A three day itinerary in Cranbook B.C.

I am so lucky that I have had the chance lately to explore more of the beautiful province of B.C. My most recent trip took me out to Cranbrook. Cranbrook is located on the west side of the Kootenay River. It is nestled in the open valley between the beautiful Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. Basically, you are surrounded by towering, beautiful mountain ranges.

The beauty of Cranbrook was evident before I even landed on the ground. I could see the peaks of the mountains through the clouds from the airplane. I landed at the Canadian Rockies International Airport, a short 20 minute drive to downtown Cranbrook and just minutes from Powder Highway. Powder Highway has become famous because of how it makes so many large ski resorts easily accessible.

I had three days exploring the beauty of this small city, learning about the local culture, and tasting some of the delicious food and local brews. I really fell in love with Cranbrook and wanted to share my trip itinerary with you so that hopefully you too will have a chance to fall in love with this beautiful spot.

A weekend itinerary in Cranbrook 

Day 1: Cultural learning experiences and brewery tours

 

Ktunuxa Learning Centre

Once I landed in Cranbrook it was straight to St. Eugene’s Resort and Casino. As we pulled up to the building I was mesmerized by the beautiful red brick contrasting with the deep brown tree vines that hugged it from all angles.

Inside we had a delicious lunch, and then I had a chance to meet with Margoret and Jared, who run the Ktunuxa Learning Centre. I had the chance to learn their Creation Story, look over old artifacts, and even learn how to make moccasins.

What impressed me the most though, was hearing the story of the Residential Schools. Margoret actually attended the school that was once here when she was younger. She told me about some of the terrible stories, but also told me the reason they didn’t want to destroy the building was because they wanted to turn the negative experience of the school into a positive place.

Hideout 

After our time at St. Eugene it was already time for dinner. We made our way to downtown Cranbrook. A very quaint spot with some local bars and restaurants that lined the street. We made our way to the Hideout. The Hideout is the local brewery that is also home to fresh food and ales made right in the Kootenay’s. I love that the brewery doesn’t sell the beer outside of the city, which makes it a true destination spot.

We had a tour of the brewery and found out what makes the beer here so unique. We had a few tasters and even got a flight of some of their season brews (which were so tasty). We then sat down for dinner.

I loved the variety. The restaurant offered everything from bar food to more creative fine dining plates. As someone who loves Indian food, I loved that one of their top chefs, Raj, used his upbringing as inspiration for several dishes. I tried the Masala Poutine and it was to die for.

Day 2: coffees and skiing 

Hotshots 

I started the day at Hotshots. This quaint coffee shop has an amazing selection of coffees and breakfast options. I loved the community feel of the restaurant and their breakfast hash was delicious.

Skiing in Fernie 

After breakfast we drove about an hour outside of town to Fernie Alpine Resort. Fernie is nestled deep in the Canadian Rockies. I have always wanted to visit this spot because of the amazing snow pack it gets year after year. In fact, Fernie regularly tops the list for deepest snow pack in the Canadian Rockies.

The views from the top of the mountain were stunning, the snow was incredible, and there were so many different options for ski runs. It was an amazing experience.

Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap

We then made our way to dinner at Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap for dinner. This is one of the newest downtown spots. It is actually located in a 1929 heritage building that is a former fire hall. I loved the old charm of the building, complete with roll up truck doors and even a fire pole and bell.

Aside from the adorable building look, this family friendly pub had an amazing food options and delicious craft beers. I loved the fact that their flights came in ladders and their fish and chips were incredible.

Day 3: Heritage tours and bike rides 

Fort Steele Historic Site 

We started the day with some delicious warm cinnabons at Fort Steele Heritage Site. Fort Steele is a living history museum. Many of the buildings here are from the 1800s. The museum offers horse drawn wagon rides around town. We got to explore the beautiful and colourful buildings. We had a chance to step inside the newly renovated hotel, where you can actually stay.

We also had a chance to visit some of the farm animals and take in the beautiful views of both the Rocky and Purcell Mountains. I loved learning about the history and seeing all the beauty of this spot.

Fat biking 

After Fort Steele we made our way over the forests to learn more about fat biking in Cranbrook. Last winter the entire town came together for a crowdfunding project to raise money for a trail groomer. Thanks to that funding, the city of Cranbrook was able to create more than 40km of beautiful groomed trails.

I loved learning how to ride a fat bike, and it was such gorgeous terrain. The perfect way to enjoy the beauty of Cranbrook while getting some exercise.

Cranbrook History Centre 

The last stop of the trip was to the Cranbrook History Centre. The museum is a collection 0f 28 railway cars, and you can actually tour 13 of them. We had a chance to see the 1929 Trans Canada Limited train as well as the executive car “Strathcona”, which housed gusts like Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.

Where to stay?

Cranbrook is a very quaint town, and I liked the fact that there weren’t hotels on every corner, however there are definitely some hidden gems in the city.

During my trip I stayed at the Elizabeth Lake Lodge. This alpine style hotel had a full kitchen and the most comfortable beds.

I also loved that the hotel room backed on to Elizabeth Lake Bird Sanctuary. I was able to go on some hikes and walks with the beautiful Rockies as my backdrop

I fell in love with this adorable town, from the beauty of the mountains to the incredible history, to the amazing outdoor adventures Crambrook is a must visit. It is the perfect escape for a weekend away.

Here are a few more shots from my getaway too Cranbrook.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My top spots in Vancouver, so far

 

Like most Vancouverites that I have met during my 9 month stint here so far, I am not a true local. No I am an Ontario implant. We seem to be famous out here on the West Coast for trading in our cold winters and snow boots for mountains, ocean, and well rain boots.

Since moving here, I have been on the road a lot, but the time that I am here I have been spending it exploring the beautiful landscapes, hikes, activities, and nightlife in my  new home. 

Since I know a lot of us are all in the same boat, I wanted to share some of my favourite moments and places here in Vancouver so far.

1) Hiking 

and the mountain from my balcony. There is something so special about going out and taking in the fresh air. Beautiful views combined with a bit of a workout, what could be better? There are so many incredible hikes that offer something for everyone. I wanted to share a few of my favourite with you so far

  • Joffre Lakes: This hike is a bit outside of Vancouver, located in Pemberton but definitely worth the drive. I have never seen such incredible colours. The three lakes all a different shade of deep blue and turquoise, the trees painted red and orange, and waterfalls around every turn. It was the most magical place I have seen to date. But be warned, this hike is pretty difficult, and will take you about four hours.
  • Quarry Rock: For a much easier hike and one closer to the city head up to Quarry Rock and take in the views from the Deep Cove Lookout. From the dense forest to the beautiful water views, this hike is definitely a must.
  • Dog Mountain: Just 25 minutes from downtown and only about an hour hike, but definitely some of the most spectacular views. You can really  see the whole city, and it sure makes you feel like you are on top of the world. Plus there are plenty of small lakes and streams along the way to stop at. Find the trail head for this hike just past the Bear’s Paw lodge
  • The Grouse Grind: Ok, yes probably one of the busier, crowded hikes in Vancouver, but I feel this is a must for anyone to really call themselves a true local. Commonly referred to as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster, this one is definitely a grind. 2.9KM to the top and will see plenty of incredible trees, trails, and viewpoints. From the top you will see some of the best views of Vancouver.

2) Relax on the Beach 

It is crazy to think we live in a place where others vacation. Just five minutes from my house is the beach perfect for an after work stroll or a weekend of reading. There are some amazing beaches in Vancouver and here are some of the must visits.

  • Kits Beach: This is the place to be in Vancouver. It is definitely one of the busier beaches, but it is a great spot to interact and get some games going. Grab a group for spike ball or beach volleyball. Go for a dip to cool off. It is also a great spot to grab some nearby food and hang out with friends for a picnic. I also love eating at the Boathouse, it has great views of the beach and is the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
  • Spanish Banks: Just a little ways down from Kits Beach is Spanish Banks. It is a quieter spot if you are looking for a more tranquil beach experience or just to escape the busy city feel
  • Third Beach: Located in Stanley Park (what better backdrop for a beach) Third Beach is a great place to go swimming in the park. There is plenty of soft sand to set up shop and the shallow warm water makes for a great place to go for a dip.
  • English Bay: Right down the road from my house, this is my favourite beach because of the proximity. It is so easy to go explore after work. Again, there are lots of places to grab some food and head out for an evening picnic. A great spot to relax and unwind.

3) Sip some craft brews 

One thing I learnt when I moved to Vancouver, was that it has an incredible crafter beer scene. There are so many unique and quirky microbreweries to explore. I highly recommend taking a stroll on a Saturday afternoon in East Van and checking out some of the breweries in the area.

  • Brassneck Brewery: This was the first brewery that I visited and it did not disappoint. With over 50 unique beers to choose from and a very at home feel it is a great place to gather the group. I loved the reclaimed wood furniture and the chalkboard menu.
  • Main Street Brewery: Located in a beautiful heritage building it is a bright and fun place to grab a drink. High ceilings and high stools almost give it a cafeteria vibe. I love that there is a slew of seasonal brews to choose from.
  • Faculty Brewing: I love that the speakeasy vibe here. You feel like you are entering a dark, hole in the wall. A quieter spot to enjoy a delicious Oaked Stout.

4) Explore the food of Commercial Drive 

I have really enjoyed exploring the food scene here in Vancouver since the move and have particularly fallen in love with Commercial Drive. It is a funky part of town that stays away from chain restaurants.

  • Cafe Deux Soleils: I was told that this was a staple of the Drive and had to come and give it a try. Not only do they have everything from delicious breakfast to dinner choices, they also have live entertainment. Enjoy everything from poetry readings to standup comedy. This spot really has it all. 
  • Bandidas Taqueria: This vegetarian Mexican restaurant is the perfect comfort food spot. They make their tortillas in house, have a load of local beers, and even offer a full day breakfast menu.
  • Havana: I love this spot because of the year round patio and delicious sangria. I also love that the menu is always slightly different so you never get bored. The perfect place for friends to get together for Sunday Brunch. 
  • Addis Cafe: One of my favourite restaurants in the entire city is located on the Drive. I have a love for Ethiopian food and Addis is next to none. This is a cosy and casual spot with authentic Ethiopian food. You can bring your own wine, or try their traditional coffee. 
  • Kishimoto: In my opinion, this is the best sushi spot in Vancouver ( I know that is a tall order) but the line outside would also agree with me. From the food presentation to the actual taste, they have really perfected the art. They don’t cut any corners from fresh wild salmon to their edible flower garnishes.

5) Get a sweat in

Sure, when the weather is nice I have really enjoyed working out outside, but let’s be honest it rains a lot here in the winter. I still love to keep up with my fitness even when the weather outside is frightful and have found some amazing local gyms that make working out fun.

  • The Practice Studio: I started working out at the Practice Studio about four months ago and absolutely love it. From the awesome instructors to the unique classes it has really made fitness fun. They also offer a Whole Life Practice so that you can focus on improving all areas of your life form coaching to nutrition.
  • Spin Society: This was the fist class I went to in Vancouver and fell in love instantly. I have always been a big fan of spin classes because of the high intensity and low impact. I loved this class because it literally felt like a workout dance party that targets your entire body.
  • Pure Barre Vancouver: Let me start off by saying this class really scared me because I am so uncoordinated, but you really get such a good workout. I love that it targets muscles I didn’t even know I had through very precise movements.

6) Camping 

While I haven’t had too much free time to explore the beautiful camping spots, it is something I am really looking forward to getting out and doing more of this summer season. I love how naturally beautiful Vancouver is, and how each camping experiences offers an opportunity to see a different side of that beauty.

So far I have just been able to experience camping at Half Nelson. The views from this spot were incredible and there were plenty of mountain bike trails in the area.

I cannot wait to get to know more of this amazing city as I spend more time exploring. I have truly fallen in love with this city in the short time span, and can see why so many people make the move.

I would love any suggestions on your favourite spots to visit so please share some in the comment section below.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo,

Mia

Why Phoenix is the best spot for your next girls trip

I had always known the beauty of Arizona. From the stunning landscapes, the depths of the grand canyon, the colours of Horseshoe Bend, but I had always thought of Phoenix as a place where my parents would go for spa days and tee-off times. I was wrong. On a recent trip with some friends to Phoenix, I realized there is so much more to this city. Mixed in-between the desert sands and mountain range, is a bustling nightlife, craft breweries, and adventure that this is the perfect spot for your next girls weekend.

Sure, usually my ladies weekends are a trip away to Vegas or New Orleans. Yet in 48 hours with two close friends, we discovered all that Phoenix has to offer with the help of Visit Phoenix.

The stay

There are so many adorable boutique hotels in the heart of Phoenix, but during this trip we decided to stay a little outside of the hustle. We decided to check into Civana, located in the adorable town of Carefree and trust me the name says it all. This brand new wellness resort is a place of total R&R.

From the moment you walk inside the doors, you know this is a special place. Friendly staff, beautiful mountain views, and a stunning salt water pool surrounded by natural vegetation. It was truly beautiful.

The resort  believes in healing through movement. Civana offers complimentary daily programs including yoga, juice making classes, and local hiking, which I sure took full advantage of. It really has unique activities to fit whatever journey you are hoping for.

There are also plenty of other amenities on site that ensure a relaxing and rejuvenating stay. From their world class spa, to farm to table fine class dining this is spot is the perfect combination of luxury and wellness.

You can find out more about this beautiful resort on their website; https://www.civanacarefree.com/

 

What to do

trying to fit everything Phoenix has to offer into 48 hours was a whirlwind, but we honestly got to see and discover so many unique activities. Here are so of my top things to do with your girlfriends in Phoenix.

1) Enjoy some local brews

What I didn’t know about Phoenix is that it has over 50 craft breweries. We joined forced with Arizona Brewery Tours to discover some of the best spots in town to grab a cold one. What I loved about AZ Brew Tours, is they can organize private tours that fit your beer preferences, and they also provide a party bus from stop to stop.

The three stops we visited during the trip included the rustic “Beer Garage” at Helton Brewery, the open kitchen at Mother Brunch, and the funky North Mountain Brewery. I will have more on the specific breweries in an upcoming blog, but in the meantime you can find out more about Arizona Brewery Tours here;

2) Take a cactus selfie at the Gardens

Sure, Phoenix is filled with wonderful hiking trails, but where can you find and learn about all of the plants in one spot? the Desert Botanical Garden. They really create a world class experience through their exhibits, giving each guest the chance to discover and learn about the desert life. Have a chance to meet one of the gardeners and ask questions about the flowers and vegetation, get up close and personal with some flutter friends at the butterfly sanctuary, and take in the local art. This place is definitely a must see.

3) Tea time with a twist

Visit the Camby hotel for a modern twist on Tea Time, in what we like to call a Tipsy Tea Party. Sip on classic teas like English Breakfast or Earl Grey infused with spirt and sparkling wine. The teas were delicious and refreshing. The drinks are also served with some favourite tea time snacks and a surprise sweet treats to finish off the night. It is the perfect afternoon treat for you and your girlfriends.

4) Take to the Skies

Ever wanted to know what it feels like to fly? What Phoenix looks like from a birds point of view? For as long as I can remember a hot air balloon ride had been on top of my bucket list, and I had heard Phoenix was the perfect place to make that dream come true. We woke up bright and early and joined Hot Air Expeditions for an high flying adventure. The views of the desert, mountains, and lakes was spectacular. We landed our balloon in the middle of the desert and had breakfast, complete with mimosas to cap off an incredible day.

5) Relax and unwind at the spa

Alright, there are plenty of adventures in Phoenix, but it is important to find some time to relax and unwind also. Phoenix has some of the best spas in the world, why not take full advantage. We stayed local and got a spa service at Civana. I enjoyed an amazing double exfoliating facial. It was the perfect way to finish the trip.

I learned something new about Phoenix on this trip. That beyond the beautiful exterior landscapes, there is a whole city filled with life waiting to be explored. For outdoor lovers to cocktail connoisseurs, there is something for everyone I will definitely be planning plenty of girls trips here in the future.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Here are a few more snaps from Phoenix

Why Saskatoon is a Must Visit

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What comes to mind when you think of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan? Probably not a must see destination. Well guess what, the Paris of the Prairies really is a must see. In fact,when the New York Times released their list of the top 52 places to visit in 2018, Saskatoon came it at number 18. Even more surprising, it was the only Canadian city to make the final cut.

When I first took the job as the Saskatchewan Rush’s TV and in game host and reporter, I didn’t really know what to expect. The first thing that came to mind when I thought of Saskatoon was I better bring my warmest winter jacket. Yet after a few trips, I soon found out why it is so easy to fall in love with Saskatoon.

What makes this place special?

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This city offers so much to see and do. Located right on the Saskatchewan River there are beautiful hiking trails to explore. There is an extensive art and culture scene, which has grown even more with a brand new modern and contemporary art museum, Remai Modern. The local cuisine scene offers a variety of must visit restaurants. Oh and there is a professional lacrosse team called the Saskatchewan Rush which sells out every game. 15,185 members or Rush nation come to cheer on their first place team every home game. Today, I get to take you behind the scenes as I head to Saskatoon for this week’s Rush game.

Day 1: 

When I arrive in Saskatoon, I head straight to our downtown Radisson Hotel. I love staying here because it overlooks the river. In the summer this is a spot for boat rides and kayaking. In the winter it is covered in a layer of snow and offers picturesque walks and outdoor skating.

I don’t have time to explore because I need to get ready for our first shoot of the day at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Saskatoon has a rich Indigenous culture, which we had the chance to learn more about at the park. In fact, there have been archaeological finds that pre-date the pyramids of Egypt.

Today, the players and myself are treated to an amazing history lesson. After our lesson our skills are put to the test in a game of double ball. Similar to lacrosse where they use a stick and get this, two bison testicles attached by a string. After we head out back to see the beautiful plains. There are even teepees for summer camping. Today it is a little too cold for that. Before we leave, we are treated to a performance from a traditional dancer.

Once the shoot is done we head  to dinner. Saskatoon has so many quaint local restaurants that it is hard to pick just one. Tonight we decide to stop into The Rook and Raven. A cross between a pub and fine dining, the menu has endless options. What I love about this spot is its laid back feel but uncommon decor. Oh and while you are here you need to get Saskatoon’ed. Confused? I was too at first. Basically a shot with part Great Western Brewery’s Original 16 beer and part Lucky Bastard Distillery’s Liqueur. Once you complete the shot, you get a card showing your status as an honorary local.

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Day 2: 

I wake up with butterflies in my stomach because it is game day, but I can’t get too excited just yet. There is still plenty of work to do.

I start the morning with a delicious breakfast at Poached, which doubles as a cocktail bar at night. Sitting at my high top, I once again see why this town gets compared to Paris. While here you have to try the PB&J hot chocolate with a shot of expresso is a must.

Walking back to the hotel, I am so giddy over all the Rush jerseys I see out and about. This city really does love their team.

Next stop, axe throwing at Timberjaxe. The owners say the goal of Timberjaxe was to bring some good old fashion fun to Saskatoon, and they have done just that. The rustic design makes it one of the best looking axe throwing centres I have seen. While we tried to keep it all fun and games, with professional athletes in the house there is bound to be some competition with bragging rights on the line.

Now it is time to head to Sasktel Centre and start getting ready for game time. The Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders are in town for tonight’s event so it is sure going to be a show. For me, the greatest moment of the entire weekend is when the lights go down and I know it is time for the pre game show to start. I walk out on to the field with my co-host and look out onto 15,180 screaming fans. Well, that and when we score a goal and everyone in the arena takes part in our goal tradition of pounding your chest.

I know lacrosse isn’t the most mainstream sport, but all it takes is seeing the excitement, intensity, and none stop action in one game to get you hooked for life. The Rush do such a good job on putting on a show. From pyro acts, to a DJ spinning the tunes the fun never stops.  It also doesn’t hurt that our team is currently first overall in the league.

After the game the adrenaline is pumping, but I have to try and get some sleep because I fly out early the next morning. The weekend always goes by so fast and I am never ready to leave. There is so much I still want to explore here. Then I get my schedule for the next game and see that I get to go to the art gallery, and I start counting down the days until I am back. This Prairie city has stolen my heart.

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RUSH VS CAL-CHURCH-TAN_6048-2

 

getting here

The unforgettable powder of Mt. Baker

 

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“Adventure is Worthwhile in itself”

-Amelia Earhart

For as long as I can remember, adventure has fuelled my soul. It has ignited my passions. When I moved to British Columbia, I knew that adventure would be knock knock knocking right on my doorstep. Big, and small, I knew it would be mine for the taking. And on a recent trip to Mt. Baker in Washington State, I had one of my more unique adventure experiences. I wanted to share my experience with you, and give you some tips, tricks, and ideas to make a Mt. Baker trip of your own.

Now I should start off by saying I love to ski, but I am no expert skier that is for sure. I grew up in Ontario where I thought Blue “Mountain” was a challenging place. Even now a days, I feel more comfortable in the pizza formation then french fry and you will find me on the blue squares and never on the black diamonds. Yet this year for my birthday I was surprised with a brand new and super cool pair of skis and so I decided it would be my mission to make the most of this ski season.

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About Mt. Baker:

  • Just a short two hour drive from Vancouver but bring your passport because you have to cross the U.S. Boarder
  • It is the third highest mountain in Washington
  • It gets epic snowfalls every year. In fact back in 1999 it set a world record (1140 inches)
  • Mt Baker is home to twelve glaciers

Best time to visit:

Mt. Baker is one of those places that offers activity all year long. The town really revolves around the mountain so expect plenty of skiing in the winter and hikes + mountain biking in the summer. It is really up to you your preference.

Where to Stay:

A small ski town, there are no real hotels in the air. If you are planning a trip to Mt. Baker I would suggest looking into airbnb in the area. We were able to snag a beautiful wood cabin complete with a hot tub for post ski relaxation.

Who is this for?

Do you love adventure? skiing? snowboarding? biking? Then Mt. Baker should be on your check list. The small ski town won’t be as busy as the resorts and so you really get to enjoy the great outdoors without the crowds of people.

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Our  Day at Mt. Baker 

We left for the mountain bright and early. The 20 minute drive to the mountain was filled with twist and turns. Winding through the green forest that slowly turned to snow covered trees.

As we took the first chairlift up, I noticed the powder was even deeper than I had expected. Down below there were ski causalities buried deep below. Snowboarders trying to wiggle their way out of waist deep snow. I knew at that point this was going to be a ski experience like none other.

Once at the top, I was really surprised at how many options and slopes there were. Four different chairlifts and three different ski sides of the mountain. It really was a place for people of all levels.

Skiing down, the snow was even deeper than I imagined. I could feel my skies sinking as I glided past spectacular views. Snow covered trip tops sparkled in the sunning. It was a real life winter wonderland.

After a full day on the slopes it was time to make our way back down, but not before a quick pit stop for lunch.  We stopped into the Raven Hut Lounge where we were welcomed and warmed by not one but two fireplaces, and ordered a delicious burger with fries which we chowed down. Just a little side not, this is the smaller restaurant so if it is overcrowded try the White Salmon Day Lodge.

With full bellies and warmer fingers and toes we made our way all the way down to the bottom of the slopes.

Mt. Baker was a unique and wonderful skiing experience. It is the perfect spot if you are looking for a quieter slope that revolves around skiing. There are no villages, or shopping. This is purely about enjoying the mountain. You should also check out their website for special events that will make your trip even more memorable.

Happy adventuring my friends,

xo

Mia

**some more snaps of Mt. Baker **