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Nestled along the western coast of British Columbia, Vancouver is considered a “secret gem” of Canada. It is the perfect destination for those who love to embrace nature in all her beautiful splendor. There are so many adventurous – as well as relaxing and historic – things to do here, no matter what the season. With its mild climate, you can golf, sail, and ski all in the same day. And the people are so friendly and welcoming, eager to share their little slice of heaven-on-earth with you.
Whether you get cozy in a lovely bed & breakfast or seaside resort, or head to the heart of downtown Vancouver to stay at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, they all offer guests the comforts of home. At The Fairmont, you can even bring your own pets or enjoy a walk with one of their Canine Ambassadors, Mavis and Beau, if you left your furry friends back home.
Stroll the historic Gastown area or the waterfront of False Creek’s Granville Island and delight in their public markets, boutique shops, fine restaurants, and art studios. Head east to Stanley Park for its evergreen forest and scenic seawall. Discover the only authentic classical Chinese garden outside of China, the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, in the Chinatown area. Catch a Seabus to North Vancouver and take in the panoramic views of the city’s mountains on the way.
Skip over to Vancouver Island on a ferry and explore Victoria – the capital of British Columbia – by foot, by bike, or by car. It is reminiscent of the Britain Empire; its impressive historic Parliament Buildings sparkle with thousands of lights at night and the narrow streets are lined by old stone buildings and lampposts hung with baskets of overflowing flowers. Explore the Inner Harbour, tour the charming city in a horse-drawn carriage, or have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel’s Tea Lobby. Visit the Royal British Columbia Museum, which houses many fascinating old totem poles, or see the modern-day carvers at work in Thunderbird Park next door. You might even stumble upon a castle in your explorations!
Stop and smell the roses as you wander through the famous Butchart Gardens, about 14 miles north of Victoria. A National Historic Site of Canada, it is one of the most breath-taking gardens, looking like it came straight out of a fairytale. Vibrant colors and smells of thousands of flowers will entice your senses, as butterflies delicately float around you. Enjoy a concert at the amphitheater on a lazy summer evening, marvel at the hand-carved totem poles and carousel, or stay for the nightly fireworks display, as you lounge on the beautifully manicured lawn.
Along the east coast of Vancouver Island, enjoy time at the Parksville and Qualicum Beaches or take an expedition to watch magnificent orcas. If you’re looking for grey whales, head to Pacific Rim National Park along the west coast, home to thousands of species of marine and wildlife. You can get here by land or by sea year-round. Stroll through MacMillan Provincial Park, home to massive 600-year-old Douglas firs. Take a train ride through the BC Forestry Discovery Centre in Duncan, also known as the “City of Totems” because you can take a walking tour throughout town to see 80 First Nations carvings from the aboriginal Cowichan tribe.
If fishing lures you, the Campbell River is ranked one of the “salmon fishing capitals of the world” while the winter steelhead fishing is also renowned. Trout and bass can be found in the Vancouver Island lakes and streams as well.
While the courses are challenging, golfers might have trouble focusing on the ball when there are so many majestic views surrounding them. Play through on one of the many Vancouver championship golf courses, including one designed by Jack Nicklaus – Nicklaus North in Whistler.
During the winter, head north of Vancouver to Whistler Resort, consistently ranked the best ski resort in North America, with over 200 runs covering Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains and first-class hotels and restaurants. You can also enjoy glacier skiing and snowboarding on Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier from June through October. Throughout the year, you can relax and take a gondola up the mountains to shop and watch entertaining street performers. When you’re not hitting the slopes, you can also take a Skyride tram up Grouse Mountain for a panoramic view of the city, a lumberjack show, or a visit to the Grizzly Bear Habitat. They also over zip-lining, paragliding, and helicopter tours, along with a variety of other attractions.
Grab your passport, arrange the details of your trip with your travel agent, and get ready for a fantastic, beautiful journey through Vancouver, no matter what adventure you choose!
Lisa Hoppe Travel Consulting has been providing travel services to thousands of satisfied clients since 1991. They are a regular contributor to Premier Bride on honeymoon and destination wedding topics.