Recreation in South St. Lawrence
Heavy snowfalls and cold temperatures only encourage and not dampen the spirit of Quebec residents, who relish in the winter season by taking full advantage of the snow-covered, natural environment. Whether it's a leisurely snowshoeing hike through pristine forests, a Nordic ski adventure on regional cross country trails or carving down the slopes at one of many ski hills and resorts, this region is filled to the brim with wintery escapes.
For more intimate encounters with the backcountry landscapes of the region, an authentic dog sled tour is a novel way of exploring and enjoying the winter wonderland. Known for its extensive system of groomed snowmobile trails and as the birthplace of Bombardier founder, Joseph Armand Bombardier, the South St. Lawrence region is a prime destination for high-adrenaline snowmobile touring, which are available in a variety of packages to suit both independent travel and guided excursion needs.
Province-wide, bountiful agriculture, distinctive terroir characteristics and traditional forms of food and wine production are part of the culture of Quebec, apparent in the sheer number of farms and specialized facilities which dot the rural landscapes. Destinations throughout the South St. Lawrence are no exception and offer a glimpse into regional techniques, unique topography and climates that shape the bounties of the land.
The rolling hillsides of the Eastern Townships are a haven for both orchards and vineyards, the latter of which produce an array of cold climate grapes and wines unique to the area. Tours of these properties and facilities, including stops in Magog, Brome Lake, Granby and the lush river valley in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, usher visitors into a realm of local tradition and hospitality. The flavour tour continues at artisan cheese making establishments, family-run farms and brewery and distillery operations, all providing an intimate look into local practices and culinary traditions.
Dotted with lakes, intersected by numerous rivers and bordered by the St. Lawrence River seaway, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Chaleur Bay, the vast region is replete with opportunities to explore unique landscapes on water. Whether via an interpreted boat tour or on a guided fishing trip, the region offers ample opportunities to suit any level activity.
For the more adventurous, a kayaking, sea kayaking or canoe trip will satisfy those seeking first-hand encounters with distinctive marine life and untouched natural surroundings. On the Iles-de-la-Madeleine archipelago, located in the centre of the gulf, water sports activities abound, including unique kayak adventures and opportunities to participate in the highly-popular wind-powered sports of kiteboarding and windsurfing.
The majority of water-based excursions and tour operators observe seasonal operations, which typically run from late spring (May) to early autumn (September to October), with peak times in July and August.
ADVENTURES ON LAND
Outdoor recreation is part and parcel to the Quebecois way of life for many residents, who embrace and share in their natural surroundings through an array of fair-weather adventures and excursions to suit any interest. Exploring on bicycle is one of the province's most beloved past times, evident in the sheer number of province-wide systems (including the most pervasive, La Route Verte) and mountain bike parks and trails available.
Second only to cycling is golf, with courses available widely across the region in major urban centres and small communities alike. The links in the South St. Lawrence, which typically observe an early spring to late fall season, are renowned for combining world-class facilities with outstanding natural settings and appeal to a range of skill levels.
Equine adventures are another novel way of exploring the forested and coastal landscapes of the region, available through an array of trail rides and pack trip excursions that cater to all ages and skill levels.
For unique subterranean exploration, mining tours are a good bet and offer a glimpse into local industry and unique mining practices, including open-pit and underground operations.
In addition to the aforementioned activities, those travelling with children will delight in the kid-centred experiences available for children of all ages, which include family-fun go-karting, waterpark amusements and tree-top aerial parks, complete with suspended rope challenges, kid-friendly courses and exhilarating ziplines.
These activities are typically available during the peak summer season and are open from late May to early September, so it is best advised to inquire ahead for hours of operations and any other restrictions (minimum age, minimum size regulations, etc.) to avoid any disappointments.