Our ideas for low-cost outings

This winter, many of us will have to tighten our belts. With a thousand and one back-to-school purchases in the fall, numerous holiday expenses and a rising cost of living that never ceases to surprise us, for many of us, it's time to replenish the coffers. Fortunately, you don't have to empty your pockets and buy a ton of gear to enjoy the joys of winter. Here, we share our best ideas for outings that will let you fill up on fresh air, without watching your budget melt like snow in the sun.

Parc national du Mont-Orford Parc national du Mont-Orford
Parc national du Mont-Orford William Renaud | © Sépaq

One foot in front of the other on a hike

If there’s one winter activity that requires very little equipment, it’s hiking. Dress warmly and venture out on the trails of your nearest national park! All you have to do is purchase one daily access pass per person – free of charge for children aged 17 and under - and you’re all set to go. And if you already have your Annual Québec National Parks Card, even better; you don’t have to spend another dime.

Whether you’ve come to stroll with the family, recharge on your own, or test your mettle with friends, there’s a trail that’s tailor‑made for your level. And did you know that most of our hiking trails are groomed for your convenience?

Go on, pack yourself a few snacks to fill up on energy when you take a break at the observation deck, thermos of hot chocolate in hand. Lace up your boots, a day of walking in the fresh air awaits you!

This winter, the Gouvernement du Québec is launching an initiative that will offer free access to Québec's national parks three days a week between December 18, 2023 and March 13, 2024.

Check the calendar for specific dates when access will be free of charge.

Gîte du Mont-Albert
Gîte du Mont-Albert Jeanne Rondeau-Ducharme | © Sépaq
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant William Renaud | © Sépaq

Full speed ahead on the slopes

A timeless activity if ever there was one, sliding is another economical option to consider. Do you have your daily pass or your Québec National Parks Card? Put the sleds in the car and head for Parc national du Bic or Parc national de la Yamaska.

For even more thrills, you can also spend the day at Centre touristique du Lac‑Simon or Parc national de la Jacques‑Cartier, where we lend out inner tubes absolutely free of charge. The snow‑covered slopes are all yours!

Parc national d'Aiguebelle
Parc national d'Aiguebelle Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq
Centre touristique du Lac-Simon
Centre touristique du Lac-Simon Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq

Cross‑country skiing…right this way

The magic of cross‑country skiing resides in being thrilled by a larger‑than‑life panorama as you glide across the snow. With nearly 400 km of groomed and maintained trails, Sépaq’s network gives you plenty to choose from. Believe us, you’re just one ski away from finding your next favourite winter circuit.

Before investing in your own gear, you can try your hand at cross’country skiing by renting equipment, available at most of our seven cross‑country ski destinations. And please note that equipment rentals are free of charge for children aged 17 and under. Cross‑country skiing is a family affair!

Want to save on gas? A number of national parks close to major centres offer a wealth of cross‑country ski trails. You’ll spend more time stretching your legs in nature than counting snow‑covered trees from your car window.

Réserve faunique des Laurentides
Réserve faunique des Laurentides Kam Vachon | © Sépaq
Parc national d'Oka
Parc national d'Oka William Renaud | © Sépaq

A night in the forest that’s worth the price

Yes, you can stay within your budget even if you add one (or more!) overnight stays to your outdoor activity. Rustic shelter accommodation, for example, starts at $74/night. After a day of skiing or snowshoeing, what could be better than warming up around a wood-burning stove?

For nature enthusiasts, spending a night in a hut is often the ideal way to take full advantage of the region's splendors. It's also a golden opportunity to meet other enthusiasts in a communal type accommodation. In fact, you could get away with less than $30/night (per person), depending on your chosen date of stay.

A number of parks in the Sépaq network, including Parc national du Mont‑Tremblant and Parc national du Bic, also offer you the chance to sleep in a yurt. Say yes to an experience that's as original as it is affordable!

Parc national de la Gaspésie
Parc national de la Gaspésie Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq
Parc national du Bic
Parc national du Bic Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq

All‑inclusive winter package

Station touristique Duchesnay really does have it all: proximity to Québec City, an enchanting lakeside, a local‑inspired menu, a sauna, an indoor pool, enchanting scenery, and more. This 89 km2 resort has what it takes to stand out from the crowd.

When you stay at the country lodge hotel or one of Duchesnay’s modern cabins, access to a host of winter activities is included in your package. Love hiking? That’s included. Are you a snowshoeing or cross‑country skiing fan? These activities are included too. You can even perform a few spins on the outdoor skating rink or go snow tubing on a sunny afternoon.

It's simple: all activities are accessible to all accommodation customers, in a single location. Book your stay and come and play outside!

Station touristique Duchesnay
Station touristique Duchesnay Simon Clark | © Sépaq
Station touristique Duchesnay
Station touristique Duchesnay Charles Boutin | © Sépaq

Winter immersion at the Aquarium

To admire the 10,000 marine animals at Aquarium du Québec, you’ll need a lot more than just one day. Get unlimited access to the depths of the sea and the secrets of the ice floes with an annual membership. Our family rates are particularly attractive.

Whatever the season, polar bears, rays, seals, jellyfish, and birds of prey will amaze young and old alike. Try to spot as many species as you can in the Deep Sea Pavilion, then head out to visit Joséphine, Léonie, and René, our three adorable Arctic foxes.

Do you have an insatiable hunger for knowledge? Meals featuring commentary by our guides are organized to answer all your questions - no matter how far-fetched. So, when's your next discovery?

Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Julie Audet | © Sépaq
Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec Julie Audet | © Sépaq

One last tip

Shop around before booking. Prices are often cheaper in the low season. So don’t wait for spring break to clear your head and play outside or to sleep soundly amidst the trees.

And if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so, take advantage of the reduced prices - and the refreshing peace and quiet - offered from Monday to Friday. Happy savings and, above all, happy winter!

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