The Great Mini-Canadian Road Trip

The Great Mini-Canadian Road Trip blog cover by Angela McLean

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This trip occurred in August 2020 at a time when COVID-19 case counts were low in both Ontario and Quebec. Physical distancing and mask wearing were followed at all times. Please use sound judgment when planning any travel during a pandemic and only follow my itinerary when it is safe. Let’s support local tourism and economies the responsible way. *This post is not sponsored in any way.*

My travel bucket list features so many amazing destinations — London, Paris (two cities I was actually booked to visit this spring), Sydney, Seattle and Chicago, to name a few spots — but I find we often overlook what’s closest to us. This summer, in an effort to safely get out, support local tourism and see more of Canada, I planned a five-day road trip with my parents stopping in our nation’s capital, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. As our only getaway of 2020, we packed as much as we could into each day and I was definitely “car-lagged” once we made it back home, but it was all beyond worth it!

I’m excited to share our mini-Canadian road trip itinerary with you so you can get inspiration for future travel and learn more about Canada’s urban beauty. Enjoy the journey!

Ottawa in Polaroids

Day 1: Ottawa

I live in Toronto, so it made sense for us to go up to Ottawa for a night then continue on to Montreal and Quebec City. Hitting the road around 8AM, we arrived in Ottawa just in time for brunch and stopped in at the famous Zak’s Diner in ByWard Market. I cannot emphasize enough how delicious their French Toast Sandwich was… two fried eggs, bacon, ham and Swiss cheese held between French toast. Heaven in a breakfast dish! 😌

Later in the afternoon, we checked into our hotel, The Westin Ottawa, and got (slightly) unpacked and ready for an evening stroll through ByWard. With this being my third trip to Ottawa, I was already looking forward to dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, Luxe. They have something on the menu for everyone and make a mean vodka cranberry (a must for me!). I can also vouch for their crispy squid appetizer and Bistro Burger as an entrée. Don’t even get me started on their fries! 😍

We ended the day with photos by ByWard’s giant light-up Ottawa sign (think of the one in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square!) and much-needed R&R for our morning in the city.

Ottawa and Montreal in Polaroids

Day 2: Ottawa & Montreal

Thanks to the Westin‘s indoor path to the CF Rideau Centre, we were able to get an early start to a rainy day with breakfast at the hotel (I never say no to parfaits) and a quick walk to pick up a new sweatshirt from Roots. I had somehow severely underpacked for the chillier end-of-summer temperatures!

After a few photos at Parliament Hill (a tourist tradition!), we started the three-hour drive to our hotel in Montreal. I scored a great deal at the gorgeous Renaissance Montreal Downtown Hotel and, judging solely by the swing pictured in the lobby, I knew it was going to be such a fun stay! Fortunately, I wasn’t let down. COVID-19 safety protocols were strictly followed throughout the hotel and the rooms were so aesthetically pleasing. The cake pops left next to the bed were also a very sweet touch! 😉

Since we arrived late in the afternoon, I searched through Google reviews for a dinner destination and selected Bevo Bar + Pizzeria, a cute Italian spot on the edge of Old Montreal (Vieux-Port de Montréal). We enjoyed super yummy pasta dishes, followed by ice cream from a standalone Ben & Jerry’s shop in Place Jacques-Cartier. I had to — I didn’t even know until then that there were Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops!

We hadn’t planned to go to the Old Port until the next day, but I’m so glad our first taste of it was at night. That’s when the city really comes alive and you can take in the lights and sights over the water. It’s absolutely beautiful!

Montreal in Polaroids

Day 3: Montreal

For our Montreal breakfast, we walked from our hotel to a local mainstay, Universel Déjeuner + Grillades, which boasted one of the biggest menus—in both selection and physical size—I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they had it all—from pancakes to waffles and omelettes and eggs benedict, and that’s just scratching the surface. I ended up having the strawberry and banana waffle, which was absolutely a wise choice. So good! A side order of bacon was the perfect fuel to get me through a long day of city roaming (and a little downtown shopping, of course).

The day’s tourist stops included: Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, shopping on Rue Sainte-Catherine O and Boulevard de Maisonneuve O, and Dorchester Square

As it got closer to dinner, we stopped at the hotel for a quick outfit change (#JustBloggerThings) and then Uber’ed back to the riverfront to (attempt to) get drinks at Marché des Éclusiers, a beautiful floral-themed, open-air market and bar. As cute as it is, the service just wasn’t there, so I couldn’t recommend it—but definitely stop by for a picture if you’re passing by. We trekked back through Old Montreal by foot, taking in stunning storefronts like Le Petit Dep, a charming local cafe and market (and a favourite of Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy!). This area is so photogenic; I easily took 100 photos!

When we saw my absolute fave restaurant The Keg, we took it as fate and put our name down on the waitlist as we enjoyed the vibrant sounds of the local street artists. I also went up to Terrasse Perché, a tucked-away bar with the most picture-perfect views of the riverfront and Place Jacques-Cartier, for a quick drink and photo op. I’m fulfilling all my global rooftop bar dreams, one city at a time! 🍸

Montreal and Quebec City in Polaroids

Day 4: Montreal & Quebec City

I loved Montreal and really didn’t want to leave, but I always remind myself that sometimes trips need to come to an end so you can appreciate your next visit that much more. I need Ms. Corona to get a move on so music festivals can return and I can come back to the city for Osheaga! 🎶

Before buckling back in for the three-hour drive to Quebec City, we stopped in at a boutique I’ve loved since grade school, Boutique 1861 (their collection makes my jaw drop!), and got a parking lot view of Canada’s largest church, Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.

For our time in Quebec City, it was a no brainer to stay at the marvelous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in the heart of the city. Here, you’re staying in a piece of history! I can’t say enough about how amazing this property was, from the personalized service to amenities (the top-of-the-line Le Labo lotions had my name on the bottle!) and my welcome gift of Insta-worthy, in-house-made macarons.

To keep things simple for dinner, and explore everything the hotel had to offer, we opted to dine at the Fairmont’s on-site Sam Bistro (Bistro Le Sam), which had a cozy, welcoming atmosphere and delicious fish and chips.

Quebec City in Polaroids

Day 5: Quebec City

Just like our full day in Montreal, this day required an early start and there was no better morning mood-booster to be had than a yummy omelette from aptly-named l’Omelette. I had discovered a rustic, funky spot, La Buche (their words, not mine!), on Instagram the night before, but they somehow had a two-hour wait!

The day’s tourist stops included: The boardwalk behind the Fairmont, all around the riverfront in Old Quebec (centered around Rue Sous le Fort and Rue du Petit Champlain), the Quebec City Mural (my Grade 8 class trip bus parked here!), Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Chez Ashton for poutine (I’ve had better, but it was a good afternoon treat!), the “entrance” to Old Quebec (St. John Gate) on Rue Saint-Jean, Place D’Youville, and the most festive spot of all, La Boutique de Noël de Québec (Quebec City’s year-round Christmas store)

On the recommendation of our Montreal Keg waitress, we spent our last night in Quebec City wining and dining at Parmesan, a quaint Italian restaurant (it’s always a yes to more pasta!) with a roaming accordion player. 🍝

Capping off the evening with a lively stroll illuminated by the downtown lights, this night was the perfect way to end such an amazing trip!

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How To Make Your Face Mask a Style Statement

How to make your mask a fashion statement

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for Redbubble and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking these links.

For the foreseeable future, face masks will be part of our day-to-day wardrobe. If it’s going to be taking up half your face, it may as well be comfortable, cute and on brand!

I already have friends ordering multiple masks to have a print ready to match every outfit, and I may or may not have more than one on the way as well. There’s no reason you can’t look and feel good while protecting yourself and those around you. Step up your mask fashion game with these *non-medical* statement-making looks!

Music Face Masks

Rep your fave artists

Fabric face masks have been a fan-favourite merch item every festival season. In light of the new demand, many artists are now giving you the chance to shout out your fandom while supporting organizations addressing the impacts of the pandemic. Net proceeds of The Weeknd’s official XO branded masks (pictured) will be donated to the MusiCares COVID-19 relief fund, directly helping those affected in the music community.

You can also support fellow music fans by purchasing a unique design from a fan-owned shop on Redbubble. They have something for everyone — check out these links if you’re a fan of Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez or Khalid. I can’t wait to get my DNCE mask (Joe Jonas’ highly underrated band) made by Jonas Brothers Toronto.

Designer Face Masks

Get the designer look

Craving your Gucci Gucci fix? Match your face mask to your bag with the help of online boutiques like VSOPCAM that rework authentic designer fabrics, including Gucci, Fendi and Chanel, into durable — and highly fashionable — looks. P.S. I have one of their red Chanel scrunchies and I’m obsessed. Stay tuned for a separate blog post on my latest must-have jewelry and accessories!

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24 Hours in Portland

Keep Portland Weird

Portland, Oregon, you officially have my heart!

Earlier this month, I found myself on a short getaway to the Pacific Northwest and a city that really knows how to “keep it weird.” The trip was filled with good eats, sweet treats, great sights and even better sounds — all thanks to my favourite bros, the Jonas Brothers.

While I was boarding my flight back home, I realized how quickly I had fallen in love with Portland.

  • Getting Around: The downtown area and surrounding districts were super walkable, with countless coffee shops, restaurants, bars and local shops to discover on every block.
  • Local Vibe: The people in Portland were some of the nicest I had ever met — shout out to all of the kind strangers who killed it as my personal photographers. 📷
  • Ideal Weather: The early October weather was PERFECT for my trip — no wind or rain, just sunshine and a light, refreshing breeze. Hello, fall fashion!

The best part: Many of Portland’s highlights and must-sees can be comfortably packed into ONE day.

If I haven’t already convinced you to book a ticket, check out my 24-hour Portland travel guide below and get ready to discover your next destination.

Staying There

Paramount Hotel Portland

The foundation for any great getaway is a welcoming hotel to call home, so find your way to The Paramount Hotel! This lively boutique property in the heart of Portland’s downtown checks off all the boxes — a prime location, great views, soft pillows, too-cozy-to-leave bed, perfect shower pressure and luxurious toiletries (love you, Gilchrist & Soames). Most appreciated was their incredibly kind staff. Checking in, I was greeted with a sweet upgrade to one of their Double Double Balcony rooms and a care package with some equally sweet treats, including a bag of local artisan Poplandia Popcorn — popped to perfection, of course!

Collage of photos from The Paramount Hotel Portland

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5 Must-Read Books for Summer 2019

Must-Read Books for Summer 2019 blog post header

One of my FAVOURITE parts of prepping for summer trips is picking out new books, especially for poolside reading. I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl — hence why I got into journalism and blogging! — and only wish I had more time to delve into some fictional (and non-fictional) worlds. Fortunately, doing so while laying under the summer sun is the best time to do it!

I just got back from a beautiful getaway to Maui, Hawaii, which I will have *so* much more to share from soon. But first, I wanted to share some of the incredible books I started — and sped through — that will make perfect adds to your summer reading list.

For words of inspiration to kickstart your vacation

Becoming by Michelle Obama book perfect for plane rides

I’ve had Michelle Obama’s Becoming on my book shelf since Christmas, and finally had the chance to start and finish it on a 10+ hour travel day. From cover to cover, it’s total female boss vibes! I will admit the opening section on Michelle’s childhood and upbringing definitely dragged on in some parts, but once she writes about meeting Barack you get a lot of interesting behind the scenes secrets and stories that make the wait worthwhile. I ended up bookmarking a few passages that particularly resonated with me, including:

  • “Beneath my laid-back college demeanor, I lived like a half-closeted CEO, quietly but unswervingly focused on achievement, bent on checking every box. My to-do list lived in my head and went with me everywhere. I assessed my goals, analyzed my outcomes, counted my wins. If there was a challenge to vault, I’d vault it. One proving ground only opened onto the next. Such is the life of a girl who can’t stop wondering, Am I good enough? and is still trying to show herself the answer.” (Becoming Me)
  • New York always awakened a sense of awe in me, big and busy enough to dwarf anyone’s ego.” (Becoming More) (It’s true, New York is a such a remarkable and special place and I look forward to spending more time there!)
  • “The important parts of my story, I was realizing, lay less in the surface value of my accomplishments and more in what undergirded them—the many small ways I’d been buttressed over the years, and the people who’d helped build my confidence over time.” (Becoming More)
  • “My early successes in life were, I knew, a product of the consistent love and high expectations with which I was surrounded as a child, both at home and at school. … I’d been lucky to have parents, teachers, and mentors who’d fed me with a consistent, simple message: You matter. As an adult, I wanted to pass those words to a new generation. … I wanted to be the opposite of the guidance counselor I’d had in high school, who’d blithely told me that I wasn’t Princeton material.” (Becoming More) (To quote Beyonce, “best revenge is your paperrrrr…”)
  • “…I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be. For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. … It’s all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.” (Epilogue) (AMEN!!!)
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5 Tips to Survive Your Summer Music Festival

Summer Music Festival Survival Tips

Very few things in life match the excitement of summer festival season! There are so many music festivals all over the world, each catering to a specific genre or musical aesthetic. They truly provide the best value to see some of your favourite artists and discover so many new ones. Plus, from the multiple stages, to the bold fashion, to the delicious food, you’re busy from the moment you step onto the festival grounds.

I, like everyone else, have been living vicariously through every influencer’s Instagram posts from Coachella and, honestly, the FOMO is real. I’m doing everything in my power to make it out to Osheaga in Montreal this August (RIP WayHome).

As a seasoned live music attendee, I wanted to pass along some tips to make your first (or second, or third, or fourth!) music festival experience the best it can be!


This tip above everything else – drink tons of water. Spending hours in the sun takes a toll on your body without you realizing it. Most festivals let you bring in an empty water bottle that you can re-fill once you’re inside. You can also purchase a hydration pack for under $20 to insert into your backpack – this lets you maintain style and cut down on treks to the water stations.

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