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

 

 

The best eco-conscious escape to Victoria

Over the past few years I have really started to live my life in a more eco-conscious way. It started in my work life, as a reporter for the Weather Network we have been focused on being leaders in climate change content. As I did more and more stories on how this world is changing due to climate change, I started to realize this should also be a focus in my personal life.

With that in mind I understand travel isn’t the most environmentally friendly activity – planes use a ton of fossil fuels, boats create pollution and noise in the ocean – the list goes on. So to offset my footprint when I do travel, I try to focus on eco-tourism and support local companies that are doing their part to protect the plant.

Recently I had a chance to work alongside Destination B.C. to explore Victoria, with a focus on environmentally friendly activities and so I wanted to share with you how you can enjoy a weekend in Victoria and be eco-conscious at the same time.

Getting here

Like I mentioned, travel can be counter intuitive when it comes to the idea of sustainability, but thankfully there are a few travel companies in British Columbia that have focused on protecting the environment and taking steps towards reducing their emissions

BC Ferries

Victoria is about an hour and a half ferry ride from the Greater Vancouver area and you can feel good knowing that BC Ferries actually works with Fortis B.C. to adopt lower carbon fuels for boats.  Over the last few years have introduced several hybrid vessels.

Harbour Air Seaplanes

A short 35 minute flight from right downtown Vancouver to Victoria on Harbour Air isn’t just convenient but it is also environmentally smart. Harbour Air has been fully carbon neutral since 2007 and is also in the process of converting their fleet to electric planes. How cool is that!!

Where to stay

The Inn at Laurel Point

The Inn at Laurel Point has been focused on sustainability for over a decade now. In fact they became carbon neutral back in 2009 with the help of their unique architectural design. The hotel installed a marine cooling system, which pumps ocean water from the nearby harbour through 114 heat pumps for efficient and eco friendly temperature controls. Now trying to figure out the next step in their sustainability plan. Through their Project 2030 plan they are focusing on zero waste practices.

Eco cautious activities in Victoria

Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours

This tour guarantees a whale spotting – and we were lucky to see a couple of humpbacks as well as eagles, seals, sea lions, and otters, but it is also an environmentally responsible company. Eagle Wing has won several awards for their commitment to sustainability and is the first whale watching company in Canada to be certified platinum with GreenStep Sustainable Tourism.They are 100% carbon neutral giving back to important projects across the province. On top of that, they have worked with several engineers to create fuel efficient and quiet boats – with engines that are designed for low noise and vibration so that they are protected the whales and their habitat as well.

Rent a canoe or kayak

Victoria is a beautiful city located right on the ocean and so exploring the water is a must. I was lucky enough to rent a kayak and travel out to a rock famous for being home to seals. We saw a bunch of adorable pups and the best part is this activity literally emits zero carbon. You can check out Victoria Kayak for rentals and information

Take a sky-high trip to the Malahat Skywalk

This was one of the coolest attractions I have ever done and I loved that it focused on environment and sustainable practices. You are literally walking through nature on a boardwalk that takes you through a coastal forest and then up to a 250m high lookout point with gorgeous 360 views of the ocean. The skywalk was built in partnership wit the Malahat Nation and its focus is to celebrate nature while also making a commitment towards environmental stewardship and sustainability. In fact one of their objectives is to replant native species and protect them from invasive plants.

Stop and smell the flowers at Butchart Garden

No trip to Victoria is complete without a stop at the Butchart Gardens. The beautiful flowers and plants are are a must see – but the botanical garden also has a list of environmental initiatives. They have been focusing on a recycling and compost program as well as non chemical weed control methods.

Grab a drink at a sustainable brewery

The Victoria based Phillips Beer is not just delicious craft beer, but it is also responsibly brewed. Some of their focuses include C02 recapture and water reduction. If you are more of a cider fan, well a Cider Farm & Ciderhouse  is a farm based cidery and sources their fruits from their more than 1,300 apple trees.

Eat Sustainably as well at Spinnackers Pub

Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub  is not just one of Canada’s oldest brew pubs but it has also been doing farm to table for over 30 years. The pub has partnered with dozens of local farmers and focuses on serving local foods year round.

So there you have it, there are definitely ways to travel and explore while also taking care of the planet (and that way we will be able to explore it for much longer).

I hope this will be an inspiration to focus more on sustainable tourism this year,

Happy and safe travels my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

Top family friendly activities in Ucluelet

If you have followed my blog for a little bit now you must know I am a big fan of Vancouver Island, particularly Tofino. I have been there for work and play several times, but on a recent trip I wanted to discover a slightly less touristy area of that part of the island – Ucluelet.

I have always loved the island vibe. Small, laid back beachfront communities where surfing is a locals favourite hobby and everyone knows everyone at the local cafes. However I didn’t know how different Ucluelet could be. Located on the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nations traditional territories, the beaches here are covered in black rock instead of sand, and just steps from your front door you are transported back in time as ancient rainforests sing to you in the wind. It is rugged beauty like nothing you have seen before and something that will have you coming back for more.

Why Ucluelet?

One thing that I absolutely loved about Ucluelet over staying in Tofino was the walkability. Sure, if you are able to find a place close to town in Tofino you can get around easily, but if you want to stay at one of the more luxury resorts on the beach, you would have to drive into town. In Ucluelet no matter where you were staying  you were just minutes from beautiful trails, the rugged yet beautiful rocky oceanfront,  and delicious dining.

Where to stay

Since we became a family of four (a human and fur baby) it can be difficult to find accommodation for all of us, but I loved that Ucluelet had a lot of kid (baby) and pet friendly places. We spent the weekend in luxury and stayed at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort.

This beautiful hotel is located right on top of the dramatic black rocks of the Pacific Ocean – you can literally see the waves crashing against the shore through every window. It is also nestled right in the middle of the Wild Pacific Trail, basically an ancient rainforest is on your doorstep. And the best part, both the beach and the trails were accessible right from the hotel property and easy to access with both dog and baby (in fact some of the trails were even stroller friendly).

As for the accommodations, they were pretty special. Again rooms either have an ocean or rainforest view and we were lucky we had a bit of both. There was also lots of space so that we could put the baby to sleep while still staying up. And lastly there were dog treats for Huey when we arrived.

Top family friendly activities in Ucluelet

Alright let’s get to the good part – what makes Ucluelet so fun for the whole family to enjoy? Well we covered a lot in our 3 days – and all of it was family friendly ( although we had to leave Huey behind for a few food experiences).

1. Go for a treat at Zoe’s Bakery

When I asked for suggestions of what to do in Ucluelet literally everyone messaged me that I needed to visit Zoe’s bakery and cafe and so I set out on a mission the first day we were there to beat the crowds (I heard it could get quite busy and I wanted to make sure I got the best treats). Zoe actually used to work at the Black Rock before opening up the bakery – and let me tell you – these treats were well worth the early start to the day.

2. Treat yourself again with a day at the spa

Ok, this one isn’t completely family friendly – but we do have a baby that loves the water -and the Black Rock is home to two hot tubs and one pool. So while I wasn’t able to indulge in a spa treatment this time (which I have heard is spectacular), I was able to enjoy the pool with my little one – and let me tell you the views from the spa area are worth it – even if it’s just for a quick dip

3. Visit the beach

While you can see the beach from literally every room in the resort, it is so much fun to go down and check it out. You won’t find the sandy beaches here (for that you have to travel a bit closer to Tofino) but it was so fun to go out and see the rocks up close and keep our eyes open for some tiny creatures that call them home.

5. Go for a hike

It is so special to be surrounded by such beautiful nature. One of the things I love about this part of the world Pacific Rim National Park. You will feel so small amongst the giant trees that call this rainforest home. We did a few different hikes and really loved both the Wild Pacific Trails just outside the hotel as well as Lighthouse Loop (we took the stroller so we didn’t break our backs and there were so many gorgeous viewpoints along the way).

4. Enjoy the culinary scene

I have always been impressed with the food on this part of the island and Ucluelet did not disappoint. Some of our favourite eats included

Heartwood Kitchen : This adorable renovated cottage made you feel right at home – even though our son decided to have a meltdown, the staff was still so kind and welcoming and the food was delicious. Casual bistro style foods.

West Coast Salty Buns:We stumbled upon this adorable Mexican food truck famous for their well, salty buns. The food was so flavourful and later I learned that they really pride themselves  on sourcing local products, no wonder it all tasted to fresh. A must do lunch spot.

Currents Restaurant:Talk about dinner with a view. This restaurant is located in the Black Rock Resort overlooking the ocean. Try and book in for around sunset to get an incredible show while eating a tasty meal.

Abbondanza: If you are a fan of pizza you need to make a stop here. I had the best fungi pizza of my life! A very small hole in the wall spot so we decided to order out, but as a self proclaimed pizza connoisseur this is a must! Even the locals say so.

5. Visit the aquarium

The Ucluelet Aquarium is a none for profit catch and release aquarium that focuses on education. All of the displays here are with marine life found right in the local waters in Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. The staff there is also so helpful and ready to answer any questions. While Max was still very young he really did enjoy watching the fish swim and I enjoyed learning about this amazing program.

6. End the day with a local beer

The Ucluelet Brewing Company is situated right on the water so it offers a gorgeous view with some tasty local craft brews. As someone who isn’t a big beer drinker I really appreciated the staff helping me find some drinks I would enjoy – and guess what they are baby friendly too. Max had a great nap while mom and dad enjoyed a drink after a long day of exploring!

I absolutely loved the laid back and welcoming feel of Ucluelet and I can’t wait to head back to this magical place with the family again soon.

 

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

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