Aaron, my husband, and I just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary last week. As a serial getaway planner, I started thinking about what we could do way in advance. Due to unfortunate circumstances, we happened to be in Florida last year around this time, and ended up extending our stay to celebrate. So, it all really worked out! I joked that he vowed we’d be on a beach every year but alas, we really couldn’t make it work financially this year.
Acknowledging that we couldn’t afford flights anywhere and that we had a time constraint of just a 3-day weekend, we went on Google and typed in “how far can we drive in 8 hours?”. There’s a site it’ll take you to that shows you the radius of how far you can go from where you are, it’s actually very helpful! Being in one of the biggest countries in the world, it’s actually kind of difficult to get too far. We only really had the options of our nearby States and the province of Quebec. One thing we’ve been curious to see for some time now was North America’s only Ice Hotel. Luckily for us, it’s in Quebec and at the 8 hour mark!
Excited about our decision, we booked a very charming Airbnb just outside of the touristic Old City for two nights. Then I started to look up other activities we could do in the area. I’ve been planning our mini and not so mini getaways FOREVER now, so I know what we value. Really, we just want to have some fun and get out in nature. This was not a jam-packed weekend. We did 3 main things: Valcartier Snow Park, Montmorency Falls, and short walk through Old Quebec City.
Ice Hotel/Hotel de Glacé
Talk about cool! No pun intended. Much bigger than it looks on the outside, the Ice Hotel has many suites and rooms for you to stay in after going through elaborate snow-carved hallways.
You’ll also find a well-stocked ice bar where you can have a specialty drink in a glass of ice and an entirely separate chapel that you can totally get married in! Guess our little staycation turned into a bit of a site visit for me too!
It’s definitely an impressive site, made of huge ice blocks and tightly packed snow. It takes about 55 days for them to build it, which they do every year.
Valcartier Snow Park
Conveniently, the Ice Hotel is part of the Valcartier Snow Park. There’s an array of different packages you can purchase including seeing the Ice Hotel, access to their Tube Park, indoor waterpark, and spa. Seeing as we were already there, we had to try the double black diamond tube runs!
They have over 30 runs, which was impressive enough. But our
Great views all over the mountain and great staff who are more than willing to make your tubing experience even more extreme by helping you spin all the way down. Highly recommended for families and big kids like us.
Another activity I found in my search were the walking trails around Montmorency Falls. It was better than expected! Just a short 20 minute drive from Quebec City and a minor parking fee, you are able to walk around to your heart’s content. The absolute highlight of the weekend was getting to walk across the frozen lake, with no supervision, all the way to the base of the waterfall. Due to the waterfall’s spray, a mountain of ice and snow is created right in front of it which they call the “Sugar Loaf”.
I guess we’re just so used to living in a bit of a nanny state with safety warnings all over the place that it was such a nice change of pace to not see any of this. We walked to the very top of the snow hill, being soaked by the waterfall’s mist, gazing in awe of how close we were!
After walking all the trails and just sitting at the base of the waterfall watching novice to pro ice climbers, we decided to head into the city. We’ve been there a couple of time already and really just checked out what was happening in the winter. I loved the coziness and all around Christmas/holiday feel of the town. We also ate A LOT of cheese, as you do in Quebec, haha. Poutine done the way it should be and homemade French Onion soup to warm the soul. All in all a fun yet relaxing weekend away with the hubs!