As regular readers will know, we try to blog at least once a month on places we’d love to visit and/or locations that represent the original homes and birthplaces of Amintro members. With so many beautiful places to write about and so many Amintro members coming from such a wide range of places, it’s virtually certain we will never run out of places to talk about! Recently, we were thrilled to hear from an Amintro member currently residing on the west coast! Their email was all we needed to find an excuse to talk about Vancouver, Granville Island, Stanley Park, Whistler and Victoria – in other words, all things that represent the Canadian West Coast and that give you the “west coast vibes!”

If you’ve never had the opportunity to spend time on the Canadian west coast, we highly recommend it. Not just for “20 something” travellers working their way around Whistler; nor even for “hippies” of any age, eager to indulge in a more laid back lifestyle, rather, British Columbia has something for just about everyone. Vancouver is a cosmopolitan and thriving metropolis of almost 700,000 people (more than 2 million if you count the greater Vancouver area) and is home to a number of film and television companies meaning your chances of seeing stars won’t just happen at night! Art, music, theatre and industry are all sources of entertainment and/or employment. Picturesque Granville Island is home to artisans, a farmer’s market, craft-house breweries, coffee houses, art galleries and a series of restaurants that encompass both fine dining and casual eats. If you are planning to spend time in Vancouver, an afternoon on Granville Island is a must.

No visit to the area would be complete without a photoshoot at the Lions Gate Bridge and a visit to explore Stanley Park and view “The Little Mermaid.” The bridge is so named because travellers, as they traverse the bridge, are visually heading straight towards “The Lions,” a pair of mountain peaks situated due north of Vancouver. The famous statue of a girl, found sitting on a rock in Stanley Park and gazing out at the water is actually not the little mermaid at all (a statue which is actually located in Copenhagen) but rather, is “The Girl in a Wetsuit,” unveiled in 1972.  Visitors to Stanley Park will experience everything from beaches to First Nations totem poles and the Vancouver Aquarium. You can walk, ride a bike, take a horse-drawn carriage or even a miniature train around the park in order to see everything.

Whistler – for the ski lover – is just 125kms away from Vancouver if you are travelling on the “Sea to Sky” highway. A prime location for both skiers and snowboarders, Whistler is visually beautiful, a great place to ski, and played host to many alpine events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the summer, Whistler Blackcomb is a great place to mountain bike. With over 2 million visitors annually however, you’d better book your accommodations in advance!

British Columbia is much more than just what’s on the west coast. The BC interior is home to beautiful wineries, with both the Okanagan and the Kootenay region hosting tours of their robust wine regions. There are approximately 350 wineries in the region and to provide a point of comparison, Napa valley has 475. In other words – wine is popular here! The Rockies, those famous mountains you’ve no doubt heard about and seen in the background of every picture of the area, are about 3000 miles long and stretch from the northern edge of Canada down into New Mexico in the US.  Throughout their geographical expanse, they change names 4 times. You can hike, bike, drive and even take a train to see all there is to see. Consider grabbing a friend you made through Amintro and book a road trip – you’d be in for one spectacular ride!

Finally, Vancouver Island, home to the capital city of Victoria, British Columbia is lovely. The “City of Gardens” has much to offer, almost year-round, in terms of beautiful gardens and many lovely sights to see. It’s also home to the Parliament buildings, Government House and some of the oldest Coastal Douglas Fir Trees in the area. Accessible by ferry, the trip takes about four hours each way and is a holiday all by itself.

Phew! In short, the west coast and all of British Columbia is amazing. It’s probably one of those places that should be on your bucket list to visit – more than anything because the area truly has something for everyone on your travel companion list. A friend who loves theatre? Check! The mountains and skiing? Check! Craft breweries or winery tours? Check, check and check. If you’re travelling within Canada, Vancouver is about a five-hour flight from Toronto or you can take The Rocky Mountaineer, a train dedicated to enabling visitors to see the spectacular scenery of places like Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise after departing from Vancouver. Plan carefully for all the things you might want to see and do because you’re going to need a week at least, maybe even a few days more, to fully immerse yourself in the west coast “vibe” and make the most of it.

Written by Sheralyn Roman

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