A great summer vacation — right here at home

Travellers looking for new destinations and attractions for this summer’s trips should consider the interesting experiences available right here at home. A national tourism group called Attractions Canada has just honoured several sites and events across the country with awards for excellence. Each of the winners offers the visitors a truly unique travel experience, in destinations that are often a little more interesting simply because they’re off the beaten tourist track.

Naturalists and bird watchers will like Manitoba’s Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, which took the award for best outdoor site. The marsh offers 30 kilometres of trails, observation mounds, viewing blinds, bird sighting boards, interpretative signs and outdoor recreation. Special seasonal activities include snowshoe walks, skating, snow golf, evening migration talks, and voyageur canoe excursions.

Selected as best indoor site was the Ontario Science Centre’s Timescape exhibition. Visitors view images of human civilization over the past several thousand years and take part in the “Time Journey” demonstration which includes “morphing” software.

If culture is more your style, check out Quec City’s “Festival d’été” (summer festival), a little-known (outside Quebec) event that has been around for 20 years. Offering a unique mix of popular and world music, classical concerts and street art, the Summer Festival has something for everyone. Last year, the Festival presented more than 500 shows performed by 800 artists from about 20 countries.

A Quebec site also took the honours for sports, with the Bromont International equestrian event.This week-long series of competitions features more than 600 horses and riders from around the world.

Ontario’s Upper Canada Village took top honours as the best national or international attraction. This 1860s village has kept a colourful era alive, and trained staff in dressed in historical costumes illustrate the rural way of life, trends in religion, education, technology and the entertainment values of the day.

PEI’s Confederation Centre was another award winner, from both Attractions Canada and the American Bus Association. This year, the hit musicals “Anne of Green Gables” and “Emily” again provide the anchor for the Charlottetown Festival, which is also staging a new Prince Edward Island production, “Ceiligh on the Road” and other shows. For detailed information on these and many other great sites and attractions to see in Canada, visit the Attractions Canada website below.