Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spring fun from Destination British Columbia

Here is a captivating collection of Fresh Story Ideas from Destination British Columbia.

Destination BC is on Twitter and Instagram. Follow us at @HelloBC.

See the Sights: Walking Tours in BC's Urban Landscapes

Few modes of exploration can unearth the sights, sounds and secrets of a place like a walking tour. And in these BC cities, meeting the locals, sampling the goods and even learning a thing, or two, means pounding the urban pavement in Canada's westernmost province is a rewarding endeavour.

For shutterbugs who want to shoot with their mighty iPhones and more, Vancouver Photowalks offers outdoor pursuits that expertly blend walking tours with tutored photography classes. These two-hour, small-group excursions are guaranteed to take in well-tread, scenic spots, with cameras or phones in hand: enthusiasts can choose their skill level (Basic, Technical or Creative) or fine-tune their genre (Stanley Park walks mix natural and urban settings, while Night Photowalks document either Granville Island or Gastown's expansive waterfronts). As a bonus, seasoned professionals will instruct on all things aperture, ensuring participants will see the city through a new, or at least improved, lens.

A gourmet food truck experience? Urbanites can sample for themselves when they sign on for an edible adventure with Vancouver Foodie Tours. The stats: four courses, five tastings and two hours of delicious exploration are on the menu, all within BC's biggest urban centre. Delectable nibbles include Berkshire pork hot dogs topped with seaweed flakes at Japadog, mouth-watering butter chicken wraps made to order (thanks to Soho Road's built-in tandoor ovens), hot-smoked salmon from Kaboom Box and hoisin chicken goodness from EAT Chicken Wraps. A fiery, chocolatey Diablo cookie, courtesy of the truck-minders at Tacofino, provides the tour's delicious dénouement.

Civic historian and author John Atkin is passionate about Vancouver's architecture, neighbourhoods and history — so much so that he developed two-hour walking tours of the city, with focus on the offbeat and even obscure. Year-round jaunts include heritage tours, in partnership with the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, that explore the now-lost Chinatown that once occupied the blocks around Franklin and Commercial Drive. Additional summer strolls will span the length of East 25th and King Edward Avenue, from the edge of the city at Boundary Road to the forest of Pacific Spirit Park, covering ground that includes former bogs, ravines and hills, revealing diverse neighbourhoods and camera-ready residential architecture.

For a change of pace, head north to Whistler where organized outings are decidedly delicious, especially with the folks from Whistler Tasting Tours at the helm. Guesswork will be gone with the team's array of appetizing excursions: the Lunch Tour explores the village's best afternoon eateries and finishes with a flight of beer at a local brewery; the Hidden Gems Tour savours four courses at favoured restaurants; the Finer Things Dinner Tour showcases the best of Whistler's fine dining scene, including “mastering” the art of sparkling wine sabering; and for the sweet tooth, the Dessert and Drinks Tour masterfully indulges in delicious final flourishes.

Whistler's annual ArtWalk inspires the aesthetically-minded to hit the pavement June 27 – August 31 with self-guided summer exploration that spotlights an eclectic lineup of work at an estimated 40 galleries and non-traditional venues within the mountain village's cafes, hotels, restaurants and more. Over 60 new and established artists are set to showcase their work during the event; ArtWalk will kick off June 27th with an opening party that features an afternoon of live music and entertainment on the village stroll, capped with a series of evening art socials at 'hot spot' venues throughout the village.

For more self-guided adventure, enthusiasts can check out what's brewing in Kamloops — efforts that will be rewarded with a tall, cold one. Here, the city's Self-Guided Walking Brew Tour provides a pathway to local haunts and watering holes that are a veritable showcase of fine local and international beer, alongside eats sure to complement each pour. Showstoppers include a flight of in-house specialties (and crispy, deep-fried pickles) at Noble Pig Brewhouse, local pours (with pepperoni and pretzels) at Red Collar Brewing Co., Japanese brews (and pork gyoza) at Sanbiki and craft and artisan beer (capped with sticky ribs) at Frick and Frack Taphouse. Tip: Aficionados would be wise to reference the guide's beer tasting and etiquette tips before they travel.

To walk off those frothy brews, cultural explorers can set out on a Heritage Homes Walking Tour through the city streets. Self-guided once again, with pocket-friendly guides available at Kamloops Museum & Archives, this urban exploration will unearth stories of the city's rivers, railways and its rich First Nations heritage, not to mention colourful stories about notorious, and sometimes nefarious, Kamloops characters. As a bonus, participants will peek inside expansive, refurbished heritage buildings that define this city landscape.

Over on Vancouver Island, the province's capital is not only steeped in history — it showcases some of the finest story-keepers, and story-tellers, anywhere. Indeed, the folks from Victoria's Discover the Past are more than mere history buffs, boasting a wealth of walking tours that explore the city's iconic spots, little-known places and deepest, darkest secrets. Participants can, for example, learn more about Victoria's colourful past (namely the stories not found in the history books) during the new Gold Rush Tales tour, a showcase of heroes, villains, merchants and prospectors who shaped the early days along the city's wharfs. For those who wish to learn more about one of the country's iconic artists (and biggest characters), the memorable Emily Carr excursion explores her favoured, well-worn city pathways before ending, fittingly, at her childhood home.

Fellow Victoria resident Karma Brophy shares her own passion, of the edible variety, as Feast Concierge. An avid gastronome, Brophy provides personalized tours of her favourite neighbourhood spots, showcasing the best of Oak Bay's seaside village, the cutting-edge food scene at the Victoria Public Market and flavourful finds along the shopping and dining district of Fort Street. Participants will sample seafood, charcuterie and cheese, nibble handcrafted sweets and seasonal artisan specialties, and sip tea, beer and wine. A highlight: the chance to nosh with a cast of culinary characters — including chefs, artisans, sommeliers and aficionados — along the way.

Year-Round Resorts Promise Outdoor Play Beyond the Skis and Boards

In winter, skis and snowboards reign at British Columbia's revered resorts. And when the weather turns fine? These four-season destinations take a decidedly sunnier approach to outdoor play, sure to heat things up for adventure-seekers, great and small.

Whistler Blackcomb, for example, will tempt adrenalin-seekers to take it outside, thanks to their new PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Pass, which provides unlimited access to more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of alpine, hiking and walking trails, the Samsung Alpine Theatre in Roundhouse Lodge, the PEAK 2 PEAK Viewing Gallery on Whistler Mountain and, of course, rides on the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Pedal pushers will find top-of-the-line bikes, including Enduro and E-Bikes, at two village locations, while fans of flightseeing helicopter tours can team up with Blackcomb Aviation for a spectacular bird's eye view of the mountain landscape. As an added bonus, educational mountain tours are back for a second season, each promising an insider's look at the history, operations and hidden secrets of Whistler Blackcomb. To reward a full day's play, the resort's popular Mountaintop BBQ Series (e.g., Whole Hog Fridays) at the Roundhouse Lodge offers hearty fare in the alpenglow.

At Vancouver Island's Mount Washington Alpine Resort, the scenic Eagle chairlift ride, complete with ocean-meets-alpine views, is a good place to start: a ride up-and-up provides transport to the summit of Mount Washington (1,588 metres or 5,210 feet), an ideal vantage point to, on a clear day, take in Strathcona Provincial Park, the Comox Glacier, Mount Arrowsmith, the Strait of Georgia and Mount Baker. At the top, self-guided exploration is encouraged, thanks to a criss-crossing of pathways that identify the area's native flora and fauna; to take it up a notch, explorers can delve further into Strathcona's alpine and make tracks along the park's winding mass of marked trails. Mount Washington's Saturday Sunset Ride & Dine, July through August, adds an edible element to the mix, namely when chairlift rides are paired with lunch or dinner at family-friendly Ted's Bar + Grill.

Crowds will roar this season at Sun Peaks Resort, courtesy of a warm-weather Thompson Okanagan lineup of festivals and events sure to tickle every fancy. The Sun Peaks Summer Concert Series bookends this season's festivities with two major, free concert weekends: Lou Gramm, The Voice of Foreigner, and Platinum Blonde kick things off July 3 - 4, while Colin James will bring down the house at summer's end, August 29. Downhill mountain biking, cross-country biking trails, lift-accessed hiking through a riot of summer blossoms and golfing at BC's highest elevation course showcase outdoor play at its finest; off-mountain activity offers no less with a collection of lakes that call for paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking. And for those eager to preserve the moment, Canada's Alpine Blossom Festival promises an opportunity for aspiring photographers to team up with professionals for hands-on workshops in the alpine, July 31 – August 2.

While beloved as a family-friendly winter playground, Big White Ski Resort, further southeast near Kelowna, will kick things into high gear this summer with its first-ever offering of warm-weather play. On the roster: outdoor enthusiasts can connect with nature and breathe the fresh mountain air along the resort's network of trails that span everything from easy-does-it terrain to more difficult trails that lead to an afternoon in the wild. (A scenic Bullet Chair Lift ride offers an ideal vantage point to take in the area's natural, wildflower setting, minus the exertion.) On-mountain exploration is encouraged, but so too is celebration that goes hand-in-hand with a day's play. Festival fans won't want to miss Big White Ski Resort's July Country on the Mountain barbecue and beer fest, not to mention the August Bike, Hike and Beverage Weekend and Ciderfest gathering that promises two-wheeled races, demos and, of course, sips of local cider.  

Set for summer 2015, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will unveil its latest mountain journey: a new via ferrata climbing attraction in British Columbia's Purcell Mountains. The European-style adventure, boasting an Italian name that translates to “iron road,” offers a fixed-route ascent that allows amateur enthusiasts the same awesome experience as hardcore climbers, thanks to a series of cables, ladders and bridges. Keeners will be primed for the excursion with a thorough initiation course that covers technique and safety measures, all before clipping in to explore a route that scales the north face of Terminator Peak. Here, two levels of difficulty await: the first will track an elevation gain of 70 metres (230 feet), while the second promises an even greater adrenalin rush with a more challenging gain of 100 metres (328 feet). The resort's via ferrata will join a winning Kicking Horse summer lineup of activity near Golden, including mountain biking, hiking and lunch in the clouds at Eagle's Eye, Canada's highest-elevation restaurant.

At Panorama Mountain Resort, keeners won't have to move mountains to experience a Kootenay Rockies rush — they'll just have to step outside. Set southwest of Invermere, this cosy village is a gateway to outdoor play: mountain biking challenges, with a mix of leisurely trails and fast, technical steeps and features, are but a chairlift away; the truly adventurous will defy gravity along expert downhill trails, marked with man-made features. For a slower pace, on-mountain hiking combines elevated exploration with a sightseeing ride on the Mile 1 Express chairlift, complete with views of Mount Nelson. All that activity is bound to work up the appetite, and Panorama delivers, deliciously: on mountain, the Mile 1 Hut serves up Mediterranean menus paired with BC wines while village draws offer no less, with casual, steakhouse ambience at the new Cliffhanger Restaurant, hearty, rustic Italian fare at Monticola and the fresh-baked goodness and local Kicking Horse Coffee (perfect for fueling any mountain adventure) at Picnic Café.

Go Fish: British Columbia Lures with Top-Notch Casting Operations

In British Columbia, avid anglers can shine their lines with operations of all shapes and sizes (and catches). Only one question remains: Will it be saltwater or freshwater?

For on-the-water action of the saltwater variety, Northern BC's Langara Fishing Adventures delivers. Here, off Haida Gwaii's remote Langara Island, wild Pacific salmon swim the current alongside the province's largest populations of humpbacks and Orcas. Translation: when anglers aren't casting for the big one, they'll be mesmerized by really big mammals in one of the world's richest marine ecosystems. Either way, the Langara team has it covered; the resort's knowledgeable guides lead the way during whale-watching excursions and tame the area's hard-fighting fish with equal fervour. At day's end, guests will be spoilt for choice with home base at one of two spots: the classic Langara Fishing Lodge or the more luxurious Langara Island Lodge.

On Vancouver Island, Painter's Lodge is the stuff of legend — salmon fishing legend, that is. Indeed, the pros at Painter's make the most of their Campbell River address, specifically the Discovery Passage, a waterway that is said to boast one of the world's most impressive salmon migrations. May through October, beginners and experienced anglers alike can sign on for guided adventure, including a leisurely four-hour fishing excursion or an eight-hour outing that motors far beyond the local shores to little-known salmon hotspots further north. As a bonus, overnights in snug cabins or oceanfront suites that promise views of the action cap off days spent on the water.  

A hop, skip and a complimentary water shuttle away from Painter's Lodge is April Point & Spa, a remote fishing destination set on the shores of Quadra Island. Salmon fishing is second nature here, particularly when April Point's skilled guides cruise the eddies, backwaters and inlet tidal currents that make up the Discovery Passage. Enthusiasts can stay at April Point and enjoy personalized, guided salmon fishing outings that depart from the lodge's private dock; come early fall, anglers ready for bigger catches — namely Tyee, or chinook salmon that are more than 30 pounds — that migrate to Campbell River.    

Based on Vancouver's iconic Granville Island, Bon Chovy Fishing Charters puts its focus on fully guided salmon fishing adventures. With outings that range from five to 10 hours (plus the option of an overnight escape), Bon Chovy reels in the big catches year round, thanks to an abundance of salmon and sturgeon, and a very mild climate. A bonus? Fraser River sturgeon trips are also on offer 365 days a year, a once-in-a-lifetime, catch-and-release experience that showcases an ancient species whose size and strength is the stuff of fishing lore.

Situated west of Williams Lake in BC's Chilcotin, Nimpo Lake Resort boasts an assortment of log cabins, complete with modern conveniences and rustic charm, not to mention spectacular, camera-ready scenery and wild rainbow trout. While canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are all at the ready, anglers may be more inclined to rent a fishing boat from the lodge (or bring their own) to test fly rods and spin casters on abundant, freshwater Nimpo Lake. Evenings will be spent next to the campfire, or warmed by the fireplace in the resort's screened-in, lakeview gazebo — all backed by the call of local loons.

Stoney Lake Lodge touts similar cachet, thanks to its “rainbow trout region” setting near Kamloops, an area revered for its abundance of fierce-fighting fish. Guests at the lodge, at Douglas Lake Ranch, have access to Stoney and Minnie lakes, two well-stocked bodies of water that promise catch-and-release outings that can climb into the double digits. A bonus: both lakes are situated on private property, ensuring that visitation is limited and that lodge guests experience long casting days nearly unfettered. Three square, and delicious, meals daily will nourish back at the lodge, an inviting respite where enthusiasts can share animated tales of the day's adventures.

BC's Kootenay Rockies is home to Reel Adventures Sport Fishing Charters, a team of anglers who set their sights on Kootenay Lake's Gerrard rainbow trout. Here, there's plenty of incentive to cast into the deep blue near Nelson — especially when the pros at Reel Adventures customize outings focusing solely on this mighty species, considered the world's largest rainbow trout. (Fun fact: Kootenay Lake does not freeze when the temperature plunges, making winter prime time for reeling in the big ones.) With more than 20 years of year-round experience under their fishing belts, Reel Adventures offers an insider's approach to some of the finest casting anywhere, with a dramatic mountain background to match.

No comments:

Post a Comment