Travel time: Montreal is easy to travel to from any major US city, with New York, Chicago, Philly, and Washington, DC clocking the most flights per week. From major hubs, you can expect to be in the air about three to five hours, but if you’re departing from New York City, you should consider the train -- though it’s about 10 hours by rail, the Adirondack line is chill, relaxing, and hovers around $70.
Why you’ll love it: There’s a saying that Montreal is the closest thing in North America to a European city, but we call bullshit. It’s its own thing entirely, and should be celebrated as such. Sure, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi to charming cobblestoned Old Montreal, but the modern city is not content to stay in one lane. Old and new combine in fascinating ways, from the Mile End neighborhood, home to a large traditional Jewish population (and the best bagels in town), to the edgy Gay Village near the city center.
The cultural soul of Quebec, Montreal is a city of festivals, hosting everything from international jazz fests to spectacular circuses -- Cirque du Soleil may have gotten its start here, but it’s far from the only game in town. For foodies, international year-round markets like Atwater and Jean Talon offer the best in cheese, pastries and more, while world-renowned restaurants Joe Beef and Au Pied au Cochon elevate humble game (elk, venison, boar) to soaring heights. Of course, you could always settle for a fried bologna sandwich from Schwartz’s Deli or Canada’s national dish, poutine.
In October 2018, Canada voted to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide, so if weed is part of your travel agenda, you’re in luck. Montreal’s laws are pretty straightforward, with cannabis stores now open for interested parties 18 and older (for now). -- Joseph Hernandez