Meet up with your Contiki crew and Tour Manager in New York City, before we hit the road and drop by Providence, Rhode Island's capital city. Next up is Boston. Home to the Red Sox (the famous baseball team), many creative thinkers and historic rebels, this thriving university town is soaked in history and packed with things to do. Your Tour Manager will introduce the group to Boston’s core spots. You’ll see Boston Common – the city’s oldest park – and the historic Quincy Market & Faneuil Hall, which served as a meeting place for those wanting independence from England and for slavery to end. Get to know your crew and Tour Manager over dinner tonight, before exploring more of the city in a fun night out. With everything from indie bands to nightclubs, there’s something for everyone.
With a full day here, you’ll get a feel for this user-friendly city, which is easy to explore on foot. In your free time, walk through a living time line and follow Boston’s famous Freedom Trail, which takes you past 2 and a half centuries of history. Learn about Boston’s rebellious role on its road to independence as you explore the cobbled lanes and historic hot spots. Discover more of Boston. Pound the pavements or choose our optional Hop-on-Hop-off trolley tour and cover more of the city. You’ll get the background on Boston’s famous Tea Party, when Boston citizens threw tons of tea into the harbor in protest against the British Crown. Head back to Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market for a bit of souvenir shopping and a dose of history. Dubbed the “Cradle of Liberty” this famous brick building has played a key role in the city for over 250 years. Check out the stalls loaded with New England’s crafts, pick up some Boston-made items and order some local food at a push cart eatery or restaurant. For a bit of the local lifestyle, take in the waterfront by following the Haborwalk. Made up of 62.8 km (39miles) of paths weaving through diverse neighborhoods, it is a great way to experience Boston’s maritime flavor and see its working ports in action. Get into the city’s café culture on Italian flavored Hanover Street in Boston’s oldest residential district. Sip on a cappuccino as you take in the city’s iconic brick architecture. If you just want to relax, kick back with the locals and people-watch in one of the nine parks that make up the city’s “Emerald Necklace”. You could return to Boston Common, where public hangings took place in the old days, – now it’s a great place to hang out. Finish the day at one of the city’s excellent local restaurants. Make sure you get some tips from your Tour Manager on where to go and order some of Boston’s famous lobsters, clams or oysters.
Wind down on the coach, plug in your MP3 and watch the wilderness of Maine unfold from your window. Keep an eye open for it fresh-water lakes, beautiful scenery and wildlife like moose, beavers, foxes and birds. Maybe even practice your French phrases as we cross the border into Canada. We continue on to North America’s French flavored core, Quebec, and experience a slice of old Europe. Founded in the 17th century, this is the only city in Canada or the USA that has its original city walls, making it the only walled-city in North America.
Step back in time in Quebec’s old-town as your Local Guide opens up the UNESCO World Heritage listed center. As you walk through this open-air museum, complete with cobbled streets and 17th century stone houses you’ll learn about its history. With free time, discover more of the fortified city. Check out the Citadel, ancient point of defense, complete with a traditional changing of the guard. Otherwise, follow the city walls and uncover little boutiques and galleries tucked away within the time-worn streets. With its European heritage, Quebec has a buzzing café culture that fills its historic center. For lunch, grab a table in a Parisian style bistro and try some of the local specialties like tourtière québecois (meat pie) or duckling with maple syrup. Kick back and listen to the locals speaking French. For views over the St. Lawrence River, walk along Dufferin Terrace, Quebec City’s most famous boardwalk. If you’re keen for a slice of Canada’s diverse history, get the low-down on the people of French-Canada at the Musée de la civilisation (Museum of Civilization) See how the building cleverly blends both new design and old buildings. Otherwise, don’t forget to visit the iconic Chateau Frontenac in the heart of the old town.
Continue on to the island city of Montreal. A happening hub and home to the famous Montreal Jazz festival, this hot, creative city mixes up a North American feel with French influence. It also has amazing food and is thriving with festivities. Get familiar with the city when we arrive. Catch some of Montreal’s relaxed vibes down at the Old Port and get the background on its maritime history as the group drives around the quays. The well-preserved riverside old-town was a key player in early Montreal’s development. Then, we’ll take a drive up Mt Royal, which serves up sweeping views over the city. Check out this enormous park that was designed by the same person who landscaped New York’s famous Central Park. Your Tour Manager will show you some of Montreal’s signature sites. See the copper dome of St Joseph’s oratory, the biggest monument built to honor Canada’s patron saint. You’ll get a look at Montreal’s most famous architectural curiosity: the 1976 Olympic stadium, complete with the world’s tallest inclined tower. For some action, hit the rapids of the St Lawrence River in an adrenaline-pumping optional jet-boat ride, and experience another side of Montreal.
With a free day ahead of you, explore Montreal’s creative core and joie de vivre (joy of living). See some of the city’s innovations, like the world-famous Biodome, where you can walk through different eco-systems, from ocean fronts to woodlands, and get up close to all sorts of wildlife. Montreal is a great place to shop. On St Laurent Boulevard (it’s affectionately dubbed “The Main”) look through cutting-edge boutiques, jewelery stores and artists’ workshops. Otherwise just hang out in an outdoor café among the throngs of people and get a real feel for Montreal’s street life. For a different shopping experience, head underground to Montreal’s famous underground-city. With 19 miles of shops and restaurants right under the heart of the city, it’s got it all. Lunchtime: go local and head to Jean-Talon Market, with its bustling stalls and friendly atmosphere. Try some tasty baked goods, fresh produce or delicious snacks, like calamari and chips. Then kick back with some of the best coffee in town from near-by Little Italy. Tonight, explore Montreal’s amazing nightlife with some friends. There’s so much to choose from – jazz bars in the down town area, the student vibes of the Latin Quarter, the clubs of Rue St. Catherine or the festive outdoor atmosphere and cozy lounge bars back up the hill on Mt Royal, where Rue St. Denis is a happening night spot. Afterward, round off your night with a Montreal favorite: poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curd).
As we stick to the St Lawrence River Valley, you’ll see the local fresh water wonder: the 1000 islands of different sizes that are scattered across Lake Ontario and the river. Later, pull into Toronto, Canada’s economic powerhouse, cosmopolitan capital and English speaking heart. Kick start your time here with a few of Toronto’s key spots on a tour around the city. Your Tour Manager will fill you in on the iconic CN Tower, North America’s tallest free standing structure at 553 meters. See buzzing Yonge Street, with its designer labels, funky boutiques and diverse stores. Enjoy a look into student life as you check out the University of Toronto, complete with Gothic buildings and ivy covered stone walls.
Toronto is loaded with things to do, so some ideas for your free time include getting away from it all by jumping on a local ferry and heading out to one of Toronto’s leafy islands. With no cars, cute cottages and windswept nature, these are the perfect places to chill out. Or, for something different, visit the fantastic Bata Shoe Museum and see its quirky, impressive collection of footwear. If something sporty is more your thing, head to the Hockey Hall of Fame and honor Canada’s national sport. Otherwise, explore Toronto’s melting pot, experience different pockets of culture and taste food from all over the world. Start by having a bit of fun in colorful and chaotic Chinatown. It’s packed with little shops selling anything from knick knacks to lanterns, and its streets are full of stalls dishing up all sorts of tasty Asian dishes. Check out the bustling vibe of near-by Kensington Market, a vibrant, multi-cultural neighborhood that is fascinating to walk around. Popular with locals, Kensington Market serves up bakeries, tapas (Spanish style nibbles), international grocery stores, Mexican and Jewish food, vintage stores and one-of-a kind boutiques. Round off your experience with some espresso and pastries in Little Italy. Get your heart racing in an optional excursion up CN tower, where you can walk the glass floor and enjoy the widest-reaching vistas in Toronto. Enjoy an insider’s look at Toronto’s night life on an optional guided party pub crawl around the city’s hot spots tonight and finish your time off in this city with a night to remember.
Head to the surging waters of world-famous Niagara Falls, right on the border of the USA and Canada. Jump on board the Maid of the Mist and cruise along the river to the base of the world’s second largest falls for a closer look. You’ll see the incredible volume of water pouring over the cliff and feel the sheer power of the spray. But don’t worry – there is an included rain poncho! Choose to get a bird’s-eye-view of it all on an optional helicopter ride and check out the falls from both sides of the border. Follow the river’s path and see the tons of water that make up the falls– it’ll make your jaw drop.
Today we’ll fly across to Vancouver to meet up with your new crew on the other side of Canada. With beaches, forests and mountains, Vancouver is all about location and fusing big-city living with an outdoor lifestyle. You’ll enjoy a first taste of it all with the group when your Tour Manager points out historic Gastown, Vancouver’s founding district, the city’s own Chinatown – home to the largest minority group in Vancouver and the landmark Lion’s Gate Bridge. In Stanley Park, see the colorful Totem Poles of Canada’s First Nations People and learn about traditional culture as your Tour Manager tells you the stories behind them. We’ll then wind our way along the spectacular cliff-top Sea to Sky highway and arrive in Whistler, one of the most popular ski resorts in North America and home to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Today, you’ve got time to get into some alpine activities and experience Whistlers’ high-energy action. Choose to have a go with the paddle and get out on the water in a canoe excursion along the River of Golden Dreams or try a zip-line optional, where you’ll glide over surging rivers and stunning scenery. With lots of trails to choose from, Whistler is a hiker’s heaven. For those wanting vistas of the spectacular surrounds but not wanting to work up a sweat, choose a gondola or chairlift ride to the top for amazing views. Otherwise, kick back and take in the natural surroundings back at the hotel or walk around the quaint village of Whistler.
Leaving the mountains behind, we make our way to the desert and to Canada’s impressive interior. Passing the picture-perfect Seton Lake, we’ll make a stop in Lillooet, a former gold rush town. We travel on to our next night stop, Kamloops, sitting at the confluence of 2 rivers. Once a former meeting point for traders, it continues to serve as a stop over point for travelers and still has touches of the Wild West.
Sticking to the famous Yellowhead Highway, we stop off at the highest peak of the Rockies, Mt Robson. Get your blood pumping in a thrilling white-water rafting optional on the Fraser River. Then pull into small-town Jasper and kick back in the Rockies’ largest national park – our home for the next two nights.
We drive through the wild beauty of Jasper National Park to Maligne Lake, known for its stunning scenery and vivid colors. There’s a chance to take in the snow capped mountains from the water and visit iconic Spirit Island on an optional cruise. Later, your Tour Manager will take you for an easy-going hike through the Maligne Canyon, an impressive limestone gorge – the result of years of raging waters. Use your free time to make the most of lesser-known Jasper Park. With 1000kms of trails, from hour loops to day hikes, it’s easy to get off the beaten track and into nature.
Get ready for some sublime scenery as we stick to the Columbia Icefield Parkway, a route that fur traders and native peoples once used during the 19th century. With waterfalls, lakes, meadows, glaciers, towering mountains, and the largest ice-field south of Alaska, this is one fantastic drive. Jump on board the Ice Explorer, a snow coach on tracks, and roll onto the Athabasca Glacier, where you can get out and explore the icy slopes. Drink straight from the glacier and taste some of the purest water on earth. We continue on to famous Lake Louise. Its striking turquoise color and incredible mountain back drop create a breathtaking scene. Back on the coach, we roll on to legendary Banff, the unofficial capital of the Rockies.
With loads of activities available in Banff, you can choose your own adventure. There’s the option to get above the Rockies in an unforgettably spectacular helicopter ride or to head up Sulphur mountain by gondola for a slice of remote high country and the chance to see some summit wildlife. Other ideas for your day include checking out Banff’s landmark Banff Springs Hotel. With over 800 rooms, this massive Gothic structure is fun to explore. Otherwise, head downtown for some shopping, where you can pick up cowboy hats, well-known brands and outdoor sporting equipment. Tonight, give our horseback ride optional a go, where you’ll ride into the back country and enjoy a traditional cook-out dinner under the open sky.
Cut across three national parks today and experience what each one has to offer in an incredible drive. Things get wilder and a whole lot more rugged in Yoho National Park, where the ice blue Kicking Horse River winds through a valley of waterfalls and meadows. Be impressed by Glacier National Park, home to over 400 glaciers and stop off at Rogers Pass – a place of awesome surroundings. We’ll also see Mt Revelstoke National Park’s towering peaks and surging river. Then it’s a complete change of scene as we travel into British Columbia’s wine country, Okanagan Valley, with its vines and terraced hills, to Vernon for our overnight stop.
Journey through the stunning Okanagan Valley, Canada’s wine country, before returning to laid-back Vancouver, with its friendly locals, sandy beaches and Pacific rim position. For a bit of urban culture, head down town and grab a coffee at one of the many cafes. Continue on to the Gastown area for a bit of shopping, where you can find souvenirs to take back home, including Native American crafts and jewelery. Tonight, head out on the town with your friends and experience more of Vancouver’s nightlife. Hit the back streets of Gastown or the alleys of Yale Town for some live music. Otherwise, if you know what you’re after, ask your Tour Manager for tips.
Feel the young vibe of this city while exploring its hip shops & cafes. Later, enjoy a dinner cruise around the harbor & head out for a night on the town!
Your Canadian adventure ends this morning and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends. For those who are keen for some more action, there’s the option of a trip to Grouse Mountain or Butchart Gardens.