherst Island, the winter owl capital of Canada in Eastern Ontario. They look, and sound, lovely.

Another favourite post-winter activity is the road trip. I love getting into the car and just driving, checking out the scenery, stopping for a picnic and taking lots of pictures. Part of the fun is getting lost, something I am really good at.


Backroads of Ontario offers four sections (Southwestern, Central, Eastern and Northern) with 24 routes including the Lake Simcoe Steeple Chase, which includes a number of old churches and meeting places including the amazing Sharon Temple, meant to resemble the Temple of Solomon, and St. George’s Anglican Church near Sibbald Point Provincial Park. Route 5 in the book offers a drive along The Bruce Peninsula Road, taking in the towns of Owen Sound and Wiarton, Lion’s Head and Cabot Head, with a suggestion to take the MS Chi-Cheemaun car ferry to Flowerpot Island.

Happy Birthday, Canada.

Update: Read my review of 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.