Capture the magic of Christmas and enjoy the local festivities. This flexible itinerary is specially designed to show you the winter highlights and some seasonal treats.. Venture off the tourist trail on a visit to Amish Country where you’ll dine on hearty homemade cuisine with a local family.. Indulge in Canadian local cuisine, from pastrami sandwiches at Shwartz’s Deli in Montreal to ‘beaver tails’ in Ottawa’s Byward Market Square.. Get insider knowledge on an orientation tour of Old Montreal with plenty of free time to explore the rest of the eclectic city at your leisure.
Escape the crowds, embrace the snow and enjoy the magical festivities of Christmas on this 10-day winter adventure through the USA and Canada. Check out the Windy City, dine with an Amish family in small-town Ohio, experience the misty magic of Niagara Falls and skate along the frozen Rideau Canal in Montreal. Explore eclectic and French-infused Montreal, try your hand at sleigh riding in snow-covered Stowe, and finish up among the bright lights and skyscrapers of New York. Along the way, there’s a slew of winter festivals and Christmas markets to explore.
Breakfast Included: 4 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to the Windy City, aka Chicago, USA. There are no activities planned until your welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you have time during the day, explore the lakefront paths that Chicago is famous for or opt for a cruise down the river to Lake Michigan. After the welcome meeting, perhaps head out with your new travel companions for a slice of the city’s legendary deep-dish pizza.
Prepare for an early start as your morning begins with a long drive to Berlin, Ohio, which usually takes around 7 hours. As part of the largest Amish settlement in the world, Berlin is at the heart of Amish country in Ohio. Depending on the day of the week, you'll visit a local home for a hearty and wholesome dinner, or breakfast tomorrow morning. Dinner consists of homemade bread, baked chicken, vegetables, salad, pie, beverages and more, while breakfast is scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, cinnamon rolls, homemade bread, fruit slushees, biscuits and sausage gravy! Your hosts are a local family who will dine with you, so you’ll have the chance to learn there is more to being Amish than eschewing technology.
Niagara Falls / Toronto
Today the group will make the 6-hour journey crossing the boarder headed for Toronto, Canada. We will visit Niagara Falls on the way stopping at a couple of different viewpoints to witness the natural wonder in action. Winter is a lovely time to see the falls, as the mist and spray blows in the wind and settles to create oddly shaped ice sculptures. Afterwards, enjoy a free evening in Toronto. Perhaps explore dining options in and around Yonge-Dundas Square, or check out what's playing at the Bell Lightbox cinema in the entertainment district. During winter, the popular Maid of the Mist boat trip does not operate.
Today, join your leader on a tour through Kensington Market – one of the city’s most colourful and multicultural neighbourhoods, where you'll get to experience the history, culture and individuality of the area. After your tour, perhaps take in the views from the CN Tower, visit the Hockey Hall of Fame or go shopping in the PATH underground market. This evening, opt for a dinner at a restaurant that supports career development for people in need of skills and employment and embraces a cuisine of local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients.
Drive to Ottawa, (approximately 5 hours) where your day is free to explore Canada’s capital. In the afternoon, perhaps check out the awesome Gothic parliament building, or visit the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History. Byward Market Square is great for a meal, with quality cuisine from all over the world (don't miss the ‘beaver tails’ – an Ottawa trademark and a delicious winter snack). Try your ice skating skills on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Every winter from December to February, 7.8 km (4.8 miles) of the Rideau Canal transforms into the world’s largest outdoor skating rink.
Today it will take around 2 hours to drive to Montreal. Upon your arrival this afternoon, enjoy an orientation walk of Old Montreal where you’ll explore iconic sites in this historic neighbourhood including the famous Notre-Dame Basilica. This is a compact island city, which is great for walking around and exploring on foot. Montreal is also home to more than 80 ethnic communities and enjoys an outstanding reputation for gourmet dining. Perhaps head to one of the many restaurants for dinner in the evening.
Today is a free day in Montreal. For lunch perhaps try the famous pastrami sandwiches at Schwarz's Deli, or relax over a long brunch at Beautys Luncheonette. The winter activities on offer are many. Glide around The Old Port’s Montreal Skating Rink or perhaps visit Mont Royal for some snowshoeing. Depending on exact dates, check out one of the many winter festivals the city delivers each year; Fete des Neiges de Montreal festival (January and February), Igloofest music festival (January) or Montreal en Lumiere festival (late February). For dinner, the unique O.Noir restaurant is a fine choice – it's a social enterprise hosted by blind waiters who will serve your food as you dine in the dark – and proceeds go to good local causes.
In the morning, head south and back across the border into the USA on your way to Stowe (approximately 3 hours). En route, stop at the picturesque Lake Champlain to stretch your legs. A bit further down the road is the Ben and Jerry's Factory, where you'll take a tour and try some ice cream. Depending on time and season, you may also stop at a chocolate factory, a cheesemaker's or a maple syrup farm. The rest of the day is yours to explore.
With a full free day at your disposal, you won’t be short of optional activities to keep you entertained in this mountain resort town. Perhaps visit the Von Trapp Family Lodge (once home to the family made famous by The Sound of Music), ride the Mount Mansfield gondola or try some winter activities like sleigh riding, ice skating or snowshoeing. Alternatively, this idyllic New England village is the perfect place to explore the boutique stores, connect over coffee, or even relax in one of the mountain spa retreats.
Welcome to the Big Apple! Today you’ll drive through New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut and on to your final destination for this tour, New York (approximately 6 hours). With a Metrocard in hand and some guidance from your leader you'll be set to explore the city that never sleeps, with a free evening to do as you wish. Perhaps check out Central Park and the Empire State Building or take a walk around Times Square and grab yourself a slice of pizza, New York style.
Bid farewell to your travel buddies as your epic winter discovery ends today. If you’re extending your time in New York, ask your leader for the best tips and tricks to make the most of your time in the Big Apple.