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

15 Photos that will inspire you to hike Bryce Canyon

When I found out that one of my husband’s recent work trips was going to take him to Salt Lake City, Utah I was ecstatic. I have always dreamed of hiking more of the U.S. National Parks as they are all so unique and stunning, and Bryce Canyon had long been on number one on my to do list. 

Bryce Canyon was one place I have always wanted to go because of the stunning hoodoos. Here you will find the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world. 

Since we were going to Salt Lake City for my husband’s work, we flew into that airport and rented a care ( we could only add a weekend onto the trip) and while two days was definitely not enough (since we decided to explore both Bryce Canyon and Zion) it at least allowed us an opportunity to capture the beauty. 

From Salt Lake, you will have to rent a car and it is about a six hour drive. Once you get out of the city it is quite a beautiful drive with plenty of mountain views along the way. 

Since we had such a short time at Bryce Canyon, we did a ton of research to figure out which hike would provide us the most view points (especially of the hoodoos).

We ended up deciding on the Queens Garden to Nevajo Loop Trail because you got to experience two different viewpoints in the 5km loop. On this hike you really got a little bit of everything, impressive views of the unbelievable hoodoos ( they literally took my breathe away when I saw them) to the stunning rock formations, to some of the greenery. One of my favourite pictures was of Thor’s Hamer below. 

I was astounded at the breathtaking views. It honestly felt like we were on a different planet. The contrast of the colours made the rocks look surreal, the rare green plants nestled between the deep ready made the whole park pop with colour. 

The day that we went, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so the blue also made the red rocks even more vibrant and bright. 

I loved sneaking through the little tunnels formed by the rocks 

I must warn you though, there were a few steep areas to the hike. We did the hike in November and it was the perfect temperature, but I can imagine the valley would get quite hot in the summer making the steeper parts of the hike quite difficult so I would highly suggest a spring or fall hike. 

 

Fun Fact: Bryce Canyon is not a single canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls, carved into the edge of a high plateau. If you are not into hiking you can still take in the beautiful views from the four main viewpoints, which are all in the first few miles of the park. 

Fun Fact: The rocks are formed by erosion and the hoodoos are formed by frost wedging 

Every year the park gets over 2.7 million visitors and so I would suggest trying to visit in the off season like we  did. It was so peaceful to be surrounded by the beauty of nature and just the two of us to take it all in. 

Aside from hiking, Bryce Canyon also offers rock climbing and in the winter cross country skiing ( and there is something so magical about the pictures I have seen with the snow capped rocks) 

And at last, picture #15, I just had to add another of the beautiful wide shot of the hoodoos down below 

Bryce Canyon exceeded my expectations and I hope I get a chance to go back and explore even more of the park. Have you experienced Bryce? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Also as I mentioned we also explored Zion National Park, and so I will be putting together a photo journal on that one soon as well!

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Your full itinerary to the Yukon

A lot of people have asked me, “how was your trip to the Yukon?” I find that question extremely hard to answer because it is almost impossible to put into words how my trip to the Yukon was. “Magical”, “breathtaking”, “supernatural”. Those were a few of the words I could use to try and describe it.

The next question is always, “what was your favourite part?” That question is equally as hard to answer. From the dancing colours of the northern lights to learning all about the First Nations culture, every day, hour, minute, and moment was spectacular.

One thing I can tell you for sure though is that the Yukon stole my heart and in my opinion it should be the number one spot on your bucket list because, as mentioned, it is truly magical. Thinking about planning a trip of your own? Well I wanted to share some of the top things to see, do, and experience to make sure the trip is one you won’t be able to put into words either.

 

Where to stay

Northern Lights Resort and Spa

This is a stunning family run resort just outside of Whitehorse. The resort has four alpine chalets and three aurora glass chalets and we were able to experience both of the accommodations.

The alpine chalets were adorable and a perfect spot for couples to cozy up to one another. They are basically log cabins in the wilderness with a large living room and a fireplace to relax beside while trying to spot the northern lights right outside your north facing window.  What I loved is that the chalets were built from Yukon grown timber and really create a romantic and quaint atmosphere.

The aurora glass chalets had a completely different feel to them. A more modern design with the north facing side of the room offering floor to ceiling glass. This proves the perfect setup to hopefully catch the beautiful  lights dancing across the sky. Even though we didn’t see them this night, we did fall asleep the the view of a million stars shining bright.

 

Mt. Logan Lodge

This is the ultimate family run lodge right on the edge of Kluane National Park in Haines Junction. In fact you can see the incredible mountains right outside your door. I love how creative this family is. On site they have a yurt, and even a bus that used to be a guest room. I also love that you wake up to the smell of fresh coffee and homemade breakfast. In fact, The family cooks all your meals for you.

The other part I loved about this lodge is how passionate the owners are about the area. David and Roxanne are both from big cities, but the moment they stepped foot in Haines Junction, they knew this was where they wanted to be. They wanted to share their love of the spot with their guests.

In the past, the park hasn’t been visited much in the winter so they decided to make it a year round destination by offering guests snowmobiling, ice fishing, and even ice climbing to name a few activities.

What to do

There is honestly so much to see, do, and explore in the Yukon and while I just scratched the surface (and will definitely have to go back sometime soon to discover more) here were a few of my must does:

 

A northern lights adventure

This one is pretty obvious, as I am sure many people travel to the Yukon just to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder. Believe me seeing the lights is worth the trip alone.  I joined Arctic Range Adventure for this bucket list activity. They drive you about 20 minutes outside of Whitehorse to complete darkness. The moment we arrived you could already see the hint of green colouring the night sky. We were able to stay in yurts to keep warm, but I will never forget the rush of emotions when our guide told us to get outside with our cameras. Greens, yellows, and pinks dancing across the sky. It was so beautiful it brought me to tears.

If the northern lights is on your to do list try and book a trip between October and May when the skies are dark enough to see the activity. Also make sure to give yourself time. We were there a whole week and we only saw the lights one night.

A flight over Kluane National Park

The only thing I really knew about Kluane before the trip is that it is home to Mt. Logan, the highest peak in Canada. What I didn’t know is it is actually home to 17 of Canada’s 20 highest peaks. We joined Rocking Star to take a flight above the stunning park. It is also home to beautiful glaciers, rivers, and in the summer time numerous grizzles. Seeing it from the sky with Rocking Star Adventures was breathtaking.

Dogsledding like the pros

The reason that I went to the Yukon in the first place was to experience the Yukon Quest, the world’s toughest dog mushing race from Yukon to Alaska, and so it was natural to give mushing a try for myself. Dog sledding has long been a way of life in the Yukon. I joined the team at Muktuk Adventures to test my skills. The dogs were absolutely beautiful and so sweet. We traveled along the Takhini River, the same route as the pros and took in the stunning wilderness.

A history lesson in Carcross

I had a chance to take a day trip to this small town with Who What Where Tours. Carcross has  a population of only about 300 people and is home to world’s smallest desert.  It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes, and forrest.

We had a chance to visit the Carcross Learning Centre and see some of the amazing  First Nations art and even sit down for a traditional meal. After lunch the cultural learning continued.  We had a chance to meet with Keith Wolfe Smarche, the towns head cover. He showed us his carving shed and some of his amazing work in town. What I loved about meeting Keith was his story. He got into carving because he realized the town had lost all of its vibrant colours during the gold rush and wanted to bring it back for future generations. Hearing his story and seeing his vibrant art was an unforgettable experience.

A visit to Long Ago Peoples Place

One of the things that makes the Yukon so unique is the culture. There are actually 14 different First Nations  and so it was very important for me to really learn about the traditions and heritage. Long Ago People’s Place is located in Champagne and brings you back through time using recreations of traditional Southern Tutchone structures and tools. We had a chance to see how trap lines work and learn about other tools used for different First Nations activities.

Learning about traditions at Shakat Tun Wilderness Camp

Have you ever wondered just how the First Nations people live off of the land in the dead of winter when it is -40c outside? Well we had a chance to find out from James Allen, former chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. He taught us how to ice fish, gave us a tour of his family’s traplines, and invited us to his beautiful camp for a traditional lunch. It was the perfect  mix of education and fun and trust me you cannot beat the views along the way.

Learn to make cocktails from the pros

One of my favourite stops of the whole trip was to Well Bread Culinary Centre. Here, we met with Chef Cat and Jennifer Tyldesley from Free Pour Jenny.  We learnt how to make some delicious appetizers and cocktails using local ingredients and home made bitters. We even got a care package to be able to make some of the amazing drinks back in the comfort of our home. The best part is, it is hard to mess up a cocktail especially with these unique bitters so it is a good time guaranteed.

Taste some of the local craft beers 

We had the chance to visit not one but two unique breweries in the Yukon. First was Yukon Brewing where the motto is “beer worth freezing for” and they aren’t joking. The seasonal craft beers truly represent Whitehorse and the history here. Each beer has its own spunky taste.

The next stop was Winterlong Brewery. This brewery only opened about 5 years ago.Marko and Meghan Marjanovic had been homebrewing for 10 years, and finally decided to take the risk and start a brewery. The beers are bold in flavour and really stand out in the crowd of craft beers.

Where to eat

Wayfarer Oyster House

I loved this spot from the moment we walked in the door. The deco was so unique including an oyster chandelier, where if you guess how many oyster make up the piece you win a free shot. They also had some vinyl spinning.  Aside from decorations, the food was amazing. The menu was filled local seafood and sourced meats as well as homemade pasta and smoked fish. It was hard to chose just one plate.

Giorgio’s Cuccina

This is the perfect date night spot. Dim lit with an extensive wine list and authentic Italian food. Start with the baked goat cheese and then fill up on one of their amazing pizzas or pasta plates.

Big Bear Donair

Looking for something quick and delicious? This is the new go to spot and for good reason. The food is creative and tasty. The restaurant prides itself on collecting as much as possible from local business and retailers. And where else can you try a shawarma poutine?

Baked Cafe

I need coffee first thing in the morning to start my day and this was the absolute perfect little coffee shop. I loved how light and cozy this spot is and on all of the walls are little treasures from local jewellery and artists. The coffee and food is also amazing.

As I mentioned I just had a chance to scratch the surface of the beautiful Yukon. There is so much more to do and see in this amazing place and I cannot wait to return to the north and explore even more. I hope you will be able to experience the magic of the Yukon for yourself, because I wasn’t joking when I said I honestly cannot even put into words the beauty of this place.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Photos that will make you want to visit the Yukon

The main reason I wanted to visit the Yukon was for a chance to see the Northern Lights. I have always dreamed of seeing this natural wonder. I truly cried when I saw the lights dancing in front of me. The pictures don’t do it justice but it was beyond magical.

My first glimpse of Kluane National Park came at my dad’s house. He is a professional photographer and has the most magnificent photo above his fireplace. Every time I see it I say I want to go there. Well I went there on an small 4 seater airplane. Seeing Mt. Logan and eight other tallest mountains in Canada from the sky was incredible.

 

What you might not know is the Yukon is home to 14 different First Nations groups. I was lucky enough to visit two of them. When I went to visit the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation I had the chance to meet with one of their former chiefs, James Allen, who taught us all about living off of the land in the dead of winter. We did everything from ice fishing to setting trap lines.

One of my favourite parts of the Yukon was heading up to the small town of Carcoss and learning about the First Nations culture. We had the chance to try an authentic meal and learn from Keith Wolfe Smarch, the towns carver. His designs were beautiful and really added colour and beauty to the town.

 

The main reason that I was in the Yukon was for the Yukon Quest. It is a dog mushing race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska. It is considered to be the toughest race of its kind. Mushing is a big part of the history in the Yukon and I had the chase to give it a try and meet some amazing dogs.

Sure, Whitehorse was freezing. In fact, one day it got to around -4o, but there was something beautiful about experiencing this magical place in the winter, even when everything freezes in minutes.

The Yukon was one of the most magical places I have ever been. I had a chance to cross off so many bucket list experiences. From seeing the Northern Lights to flying over Kluane to witnessing the Yukon Quest and to making life long friends.

I cannot wait to return to the Yukon because it truly stole my heart, and I promise it will steal yours too.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo,

Mia