Scenic rivers and nearby mountains (no more than 30 minutes away by car) make Québec City a great place for exploring the Great Outdoors.
Québec City Tourist Information. Contact the tourist board for information about sports and fitness activities around the city. 399 rue St-Joseph Est., St-Roch, Québec City, QC, G1K 8E2. 418/641–6654 or 877/783–1608. www.quebecregion.com.
There are 64 km (40 miles) of fairly flat, well-maintained bike paths on Québec City's side of the St. Lawrence River and an equal amount on the south shore. Detailed route maps are available through tourism offices. The best and most scenic of the bike paths is the one that follows the old railway bed in Lévis. Take the Québec–Lévis ferry to reach the marvelous views along this 10-km-long (6-mile-long) trail. It’s now part of the province-wide Route Verte, a government-funded, 4,000-km-long (2,500-mile-long) circuit of long-distance bicycle paths and road routes.
Corridor des Cheminots. Ambitious cyclists can embark on the 22-km-long (14-mile-long) trail that runs from Québec City near Old Québec to the town of Shannon. It's a slow uphill on the way out—with the reward of an easier ride back. Québec City, QC.
Côte-de-Beaupré. Paths along the beginning of the Beaupré coast, at the confluence of the St. Charles and St. Lawrence rivers, are especially scenic. They begin northeast of the city at rue de la Vérendrye and boulevard Montmorency or rue Abraham-Martin and Pont Samson (Samson Bridge) and continue 10 km (6 miles) along the coast to Montmorency Falls. Québec City, QC.
Mont-Ste-Anne. The site of the 1998 world mountain-biking championship and races for the annual World Cup has 150 km (93 miles) of mountain-bike trails and an extreme-mountain-biking park. Québec City, QC. www.mont-sainte-anne.com.
Permits are needed for fishing in Québec. Most sporting-goods stores and all Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire stores sell permits. A one-day fishing permit for a nonresident is C$13, a three-day permit is C$29, a seven-day permit is C$45, and a season permit is C$67 (which includes all sport fish except Atlantic salmon).
Gesti-faune. A corporate fishing outfitter, Gesti-faune has two properties within easy driving distance of Québec City. From May to September the company's nature guides organize trout-fishing trips that include food and lodging in private wilderness retreats. Three-day trips, organized from May to September for groups of 14, cost from C$900 per person, and include everything, including gourmet cuisine. There are also daily packages starting at C$146 per person. Reservations are required. Québec City, QC. 418/848–5424. www.gestifaune.com.
Latulippe. This store, a few minutes' drive from Old Québec, sells permits and also stocks a large amount of fishing and outdoor equipment. 637 rue St-Vallier Ouest, St-Roch, Québec City, QC, G1N 4T1. 418/529–0024 or 877/529–0024.
Parc Nautique de Cap-Rouge. This park has canoes and pedal boats to rent. It's at the western tip of Québec City, on the St. Lawrence River. 4155 chemin de la Plage Jacques-Cartier, Cap-Rouge, Québec City, QC, G1Y 1W3. 418/641–6148.
Réserve Faunique des Laurentides. This wildlife reserve has good lakes for fishing. It's approximately 48 km (30 miles) north of Québec City via Route 73. Reserve a boat 48 hours in advance by phone. QC. 418/528–6868; 800/665–6527 fishing reservations. www.sepaq.com/rf/lau.
For centuries dog sledding has been a part of the Canadian winter experience. Outfitters around Québec City generally offer excursions from January through March.
Aventures Nord-Bec Stoneham. This outfitter will teach you how to mush in the forest. A half-day expedition, which includes initiation, dog sledding, a guided tour of kennels, and a snack, costs C$120 per person. Overnight camping trips, snowshoeing, and ice fishing are also available. In summer this location offers mountain biking and kennel tours. Transportation between Stoneham (a 30-minute drive from the Old City) and your hotel costs extra. 4 chemin des Anémones, Stoneham, QC, G3C 0A4. 418/848–3732. www.traineaux-chiens.com.
The Québec City region has 18 golf courses, and most are open to the public. Reservations are essential in summer.
Club de Golf de Cap-Rouge. Established in 1959—well away from the city, at the time—this is one of the closest courses to the city center, just 25 minutes by car from Vieux-Québec, in a pleasant suburban area. Its 18-hole course is set up with variations for women, men, and advanced players. You're close to the St Lawrence River, so be careful that the wind doesn't play tricks on you. 4600 rue St-Felix, Cap-Rouge, Québec City, QC, G1Y 3B3. 418/653–9381. www.golfcap-rouge.qc.ca. Non-members: C$30-35 for 9 holes, C$50-85 for 18 holes. Members: C$25-30 for 9 holes, C$45-68 for 18 holes. 18 holes. 6756 yds. Par 72. Slope 125. Driving range, putting green, golf carts, rental clubs, pro-shop, lessons, restaurant.
Club de Golf de Mont Tourbillon. The cooler air of the Laurentian mountains is quite welcome on a hot summer day, as you play golf and enjoy views of the rolling hillside and Lac Beauport. Mont Tourbillon features three courses and an elegant bistro with a pleasant terrace. It's 25 minutes from the city by car via Route 73 North (take the Lac Beauport exit). In winter, golfing yields the way to long, fun slides. 55 montée du Golf, Lac Beauport, QC, G3B 0K3. 418/849–4418. www.monttourbillon.com. Blue Course: 18 holes. 6090 yards. Par 70. Slope 121. White Course: 18 holes. 5590 yards. Par 70. Slope 117. Red Course: 18 holes. 4625 yards. Par 70. Slope 113. Greens fee: C$49 weekends, C$41 weekdays. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, golf carts, rental clubs, lessons, restaurant, bar.
Le Saint-Ferréol. Located within sight of the Mont Sainte-Anne ski slopes, this club has one of the best and best-priced courses in the region—it's been fine-tuned by pro Denis Gagné. The course is a half-hour drive northeast of Québec City, and features 18 holes with a 72 par, as well as a large driving range for practice. 1700 boul. les Neiges, St-Ferréol, QC, G0A 3R0. 418/827–3778. www.golfstferreol.com. 18 holes. 6445 yds. Par 72. Slope 115. Greens fee: $44. Facilities: Driving range, golf carts, rental clubs, pro-shop, lessons, restaurant, bar.
Runners and foot soldiers have a choice of routes in areas like Battlefields Park, Cartier-Brébeuf, and along the waterfront in the city itself.
Bois-de-Coulonge Park. Along with Battlefields Park, Bois-de-Coulonge is one of the most popular places for jogging. 1215 Grand Allée Ouest, Ste-Foy, Québec City, QC, G1S 1E7. 418/528–0773.
Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site. North of the Old City, along the banks of the St. Charles River, you'll be able to keep going along about 13 km (8 mile) of hiking and biking trails. This historic site commemorates the first winter the French explorer Cartier spent with the First Nations people at their villege of Stadacona, and also has a small museum and a reconstruction of a Native American longhouse. 175, rue de l'Espinay, Québec, Québec City, QC, G1K 7A1. 418/648–4038 or 888/773–8888.
Place d'Youville. This well-known outdoor rink just outside St-Jean Gate is open daily October through the end of March, from noon to 10 pm. Skate rental is about C$5, and skating itself is free. A locker will run you C$1. Québec City, QC. 418/641–6256.
Just outside the city, the Jacques-Cartier River (to the west) and Riviére Malbaie (to the east) both make for an easy white-water rafting day-trip.
Excursions Jacques-Cartier. This outfitter runs rafting trips on the Jacques-Cartier River, about 48 km (30 miles) northwest of Québec City, from May through October. Tours originate from Tewkesbury, a half-hour drive from Québec City. A half-day trip ranges from C$55 per person on weekdays to C$76 on weekends, wet suits included. Horseback riding is also available. 860 av. Jacques-Cartier Nord, Tewkesbury, QC, G3C 1X8. 418/848–7238. www.excursionsj-cartier.com.
Skiing is very popular here, whether it's downhill on one of the mountains surrounding the city or cross-country in an urban park. A dynamic landscape, top-notch ski resorts, and lots of fresh powder have helped make this a major training area for some of Canada's top athletes.
Québec City Tourism. General information about ski centers in Québec is available from Quebec City Tourism. Québec City, QC. 877/783–1608 or 418/641–6290. www.quebecregion.com.
Ski Express. In winter, this shuttle runs between major hotels in Old City and major ski centers. It leaves hotels in Old City at 8 and 10 am for the ski hills and leaves the ski hills at 2:30 and 4:30 pm. The cost is C$53–$140; reserve and pay in advance at hotels. Québec City, QC. 418/525–5191. www.taxicoop-quebec.com.
Regroupement des Stations de Ski de Fond. Thirty-seven cross-country ski centers in the Québec area have 2,000 km (1,240 miles) of groomed trails and heated shelters between them; contact this group for more information. Québec City, QC. www.skidefondraquette.com.
Le Centre Touristique Duchesnay. Located west of Québec City, this center has 150 km (93 mi) of marked trails, which can be used for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. There's a wonderful lakeside auberge on-site. 140 Montée de l'Auberge, St-Catherine-de-Jacques-Cartier, QC, G3N 0J5. 418/875–2122.
Les Sentiers du Moulin. This center is 19 km (12 miles) north of the city, and it has more than 20 marked trails covering 12 km (7 miles) single-track, and 15 km (9 miles) multitrack. 99 chemin du Moulin, Lac Beauport, QC, G3B 0E1. 418/849–9652.
Parc des Champs-de-Bataille. You can reach this park from Place Montcalm. It has more than 10 km (6 miles) of scenic, marked, cross-country skiing trails. Skis and snowshoes can be rented at the Maison de la Découverte. 835 av. Wilfrid-Laurier, Montcalm, Québec City, QC, G1R 5H8.
Multiple downhill ski resorts are nearby, and some are barely 30 minutes away from downtown Québec City. Most have night skiing.
Le Relais. There are 25 trails and a vertical drop of 734 feet at this relatively small, family-friendly ski center, where you can buy lift tickets by the hour. Le Relais is about 20 minutes from downtown Québec City. 1084 boul. du Lac, Lac Beauport, QC, G3B 0X5. 418/849–1851. www.skirelais.com.
Station Touristique Stoneham. Stoneham is 20 minutes north of Old Québec. The hill has a vertical drop of 1,380 feet, with a number of long, easy slopes and a some more challenging runs. It has 42 downhill runs and seven lifts, plus three terrain parks and one super-half-pipe. 1420 av. du Hibou, Stoneham, QC, G3C 1T3. 418/848–2411 or 800/463–6888. www.ski-stoneham.com.
The snow slide from Dufferin Terrace is easily one of the most exciting winter activities in Québec.
Glissades de la Terrasse. A wooden toboggan takes you down a 270-feet-high snow slide that's adjacent to the Château Frontenac. Three rides cost C$10. Québec City, QC. 418/829–9898.
Village Vacances Valcartier. Hop on an inner tube or carpet and shoot down one of more than 35 snow slides here. Or join six to 12 others for a snow-raft ride on one of three groomed trails. You can also take a dizzying ride on the Tornado, a giant inner tube that seats eight and spins down the slopes. Rafting and sliding cost C$34 per day, C$36 with skating and the Tornado. Trails open daily at 10 am; closing times vary. 1860 boul. Valcartier, Valcartier, QC, G0A 4S0. 418/844–2200 or 888/384–5524. www.valcartier.com.
Québec is the birthplace of the snowmobile, and with 32,000 km (19,840 miles) of trails, it's one of the best places in the world for the sport. Two major trails, the 2,000-km (1,250-mile) Trans-Québec Snowmobile Trail and the 1,300-km (806-mile) Fur Traders Tour, run just north of Québec City. Trail maps are available at tourist offices.
SM Sport. Snowmobile rentals with this company begin at C$45 per hour, or C$118 per day, plus tax and the cost of gas. These folks will also pick up from several downtown hotels for an additional price, starting at C$20 per person. 11337 blvd. Valcartier, Loretteville, Québec City, QC, G2A 2M4. 418/842–2703. www.smsport.ca.
Village Vacances Valcartier. The largest water park in Canada has a wave pool, a 1-km (½-mile) tropical-river adventure called the Amazon, more than 35 waterslides, and a 100-foot accelerating slide on which bathers reach a speed of up to 80 kph (50 mph). Mirage features a heated pool and a huge number of water games. There's also a winding indoor river in a medieval setting. Admission is C$35 a day for those at least 52 inches tall, C$28 for those under 52 inches. 1860 boul. Valcartier, Valcartier, QC, G0A 4S0. 418/844–2200 or 888/384–5524. www.valcartier.com.
For three weekends in January or February, Québec City throws one of the biggest winter parties in the world. Each year, an Ice Palace is built as the center of the festivities, which include dog sled races and several parades. Ice bars are plentiful on the Grande Allée and the streets fill with families and visitors singing songs and blowing into trumpets.
Carnaval de Québec. A flurry of activity, mainly on the Plains of Abraham but also on several of the city's main drags, surrounds Carnaval de Québec, which occurs over three weekends every January and February. Snow and ice sculpture contests, dog sled relays, and canoe races in the St. Lawrence chase away winter doldrums. Visitors brave the cold to get a glimpse of Bonhomme, the friendly Carnival Master, and tour his Ice Palace, which is rebuilt each year. Caribou, a strong mixture of red wine, hard liquor, and maple syrup, is a popular libation during the festivities. Québec City, QC. www.carnaval.qc.ca.