A road trip from the US to Canada: living the dream

For most students, a North American road trip, no matter how big or small, is as dream-worthy as any exotic holiday.

But where to start? There are always the glittering beaches of the West Coast where you can live out your Surfin’ USA fantasies. Or you can head down South for some of the best parties in the world. Whatever slice of North American life you choose, you can’t go wrong.

Now this may just be my personal opinion as a Northeast native, but I think that this region of North America has the most to offer. With historical sites, outdoor escapades, and some of the best eats around, a road trip through the Northeast should be at the top of anyone’s travel bucket list.

Plus if you head up North, you’ll have more than just the States at your disposal. That’s right, Canada is easily accessible from the States – just grab your passport, drive through, and breathe in that fresh Canadian air. As a British National, all you’ll need is a Visa Waiver.

My home’s proximity to Canada is what drew me to venturing north of the Border over the Christmas holidays. Skiing was the end-game, but I quickly realized that there was so much more to see along the way.

Craving the feeling of snow beneath my feet after a particularly dry winter, the car was swiftly packed, filled to the brim with ski gear and snacks. Start from Boston, head North West on route 89, spending the first part of your journey admiring the not-so picturesque views of New Hampshire’s finest highway.

Your salvation will come in Vermont, where the scenery will be much more pleasant and the roads will become ever-more winding. While the skiing in Vermont is some of the best in America, you’ll want to save your energy for later.

A drive-through state, Vermont is not. With its quaint and quirky small towns, complete with picture-perfect houses and whitewashed churches, Vermont is home to one of the most important, if not the most important, landmarks in the region: the Ben and Jerry’s factory. This site is a must-see for any frozen dairy lover, with a tour that covers everything from the history of its founders to an inside look at how the dessert is made. After your tour, venture outside and have a look at the flavor graveyard, which pays homage to the flavors which have sadly been retired.

The complimentary sample scoops might be enough to tide you over through lunch. At least, that was the case on my tour where there were surprisingly few people, and some extra scoops up for grabs. If you’re still hungry after filling up on Americone Dream or Caramel Chew Chew, then you can stop in Queechee for a quick lunch, and take a quick detour at Queechee Gorge afterwards.

Having had our fair share of stops and photo-ops, as well as a bout of bad weather by way of a blizzard, we were ready for the main event – two days of skiing just North of Montreal at Mont Tremblant. Famous as much for its pedestrian village as it is for its top-notch skiing, Tremblant rivals the likes of European resorts for its prestige.

But despite its reputation for excellence, Tremblant provides accommodation that fits even this tight student budget. The Tours des Voyageurs is a traditionally cozy escape from the cold, with spacious rooms fitted with kitchenettes.

An early start is recommended on your first day of skiing should you need to pick up rental- the queues get longer as the school children arrive on group trips. But with an early start came a bumpy first lift for us novice skiers, who ended up making some unlikely friends as we hopped onto a lift that was already taken.

Tremblant’s ski-runs are second to none, having been perfectly groomed for us morning skiiers. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, Trembalnt has enough ski runs to keep everyone interested. As a green-run loyal skier, I was pleased to have a few top to bottom runs to challenge my endurance.

Finding a spot to eat in Tremblant’s pedestrian village is no easy feat. The choices are in no way limited, but there is far too much variety. French cuisine is perhaps the most obvious choice in this French-Canadian province, with La Savoie offering fondue and raclette to feed the masses and a creperie for quick continental bite. On this trip, where we preferred fast over fussy, Pizzateria was the perfect choice for a filling pizza in a relaxed setting.

But the highlight of Tremblant’s gastronomic scene is a bit more unassuming and a lot more fried. Beavertails are as synonymous with Canada as poutine, and are as perfect as a mid-day snack as they are an after-dinner treat. Have this slab of fried dough slathered with nuttella, sprinkled with cinnamon, covered in oreo, or all of the above.

This Northeast road trip ended as swiftly as it started. There’s something quite special about packing up a car and taking to the open road. It may not get you to your destination as quickly as a plane or a train, but you’ll probably find that the radio sing-alongs and impromptu pit-stops are worth it.

image:derwiki

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