World's Largest Lobster sculpture, Shediac, New Brunswick

I was fortunate to have travelled to several Canadian provinces this past year, as well as dip into the US for a wine festival and trip to the Oregon coast.

Here are five of my favourite travel moments from the past year, in no particular order.

Art Gallery of Alberta
[Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton]

1. Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton

One of the highlights of a visit to Edmonton is the Art Gallery of Alberta. This imposing structure is not only jaw-droppingly beautiful from the outside, but its interior is filled with impressive modern art throughout its three levels of gallery space.

Machias Seal Island with Sea Watch Tours
[Machias Seal Island, New Brunswick]

2.Grand Manan Island: Puffins

Situated 15 kilometers off the coast of Maine in the Bay of Fundy, Grand Manan Island is home to one of the world’s only puffin, tern, and Razorbill auk breeding colonies. Visitors are able to get up close and personal during the birds’ mating season, watching the action through wooden shelters set up around the island.

Sea Watch Tours is the only Canadian outfitter that organizes this tour, which has for decades taken wildlife lovers, film crews, and avid photographers out to Machias Island. This was an amazing opportunity to witness the puffins doing what they do best: feed freshly-caught herring to their young.

[Downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan]

3. Exploring Saskatoon in Autumn

Temperatures might be hovering around -40C at the moment, but in the warmer months of the year, Saskatoon is a fun city to visit, filled with art, nature, and culture, known as the “sunshine city by the river“. Riversdale, a heritage neighbourhood near the downtown core, is teeming with new eateries, Saskatchewan’s first microbrewery, and the Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan which will re-open in the future with over 400 Picasso prints valued at $20 million dollars.

Astoria/Cannery Pier Hotel
[Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa, Astoria, Oregon]

4. Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa, Astoria, Oregon

Whether you’re here for storm watching or a summer holiday, the Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa has it all: gorgeous, comfortable rooms (all with a view of the Columbia River), a wine hour with locally smoked salmon, Oregon wines and cheeses, and a luxurious onsite spa to take things down several notches.

Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro

The hotel was started 100 years ago by the area’s large Finnish community. Astoria is worth a visit for its collection of great eateries and microbrew pubs. Getting your Goonies fix is easy in the city where it was filmed. The Goonies House is atop the city; many of the film’s props and memorabilia are housed at the Oregon Film Museum, Astoria’s former jailhouse.

Tulalip Resort-6
[Lobby, Tulalip Resort and Casino, Washington]

5. Tulalip Casino and Resort

for Taste of Tulalip
Just over the border in Tulalip, Washington is a large casino complex and outlet shopping centre that most people pass on their way to Seattle and points south. But the resort itself is worthy of a stay, with several restaurants, a cultural centre with free shuttle service for guests, and an onsite spa. The hotel lobby is filled with beautiful tribal art and totem poles, while the rooms keep with the Native art theme and are filled with creature comforts and amenities.

Celebration Dinner-11
[Celebration Dinner table seating]

I stayed here during the 2012 Taste of Tulalip, a two day wine and food lover’s extravaganza featuring wines, spirits, and craft beer from around the world. The weekend’s highlight is the Celebration Dinner, a wine and food pairing that lasts throughout the evening including much dancing and merriment.

I’ve lots of destinations on the horizon and hope to discover a few new gems in my upcoming travels. Happy travels to you in 2013!

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