Canadians can handle winters... well, most winters. However this year has pushed everyone past their breaking points, leaving us feeling beaten down. With the first day of spring behind us, but winter hanging on, there is no better time to renew your spirit. Whether you're focusing on rejuvenating your body through exercise, or adding the experience of fine art to your repertoire, here are some great nearby destinations to renew your mind, body and soul through travel this spring:
Mind: Stuck inside all winter watching reruns? Consider a destination to stimulate your mind.
• Paris, France: Containing some of the world's finest museums and art galleries, Paris is a fabulous choice to stimulate the mind. Start by visiting one of the more than 70 museums and monuments in and around Paris, and then spend the afternoon with a picnic amongst the cherry trees in bloom at the base of the Eiffel Tower!
• Washington, D.C.: You could spend two months in Washington, D.C. and visit a different museum every day without repeating any (The Smithsonian alone has 19 different museums). But maybe start with a week or a long weekend. Spring is also one of the most popular times to visit the United States Capitol as more than 1,700 Cherry Blossom trees lining Washington D.C.'s Tidal Basin burst into colour, adding a stunning backdrop for your spring renewal.
Body: Spare tire got you down? Many Canadians have felt trapped indoors for months, so we can't wait to get active this spring.
• Yosemite National Park, California: Enjoy the scenic outdoors, while recharging your body, by hiking California's beautiful Yosemite National Park. Known for its waterfalls, which are at their peak in spring, there is a new and spectacular view around every corner.
• Banff National Park, Alberta: Canada's oldest National park, located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The hikes and breathtaking scenery will have you so mesmerized you won't even realize the exercise you're getting!
Soul: A heavy layer of snow can feel suffocating. Spring is about renewal and reawakening.
• Sedona, Arizona: Spring in Sedona brings cooler nights and plentiful sunshine during the day, with incredible blooms and the spectacular backdrop of the red rock formations. Known world-wide as a spiritual mecca, Sedona attracts healers, intuitive artists and spiritual guides. Take a hike and explore Sedona's vortexes, areas with highly concentrated energies conducive to prayer, meditation and healing.
• Tofino, BC: Reawaken your spiritual connection and consider a yoga retreat in serene Tofino, located off the west coast of Vancouver Island. While you spend your vacation relaxing and getting yourself centered, why not also try surfing. Tofino offers classes for the beginner to pro-surfer. A perfect locale for revitalizing the soul.
Planning the trip is just half the preparation required. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
• Let go of the past: Emotional ties to winter and all things negative must be put to the wayside in order to focus on the bright things that lie ahead. Make the mental decision to say goodbye to the past and hello to your refreshing future.
• Call an old friend: Catching up with an old friend or loved one is a great way to take your mind off the things that may be bothering you and can ultimately help you relax.
• Try something new: Have you always wanted to learn how to sew or salsa dance? Sign up for an introductory course or grab a friend and set a goal to have it mastered by the end of the season. Setting goals and trying new things is a great way to relieve stress and focus your mind in a different way you're not used to.