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Three cool, cheap Canadian cities

SmarterTravel

During the summer, temperatures and prices for travel in most regions of the U.S. are at their highest, but if you head north to Canada, things chill out quite a bit. Summer is the best time of year to visit many of Canada’s top city destinations, with sunny weather and average temperatures in the 60s and 70s. And, with the U.S. dollar still trumping Canadian currency, costs for accommodations, attractions, and dining are reasonable, even though summer is high season.

Three Canadian cities that offer culture, class, and affordable prices in the summer include Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Each city is unique, but all have features that appeal to families, couples, seniors, and young travelers alike.

Montreal, Quebec

Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence, Montreal is one of the most European cities in North America, blending old and new cultural traditions, arts, and architecture. In the city’s historic heart, Old Montreal, you can explore centuries-old buildings and churches, along with quaint cafes and shops. Meanwhile, in cosmopolitan downtown Montreal, you can visit some of the city’s top museums, shopping, and nightspots.

About a six-hour drive from New York or Boston, Montreal makes a convenient long-weekend getaway for residents of the Northeast U.S. To find accommodation deals, visit the official Montreal tourism website, which is now promoting hotel packages that include accommodations, breakfast, attraction discounts, and more from $137 per night.

If you live further or would prefer to fly, you can also find affordable air-and-hotel packages. Currently, Liberty Travel has four-night summer vacations including airfare and accommodations at the three-star Le Cantile Suites Hotel from $399 from the Northeast, $415 from the Southeast, and $545 from the West Coast, plus taxes and fees. To compare prices on packages from other providers, visit SmarterTravel’s price-comparison tool.

Toronto, Ontario

With its soaring architecture and multi-ethnic population, Canada’s largest city resembles New York City in many ways, only it’s cleaner and friendlier. For a spectacular perspective of the city’s buildings and surroundings, you can check out the view from the iconic CN Tower, the world’s tallest free-standing building. To experience the city’s diversity, visit vibrant ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown or Little Italy, and peruse the international food merchants and shops of Kensington Market. Toronto also has a revitalized waterfront, Harbourfront Centre, where you can attend summer arts performances and festivals, shop, and stroll or bike along the boardwalk.

Toronto is a mere two-hour drive from upstate New York, and less than five hours from Detroit. For stays in the city, you can find hotel deals on the official Toronto tourism website, with summer rates starting as low as $64 per night. The site also allows you to search for promotional hotel packages that include extras such as attraction passes and meals.

If you need airfare, you can book very affordable air-and-hotel packages online. We found a three-night summer package including accommodations at the four-star Delta Chelsea hotel and airfare from Newark starting at $369, plus taxes and fees, from Liberty Travel. Using BookingBuddy.com, we also found a four-night package for stays in August with accommodations at the Fairmont Royal York and airfare from New York (JFK) for $513 from Expedia.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the sea, Vancouver is a haven for outdoor lovers and a modern, cosmopolitan city all in one. You can visit museums like the Museum of Anthropology, which features art and artifacts of Pacific Northwest native cultures or the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, one of the biggest aquariums in North America. There’s also world-class dining and designer boutique shopping downtown. Or, you can get outside in and around the city to go biking, kayaking, hiking, and more.

A two-and-a-half hour drive from Seattle, Vancouver is perfect for a weekend trip from cities in the Pacific Northwest. Find deals on accommodations through the Vancouver tourism website, which currently lists summer hotel rates from $54 per night. You can also browse for romance, summer festival, culinary, or other special-themed packages.

While searching for air-inclusive trips, we found a package from United Vacations that includes airfare from Seattle and a three nights’ stay at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre from $504, not including airfare taxes and fees. For travel from Los Angeles, we located a CheapTickets package that includes airfare and four nights at the Days Inn Vancouver Downtown for $572 through BookingBuddy.com.

These three cities are just a few examples of affordable city destinations in Canada: Cities you might not know much about, including Quebec City, Ottawa, Calgary, and Halifax, are also close to the U.S., and worth a look. To learn more about vacationing in Canada, visit the TravelCanada.ca website.

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