Ten places to go in B.C. for summer vacation
Ever notice how much easier it is to get out of bed once summer finally arrives? Light streams in early through the window blinds, promising a sunny day ahead; it would be a shame to miss any of it. Long daylight hours mean activities don’t need to wind down at 5 p.m. All of a sudden it’s 8:30 p.m. and you’re still outdoors, not in front of the TV. This is how life is meant to be.
While enjoying summer in the city is all well and good, this is the season when the rest of B.C. really comes into its own. Sparkling ocean, clear lakes, stunning mountain views… Remember why you live in this province? Oh yeah. Now’s the time to get out there and see it. Here are 10 places to go and things to do.
Walk on water near Kamloops
Stand-up paddleboarding, otherwise known as SUP, is a tranquil way to whip your core and balance into shape. If you’ve always thought the sport looked fun, summer’s a great time to try it out on gentle lake waves. At Heffley Lake, northeast of Kamloops, Surfit offers two-hour introductory lessons, “paddle fit” workouts, and three-hour lake tours. For other Okanagan SUP opportunities, see oksup.com/.
Sightsee on high in Whistler
Summer is just as spectacular as winter in Whistler, and you don’t have to bundle up before hitting the slopes. Nothing rivals a ride on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which connects Whistler and Blackcomb mountains over the evergreens, an especially thrilling ride if you catch one of the glass-bottomed cable cars. Up high, wander around the hiking trails or just kick back at Christine’s on Blackcomb (reopening June 29), where you can enjoy dishes like moules frites and a glass of Viognier on the patio, which has a panoramic view that could be pasted on a tourism billboard.
Get festive in Pender Harbour
While you could explore the interconnected bays, coves, and islands of this Sunshine Coast community anytime this summer, why not catch some festival fun? The Lions Club’s third annual Pender Harbour Summer Garlic & Music Festival takes place August 11 and 12, with hayrides, face painting, live music, and, oh yes…fresh garlic and garlic treats. If you’re not a fan of the stinking rose, time your visit for the June 1 to 3 blues festival or the August 16 to 19 chamber-music festival. For other happenings, see the Sunshine Coast Canada website.
Golf in Pemberton
The word scenic doesn’t do justice to the setting of Big Sky Golf and Country Club, located in Pemberton, about 30 minutes north of Whistler. At the base of towering Mount Currie, the lovely course makes keeping your eye on the ball difficult. The club’s Fescue’s Restaurant has a patio with a view so awe-inspiring it’s worth stopping by for a drink even if you’re not golfing. Nearby Pemberton Valley Lodge offers packages that combine an 18-hole round or two with a night in its mountainview suites. See the Pemberton Valley Lodge website.
Go to market on Salt Spring Island
With its picturesque location on the water at Centennial Park in Ganges, this market is a must for anybody visiting Salt Spring Island over a Saturday. The “homespun guarantee” (“make it, bake it, or grow it”) means that everything is vendor-produced and -sold. Over 140 artisans and food producers offer everything from exotic mushrooms to lavender essential oil to environmental and social-justice buttons. It’s a great place to pick up the makings of a picnic, such as fresh, basil-topped Salt Spring Island Cheese Company chèvre.
Drink and let someone else drive in the South Okanagan
On a wine-tasting holiday, most people would rather not be the designated driver. With OK Wine Shuttle, everyone in your party is free to swallow rather than spit. The shuttle isn’t a tour; rather, it’s a hop-on, hop-off service that you can use at your own pace. It operates two continuous loops all day. The first runs in Osoyoos and Oliver, connecting wineries along the Black Sage bench and the Golden Mile. The other runs from Penticton to Naramata, making stops at wineries like Laughing Stock and Therapy vineyards. Plus, the company now has an evening dinner shuttle connecting Oliver and Osoyoos hotels such as Watermark Beach Resort with winery restaurants.
Pamper yourself silly in Ucluelet
Just kicking back and gazing out at the rugged coastline of western Vancouver Island eases the blood pressure—but a nice massage helps too. The Drift Spa at Ucluelet’s Black Rock Oceanfront Resort offers both with its oceanfront relaxation lounge. For facials and body treatments, the spa stays with the ocean theme using the Seaflora line of certified organic products made from various types of seaweed and kelp. Treatments can be booked individually or as part of an overnight package; check out the Black Resort website.
Pedal hard in the Cariboo Chilcotin
Single-track freedom calls in the South Chilcotin, where advanced mountain bikers can embark on a four- to seven-night trip along cross-country tracks and alpine trails, with some technical downhill action. Riders cover about 15 to 30 kilometres a day, but they don’t have to schlep their gear: it’s transported by packhorse or floatplane to the next backcountry camp. Tyax Adventures offers the tours, which start and end at the Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa, about 100 kilometres north of Whistler. Half-day rides from the resort are also available.
Pedal easy in the Comox Valley
If the thought of ending a day of cycling with a gourmet meal or spa treatment appeals, check out Island Joy Rides . The Vancouver Island company offers five-day, four-night cycling trips through the Comox Valley and Quadra Island that are designed to maximize pleasure. The Tour de Spa includes treatments at Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa in Courtenay and April Point Resort & Spa on Quadra Island. The West Coast Foodie tour covers similar terrain and features a winery tour, a cooking class, and a salmon feast on the beach. The company rents bikes and offers daytrips too, if a few hours of cycling is what you’re looking for.
Swing like a monkey around B.C.
You’ve heard of ziplining and bungee jumping, but you may not know about Monkido. A play on “monkey see, monkey do”, Monkido is a Tarzan-like aerial fun course in the trees at WildPlay Element Parks. It’s geared to families, and everyone moves at their own pace through a series of obstacle games suspended from two to 18 metres above the ground (think rope swings, ladders, tightropes, and other wobbly things). In B.C., Monkido is offered at WildPlay locations in Whistler, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Victoria, and (opening in July) Kelowna.