Get a jump-start on leaf-peeping season with a ride on Amtrak's Great Dome Car. The vintage carriage, built in 1955, features a glass-topped second storey that allows for panoramic sightseeing from all directions. It ran on select trains along the New England Downeaster route, from Brunswick, Me., to Boston, ending Sept. 24, when leaves are changing colour in earnest in the north and starting to go in Massachusetts. For some family fun, stop along the way for a raspberry rickey at Vena's Fizz House in Portland, Me., and amusement-park games (Friday to Sunday only) at Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach, Me., a summer favourite of Quebeckers; amtrakdowneaster.com/dome-car.
Bisha, the city's latest luxury hotel, officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 5 – just in time for the start of the Toronto International Film Festival, of course. Located in the city's West End entertainment district, the 96-room property is the vision of nightlife king Charles Khabouth and is intended to be the flagship of a new lifestyle brand. Interior spaces are moody and sexy (especially the out-of-the-way nooks designed for couples in the lobby bar), full of glossy black accents, lush fabrics and rich jewel tones. The executive level features suites "envisioned" by musician-turned-designer Lenny Kravitz, but the standout feature is the 44th floor. Home to Kost, a Baja-Mexican restaurant, and a sleek infinity pool with stunning views of downtown. The CN Tower seems so close you're tempted to reach out and touch it. Rooms from $399 a night; bishahoteltoronto.com.
Belfast is in the midst of a mini hotel boom: The Ireland Titanic Hotel joined the ranks this month. The 119-room luxury hotel takes over the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, the shipbuilders behind the Titanic and other White Star Line vessels. The restoration includes the grand Drawing Offices, whose high corniced ceilings were worked on by the same craftsmen who helped build the doomed ocean liner. But Belfast, a city that feels primed to be a Next Big Thing, offers myriad reasons to visit this fall, including vibrant street art in the Cathedral Quarter, funky pubs near cobbled Commerical Court alley (look for the archway covered in yellow umbrellas) and afternoon tea in the sumptuous Great Room Restaurant at the Merchant Hotel. Also, cheap flights: At press time, WestJet was offering Toronto-Dublin roundtrip flights for $600 including tax. (It's an easy train ride between the two cities.) If you go, book a private tour with Marti Molloy (belfastology.com), a local fountain of knowledge.
Not ready to say goodbye to the warm weather (or feeling like you didn't get enough of it this summer)? The Cayman Islands want to help. Canadians can score discounts of up to 40 per cent off at select resorts and attractions between Sept. 5 and Dec. 15 (booking must be done by Oct. 31). Daytime temperatures should still reach around 30 degrees – but it is rainy season, so expect bursts of rain early in the afternoon. For more information and to view available deals, visit caymanislands.ky/ca.