If a destination that offers rich history and mega-outdoor adventure is your thing, put charming Québec City on your must-visit list.
Established by French explorer Samuel de Champlain in 1608, Québec City is one of Canada's oldest cities. Home to groves of Canada's national maple trees, as the days get shorter, it turns into a flaming-red and orange-dotted landscape, making it the perfect fall destination. Here's how to explore the city without skipping a beat in your daily fitness goals. (Next up: How to Plan the Most Epic Adventure Vacation of Your Life)
Take a Walk Through Old Town
Credit: Quebec Tourism/Guy Lessard
Start your day by browsing the quaint artisanal boutiques in Vieux-Québec (Old Town), a UNESCO protected area and the only remaining walled city in North America this side of Mexico City. With its narrow cobblestone streets, stunning 17th- and 18th-century architecture, and appealing bistros and sidewalk cafés, it captures the European flair of French-Canadian identity.
Vieux-Québec is divided into upper and lower sections connected by over 30 staircases, so you'll be sure to get your cardio workout. And if you really love step-climbing, you can return in June when the city hosts a major annual race event where participants run/walk the staircases and over 3,000 steps.
Cycle to the Falls
Credit: Quebec Tourism/Yves Marcoux
Québec City is a cyclist-friendly city. Rent a bike at Cyclo Services and ride the 8.5 miles of cycling path to Montmorency Falls, the highest falls in Québec and 98 feet higher than Niagara Falls.
While at Montmorency, try your mountain climbing skills on the Via Ferrata. Here you will clip into a cable system and scale and traverse rock faces and fissures, with the help of a guide and a series of ladders and rings. If you have a fear of heights, don't look down! You're some 200 feet up jagged cliffs and so close to the falls that you can feel the spray on your face. The fun (fear?) factor is off the charts. (Related: 5 Things Every Active Girl Should Do In Banff National Park, Canada)
Stay at a Historic Chateau
Credit: Quebec Tourism/Fairmont le Château Frontenac
Majestically located on a cape overlooking Lower Town and the St. Lawrence River, the iconic Fairmont le Château Frontenac is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. (Tip: Ask for a room overlooking the river.)
Allow yourself plenty of time to wander the hotel, which is filled with architecture and artwork that ooze "luxury." You can also sign up for one of their guided tours to learn more about the famous people and historic events that have woven the hotel's identity over the years.
With a swimming pool, whirlpool, two steam rooms, and a 24-hour fitness room, you can work out whenever the spirit hits you. If you find you work harder when pushed, sign up for a private class, group walk, meditation, or terrace workout with one of their instructors. A bonus: The spa is right next door to the health club, so it's easy to book a massage to reward yourself after your workout. (Related: These Workouts Are Redefining the World of Hotel Fitness)
Go for a Run Through History
Credit: Quebec Tourism/Guy Lessard
From the Frontenac, it's only a .75 mile run to the Plains of Abraham, where the 1759 battle between the French and Brits was fought. (Quick history lesson: The Brits won, leading to the surrender of Québec by the French, one of the factors making Canada predominantly English-speaking today.)
Aside from being a site with historical monuments and a museum (with 2017 marking the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation, admission to national parks and federal historical sites is free), this is also the city's largest park with 103 hectares of meadows, forests, gardens, and pathways to explore.
Eat Fresh Food
Credit: Le Monastère des Augustines
The Québécois take their food very seriously. With the French influence, tasty croissants and tourtières abound, but healthy cuisine is easy to find as well.
Le Monastère des Augustines is a local favorite for raw or vegetarian choices made from local, seasonal ingredients. For a special start to your day, try the Vitality buffet breakfast, where you will embrace the monastery's philosophy of "mindful eating" by joining in a morning silence ritual, inspired by the Augustinian nuns who once ran a hospital here.
Of course, you can't visit Québec without having one of their famous poutines. Le Chic Shack is the perfect place to order a Poutine Classique and dig into crispy french fries topped with gooey cheddar and cheese curds, smothered in scrumptious black pepper gravy. Worth the calories, non?