Where to explore B.C… Later

Right now we are all staying home to save lives, but eventually life will get back to normal, economies will get back on track, and communities will be unlocking their doors. Eventually we will be able to travel yet again, but after seeing how small, local shops and businesses have struggled through this crises, I have a feeling my post COVID 19 vacations will be here in B.C. in hopes of rebuilding our local economy and businesses.

Beautiful B.C. in my opinion is an understatement. From the mystic mountains, to the calm waves of the ocean, the landscapes that sweep across this province are truly breathtaking and I have been very lucky to visit some of these magical spots. I wanted to share some of my favourite spots that hopefully we can all explore later.

Tofino

I have written a few blogs on my various trips to Tofino, and I am not lying when I saw this is probably my favourite place in the whole wide world.  I the quaint, small town that is surrounded by old growth forest on one side and the salt smells of the ocean on the other. With such natural beauty you can only imagine that there are adventures around every corner. There are some amazing hikes for all levels, including a walk to a hidden airplane. The endless ocean is the perfect playground, and surf lessons are a must. If you just want to relax, might I suggest a trip out to the hot springs (where you may spot a whale along the way).

Tofino also has an amazing culinary seen, and while you won’t find any chain restaurants here, some of Canada’s top chefs call this little island town home. At Tofino Marina Resort you can find the foods of Top Chef Canada’s Paul Moran. Shelter and Wolf in the Fog offer perfect date night spots. The Pointe is the perfect brunch spot, not only is the food amazing, but you will have an oceanfront seat. Alas, no trip to Tofino is complete without a trip to the original food truck, Tacofino (but there is also a new truck in town called Pai that is amazing).

No matter where you stay in Tofino you can expert a relaxing escape. We have stayed at both Long Beach Lodge and the Wickaninnish Inn, both of these spots are amazing offering ocean views. I love opening up the windows and smelling the fresh salt air, and watching the sun set over the rocks.

Kelowna

Wine? Check. Sparking lake views? Check. Mountains? Check! Kelowna really has it al for the perfect vacation getaway. There are more than 30 beaches in Kelowna that offer a perfect spot to relax and enjoy some sunshine. Feeling more on the adventurous side? Why not rent a paddle board, kayak, or canoe and explore the lake?

Of course no trip to Kelowna is complete without a winery tour, and you will find some of the best wineries in the world right in your backyard. Quails Gate, Summerhill, and my personal favourite Grey Monk are all must visits. Now if for some reason wine isn’t your thing, there is also the craft beer ale tour available.

Penticton

Another beautiful spot in the Okanagan is Penticton. I had a chance to visit this spot for the first time last summer for work and instantly fell in love with it. One of the things that makes Penticton so famous is its peaches, in fact every summer there is a a giant Peach Festival with vendors, live music, and lots of peach inspired food.

Aside from the delicious fresh fruit, this beautiful spot is once again located on the lake surrounded by mountains offering the perfect escape for outdoor adventure. However I think my favourite experience in Penticton was a little more on the relaxing side, a float down a lazy river. You can literally rent a tube and float down the Penticton River Channel, the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.

This was another place that took me on an amazing culinary experience. Theo’s offers some delicious authentic greek cuisine Salty’s Beach House is located right on the lake and offers some delicious seafood options, and for those looking for more casual dinning, Bad Tattoo Brewing specializes in pizza and beer. You can’t beat that!

The Sunshine Coast

The first time I visited the Sunshine Coast I told my husband I wanted to retire here, it just has this amazing ability to make you feel right at home. We stayed in Gibsons, and while there aren’t a lot of hotels in the area, a lot of the airbnbs are situated right on the ocean, with beach accesses.

I loved just walking around the town and seeing all the adorable shops. We really fell in love with a little olive oil shop called Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. where you can sample and taste different types of oil. Also, no matter where you shop or eat, you are just steps away from the water and so you can see the sailboats docking. I loved sitting at the patio at Lunitas eating tacos and keeping my eyes peeled for whales.

The Sunshine Coast has a bunch of local breweries and so we brought some bikes with us and did a little brewery tour. I fell in love with Persephone. The craft brewery is located on farm where they grow their own grains, but thats not all you will find, there are also apple orchards and veggie gardens.

If adventure is more what you are looking for, there are some beautiful hikes in the area. I really loved the views from Smuggler Cove ( pack a picnic and stay for a while) or check out some of the waves at Skookumchuck Narrows.

Sooke

I love visiting Vancouver Island. It truly has so many incredible hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Sooke was one of these gems. This is such a charming spot located right on the ocean, and a lot of the places where you will stay are airbnbs that offer a backyard right on the water.

The Sooke Country Market is a great chance to pick up some delicious local food. Hiking through parts of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail will truly take your breathe away as you get lost between the giant trees. A picnic at the Sooke Potholes is a must and the perfect spot to cool off on a hot day. This island town will steal your heart and make you want to come back to unwind and relax again and again.

Cranbrook

I have been fortunate enough to visit Cranbrook for work in both the winter and summer and have been able to take part in some amazing adventures in this mountain town.

Speaking of mountain town, that is one of the biggest draws to visiting Cranbrook. Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies this picturesque town offers endless thrills. Whether you are into mountain biking or hiking you can take in the fresh air of the mountains. If water activities are more your thing there are hundreds of lakes and rivers in the area for stand up paddle boarding or kayaking. No matter where you are enjoying nature though make sure to keep your eyes out for wildlife, we must of seen 20 elk during our visit.

One of the most amazing experiences though, was learning about the culture and history of Cranbrook. I had a chance to stay in an old train at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort. Next I had a chance to learn about the history at Old Fort Steele, and the last heritage spot gave me the chance to put up a real teepee at the St. Eugene Resort with the Ktunaxa First Nation.

After adventure I am sure you are going to be hungry, and downtown Cranbrook has some delicious meal options. I loved eating a burger and craft beer inside an old fire station at the Fire Hall, Soulfood offers  mouthwatering farm to table options, and the Heidout has some incredible locally source menu options.

Whistler

 

One of the main reasons we moved out to Squamish was to be in the mountains and closer to Whistler. I have shared a lot of my ski adventures with you  ( I was even a Whistler seasons pass holder this year) but this is so much more than a ski town. From world class mountain biking, to beautiful hikes it has everything for an outdoor adventurer. Very close to Whistler you can hike up to a glacier lake called Garabaldi (this is actually the spot where we got engaged).

During the summer months you can still take the gondola up the mountain to take in some breathtaking views. If you are daring enough, you can try your and walk across the new suspension bridge, which will make you feel on top of the world.

Squamish 

I must say I am pretty lucky to call Squamish home and I hope that when all of this is over, more people will want to come and explore this beautiful town. Squamish is really built on the backbone of local businesses and in town you will find everything from locally coffee shops, delicious bakeries like tall tree and different dining options. Whether you love Sushi (Sushi Sen), a gorgeous water view (Watershed) or feel like dressing up a little (The Salted Vine) there is something for everyone.

There are some incredible hikes around Squamish including the Chief and Sea to Summit, which will take you to the top of the Sea to Sky gondola, and get this, during the summers they offer live music and yoga on top of the mountain.

There are also so many other outdoor activities for the adventure junkie in you. Whether it be mountain biking, wind surfing, or rock climbing, there is something here that is sure to give you an adrenaline rush.

I cannot wait until life is back to normal and we are able to get outside and explore this beautiful place we call home again, but until then let’s just daydream about the perfect local getaway.

Stay safe my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

Why Sooke is Vancouver Island’s Hidden Gem

I have visited Vancouver Island on several occasions, but most of my trips have taken me to shorelines of Victoria or Tofino. I had never hard of a town called Sooke, that is until my boyfriend planned a surprise getaway for the two of us. Not knowing much about the town, I didn’t really know what to expect on the trip.

About Sooke 

Photo credit; Connor McCardle

If I did have any expectations, they would of been blown right out of the water. Sooke turned out to be the most quaint, beautiful, and relax place I had ever visited. Known as the place where the rainforest meets the sea it offers so many hidden gems just waiting to be explored. From beautiful hiking trails like the Juan De Fuca trail and ocean front homes it is where you go for ultimate tranquility, and with few hotels it is a lot less busy then some of the other spots on the island.

Where to stay

photo credit; Connor McCardle

As mentioned, there are very few hotels and motels in the area so we turned to airbnb to find the perfect spot to stay for our trip. I highly recommend this because you never know what adorable spot you will find. We stayed in a cute cottage right on the ocean. We ate all of our meals right above the water, searched for whales right from the window, gazed up at the milky way, and fell asleep listening to the waves crashing against the rocks below. It was truly a little slice of heaven.

What to do

Day 1: Potholes, Markets and Stars 

Day one of our trip took us to the Sooke Potholes, a very easy hike that takes you alongside the Sooke River. Gaze at the rivers unique rock formation that was formed from the last ice age millions of years ago. The park has several trails and all of them are beautiful. We followed the river to  a secluded rock pool and beach. We daringly jumped in to the freezing water and hung out on the beach.

On the way home form the potholes, we saw signs pointing to the Country Market. The market located at Otter Point Road runs every Saturday from May to October and it is absolutely adorable. Explore the local artists and taste some delicious fresh local fruits. Pick up a homemade piece of jewellery as a souvenir.

Living in the city, I sometimes forget that stars even exist in the sky. Away from the lights and pollution, the Sooke sky offered a perfect canvas to star gaze. We stayed up well past my bed time and gazed at the Milky Way. We even caught a glimpse of Mars.

Day 2: Rainforest hikes and river floats 

The second day of our trip took us on a little drive to explore some of the beautiful rainforests hikes in the area. We made our way through the trees of the Juan De Fuca trail down to Mystic Beach. On the beach you will find beautiful rock formations, forests on either corner, and a small water fall in the centre of it all. It truly fit its name, mystic to say the least.

A little bonus, about an hour and a half from Sooke on the way to catch the ferry in Nanaimo we discovered floating on Lake Cowichan. Hundreds of people cooling off in the water on their floaties. While we didn’t have our donuts on us, we did jump in. Definitely plan to come back to get the full experience.

Just a few weeks ago I had no idea Sooke existed, now it has become one of my favourite spots in B.C. It is calming and beautiful and truly a small hidden gem on a giant island.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s No Place Like Home: Pemberton

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Beautiful mountains? Check 

Crystal clear lakes? Check 

Picturesque views? Check 

Outdoor activities? Check 

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Pemberton sure has a lot of check marks making it the perfect place to escape for a weekend. It is a beautiful town located just 20 minutes North of Whistler and is nestled at the foot of the majestic Mt Currie. The town offers everything from summertime hikes and bike rides to winter skiing and snowshoeing.

 

I had a chance to explore beautiful Pemberton this fall. The leaves were changing colour while the sun was still shining bright. It made for breathtaking views and plenty of fun.

I think Pemberton is the perfect getaway for a weekend adventure outside of Vancouver and here are some tips to make sure you have the best time there.

 

Where to Stay

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On our trip we stayed at Sweetwater Lane Farm B&B and I honestly cannot say enough good things about this adorable spot. This B&B is located on secluded 7 acre farm just outside of Pemberton. Inside there are four large bedrooms that offer incredible views of Mount Currie. A dinning place and open kitchen made for the perfect spot to relax. The B&B also offers fresh daily breakfast picked straight from the garden outside.

 

The farm itself offers so much to do and see. It is home to pastured poultry (there was even a fresh chicken for us to eat upon arrival), pigs, a milk cow, and two miniature donkey’s called Leroy and Lilly. They were basically like giant dogs. There is also a vegetable farm and fruit trees, and of course stunning views.

 

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Day 1: Exploring, walking, and biking 

Exploring: I started the day off just walking around the farm. There was so much to see right in the backyard, literally. From picking some of my own vegetables to playing with the Lilly and Leory, it was hard to even get off the property

Walking: Alas, I finally set off to explore outside. I was told there was a beautiful river not too far from the property so I started walking to find out more. The river is part of Lillooet Lake. To access we had to walk through a forest area, with Mount Currie constantly the view point. The river was truly beautiful and a little bonus it was the salmon crossing season so we saw a ton of fish.

Biking: What happens when you put mountains and breathtaking views together? You get the perfect combination for some mountain biking. Pemberton has plenty of biking trails, even for beginners like myself. You are basically riding right on the Sea to Sky corridor so you really are in for a treat when it comes to the views.

Day 2: go on the most epic hike 

The main reason I wanted to come to Pemberton in the first place was to hike Joffre Lakes. I had seen pictures of this amazing spot, but needed to experience it for myself. I was totally unprepared for the hike ( I didn’t even have a water bottle so please make sure you are more prepared for me). But it was so worth the struggles.

Know before you go: Like I mentioned I was really unprepared and Joffre Lakes is a pretty strenuous hike. It is 11km total and it took us about 3 hours round trip. So make sure you got your 10 essentials 

As for the actual hike, it includes three stages. Stage one is the first lake, which is located on the lower level and is a beautiful spot, but just wait until you get to the second lake. The water was crystal clear, the trees were a mixture of red, orange, yellow, and green, and the sun was beating down. I have never seen something so beautiful in my entire life.

We thought about going down after the second lake, but we kept pushing ourselves and I am so thankful we did. We stumbled upon a waterfall on the way up to the third lake. Once we arrived at the final lake we were greeted by deep blue water, rocks, trees, and above it all a glacier that was streaming downwards. We spent about 20 minutes at the top just taking in the sights and the fresh air. It was magical.

I can honestly tell you this was the most incredible hike I have ever done, and that the views were the most beautiful I have seen in my whole life. It was one of those places that you don’t truly believe in the magic until you have expierneced it for yourself and even when it is right in front of your eyes, it is hard to believe that this beauty is real.
Joffre Lakes is a must do, and definietely a hike that I will be doing again, over and over, and over again.

 

Well there you have it. Your guide to a weekend getaway in Pemberton. I cannot wait to explore this amazing spot again and would love any recommendations of what else I should see and do when I am there.

In the meantime happy exploring my friends.

xo

Mia

Pemberton in pictures 

 

There is No Place Like Home: Tofino

Tofino 

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Start the day with a good cup of coffee…
We started the day at  Common Loaf Bake Shop. This little restaurant located in an adorably colourful house had a variety of fresh and delicious options. The perfect way to start the day.
Visit the world famous beaches…
We then made our way to Long Beach to take some pictures. Long Beach is the longest beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. 10km of soft sand and a stunning panoramic view of the ocean and sky made for the perfect snaps.
Indulge in some tacos…
 On the way back from Long Beach we stopped at the original Tacofino. I had Tacofino in Vancouver before, but I heard the original was even better. I knew it was a food truck, but I was still surprised by the set up. A lone food truck in a parking lot with a long line. The truck was colourful and so was the menu. I got the fish and veggie tacos and it was definitely worth the wait.
Hang ten on the waves…
After filling our bellies with tacos, it was then time for our surf lesson. I tried surfing once before and it ended terribly, but Estuardo at Tofino Surf Adventures promised that by the end of my lesson I would be surfing. He was right. It was a little bit of a shaky start, but by the fourth try I was standing up on my board. I won’t be competing in any surf competitions any time soon but it definitely was a thrill. The best part about surfing was the perfect day we had. Despite it being October, the sun was out, the water was relatively warm, and the skies were blue. It was an amazing experience.
 Indulge in world class cuisine…
A quick hot tub to help our aching muscles, it was time to try and choose from the list of amazing restaurants in the area. I have the Sobo cookbook at home, so it only made sense to enjoy a meal at their Tofino restaurant. With their wood fire oven, it was hard not to pick from the pizza menu. I ordered a mushroom pizza and it was delicious.
Day 2: Hot springs, whales, and walks
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Relax in the hot springs… 
Day two started bright and early as we set out on about an hour and a half boat ride with West Coast Aquatic Safaris to Hot Springs Cove. Hot Springs Cove is home to seven natural geothermal rock pools that cool down the closer you get to the ocean.
On the way there we saw a grey whale, my first time seeing one up close. Once we arrived, we walked about 1.5 km through a beautiful forest until we arrived at the springs. I warmed up under a small waterfall and sat in the hottest bath as the waves crashed in around us. The view of the ocean on the cool damp day was spectacular.
On the way back we were in for another treat, we spotted some Orcas which were quite rare in October. Two species of whales in one day is pretty special.
Admire local art…
In the afternoon we took a stroll and explored the adorable town of Tofino. During the walk we stumbled into the Eagle Aerie Art Gallery. The gallery was filled with west coast inspired paintings, prints, carvings, and even jewelry. I really suggest taking your time to read about each painting. They all tell a beautifully unique story.
Indulge in some wine and food… 
The weekend ended at Shelter. What I love about this restaurant is they aim to minimize their global footprint and the majority of ingredients used are local, organic, and ethically raised. The majority of the fish is caught by Tofino fisherman so of course I had to give the salmon a try. It was delicious! Another amazing fact is in the back of the restaurant there is a garden where they produce fresh herbs and vegetables. You can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.

What to pack?

Tofino is one of those magical places that you can visit year round. In the summer packed beaches and plenty of surfing. In the winter storm watching and still plenty of surfing. I went in October and it was fairly wet and cool.

Arc’teryx Durant Jacket: I find this the perfect jacket for the wet and slightly cooler days. It is waterproof and insulated so perfect for when you are out on the water trying to stay warm

Emu Roadside BootsThese waterproof boots are comfy on the inside but stylish on the outside. Perfect for wet and colder days

Ryu Tough Tight High-rise BottomsFor the outdoor hikes and walks you want to make sure you have pants that look good, are comfortable, and can stretch. I found these pants perfect for hikes to dinner.

Your camera: Tofino is so beautiful you are going to want to make sure you have the perfect camera to remember them memories. Most of mine are shot on a Cannon 5D.

Tofino offers the perfect combination of outdoor adventure, fine dining, and stunning scenery to make it the perfect weekend getaway spot.