We Canadians have it pretty good when it comes to weekend getaways. There are fantastic American and Caribbean destinations only a few hours by plane from our biggest cities.
Thanks to Rogers, they all can be visited at a very reasonable cost. If you use your Rogers Roam Like Home plan, you can use your phone’s roaming feature in great cities all across the U.S. for just $6 Cdn. a day; about what you’d pay for a Starbucks café latte in Manhattan. On top of that, you can spend two weeks or even three and your bill will be capped at 10 days worth of roaming.
Here’s a look at some wonderful destinations in the U.S. where you can use your Roam Like Home plan, plus a bonus spot in the Caribbean.
NEW YORK CITY NYC is probably the favourite USA getaway spot for Canadians. Fall is a great time to visit, as temperatures and crowds both fall off to more manageable levels and restaurant and theatre tickets easier to come by. Try a rowboat in Central Park or take a drive up to Wave Hill Gardens, a gorgeous green space in The Bronx with terrific views of the Hudson River. Stop in at Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for a wonderful Little Italy that’s far more authentic than the one in Manhattan. The Met Museum Fifth Avenue is one of the best museum’s in the world. Suggested admission is $25 US but what you pay is up to you. The rooftop bar has great views, by the way. The Staten Island Ferry is free and offers great views of the Statue of Liberty. For a luxury experience, the relatively new Four Seasons Downtown New York was named top new hotel in the world recently by the website Virtuoso. Jim’s tip: The City Reliquary is a goofy shop in Brooklyn that acts as a repository for all kinds of New York kitsch, including 1964 World’s Fair pennants and ashtrays and Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia.
HAWAII A favourite spot for folks from Western Canada, but also popular with Ontario travellers, Hawaii offers up an exotic, South Seas atmosphere with the convenience of a U.S. destination. Maui is one of the most popular islands and has something for every type of visitor. There are great golf courses for every price range and marvellous hiking trails, not to mention surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and, ,in season, watching massive humpback whales frolic in the warm ocean waters. You’ll also find some of the world’s prettiest beaches, including Napili Beach on West Maui, where they don’t allow any building higher than a coconut tree and where one of the top hotels, the Napili Kai Beach Resort, is owned by Canadians. Jim’s tip: The drive to Hana is one of the prettiest around, but the drive from Kapalua to Wailuku around the north side of the island is quite stunning and far less crowded. There are, however, a couple of one-way parts that are a bit tricky.
CHICAGO Just an hour’s flight from Toronto, Chicago is the most underrated cities in the world. The Art Institute of Chicago has everything from Chinese figurines to stunning Marc Chagall windows. Just a few steps away is the famous “Bean,” a cool, reflective sculpture that’s one of the world’s best places for a selfie or Instagram shot. Navy Pier features cool restaurants and rides on a pier that juts out into Lake Michigan. Chicago is home to America’s first skyscrapers, and you can see some of the most beautiful ones on a Chicago River boat tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Another great way to see the sights is on an Urban Kayaks tour of the river. Yet another great tour is to check out Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team and one of the real treasures of American sport. Jim tip: Bang Bang Biscuits is a fantastic coffee and biscuit/pastry shop near the trendy Logan Square district.
SAN FRANCISCO One of the world’s favourite cities, SF is where the fog rolls in through the Golden Gate and where cable cars climb halfway to the stars. September and October are usually the warmest and least foggy months of the year in the city. The Mission District has become one of the hottest for foodies. You’re also near beautiful parks and Mission Delores, an historic spot you don’t want to miss. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, when hippies descended upon the city with flowers in their hair. Try a tour of the famous Haight-Ashbury area with Flower Power Tours for some enjoyable insights. For the best Golden Gate Bridge Instagram photos, try Baker Beach on the San Francisco side or one of the higher lookouts you’ll find after crossing into Marin County on the north end of the bridge. Jim’s tip: Start at Sansome Street and take the Filbert Street steps up to Telegraph Hill, one of the great staircases of this hilly city. You’ll pass slick homes with views to die for and even the odd wild parrot squawking in the trees.
ST PETE/CLEARWATER St. Pete and Clearwater beaches are often voted among the best in the United States; both long and lovely stretches of sand with gentle surf. Clearwater has a wonderful pier where they often have entertainment and craft sales, not to mention fabulous sunsets. The Wyndham Grand is a fantastic new hotel on Clearwater Beach that feels more Miami than gulf coast. Downtown St. Pete is a lively place for dining and shopping. It’s also home to the Salvador Dali museum and the lovely Museum of Fine Arts. Dunedin, spring training home of your Toronto Blue Jays, is a delightful town with fun restaurants like Casa Tina and the state’s oldest craft brewery, Dunedin Brewery. There’s also a spot on Main Street that offers hilarious drag queen bingo nights. Jim’s tip: Take a pontoon boat from Honeymoon Island in Dunedin to quiet, isolated Caladesi Island, where you’ll acres of empty beach, great seashell hunting and quiet forest walks.
SCOTTSDALE/PHOENIX Sunshine? You bet. Swimming pools. Of course. But there’s lots more to Scottsdale than that. Scottsdale offers great shopping, excellent food and even several downtown wineries that showcase some of the surprisingly tasty offerings from Arizona’s best winemakers. LDV has great Arizona wines (yes, really) and a cool tasting place with outdoor picnic tables. The nearby Musical Instrument Museum is a wonderful place with instruments ranging from odd Swedish bagpipes to guitars from famous rock bands. Hotel Valley Ho is a sleek, mid-century modern beauty that harkens back to the 1950’s, while the Fairmont Scottsdale is a classic property with a beautiful spa and stunning grounds. Try a hike through the pretty canyons in north Scottsdale, or do a morning hike to the top of Camelback Mountain for superb views. Jim’s tip: Roosevelt Row is a hipster area near downtown Phoenix that’s filled with funky coffee shops, inexpensive restaurants and cool stores.
BARBADOS Like many Caribbean islands, Barbados is almost two destinations in one. The west side features lush resorts and acres of soft sand with gentle waves. It’s fabulous for kids and the sunsets are fantastic. The east side around Bathsheba features wild waves and mile after mile of quiet coastline with hardly a house or hotel in sight. The Friday night fish fry in Oistin’s is a ton of fun; with red-hot grills fired up and folks wandering about to find the best roasted fish or coldest beer. Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators, has a bar called Bert’s that pays homage to the Sens and hockey in general. It’s a great spot to meet sports fans and fellow Canadians. One of the best resorts in the Caribbean is The Crane Resort, situated on a hill overlooking a fabulous beach. The food is exquisite, the units are lovely and the swimming pools as pretty as they come. Just around the corner is Cutter’s, which serves wonderful fish sandwiches and a rum punch that’s been named best in the Caribbean. Jim’s tip: Don’t miss a drive to Hunte’s Gardens, a truly wondrous garden set in a gully high in the hills near Bathsheba. Owner Anthony Hunte might just invite you to his treehouse-like home for a rum punch or a glass of lemonade.