Places to Go & Things to do When Visiting
British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver Island: Cowichan Valley provides a taste of the countryside:
Need incentive to travel? Hand-crafted treats and homegrown flavors are sure to draw you to Vancouver Island’s delectable Saison Market Vineyard, north of Duncan. Thanks to the fine touch of Ingrid Lehwald and Frédéric Desbiens, garden-fresh soups, artisan breads, fruit preserves, savory treats, pastries and baked goods — all fashioned in the market vineyard kitchen — will have you singing their sweet praises each weekend when Saison opens its doors to guests. For flavors steeped in tradition, continue the journey north to the Teafarm. This four-hectare (11-acre) small-scale commercial tea grower — the first in Canada — produces aromatic pours, thanks to a landscape that nurtures a wide variety of herbs and flowers, alongside the tea plant Camellia sinensis. Here, just south of Nanaimo, Victor Vesely and Margit Nellemann produce 23 original hand-blended cups that include the smoky Cowichan Caravan, the revitalizing White Lavender and the earthy Minty Nettle. You can even pull up a pillow in the tasting room to sample the farm’s Chinese Zodiac pours: warm the senses with a steaming mug of lemon balm, rose and chamomile Rabbit Tea (2011’s signature blend), or linger over the calendula flowers and ginger root of the green Dragon Tea, a 2012 brew sure to bring in the new year with a bite. www.saisonmarket.ca; www.teafarm.ca
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Vancouver, Coast & Mountains: Glaciers, Mountains and Airplanes, Oh My!
Sometimes a bird’s eye view offers the very best vantage point. Not to mention a total adrenalin rush. With Squamish’s Glacier Air, you get both, thanks to flightseeing tours that buckle in for high-flying glimpses of glaciers, mountains and forests between Vancouver and Whistler. You could, for example, spend 25 exhilarating minutes high above the Squamish Valley, with unobstructed views of the rainforests, ice falls and glaciers that make up the Tantalus Mountain Range. There’s a 40-minute panoramic tour into Garibaldi Provincial Park — one of BC’s largest — complete with unforgettable glimpses of the mighty Black Tusk and the Mamquam Icefield. To cool the jets, the 50-minute “Olympic” tour of the mountain town of Whistler is a tad bit more sedate, with views of a natural volcanic dam, Cloudburst Mountain, and glimpses of the ski runs on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains that garnered so much gold during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. No matter your choice, you’re in good hands with the pros at Glacier Air; with over 25 years of in-flight experience, these pilots will surely demonstrate that the sky is the limit. www.glacierair.com
To read more story ideas from the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region, visit www.hellobc.com/vcmbcmedia.
Northern BC: In Smithers, Plan B just might be Plan A:
When brewer Mark Gillis decided to put his stamp on his Northern BC community, he chose to raise a glass. A cold, frothy one. His headquarters? Plan B Brewing, where Gillis blends local, organic and fairly traded ingredients, creating six distinct flavors for the masses. There’s Revenge of the Pine Ale, a slightly cloudy, copper-hued sip with sweet undertones, and the Half Cracked Nut Brown, a sumptuous roasted barley, nut-flavored pour. The Idiot Rock India Pale Ale — named for a popular fishing hole outside of town — blends citrus and floral flavors, a perfect pairing with just-caught salmon, while McHugh’s Oatmeal Stout is a nod to Gillis’s wife’s family legacy, with its smooth, creamy taste that boasts generous amounts of chocolate malt and rolled oats. Bitter Bob Extra Special Bitter, a limited edition favorite, showcases a distinctly British malt flavor, and the Rusty Wagon Red Ale, the latest frothy top to be added to the lineup, bears an irresistibly sweet, malty taste. Should you need time to mull your choices, you can always cozy up to the tasting bar, and sip your way through. One brew at a time. www.planbbrewing.com
To read more story ideas from the Northern British Columbia region, visit www.hellobc.com/northernbcmedia.
Thompson Okanagan: One resort + one eco-tour operator = a chance to bust out the binoculars:
When you think of BC’s vine-fringed Okanagan Valley, your mind may wander to the swirl and sip of the region’s notable vintage blends. Time to put the glass down, because it turns out that this verdant valley offers more than meaty Merlots: here, you’ll discover a sanctuary for feathered residents and the binocular-clad adventurists who love them. How to find these winged creatures? A Birdwatching & Nature Tour WITH Watermark will have you treading lightly through the remote, protected areas of the south Okanagan in search of boblinks, long-billed curlews, white-headed woodpeckers and even the rarely spotted yellow-breasted chats. With a hearty lunch to keep you flying, naturalists from Great Horned Owl Eco-Tours will offer keen insight into each and every flock, as well as provide the perfect perches to spot the over 300 bird species who call the area’s marshes, pastures, rivers and dry desert home. At day’s end, Watermark Beach Resort will provide two nights’s nesting along the sand-packed shores of Okanagan Lake. A welcoming bit of luxury to end a day’s adventure in the wild. www.watermarkbeachresort.com
To read more story ideas from the Thompson Okanagan region, visit www.hellobc.com/totamedia.
Kootenay Rockies: Stroll amongst the sculptures in Castlegar: With a population that is 7,000 strong, the Kootenay Rockies community of Castelgar may be small in size, but it’s big on culture. So much so that the community harbors a deeply rooted desire to nurture burgeoning artists, all while encouraging enthusiasts to take it outside. Unveiled this summer, Sculpturewalk, a collection of local and international works artfully displayed throughout the town’s parks and plazas, invites the art-minded out of doors for unique and, sometimes, surprising views. (An eclectic mix of styles includes Carl Sean McMahon’s Linotype Wapiti, a printing press reconfigured as an elk, and Stewart Steinhauer’s Nokhom Maskwa, a sleek stone bear carving.) The pieces, each on loan, will be showcased throughout the fall and winter seasons, with one sculpture ultimately selected by the locals as a permanent landmark within the community. Want to keep walking? Drop in at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre to learn more about these Russian descendants who fled to this southwestern valley in the early 20th century. Or stroll the landscape of nearby Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park, with its swath of pretty parkland, suspension bridge and a quaint Russian Orthodox country chapel, built by the park’s namesake, the late Alexander Zuckerberg, to celebrate his family’s heritage. www.sculpturewalkcastlegar.com; www.hellobc.com/en-CA/RegionsCities/Castlegar.htm
To read more story ideas from the Kootenay Rockies region, visit www.hellobc.com/krbcmedia.
Cariboo Chilcotin Coast: At Juniper Trails B&B, you might want to kick back and stay a while:
Steve Harkies and Emily Sonntag had a goal: design and build their own small-scale luxury escape within the rolling ranchlands surrounding Williams Lake. And when the pair officially unfurled the welcome mat for their Juniper Trails Bed and Breakfast this summer, I guess you could say it was, at long last, mission accomplished. And then some. A year-round retreat nestled within 11 hectares (27 acres) of rushing streams, forest and grasslands, Juniper Trails showcases spacious views of the surrounding valley, modern amenities (complete with artwork crafted by Steve) and plenty of homemade treats. And while cozy, personal touches ensure sweet slumber, it’s the area’s outdoor playground that is guaranteed to bring on the zzz’s. Take, for example, the big time mountain bike trails (over 200, at last count) that wind their way through the Williams Lake landscape, or the endless pathways for challenging hikes and scenic horseback excursions. In winter, the cross country crowd is drawn to over 28 kilometers (17 miles) of groomed trails at the Bull Mountain Ski Area, while nearby Mt. Timothy Ski Area offers plenty of opportunity to shush, minus the crowds. (If that’s not enough, share some face time with the five horses, two miniature donkeys, three dogs and friendly barn cats back at Juniper Trails.) After a day’s play, you can tuck the bikes and skis away, and revel in the B&B’s calm comfort ... and maybe even stay a while. www.junipertrails.ca
To read more story ideas from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region, visit www.hellobc.com/cccbcmedia.