Don’t even think about putting your boat away for the season. Now that summer’s over, there’s still lots of cruising time left, when the autumnal colors can be gorgeous, the crowds thin out, and you can have more time to wander and explore at your own pace. Indeed, in many parts of the U.S., fall can be the best boating season. And this may seem counter-intuitive, but to enjoy some of the best fall boating, you need to head north, all the way to Canada. Here’s a look at some of the best cruising destinations that country has to offer.
The 125-mile-long Rideau Canal (pictured above), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is particularly beautiful in the fall. Starting at Kingston on Lake Ontario, it winds up to Ottawa, the capital of Canada, winding through picturesque towns, unspoiled lakes and rolling pastoral countryside. Opened in 1832, Rideau is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America; it has 47 locks, most are still operated by hand.
A favorite of mine is the Chambly Canal, which runs from the top of Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence and seems like a part of the French countryside. It’s beautiful any time of year, and the little village of Chambly, with its small French restaurants and inns, is a treat in itself. Of course, once you reach the St. Lawrence, you can turn right and head down to Quebec City, with its protected harbor within walking distance of the old city.
If you’re feeling adventuresome, you can cruise up to the Northumberland Strait in the Maritimes, a body of water that embraces three provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island – and that offers whale watching, fishing villages and some blue-water cruising. For a destination, think about Charlottetown, the historic capital of PEI, with a protected harbor, lots of flowers, Victorian houses and a Gothic cathedral. Read more: