Beaches, museums, bungee jumping, wineries and everything in between: from the extreme to the sublime; the leisurely to the sporty; the historical to the trendy; British Columbia has it all.
Thrill-seekers can zipline in Whistler, or make their way across the daunting and breathtaking Capilano Suspension Bridge. Lovers of nature and whimsy can explore enchanted forests, old-growth trees, and butterflies, or perhaps experience the life of a cowboy for a day. The romantic at heart will delight in walking the many halls of Craigdarroch Castle. Adventurous foodies can sample Aboriginal cuisine at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre; while the more sophisticated palate will delight in sipping fine Okanagan Chardonnay at one of the Valley’s several wineries, or indulge in artisanal cheeses from Granville Island Public Market. Art and history aficionados surely spend countless hours in the halls of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria.
In a nutshell, British Columbia offers exciting escapades for every traveler! Families, couples, groups, or those going solo: there is adventure to be had by all.
British Columbia – commonly referred to by its initials, BC or B.C. – is a province located on the west coast of Canada. Its capital is Victoria (Named for the Queen who, in 1858, created and named the Colony of British Columbia), and Vancouver is its largest city (also the third largest metropolitan area in Canada.)
An estimated 4,606,371 people populated B.C., as of October 2013, with about 2.5 million of whom were in Greater Vancouver.
B.C. is currently ruled by the Liberal Party, and it thrives on a largely resource-based economy; with a vast wealth of agricultural resources coming from the rich valleys of Fraser and Okanagan.
The area of B.C. is home to numerous flora and fauna, as much of the province is still wild or semi-wild. The province takes great care of its natural environment, with the parks and protected areas system now totaling over 1000 protected areas, covering over 14 million hectares, or 14.4% of the province. There are 141 ecological Reserves, 35 provincial marine parks, 7 Provincial Heritage Sites, 6 National Historic Sites of Canada, 4 National Parks and 3 National Park Reserves. That’s a lot of Mother Nature to love!
Vancouver, B.C.’s bustling cosmopolitan big city, is as diverse as it is rich in culture, nature and heritage. This city by the harbour is also the perfect Canadian destination for year-round water sports; the ideal offering for lovers of the aquatic.
Some of Vancouver’s top-spots, awaiting visitors from far and wide (and from nearby, too!):
1. Chinatown and Dr. Su-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden
What is any city without its own Chinatown? Vancouver boasts North America’s second largest Chinatown; transporting visitors to an Oriental realm of delicious food, authentic crafts and lively street performers, which begins with a walk through the ‘China Gate’ on Pender Street . A definite highlight of a visit to Chinatown is The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, touted as the first full-size Chinese garden built outside of China.
2. Stanley Park
One thousand majestic acres of verdant foliage comprise the city of Vancouver’s “green heart.” Much of this acreage (400-acres, to be more precise) is thick West Coast rainforest, with marked trails which allow visitors to explore this virtual jungle of gargantuan trees. A perfect spot for families, Stanley Park has beaches which allow for a closer inspection of various boats; a playground with a vintage fire engine, a pool and water slides; and the Children’s Farmyard and Railway, where kids can pet farm animals and ride a miniature train through the forest. Fun for the whole clan!
3. Grouse Mountain
Named by early hikers after the game bird, Grouse Mountain offers a variety of cultural, educational and outdoor adventures. Merely 15-minutes from Vancouver, visitors can engage in the best of local skiing and snowboarding, with floodlit runs open until 10pm for the late-night thrill seeker. Snowshoeing, ice skating, sleigh rides, and dining of epicurean proportions likewise await. Come with your appetite – the Mountain’s restaurants are award-winning!
4. Robson Street
Billed as “Three Amazing Blocks of Awesome,” Robson Street is a three-block stretch in downtown Vancouver, and is the city’s most famous shopping street in British Columbia. High-end boutiques, fine dining establishments, artsy coffee shops, and nights loaded with entertaining sidewalk shows from energetic street artist’s make a visit to this shopper’s haven truly worth your while. The street is a perfect area for people-watching and soaking in a diversity of cultures, as well.
5. Capilano Suspension Bridge
Dating back to 1889, the thrilling Capilano Suspension Bridge is among Vancouver’s oldest and most famous attractions. The bold and brave can get their kicks crossing the 137-meter (450 feet) long, 70-meter (230 feet) high wire cable bridge, while the more timid of heart can take delight in an ecotour through the rain forest, while the time away at award-winning gardens, take a leisurely trek through nature trails, and ogle at North American’s largest private collection of First Nations totem poles.
Picturesque and vivid Victoria is a definite must-visit for lovers of beauty and leisure. On the southern tip of Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia coast, Victoria is a throwback to old-world Europe’s quaint and charming ways. Victoria offers travelers a scenic refuge, replete with local fare (a spot of afternoon tea, perhaps), outdoor activities and lush gardens. Spend the day taking in the many gorgeous sights, then cap if off with a glass of local wine from sunny Cowichan Valley.
Victoria’s prominent attractions include:
1. Afternoon Tea at the White Heather Tea Room
Afternoon tea is an enduring custom throughout Victoria, with numerous tea houses across the city. Quite possibly the best (and most visited) of these is the White Heather Tea Room, where one can choose from an impressive selection of traditional teas and blends, and savour delectable homemade scones, tea sandwiches and other mouth-watering treats.
2. The Butchart Gardens
With over a million visitors yearly, the beauty of The Butchart Gardens is definitely among the most beheld of all Victoria’s scenic spots. The seasonal magnificence seems to suddenly bloom through the garden’s 55 acres of grounds manicured to perfection, and bedazzled with a riot of colourful, fragrant flowers.
3. Prince of Whales Whale Watching
A whale of a tale awaits visitors on board the Prince of Whales ecological vessels; as you are brought out to open sea to behold the majesty of Orca whales, Minke whales, and Humpback whales. Keep your eyes peeled, as well, for eagles, sea lions, and other amazing creatures in their natural setting. Truly an adventure like no other for the entire family!
4. Wine Tasting
Comprising the second-largest wine region in British Columbia, Southern Vancouver Island offers the finest varieties of the fruit of the vine. Most of the region’s wineries are found on the sunny slopes of captivating Cowichan Valley; a fertile area of rolling hills set against a backdrop of stunning ocean and mountain views.
5. Craigdarroch Castle
Dating back to the Victorian-era, this mansion constructed in the 1890’s showcases the finest of turn of the century living. Boasting 39 luxurious rooms set in a sprawling 20,000 s0quare foot grounds, this four-story castle is best known for its air of romance, intricate stained-glass windows and exquisitely crafted woodwork.
Whistler enjoys the reputation of being North America’s number one mountain resort, offering year round outdoor activities for the whole family. The active traveler may opt for the ultimate ski adventure atop Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, or – in the summer – hike through numerous nature trails to behold verdant greenery and panoramic views. Whistlers’ renowned PEAK 2 PEAK gondola is the best way to get from one adventure to another; but those who prefer to stay cozy indoors can relax in the café or spa of their choice, or shop ‘til they drop at one of the mountain resorts many boutiques.
When in Whistler:
1. Village Shopping
Every shopper’s fantasy come to life, Whistler Village is simply sensational. Stroll down walkways and plazas leading to a seemingly endless array of shops, boutiques, art galleries, theatres and restaurants. Whether you’re in the market for fashionista-worthy top-of-the-line fashion, or rugged sportswear, Whistler Village is a veritable retail mecca!
2. Scandinave Spa
Nestled in the heart of a spruce and cedar forest, right by on the edge of picture-perfect Lost Lake and Spruce Grove parks, is the sanctum that is Scandinave Spa. Affording awe-inspiring views of surrounding mountains and low-lying valleys, spa guests can look forward not only to kicking back in this blissful atmosphere, but also to the most relaxing of treatments. Hot baths, invigorating waterfalls, and heavenly massages are just some of the things in store!
3. Peak2Peak Alpine Experience
What better way to traverse between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains than on Whistler’s signature PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola? Imagine a 360-degree view of Whistler’s famous Alps-like surroundings, as you head out into the thrill of the mountains. Go sightseeing, hike the nature trails to ancient glaciers, explore a black bear habitat, maybe sip on some high tea in a rustic alpine hut.
Check out the Peak2Peak Experience.
4. Ziptrek Tours
See Whistler from a vantage point like no other: from a zipline 200-feet above the waters of Fitzsimmons Creek and through the treetop vistas that divide Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains! Take the adventure a notch further on agility-defying forest boardwalks and suspension bridges, or increase your knowledge about old growth trees as you glean a wealth of information from personal tour guides.
5. Whistler Bungee
Get your adrenaline fix; bungee jumping in the ruggedly beautiful wilderness of the Whistler Resort Valley! Located in the center of a thicket of old growth forests and craggy basalt column cliffs, this activity provides the incomparable thrill of jumping from a 160 foot bridge, extending 300 feet over the glacial fed Cheakamus River.
Discover B.C., in all its beauty, today!