Not every bike ride has to have a boozy reward at the end… but you have to admit, it’s nice when it does! Cycling the Lochside Trail to Sea Cider is probably my favourite bike ride close to Victoria. It’s flat, the changing scenery is interesting, and… you already know it… cider! Delicious, local, organically-grown, refreshing cider.
Start at: the beginning of the Lochside Trail, at the Switch Bridge by Uptown Mall. You can also make your way to Borden and McKenzie, and hop on the trail there (follow the bike path north on Borden, towards Lochside Drive). From the start of the Lochside Trail at the Switch Bridge, this bike ride is about 38 km roundtrip, or just over an hour each way, depending on your speed.
What will you see along the way? The Lochside Trail will quickly have you feeling like you’re far from the city; soon after you cross McKenzie, you’ll start to pass farms! Depending on the time of year, many of them will have stands along the trail, so be sure to bring some cash and leave room in your saddle bags (or belly). You’ll meader along Lochside Drive through the upscale Cordova Bay neighbourhood, where you can check out the plants on landscaped lawns, and where gaps between homes give you glimpses of the ocean and mainland mountains.
Visiting one (or more) of the beaches along the Juan de Fuca coast on Vancouver Island is the perfect way to spend a day trip from Victoria. While they each have unique draws (e.g. Mystic Beach starts with a great hike through the forest, Botanical is known for its tide pools and rock formations), they’re also similar enough that you could spend the day at any one of them without fear of missing out. Heads up: if you have a rental car, Sombrio may not be the best choice for you! Read on. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to head to Sombrio Beach for the day:
We spent a relaxing anniversary weekend in Tofino a couple years ago, and top of our list was visiting Hot Springs Cove. It’s the place to go for a relaxing few hours’ dip in some natural, spring-fed hot pools right by the ocean! Considering how special they are, they’re a little tricky to get to. Here’s how to do it, and what to expect:
The hot springs are only reachable by boat and float plane, so booking a day tour was the best option for us (uncomplicated = relaxing). Plus, since we visited in the off-season, rates were reduced! We went with Ocean Outfitters, and had a great experience.
The boat ride to the hot springs technically only takes about an hour, but the trip doubles as a wildlife viewing tour. In the fall/winter, there isn’t much in the way of whale-viewing, although we did see a grey whale! There are always plenty of seals and sea lions en route, but the big one for me was SEA OTTERS! We kept passing groups of blobs floating nearby. I thought it was bull kelp, but it was SO MUCH BETTER! (Btw the captain made it clear that they are *not* holding hands because they’re in love! </3) Depending on the season, you can also see whales, bears, and puffins.
The ride is rocky!! Bring meds if you’re prone to sea sickness, because you’ll probably go via the open ocean in at least one direction for better wildlife spotting.
The boats dock about 2 kms from the hot springs, which leaves you with about a half hour walk to bliss. This is all part of the trip! The mostly flat boardwalk leads you through one of those reliably magnificent Pacific Northwest rainforests. Kyla and I were inspired by NOT having to wear massive backpacks like we had on the Juan de Fuca Trail, so we raced along, eager to warm up!
You’ll know you’ve reached the cove once you smell the sulphur! There’s a covered area at the top of the hot springs where you can store your stuff, as well as two changing stalls. You’ll need to bring your own food and water for the day.
The rocks are slippery, so get low and go slow! Water shoes would work well, too. There are hotter pools near the top, and as you get closer to the ocean, they start to feel more like a warm bath. We climbed past everyone else to the pièce de résistance: the closest pool to the ocean, where we had front row seats to waves crashing against the rocks just a few feet away! Kyla even climbed to a shallow spot that *she claimed* was warm, where she’d get a blast of cold every time the waves came in.
If you have a waterproof camera, I’d recommend bringing that down instead of a phone. (Like, we obviously shouldn’t have brought ours down, but pictures! They were fine but they had to dry out after 2 hours of rain and steam!)
Since we were there on a long weekend, it was busy. Despite all of the people there, it still felt romantic! We visited at the right time of year: hot pools and cool, rainy air were such a cozy combo. After a couple of hours soaking, we felt sooo relaxed (and sooo tired). We hurried back through the forest to meet our boat, and dozed on the way back.
Anyway, scroll those lists and pages for drag, workshops and panels, youth events, nights out, alt pride, outdoor events, and more. Here are the events I’m most looking forward to this year (warning: a few more than 5 may find their way in)!
Salt Spring Island has a huge piece of my heart. It’s where Kyla grew up, and the first time I visited I got to meet her family AND their new baby goats. We ate homemade goat cheese, fresh eggs laid by their chickens, and veggies from their substantial garden. I’ve been back over a dozen times since, and every time, I feel like we do something that’s Uniquely Salt Spring(TM).
On the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland, it doesn’t really matter if you know a local or not. Whether you’re there for the day or staying for a while, you’re almost guaranteed to have a genuine Gulf Island experience on the island home of hippies, farmers, artists and artisans (and summer vacationers).
If you’ve heard of Salt Spring, you probably know about the famous Saturday market; many tourists love it; many locals – understandably – don’t: it clogs up ferries and roads, and brings hordes of people to the island. I personally LOVE the Saturday market: you can sample and buy anything from kale chips to cider, check out local artisan products, and then hang out in the park watching (or joining) free spirits drum and dance. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet Raffi– yes, Raffi, the singer of your childhood faves like Baby Beluga and Down By the Bay! He lives on the island, and he’s often there selling CDs. The market may be on your West Coast bucket list, and in many ways it’s worth the hype!
HOWEVER, I’m here to argue that you can have an incredible time on Salt Spring without seeing the market. If you go on a summer Saturday, you’ll encounter massive crowds, potentially extra sailing waits for the ferry, tricky parking, and you may miss the bulk of what the island has to offer.
No matter what, aim to see MORE than the market. Here are some things to do, see, eat and drink around this magical island:
Last time I visited Tofino, it was a rainy November long weekend. Kyla and I were celebrating an anniversary, and the theme of the trip was to relaaaax and enjoy lots of hygge time without too many plans. That was a fabulous way to spend a weekend there, and you can read more about it here: Hygge Holiday: Tofino Hot Springs and Other Relaxing Things
This month, I had a chance to go back with my parents, and this time it was hot and sunny! Like uncharacteristically HOT; 20+ degrees Celsius made for a totally different Tofino experience!
We were able to fit a lot into just two nights, without it feeling rushed*. Of course, the more time you have, the better. If you plan to surf, you’ll probably want to spend more time there, and if you want to visit the hot springs, you may also want to have at least one more night. If your plan is to do a bit of hiking and beachcombing, soak in some sunsets (or get a little soaked, if it’s rainy season), and eat some tasty food in a place where the views are never less than stunning, it’s the perfect amount of time.
Here are some ideas for three days and two nights in and around this little surf town on the west coast of Vancouver Island:
It’s been raining on and off here in Victoria, which means… hygge time! Being warm and cozy INDOORS! But sometimes, I want to have an answer other than “Netflix” when someone asks me about my weekend. Plus, after 3 years on the Wet Coast, I’ve learned that you pretty much have to suck it up, put on some rain boots, and find things to do until at least December when it’s more acceptable to to start hibernating.
It’s actually a great time of year to explore: the big crowds of tourists are gone (if you’re a tourist, still come visit though!), there’s still lots of sun and blue skies between the showers, and there are so many amazing things to do in and around the city! Here are some ideas:
1. Check out the Salmon Run at Goldstream Provincial Park:
Last weekend, we hiked a very small part of the Sunshine Coast Trail, a 180 km hut-to-hut trail north of Vancouver. Because we only had one vehicle to work with, and the price of getting a shuttle to pick us up along the trail was fairly steep, we opted to do a loop this time around. Plus, we really wanted to include Tin Hat Mountain in our trek, which is easily accessed via a 2 day loop from Lewis Lake.
Here’s a rundown of our 2 days on the trail, broken down into sections, including stops in Powell River. Let me know if you have any questions or, if you’ve done the hike, suggestions for next time!
Powell River was a cute little town! We had some time to kill once we arrived, so we headed straight to Townsite Brewing; they had great beer, arcade games, and they’re the sponsor of Tin Hat Mountain hut! We had dinner at Costa del Sol, which had so-so food and service, but a fabulous atmosphere and ocean views from the cozy patio.
On Monday, the city of Victoria raised5 flags in anticipation of Pride (including the transgender, two-spirit, genderqueer, and non-binary flags, alongside rainbow). With just a few days left until Victoria’s 2018 Pride Week kick-off, there’s a LOT to look forward to in the next couple of weeks! Here are some events to consider!
1. Drag Ball (July 1st)
The annual Canada Day kick-off to Pride Week and can’t-miss event: Kings vs Queens in a softball game where, in the wise words of WLIIA, “the rules are made up and the points don’t matter!” An awesome day to get dressed up in rainbow and day drink… or join in the game! More info about Drag Ball.