Why Harrison Hot Springs is the best shoulder season getaway

Southern B.C. can be quite grim in the Fall. They don’t call it Raincover for nothing. I usually plan a sunny getaway this time of year, but with a toddler my free time is a little limited nowadays, so I decided to mix it up and stay local this year. I discovered my new favourite shoulder season getaway  in B.C., Harrison Hot Springs.

The reason I decided to book a getaway here was after I heard about the healing powers of hot springs, (something that was much needed this time of year when the weather is just blah). Some of the benefits include boosting circulation, pain reduction, stress relief, improve skin conditions, and detoxify.

I wanted to share my weekend getaway to Harrison Hot Springs with you

Getting there

Harrison Hot Spring’s is part of Harrison River Valley in the heart of the Fraser Valley just a short 90 minutes from Vancouver. You can get here by car, bus, boat from Vancouver, or even a float plane.

Where to stay

There is no better place to stay in Harrison Hot Springs than Harrison Hot Springs Resort. It is located along the gardens and shoreline of Harrison Lake. Walking inside you notice the rustic charm right away. I had a pet-friendly room overlooking the beautiful lake. It is also home to famous hot mineral spring pools, that come straight from the mountain pools located just a short 15 minute walk away. There are 5 pools in total both indoors and outdoors each different temperatures. I spent 4 hours in the pools and felt like a whole new person afterwards.

There are also a few on site restaurants including the infamous Copper Room. The restaurant including delicious west coast favourites, amazing live music, and a dance floor so make sure you bring your dancing shoes.

Things to do

Soak in the hot springs 

The top reason to come here is to relax and rejuvenate and soaking in mineral waters is the best way to do that

Enjoy the lake

Sure, you may not be laying out in the sunshine in November – but you cans till enjoy the beautiful lake. There is a path all around with gorgeous views of the mountain and forests that surround the area.

Take a cultural tour 

I had a chance to join a tour with St’sailes First Nations to find out more about the healing powers of the hot springs and learn about the history of Qwolts (which means land of boiling water).

Visit Sasquatch Provincial Park 

There is everything you could want in this park, beautiful waterfalls, mountain ranges, and gorgeous second growth forest.

Visit the Sasquatch Museum 

If you didn’t know, Harrison Hot Springs is known for Sasquatch and there is even a must see museum with all the history and information of this spiritual animal.

Visit Bridal Falls 

On the way to Harrison Hot Springs make sure that you stop by Bridal Falls. It is just a short walk to see the gorgeous views of the waterfalls.

Get a coffee and treat at Muddy Waters Cafe 

With views of the lake and delicious farm to table treats it is a great little stop for a quick meal in the area.

Visit Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory 

You need to stop by here for a post meal treat, and make sure you try their Sasquatch feet.

I hope this inspires you to make Harrison Hot Spring your next B.C. getaway.

xo

Mia

 

 

 

How to go from the slopes to the surf in 24 hours in BC

British Columbia is a pretty special place. From the ocean to the old growth forests, to the towering mountains, every inch of this province offers something special – but on a recent work trip I had a chance to experience something truly special. I had a chance to go from surfing to skiing a day apart from one another. I wanted to share this itinerary with you in case this is on your bucket list.

Day 1: A travel day

The best ski to surf destination in Canada happens to be on Vancouver Island and so I needed to take a ferry to get there. The ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo is about an hour and a half and on a clear day make sure to head up to the viewing deck, you never know what wildlife you might find (I was once lucky enough to spot a family of orcas). Once I made it to Vancouver Island it was then another hour and a half drive to Mount Washington.

A little about Mt. Washington

It is Vancouver Island’s only ski resort. The resort is made up of 1,700 acres and 505 vertical metres of alpine terrain. And after a fresh snow dump there was lots of places to cruise through some fresh powder.  One thing that really stood out to me was the beautiful views – never before have I seen the ocean from the top of a mountain, and on the other side of the water a clear view of the coastal mountains in Vancouver.

Saturday: Ski day

I woke up early Saturday to a blanket of fresh snow. I loved getting in some powder runs and Mt Washington really has a diverse terrain. I was able to ski steep trees, groomed trails, and everything in between. I then lucked out with a blue bird afternoon and so I was lucky enough to see that breathtaking ocean view.

After a day on the hill I went for dinner at the local (and only evening food spot on the resort) Ted’s. The service was great and good pub food. They even have some weekly events like Music Bingo on Thursday’s and live music karaoke. It was a real fun vibe.

Sunday: Surf Day

A 3 hour roller coaster drive from Mt. Washington you will find the quaint and relaxed coastal town of Tofino. Before you get here though you pass through numerous microclimates; over snow capped mountains, through some of the world’s largest old growth forests, and eventually to the beautiful ocean.

A bit about Tofino

It is known as Canada’s surf capital. Located on the western edge of Vancouver Island within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and part of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere. The natural beauty of this area is celebrated by all. From the whales that call the ocean home to the black bears found inside the Pacific Rim National Park. I have been here numerous times but every time the magic of this place feels new

Surfing in Tofino

I checked into my hotel at Long Beach Lodge, located right on the beautiful Cox Bay meaning the best surf waves were literally at my doorstep. On the property you will also find the Surf Club where I was able to rent all my gear (booties, hood and gloves included because it was -1 and calling for snow the day I went). And I met with my instructor Mikey.

It is really important to take a lesson or at least check the surf forecast ahead of time because the rip tide can be really strong and can carry you pretty far so you need to understand the best time to go out in the water based on your level.

We had a great day in the water (despite a snowy day on the beach). Thankfully there were some waves the right size for me – I think the locals call it whitewash. And seeing the beauty of Cox Bay on the horizon it made me forget about the chilly conditions (although it really wasn’t that bad in the wetsuit).

My favourite part though was the Apres Surf. After a day in the water I was able to warm up with cocktails, snacks, and a hot tub at the Surf Club. This is what dreams are made of.

To complete the trip I went out for a nice dinner in Tofino. I could write a whole blog on the amazing culinary scene in Tofino (I think I may just have to because the food here is soo sooo good). On this particular night I tried a new restaurant called Jeju. It is the first and only Korean restaurant in Tofino and on their website it says their goal is to share the food they used to make for friends and family with their guests. I was very impressed with the delicious food (perfect for sharing and trying different items). The friend chicken and tuna were top notch.

So there you have it, one of the few places in the world where you can go from skiing to surfing in 24 hours.

xo

Mia

 

 

Best B.C. getaways this summer: Okanagan road trip

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and we just aired our Spring Forecast at the Weather Network. This can only mean one thing, summer is right around the corner.

I know for many people this has been a long, hard, and dark winter and while the rules and regulations for the summer are still uncertain, there has been a lot of initial whispers that it will be similar to last summer. In B.C. last summer a six person bubble was acceptable and you were allowed to travel inter provincially.

Now, I am by no means saying go ahead and book that getaway until we know exactly what the summer will look like, but if we are allowed to explore some of B.C. I wanted to share some of my favourite trips with you.

I have always been a big fan of the Okanagan (wine country hellllllooooo) but last summer for work I was able to discover a lot more than just delicious Okanagan wine. Think of Tuscany, but just 5ish hours outside of Vancouver. Rolling hills, mountains, and yes rows of green and purple grapes. It is an amazing place to explore, and one great aspect of this road trip: along the way there you travel through the ‘Electric Highway’ where there are hundreds of electric vehicle charing stations so it can be a great getaway that is also not hurting the environment.

I wanted to share some of my favourite places to stop and enjoy along the way.

Stop 1: Osoyoos

Osoyoos is the southern most town in the Okanagan Valley. The origin of the name comes from “soo-yoos” meaning “narrow waters”. Here you will find a dramatic desert like landscape with sweeping valleys and deep brown mountains.

Things to do 

My first stop in Osoyoos was to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre where I had a tour of the state of the art interpretive centre. The tour took his to the edge of the hill side, stopping to marvel at the sage and deer brush (which is endangered). My amazing guide Jenna taught me all about how the Osoyoos Indian Band use the land here. Different trees are used for tools and clothes, different leaves are used for food and herbs. It was truly amazing to learn about the connection to wildlife first hand. While I am petrified of snakes, this area is also home to B.C.’s endangered rattlesnakes and they do a lot of studying and rehabilitation at the centre.

Once the tour was done I made my way over to the Nk’Mip Cellars. This is actually the first Indigenous owned winery in North America. It was amazing to hear about the history and the story behind the award winning wine. I had a chance to sip some of the wines while overlooking the beautiful Osoyoos Lake.

Stop #2 Vernon

After exploring Osoyoos, I hoped back on Highway 97 heading north towards Vernon. Vernon is well known for hiking and biking trails that curve around colourful lakes and sandy beaches. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Things to do 

Before making it to my hotel I made a quick stop at Davison Orchards. I have never seen an orchard so big. They had endless rows of all different types of apples and other fruits. I had a chance to try their famous “Appleanche” Slush. It was sweet and refreshing on a hot day.

Next I rented a bike from Kalavida Surf Shop and decided to explore some of the famous Rail Trail. The Rail Trail is a bike path that goes all the way from Vernon to Kelowna passing through beautiful rock faces and gorgeous lakes. At the start of the trail you bike along Kalmalka Lake. This 16 km lake is famous for its blue-green waters (it is one of a small handful of marl lakes in Canada). You could actually see the different tones as you traveled along the side of the lake. I just wish I had brought my bathing suit because there were some sandy beaches just off the trail.

Stop #3 Kamloops

After riding the bike it was back to the car for the third and final stop of the trip. I had only ever been to Kamloops once before and that was to cover a wildfire in the area, so I was excited to discover a different side of this city.

Kamloops is pretty unique because it is located in the middle of two branches of the Thompson River. What I didn’t know though is it is also home to amazing mountains and breathtaking hikes.

Things to do 

I had a chance to meet with local guide Frank Ritchie, who first took me to a beautiful lookout point to see where the two parts of the river meet. After that we made our way to the Thompson Grasslands Provincial Park. Here we did a moderate hike up Lac Du Bois to see some incredible hoodoo formations as well as columnar basalts (aka lava flows). We even saw mountain goats in the distance. After taking some pictures of the incredible hoodoos, we then made our way over to the Garden of the Trolls. An easy stroll, through some grass patches and then boom – all of a sudden these giant rock formations that look like trolls faces appear out of nowhere. Some of them standing 20 feet high. I had a chance to climb to the top of one of them for some spectacular views.

I must say I really enjoyed this trip. As a weather reporter I usually head out to this region as I mentioned for wildfires, but this trip opened my eyes to a whole different side of the Okanagan. It is home to some stunning lakes and breathtaking hikes. I cannot wait to go back and discover more of B.C.’s wine country (and so much more).

I would love to hear some of your favourite summer getaways around B.C. so we can dream of exploring again.

xo

Mia

Visiting the Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino

There is no question about it, Tofino is one of my favourite places in the world. From the delicious cuisine to the endless beachfronts this place is magical and when you just need to escape reality and rejuvenate it is the perfect escape.

I have shared a few blogs now with things to see and do in Tofino and honestly it is a place that I can never get sick of. I have been lucky enough to stay at some beautiful spots in Tofino, all of them offering ocean views and sandy beaches just steps from your room but something was just so special about a recent trip when we had a chance to stay at the Wickaninnish Inn.

Pearched between the ancient old growth rainforests and  the endless sea the Wicks ambiance represents the nature that it surrounds and encourages a spirit of adventure.

Location, location, location

The Wickaninnish Inn is located in the heart of Tofino on Vancouver Island. From Vancouver you can either take a seaplane or you can take a ferry to Nanaimo. From there it is about a three hour drive, but it will have spectacular views and plenty of photo opps. The Inn is 4.8km  before the town of Tofino. Once you pass Chesterman Beach Road on your left, take your next left turn at the Wickaninnish Inn sign onto Lynn Road.

About the Inn

Charles McDiarmid has a long history in Tofino. His dad was the town doctor back in the 1950’s before there was much development in the town. The family wanted to share the beauty of the island with others and that is how the idea of the Inn came to mind. As a kid, Charles would watch the storms roll in and wanted to share the beauty with other people and so the construction begun.

One of the things I love most about The Wickaninnish was that they wanted to keep as much of the natural beauty as possible. The goal was to make sure that no trees were taking down unnecessarily.

The Inn offers so much beauty, from the Pointe restaurant that extends over the ocean so you are eating on top of the water to the spa that opens up to the beach. There is so much beauty here to uncover.

 

Our room

My jaw actually hit the ground when we opened our door. It was two storeys and while the amenities were modern and comfortable, the decoration and ambiance matched the natural beauty. Our living room, bed, and big bath tub all looked out onto the clear blue water. Speaking of the tub, the bathrobes and local candles created a spa atmosphere right in our room. I loved how spacious it was so we could relax with a glass of wine or morning coffee while listening to the waves crash just outside.

Eating at the Inn BIY

While I love exploring the delicious local cuisine around Tofino, the truth is you don’t have to go very far to get a delicious meal. The restaurants at the Inn offer meals from seasonal harvests and local ingredients.

Whether you are staying at the Inn or not, brunch at the Pointe is a must. You get a 240 degree view of the Pacific Ocean. You can watch surfers catching waves and sea birds taking flight. Also the food is delicious. A lot of the food is contemporary dishes with seasonal fare. You absolutely need to try one of the eggs benny. My personal favourite is the smoked salmon and cream cheese one.

Also if you are there for dinner, try and make a trip down to their brand new wine cellar. It is a spectacle in itself.

Experiences at the Inn

There is truly something for everyone right at your doorstep. Whether you want adventure, culture, or nature you don’t have to go far to find it. Some of my highlights staying at the Wick included;

  • Storm watching: This is what Charles loved to do as a child, and his passion for watching the storms roll in is evident at the inn. Whether you want to lounge with a coffee in the library or head out to safe areas on the beach, this is the perfect place to watch the giant waves on a stormy day.
  • Hit the waves: The Inn is located right on Chesterman Beach, which offers some of the best surfing in the world and the hotel will help set up the adventure for you.
  • Explore the art: The Inn really celebrates the First Nations culture and on the property you can find a ton of handiwork from local artists. One of the aspects of the Inn I truly loved was that there is a carving shed right on the property and the artists will let you watch them work.
  •  Relax in style: Make sure to book a facial or massage at the beautiful Ancient Cedar Spa. The spa really focuses on both mind and body wellness and how can you not feel relaxed when indulging in a yoga class with the ocean as your view.

The Wickaninnish Inn is truly a beautiful hotel located in a beautiful place. It embraces and celebrates the natural allure of Tofino You can real experience the best of this amazing town from the Inn.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

A weekend getaway to Big White Ski Resort

Living in Vancouver, I am so close to the north Vancouver mountains, and just a short 2 hour drive to Whistler. As a ski fanatic, that is a pretty awesome situation if you ask me. While I do love Whistler, Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress I have realized that BC has so much more to offer just a little bit outside of of my neighbourhood. 

I made it a goal of mine this winter to explore more of the beautiful mountains and skiing this province has to offer, and so I decided to make my way over to Big White. 

I fell in love with this quaint little ski town instantly. It has a family friendly vibe, some delicious restaurants, the most ski in/ ski out lodges in all of BC, and of course some beautiful mountains and great skiing. Even if you aren’t a skier like me, this place offers so much that it should definitely be on your winter bucket list. 

About Big White

The snow conditions in the Kelowna area was discovered in the 1960’s and a small ski area opened with a few private chalets. Big White officially came into existence in 1963. The legendary snow ghosts of the mountains was discovered in 1968 and it was also around that time the 1st on mountain accommodation was constructed.  

Since then, the mountain has just continued to grow and attract visitors from around the world. In the 2000’s Happy Valley was constructed adding more than just skiing. The Valley offers everything from a tube park to an Olympic sized skating rink. 

Over the years, Big White has won several awards including best snow in North America and Most Luxurious Ski Resort in the World. 

Where to stay 

With so many ski in/ski out options, it is hard to go wrong. No matter where you stay, the mountain is literally at your doorstep. we stayed at Stonebridge Lodge and it was perfect. It was a very spacious two bedroom suite with a beautiful view overlooking the mountain. We were also spoiled with our own private hot tub for some much needed post ski recovery. 

There was a large kitchen with all the amenities and the comfy living room was complete with a fireplace so you could warm up after a day on the slopes.  

I also really loved that the lodge offered ski lockers and underground parking which is a huge help so you don’t have to lug all of your equipment around. 

What to do

Ski

Obviously this is the biggest draw to come and visit Big White. They have a large variety of runs for all skill levels. My personal favourite was the Black Forest side f the mountain. It has some beautiful paths that took you through the trees and it was truly magical. 

And speaking of snow covered trees, one thing that really makes Big White stand out from other mountains is their famous Snow Ghosts. Basically they are trees that have been coated in ice like snow creating haunting yet beautiful valleys of white ghost trees. 

These beautiful trees are pretty unique to Big White because of the set up of the Okanagan Valley. With the lakes below and the tall mountain peaks, Big White holds in its own moisture and creates its own clouds. When the moisture falls, it falls as icy snow that then coats the trees. Make sure to take the time to snap a photo with the ghosts. 

Ice climbing

Ok, so maybe skiing isn’t your thing. No worries, there are still so many fun activities you have to try when visiting Big White. I had the chance to try ice climbing for the first time, which proved to be a very fun yet challenging sport. 

The Big White Ice Climbing Tower is one of only two ice climbing towers at a ski resort in Canada. It is almost 53 feet tall and is created by attaching four telephone poles and then basically creating a waterfall in-between them. 

It was a little hard to get off the ground since I wasn’t used to ice climbing and unfortunately I didn’t make it all the way to the top, but it was really fun to give it a try. 

Skating

There is something so special about hitting the ice during the winter months. I love feeling the sun in my face as I am swirling around the ice. The ice rink at Big White is pretty special. It is actually the highest elevated skating rink in all of Canada. It is also Olympic sized and has stunning views of the city surrounding it. 

Tubing 

According to the locals, tubing is the most fun activity there is to do in Happy Valley. You really fly down the hills and feel the wind in your face. There are five groomed lanes to race against your friends. 

Fireworks 

One of the things I really loved about my visit to Big White was that every Saturday night (weather dependant) they have a giant firework show in Happy Valley. It was just the perfect way to finish the perfect day. 

Where to eat

I was extremely surprised and impressed with the food options in Big White. For a smaller village, there were so many choices. Everything from fine dining to pub food the selection was endless. 

The Woods 

This was one of my favourite spots. It is located right in the heart of the village. We had the perfect spot right by the fire. The restaurant offers delicious cocktails and a menu filled with locally sourced foods. I loved munching on the smoked gorgonzola and had to try the fisherman’s catch for my main meal. 

Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar 

This was another one of my absolute favourite spots. I loved that this place made me feel right at home. They had healthy meals including homemade soup and gourmet paninis.  I was also able to warm up with a delicious s’mores lattes. 

Clocktower Coffee Co. 

I loved that this coffee shop was located right in the Village Centre Mall and was great for ski in/ski out. I loved the wide selection of hearty breakfast wraps and some delicious, fresh coffee to get you ready for the day on the slopes. 

Gunbarrel Grill 

This restaurant was so unique. I loved the rustic feel as soon as you walked through the door. Our server was so nice and the food was absolutely delicious. Not only did we order some delicious calamari, mac and cheese, and some salmon the meal didn’t break the bank. The best part though had to be dessert. We ended up trying the famous Gunbarrel Coffee. The coffee is quite a show, it is literally made with a double barrel shot gun and flames and it is absolutely delicious. 

I completely fell in love with Big White. From the stunning views on the slopes, to all the fun activities in town, to the delicious food this spot really has it all for an amazing weekend getaway. I cannot wait to get back to Big White. 

Happy traveling my friends, 

 

xo 

Mia