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Things to do in Canada in summer: part 1

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One of the perks of being a newcomer to Canada in the summer is that there is such a vast landscape to explore. From top attractions to road trips to natural wonders, there is literally a world-class vacation or weekend adventure on your doorstep.

In this new series of articles, “Things to do in Canada in summer,” Canadian Immigrant will give you some ideas on Canadian places you can’t miss and the best way to approach them.

Each article will focus on one region of Canada  (West, Prairies, Central/East and Atlantic) and one of three categories of fun: must-do attractions, off-the-beaten-path road trips and natural wonders.

Let’s start off with must-do attractions in the West (British Columbia specifically).  When it comes to sensational summer trips, B.C.  has some amazing destinations to explore.

Top must-do attractions:  B.C.

Enjoy Okanagan wine country

The Okanagan Valley is magic: bright sunshine, the sparkling blue waters of Okanagan Lake with the myth of the Ogopogo, an abundance of beaches, marinas and, then, there is the wine.

The region is known for its award-winning wines, from big producers like Mission Hill to smaller wineries like Tantalus Vineyards you might not see in the local liquor store.

The Okanagan boasts nearly 200 wineries, so if you’re planning a trip there, whether it’s Kelowna, Penticton, Oliver or Osoyoos, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of different kinds of tours — and wines to choose from.

You can, of course, stop in at wineries on your own, with no real set plan. But if you want to get the true experience and history of this beautiful wine country, consider a more organized tour. Check out Okanagan Wine Tours to get you started.

 

Experience Victoria like a Brit

The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C.

Canada has a rich history, and on the West Coast, one of the places where Canada’s old British colonial past is still strong is in B.C.’s capital city of Victoria. With a slower pace than the mainland, Vancouver Island is the perfect place to enjoy some downtime.

You can visit Craigdarroch Castle, a Scottish castle built in the 1890s, or walk around downtown with its English charm or jump on the famous Tally-Ho horse carriage tour and discover the city that way.

One of Victoria’s must-see places is the stunning Butchart Gardens.

What started off as an old quarry in Robert and Jennie Butchart’s backyard more than a 100 years ago is now an award-winning garden that visitors from all over the world come to see. Highlights include magnificent rose, Japanese and Italian gardens. As well, you can also enjoy a meal during your visit –  plus you might even catch a glimpse of a wedding or two — very regal!

Nothing says British like high tea of course, and the classic Victorian afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel is probably the most famous one outside of England. The hotel serves tea (along with sandwiches, scones, pastries, fresh preserves and clotted cream) to more than 400 guests and tourists daily. Afternoon tea starts at $51 per person, and reservations are required in advance, especially during the busy summer months.

 

So much to do in Stanley Park

The seawall at Stanley Park.

One of the reasons that Stanley Park, in the heart of downtown Vancouver, is so popular — and even recognized internationally as one of the best parks in the world —  is because not only is it stunningly beautiful, it has something for the whole family.

As well as being home to the Vancouver Aquarium, there are plenty of other attractions, to keep everyone happy.

In fact, there is so much to do in Stanley Park — 400 hectares of West Coast rainforest with scenic views, kilometres of trails, beautiful beaches, wildlife, great food, natural, cultural and historical landmarks — that you might find that a day is not enough.

If you want something touristy with a slower pace, take a horse-drawn tour through the park; an hour-long journey where you will see all the sights, such as the rose gardens, the famous hollow tree and the totem poles.

But if you really want to experience Stanley Park like a local, consider walking or renting bikes to ride around the seawall. But be prepared: the nine-kilometre pathway overlooking the ocean takes two to three hours to walk, or one hour to cycle.

If it’s a hot day, bring your swim suit and take a swim in the pool at Second Beach or splash in the Pacific waves along the way. For the kiddies, there’s the Stanley Park Train ride with a nearby playground and a bigger better playground at Second Beach, too. Or grab some fish and chips at a concession stand and enjoy a picnic on Third Beach — one of the best places to enjoy a Vancouver sunset.

 

Doing Whistler in summer: no skis required

Peak 2 Peak 360 Experience gondola ride in Whistler.

Although Whistler is famous for being ski central, summer in Whistler is a great way to experience the great outdoors of B.C. Hiking, biking and zip lining are just a few things you can do on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

And this summer the new Peak 2 Peak 360 Experience gondola is open with 360 degree views of Whistler Village, mountain peaks, lakes, glaciers and forests — amazing!

Honestly, maybe the best part of the trip to Whistler are the beautiful views and stops on the road trip up on the Sea-to-Sky highway. Take the exit for Porteau Cove and have a picnic at this waterside provincial park. Or take another gondola ride outside of Squamish before Whistler called Sea to Sky Gondola with its own fabulous views. And don’t miss stopping in at Shannon Falls, with an easy hike to an incredible waterfall.

Check back for the next few installments of this series next week!

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