Plan Your Vacation to Vancouver, Victoria and the Sunshine Coast
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- Posted on: March 6th, 2013
“We’re planning a trip to Vancouver or Victoria – what do you recommend we see and do while there?”
This is a question asked of me by many friends, so here are my ideas for your trip to our beautiful city, and more!
I love promoting my Beautiful British Columbia as I was born here and think there’s no where else as spectacular. You will see majestic snow covered mountains, harbours, ocean, beaches, and parks – and that’s just during the taxi ride from the airport!
Vancouver offers diverse cultural shopping, food, open markets, harbour side dining, Stanley Park Aquarium, Science World and more exploring and sightseeing than you will be able to take in. A “must” is the seawall walk around Stanley Park, a day on Granville Island and a visit to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. If you’re doing that, you should also go to Grouse Mountain Ski Resort and take the gondola ride to the top (photographers will go nuts!) Spending a week or more in Vancouver will allow you to experience the many local attractions, all within walking distance of downtown. There’s a huge selection of hotels – if you can afford the price, stay in the downtown area for ease of getting around.
If you fly in to “YVR” rent a car, take the Light Rapid Transit or hop a bus or taxi to your hotel. I can’t begin to tell you all there is to see and do in and around Vancouver, but a simple google search will keep you occupied for hours.
Personally, I’d drive to Whistler too. It’s a “must see.” Enjoy a day of skiing or snow boarding, a ride up the gondola to the top of the mountain, go golfing, shopping, pub hopping (it’s so much fun sitting in an outdoor bar, like the Longhorn, watching the skiers come down the mountain) or simply wander and people watch. You won’t be disappointed with your Whistler experience.
An alternative (which I recommend) to flying to Vancouver is to fly to Seattle and/or Bellingham. It’s nearly always a cheaper flight cost and an easy drive to the BC/Washington border crossing. Be sure to stop at a duty free if you want alcohol – it’s much cheaper than our BC prices – but only buy the maximum you are allowed to bring across the border. From Seattle it’s about a 3 hour drive, from Bellingham only 45 minutes. You can even stand with one foot in each country if you park for a short visit to see the Peace Arch, grab some photo opps, and take a pit stop. A stop at the Visitor Center on the BC side will give you enough information and brochures to keep you occupied 24/7.
If you take the first exit after the Visitor Center and go left at the roundabout, heading West will take you directly into downtown White Rock – a lovely sea side city with shops, sandy beaches, restaurants, pier, park and walkway. It’s definitely worth a visit for lunch and more photo opps. This is the area where I lived for 30 years while raising my family
Back on the highway, it’s less than an hour into Vancouver.
A great alternative to driving is to take the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to our Provincial Capital, Victoria. I’ve never done the trip on the clipper but have boated those waters and can tell you it’s a wonderful way to see both Seattle and Victoria Harbour.
Victoria is a beautiful city with flowers galore! There’s plenty to do there, museum, shopping, Butchart Gardens (pronounced “booshart”,) High Tea at the Empress, sightseeing and more that I’ve never even done. You could easily spend a week in and around Victoria, with side trips to various unique small towns – too numerous to go into – google will help you there.
Now, here’s where my area of BC comes in to play, if you are adventurous, have a week or more, and want to explore more of our coast.
You could do the BC Ferries Circle Island trip, starting in Vancouver or Victoria. Check http://www.vancouverisland.com/attractions/?id=57 for details of where to begin and end. You’d cover a lot of ground and it’s a very popular route especially if you plan to travel by motor home, van, camper or even if you’re tenting. Driving by car is easy too but try to book hotels or motels ahead. If you’re traveling in the peak season or on holiday weekends you should reserve space on the ferry as there’s usually a one to two hour wait if the ferries are busy.
Doing the circle island route, you’d be going right past my doorstep and I have a small campground if you’d like to stay a night or two. And, I’ll bet your kids would LOVE it here: WestsResort.com or facebook.com/westsresort/ I have beaches to explore, wildlife (watch for Elk on the road) and lots of room to run off some energy during a road trip – or to sit quietly on the dock, fishing or watching the sunset.
A must see in Egmont, on the Sunshine Coast, in my opinion, is the Skookumchuck Rapids: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/skook_narrows/ The easy hike through the rainforest takes about an hour each way. Pack bottled water, snacks and be prepare to see extreme kayaking if you plan around visiting at a maximum flood tide. Don’t forget your camera.
If you enjoy swimming we have lovely lakes where you can spend the day, picnic and swim. Boat, sightseeing, diving and fishing tours are very popular in Egmont, and other areas of our coast.
There’s also a pub, marina, cabins & motel a mile away from my place – Backeddy Resort: http://www.backeddy.ca or the West Coast Wilderness Lodge – an upscale resort: http://www.wcwl.com
The weather is rather unpredictable so pack a sweater or warm jacket no matter the time of year.
Whatever plans you make, I’m sure you will enjoy your visit to Beautiful BC! Once you’re home from your vacation, be sure to let me know the highlights. What area was the most fun, the most interesting and where would you recommend to others who wish to visit the Vancouver are?