Charlevoix doesn’t need a lot of promotion; with a broad, beautiful river surrounded by mountains and a thriving food scene, the Quebec region, which is even classified as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, sells itself. Well-to-do Americans seeking an under-the-radar escape have been vacationing in Charlevoix since the 19th century. With such a dramatic landscape (thanks to a meteorite that slammed into the Earth 350 million years ago, leaving behind a giant impact crater) there are plenty of classic winter pastimes (like skiing and skating) to enjoy. But Charlevoix also offers a host of unique pursuits. Whether you seek relaxation or motion, there’s an off-beat cold-weather activity to suit your style.
Kayaking is a quintessential summer activity, but why hang up the paddle just because temperatures drop? Local outfitters Katabatik Tours offer kayaking tours in late winter and early spring, depending on ice conditions. With ice floes still on the St. Lawrence and frozen waterfalls visible from the water, the hardy can head onto the water for a four-hour introduction to cold-weather kayaking, traveling from Cap-à-l'Aigle to La Malbaie and back. Special isothermal outerwear and hot beverages are provided to keep you toasty.
This unique North American attraction is located on Le Massif, the highest ski hill east of the Rockies, which offers stunning views of the St. Lawrence River. Rodeling involves traversing the mountain via a 7.5 km sled run, which you navigate on a small wooden sled using only a rope, your own weight and a leg to steer. There are tight turns, several stops, and a warm chalet halfway down. Learn more about Le Massif in the November 2016 issue of Canadian Geographic Travel.
Spa du Verger
There’s nothing better than soaking in a warm bath in the depths of winter. But how often can you do that in the open air, surrounded by the mountains left behind by an ancient meterorite? At the unique-in-its-own-right Ferme hotel (which used to be an actual farm, and now hosts a farmer’s market in the summer), Spa du Verger offers a thermal spa, eucalyptus steam bath, and even a snow fountain. Afterward, enjoy a traditional Quebecois meal made with local, seasonal ingredients at the hotel's rustic-chic, glass-walled restaurant Le Bercail.