If you find yourself road tripping across the Quebec maritime region (which you totally should do), here are seven fun things to do while you're in the area.
Things to Do While Road Tripping Through the Quebec Maritime Region
To be honest, I didn't have a clue that whale watching was a thing to be done in Quebec, and yet there is a major whale population to be found throughout the year in Quebec's maritime region, along the Saint Lawrence River.
Beluga whale pods, which are unfortunately now on the endangered species list, frequent the area. As do minke whales, which is the type of whale we got to witness out on the river during our three-hour boat tour.
Depending on the time of year, you can watch for beluga whale pods right off the shoreline.
But visit the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre first! Being a research station, they're quite familiar with whales in the area and would know the best places to whale watch.
Even if you're planning on taking a day cruise to go whale watching, they can provide you with valuable information to make that experience all the more incredible.
Depending on the time of year, the Interpretation Centre's shoreline is the perfect place to start your watch.
See if you can find any of the beluga whales that the Interpretation Centre is currently keeping track of.
We took Croisières AML's (AML Cruises) comfortable 3-hour whale-watching tour, that also included a tour of the fjords (70-million-year-old glacial valley), and even got a chance to see a few seals (no zoom lens to capture those beauties, but Paula of Thrifty Momma's Tips got a great shot!)
The cruise boat was a multi-layered vessel, with ample seating, that could practically turn on a dime. While the boat "stood still" in the key areas we were brought to for watching minke whales, the boat would turn in a circle so that everyone could get a great view at all angles.
There is also a 2 and 3-hour zodiac tour that I might take next time in the area!
Kayaking at Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux
250 Chemin de la Pointe aux Pins, Saint-Fulgence, QC G0V 1S0 (map)
Kayaking is a sport that I absolutely love. Thanks to Geek Life, I've had the pleasure of paddling in various waters of Florida, and here at home in Toronto. Jay and I are in the market for our own kayak so that we can explore the waters of the GTA more on weekends.
In the meantime though, finding spots like Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux are thrilling experiences, even for beginners like us.
Waters are different of course. With that said though, every trip out has been unexpectedly unique.
In Florida, we paddled along in calm marshes and what we thought were strong waves. If you're lucky, you may cross paths with dolphins or manatees, but also need to keep an eye out for alligators and sharks (eek!)
The waves are truly strong in Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec. And you're more likely to keep an eye out for otters and, if you venture out far enough, whales.
Unlike Florida, where you simply hop into a kayak with your swimsuit and a smile, you need the full meal deal with these much colder waters of northern Quebec.
This was my third or fourth time in a kayak, but it was the first time I had to struggle into a wetsuit. and struggle I did. I think I wound up looking much like a penguin the way I waddled out to the boats.
And then the struggle with the kayak skirt was real. There were waterproof jackets to put on, before we even got to the life vests.
It was an ordeal.
But ultimately, thanks to our guide Charles from OrganisAction, once we were fully kitted out, paddling along the fjords of Cap Jaseux was one wild ride, and I'll do it all again to get back out there.
Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux has a ton of exciting outdoor activities to enjoy, including Via Ferrata (climbing along the side of the fjord in this case,) high ropes and zip-lines.
At the end of a grueling day of fun, be sure to treat yourself to a massage!
Get Up Close and Personal with Wolves at Ferme 5 Etoiles
465 route 172 N, Sacre-Coeur-Saguenay, QC G0T 1Y0 (map)
Meeting wolves was an event that truly resonated with me. I did a serious happy dance when I first heard that I'll get to reach out an touch, and the experience didn't disappoint at all.
I'll admit, the moment that you're about to walk into Luna's pen, you get hit with, "OMG, what am I seriously doing here? This is an apex predator! Meep."
But once you get over that moment of fear, you're in for one heck of a treat.
Wolves have quite the reputation. Anywhere from spiritual and mystical beasts, to highly dangerous predators (thanks Liam Neeson, I'm still traumatized.)
We love to fear them, create fantastical stories about them, wear their images on t-shirts and collect stuffed animals. More importantly, though, we should learn to respect them.
Walking into that pen, you're essentially there for their entertainment, not your own.
Thanks to the research conducted at Ferme 5 Etoiles, you'll learn about two wolves that will broaden your understanding of wolves and their packs.
Check out the Fjord Museum
So, it might not be a surprise, but I love museums. That said, I wasn't sure how much fun I would have at a Musée du Fjord. How much did I need to know about the sedimentary rock layers of the fjords?
Turns out, a lot. And, also? The Fjord Museum is a fun adventure in itself.
Where else are you going to reach out and touch creatures of the sea, like starfish?
And, sea cucumber. Vanessa wanted to take this little dude home, but we couldn't find room for a tank in the car. Doh.
And crabs. They're chill.
And love to give out high fives!
There is also a functioning time-machine/spaceship at the museum. At this point, I had kinda wished we had hit up the museum first for our road trip, as there was a ton of interesting facts on the fjords. While we all had an immense appreciation for the fjord throughout our trip, there were aspects we would have kept an eye out for if we had known to look.
And mythical sea monsters?
Honestly, there is so much fun to be found at Musée du Fjord!
Zoo Sauvage de St-Felicien
2230 Boulevard du Jardin C.P. 90, Saint-Félicien, QC G8K 2P8 (map)
At Zoo Sauvage, you visit the furry residents (roughly 1000 animals) by a small shuttle bus. The animals roam free, the people are caged, and that's exactly how it should always be.
One of the first things we did on our tour was leave the bus and enter this historic cabin. It's a place that visiting school kids go to, to have their lunch.
Our tour guide was insistent that we stay on the bus until he got a chance to look around first, making sure none of their black bears were mucking about. Place looked deserted to us, save for the horses of course, but we were cool with our guide doing what he needed to do.
Here's a sneak peek of the cabin's interior.
Not much long after, thankfully once we were back on the bus and driving down the dirt path, we came across a black bear that seemingly wanted to make use of the same road too.
It was a "safe" distance from us. We all thought the sighting was awesome, and couldn't ask for more.
Mere minutes later though, we come across yet another.
Dude, it's staring right at you. And I don't have much of a zoom lens on my camera, it really was this close to us, while we were on the bus.
Here we thought, WOW, what an incredible experience to chill out on a dirt road with a black bear! Nothing can top this!
And then this dude crossed our path, literally. Our bus had to stop, 'cause he was walking right in the middle of it.
Again, I don't really have much of a zoom lens on my Canon DSLR.
This guy was massive. All he wanted to do was hang out and chill at the "feet" of the shuttle bus.
Here's the thing of it all.
The bears were all silent.
We all had a renewed appreciation for our tour guide when he got out of the bus at the beginning to make sure there weren't any bears around. We could have easily not seen one until it came around the cabin, knocking on the door while we were in there.
Living in a province that is filled with bears, this is easily the closest I've ever been to one, and I'd like to keep it that way. It was an experience that I'll never forget.
The Zoo Sauvage is home to 1000 animals, of which maybe 20 to 30 of them are bears (apparently a week after our tour, a couple bear cubs were born, awwwh!) And while the zoo has created varied habitats for the animals to feel at home, they have one rule that stands out. All animals living here must be native to the cold weathers that northern Quebec is known for.
Here are some of the bears' neighbours!
There is a portion of the zoo that is walkable, which is where the mountain goat habitat is located.
If you get a chance to visit soon, check out the new renovations to the artic tundra habitat that will open July 1st!
Val-Jalbert's Historic Company Town
If you're a history junkie, then you'll definitely want to check out Val-Jalbert's historical company town that will throw you back to when business was booming at the pulp mill in the 1920s.
Though I hadn't thought to ask at the time (#BadGeek), I've later heard that there are some great ghost stories for the town.
Quietly Enjoy the Nordic Spa at Chalet et Spa, Lac-Saint-Jean
96 Chemin du Parc-Municipal, Chambord, QC G0W 1G0 (map)
You might be wondering, "Wait, Nordic spa? Thrilling? Really."
And with that, I will answer with an emphatic, "Yes."
You try to dip into the well-below-zero, oh so cold pool, without uttering a single word or sound.
I couldn't not yelp. It was too cold, especially since I had spent time in the hot sauna first. Luckily, my gal pals were the only ones there to laught at me, heh.
Margarita of DownshiftingPRO may or may not have a flattering photo of this moment. IDEK.
Nordic spas are all about being silent while rejuvenating your mind, body, and soul through hot and frigid temperatures.
It's a good thing it was only the four of us willing to brave the outdoor spa in mildly warm weather that evening.
After a long day of bear watching. We might have forgotten all about the no-talking rule.... oops!
BONUS Adventure: Tim Hortons
If you're anglophone, like me, you will love all of the trips to Tim Hortons.
I didn't do too poorly at ordering my favourite breakfast donuts en francais I think, such as "A l'ancienne ordinaire".... sounds so much better than "plain", but I'll need a coffee first to help on the pronunciation.
"Tim bits" tho, apparently I had a hard time with this one. I'm not sure where I went wrong, but I didn't pronounce this one very well at all.
If you haven't been to any of our French-speaking areas of Canada recently, "tim bits" in French is known as "tim bits", at least, according to the menu. Oops.
Good thing my pointing skills were... well, on point. (Thank you! I'm here every Friday, bonsoir.)