5 Top Day Trips from Vancouver

Summer is right around the corner and so it is time to start planning those summer getaways, but here is the best part, I get to live where people vacation and so I don’t have to go far to plan a perfect trip. Here are some of my favourite places to escape that are just a short drive or ferry from Vancouver.

1. Squamish – 45 minute drive from Vancouver

Ok I might be a little biased here since I call Squamish home but this mountain town is the perfect getaway. Just a short 45 minute drive from Vancouver you can be in the Adventure Capital of Canada. For the daredevil in you there are incredible hikes, mountain bike trails, and of course climber routes at the tip of your finger. They also just opened up a new waterfront park so there is also access to the oceanfront. For those that are a little adventure adverse there are some incredible hidden gems in town. Great local restaurants and shops,  lakes to relax at, art exhibits, and the gondola is a must visit.

Must Do

  • Take in an epic view of the Sound: There are some pretty intense hikes in Squamish, but Murrin is one that the whole family can do – and it offers some of the most beautiful views in all of Squamish.
  • Enjoy Taco Tuesday: There are some delicious local restaurants, cafes, and breweries but one must visit is Luz Tacos. It is a very authentic spot.
  • Relax at the Lake: Cat and Alice Lake are beautiful spots, but if you want to get away from the crowds, make your way up to Levette Lake.
  • Go up the Gondola: The Sea to Sky Gondola is a must visit. There are so many different trails with incredible views of Squamish, delicious food, and activities for the whole family.

 

 

2. Whistler – 1.5 Hours from Vancouver

A little bit further up the Sea to Sky Highway is the famous Whistler Village. While it is famous for its winter skiing, you might be surprised to know that they actually get more visitors during their green seasons. I absolutely love Whistler in the summer time. From the world famous bike park, beautiful alpine hikes, gourmet restaurants, and stunning lakes to cool off on a hot day Whistler is perfect for adventure enthusiasts and families alike. I love that you can go up the gondola and explore the beautiful alpine terrain in the summer months.

Must Do

  • High Note Trail Hike: This is one of my absolute favourite hikes in all of BC. The best part is if you take the Peak Chair it takes a lot of the elevation out of the hike making it more accessible.
  • Visit Alta Lake: I love hanging out here in the summer. The park is beautiful and the mountain views are second to none
  • Sip on Sake Margaritas: I love Sushi Village, some of the best sushi I have ever tasted and it is such a  fun vibe.

3. Bowen Island – 1 Hour Ferry Ride

I love that B.C. is so connected via the ferry system that you can be on an epic adventure on an island in an hour. Bowen Island is such a charming place to visit. I love going paddle boarding or kayaking in the area – and make sure to look out for wildlife, I had a chance to swim with the seals. I love cycling around the island as well. They also have some delicious restaurants to check out.

Must Do

  • Go for a paddle: I love paddle boarding and I had so much fun going off the coast here
  • Visit the Snug: I love the fresh coffee and casual breakfast eats
  • Bowen Art Tour: Bowen is filled with incredible artists across the entire island.

4. Fraser Valley – 2 Hours From Vancouver

The beautiful Fraser Valley is located by the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges, offering lots of outdoor adventures, it is also home to the Fraser River, and lots of farmlands – which help nourish the restaurants, craft breweries, and wineries in the area. You can plan to explore the entire area by taking the Circle Farm Tour. This tour directs you to specialty farms, delicious treats, heritage sites, and other special events.

Must D0

  • Stay at the Sandpiper Resort: You will get the full R&R experience at this beautiful resort located right on the river, and if you are a golfer that is a bonus – the resort has a beautiful course. Oh and during the fall months you can spot hundreds and hundreds of eagles
  • Visit the beautiful flowers: The Laketown Flower Festival is the largest in Canada. Wonder among the tulips, lavender, and sunflowers all summer long.
  • Buzz over to Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm: learn about all things bees and honey and you have to sip some specialty honey wine.

5. Pemberton – 2.5 Hours From Vancouver

Pemberton is one of those places that is just too good to be true. Nestled at the base of the famous Mt. Currie. There is amazing hiking and biking in the area and lots of unique farm lands where you can sip local brews and visit some animals. There are also some amazing camping sites in the area, both provincial and recreational sites.

Must Do 

  • Visit North Arm Farm: The kids will absolutely love it. They can feed the animals, pick berries, and grab a bite while staring up at the beautiful mountains.
  • Sip at the Beer Farmers: I love enjoying a beer on this scenic farm
  • Enjoy an epic hike: Joffery Lakes is one of the most special hikes in B.C. visit all three glacier lakes.

We are so lucky to live in a place where every turn and trail leads to breathtaking views, epic adventures, and endless fun for the whole family. And the best part is, you don’t have to travel very far from Vancouver to experience some of the beauty this province has to offer.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia

A two week itinerary in Portugal with a toddler

When my husband and I were trying to figure out our next big family vacation we wanted to try somewhere new. We also recently have fallen in love with surfing (not that either of us are any good at it) and so we wanted to go somewhere unique where we could hit the waves – and we all know the biggest waves in the world are in Portugal so that’s where we decided to go.

No, we weren’t planning to surf the 100 foot wave, but rather take in the beauty of the Algarve, drink wine in the Duoro Valley, and take in the culture of Lisbon. But there is one thing we had to keep in mind while planning, how will we also entertain our one and a half year old?

The more research we did, we realized Portugal is actually an incredible place to take a toddler. They let you skip the line at most museums and castles, they have a lot of toddler friendly beaches and parks, and lots of delicious food.

I wanted to share our two week itinerary with you – and honestly we fell so in love with this place, it is one of the few I hope I will get to travel back to someday.

View Post

Learning how to sail in Squamish

Did you know that Squamish means ‘mother of the wind’. The Squamish First Nations gave it that name because of the strong winds that prevail in the Howe Sound.

Because of the daily inflow that tunnels into the Sound, it happens to be the perfect place for water sports like kite surfing and sailing – and now a new company has opened up in Squamish that actually gives you hands on experience teaching you how to sail.

The Adventure 

InFlow Adventure CO is one of Squamish’s latest adventure tourism companies and I was excited when I had the opportunity to head out on the water with them and try something I have always dreamed of – sailing.

We met Will at the public dock in Squamish, we soon found out that Will’s entire life has been about sailing. His mother used to teach youth sailing in Australia, and he first became a certified instructor before finishing grade school. Despite being nervous, I immediately felt like I was in safe hands.

We set off on the 4 hour Howe Sound Sailing Experience. From the moment you leave the dock you are reminded why this place is so special. Incredible views of the Chief and Shannon Falls send you off into the deeper seas.

Very quickly we were put to work. We learned how to steer, jibe (a way of changing direction by bringing the stern of the boat through the wind), and tack ( changing directions by turning the bow of the boat towards the wind). Within 30 minutes we all had positions and Will was shouting commands at us, and even though we still barely had a clue what we were doing, we were laughing as guided us on which ropes to pull and when to tack ( apparently it has two terms – one of which is switching sides on the boat).

In no time we were moving and cruising down the beautiful UNESCO biosphere reserve on the gorgeous custom FarEast 19R.

Once we got out to Britannia Beach we slowed down with a beautiful view of the mien and landscape in the area and at that point Will brought out some lunches for us, delicious sandwiches from Smoke Bluffs Coffee. It was an amazing experience to sit in the middle of the ocean with these gorgeous views eating lunch.

After that it was time to make it back to shore with our new found knowledge and love for sailing.

While the tours are closed now for the winter, Inflow is offering more adventures out on the Sound come next season.

Happy exploring friends,

xo

Mia

Why you need to visit the Comox Valley

Whenever I think of making a trip to Vancouver Island, Victoria and Tofino are the first places that come to mind, but recently I discovered a lesser visited gem; Comox Valley. The region is made up of Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland, as well as some smaller communities like Fanny and Union Bay.The region really has it all, mountains, ocean, and beautiful old growth forest to explore, and the great thing is you really can explore the whole Valley, because it’s not too far of a drive to get from one spot to another. I wanted to share with you my perfect weekend in Comox Valley.

Getting to Comox Valley

There are a few different ways to get to Comox Valley. The easiest from Vancouver is probably a ferry ride. You can take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in Nanaimo – from there it is about an hour and a half drive. You could also opt to fly into the Comox Valley Airport from Vancouver.

Day 1: Cumberland

 

Locals that I spoke to told me they pride themselves on being a “forest in a village”.

The entire community revolves around the beautiful old growth forest in their backyard – so much so that they actually have been fundraising for years to buy parts of the forest back from a logging company – and then giving it back to the community. The Cumberland Community forest is filled with tons of trails, some specifically for mountain biking, others for trail runs and walks and so  I started my day in Cumberland on a beautiful trail run.

After working up a sweat, and an apatite, it was time for lunch. A few locals recommended Biblio Taco and I am thankful they did. This could be home to the best burrito I have ever had – and their portions are huge and they had some really unique combinations – but they worked really well together.

What is the best thing to do on a very full stomach? Go on a hike. If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably know my passion for hiking – it is the first thing I google when I visit a new place. One of the hikes in the area that was highly recommended was the Perseverance Creek Potholes. The smoothness of the pools, which has been carved by erosion was incredible to see and the deep colours of the water was so inviting. A great place to cool off after a hot day.

After a day of hiking and running it was definitely time for a treat. My first stop was Love’s Ice Cream. The homemade ice cream uses real fruit and there were endless flavour options. I also loved their commitment to using biodegradable and reusable products. After ice cream it was time for a treat of a different kind and Cumberland Brewing. Their goal has always been to share a beer with company in an inviting environment, even though I entered alone I felt like I was in a room full of buddies – people that cared about their community and local businesses – and the drinks were refreshingly delicious.

 

Day 2: Comox

I absolutely fell in love with this quaint waterfront town. Everywhere you went you have a view of the ocean.

I started the day with a walk along Goose Spit. The Spit is a very unique landscape, offering sandy beaches and gorgeous views of Hornby and several other islands. After taking in the views I wandered along the quaint harbour front (enjoying a coffee from Komox Grind). Along the way there are some more stunning views, this time of Comox Glacier and Beaufort Mountain Range. I then made my way over to Filberg Park where there are gorgeous flowers, a petting zoo, and even a little tea house.

After exploring the area by land it was time to get out on the water and explore by sea. I had heard of this incredible beach the locals like to call ‘Little Mexico‘. I rented a SUP from Coast Surf Shop and they actually took me out on a tour to the beach. Along the way we were followed by a curious seal before making our way to a truly gorgeous white sand beach to watch the sunset.

Once back on dry land it was time for some food. I was told by the locals Church St. Taphouse was the place to be on a Saturday night. They had great food, delicious beers on tap, and some great live music.

 

Day 3 Courtenay

I started the day with a run along along the spit and past the airport. It was a really beautiful place to stretch the legs and taking in that morning ocean breeze. A morning run sure worked up my appetite and so I went for breakfast at the Hog and the Hen. Don’t let the location fool you – the food here is AMAZING. I love their smoked salmon benny.

My next stop took me to 5th street where there are some of the most adorable shops I have ever seen. Classic book shops, home decor, fun gift shops, and some cute clothing boutiques. After shopping I wanted to get back out to explore the beauty of this area. I made my way a little outside of Courtenay to explore Browns River Falls. It is a beautiful wide waterfall where at the bottom there are some more popular swim holes.

After all that walking, it was the perfect time to relax and the best place to do that is at Kingfisher Hydropath. Take a dip in the heated outdoor pool and then relax in the steam cave. I am a big fan of any hydropath therapy – basically walking from through a circuit of hot and cold pools that helps blood circulation. And the icing on the cake, there is an indoor waterfall grotto.

I finished off my time here with the best greek food I have ever tasted, and that is saying a lot since I have been to Greece. Yimas Taverna is an absolute must visit.

Bonus: Fanny Bay

I didn’t have a full day to explore Fanny Bay, but I did get a chance to visit for lunch and some Oyster shucking. I first stopped at Fanny Bay Inn, located right on the water this has been the go to place for 80 years and it is the kind of pub where everyone knows your name – and the food was delicious. I ended my trip with a visit to the famous Mac’s Oyster LTD to get some lessons from the pros on how to shuck oysters.

It was an amazing trip to the Comox Valley, and I can see why more and more people are making the trip (and even move out here as it is one of the fastest growing populations in BC) but I promise you it is still a bit of a hidden gem, without the crowded tourist beaches and long waits for dining – you are going to want to make a trip here ASAP.

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for hiking in a foreign country

 

Hiking is my love language. I fell in love with it as soon as I moved out to BC. There is something about being out in nature, just you and the wilderness and taking in the natural beauty around you. I have experienced some pretty magical hikes in my own backyard, but every time I travel, I try to find a local hike.

Hiking in a foreign country can be a scary thought. I sometimes still don’t feel fully comfortable because there are so many factors you have to consider when you are outside of your own comfort zone. Safety, ability, transportation, just to name a few. But through my experiences I have gained a few tips that have made me feel more confident. And trust me it has been worth it. From conquering Lions Head in South Africa to experiencing the most magical sunrise on Mt. Batur in Bali – hiking in foreign countries have left some incredible memories.

I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks I have found have been helpful when it comes to hiking in a foreign country.

1. Do your research

Just like any local hike, it is important to be prepared. Do as much research ahead of time to make sure you understand the safety aspects. Are you an experienced enough hiker? How long is it expected to take you? How do you get there? Who are you going with? ( there are very few hikes I will do solo even locally in my own backyard). In order to be as confident as possible, it is important to have as much information ahead of time.

2. Look for local and reliable guides

Sometimes I just feel more comfortable going out with a local or on a guided tour. They can get you from point A to point B safely and know the area. Recently when I was in Sayulita I joined an Airbnb experience with a local guide to hike Monkey Mountain. Our guide was so knowledgable that not only did I enjoy a wonderful hike, but I also learned so much about the local area and culture. Also since I was planning to hike for sunset, I just felt more comfortable with someone who was familiar with the route for coming down in the dark.

3. Don’t go off the main path

I learned this lesson the hard way in South Africa – everyone kept talking about this cool cave off of Lion’s Head. We went looking for the path and ran into a Park Ranger and were fined for our off roading. We later learned that the reason they are so strict is because the area is prone to slides and they are also trying to restore the flora in the area. I know how upset I get at home when people are going off the main path because of how precious the wildlife is and so it is important to be respectful in other countries too.

4. Pack proper gear

Just like you would for a hike at home it is important you have the right gear. While I am guilty of not always packing the top 10 items – whenever I am in a foreign country I try and make sure I pack for worst case scenario.

5. Get travel insurance

You always hope you don’t have to use it but there is always a risk in the outdoors and if you are stuck with medical bills in a foreign country, well that could be a pretty pricey bill.

6. Check warnings and risks ahead of time

I have learned over the years that there are different seasons and concerns. For example maybe a hike in Hawaii during the rain season isn’t your best bet as it can impact safety of the route. Or maybe you are going to an area where zika is prevalent – pack a ton of repellant.

These are my top six tips for hiking in a different country – but I really cannot stress enough number 1. Over preparation is key for a safe and incredible experience.

Happy hiking my friends,

xo

Mia