Constantly rising airfares are making it difficult for couples to reach the honeymoon or wedding destinations of their dreams. And even if you do fly there, you might not have much money left for quality accommodations. Luckily, there are plenty of dream-worthy destinations right here in North America reachable by car.
Imagine strolling hand-in-hand along narrow, cobblestone streets named Rue Sous-le-Fort, Côte de la Montagne, and Rue Notre Dame. Colorful old signs hang above the doors of shops and cafés in 300-year-old stone and brick buildings; salutations of “Bonjour!” greet you when you pop in. Now, imagine for a moment that getting there doesn’t require a $1,500 flight to Charles de Gaulle.
This is Quebec City, arguably the most romantic city in North America. It’s certainly one of the oldest, founded 400 years ago by the French as a trading post and fortress. And although it is the sight where France lost its Canadian colonial holdings to the British, it has nevertheless remained the heart of French-speaking Canada.
Much as you’d discover on a trip to France, Quebec offers visitors a wealth of both historical and cultural exploration opportunities. From the iconic Chateau Frontenac hotel and North America’s largest fort, La Citadelle, to the streets of Lower Town and grand views of the cliff top Terrasse Dufferin, Quebec City is a paradise for couples who like nothing better than to take a stroll and breathe in the world around them.
If you’ve always dreamed of a honeymoon or even wedding in France but lack the budget, there’s no shame in going to Quebec instead. It’s quite literally the next-best thing. We’d probably go in the summer, though – it’s so cold in the winter there’s a hotel made entirely out of ice.
Boston: 397 miles, 6 hours
Toronto: 804 km, 8 hours
New York City: 516 miles, 8 hours
Buffalo, NY: 550 miles, 9 hours
Philadelphia: 600 miles, 9.5 hours
Detroit: 723 miles, 11.5 hours
Detours and Day Trips:
Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier
For those who enjoy the great outdoors, Quebec’s natural beauty is on display at this national park located only a short drive north of Quebec City. Primarily a verdant glacial valley with an abundance of wildlife (here’s your chance to see a real-life beaver or moose!), there is no shortage of hiking, kayaking and biking opportunities. A perfect way to get away from it all after your wedding.
Though it certainly can’t match Quebec City’s old world charm, there is nevertheless a European feel that permeates Montreal. Canada’s second-most populated city is a diverse melting pot metropolis where French Canadians first blended with Anglophones and eventually folks from every corner of the world. The term cosmopolitan applies here like few other places in North America.
As long as you’re not coming from New England, there’s a very good chance you’ll have to drive through Montreal, so a pit stop for a night or two is a good idea. And if you’re just passing through, at least make sure to pick up a famous smoked meat sandwich or a Montreal bagel.
Sucrerie de la Montagne
When we pulled up to Sucrerie de la Montagne during a trip to nearby Montreal, we were greeted by owner Pierre Faucher – a mountain of a man best described as part Santa Claus, part lumberjack, part Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World.
“This is my timberwolf,” he greeted, looking down at the white beast on a leash standing at his feet. “I wouldn’t pet her.”
A sucrerie would be the French word for sugar shack, or a maple syrup farm in the woods. Besides dispensing every maple-derived product you can think of (from candy to perfume), Sucrerie de la Montagne is also a dining hall that gives you a taste of traditional French Canadian life. Although there are other sugar shacks, this one is open all year around – as opposed to only in the winter, which isn’t exactly ideal for a honeymoon or wedding. It’s also the only one with a timberwolf (well, one assumes).