We’re so fortunate to be right on the edge of more: more coastline, more mountains, more rivers, more parks, more culturally diverse cities, and just more to discover. British Columbia is a vast wonderland filled with sun-strewn summer views, toothy winter grins, hand-crafted local eats—in short, more of all the things we love about the Pacific Northwest, only bigger. And right next door.
Because navigating the choices of destinations can feel overwhelming, we offer some direction in your travels: north to Whistler, southwest to Victoria, and east to Kelowna. Find dreamy details that will have you booking an escape to hike, wander a city, tour wineries—or all three. Directly northwest, immerse yourself in the easy and diverse charms of four Vancouver neighborhoods, complete with where to eat and what not to miss.
Wherever you decide to go, you’re certain to return with more memories and a greater appreciation for our neighbor to the north.
— Amy Anderson Guerra
By Becky Mandelbaum
Home to some events at the 2010 winter Olympics, Whistler is a charming mountain town just an hour and 40 minutes north of Vancouver. The town’s two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, create numerous adventure opportunities no matter the season. With skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking, golfing, zipline tours, and plenty of lake recreation during the warmer months, there really is no limit to what you can do. If you’re looking for an outdoor-lovers paradise, look no further than Whistler.
The good news? So long as you have a quick border crossing, Whistler is less than a three-hour drive from Bellingham. From the Peace Arch crossing, you’ll hop on BC-99, BC-91, and BC-1, eventually staying on BC-99 North. Once on 99, you’ll drive along the coast, catching epic views of Horseshoe Bay, Howe Sound, and the mountains beyond. The drive is somewhat twisty, but the views are more than worth it.
If you’d rather leave your car behind (and in pedestrian-friendly Whistler you totally can), there are several shuttle options. Epic Rides will take you from Vancouver to Whistler and back for $35 round-trip, with no additional cost for carrying bikes or snow gear. Other shuttles include Snowbus, Perimeter Transportation, and YVR Skylynx. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, but you also won’t have to worry about finding or paying for parking. Truly, if you’re staying in Whistler Village, nearly everything is within walking distance. The town also boasts a great public transit system.
WHERE TO STAY
Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel
Located in the heart of picturesque Whistler Village, you’ll find Summit Lodge, an award-winning boutique hotel. With protected underground parking and easy access to hiking, shopping, and world-class cuisine, staying at Summit is a breeze. Guests also enjoy access to a heated outdoor pool, hot tub, and sauna.
This sweet and quirky hotel has everything you need, with an extra serving of personality and style. Upon entering, you’re greeted with a bright, cheerful lobby. Guests can work or relax in one of two lounge areas (one boasts a canine corner for four-legged guests). Speaking of, pet-lovers, this is your hotel. Pets stay free.
The rooms are spacious, clean, and well-organized for maximum function. The furniture is tastefully modern, and each bed features a Sealy mattress that’s the perfect balance of firm and soft. All rooms include a kitchenette with a two-burner stove, mini-fridge, and coffee and tea maker.
When it comes to Summit, the charm is in the details. From the handmade sock monsters on every bed to the in-room Instax polaroid camera and iPad (both of which you can use off-premises), the atmosphere at Summit is at once playful and classy, much like Whistler itself. All this, combined with a location that’s hard to beat — walking distance to Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas as well as restaurants, shopping, and an ice-skating rink — make Summit an easy choice for a fun-packed Whistler getaway. 4359 Main St., Whistler, B.C., 604.932.2778, summitlodge.com
WHERE TO EAT
Quattro at Whistler
After a long day of outdoor play, recharge with dinner at this exceptional Italian restaurant, where fine dining meets upscale-casual atmosphere. Quattro’s Chef Jeremie Trottier brings authentic Italian flavors to life with inspiration from the restaurant’s Italian founder, Chef Antonio Corsi.
The restaurant is perfect for both romantic date nights and larger outings with friends and family. Entrees can be ordered family-style, for maximum sharing and tasting. Quattro also boasts an award-winning wine list with bottles at every price point and from every region of significance.
Start your meal with warm focaccia, made daily in-house with flax and sunflower seeds. Not listed on the menu, do yourself a favor and order the antipasto plate. Although the offerings change daily, I can’t imagine any of them disappoint. On the night I went, the plate featured radicchio; arancini; marinated and smoked salmon with lemon and tarragon aioli; chicken liver pate with extra-thin crisps; lamb and Italian sausages; and a smoked tomato bisque with goat cheese. All were extraordinary, but the radicchio and arancini were stand-outs.
On the menu you’ll find plenty of pasta options. The Quattro Spaghetti is described as “for Italians only,” but don’t let this warning scare you away. The hearty dish dates back to Chef Corsi’s days in Rome, on a late night when he and some friends were returning home at two in the morning. Wanting to whip up something tasty, Corsi scanned his pantry but found only four ingredients: chicken, black beans, garlic, and red chili flakes. Undeterred, he pulled everything together. The result? A delicious, one-of-a-kind spaghetti that’s spicy and multi-textured. 4319 Main St., Whistler, BC, 604.905.4844, quattrorestaurants.com
Across the road from Summit Lodge you’ll find this charming creperie. Featuring savory and sweet crepe selections, as well as chocolate and cheese fondue, this restaurant ranks high in both taste and charm. The intimate space features an open kitchen and limited booth seating. Don’t be deterred if you have to “stand in queue” for a table; the cozy experience and delicious crepes are worth the wait. 4368 Main St. #116, Whistler, B.C., 604.905.4444, crepemontagne.com
Stepping into PureBread is like stepping into a gingerbread house, where it seems even the floors and furniture are edible. At the counter you’ll find heaps of sweet treats: scones, cupcakes, cookies, croissants, macaroons, meringues, brownies, and bars, just to name a few. The selection is overwhelming, so it’s best to come prepared with an idea of what you’re craving. If you’re feeling like something more substantial, the café also serves sandwiches, savory turnovers, hand pies, and pizzettes, as well as delicious coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. There’s also no shame in coming back a second time…or a third, fourth, or fifth. 4338 Main St., Ste. 122, Whistler, B.C., 604.962.1182, purebread.ca
Alpine Café & Catering Co.
Just a few miles north of Whistler Village you’ll find Alpine Café. Situated in the Alpine Meadows neighborhood, this quaint café offers delicious items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although indoor seating is limited to a few tables and booths, the café also boasts a lively outdoor eating area perfect for sunny days. Guests can even lounge in a decommissioned gondola. When it comes to the food, co-owners and Chefs Kevin Wood and Martini Bart both have European culinary training, and bring a combined 40 years of experience to the table. From breakfast bowls and wraps to homemade soups and sandwiches, this café has everything you’re craving. 8104 Mckeevers Pl., Whistler, B.C., 604.905.4663, alpinecafe.ca
Earls Kitchen & Bar
If you’re looking for a solid happy hour, Earls is the place to go. With a chic, modern dining room and cocktail options under $5, you can’t go wrong. In addition to standard pub fare — tacos, burgers, and chicken sandwiches — the menu also features several healthier options, like poke bowls, curries, and salads. Just a short trek from the gondolas, it’s a great option for a post-adventure meal or a lively night out with friends and family. 4295 Blackcomb Way, Ste. 220/221, Whistler, B.C., 604.935.3222, earls.ca
WHAT TO DO
Peak 2 Peak Gondola Ride
The magic of Whistler comes from the mountains. Experience both Whistler and Blackcomb peaks with this breathtaking gondola ride, which carries you gently from the top of one mountain to the next. In the winter, the gondola offers easy access for skiers and snowboarders. In the warmer months, it opens up a world of high-alpine hiking and biking. The gondola is also a great option for those who just want to enjoy an unparalleled view of the glaciers and river valley below.
At its apex, the gondola hovers nearly 1,500 feet in the air. If this doesn’t faze you, wait for one of the glass-bottomed gondolas, which offer a dizzying peek at the world beneath your feet. Once you reach solid ground, you’ll find restaurants, shops, and bathrooms on each mountain. Be sure to wear sturdy footwear and dress in layers, as the temperature at elevation is typically much colder than that on the valley floor.
The gondola is closed for routine maintenance a few weeks each year, typically in late April until late May, and in early October through late November, so be sure to check before you plan your visit. 1.800.944.7853
Vallea Lumina is somewhat difficult to describe. It’s sort of like a light-show, play, and nature walk all in one, or like walking through the pages of an electric fairy tale. If you’re travelling with kids or grand-kids, be sure to put this on your agenda — it’s the kind of outing they’ll remember for years to come.
After an easy bus ride from Whistler Village, the trip starts at Base Camp, where posted signs warn about two missing hikers. According to witnesses, an old man and a little girl have disappeared from camp without a trace. Meanwhile, news clippings report of strange occurrences in the forest: mysterious fish that light up in the water and stars falling from the sky. There’s a legend in the woods, and it seems the missing hikers have something to do with it.
Although the narrative is somewhat tenuous, the story is largely beside the point. Vallea Lumina is first and foremost about the visuals, and the visuals are like nothing you’ve seen before. The self-guided tour takes you from scene to scene, through an easy-to-follow loop in the woods. As you go, you’ll encounter colorful lights, holograms, talking trees, and creeks filled with glowing salmon. The high point comes toward the middle, when you cross a bridge that’s swimming with dots of blue and green light.
Once you’ve completed the loop, you can hang around Base Camp and enjoy hot drinks, snacks, and S’mores around a bonfire. Picks up at The Gateway Loop, Gate Way Drive, Whistler, B.C., 833.800.8480, vallealumina.com
Audain Art Museum
Just a quick jaunt from the main village stroll, you’ll find the Audain Art Museum, a hub for contemporary art from B.C. and the world over. The museum is the brainchild of philanthropist and builder Michael Audain, whose permanent collection of Canadian art is featured in the museum.
The building itself is an architectural achievement, receiving numerous awards and distinctions. In the galleries you’ll find work from the late 18th century to present day. The museum’s crown jewel is a ceremonial dance screen by Haida carver Chief James Hart. Completed in 2013, The Dance Screen (Scream Too), is a breathtaking carving made from red cedar with abalone and zinc details.
Make sure to visit the museum during one of their walk-and-talk tours, which are free with admission. During my visit, one of the museum’s knowledgeable and friendly docents guided our group through a special exhibit on Canadian artist Emily Carr. The tour was instrumental in putting the exhibit into context; I fell in love with Carr’s work in a way I simply couldn’t have without learning her background. Although this particular exhibit ended in January, you can find several of Carr’s later works in the permanent collection.
This spring’s special exhibit, The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs, celebrates the history of Canadian photography. Check the museum’s website for additional information, as well as special programming for families and youth. 4350 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, B.C., 604.962.0413, audainartmuseum.com
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Learn more about the native inhabitants and rightful stewards of the land Whistler now occupies. In the permanent exhibit, you’ll learn about the regalia, ceremonies, language, and stories of the Lil’wat and Squamish tribes, while also viewing traditional carvings, blankets, canoes, and totem poles. The center offers guided tours, craft classes (like how to make your own hand drum or dreamcatcher), as well as a gift store and cafe. 4584 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, B.C., 604.964.0990, slcc.ca
By Anelyse Morris
Victoria is known as “The City of Gardens.” You’ll find some of the most beautiful sights in B.C. in this spot at the southernmost end of Vancouver Island, completely separate from the mainland. The mildest climate in Canada makes Victoria a stellar place to explore all the wonderful things nature has to offer, from captivating gardens to stunning parks. Experience the city’s rich history by strolling past Victorian architecture or visiting world-class museums. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor getaway or an immersion into culture and history, Victoria is sure to please.
Victoria is roughly three-and-a-half hours from Bellingham. Take I-5 up to the border and continue onto BC99. You’ll follow BC99 until Vancouver/Richmond, where you will see signs for the Tsawwassen Ferries. Merge onto BC-17A and follow BC-17A until you hit the ferry terminal, then kick back and enjoy the 90-minute ferry ride. The ferry takes both vehicles and walk-on passengers, so feel free to leave your car in Vancouver.
The quickest way to fly to Victoria is to drive to Vancouver and catch either a commercial flight out of Vancouver International Airport or a helicopter or floatplane in downtown Vancouver/Richmond. The flights are typically only a little over 30 minutes, perfect if your time in B.C. is limited. You can also catch a charter flight to Victoria on San Juan Airlines from Bellingham or Anacortes.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re looking for a hotel that embodies Victoria’s history, charm, and elegance, the Fairmont Empress is one of the highest rated hotels in Canada. Opened in 1908, the Empress is renowned for its daily high tea service — half a million cups are served each year. One accommodation package includes lodging, tea service, and admission and transportation to the stunning Butchart Gardens and Butterfly Gardens. Want to bring the whole family? The Empress offers a babysitting service so you can explore Victoria while knowing your kids are in good hands.
If you want to stay close to the action, consider reserving a room at Magnolia Hotel & Spa. Located in the heart of downtown, this award-winning luxury hotel offers a variety of spa services that will leave you feeling refreshed, reenergized, and ready to take on your day in Victoria. If you don’t feel like eating out, Magnolia’s Courtney Room is regularly featured as a top restaurant in Canada, putting a sophisticated spin on Pacific Northwest flavors.
WHERE TO EAT
Victoria offers many critically acclaimed restaurants. In the downtown area alone, you can find a delicious meal around every corner. If you’re looking for the French-Canadian experience, check out Brasserie L’ecole and try their duck confit or french onion soup. Craving Italian? Il Terrazzo is rated the number one Italian restaurant in Victoria, and offers a truly cozy atmosphere. If you’re looking for the perfect brunch or breakfast location, try John’s Place Restaurant, or Murchie’s if you’re wanting to eat on-the-go. Cap off your day with a drink at some of the local bars and pubs. 10 Acres Kitchen & Commons is always buzzing with excitement– particularly over their seafood dishes and cocktails. If you’re looking for a more intimate environment, stop by Clive’s Classic Lounge for their one-of-a-kind cocktails and popular poutine.
WHAT TO DO
Victoria is teeming with historical sites and tourist attractions. The Royal British Columbia Museum is located right next to the Fairmont Empress, and may be the most interactive museum you’ll ever visit. Many of the displays are three-dimensional, immersing you into Victoria’s history, as well as the history of the Lekwungen peoples whose land is the unceded traditional territory on which Victoria resides. Once you leave the museum, walk to the Helmcken House — the oldest residence in B.C. that still exists on its original site, and the home of local politician and doctor John Sebastian Helmcken. Don’t forget to head to old town to explore Canada’s oldest Chinatown. Once home to 8,000 people, this historic district offers a glimpse into another culture. It’s also home to Fan Tan Alley, one of the narrowest corridors in the world. (If you’re looking for one of the narrowest buildings in the world, that’s in Vancouver’s Chinatown.)
Victoria offers a variety of gorgeous gardens and parks that showcase breathtaking views and recreation opportunities. The Victoria Butterfly Gardens are home to nearly 75 species of exotic butterflies and moths, in addition to other wildlife. For even more critters, The Victoria Bug Zoo showcases insects from all around the world. If you’re looking to see more flora than fauna, head to Butchart Gardens — a top tourist attraction that welcomes over one million visitors annually to its 55 acres. The city has had an annual bloom count since 1970, and 2018 reported a flower count of 3.4 billion. Victoria is also a great place to stop and smell the roses — at the Government House Rose Garden or Abkhazi Garden.
By Lindsey Major and Anelyse Morris
Nestled along the shoreline of Okanagan Lake is the seemingly small town of Kelowna. While the population is high (140,000+) and the geography is widespread (more than 80 square miles), this city feels homey. If you stay for more than a day or two, you’re sure to run into familiar faces, who will greet you with a warm smile and the classic Canadian charm. Whether your hobbies are golfing, skiing, hiking, wine tasting, or brewery hopping, Kelowna offers something for the whole family. If nothing else, there’s always a day at the lake.
Getting to Kelowna in late spring/summer/early fall is a fun family road trip. From Bellingham, it’s a little over a four-hour drive. Use the Sumas border crossing to hop on the BC-1, leading to a long haul on the Trans Canada Highway. Eventually, you’ll continue the rest of the journey on the BC-5 North, following the signs for Kelowna until you reach your destination. Be careful though — the Coquihalla Highway tends to be dangerous, especially in the cooler months. Snow tires or chains are required from October 1 to April 30. In the warmer months when the snow is gone, maintain a safe speed and you’ll be just fine.
A year-round way to access Kelowna is through the local international airport. Crossing the border by car and flying out of Vancouver is the easiest route, skipping international customs upon arrival. You can also fly directly out of Sea-Tac if you prefer. The Kelowna airport is located on the northern border of the city, with an extremely short commute to downtown and most hotels. While the airport is on the smaller side (picture the Bellingham airport), there are still a couple options to grab a bite or some souvenirs.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Eldorado at the Eldorado Resort
The British actress Olga Irene May was married to Count Johann Franz-Bubna-Litic of Austria in 1901 after many years spent on stage. After living in Paris for a few years, the couple divorced in 1908, something unheard of at the time. Because of the controversy, the Countess relocated to North America, eventually finding her way to Kelowna. Bubna used inheritance money to open a Victorian-style inn in 1926, meant to accommodate her wealthy European friends. Originally dubbed the Eldorado Arms Hotel, the lodge became a high society gathering place.
The El, as locals came to call it, maintained its social prominence throughout the ‘60s. Kelowna Mayor John Hindle used the hotel to host dog shows, garden parties, and international guests. When the hotel was purchased by the Nixon family (no relation to the U.S. president of the same name) in the ‘80s, the hotel was to be moved to its current location right on the Okanagan Lake. However, during the transition, the building burned down, leaving only the foundation and scraps. The Nixon family rebuilt the hotel at the new location using the original blueprints from 1926, restoring it to its former glory as imagined by Countess Bubna.
Today, the hotel is owned by Argus Properties. Argus also purchased the residential villas next door and the Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel on the other side of the villas. Including the Eldorado Marina, and all the facilities, restaurants, and recreation, the whole property is now referred to as the Eldorado Resort. Guests staying in the Eldorado Arms building (the original hotel) have access to everything the resort has to offer, including a business center, water sports rentals, a rooftop deck overlooking the lake, private beach access, a water slide and spray park, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a library, tennis court, basketball court, playground, putting green, and more.
The guest rooms in the Eldorado Arms building are nothing short of the Countess’s dream of luxury. Upon entry, you’re greeted with a desk area for working (or not — it’s vacation, after all). There’s a separate sitting room with armchairs, a sofa, and a fireplace. The kitchen has everything you’d need for an extended stay, including a fridge, dishwasher, dishes, and silverware. The bathroom features a pedestal sink, plenty of shelving, and the most amazing shower: choose from a rainfall, handheld, or jetted wall shower experience. And finally, the piece de resistance, the bedroom: with a king-sized bed, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a massive, deep jetted bathtub overlooking the water, this bedroom is fit for royalty. 500 Cook Rd., Kelowna, hoteleldoradokelowna.com, 250.763.7500
WHERE TO EAT
The Okanagan Table was inspired by Chef Rod Butters’ cookbook of the same name. Set in the heart of downtown Kelowna, the space is made to feel like guests are in the middle of a working kitchen — which they are. The main kitchen stoves and ovens line the left wall of the building and the baking stations line the right. All of the tables are on wheels and can be moved up and down to create a space unique to each event. It’s not a traditional restaurant: The space can be reserved for private events, or guests can attend dinners or culinary events hosted by Okanagan Table.
The main vision of the new business, which just opened in October 2019, was the “Demo & Dine” aspect. This idea refers to events in which participants are in the kitchen doing a hands-on cooking class, then enjoy the resulting meal around a table. Instead of the traditional-style cooking classes in which the chef is at the front and participants are paired off at their own table — high school lab-class style — all guests are in the kitchen with the chef, with their own tasks that bring the meal together. Then, everyone dines on the freshly cooked food at the long, farmhouse-style table. Wine pairings are also available.
Chef Butters is a well-known figure in the community for his many moves in the restaurant industry. He is the owner and co-founder of RauDZ Creative Concepts, which has established RauDZ Regional Table, Sunny’s Modern Diner, Terrafina at Hester Creek, and Micro Bar & Bites, all restaurants in the Okanagan region. The Okanagan Table team also includes Audrey Surrano, a self-proclaimed wine guru with years of wine judging experience, and Evelynn Takoff, a contestant on “Top Chef Canada” and competitor on “Chopped Canada.” Other team members include two B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame inductees, two members of the Canadian Culinary Honor Society, and a mix of professionals with awards in both food and drink. Long story short, these people know food. 1571 Pandosy St., Kelowna, theokanagantable.com, 778.484.5569
Located at 50th Parallel Estate Winery in Lake Country, BLOCK ONE represents the past and future of the establishment. The term “One” refers to being one with the land, farming both food for the restaurant and grapes for international award-winning wine. “Block” refers to the block of land on which the vineyard sits. 17101 Terrace View Rd., Lake Country, 50thparallel.com, 250.766.3408
The restaurant inside O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars features all-around floor-to-ceiling windows for a panoramic view of the vineyards. There’s an on-site organic garden and two greenhouses, so the kitchen is always stocked with the freshest fruits, veggies, and herbs possible. In the summer, sit at any of the 80 tables on the vineyard-side patio. 2290 Goldie Rd., Lake Country, orourkespeakcellars.com, 250.766.9922
Ex Nihilo Vineyards’ name was inspired by an art installation done by Fredrick Hart that sits over the doors of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The vineyard owners saw fragments and castings of Hart’s work while visiting Napa Valley, and thus the vineyard inspiration was born: Ex nihilo translates to “out of nothing.” Today, Ex Nihilo Vineyards and CHAOS Bistro form a trendy, modern, and upscale destination for locally-crafted food and wine. 1525 Camp Rd., Lake Country, exnihilovineyards.com, 250.766.5522
CedarCreek Estate Winery earned the 2019 Winery of the Year title from Intervin International Wine Awards. Enjoying the world’s best wine in a structure crafted from fieldstone and 100-year-old barn wood is dreamy enough — then add what they call “honest, confident food” cooked on a grill fired with timber from local orchards. With all of these elements, it’s just possible that this is going to be the best meal of your life. 5445 Lakeshore Rd., Kelowna, cedarcreek.bc.ca, 250.980.4663
WHAT TO DO
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Kelowna is a big wine city. Within a 20-minute radius, you can take your pick of over 40 wineries, most of which are highly ranked nationally and internationally.
Tourism Kelowna’s website will pair you with your perfect winery experience. Search by dog-friendly wineries, guided wine tours, or wine trails. Because the encompassing area is quite large, and making decisions can be tough, there are plenty of private companies that offer tours — and will act as your designated driver.
Despite spring’s recent arrival, consider stopping at some of these wineries in the wintertime. Kelowna is the most picturesque city in the winter, with everything covered in snow that sparkles against Okanagan Lake. Imagine snowshoeing through a snow-covered vineyard, to end up inside the tasting room next to the fireplace with a nice, big glass of red. If this sounds like your cup of tea — er, wine — check out The View Winery in January or February. In addition, most wineries and tasting rooms are much quieter in the off-season, giving you a better chance of meeting the owners or winemakers.
If you’re looking to channel your inner snow bunny, Kelowna is the perfect place to go skiing in the winter. With breathtaking snow-dusted mountains and cozy lodges to provide much-needed warmth afterwards, there’s an endless list of places to hit the slopes.
BIG WHITE SKI RESORT
Known as “the place to go for lots of snow,” Big White has provided winter fun since the ‘60s. This mountain resort offers more than 100 designated Alpine trails and over 25 km of Nordic trails. Not an expert? No problem. You can also schedule private lessons regardless of skill level, and there’s plenty of adult, teen, and kid programs to choose from. Cap off your day on the slopes with a delectable meal at one of the 20 mountain restaurants, lounges or pubs, and even partake in a horse-drawn sleigh dining tour. Big White is also in the process of implementing new activities and equipment — from a beginner’s magic carpet ride to brand new gondola cabins. Big White Ski Resort, 5315 Big White Rd., Kelowna, 250.765.3101, bigwhite.com
KELOWNA NORDIC SKI AND SNOWSHOE CLUB
You’ll find this beau-ski-ful set of trails just 20 minutes outside of Kelowna. With over 30 regularly groomed and monitored trails, this club offers safe and diverse experiences for you and your whole family. Perfectly equipped for skiers and snowshoers, it has lots to offer, from spectacular panoramic views to accessible day-use cabins, lessons, and tours. To top it off, you can even bring four-legged friends on any of the dog-friendly trails. Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club, McCulloch Rd., Kelowna, kelownanordic.com
TELEMARK NORDIC CLUB
This ski and snowshoe club provides opportunities for adventurers of all experience levels. With courses and competitions ranging from “development,” to “competitive,” for toddlers through adults, everyone can improve their skills. Winter means short days, but don’t let that interfere with your recreation time. Telemark offers lighted trails, making night skiing possible and safer. So, grab your skis or snowshoes, take in views of the Okanagan Valley, and finish the night with a warm drink by the fire in the communal lodge. Telemark Nordic Club, 4425 Glenrosa Rd., Kelowna, 250.707. 5925, telemarknordic.com
SILVERSTAR MOUNTAIN RESORT
What makes Silverstar so special? It’s got a village attached. Ski through a variety of terrain — 3,000 acres of land and 1,600 meters in elevation–with runs ranging from beginner to expert. The 100% natural snow in the Monashee Mountain Range will leave you cloaked in both white and joy. On the mountain, you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, fat bike, ice skate, go winter tubing — and a whole lot more. Nestled in the mid-mountain area, you’ll find a mountain village packed with fun activities, stores, restaurants, hotels, and lodges. While it’s a little outside Kelowna, the endless amenities will make the trip worth your while. Silverstar Mountain Resort, 123 Shortt St., 250. 542. 0224, skisilverstar.com
Whether you are looking for the perfect item for yourself or a loved one, or are simply looking for a delightful browse, check out some of the 100+ shops in Downtown Kelowna. Find bargains or collectables at a variety of art, antiques, and thrift shops. Locate one-of-a-kind items to decorate your home — or yourself — at the dozens of home and apparel stores.
This district’s got you covered for evening fun as well. A night out might entail a hip nightclub, a laid-back pub, live theater or music, or even comedy. Depending on the timing, you could start your night at Downtown Kelowna After 5 — where more than 200 people meet to eat and party — then catch a touring show at Kelowna Community Theatre, move on to jam night at a pub, and finish it out enjoying DJ-curated beats.
But wait, there’s more. Downtown Kelowna is home to a flight-training center, art galleries, museums, studios, tours, cruises, casinos, theaters, sports centers, and a gorgeous Downtown Marina with boat rentals if you want to explore further.
Myra Canyon offers the chance to learn more about the history of the Kettle Valley Railway and its stunning Myra Canyon Trestles, all while enjoying scenic views. This trail is just shy of 15 miles and is supported by 18 trestles. To experience its deep history and amazing views, you can walk or bike the trail, either solo or on a guided tour.
By Amy Anderson Guerra and Anelyse Morris
Just across the border is one of the world’s top cities for style, livability, major events — and tourism. Attractions range from museums focused on science and art to simulated experiences of competing in the Olympics or flying over the city. Real life outings to famous bridges, parks, and beach walks are a breeze, and shopping is diverse and divine.
A culturally rich city, Vancouver attributes its eclectic feel to the influence of many different ethnic groups. Vancouver has regions like Chinatown and Little India, a Japanese festival and gardens, an Italian Cultural Centre and concentration of Italian eateries. Around the city, you’ll find art and culture from First Nations inhabitants.
Much like Seattle, Vancouver’s big-city buzz is tempered by its natural features. The lure of sunlight on the water or the beauty of the surrounding peaks will make you want to get out and take a stroll. Here’s a guide to some of downtown Vancouver’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
If you are traveling from the US, there are four places to cross the border into Canada within close range of Vancouver. The Washington State Department of Transportation provides access to camera feeds and wait times on its website, wsdot.com. There are also electronic traveler information signs on Interstate 5 that give wait times and could inform a route-change decision.
Coming from south of Whatcom County, or the coastal region within, your best route will be to travel up I-5 to a choice of the Peace Arch or Pacific Highway crossings. Both are open 24 hours and offer NEXUS lanes for pre-approved, expedited travel. While Pacific Highway is a smaller operation and a short diversion off-route, the line-up can be shorter at times so it’s smart to note the posted wait times.
Once in Canada, follow BC99 through Delta and Richmond, and then in South Vancouver you’ll transition from Oak St. to Granville St. before crossing the Granville Bridge into the Downtown core from the south.
If you’re coming from inland Whatcom County, you might choose to cross at Lynden or Sumas crossings, found at the northern ends of Guide Meridian Road and WA-9, respectively. Lynden’s crossing is only open from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., and neither crossing has NEXUS accommodations. Once crossing into Canada you will want to travel west on Trans-Canada Highway/BC-1 through Surrey and Burnaby, and will enter downtown from the east.
Cross-Border Transit[Text Wrapping Break]If you’re looking for a car-free experience, Quick Shuttle connects the Sea-Tac airport with downtown Vancouver, stopping at Seattle locations, Tulalip, Bellingham, and a few B.C. locations in between. Their coaches have washroom facilities and specialize in cross-border travel. quickcoach.com
Bolt Bus has service from Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, and Bellingham, and travels to Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station, just east of downtown. From Bellingham’s Cordata Station, the one-way fare is typically under $20. boltbus.com
Amtrak connects anywhere along the Cascades line into Vancouver, also terminating at Pacific Central Station. The Seattle north-bound train runs two times per day. amtrakcascades.com
Canadian Transit[Text Wrapping Break]The Expo Line of B.C. Rapid Transit has a stop near Pacific Central Station to continue your Bolt Bus or Amtrak journey on to Chinatown or Gastown, timing and luggage permitting. Vancouver has buses, two other SkyTrain routes, and a SeaBus into Burrard Inlet. translink.ca.
To hop back and forth along False Creek’s attractions, including Granville Island and downtown neighborhoods, Vancouver has water taxis that stop at eight locations approximately every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. You can purchase a day pass or a one-time fare, and tickets are available through the website or on board the boat. theaquabus.com
WHERE TO STAY
Downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park sit on a peninsula in the Burrard Inlet. For accommodations with stunning northern views over Vancouver Harbor there are hotels by the dock at Canada Place and close to Gastown. These include Fairmont Waterfront or the five-star-rated Fairmont Pacific Rim and Pan Pacific Vancouver. On the more southerly False Creek side of things, the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver will put you right next to B.C. Place stadium, while upscale and fun Opus Hotel gets you into the heart of Yaletown.
A budget-friendly option right in the thick of things is the YWCA Hotel Vancouver, named 2019 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for the Best Bargain Hotel in Canada. Want to feel like you live there? Hit the Times Square Suites Hotel in the West End, just two blocks from Stanley Park and a walk or transit ride to the heart of downtown. These apartment-styled rooms have a full kitchen and washer/dryer, along with a rooftop grill.
Granville Island sits in False Creek, a water taxi or bridge-drive away from the other neighborhoods of downtown. A boutique option right on the water is the Granville Island Hotel, known for its quiet location outside the bustle of downtown proper.
On a stroll from Canada Place dock to B.C. Place Stadium you’ll pass the edge of Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood. This roughly five-by-three block area emits charm as plainly as the steam blowing from its signature steam-powered clock on Water Street. Formed around an 1867 saloon for forestry workers, the feeling of everyday fun has lived on in streets lined with pubs, restaurants, galleries, and shops. Cocktails are creative, and in plentiful supply, just like saloon owner ”Gassy Jack ” would have wanted it.
WHERE TO EAT
Gastown is a gastronomic delight, so perhaps eat lightly and often to take in the wide variety of fare. Revolver Coffee on Cambie Street prides itself on coffee from world-class roasters and a great experience to go with it — often topping best-of lists. MeeT owners are on a mission to connect people through vegan comfort food, and with menu items like “Fries Done Right,” and “…I Dream of Poutine”. Tuc Craft Kitchen, or just Tuc, was formed by three industry veterans and features Canadian farm-to-table fare in small bites or mains. From brunch to late-night happy hour, food is accompanied by perfect beverage pairings.
Steamworks uses the same pipes that connect to Gastown’s steam-powered clock to pioneer steam-powered brewing in Canada — to great acclaim. More than 20 years of serving hungry and thirsty folks hearty brew pub fare makes this a safe bet. If you’re ready to commit to a superlative dining experience, Bauhaus offers three to six-course tasting menus that might start with beetroot carpaccio, move to wild boar, and have a main course of chateaubriand.
WHAT TO DO
Gastown is a great place to wander. You can marvel at the Victorian Italianate, Edwardian Commercial, and Romanesque architecture by yourself, or join a guided tour for insight, theatrics, and camaraderie. Gastown Walking Food Tour combines historical background with food tastings, and keeps things fresh by sending you out with a professional improv comic as your guide. The Lost Souls of Gastown Walking Tour focuses on haunted history for adults using theater and storytelling to engage you in unsolved mysteries and tragic past events.
To see things from above, The Vancouver Lookout is a 40-second glass elevator ride that takes you 553 feet in the air for a view in all directions. One ticket allows return visits during the same day to view the city in different lights. Down below, be inspired by a full range of visual arts at galleries curated around single artists, world collections, and First Nations art. Inuit Gallery of Vancouver has featured Canadian aboriginal art for over 40 years, from sculptures to graphics to jewelry.
Don’t forget to take your picture with the steam clock and the statue of Gassy Jack.
Stretching along the waterfront of False Creek is the incredibly chic collection of eclectic shops and patio cafes of Yaletown. Loft residences and park spaces minimize the bustle, and the area is equally appropriate for a family day or a couple’s night out. From the terminus that saw the first transcontinental passenger train in 1887 to improvements from the 1986 World’s Fair, this area has always held excitement and charm.
WHERE TO EAT
The Blue Water Cafe tops not only the neighborhood lists but also rankings among best Vancouver restaurants in general. Specializing in sustainable seafood, the restaurant features a raw bar and the charming “brick and beam” feel of a Yaletown warehouse conversion. On the more casual side, Yaletown Brewing Company is a lively pub with a pool table and fireplace — along with a 160-seat restaurant that spills out onto the sidewalk for sunny drinks and dining. Enjoy cuisine from the south of France combined with Canadian coastal flavors and waterfront views at Provence Marinaside.
WHAT TO DO
David Lam Park and George Wainborn Park are waterside parks that allow you to get out into the fresh air along the seawall. Whether you walk, jog, or bike, you’ll enjoy the public art and great views. Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre is worth a visit whether you’re into trains, art, architecture, or just cultural phenomena. The Engine 374 Pavilion is open for daily, free visits to the famed steam engine, and the supporting complex is a marvel of community development through arts and culture. To the north is the Contemporary Art Gallery, also free to the public but closed Mondays. Shopping involves unique, boutique shops.
One of the largest Chinatowns in North America, this area to the east of downtown is six blocks long and more than 100 years old. Bustling, colorful stores are mixed with the calm of a traditional garden — and of course there is dim sum when you need to refuel. Enjoy the history, but also note a new generation of business owners bringing a diverse flair.
WHERE TO EAT
In a building that has been a restaurant for almost 100 years, Sai Woo offers contemporary Asian-fusion in a casual atmosphere. If you want to visit the past, head downstairs to the Woo Bar, a living remnant of an era of secret underground parlors. If you’re in search of dim sum, options include Floata, a giant, third-floor dining room with a large menu and fast service, or Jade Dynasty, a smaller operation with an inviting green storefront and old-style feel. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie is celebrated for its intimate dining experiences with shared plates accompanied by cocktails and fine wines.
WHAT TO DO
Shopping and dining converge in this wonderland of exotic delicacies. The Chinese Tea Shop, run by Hong Kong-born Chinese tea expert Daniel Lui, provides opportunities for tasting, shopping, and learning — before going in, visit thechineseteashop.com to find your perfect tea with an online Tea Wizard. Get a steamed bun at New Town Bakery, or browse B.C.-grown ginseng at one of the many apothecaries. The commercial district is also full of fashion, homewares, electronics, and more.
Iconic photo opportunities include the dragon-covered Millennium Gate, and the world’s narrowest building at just six feet: the Sam Kee Building. Then head to the top attraction for visitors, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible collection of pavilions, walkways, ponds, and gardens was named among the world’s top city gardens by National Geographic.
Just a bridge away from downtown Vancouver is a delightful district known as Granville Island. Only 35 acres, this industrial hub turned cultural center is home to numerous businesses and offers beautiful views and charming, old-timey vibes. Situated on False Creek south of downtown, Granville is a perfect combination of old and new, and the ideal day-cation spot to visit during your time in Vancouver.
WHERE TO EAT
Being right on the water has its perks: Granville is a top destination for seafood. If you’re looking for some superb fish and chips, try Go Fish, a small cafe located right at the island’s bridge entrance. Nearby, you’ll find the famous Granville Island Public Market, a collection of over 50 food vendors with a huge variety of delicious meals and snacks. Among these is Lee’s Donuts, always high on Vancouver rankings for its unique, mouth-watering pastries.
For a place to sit down, try Edible Canada, located right across the market. Great for those with dietary restrictions, this establishment features authentic Canadian cuisine with fresh, nutritious ingredients and tasty cocktails. If you’re looking to expand your palate, or are already a lover of Afghani food, stop at Afghan Horsemen Restaurant. This eatery right across the bridge offers a variety of food and drink items, each one more beloved than the last. Accompanied by the majestic atmosphere, this place offers the comfort food you didn’t know you needed.
WHAT TO DO
While Granville is often seen as a shopping district, plenty of other activities abound. Explore local artwork and photography at Studio 13 Fine Art, or hear local music from some of Granville’s numerous buskers. You can also catch a show at The Red Gate Revue Stage, The NEST, or Performance Works. If you have some time on your hands, try wildlife watching. Prince of Whales and Wild Whales Vancouver offer prime whale watching experiences. Bird lovers should head to Sutcliffe Park.
If you’re visiting Granville during the warmer months, there are tons of water activities for an adventure or a cool-down. Rent a boat and cruise the harbor, hit the Granville Island Water Park, or take a walk along the sea wall to enjoy the breeze off the water while staying dry. Still unsure what to do? The Granville Island website has a planning tool that lets you build a schedule, helping you make the most out of your time on Granville Island.
Attractions Close to the Border
By Amy Anderson Guerra
Like dipping a toe in the ocean, enjoy these finds for Canadian fun that don’t require traveling too far beyond the border.
White Rock Beach
Five miles of sand and the shallow, protected waters of Semiahmoo Bay make for a stellar outing only three miles from Peace Arch crossing. Divided into West Beach, with its historic pier, and East Beach, the perfect spot for a day of sandcastles and kite flying, the whole area enjoys views of the San Juan Islands and Coast Mountains. Rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, skimboards, or try out hydroflying. explorewhiterock.com
Richmond – Riverport Entertainment Complex
Need a kid-friendly escape? Just 20 miles into Canada off Steveston Highway on the southeast corner of Richmond you’ll find the end of the rainbow for indoor entertainment. Watermania is both affordable and awesome for all ages. In addition to traditional lap swimming and diving boards, visitors will find a timed wave pool, spray garden area, waterslides, hot tubs, saunas, and occasionally even rope swings and giant water balls kids can get inside.
Also in the complex, Richmond Ice Centre has six, NHL-sized rinks. Extreme Air Park is Canada’s largest trampoline park with 42,000 square feet of interlocking trampolines and activities. If you need a relaxing break, catch a movie at SilverCity Riverport Cinemas (there is also IMAX), and then fuel up at The Old Spaghetti Factory before bowling at Lucky 9 Lanes.
Richmond – Steveston
Travel west on Steveston Highway and you’ll hit this charming, working fishing village situated at the mouth of the Fraser River. For a small place it holds high honors — Steveston is home to the largest salmon run in North America, the first dojo house ever built outside of Japan, and has been the filming spot for several movies. Go there to eat, learn about Japanese-Canadian culture, and check out the daily catch as you stroll the pier.