Vancouver & Vancouver Island

We enjoyed a magical end of summer trip to Vancouver & Vancouver Island in Canada's British Columbia. 

First off, every time I travel to Canada, I have an excellent time. So way to be Canada, way to be...

Here's some highlights from our trip!

In the city of Vancouver:

1) Strolling

 I love how pedestrian friendly the city is! There's a walking lane, a bike lane, and sometimes also a roller blading lane! That's three separate lanes for pedestrians. What?! Unheard of and amazing!

 Strolling thorough Stanley Park

Strolling thorough Stanley Park

2) Sylvia Hotel

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The hotel is very old and our room was tiny but the location was perfect. Directly across the street from the English Bay swim beach (which was warm enough for a dip!) and the famous Stanley Park and Seawall. Removed enough from downtown to be quiet and peaceful. Bonus: it has a great view from the downstairs bar with some outdoor seating for people watching and ocean views. 

3) Ramen!

Who knew Vancouver had so many authentic Ramen places? We enjoyed authentic Ramen at Kintaro Ramen, a tiny spot on Denman street, with a Ramen bowl that could feed three football players. YUM!

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4) Vancouver Canadians Game 

We traveled to Vancouver to cheer on our nephew, Matt McLaughlin, who was playing Minor League Single A baseball with the Boise Hawks. Though he was injured we still enjoyed the series against the Canadians, who have rowdy fans and a great atmosphere at their minor league ball park in the city. Complete with microbrews, decent food, and quite a few laughs. Worth checking out a game if you're in the city in the summer. 

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Vancouver Island:

From Vancouver, we took the ferry to Vancouver Island stopping first in Victoria. Which was itself a pleasant trip! Bring a layer on board to sit outside and enjoy the view!

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In Victoria:

1) Nightlife

Yep, pubs galore! Though Victoria is pretty touristy and the pubs definitely an attraction, I found each one to be extremely charming, to have incredible beer selection, and pretty tasty bites as well. Most of the more popular bars have music that begins at 9 PM and again, the music is also pretty great! We saw a bluegrass/folk band with some pretty talented dudes representing. 

Our faves were: Bard & Banker (coolest location), The Churchill (best beer selection), Irish Times Pub (best music)

 Bard & Banker Public House, Victoria

Bard & Banker Public House, Victoria

2) Food

There's plethora of mid to upscale restaurants in Victoria here's two places we loved. 

Jam Cafe for breakfast: Get there when in opens as line-up is long but if you love breakfast food as much as I do, it's worth the wait. 

Red Fish Blue Fish for dinner: dockside restaurant with nice views and surprisingly wonderful food on Wharf Street. Life's short, get desert here. 

3) That English Vibe

Downtown Victoria just has a great vibe about it. Street performers and lots of people make just sitting a nice time. 

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4) The Gardens

Buchart Gardens is a big Victoria attraction. I'm still on the fence with this one because it was damn expensive, but in the end I think worth the price of admission to see the Sunken Garden alone. If I had a do over on this, I'd pack a picnic to spend a little extra time enjoying the scenery. 

 Sunken Garden

Sunken Garden

The West Coast

From Victoria, we drove to Port Renfrew on the Southern West Coast of the Island. Port Renfrew is famous as the starting point of the Island's West Coast and Juan de Fuca trails, both multi-day backpacking trips that require permits (especially the West Coast trail which apparently books out months in advance). The town itself really only has one restaurant, The Refrew Pub, that stays open in the evening, there's another lunch spot that was always closed for us. We stayed in a super cool yurt at the top of the hill with sweeping views! However unless I was headed back to do the longer backpacking trip, I'd probably skip this town if I traveled back to the island in the future. As a highlight we saw 6 Orcas while hiking a section of the Juan de Fuca trail, went swimming in very cold Pacific water, and did have a lovely time in our secluded yurt at Soule Creek Lodge that fed us well in the mornings and one lovely dinner. 

 Yurt Views

Yurt Views

From Port Renfrew we zigzagged the island in a long drive out to the Central West Coast at Ucluelet and Tofino. We opted to stay in smaller Uluelet over Tofino and I'm so glad we did. This smaller town was a big highlight for us and a MUST if you're traveling to Vancouver Island. 

1) Kayaking

If you have the right weather and can afford it I highly recommend heading out on kayaks. We did a full day trip to the Broken Island Group off of Ucluelet and it was one of our most favorite excursions we've done on any trip ever! The weather was perfect, even enough to go swimming again!  The water was as placid as a lake, clear enough to see all sorts of sea creatures including hundreds of HUGE STARFISH AND SEA ANEMONES! 

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2) MORE FOOD!

We had a few great meals out in these small seasonal towns. First in Tofino, bring your appetite and your pocket book ($$$) to The Wolf in the Fog, an upscale restaurant that rivals any big city eatery. Make reservations in advance so you can get a table upstairs. 

If you don't want to drop a bunch of cash, head to Hank's BBQ in Ucluelet. Listen I'm from Texas so it's hard to impress me when it comes to BBQ, but Hank's got it. 

For breakfast treats and coffee head to Zoe's in Ucluelet. Life's short eat the Cinnamon Roll...

 The Wolf in the Fog

The Wolf in the Fog