With the long weekend ahead, this is a good time to reflect on all the perfect getaways that beautiful British Columbia has to offer. Vancouverites rave about living close to the ocean and the mountains and I worship the endless possibilities of roadtrips and weekend getaways within not even a day of driving. So here is a list of my favourite city escapes with some advice on what to do, where to eat and why you should check them out!
Tofino is a beautiful fishing village turned surf town on Vancouver Island that is packed with Vancouverites hitting the waves and Aussie surf instructors teaching the tourists (I highly recommend Pacific Surf School). The water may be cold but in a wetsuit you won’t even feel it and the stunning view will distract you. Tofino can get crazy busy in peak seasons. The nearby small town of Ucluelet is a good place to stay instead and it is close enough to all the surf beaches. Visit Zoe’s Bakery for breakfast or lunch treats before you hit the surf at Chesterman Beach or Cox Bay. Make sure to stop at Tofino Brewing and get a growler fill of their legendary Tuff Session Ale. Best enjoyed at Long Beach with some shrimps & chips to-go.
Salt Spring Island
I spend a lot of time on Salt Spring Island and love the slow and mellow vibe on this gulf island. Especially in summer when the farm stands and markets open and the lakes are warm enough to swim in. I love swimming in Weston Lake (close to Fulford), visiting the Saturday Market, climbing Mount Maxwell for stunning views and exploring the coast around Ruckle Park. My advice for first-timers is a cheese-wine-and-beer Tour. Start at Salt Spring Island Cheese and sample their amazing goat cheese. They also sell bread, tapenade, jam and honey in their little store – perfect for a picnic. Continue your foodie tour with a wine tasting at The Salt Spring Winery. Salt Spring Winery has an amazing garden to sit in and their label design is really cute – a perfect souvenir! The Salt Spring Ales Brewery is worth a visit as well, they do free sample tastings in their Tasting Room. Happy tasting times! End your tour at the Saturday Market in Ganges, a funky hippie market with delicious treats, beautiful gemstone jewlery, flower arrangements and quirky bird houses. If you visit around June-August, make sure to check out the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm!
Victoria is an ideal weekend destination for Vancouverites. I love coming here to eat good vegetarian food (Rebar), have brunch with an ocean view (Spinnakers) and sample good beers on patios (Spinnakers, Canoe, Swans). The floating homes and Beacon Hill Park are great little walking destinations. If you feel like exploring out of town, Mystic Beach close to Sooke (a small hamlet up the coast from Victoria) is the perfect daytrip destination, complete with a rope swing and breathtaking Pacific Northwest scenery. Make sure to stop at the Shirley Delicious Coffeeshop on the way back to Victoria.
This area is great for outdoor enthusiasts that seek out a less touristy vibe than Whistler. The drive up to Manning Park offers lots to see as well: Harrison Lake & Hot Spings (speaking of tourists – but still a stunning sight), the Othello Tunnels (old railway tunnels, apparently Rambo was filmed here – random fact.), Aggasiz (popular for the Tulip Festival in April), Mount Cheam and Lake Kawkawa (tiny but beautiful – great for your first SUP or kayak lesson).
I love checking out new places and love discovering the province. My list is growing longer by the day! I am very excited to check out these two places in the next weeks. One’s gotta stay curious…
Close to the city and yet it feels like you are far away? Sounds perfect to me! We rented a cabin in Tuwanek, close to the Salmon inlet. I am hoping for some orca sightings, morning canoe trips with a cup of coffee in hand and BBQs on the patio. Stay tuned for pictures from the Sunshine Coast…
Canada’s best wine region is just a few hours away. I have had amazing wines (and peaches!) from the region and can’t wait to sample them “on-site”. Kelowna is a great home base to explore the wineries by bike or foot. I am hoping for sunny hours on the patio overlooking the lake…maybe even a swim? I will report back.
What are your favourite holiday destinations in BC?