Unique Vacation Activities (For people who have done it all)

I know, I know, with travel restrictions easing up many of us are itching to book a vacation. Getting away for a bit should be fun, but sometimes it can feel like you have already done it all before. Another beach getaway? Another ski slope? Sometimes it can get redundant and some experiences, like sitting on a beach, aren’t really unique to a specific place. 

So for those that are itching for something new, well I am sharing some unique vacation activities for people who have done it all.

 

1.Go On A Food Crawl

I love food, in fact sometimes I pick vacation spots based on cuisine. If you’re heading to a destination known for the quality of its food, you might want to indulge in a food crawl. Here you make your way from eatery to eatery throughout the day (or week), sampling different foods. 

Going on a food crawl can be a lot of fun. But you’ll want to keep the portions small. Focus on eating appetizers, not entrées. Otherwise, you’ll wind up feeling bloated and uncomfortable. 

 

2.Take A Class

If you’re in a new place, it’s a perfect opportunity to take a class in something you don’t have access to at home. For instance, perhaps a local instructor offers dance classes in a style unique to the country you are visiting. I know I loved taking thai cooking classes in Thailand. 

Taking a class helps you to use your vacation time wisely. It gives you a chance to learn something and improve your skills which, ultimately, could make your life better. 

 

3. Try Wine Tasting

 

If you’ve never tried wine tasting before, you’re in for a treat. When you arrive at your destination, search for “wineries near me.” Usually, at least half a dozen will pop up. Then investigate whether any of them offer tasting sessions. More often than not, they do. 

Wine tasting gives you a chance to learn more about wine flavours. By going to one, you’ll get coaching on improving your palate so that you can enjoy the drink more in the future. 

 

4. Dine With Local People

Dining with local people might sound like a bit of a strange idea, but it can also be a lot of fun. They tend to know the food landscape better than you so they are in a great position to point you in the direction of the best dishes. What’s more, they also provide interesting conversation, introducing you to their ideas, culture and sometimes other people in their life. 

5. Take A Segway Tour

Segways are strange-looking forms of propulsion. But they can be a great way to cover a large area without expending much energy. This makes them ideal for exploring the wilderness or making your way around a big city. 

Segway tours come in multiple forms. They’re usually suitable for people of all ages, though some providers will not allow young children to use them. 

6. Hire A Canal Boat

Hiring a canal boat is a lot of fun and introduces you to new landscapes. It is a wonderful way to explore a region and find out more about it. 

Canal boats are also handy because you can sleep in them. So you can moor them at the side of the river, explore a local area, and then return to them at night. 

 

Exploring a new side of Tofino

It is no secret that I love Tofino. In fact, I think I have been quoted saying “it’s my favourite place in the world”. I can’t even count the amount of times I have been there and every time I go I discover something new. So you can imagine my excitement when my first post pandemic trip was going to be to Tofino. You can imagine my excitement even more so when I was going to be staying at a new location, the Tofino Resort and Marina.

What I loved about the Tofino Marina Resort

I have been very lucky to stay at some gorgeous lodges in Tofino, but one downside is they were always so far away from town. Tofino Resort and Marina is located just a 5 minute walk into town, so you can go for dinner and drinks and get home safely. I also loved that you don’t really have to leave the resort to have an amazing experience. The world class restaurant 1909 is right on the property and all the adventures we took started at the marina just steps from our door.

Day 1: Unique Hikes

 

Like I said this was exploring a completely new side of Tofino and so no surfboards but definite beach visits. In fact the hike I was told I was doing was called the “West Coast Facial” where we would find some spots on the beach to feel the ocean spray.

Tofino Resort and Marina partners with Long Beach Nature Tours for hiking adventures and we were taken on a custom tour starting at one of the trail head entrances to Pacific Rim National Park. I had done a few hikes through parts of the park before, but I had never been fully emerged in it. It was incredible to see and smell the giant old growth cedar trees. After about 6km the trees opened up and unveiled a beautiful beach. We had made it to Florencia Bay, and guess what we were the only ones there (quite the contrast to the usually packed Tofino Beaches). We walked along the sand for a while taking in the fresh ocean sent before we dipped back into the forest to make our way to a different beach look at point at Wickaninnish Beach – equally beautiful and equally as quiet.

We ended the day with a delicious dinner at 1909.

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/videos/gallery/what-is-a-west-coast-facial-this-bc-hike-ends-with-a-unique-skin-treatment/5802443041001/6264187909001/forecasts

Day 2: Ocean adventures

We got up and made our way to the marina for a full day of adventure on the open water. We were going for a true West Coast Safari of sorts, keeping our eyes peeled for the BC big 5: Orcas, gray whales, bears, sea lions, and seals. Before we even really left the marina we first laid a crab trap (which we would get later for dinner). Not long into our trip, we heard the best news on the radio, orcas nearby. We made our way out to where they were spotted and at first noticed the spray followed by a gorgeous killer whale emerging from the waters. It was a whole family of them out for a hunt. While I always love seeing orcas, I was most impressed with how up close and personal we got with some steller sea lions. It was quite easy to tell the dominant male in this bunch. We drove by some cute otters rafting, some seals bopping their heads up to say hello, and saw the distant spray of a grey whale. Oh and from the shore we did see a black bear – crossed everything off our list. Then it was time to come back and feast on our tasty crab.

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/videos/gallery/from-sea-lions-to-orcas-set-sail-and-explore-bcs-incredible-wildlife/5802443041001/6264894763001/forecasts

Like I said this was a very different Tofino experience then what I have done in the past. Less relaxing on a beach and more adventure and exploring and I feel like that is what Tofino Resort and Marina is all about. You can find out more about their tours on their website.

 

I am already planning my next trip to Tofino because this place never gets old.

Happy exploring 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

 

 

 

 

8 photos that will inspire you to visit Zion National Park

I am slightly ashamed to admit it, but Zion wasn’t very high on my list. I knew I needed to visit Bryce Canyon, and since we were close I figured we could also check out Zion. The moment we entered the park, I realized I had made a big mistake. This place should of been a MUST see.

What I found very interesting is that Zion is actually Utah’s first national park.

 

Before we even did a hike we took their sightseeing bus tour. It was amazing learning about the history of this place, and how the Virgin River flowing beside us was small yet powerful. In fact, it is because of this River the amazing rock formations were created.

When we made it to the end of the bus tour, we got off at the last stop to do the Riverside Walk. This was a very easy walk along the beautiful river and eventually at the end of the walkway you could actually continue the hike through the water.

Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time in Zion, just enough for one hike and so we decided to do the Observation Point trail.  It is an 8 mile roundtrip with 2,000 feet. Lots of switchbacks through sandstone and along the way you get beautiful panoramic views.

And at the top a beautiful view of the famous Angel’s Landing (my next Utah hike). It really does take your breath away looking out at the endless red rocks. I really loved this hike because it didn’t take too long but with the high elevation you definitely get a great workout

I must say I had the most amazing experience in Utah and a weekend is not enough but if that is all you have I highly suggest doing your research to find the right hikes for you, get out early to beat the crowds ( or go during the off season like we did) and just have fun!

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Why New Orleans should be your next girls trip

I was pretty fortunate that I had the opportunity to go to university in Louisiana. I fell in love with the culture of the State, everything from the delicious spicy cajun food to the magical sounds of the jazz instruments in a second line. It truly stole my heart and so when I was thinking about places to go for my bachelorette party, I knew I wanted to share my love of New Orleans with my best girlfriends. The trip exceeded my expectations and was more special than any visit before because I had the chance to do it with my closest friends. Thinking about planning a trip to New Orleans with your gal pals or partner? Well  here are some of the must do’s around town.

Where to stay

It will be hard to find an airbnb in New Orleans because the city has strict bans on short term rentals. Having said that there are some amazing boutique hotels no matter what your price range near the French Quarter, Frenchman St. and  Bourbon St.

Hotel Peter and Paul ($): This hotel really captures the feel and atmosphere of the city. It was once a 19th century catholic church and now the deco is bright and welcoming. There are also plenty of local antiques from some of the oldest estates in town, which adds a special touch.  Don’t miss out on the adorable  downstairs bar, the perfect spot to grab a drink before hitting the nearby Frenchman St.

Ace Hotel New Orleans ($$): What I love about Ace Hotels is that each one of the hotels is unique to the town they are in, and this is no different for New Orleans. This is definitely a great spot for a group trip because of the stunning rooftop pool and live music at their 3 Keys venue on weekends.

Soniat House ($$): This is not your typical hotel, in fact from the outside it is hard to tell it is even a hotel but I love this spot because it really depicts what New Orleans is. From the adorable green shutters that scream French Quarter to the wood canopy beds, this place will make you feel like you stepped back in time in the best way possible.

What to do

 

Ok, when you think of New Orleans, you probably think of Mardi Gras. Yes Mardi Gras is energetic, extravagant, and down right fun. From the decorative floats, to the colourful beads ( and no you do not have to work for them) it transforms but can also be a little hectic especially for a large group. Don’t fret though, if you cannot make it out for Fat Tuesday, there is still so much to see and do any other time of the year.

Enjoy the music on every corner

Love jazz music? This is the spot for you! Not a jazz fan? You will be after a trip to New Orleans. The music is so reach and beautiful you won’t go a minute without tapping your feet and grooving to the sounds. There are so many different places and ways to enjoy the sounds of New Orleans and these are some of my favourites

Music Box Village: This is straight out of a movie, a wooden fortress located in the heart of Bywater. Here you will find small “houses” built from wood and plastic and each house has its own musical style by using different instruments. Walk around with your girls and make sure to dance and make plenty of noise when the bands come by.

Preservation Hall: It is right there in its name, preservation. This historic jazz spot’s goal is to preserve the music and traditions of New Orleans. You won’t find any booze and you can’t make a reservation but it is well worth it because you and your friends will dance the night away.

Pat O’Brien’s Duelling Piano Bar: This has been my favourite spot since I used to go to university so I was pretty excited to say the least to take the girls there. Long harvest tables with two pianos at the front of the bar. You can write on napkins songs that you want the pianists to play, and trust me, they can bring any of your favourite tunes to life. Also make sure to order a hurricane while you are there, Pat O’s is famous for them.

Take a walk down Frenchmen Street: Ok, it is a girls trip so I am sure you are going to want to hit the town. Well make your way down Frenchman St. and just listen to the live music coming from each and every bar. We walked into three different ones and kept dancing the night away.

Eat some traditional Cajun food

I put on probably 10 pounds in my first yer of university because of the delicious poboys, fried crawfish, and gumbo. You won’t find any chains here and trust me you don’t want to. Eating the local food will be a highlight of your trip with the girls.

Cafe Du Monde: No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop to Cafe Du Monde. Located right in the heart of the French Quarter. Grab a famous beignet (yes you will get powdered sugar on yourself and it will be well worth it) and eat it while taking a stroll around St. Louis Cathedral.

Killer PoBoys: poyboys are the ultimate sandwich stuffed with meat or seafood ( I personally love the shrimp one) and while you can pretty much get delicious poboys all around New Orleans, you cannot top this spot. Killer PoBoys takes the poboy but adds high quality ingredients like caramelized onions and creole mustard.

Cafe Amelie: This could of been my favourite meal of the trip. I loved the outdoor garden patio and fountain. It was romantic but also the perfect spot for a girls night out. I loved the signature cocktails and the fresh seafood.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant: If you want to experience New Orleans cuisine you need to make a stop here. It really celebrates the creole traditional food with everything from red beans and rice and you need to try the famous fried chicken.

Take in the sights 

While eating and dancing will probably take up most of your time there is still so much else to see and do in New Orleans with your girlfriends. Here are a few more of my favourite activities

Walk down Bourbon with a grenade in hand: Hand Grenades are famous in New Orleans. It is basically a rum slushy and it is delicious. You need to try one if you go to New Orleans, and the best thing is you can take it to go and explore Bourbon St.

Take in the art and architecture of the French Quarter: The French Quarter is such a quaint area of town and perfect for a relaxing day of sightseeing. St. Louis Cathedral is a must see but then make your way down some of the side streets and pop into some shops. There you will find some gorgeous art from the locals. A great place to pick up some souvenirs.

Talk to the spirits: New Orleans is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the world, making it the perfect place for a group ghost tour, if you are into that kind of stuff (which I sure am). There are some cemetery tours available  like the French Quarter Phantoms and you can also learn more about the voodoo traditions of Louisiana with a stop at Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo (think American Horror Story).

Shop until you drop at the night market: Palace Market Frenchman is one of the coolest spots in all of New Orleans. It is a night market that has a rotating display of 80 different local artists. You never know what hidden gems you will find.

Those are some of my top picks and spots for a fun girls trip to New Orleans. I would love to hear if you have some other favourites because I know I will be back to this magical city soon.

Happy travelling my friends,

xo

Mia