My favourite cozy things to do in Yarmouth include watching artists work by the seashore, visiting a lovely cafe, and shivering over ghost stories.
The small town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, seems purpose-built for coziness. Between the delightful views of the harbour, the fresh seafood served in local restaurants, and the area's strong cultural connections, you have a recipe for a snug visit and amazing travel memories. I had visited the area before as many people do, during a short stop after taking the ferry over from Maine. I had never spent significant time in the region until this summer when I attended a conference in Yarmouth. It was the perfect way to check out the community's homiest spots and I'm happy to share my favourite cozy things to do in Yarmouth so your visit can be equally as nice.
If you want to explore Georges Island National Historic Site, here's how you can do it on your own, with a tour, and even with a picnic! Plus: What to expect on the ferry.
Once upon a time, Halifax, Nova Scotia, wasn't just known as a lively city for music, travel, and seaside fun. It was first and foremost a military port. Halifax was on the frontlines of defending Canada from foreign attack. It's a role that thankfully never had to be enforced but for centuries the city has been soaked in military preparations. Now one of Halifax's oldest fortifications, Georges Island National Historic Site is open to the public and I was fortunate to explore it myself.
Georges Island sits in the middle of Halifax Harbour. You can see it from almost any point in the city - I had superb views from my room at the Westin Nova Scotian- but visitors were prohibited until 2020. My friends and family jumped at the chance to visit when the Parks Canada site opened during the pandemic and their reviews were GLOWING. Locals absolutely love this destination and they're extremely proud of their city's history. As they should be!
The main attraction on Georges Island is Fort Charlotte. Fortifications here date to 1750 and include an underground tunnel system. While Georges Island has never been attacked, Fort Charlotte and the surrounding area has been used for important military operations over the centuries. Two thousand French soldiers were imprisoned here during the Seven Years War and an estimated 1,660 Acadian civilians were detained during the Expulsion. During the American Revolution, privateers were held prisoner in Fort Charlotte and, during World War II, an anti-aircraft was stationed there.
Visiting today is decidedly peaceful experience and a wonderful way to get to know Halifax better. Here's what to expect and how you can explore Georges Island National Historic Site.
I thought I was ready to fly with Santa Claus - but was I? The plane was small - and the naughty list loomed large!
Every writer dreams of an exclusive celebrity scoop and I got one to top them all: Santa Claus! Not only did the head elf himself give me the inside scoop on what he loves about Ottawa but I also got to spend some time with him in his very own plane. That's right - Santa doesn't just fly a sleigh but he also offers 15 minute aerial tours of downtown Ottawa in a vintage Cessna 172 in conjunction with Ottawa Aviation Adventures as part of a program in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.
There was just one tiny complication. The plane is tiny. Santa is all-knowing. And I'm a big ol' scarde-y cat. An Anti-Adventurist, if you will. Would my notorious stomach hold up in a vintage aircraft? Would my nerve hold up if Santa started grilling me about whether I was naughty or nice?
Fun, easy, festive gifts for your pet sitter (and anyone else who deserves a little treat this holiday season).
People ask me all the time what’s the hardest part about planning my trips. They probably expect me to say that it’s arranging the visas or searching for cheap flights or maybe even just deciding where to go. But my surprising answer is always the same. My biggest challenge is Ollie!
Ollie is my beloved dog and he often does accompany me on road trips but for most of my travels, figuring out his care is a bit of an adventure. He can’t exactly come along when I’m on safari in Botswana or even when I’m at a conference in New York City. I want Ollie to be happy and relaxed when I’m gone and I want his pet sitters to feel the exact same way. I do everything I can to make sure their job goes smoothly. I set up meet and greets, I leave long lists of emergency information, and I make sure the house is well stocked with everything Ollie needs. And I go the extra mile over the holiday season. You can bet the cupboard is filled with ALL of Oliver’s favourite treats. And you’ll probably find a few gifts from Santa-Paws in there as well. But what about the sitters themselves? What do they need to feel comfy and cozy in my home? And how can I make sure their holidays are special too?
Afterall, you are counting on your sitter to take care of someone you deeply love, while they are counting on you to provide a safe, warm, welcoming work environment. You’ll talk about things you might not share with anyone else. But other things are more opaque. You probably know their professional qualifications much more than you actually know them. They’re staying in your home and caring for your beloved pet – but you don’t even know their favourite colour!
No wonder it’s so hard to find the perfect gift for your pet sitter. It’s a quandary! You want something professional but not formal, personal but not presumptive. Most of all, you want something that shows how much you value their work and the relationship they have with your pet. Here are some ideas to help you find that perfect present.
See how I've been exploring Ottawa this autumn - and maybe you'll win your own amazing adventure!
Whoever first described autumn travel as the "off season" surely never lived in Ottawa, for this is when our city is on, on, on! The weather is lovely, the changing leaves are spectacular, and there's no shortage of fantastic things to do. Case in point: Check out what I've been up to over the last few weeks. From pies to ziplines, I think just about everyone will find something to love on this list.
In fact, I KNOW everyone will love it because one lucky reader is going to win an amazing Ottawa excursion based on a very exciting activity I just enjoyed myself. Read on!
Ottawa bakeries showcase a delicious side of the city! These are some of my favorites.
I know bakeries. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's tracking down baked goods. And eating them. I am VERY GOOD at eating baked goods.
It's not just the obvious deliciousness I enjoy. Bakeries are a fun, accessible, affordable way to explore a destination. I have vivid memories of my very first backpacking trip in Europe, way back when before the common Euro currency was in play. I was determined to use up all my coins before I crossed borders (rendering them all but useless). As such, I soon became very adapt at buying the exact thing at a bakery that corresponded with the precise amount of coins left in my pocket. I still remember a train station apple pastry procured in France moments before I hoped on a train to Italy! The sweet filling was almost as satisfing as the knowledge that I had used every spare cent.
It's this kind of deep seated bakery love that had me jumping at the chance to investigate Ottawa bakeries. I know first hand that my local favourites make treats every bit as delicious as those fancy French spots that had me carefully counting my pennies all those years ago and I am eager to spread the word about just how much creative baking talent is right here in our hometown. Some of these destinations are long-loved special spots that I can't believe more people haven't heard about yet, while others are new to me, discovered this year as part of the #Invite2 campaign. And some, I must confess, aren't strictly bakeries per se but more like cafes that specialize in their own baked goods. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants. And so does my stomach! I'm sure you will love these sweet destinations as much as I do.
PS: Of course, this is but a tiny sampling of the bakeries the city has to offer, focusing on the places I know well. I hope this is a list that will only grow over time!
Ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs are more accessible than you might think at the Big Island's Volcanoes National Park. This is what it was like hiking to see the Pu'u Loa site.
You may have come to Volcanoes National Park to satisfy the child within, to hunt down fiery lava and stalk ancient eruptions. But it’s your inner artist who will be squealing with glee if you’re fortunate enough to explore the legendary ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs at the Pu’u Loa site.
Roughly translated as “the hill of long life”, the archaeological site of Pu’u Loa contains over 23,000 petroglyph images, carved into lava bedrock and dating back centuries. With a keen eye, you’ll see a feathery cape, the billowing sail of a canoe, and the squiggly flash of a lizard. But even if your imagination is a bit rusty, you’ll have no problem deciphering many human forms. And there’s no way you can miss the thousands of ‘dimples’, little cups carved into the rock, which served as repositories for umbilical cords. With the promise of blessings and a long life for a new baby, it’s easy to see why ancient Hawaii families considered the Pu’u Loa such a precious spot.
A new book highlights Canadian craft spirits - and the cozy distilleries that make them, just in time for the pandemic.
What’s your lockdown libation of choice?
In my pre-pandemic life, I often kept things simple -- and alcohol free. My tipple of choice was a mix of cranberry juice and ginger ale. A pretty, refreshing blend, it never failed to remind me of travel. After all, ginger ale is this queasy girl’s best friend! But these days, there’s just something about, well, EVERYTHING that has me reaching for a stronger beverage to imbibe. Drowning sorrows and remembering simpler times? I can get behind that.
I’m craving something tangy, herbaceous, and travel-y. The mix of gin, lemon, and elderflower I had at Sydney’s New South Wales Art Gallery the night I heard Rolling Stone writer Toby Creswell speak about the origins of American rock and roll comes to mind. Or perhaps I’m really hankering after a generic frothy blender concoction like the one I sipped in a Bangkok infinity pool, where the overpriced slush diluted my fears of ice and waterborne diseases. Heck, maybe a classic Sex And The City-style cosmopolitan would do the trick, so long as I call it a quaran-tini. Ginger ale just doesn’t cut it anymore. And I’m not the only one who feels this way!
Memorable meals and cozy adventures top our list of the best Ottawa staycation activities for couples.
If you were going to celebrate a special wedding anniversary, where would you go?
If you answered that you'd stay at home, you're exactly on our wavelength! We knew that an Ottawa staycation was the perfect way to celebrate our August wedding anniversary - and not just because international travel opportunities are limited at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Planning a cozy couple's staycation meant that we could spend more time exploring, less time driving, and we could easily work all activities around our existing schedule. It would also allow us to tackle our neglected summer adventure bucket list, soak in the last of the August sunshine before autumn rolls in, and brush up on our local knowledge (which always seems to be lacking when we host out-of-town visitors).
Despite a nearly endless list of things we could possibly see and do in Ottawa, it didn't take long to decide on a plan that was very "us". We'd be exploring all things cozy, mixing and matching some old favourites with some very new experiences. This is what made our romantic Ottawa staycation itinerary perfect for us.
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