Days five, six, and seven will be traveling on the Glacier Express all the way to St. Moritz!
By extending your holiday, you will get to experience these amazing additions to your vacation!
Skiing in St. Moritz!
This region is well known for the amazing ski resorts and hotels.
Take on the slopes yourself by traveling during ski season and extending your train holiday with a longer stop in St. Moritz!
You can purchase a deal that also includes rail passes on different trains to Lake Geneva or Chamonix.
These trips would be great extensions at the beginning of your Matterhorn journey in Zermatt.
Swiss Alps Hotels
Booking with a company that takes your personal preferences into account allows for you to choose your own hotels.
Choosing green hotels while you travel will help to eliminate your impact on the environment while you travel!
Your packages can also include ticket upgrades.
You can choose to travel in first class while on the Glacier Express to experience five-star dining, extra space, a luxurious bar car, and exciting stories and informative anecdotes from the on board staff!
A longer holiday made for really immersing yourself in the beautiful Swiss Alps!
Here are just a few of the great restaurants available:
Chez Kiki: 30 years of amazing French Alpine steaks! Open fired sirloins, t-bones, and strips will all be grilled to give you the best, most mouth-watering steak of your life!
Aux Petites Oignons: Vegetarians rejoice! This is one of the most a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere that also serves up an amazing menu!
La Lodge du Village: Some of the best Italian food the 3 Valleys has to offer! Enjoy your pasta, your fish, or your pizzas on a large, sunny terrace!
Hotel La Croix: When it comes to authentic Savoyard dishes, Hotel La Coix serves up some of the best local food, fresh from the local markets! Great wine, gourmet food, and a great place to spend your apres ski evening!
Wine and dine yourself after a great day on the snow!
Traveling to Bellingham Washington, Ferndale, Blaine, Birch Bay, or Lynden for vacation?
There are so many different ways to explore this beautiful area in Whatcom County.
This area is an outdoor wonderland with much to do.
The scenery is amazing.
You may want to plan time to visit Mount Baker and Vancouver Canada as well.
You can explore Bellingham Bay in different locations, and experience tide pools, marine life, and water activities.
Best of Bellingham Washington
Things to do at Mount Baker — A classic year-round destination
I grew up in the Midwest and while I have traveled extensively throughout the United States, I never made it to Washington state.
My first time there was when I moved to Bellingham, WA.
With mountains and Bellingham Bay as my backdrop, I packed up my house and toddlers and off we went.
I hadn’t realized Mount Baker was so close to where we would be living.
Mount Baker is the third-highest mountain in Washington State and one of the highest in the Cascade Range.
On clear days, it graces the skyline of Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, and Tacoma.
In winter, it can be one of the snowiest places in the world and draws skiers and snowboarders from around the world to the slopes of its ski area.
Mount Baker is much more than a winter destination:
It offers dazzling scenic views and year-round attractions for everyone from families with small children to seasoned outdoor adventurers.
Views at Mount Baker
It is possible to enjoy the Mount Baker wilderness without even getting out of the car.
The highways and byways that traverse the forests surrounding Mt. Baker meander through meadows of heather and huckleberry bushes, past pristine lakes and ancient lava formations, and into shady stands of centuries-old mountain hemlocks.
Low-impact options for enjoying the wilderness include picnicking or renting a cabin.
There are campgrounds at multiple elevations and terrains, and one unique option in mid-to-late summer is to rent an old lookout building for overnight use.
A steep trail leads up to the Evergreen lookout; the facilities are rustic but the views are unsurpassed.
And some of the best and most scenic motorcycle rides on the planet, so grab your Harley.
Things to do at Mount Baker
One benefit of staying in the National Forest is that hiking and biking trails are literally at your doorstep.
With 1,500 miles of trails in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, there is a perfect hike for all levels of ability.
It is even possible to hike a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail from Snoqualmie Pass, which leads to views of Mount Rainier and the South Cascades.
It is also possible to explore the trails by mountain bike or by horseback.
Small-game hunting is permitted in some areas of the forest, and fishing opportunities abound in the park’s many lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.
Sockeye salmon season opens as early as July, and draws serious anglers to Mount Baker Lake.
Kayak and canoeing are also popular ways to explore the natural wonders of the forest, and several local companies outfit and guide rafting adventures on the Skagit and Skykomish rivers.
There are also several popular swimming holes, conveniently located next to campgrounds.
Mount Baker is famous as a top winter ski destination, but it draws crowds year round with its rugged scenery and abundance of outdoor activities.
From its picturesque drives, informative visitors centers and charming picnic spots, to strenuous backpacking trails and serious mountain climbing spots in the North Cascades, aka the “American Alps,” Mt. Baker truly has something to offer every visitor.
Lots of snow at Mt Baker
I was surprised to learn that at an average of 641 inches (50+ feet) a year, Mt Baker has the unofficial record for having the highest annual average snowfall out of all the resorts in the world.
Driving up to Mt. Baker was a must-do when visitors came to town.
We have enjoyed snowball fights in August!
We could sled in May and June!
The best part is that it wasn’t that cold and often went in our tennis shoes and sweatshirts.
Skiing and snowboarding
The ski and snowboard season is always a great time.
You need chains for your car or truck but even better if you have tweens and teens is to check out the buses that drive up the mountain for the day.
There are several based in Bellingham that go.
Mount Baker skiing and snowboarding never seems to get too crowded.
You can take beginner lessons or ones to refresh your skills.
There are day passes or season passes which always make for a great gift idea.
A popular activity with tweens and teens in Bellingham is to ride the bus up to Mount Baker with their peers.
They can enjoy skiing or snowboarding for the day.
There isn’t a posh resort at the top which is another benefit to skiing at Mount Baker.
It’s for skiing, and it’s affordable, not luxury.
Artist Point at Mt. Baker
If you can time your trip right, between August and September, you may have the chance to go to the top to see the view from Artist Point.
Pack a lunch and drive up for an unbeatable view.
There are picnic tables and lookout points and easy parking.
The road is blocked for most of the year due to the snow and unsafe driving conditions so it’s worth going by early September.
There are lots of trails as well, and they are usually all open but check ahead of time of you are wanting to do a certain one.
Hiking at Mt Baker is not to be missed.
There are so many things to do at Mount Baker, whatever the season.
Hike the abundant trails or spend time at Lake Whatcom, Lake Padden or Lake Samish.
You can bike ride or enjoy the fests and farmers’ markets.
There is an eclectic downtown area filled with local, longtime favorites, including Mallard’s for ice cream, The Bagelry for bagels, and Rocket Donuts for donuts.
There is the historic Mount Baker Theater which has performances.
You can enjoy the Whatcom Museum which also includes a small children’s museum.
There’s the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention.
When my kids loved trains, we spent many hours at the Bellingham Railway Museum.
Your kids will love seeing the running Lionel and American Flyer layouts.
You will typically be able to find parking in downtown Bellingham by meter. Some areas have small lots.
Fairhaven is a section of Bellingham.
It has it’s own downtown area.
You will love strolling the streets and visiting interesting shops and local restaurants.
Many nights there are movies and events. It’s a nice place to grab a gelato and walk around, enjoying music and a charming downtown.
Ferndale boasts fantastic parks, lush trails and lots of farms.
Berry picking in Ferndale is one of our favorite things to do. It’s green recreation at its best.
Green recreation abounds in this area. One of our favorite things to do is to go berry picking.
While there are many choices to u-pick in the area, our favorite is Barbie’s Berries in Ferndale, WA.
Berry picking at Barbie’s Berries
When we lived in Bellingham, we made it our summer tradition to pick berries. We would go at least twice a summer.
We enjoyed bringing out of town family there as well.
My kids were young and always enjoyed it.
We went to Barbie’s Berries often when we lived in Bellingham, Washington.
We moved far from the area five years ago, and on our trip back, we made a point to fit in an afternoon to enjoy our once-favorite tradition.
Even when we settled into our rental property and went grocery shopping, we purposely didn’t buy any berries because we knew we would load up on fresh berries that we would pick ourselves.
Barbie’s Berries, Ferndale, WA
We went back for the first time in over five years.
My kids, now 11 and 12 years old, still loved it, including my son who refuses to eat berries of any kind!
We went in July, and we had the opportunity to pick blueberries, including the massive Chandler blueberries; raspberries; blackberries; and marion berries.
There were rows and rows of all of these beauties.
Being it was mid-July when we went, we weren’t sure what to expect; however, the bushes were full, even in the beginning of the rows.
We were there for two hours and enjoyed the perfect sunny weather, no crowds, and rows of abundant fruit.
We didn’t have to hunt for berries in any of the areas we looked.
Depending on when you go, you will have different choices.
We lucked out when we were in town and were able to pick four types.
Bellingham Berry Picking Pricing
We’ve been there in years past where they charged a minimal entrance fee.
This time, we were pleased to see they only had a two pound per person minimum.
They have their prices posted in their covered area.
It’s also easily accessible online.
We love that the u-pick prices are so affordable.
Not only do we enjoy ourselves picking them, it’s a great family fun activity.
And you get to leave with fresh, local fruit to enjoy at home.
It’s a fun tradition to start with your kids if you live in the area.
Barbie’s Berries address is 7655 Melody Lane, Ferndale, WA 98264.
During the summer, you can pick during the following times:
Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm
Always check the website or call before you go to see what they have available to pick.
Like all growers and farms, their season is dependent on the weather was.
We love outdoor activities, and there’s no shortage of them in delightful Whatcom County, especially in the summer.
My kids’ favorite thing to do in Lynden was to visit Million Smiles Park.
This is an outdoor wonderland filled with a very tall slide even adults will want to climb.
It’s a large park. Your child will have fun exploring and adventuring here.
You will want to make the drive out to Birch Bay to spend a few hours on the beach.
It’s a quaint town; however, all we experienced when we lived in Bellingham was visiting Birch Bay for the incredible tide pools.
When the tide is out, you can walk a mile out on the flats.
Exploring Birch Bay is an incredible experience.
And even better, in the 10+ times we’ve been there, it was never crowded.
My kids enjoyed playing in the sand.
We also brought small rafts which they enjoyed.
You can usually find parking easily.
Afterwards, take the kids to The C Shop.
This is a long-standing ice cream and candy shop in Birch Bay.
It’s the perfect way to end your day at the beach.
Located in Whatcom County like Bellingham, Blaine is on the border of Canada.
There is lots do do in Blaine.
We’ve spent time exploring Blaine before crossing over the border to Canada.
If you have kids with you — and even if you don’t — be sure to visit Blaine on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday so you can take the iconic Plover Ferry.
You can pick it up from either Drayton Harbor Maritime in Blaine or at the Semiahmoo Spit.
The Plover Ferry is a refurbished historic ferry.
It was originally in use to ferry workers to the salmon cannery at the Semiahmoo Spit.
It runs now for tourists and locals during the summer months.
The Plover taxis between Drayton Harbor Maritime and Semiahmoo Spit.
You can board at either location.
It picks up on the hour in Blaine and on the half hour at the Plover Dock at Semiahmoo.
While you have to depart the ferry when it stops, you can board again for the return trip for a round trip experience.
This will take approximately one hour.
Or you can choose to exit the boat and explore the area.
Something fun is to pack beach towels and toys and ride from Drayton Harbor to Semiahmoo.
Play in the water and walk over to the Semiahmoo Resort to enjoy the views.
Then take the Plover Ferry back to Blaine.
On the way from Semiahmoo to Drayton Harbor you will likely see seals lounging on rocks.
The ride is approximately 25 – 30 minutes each way.
Plover Ferry holds a maximum of 17 passengers.
Be sure to line up early in the busier summer weekends.
This historical water taxi runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
When my kids were young, we did this at least twice a summer and especially when our family came to visit from the Midwest.
Seeing seals is always a highlight!
Vancouver, British Columbia
Host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver thrives in terms of visitors wanting to ski, although the city is also conveniently located on the sea.
Thus Vancouver offers you the opportunity of going for a walk on the coast and racing down a snowy slope on the very same day.
With its laid back attitude and unique beauty, Vancouver charms every casual visitor as well as every expat who moves there permanently.
With such a diverse nature surrounding Vancouver, it’s not a mystery why the city is all about sports and the outdoors!
Vancouverites spend all their free time skiing on Grouse Mountain, surfing at Wreck Beach and kayaking in English Bay.
If they can’t leave the city, there is always Stanley Park, a 400-acre park which is the city’s pride and joy.
Going to Canada for a little bit longer?
Why not take the lovely drive across the country from coast to coast?
This way, you will not only be able to see other wonderful cities like Quebec City, Winnipeg, or Calgary, but also its gorgeous scenery, which makes Canada such a special place.
Vancouver in 2 Eco-Friendly Days
If you’re only in Vancouver for a weekend, fear not.
Vancouver is known for its commitment to being environmentally friendly, so you can squeeze plenty of local food and low-impact activities into two days.
Consider if the weather is nice that you might not even need to take public transportation.
Vancouver is an incredibly walkable city.
If you’re flying into Vancouver International Airport, you will be able to enjoy Vancouver right away.
If you are driving across the border from Washington State, you may want to enjoy some sights en route to Vancouver.
Even if you have an hour to spare, you can explore the area.
Border crossing from Blaine to British Columbia
There are two ways to cross over to British Columbia from Blaine:
Douglas Crossing also known as the Peach Arch crossing
Pacific Highway Crossing, also known as Trucker’s Crossing (SR-543)
Try to make time to explore the quaint city of Blaine, WA.
If not, be sure to take advantage of the technology which will alert you to the border crossing times and information.
If you note the line is long, you may want to consider parking and to take some time first.
You will likely easily find parking at the beautiful, 19-acre Peace Arch Park at the Douglas Crossing.
What’s unique about this park is the United States owns the southern half and Canada owns the northern half of the park.
Whether you get out to walk around this lush, well-groomed park or not, you will still be able to see the Peace Arch Monument and the Canadian flag and United States flag, both of which are made with flowers, from your car.
These highlights are right in between the driving lanes to cross over and back from Blaine and British Columbia.
Certainly, it’s better to plan for some time at the park and walk around, but if not, at least you can see some of it while waiting to cross the border.
Peace Arch Park also hosts the International Arts and Music Festival each June.
Once you are through the border and on your way to Vancouver, you may want to make a stop at White Rock, BC and explore the beach areas.
Eco-friendly practices in Vancouver
Once you are in Vancouver, you will be astounded at the ways the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver inspires it’s residents and visitors to be green.
One way is that residents have separate out their food waste for city composting.
It is illegal to put food in the garbage. This is also true for restaurants and grocers.
Look for eco-friendly ways while you are enjoying the progressive city that is Vancouver.
Vancouver Day 1: The West End, Robson Street, and Stanley Park
Start your day off right with brunch of wild pacific smoked salmon scramble or blueberry banana pancakes with Canadian maple syrup at O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar in the West End.
O’Doul’s is “committed to sustainability and local suppliers by sourcing ethically produced goods that are locally sourced and organic whenever possible.”
Then walk down Robson Street and find a spot where you can observe consumerism at its best as passersby shop at stores like Armani Exchange and Tommy Hilfiger.
If you have a sweet tooth, get in touch with the terroir side of your traveling locavore diet, and pick up some mint truffles or maple chocolates from Daniel Le Chocolat Belge.
All chocolate at Daniel is from a single Belgian chocolate manufacturer and preservative free, with “no artificial coloring and flavors, no hydrogenated, vegetable and tropical fats.”
Head over to Davie Street and swing by a local market like to pick up picnic fare like fresh cheese and croissants.
Then walk up Denman Street to a bike rental shop, and bike through Stanley Park.
Vancouver Day 2: Yaletown, Chinatown, Gastown, and Granville Island
Munch on a vegetarian breakfast tortilla wrap while you sip artistically-designed organic espresso at Caffe Artigiano on Hornby St., then cross over to Vancouver Art Gallery and browse the collection of nearly 10,000 artworks by Canadian and international artists.
Stop for lunch at Hon’s Wun-Tun House on Keefer Street.
Or visit Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant on E Pender and support local business.
Warning: We learned the hard way that you should avoid W Hastings Street.
After lunch, head to Gastown.
There you’ll find Cobblestone Streets and the famous Steam Clock at Cambie and Water Streets.
Poke your head in some of the local shops.
Afterwards, watch the float planes take off while sipping local brew at Steamworks Brewing Company.
Next, you can hop on the bus and head to Granville Island Public Market.
Here, you can browse local artists’ goods and buy local vegetables, meats, and baked goods.
Pick your favorite of the food selection, find a table, and dine while you listen to the music of Vancouverite street musicians.
If you’re in the mood to sample more of Vancouver’s beer offerings, cross over to Granville Island Brewery, where brews include Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale, Robson Street Hefeweizen, and Gastown Amber Ale.
Photos from the Road: Driving Vancouver to Lake Louise
Biking in Stanley Park: Vancouver, BC
One minute, I was walking my bike across busy West Georgia Street.
The next, I was cruising past totem poles with the ocean breeze in my hair.
With its 1,000 acres of luscious grass, giant trees, goose-filled lakes, and gorgeous ocean views, Stanley Park is a green haven in a metropolitan city.
And if you’re lucky enough to visit Vancouver on a sunny day, rent a bike and ride around Stanley Park.
It’s a must.
Even on a cloudy day, the loop around the park provides amazing views of the city.
You won’t get these views anywhere else.
It houses gardens, wildlife, playgrounds, restaurants, and even arts events.
You can even volunteer with the Stanley Park Ecological Society – just be sure to contact them in advance.
On our trek, we saw a huge Pileated woodpecker, goslings and geese, swans, ducks, and even a raccoon.
Biking in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Head to Denman Street in the West End and rent a bike from Spokes Bicycle Rentals or Bayshore Bike Rentals for as little as $8/hour (with a helmet).
Stop by a local market on your way to grab bread and cheese or your favorite picnic food.
Then take a break on the shore of Beaver Lake, Lost Lagoon, or English Bay to eat and people watch.
The entire loop takes about an hour at a relaxed pace with a few short stops.
Elizabeth and I were able to steal away for a relaxing ride around Stanley Park the day before the wedding.
The laid-back alone time helped me stay sane through the next day.
Vancouver, BC Canada: First Impressions
Royal BC Museum in Victoria was our favorite about Vancouver.
We’re traveling around Alaska and Western Canada, will focus on environmentally-friendly travel, food, and activities in those areas.
I had high expectations for Vancouver.
I’d never been to British Columbia, but I had heard great things about it; it’s green (literally – tons of trees), the people are friendly and eco-conscious, and it’s on the water and the mountains so it’s gorgeous.
We were only in Vancouver for 24 hours before we hopped on the cruise ship, so I’m still on the fence about it.
We’ll be back next week and stay for four more days, so I’ll be able to form a fuller opinion then.
In the meantime, here are my first impressions of Vancouver, BC.
Abundance of locally-owned delis, restaurants, and markets
Diversity of food – you can find everything from Himalayan and Mexican to Japanese and Indian on the same block
Independent, non-conformist vibe – kind of like Seattle or Portland
Everyone rides bikes and there are lots of bike lanes
You can walk a block off of a busy, vibrant street and be in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood
People are incredibly friendly – a welcome change from Washington, DC
You can walk to the mountains or the ocean
There’s a ginormous park (Stanley Park) in the city
Recycling bins everywhere – they’re easier to find than trash cans are on some streets
Good public transportation, specifically the buses
Diversity of the people – it’s a very international city
And here’s what I don’t like about Vancouver
Tall buildings – it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as New York City, but it’s still too tall for my taste; the short buildings in DC are one of my favorite things about it
McDonald’s, Cinnabon, Safeway, Subway, American Eagle – American brands everywhere (I know, I know – it’s inescapable, but I still don’t like it)
Too much concrete, especially near the water front; the buildings and street weren’t as pretty as I expected them to be
West Hastings Street near Chinatown – unless you’re looking for prostitutes, drugs, or really enjoy the smell of urine, you should avoid it (long story about how we ended up here)
No easy way to get from the airport to downtown via public transportation; right now you have to switch buses, but they’re building a SkyTrain that will link the two areas
When we decided to expand our recent Vancouver trip to include Victoria on nearby Vancouver Island, the Royal BC Museum jumped to the top of my “things to do” list.
I’ll admit, what won me over were the photos on the museum’s website of the natural history collections — there’s a special place in my heart for ancient, extinct creatures — but there’s so much more to the museum than that.
There are so many fascinating things to see that even my 18-month-old son was entertained for an hour and a half.
The bottom line: If you’re in Victoria, Canada, you should definitely plan a stop at the Royal BC Museum. Here’s why.
Royal BC Museum in Victoria
As I mentioned above, I love natural history museums and the the natural history section of the Royal BC Museum did not disappoint.
It’s full of fossils, stuffed mammals and birds, and live fish.
My favorite specimens on display were a woolly mammoth and a gigantic sea lion.
My son enjoyed the touch-and-feel animal footprint and egg replicas.
Human History of BC: Totem Poles and Ninja Turtles
I wasn’t sure exactly what I would find in the Human History collections at the Royal BC Museum, so I was thrilled when I discovered everything from First Nations totem poles and masks to a display of clothes over the decades.
These collections walk you through the history of BC, starting with First Nations cultural artifacts and ending in the 1990s (with Ninja Turtles, among other things).
The First Nations section has examples of baskets, tools, ceremonial clothes, and even a traditional house that’s been moved into the museum.
The Modern History section reminds me a bit of the American History Museum in Washington, DC (which I also love).
You can see the cabins in a boat, walk into a 1920’s movie theater, and learn about BC’s gold rush.
Race to the End of the Earth: Antarctic Expedition
The Race to the End of the Earth exhibition tells the story of two exploration teams, one British and one Norwegian, as they attempt to beat each other to the South Pole in 1911-1912.
It’s a dramatic tale that involves extreme freezing temperatures, unimaginable hardships, many deaths… and eating dogs and ponies.
The exhibition features journal entries, photos, and artifacts from the explorations and is truly fascinating.
In fact, I think I’m going to buy a book about it so I can learn more.
This traveling exhibition will only be at the Royal BC Museum until October 2013, so be sure you catch it while it’s there.
And after this expedition is gone, I’m sure an equally fascinating one will take its place.
The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC is one of the best museums I’ve been to lately.
It has something for everyone — from a woolly mammoth to dresses from the 1940’s.
If you go to Victoria, visit the Royal BC Museum.
A bonus: You’re sure to pick up a few fascinating facts that you can share at your next dinner party.
Reasons to See Vancouver Island, BC
While planning a trip to British Columbia, Canada, many visitors neglect to include a Vancouver Island itinerary in their travels.
Yes, it’s out of the way (you’ll need to access Vancouver Island by ferry or float plane from Vancouver, BC , Seattle, or the San Juan Islands), but visitors who make the trek are rewarded with what’s possibly the most beautiful “detour” in the Northern Hemisphere.
This 12,000 square mile island is visually stunning and teaming with wildlife (and very few of the pesky human variety).
Have you been to Vancouver Island, BC?
What was your favorite sight to see?
What were your best Vancouver Island photos?
Vancouver Island with Kids
When people ask me why we choose to visit Vancouver Island, BC with our kids, I answer with the following travel anecdote: within minutes on a Tofino, Vancouver Island beach, my son Calvin spotted a bright pink, five-legged sea star clinging to a rocky tide pool.
Amazed with his find, he turned around to tell me about it, and spotted another one.
That first day, he endeavored to discover 100 sea stars before he left Vancouver Island.
By the time we took the ferry home, his running total had topped 700.
You may go to Vancouver Island for the natural beauty, but I guarantee you’ll remember most the stunning abundance of protected wildlife.
There’s so much uninhabited space on Vancouver Island (which is over 12,000 square miles in size), visitors need at least two weeks to reach the remote northern port towns along the Inside Passage.
But if you only have five days to explore the island, you can still cover a lot of (incredibly gorgeous) ground.
Day 1: Vancouver BC to Ucluelet, BC
Getting to Vancouver Island: There are only a few ways to arrive on the island, and you can bet that all of them involve water.
We launched our trip from the city of Vancouver, BC on a Vancouver Island ferry, as ferry passage is limited in Seattle.
Alternatively, float planes fly from both Vancouver and Seattle, but be advised that you’ll need to rent a car on the other side.
From Vancouver, book a morning passage on a BC Ferry for Nanaimo, BC.
Ferry schedules are straightforward, but you’ll want to be at the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay (20 minutes from downtown Vancouver) at least 1 hour prior to your passage.
Once in Nanaimo, drive north on BC-19 to Parksville, BC (30 minutes), then head inland on BC-4 for Port Alberni.
A must-stop pit stop is the Coombs Country Market just outside Parksville: you’ll know it by the goats grazing on the roof.
Yes, you read that right.
Pick up some makings for a picnic, then drive a little farther to Cathedral Grove, a BC state park with picnic areas amid a temperate rain forest setting.
Continue west on BC-4 past Port Alberni to your first west coast overnight stop of Ucluelet, BC.
Approximately 2 hours drive time — you won’t mind, though, as this is beautiful scenery through the island’s mountains.
A working-class fishing and logging town, Ucluelet only recently appeared on tourist maps: its harbor is ideal for kayaking, and its proximity to the Broken Group Islands makes it a great starting point for multi-day excursions.
After a long travel day, treat yourself to some nice digs at Black Rock Resort, located at the end of the Ucluelet peninsula on a dramatic rocky shore.
Soak in their oceanfront hot tubs and have a nice dinner at Fetch, their premiere restaurant.
While Black Rock Resort doesn’t have much in the way of beach access for kids, the pool will keep them entertained.
Day 2: Kayaking in Ucluelet Harbor
Wake up to the sea crashing on the rocks on the other side of your Black Rock floor-to-ceiling windows, then drive two minutes to the far end of the Ucluelet peninsula to Majestic Ocean Kayaking tours.
We opted for a half-day harbor tour because we have young kids, but if you have kids over age 12 or are without children, you may want to reserve a full day open ocean excursion.
Our guide, Jeremy, was professional and fun, and in our 2 1/2 hour tour of the harbor, we learned about the area’s history, the intertidal inhabitants, and kayaking technique.
Within minutes of our tour, we’d spotted bald eagles, harbor seals, and our first (aforementioned) sea stars.
After kayaking, drive the short distance up BC-4 toward Tofino BC, stopping en route to explore Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Easily accessed from the highway, the park’s main section, Long Beach, spans along several wide-open, driftwood-laden surfing beaches and includes many coastal hiking options.
For kids, a stop at the K’isitis Visitor Centre is very informative.
Upon arriving in Tofino, check in at MacKenzie Beach Resort, directly on beautiful MacKenzie Beach.
The oldest resort in the Tofino area, MacKenzie Beach Resort is showing some wear, but its location cannot be beat, and its no-frills beach side cottages include all you need: kitchens and BBQs, wood-burning stoves, and incredible views.
Day 3: Whale Watching and Island Hiking with Remote Passages
Head into the town of Tofino, BC and park all the way at the water on Wharf Street to join Remote Passages for a morning whale watch.
The guides here actually call it a “whale watch plus” and it’s easy to see why: during our half-day tour on one of their 12-passenger Zodiac boats, we saw not only gray and humpback whales, but seals, sea lions, sea otters, puffins, jelly fish, and more.
The small boat size made for incredible 360 degree views, and I loved that our captain and guide Tyson took us on both the open water and in-between the many small islands hugging the coastline.
Of note: throw a stone, and you’ll hit a tour operator wanting to show you whales in Tofino.
What sets Remote Passages apart is their customer service and professionalism.
We were treated royally throughout our adventure, and everyone was very knowledgeable and passionate about the area’s wildlife.
Picnic in the friendly town square of Tofino, or grab a lunch at Big Daddy’s for traditional fish and chips, poutine, or burgers.
Head back to Remote Passages in the afternoon to catch a ride to nearby Meares Island.
This First Nations protected island sports a cedar plank boardwalk visitors can take approximately 1/4 a mile into the dense tangle of the coastal rain forest, where they can view some of the oldest cedar trees in the region.
It’s a beautiful walk, and a fun way to experience the Zodiac boat even if a whale watch is out of your budget.
When you return to your lodgings at MacKenzie Beach, be sure to explore the tide pools at low tide.
Families can build small fires on the beach: perfect for roasting marshmallows while waiting for a stunning Tofino sunset.
Day 4: Tofino BC to Parksville BC
After experiencing the wild, remote stretches of Vancouver Island’s west coast, returning to the east coast’s milder coastline and warmer weather is a shock, albeit a pleasant one at this stage in the journey.
Families can choose from private log cabins tucked into the woods surrounding the resort’s recreation space, or oceanfront units overlooking the long, wide beaches for which Parksville is known.
This is a place to relax after so much touring: kids can join the Tigh-Na-Mara kids’ club activities at no extra charge, or check out tennis rackets or ping-pong paddles.
There’s a basketball court and an indoor pool, and beach access is just a few steps away.
If you’re still looking for more to do, Tigh-Na-Mara has a wonderful array of family excursions available for an extra charge: our kids tried their Twilight Golf lesson with a local pro and their tide pool exploration with a local marine biologist.
Both were well-run. While the kids are busy, consider purchasing a day pass to the Grotto Spa to enjoy BC’s most famous mineral pools for less than the cost of a spa treatment.
Day 5: Parksville to Victoria or Sidney, BC
To leave the island by ferry, visitors must either drive north back to Nanaimo or farther south down the east coast to Victoria (to return to Vancouver) or to Sidney (to return directly the US via the San Juan Islands and Anacortes).
Not surprisingly, the drive toward Victoria is scenic — though less so than the drive across the island to the west coast — and below LadySmith, BC Ferries offers the “most scenic shortcut in Canada,” a 25 minute ferry ride from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay, which cuts off a good deal of time.
Reservations cannot be made, and ferries run back and forth all day.
On the other side, you’ll find famous Butchart Gardens, which is a good place to wait for your US-bound ferry since the Washington State ferry terminal at Sidney, BC is less than 20 minutes away.
If you’re sailing out of Victoria, continue another 20 minutes in the opposite direction, and take high English tea at the Empress Fairmont Victoria before departing back for Vancouver.
Have you been to Vancouver Island? What were your favorite activities there?
Visiting Bellingham and surrounding area
Make time to travel to the glorious Pacific Northwest. Bellingham is a gem as is the area surrounding it.
You will find interesting things to do in Ferndale, Lummi Island, Lynden, Birch Bay, and Blaine. During your stay, make time to cross over to Vancouver, British Columbia as well.
There is so much beauty and outside recreation all around Bellingham and this lush area. It’s the ultimate destination for a green vacation.
Seattle with Kids ~ 12 Things to Do in Seattle
Seattle is one of our favorite cities to explore as a family.
Urban, vibrant, and chock-full of character, Seattle for kids does not run short on things to do, rain or shine.
Head back to Hyatt at Olive 8 to rest up, swim, and soak in the hot tub.
Eat dinner at the award-winning restaurant on-site, Urbane.
It features a farm-to-table menu and a unique ‘For Kids, by Kids’ program which offers fun menu items that are healthy and organic for kids.
Urbane is a great place to eat dinner or a filling breakfast.
Things to Do in Seattle Day 3:
9 am-noon: Head to the Seattle Center and Space Needle
Worried we wouldn’t get to the Space Needle?
The Seattle Center is an easy drive or longish walk from the Hyatt, and features several museums, street entertainers, and events in the summer.
While a trip up the Space Needle is expensive and can be crowded, the view is great from the ground as well; we usually just stare up and marvel.
Depending on how much time you have, you may want to spend your morning instead at the Pacific Science Center.
There are several floors of hands-on science exhibits for kids, including a dinosaur hall, IMAX, and temporary exhibits.
If you already have a membership to another science type museum, check the reciprocity listing online to see if you will qualify for a discount to the Pacific Science Center.
12 pm: Head home!
48 hours won’t feel like enough time in Seattle, but it’s a great first visit!
Enjoying Seattle with Kids for a Longer Visit?
If you are able to stay for a longer period of time, seriously consider buying a Seattle CityPass.
The passes are good for nine consecutive days, starting with the first day of use.
Passes offer big discounts to children and adults.
They enable access to the following attractions: Space Needle (two visits); Seattle Aquarium; Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour; EMP Museum or Woodland Park Zoo; and Pacific Science Center or The Museum of Flight.
Butterfly Watching – Planning a holiday around nature is something that makes even the ardent traveler excited for what lies ahead!
The Earth has so much to offer, it’s not surprising that there are tours and vacations that are centered around even the smallest wildlife.
Like the majestic and captivating butterfly.
Find a vacation that will get you up close and personal with some of nature’s most fragile and delicate creatures.
Find the balance between holiday, butterfly watching, and basking in the beauty of mother nature!
There are so many amazing trips you can plan to immerse yourself into the life of these spectacular insects!
The Right Region for the Right Butterfly
Depending upon your area of curiosity, there are a few holidays that would work well for butterfly watching.
If you’re interested in a specific species, there is a trip for you!
If you want to see over two hundred species on a whirlwind tour, then there is a trip for you, too!
Get to know what butterfly and what region you would prefer to visit, then you can start to nail down exactly what you’ll need on your trip and start planning with a butterfly watching guide!
If you’re planning your vacation around Mother Nature, then it’s a good idea to pack consciously.
With just a few simple steps, you can reduce your carbon footprint while you travel, and help to sustain the habitat of these tiny creatures!
Finding the right butterfly-watching holiday will be easy with these amazing choices of expertly guided tours with a pro!
From Asia, to Africa, to Europe, and the Americas, there is something for everyone!
Nepal Butterfly Watching
Home to over 600 species of butterflies, Nepal is an amazing holiday to observe and photograph these stunning insects!
Your twelve-day journey will begin with a flight from London to Napal.
You will visit Phulchowki for days two through four, explore Chitwan National Park for days five through seven, stay at Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge for days eight through ten, finally ending in Kathmandu and the end of your journey.
You’ll see at least 100 species of butterfly, many species of moths, and other creatures on this journey!
You will get up close and personal in order to photograph the insects and spend your time getting to know their habitats.
Enjoy the sights of the mountains at Godaveri and Phulchowki.
Take in the wildlife in the Chitwan National Park, and relish the species found near Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge!
An expert of butterfly conservation, Dr. Tom Brereton will lead the tour.
You will search out the Golden Emperor, Scarce Siren, Paris Peacock, Great Mormon, Red Helen, and so many other gorgeous butterflies!
Your journey to Nepal to witness some of the planet’s most beautiful butterflies will include your nightly accommodations, as well as all of your meals.
This excludes lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
Butterfly Watching in Armenia
This exceptional tour of Armenia will lead you through the home of over 230 species of butterfly!
You will get to see species like the Persian Skipper, Dawn Clouded Yellow, Short-tailed Blue, Large Blue, Hungarian Glider, and Jerusalem and Caucasian Lesser spotted Fritillaries!
All in one holiday! These of course are only a fraction of the incredible species you will see!
The tour will last for seven days, and take you through some of the most brilliant parts of Armenia.
Starting in Yerevan on day one, you’ll make your way to Hatsavan and Garni.
Then on to Acharkut, Janjour Pass, Mount Aragat, Khosrov, Noravank and Gnishik. and finally ending on a flight back to London!
This guided tour will include all of your food and accommodations.
Led by an expert in the field, this tour will let you not only experience the butterflies’ habitats first hand, but really get to take the time to enjoy the beautiful scenery around you.
Travel through dense forests, mountain gorges, beautiful meadows, and even semi-desert to see where these butterflies make their homes!
Not to mention the amazing cultural history of Armenia and the humans and animals that inhabit the areas!
Going Green Vacation – Four years ago, my aunt gave my sons tee shirts from Venice Beach in Florida.
She told them all about the shark teeth right on the beach there.
Another friend saw them wear the shirts and also raved about the shark teeth hunting and beautiful beaches.
From then on, they always wanted to go to look for shark teeth along Venice Beach in Venice, Florida.
At long last, we were going!
My boys, now 7 and 8 years old, were thrilled.
We booked flights to arrive in Tampa on a Tuesday, and we left Sunday at noon.
Where to Stay While Going Green Vacation to Florida?
We looked online for places to stay.
We wanted easy access to Venice, Florida and also wanted to stay as close as possible to the water in case someone wanted to go back to the room and someone wanted to stay at the beach.
I am usually a name-brand-hotel-person…I like to know what I am getting.
From my online search, I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for in Venice, so I looked a little farther north and learned about the fantastic location of Sarasota – close to Tampa and close to Venice.
And it boasted Siesta Key which is known for its beautiful white sand beaches.
We found an amazing villa in Sarasota on Siesta Key in a complex called Casa Blanca – C14 Villa Siesta Key.
We contacted the owner Teri Evans (262.385.2359 or firstname.lastname@example.org) who was easy and a pleasure to work with.
We highly recommend and thank Teri and her Villa C14 for an awesome Going Green Vacation.
From what we could tell online — it was decorated so vibrantly with a beach theme — we just had to give it a try.
We are so glad we did!
Villa C14 was fantastic!
My husband and I loved it, and my sons were absolutely elated with the décor…especially the bunk beds.
For days, they continued to be excited about interesting things in each of the rooms.
On beach-front property, they counted 156 steps from our Villa 14C to the amazing white sand in Siesta Key on Crescent Beach.
This villa was perfect for our family for so many reasons.
Yes, it was decorated so nicely which really made us feel like we were on vacation.
It also gave us the convenience we were looking for being it was so close to the beach.
It was nice to be able to park right outside our covered patio for the times we left to go explore other beaches and to go to town: to buy shark tooth necklaces and get ice cream.
There was an updated and modern clubhouse with a television, couches and computer.
We went there a few times just to get out of the sun to play billiards and ping pong.
Adjacent to the clubhouse was their amazing swimming pool.
It was much larger than we expected.
We only had time to swim in it once but it was wonderful.
I was surprised it was so very clean.
I didn’t even see any sand on the bottom!
We all enjoyed it.
Why a Villa is Better Than Hotel For a Going Green Vacation
My husband remarked about how much better it was staying in a villa than staying in a hotel would have been.
Can you just imagine all of our swimsuits and beach towels hanging to dry?
Where would we hang them?
Can you imagine all of that sand getting into the carpet and everywhere?
In our villa, aka “our house,” we hung our swimsuits in our two full bathrooms and the towels on the drying rack, out of the way in the enclosed patio.
We were able to sweep up the sand from the decorative tile floors.
And because we had a full-size kitchen, we were able to create less waste, eat healthier, save money (my husband’s favorite ‘going green’), and enjoy the convenience of eating “at home” instead of going out to restaurants all week.
It has two bedrooms which would comfortably sleep five people on the beds.
There were clean sheets, soap, ample towels and lots of dresser drawers.
In addition, the PRIVACY!
No shared hotel hallways, elevators or lobbies.
No noises above, below or next your room.
No housekeeping staff (this is my husbands not mine).
Multiple rooms so we can spread out, read, rest, or just have a few alone minutes.
How to Have a Go Green Vacation?
Even though it is more difficult when traveling, we try to “go green” every chance we get.
We packed our stainless steel water bottles (NO plastic or BPA) for the trip, so we would always be hydrated and not have to buy throw-away plastic water bottles.
We brought them to the airport empty, and filled them up at a water fountain after passing security and again after landing.
Once in our villa, we filled them with the ready-made ice in our freezer, water from our tap (sometimes we mixed in lemonade, tea or freshly sliced fruit) and had wonderfully cold drinks, wherever we went.
My husband is a big fan of fruit infused water and wants us all to migrate from stainless steel water bottles to fruit infused water bottles.
We tried to bring whatever we could from home so we wouldn’t have to buy it and leave it in Sarasota.
Because we were able to check our luggage for free (Thanks Southwest Airlines), we brought deflated rafts and swim rings, a bucket and two metal hand shovels for the beach.
We brought beach towels from home.
We brought our sunglasses, hats, swim shirts, sunscreen lotion (Up & Up Target brand is our preferred sunscreen) and everything else we would need that we already owned instead of buying it while on vacation and then throwing it away afterwards.
We returned with all our items as well.
The Villa also has a selection of beach items for guest usage as well.
Because we stayed in this villa instead of a hotel, we were able to buy our own groceries.
We ate a lot healthier and saved a lot of waste from the landfills.
Think of the “free breakfasts” at hotels with all of the polystyrene plates, plastic drinking cups, plastic cutlery and paper napkins.
Everything gets thrown away!
By buying our food at a grocery store at the beginning of our trip – even before we stepped foot in our villa – we saved gas by not having to drive to all of the restaurants each day.
We ate just two meals in restaurants the entire trip and one was on the last day at the airport.
We recycled everything we could in unit’s convenient bin right outside our door.
We left it at the curb, and the maintenance staff emptied it daily.
We even managed to save some water by rinsing out our swimsuits, towels and sandals a few of the times it rained.
We just hung them on the drying rack and left them outside for a few minutes during a downpour!
The unit has a washer/dryer but we did not use the washer and had no need for the dryer because of the screened covered porch.
We brought library books instead of buying new books.
The clubhouse even had a nice selection of books to share, borrow and return.
Don’t bring library books to the beach; however, because sand sticks around!
Other going green vacation things, but obvious ones: We ate snacks on the beach once and carried all of our trash back with us.
We didn’t feed any seagulls or other wildlife.
We didn’t pick up or disturb any marine life we saw.
Finally, in our quest to be going green vacation, and because we wanted to maximize our time at the beach, we didn’t go to any commercial tourist attractions.
This was a “nature only” trip, and we all loved it.
More About the Food
Another reason this villa worked so well for us, my boys are very picky eaters.
We also deal with milk, egg and tomato allergies.
It is often a hassle to get ready to go out to eat, much less going 2-3 times a day.
When we stayed in villa 14C, we were able to buy healthy choices for our kids and only buy in the quantity we could and realistically would eat.
The owners had everything we needed in the kitchen to prepare everything we bought to eat.
We were also able to reduce waste by washing our own plates, cutlery and glasses.
Gorgeous Siesta Key
We loved every 156 glorious step to Crescent Beach on Siesta Key!
What a convenience to not have to drive and find a parking spot to enjoy this picture-perfect, white, clean sand.
The sand is not made from coral, as most beaches are, but from quartz so it’s always cool to walk on…never HOT!
It was easy to walk on because while there were lots of beautiful shells, they were not crushed up and rough on your feet like at other beaches.
The sand was cool to the touch and enjoyable to walk on.
I love how everyone left their shoes right on top in the grass by the stairs before walking onto the lush sand.
There was a tall shower and a foot shower by the exit.
It was perfect for rinsing off the sand and salt water.
I really loved how the showers turned off immediately when you let go of the button.
No wasted water!
Casa Blanca also had a lot of lounge and upright chairs for the residents and guests to enjoy at the beach.
I didn’t see a lot of garbage, but I did meet a nice older gentleman picking up trash along the shore.
“Beach-combing,” he called it.
But instead of treasures, I saw he had a bag of garbage.
He did this almost everyday as doing his “part for this beautiful community”… and get some exercise.
How to Find Shark Teeth
We also loved looking for shark teeth (or as my boys and husband kept calling it “Shark Teeth Hunting” in funny Cajun accents).
We went to Casperson Beach and also to Venice Beach.
Each time, we found at least 10 -20 shark teeth and/or tips.
Sometimes it was easier than others, depending on the tide and how fast the waves pushed them up onto the shore.
At the end of each day, the boys would clean, dry off and organize the days shark teeth and other finds.
The boys would spend hours every evening studying and discussing their finds and try to determine what it was, what it came from and/or shark kind of shark the teeth were from.
We had our best luck looking without the sifters and shovels.
We did rent the ‘sifter shovel’ one day from the bait shop on the pier by Sharky’s.
My husband got the last one when we got there around 4 pm.
We found three teeth right away using it, then nothing the rest of the evening.
We had the most luck just walking the shore and looking in the washed up piles of crushed shells.
(When we arrived home we realized maybe instead of sifting with the shovel in the water – sometimes difficult with strong waves – we should have scooped up the sand a little farther out, and then dumped it onshore to look through.)
At Casperson Beach, many people were finding them along the big rocks that lined the shore.
We were unsuccessful finding them there and had our best at the beach just north and south of Sharky’s By The Pier.
2 Tips to Find Shark Teeth
Know what you are looking for.
Sure, we know what shark teeth are supposed to look like but it really helped us to actually see them.
So, after about an hour of not finding any, we asked a few people to see what they found.
It helped us immensely to see what we were looking for!
Right after that, we started finding them ourselves.
It was helpful to see both the shark teeth and the shark tooth tips.
Train your eye. I read before coming to Venice Beach and Casperson Beach about “training your eye” to only look for the black.
It really helped to filter out the seaweed, rocks and shells, and we found the shark & barracuda teeth, tips and stingray barbs much faster.
It was addicting looking for them!
It was so nice to see how fun it was for everyone – young and old.
Our Wonderful Going Green Vacation Had to End
We had a fantastic time on our Florida vacation and cannot wait to return.
We would do the exact same thing again, including staying at Casa Blanca, villa 14C.
It was a vacation home which offered us exactly what we were hoping for and more.
We have had fun looking at our shark teeth, measuring them, organizing them by type and trying to figure out what kind of sharks they are from.
What wonderful memories my sons will have whenever they look at their prized shark teeth.
And they learned about and enjoyed really simple ways to having a Going Green Vacation and live green even while on vacation.
Casa Blanca Villa C14 Contact Info:
Teri Evans – (262) 385-2359 email@example.com
6154 Midnight Pass Rd, Villa C14
Best Places For Green Consumers To Buy Vacation Homes
There are few more universal traditions in America than an annual family vacation.
For eco-minded consumers, vacations can be a difficult situation.
We all want some time away from work and commitments at home, yet we hate to let our recreation create too much cost to the planet.
Hotels, in particular, are unappealing to environmentalists, because they create more waste, use more utilities, and contribute to urban sprawl and traffic.
For the eco-minded consumer, then, a beach home represents a far more appealing option.
But just buying a beach home isn’t enough.
In the right parts of the country, the value of avoiding hotels can be compounded by other factors.
Here are some to consider.
Best Places To Buy Vacation Homes With Sustainability in Mind
Buy Vacation Homes in Low-Overhead Markets
It’s important to think about several areas of overhead when you consider a vacation site.
For example, how much cost–both financial and ecological–will be associated with getting there?
If the trip to your vacation home requires too many miles on the road, it’s not a good choice.
Then there’s the matter of traditional overhead, things like utilities.
While the house itself will play a big part in its power consumption, its location will as well.
Since beach houses are all located in areas where it gets hot, you can’t hedge with climate.
So that leaves the utility market.
In an area like Galveston Beach, these factors come together.
Texas has a deregulated electrical market, which means your place at the beach can be powered by an electric company in Houston, one that you can choose based on their rates and their environmental responsibility.
As for travel, it’s cheaper in Galveston, too, since you can fly into Houston and reduce your driving.
Buy Vacation Homes in Uncrowded Markets
The most popular vacation destinations are typically crowded. If you love hustle and bustle, they’re just the place for you.
But for people who prefer a more sedate vacation, the quieter locales are more appealing.
Beach homes are typically situated in the less-crowded areas.
After all, the beaches with the highest traffic are typically armored with high-rise hotels on property far too valuable for single homes.
A good example of one in the middle is Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
The area has enough restaurants, festivals, and shopping to cover your rainy days, yet its beaches are free from excessive crowds.
It makes for a safer, quieter vacation.
Is it green?
Remember that traffic is an archenemy of fuel economy.
If you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic just to go a couple miles for dinner, you’re burning far more gas than you would with less congestion–or with restaurants in walking distance.
In Recovering Markets
In 2010, an oil spill from an offshore drilling rig coated much of the Gulf Coast with a thick layer of crude oil.
At the end, you’ll reach a viewing platform that allows you to observe the 13-story-tall waterfall from behind.
Explore the Trails on the American Side of Niagara Falls
You’ll find peaceful parks full of trails, picnic areas, hiking and fishing spots on both sides of the border.
On the American side, visit Devil’s Hole State Park, a park that overlooks the Devil’s Hole Rapids on the Niagara River.
Devil’s Hole is a popular fishing spot, with a stone staircase leading visitors down to the water.
You’ll see great views of the rapids and get an up-close glimpse of the geological strata of the gorge from Devil’s Hole Trail.
Whirlpool State Park, also on the American side of the border, offers scenic overlooks of the Niagara River Whirlpool and rapids, as well as hiking and fishing on the lower level of the park.
The Whirlpool Rapids Trail connects to the Devil’s Hole Trail.
Canadian Side of Niagara Falls Trails
You’ll find even more opportunities for hiking on the Canadian side of the border of Niagara Falls.
Hardcore hikers will appreciate the Bruce Trail, which follows the Niagara Escarpment for 550 miles (890 km).
The Bruce Trail also has more than 250 miles (400 km) of side trails.
Trail users will see a wide variety of local flora and fauna, including centuries-old coniferous trees growing on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment.
The trail also offers views of numerous waterfalls and rapids, as local waterways pass over the escarpment.
For a hiking experience of moderate difficulty that can be had without leaving the city of Niagara Falls, head to Niagara Glen Nature Preserve, where you can learn about the geology of the Niagara Escarpment, and the animals and plants that live within it, on one of the preserve’s twice-daily guided tours.
Explore the park’s numerous hiking trails, or rent bouldering equipment at the Nature Center.
The Whirlpool Trail is the most difficult one in the park, but it’s worth the effort to sit by the water and take in the scenery.
The nearby Upper Whirlpool Trails also offer great views of the water.
Closer to downtown, the White Water Walk provides multiple viewing platforms from which you can gaze upon the power of Niagara River’s Class VI rapids.
If getting the opportunity to explore a new ecosystem is an important part of traveling for you, you’ll love Niagara Falls.
With miles of hiking trails, boardwalks overlooking the white water, and tunnels carved into the rock behind the Horseshoe Falls, you’ll find plenty to do outside on both sides of the border.
Just don’t forget your rain jacket!
Exploring the Best of Canada ~ Where to Go and What to Do
Exploring the best of Canada – With its beautiful unspoiled landscapes, its multicultural society, and bilingualism, Canada is a delight for all who decide to travel around the country or move there permanently.
Thanks to its multiculturalism policy, put in place back in the 70’s, communicating across cultures is one of the things that make The True North so attractive for travelers and expatriates. Inspiring Places in the World
Welcoming around 250,000 newcomers each year, Canada is one of the most popular places for foreign residents.
The largest country in North America and the second largest in the world – right behind Russia – offers you something new and exciting to see at every turn.
Exploring the Best of Canada
First of all, if you have the luck of actually moving to Canada, you will have plenty of time to explore its wonders.
But if you are there on vacation, you might have some sort of time limit.
The best cities to visit are, of course, the ones that are well-known; yet surprisingly enough, you might find something of interest when visiting some lesser known towns, like Winnipeg, the center of the Canadian Prairies, or Whitehorse in Yukon Territory, starting point of the legendary Yukon Quest race.
Places like these might show visitors a completely different side of Canada.
Top Cities to Visit in Canada
Want to see what Canada is all about, although you only have about one week or so for your visit?
Here are the highlights you shouldn’t miss out on:
One of the country’s largest and most popular cities, and often mistaken for Canada’s capital, attracts a huge number of tourists for multiple reasons.
Located only a couple hours from Niagara Falls and the US border, Toronto boasts, for example, a world-famous film festival: Its vibrant cultural life and the landmark CN tower are only a few reasons for its fame.
In recent years, Toronto has become known as one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world, with over half the city’s residents being born outside Canada.
This has resulted in a great diversity of cultures to explore, from cuisine to events.
Toronto is also nicknamed “the city within a park” thanks to its miles of parkland around the streams and rivers that flow through the city.
Ranked as one of the most livable cities in Canada, will dazzle you with its French and English influences.
Whether you want typical Canadian specialties or a Québec experience with a quaint French feel, Montréal has it all.
A “Parisian New York”, “City of festivals”, “City of a hundred bell towers”.
There are many ways to describe Montreal, a city which is unlike any other in the world.
In Montreal 17th century architecture and beautiful cathedrals rub elbows with typical 1970’s skyscrapers.
Montreal is famous for its European flair. Despite being one of Canada’s largest cosmopolitan cities, the city has a nice a laid back attitude.
Montreal was named the second best city to dine in North America.
It is a food lover’s heaven with cuisines from all over the world mixing with European influenced local specialties.
Montreal is also famous for its many festivals and events, which ranges from the Jazz fest which is held in different places around town, to
Montreal International Auto show which is held in the Palais des congrès convention center.
When visiting the city, make sure to check what events will be on while you’re there.
One of the most visited cities in Canada, Quebec is known for its breathtaking surroundings and unique history.
Quebec’s Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage site and the city walls surrounding it are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico.
Although not as buzzing as Montreal, it’s a great city for a relaxing romantic weekend
Although Whistler is more a village than a city, it is still one of the most popular destinations in Canada, both in summer as well as winter.
Whistler is one of those places where people come for a weekend visit and somehow end up staying for 25 years – a story which is far from uncommon there.
Many locals who have moved to Whistler say they came for the awesome skiing, but stayed because of the summer.
Winter is the most popular time to visit Whistler; however, summer has a lot to offer.
For example, the mountain biking is some of the best in the world.
Exploring the best of Canada will lead you to unexpected places and no doubt, amazing scenery.
Lake Agnes Tea House and Hiking Trail, Lake Louise, Canada
It was 32 F/ 0 C, but I wouldn’t have known it had there not been snow covering the trail.
I was drenched in sweat after hiking a little over two miles, gaining about 1,000 feet in elevation.
That’s when I smelled it.
The smell of freshly baked goods coming from the Lake Agnes Teahouse.
If you are ever in the area, make sure to check it out.
Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901, the Lake Agnes Tea House is the closer of the two tea houses, and is situated idyllically on the shores of Lake Agnes.
A great option for adventurers of all kinds, the hike to this cabin will take you along a forested trail, past Mirror Lake and the waterfall that cascades out of Lake Agnes.
This now family-run tea house offers over 100 loose leaf teas, as well as homemade soup, sandwiches, cookies, apple crumble and more.
From Lake Agnes you can hike to the top of the Little Beehive or Big Beehive.
Where is Lake Agnes Tea House
The Lake Agnes Tea House sits next to — you guessed it — Lake Agnes.
Except Lake Agnes is at an elevation of 7,000 feet. There’s no running water or electricity.
Everything has to be carried up on workers’ backs, trotted in via horse, or flown in on a helicopter.
Which probably explains why the PB&J sandwich was so expensive!
The tea house staff are mostly university students who sleep in one of two teensy cabins next to the tea house.
Besides making outstanding tea and biscuits, they are also responsible for cleaning the outhouses and grey water system (yuck).
Lots of tea
But the tea house serves over 50 varieties of tea, homemade tea biscuits, cookies, sandwiches, soup, and other tasty goodies.
I can personally attest to the maple tea and tea biscuits with honey.
Nothing tastes better after a hike uphill.
I was just glad to get a spot inside because it was chilly next to the lake once we stopped hiking, though I imagine the porch is wonderful on a summer day.
What else can I do at Lake Agnes?
The hike itself is not extremely strenuous.
It’s just a constant uphill trail.
Hiking trail at Lake Agnes
There are amazing views overlooking Lake Louise, and the glacier-fed lake looks even bluer the higher you climb.
Mirror Lake is a great stop along the way, but be careful once you get past it.
The small lake marks the point where the hiking trail merges with the horse trail — watch your step!
Tips for your trip to Lake Agnes Tea House
Remember to pack an extra change of clothing and to dress in layers.
Depending on the time of year, you can expect a temperature change as you will be in the mountains.
If you make it to Lake Louise, definitely take the time to hike the Lakes Agnes Hiking Trail.
The tea house is a great stop and if you feel up for it — we did after some rejuvenating tea — the Little Beehive Trail provides a stunning view overlooking the the valley below.
Have you been to the Lake Agnes Tea House?
Dog Sledding in Okanagan Wilderness, Canada
Five hours’ drive north from the US-Canadian border lies a city called Kelowna, BC.
Tucked into the Monashee mountain range nearby, you’ll find Big White Ski Resort, home to some of the most family-friendly skiing, snowboarding, and outdoor winter activities my family and I have ever experienced.
At the top of our Big White activity list: the Dog Sled Tour experience, run by musher and tour company owner Tim Tedford.
I arrived for my Big White dog sledding experience with my mom, a long-time follower of the Iditerod and dog-lover.
From the minute we met Tim’s kennel full of happy, wagging, enthusiastic sled dogs, we knew we were in for an unique experience dog sledding in Canada.
These were not the large, mostly-wild Siberian huskies we had envisioned.
In fact, most of Tim’s team are of mixed breed, rarely aggressive, and small in stature.
This does not mean they aren’t equipped for the job: in fact, many of his team, including the lead dog during our tour, are past Iditerod athletes.
While selecting and harnessing his team, Tim described sled dog culture to us, the science behind team selection, and the distinctive kinesiology behind what makes a great sled dog.
Some dog sledding ventures will simply put you on a sled and take your money, but as soon as we started talking to Tim, it was obvious that he cares as much about educating guests as he does about ensuring you have a great ride.
After teaching us what the dogs eat (let’s just say they probably eat better than you and me), where they sleep (in cozy crates nested with straw), and whether they get along with one another (better than my kids), Tim finished preparing the team (and us) for departure.
My mom and I learned how to load and unload the sled as the previously calm and quiet kennel area erupted with excited barking.
“No matter if they just ran, they want to run again,” Tim explained.
Their unbridled joy was contagious: when we finally took off, Tim on the runners and my mom and me in the sled, I was grinning ear-to-ear.
The first thing I noticed was how fast we were going.
The second: how silent the previously barking dogs had become.
We could hear a pin drop (or more accurately, only our own shrieks of joy) as we sailed over the packed snow.
The sight of the graceful, united dogs combined with the beautiful Monashee mountain scenery would have brought tears to my eyes had I not been wearing ski goggles.
Halfway through our 5K (3.2 mile) run, Tim slowed the team and stopped them, offering me a turn at the back of the sled.
He warned me that ‘there’s nothing quite like being on the runners’ and he was right.
I could truly feel their power as they pulled.
Before we knew it, we were arriving back at the kennel, where we praised the dogs one by one (a ritual at Big White) and Tim rewarded the eight dogs with a tasty frozen meat snack.
We appreciated how clearly Tim loved his animals, and we came away from the experience with a greater respect for this species, this sport, and the humane people who give it the heart it has.
What you need to know before booking
Each sled has a weight limit (rather than a person limit) of 340 pounds.
Up to two sleds can depart together most days.
The dog sled experience can be booked nearly any day during the ski season, and reservations can be made ahead of time at the Village Centre Mall Activities Desk and through Central Reservations.
Cost is $195 CAN per sled.
Kids as young as age 3 are welcome, but if some family members would rather not ride, they could come (supervised) with you to visit with the dogs before departure.
Wear ski gear (snow pants, warm gloves, jacket, and googles).
A hat or helmet is also recommended, and you’ll need snow boots.
Have you been dog sledding?
What was your experience like?
As I disclose whenever applicable, we were hosted for our dog sledding experience, for the purpose of review.
Smell Proof Backpacks – When you’re enjoying the great outdoors with a young child, it’s all-but-inevitable that you’ll have to pack some stinky items.
After all, most babies and toddlers will need a diaper change if you’re spending more than an hour on the trail.
Additionally, you never know when some kind of diaper emergency may arise.
Since it’s vital that you pack out everything that you pack into the wilderness, you may be stuck with carrying a stinky diaper.
That’s why smell-proof backpacks are the ideal solution for adventurous parents and little ones who are on the go.
Smell Proof Backpacks When Hiking With Kids
These even come in handy when you’re in any public place and don’t have immediate access to a garbage can.
Many companies are manufacturing smell proof backpacks.
Used to transport sweaty gym clothes, recreational marijuana and anything else that might cause an annoying odor, these backpacks are the perfect accessory for the hiking parent who’s on the trail with young kids.
Not only will you not be troubled by an unpleasant smell but also you won’t be attracting wildlife that would be interested in the odor.