Sometimes, all it takes is a little change of scenery and a break from routine to refresh the soul. Celebrate Canada150 by taking a local vacation this year and exploring what's in your own backyard.
British Columbia has incredibly diverse geography ranging from desert to rainforest, which means there's a perfect weekend for everybody, just a few hours away. And we've costed it out, it doesn't have to be spendy. Here are four staycation destinations that are big on fun but won't break the bank.
Getaway for the outdoorsy:
Near Nairn Falls | Photo by hpbfotos
Location:153 km from Vancouver. Budget $50 for gas.
Destination inspiration: Whistler gets all the attention, but just 20 minutes north is Pemberton, which shares the same beautiful valley and same relaxed, outdoorsy vibe.
Cycle the gentle Pemberton Meadows Road to check out bucolic farms and stunning views of Mount Currie. Need to cool off? Head to Strawberry Point recreation area on Lillooet Lake for a refreshing dip. If you're up for an alpine hike, drive up Duffey Lake Road where you'll find the Joffre Lakes trailhead. The 10 km round-trip excursion rewards hikers with three very photogenic lakes.
Joffre Lakes | Photo by Chris Montgomery
Feeling hungry? There's a fantastic farmers' market every Friday or try authentic Thai cuisine at Barn Nork. Dining on the deck of Mile One Burger affords gorgeous views of Mount Currie, while sushi-lovers will want to check out the newly opened Fish and Rice, helmed by the son of Whistler-favourite, Sachi Sushi.
Accommodation: Pemberton Valley Inn, starting at $135 + taxes
Getaway for the hip:
Destination BC/Darren Hull
Transportation: 389 km from Vancouver. Budget $60 for gas.
Destination inspiration: Hot, sunny Okangan is the epitome of summertime fun and Hotel Zed, with its Kool-aid colours and vintage charm, is the perfect complement. Across the street is the beach, a waterpark and tennis courts. Around the corner you'll find Kelowna's main street, full of eateries and boutiques. One block away is the Downtown Marina where you can rent Sea-Doos, boats equipped for wakeboarding, SUPs, kayaks and other water toys.
Accommodations: Hotel Zed, 1627 Abbott Street.
Listed as one of TripAdvisor's most Instagrammable hotels in the world, you may not even want to leave the property. Guests enjoy an on-site a pool, ping pong lounge, vinyl listening stations, free roller skate rentals and lots of other feel-good retro fun things to do. Rooms start at $199 + taxes.
Getaway for the whimsical:
Qualicum Bay, Vancouver Island
Location:124 km from Vancouver over 3 hours (includes a 1 hour and 40-minute ferry ride between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay). Budget $50 for gas. Ferry transportation costs $57.50 for your vehicle and $17.20/person, each way.
Destination inspiration: Sleep a little closer to the stars in these whimsical orbs that are suspended amid the canopy of a tranquil temperate rainforest.
Accommodation: Free Spirit Spheres near Qualicum Bay, about 40 km north of Nanaimo.
These spherical tree houses are one part work of art, one part model example of biomimicry (emulating nature's patterns and strategies). Interiors are impressively elegant and functional with an ergonomic feel that will have you reconsidering living with angles. Free Spirit Spheres also offer the perfect opportunity for a digital detox if you want to fully commune with nature. Rest assured, you can upload your Instagram photos on the bath house deck where Wi-Fi is available. Pods start at $175 + taxes.
Getaway for coastal serenity:
Pender Harbour, Sunshine Coast
Transportation: Approximately 100 km from Vancouver over 3 hours (includes a 40-minute ferry ride between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale). Budget $40 for gas. Ferry transportation costs $54 for your vehicle and 16.15/person, return.
Destination inspiration: It doesn't get any better than B.C.'s ocean-front wilderness and the Sunshine Coast definitely feels like a getaway thanks to a short but scenic ferry ride. Pender Harbour is a community of inlets, coves, bays, and lakes, all washing the shores of several little villages including Madeira Park, Garden Bay, Irvines Landing, and Kleindale, to name a few.
Pender Harbour Resort and Marina
Pender Harbour Resort and Marina
Accommodations: Pender Harbour Resort and Marina, Garden Bay.
Staying in a yurt is the ultimate compromise between wilderness adventure and creature comforts. Equipped with a skylight, mini fridge, Wi-Fi, two beds and a deck complete with barbecue, these yurts were designed for rustic holiday escapes.
Bonus: Since these yurts sleep up to four, you can easily reduce the cost by bringing two friends along. Rooms start at $119 + taxes.
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