If you travel a lot for work, you know that business trips often include late nights in your hotel room with your laptop – because what else should you do, right? While your hotel bed might seem like a cozy spot to spend your “downtime”, why not use the time to actually do something that helps you to relax and enjoy your trip a little more. All work and no play is a tough life to live. So whether you are planning to take a few vacation days and add an extra day or two at the beginning or end of your trip or you are just trying to find ways to add a little more fun into your next business trip, here is how you can make the most of it.

Have your family join you

If you’re constantly looking for opportunities to spend quality time with your family, but work or other everyday activities always get in the way, taking your family along with you on your business trip might be the answer. It forces you to spend time NOT working while on the trip when you can. It also means that those daily tasks like house cleaning and meal prep aren’t the focus. The focus is just on spending time with your family.

Regardless of where you are for work, there will always be fun things for your family to do while you are busy and then you can join them for some of the larger attractions. If you’re in Toronto, check out the famed Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Both educational and entertaining, the aquarium boasts North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel. And if your kids like to get hands on, there are over 100 interactive activities.

In Winnipeg, the Manitoba Children’s Museum has both indoor and outdoor interactive fun for kids to encourage learning and creativity.

West Edmonton Mall is a great example of a place that has tons to offer to keep the kids entertained during the day into the evening when you join them. Waterparks, bowling, video games, restaurants, shopping, it has it all! Have them spend the day at the water park and join after your meeting for some family bowling and dinner.

Book non-work activities ahead of time

If you are taking in a conference, there is generally an itinerary available ahead of time. Or if you are in town to for meetings, your schedule is pretty much set – and it’s often just regular work hours. Once you know your schedule, book your fun activities ahead of time when you can. That way you can avoid missing out, but it also makes it harder to cancel. And if you don’t have anything specific planned, explore the nightlife and the areas surrounding your hotel.

If you like a good craft beer, why not go on a tasting tour? With the rise of popularity of craft breweries in Canada, so many cities are looking to highlight what they have to offer locally. Winnipeg Tasting Tours offers four stops, behind the scenes tours of local microbreweries, and delicious food and beer pairings. Toronto Beer Tours, Craft Beer ‘n Bite Tour, and Vine & Hops Tours all provide similar experiences.

The local theatre scene is a great way to allow yourself to get away from the busy business meetings and deadlines as well – and you can purchase your tickets in advance. For larger productions, check out theatre companies like Mirvish in Toronto, but a quick search for theatre in your selected city will show a treasure trove of options for both large and small productions.

Book a spa day

Nothing says pure relaxation more than a spa day – or a quick treatment during your downtime between meetings. Whether you are looking for a full spa experience or just a refreshing pick-me-up, Canada has a number of world-class spa experiences to choose from. Chances are there is a spa in your hotel or in the immediate surrounding area. A few to keep an eye out for are Elmwood Spa (Toronto), Hammam Spa (Toronto), Studio 157 (Ottawa), Modern Gravity (a cool float spa in Edmonton), and Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature (Winnipeg).

Explore the local culture

Every city has its own local flavour. Spend some time exploring what makes the city unique. From museums to heritage areas, there is always something interesting to learn about where you are.

The Forks Market in Winnipeg is a cultural landmark in the heart of the city where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. It is a historical meeting place having been used as a trading post and stopping grounds for over 6,000 years. Now, it is used to highlight both the past and where the city is going in the future with small shops, local cuisine, and live local entertainment.

Similarly, Old Montreal is an area full of history and cultural attractions. With some buildings dating back to the 17th century, Old Montreal is home to the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Château Ramezay, and large car-free areas to explore.

The Royal Ontario Museum is a fantastic experience and one of the top 10 cultural experiences in North America. With 40 different galleries and exhibitions to explore, you can take a trip around the world and back in time – all between meetings in downtown Toronto.

Calgary even has a Public Art Program where you can explore the city and enjoy art installations outside. A great way to guide your city exploration!

Don’t break your fitness regimen

If you work out regularly, your business trip shouldn’t stop you from doing that. With the incredible fitness centres available in your hotel as well as local opportunities, there are plenty of options.

For something outside of the gym, there are a number of opportunities within an hour or two outside of any city in Canada – even if it’s just stepping outside in your hotel’s neighbourhood to go for a jog. Blue Mountain has 365 acres of skiable terrain and it is about two hours outside of Toronto; the Capilano Suspension Bridge is in Vancouver’s backyard and offers hiking among the treetops; and Parc du Mont-Royal has some of the best hiking, snowshoeing, and views of Montreal at the top of the mountain – and it’s right in Montreal! These are just a few of the opportunities available to you.

Make meals an adventure

You’re going to have to eat while you are on your trip, so why not actually enjoy it? Explore the local culinary scene for something you have never tried before. If you are meeting with clients, you could even book a lunch meeting at a local restaurant instead of in a stuffy board room – they may even have fun suggesting their favourites within the area.

If you are exploring the culinary scene on your own, try talking to locals to find out the best spots in town. You could also speak with your hotel concierge who can point you in the right direction for what you are looking for. Otherwise, there are a number of food tours that run to give you the opportunity to have a guided tour and tasting of some of the best the locals have to offer. Some of the best are the St. Lawrence Market & Old Toronto Tour (Toronto), Spade and Palacio: Winter Beyond the Market (Montreal), and Culinary Adventure Co (Winnipeg) are just a few examples.

Your business trip doesn’t have to be all business all the time. Whether you are finding time to have fun in your downtime between meetings or adding a couple of extra days of vacation to your trip, there are a lot of opportunities to make the most of it.

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