The concept of mixing business with pleasure is on the rise, so you won’t be the only one extending your work trip by a couple of days. Our “Unpacking Bleisure Travel Trends” study discovered that over half of domestic and international trips are bleisure trips, and more than 60 percent of the people extending their business trip into a vacation are solo travelers.
If you decide to spend a few more days in the city after you’ve wrapped up work, treat yourself with some of these fabulous activities in the top business destinations.
Toronto is bustling with business this year. And Markham, which is just under an hour away, is hosting various conventions and conferences in 2019. If you get some extra time in Toronto, one of the must-sees is the historic Distillery District. You can browse through art galleries, boutiques, and sample delicious food at one of its many bistros. If you’re an avid golfer, or even just self-proclaimed top-rated amateur, you’re in luck. Markham is home to the PGA-accredited Angus Glen Golf Club, a great course that will certainly impress your client or business partner. Once you’ve finished a round, top off your day at the clubhouse’s Silo Grill Restaurant.
After a day of sitting in meetings or walking around a trade show, you may need to get outside for a breath of fresh air. Fortunately, Lake Henderson Park offers a lovely stroll around the lake, along with other beautiful sights like the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens. Don’t worry about having to cross town, as most of the city’s conference centres are within walking distance of this park. Plus, you’ll find Spitz Stadium across the street. It’s the home of the town’s baseball team, the Lethbridge Bulls. Be sure to get in a ball game (or two) in the summer.
3. Regina, SK
Regina might be known for its agricultural expos and crop conventions, but there’s more to reap than just business in this city. They say the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Mounties) are born all over the world, but they’re made in Regina. You can visit the RCMP Depot where the Mounties train and where they don their iconic red tunics and Stetson hats for the first time. Want to get some skiing done on your trip? You can hit the slopes at Mission Ridge Winter Park which is just an hour outside of the city. Needless to say, business leisure travel was made for a place like Regina.
4. Mississauga & Brampton, ON
Mississauga is well known for its vibrant community and annual festivals spread throughout the year. If you’re lucky enough to be in this city for a technology conference or commerce convention in the summer, check out some of the music festivals in Port Credit. Brampton, which hosts several small conferences, is just a 20-minute drive away. Rent some ice skates and try a local favourite at Chinguacousy Park Skate Trail. Not only will you get a break from work, but you’ll have a thrilling time skating through the canal-shaped curves and trails.
Whether it’s the South West Agricultural Conference or one of the other big events in Chatham-Kent, you’ll be glad that work brought you to the area. The city’s right on Lake Erie, so after a long day of meetings, you can hit the beach or have breakfast by the lake before you begin another day filled with appointments. If you find yourself needing to entertain business partners or clients, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, but the Early Acres Estate Winery is our suggestion. It’s in the downtown area, and you can’t go wrong with setting up a tasting with their award-winning red wines. Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir are their specialty here, so you’ll please even those with the pickiest of palates.
6. Winnipeg, MB
From the CropConnect Conference to the Manitoba Dental Convention, there will be lots of events this year in Winnipeg—making this a top spot for bleisure travel. At the heart of the city is The Forks. Located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, this area has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years and is now home to hundreds of local shops and cafes. The Forks area is a complete local experience for visitors, with its array of dining options, local makers and retailers, a rotating entertainment lineup, and daily events. If you want to move one of your meetings to a more scenic location, take your afternoon appointment to the Peace Meeting Site. Grab some food to go from one of the many restaurants in The Forks, like Fergie’s Fish ‘n Chips, and head over for a picturesque picnic lunch.
You might be travelling to Calgary for The Franchise Expo, or the Global Petroleum Show, but you’ll want to extend your business trip for Calgary’s top attractions. The Calgary Zoo is one of the biggest draws for visitors in the country. Avoid the lines and get here early so you can enjoy breakfast while getting a look at the giant pandas. If you want to head into nature after your conference, Banff is just an hour and a half drive from Calgary. You can see Rocky Mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, and walk through a picturesque mountain town at Banff National Park.
8. Red Deer, AB
This top city hosts many agricultural conventions and tradeshows throughout the year. After a day with the Association of Farm Advisors or the Dairy Seminar, take a 20-minute drive up to Canyon Ski Resort. With six lifts and 18 runs, you’re in for a thrilling day. Did your meetings run late? Not to worry! Canyon Ski has night skiing three times a week. After carving down the trails, check out a local pub like Elephant & Castle. Their specialty is British cuisine, and you can’t leave without scarfing down some shepherd’s pie.
Vancouver will see a lot of conventions, conferences, and other business events in 2019, making it one of the top business travel destinations. Luckily, this city has plenty of entertainment options for travellers. No visit to Vancouver would be complete without a bike ride around Stanley Park Seawall. Just head over to Spokes Bicycle Rentals to pick out a hot ride! You’ll be surrounded by spectacular scenery here, like the rose garden, the North Shore mountains, the Lions Gate Bridge, and more. Afterward, grab a cab and ride out to the Granville Island Public Market. It’s a huge market full of specialty food and drinks. Want to ditch the car ride back into town? Take the Aquabus Ferry to West End over False Creek. The ride is only a few dollars, so don’t worry about splurging for a gorgeous view.
10. Saskatoon, SK
Whether you’re here for a health conference or a crop production show, you’ll have plenty to do in Saskatoon. This city is great for both foodies and beer connoisseurs. 9 Mile Legacy Brewing is a cozy neighbourhood brewery that serves an eclectic blend of experimental and modern beers. Check out Lucky Bastard Distillers for another local favourite. Both places are sure to be hit with clients or coworkers. Ayden Kitchen and Bar in the Central Business District offers globally inspired comfort foods as well as hand-crafted cocktails. You can’t go wrong with trip to any one of these great places.
11. Halifax, NS
As you pack up your slacks and blazer, don’t forget to leave room for your boat shoes! Halifax might be a major business centre, but the city is widely known for its maritime history and activities. The locals have a special relationship with the sea, and it will be clear once you arrive. From dinner cruises, fishing tours, party boats, and sailing, there are plenty of ways to leave the shore. Check out J Farwell Sailing Co. for trip out on the water. You can be completely involved with the cruise, or you can sit back and sip on a cold drink as you take in the Nova Scotia scenery.
12. Montreal, QB
Business travel tip: try to aim your business trip for Montreal this year. The city is expecting to see a boom in business meetings, conventions, and conferences, primarily in the healthcare industry. But we see that a few annual technology conventions will be returning to the Montreal Convention Centre, as well. The convention centre is in the heart of the International District, so make sure you get out and take in this city between meetings.
And there you have it! The very best business cities in Canada for a bleisure trip. Happy travels this year.
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