Busting Out of the Pandemic Blocks in British Columbia

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Joanne Elves

Oh, B.C. how we have missed you. During the pandemic, it was hard to enjoy your splendour. Yes, we could go for forest bathing or roam your endless beaches while walking least a kayak’s length apart. But our bucket list has more social activities. We want to crawl through some caves or take a tour and taste some wine. When the gates are open, here are some of our top picks to say, “Hello B.C., I’m home.”

Local? You might be able to tackle some of this list right now!

Further away? Use these ideas for future travel plans when the time is right.

Kettle Valley Railway Kelowna British Columbia Biking

Beyond the orchards – Explore more than before in the Okanagan Valley

#1 On your mark! - Head for the south tip of the Okanagan Valley to Oliver/Osoyoos to either run in the Half Corked Marathon or to just be ready to visit as many of the local wineries as possible. Each September the run (it’s not a race – there is no clock) hosts a few thousand costumed athletes who run through the vineyards to stop at aid stations of wine and samples of fine food. How cool is that?! Or, you can tour 44 wineries without sweating – even better!

#2 No rails makes for easy cycling - What do you do with 650 kilometres of abandoned railway? You toss down a surface perfect for cycling and invite the world. The Kettle Valley and the Columbia-Western Rail Trail is the longest network of pathways in BC. Call your cycle buddies and plan an adventure. Hotels and campgrounds make it easy to make it a multi-day adventure. Maybe across Canada is your next adventure?

What's it like to bike the Kettle Valley Railway? Find out here.

Mountain Biking SilverStar BC ski resorts
Photographer: Mark Matthews

#3 Ski Resorts welcome you year-round - If ski season is over, break out the backpacks and the sturdy hiking boots. Most of the ski resorts like SilverStar leave the lifts running for easy access to the high country.

Check out this story about the rush of biking at SilverStar

#4 What is the Powder Highway called if there is no snow? - It’s still awesome! Just call it a pre-ski tour! The Powder Highway links towns like Rossland, Cranbrook, Fernie, Golden and Revelstoke for killer powder skiing at resorts and the high country but those towns also offer great summertime activities.

Port Alberni
Photographer: Doc Pow

Island time does not mean you slow down Vancouver Island is far from slow

#5 Step out of your comfort zone into a cave - The Island has lots of caves to crawl through but maybe start with a tour at Horne Lake Caves. The guides will lead you through vertical squeezes, down a slide or send you into a dark abyss while dangling on a rope. Are you with me? I’m in!

#6 Spot the wildlife - A day trip on the Frances Barkley from Port Alberni is such a unique experience. Not only do you watch the wildlife in the water and on the shores, you’ll witness how the coastal communities depend on the daily service. Educational on every angle.

Here's how to plan an awesome fishing adventure in Port Alberni

#7 Get your steps in - Stop in Bamfield and visit Kiixin National Historic Site or pack the water bottle and set out for a day on the famous West Coast Trail.

Here's how to take a story-telling tour at Kiixin

Kiixin
Photographer: Rebecca Bollwitt

Run the Boardwalk into History The entire province hosts interactive history lessons

#8 The roots of B.C. - One thing B.C. doesn’t do is forget where it came from. Stop in at the Historic O’Keefe Ranch near Vernon, Fort Steele near Cranbrook, the Steveston Village in Richmond, and the Britannia Mine Museum on the way to Whistler. They all offer exceptional interactive experiences. Hey, at Barkerville near Williams Lake you might just find a chunk of gold in your pan!

#9 Vancouver was originally called Granville – Who knew? OK, probably everyone who grew up in Vancouver knew the origins of the city that was incorporated in 1886. But did you know the Granville Market rose from the old factories on Industrial Island that were there since 1915? The name Industrial Island never stuck but the nickname of Granville Island did. Learn more about Granville Market by taking a foodie tour.

#10 or should I say #200? – Counting all the coasts of all the islands and the mainland, B.C. has over 25,000 kilometres of coast. Della Falls on Vancouver Island is the highest waterfall in Canada and there are over 20,000 lakes to jump into. Good thing they have access to so much water, there are roughly 200 craft breweries in the province that welcome visitors to come in, sip a little and socialize a lot. Gosh, I miss socializing. Shall we go on a tour? BC Ale Trail will help us plan a route. Cheers!

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