We are flying to Calgary and then plan to drive to BC. I'm at a loss at which area would be best - of course we will stay in Vancouver for a couple of days. Our 2 kids are coming too. 22 and 23 years old. We are quite an active, nature loving family that also enjoy wine and good food. We would all like to do a wine tour (on bikes?), maybe horseback riding, white water rafting, zip line etc. I think renting accommodate, where we can cram all this stuff in, would probably work well for us rather than a hotel. But where is the best location? Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.
Check out resort areas in the Okanagan Valley. Probably Kelowna, but there are a few different cities and resorts that could be good. Vineries, bicycling and whitewater rafting will be better in this region. Head past Vancouver and up to Whistler for a couple nights and do zip lining there. Also consider a seaplane tour while in Vancouver.
Vancouver is wonderful, but not a location for the outdoor activities you are looking for. Question, where are you coming from?
Are you planning other activities in Vancouver?
Calgary to Vancouver takes you on Highway 1 (Trans Canadian) through Banff NP. You need to buy park passes so you might as well enjoy the park. Towns of Banff and Lake Louise (and Canmore just outside the eastern gate of Banff) have information an activity centers.
You could route north of Lake Louise on the Ice Field Parkways to Jasper NP. Actually a great road bike ride from Lake Louise to Columbia Icefields. http://icefieldsparkway.com/
You could route west from Lake Louise into Yolo NP. Emerald Lake is as named.
Ending in Vancouver rent bikes and ride Stanley Park, Granville Island and Vancouver. Great bike riding town.
RE: Vancouver is wonderful, but not a location for the outdoor activities....
We rented bikes from Simon's Bike Shop http://simonsbikeshop.com/rentals/ a couple of blocks from our downtown hotel (THe Kingsgton). Rode from the bike shop over bike lanes and trails to Stanley Park, then to Granville Island for lunch before returning the bikes. Many other Vancouver places to bike: http://www.tourismvancouver.com/activities/cycling-mountain-biking/5-great-bike-rides/
With its mild climate and extensive network of bike lanes and paths,
Vancouver is an ideal destination for sightseeing on two wheels. Rent
a bike or bring your own, and get ready to explore the city’s beaches,
parks and attractions with one of these leisurely routes. If you’re
feeling adventurous, you can even plot your own path with this map of
Vancouver’s bike trails.
- Stanley Park
It can be difficult to cover all the ground in Stanley Park in one
afternoon, as this sprawling urban sanctuary is packed with historic
landmarks, upscale and casual restaurants, scenic gardens, sandy
beaches and Canada’s largest aquarium. Ride the 10 kilometre (6 mile)
paved path along the Stanley Park Seawall, which circles the entire
park and promises plenty of spectacular sightseeing. Or speed things
up and cruise the bike trails through the park, where you can coast by
the rose garden, the Vancouver Rowing Club and Lost Lagoon.
Agree with Nordheim about Okanagan for wine, bikes, horses, etc. Not sure how long you have in BC, but if you want to see Nature as it was before Europeans and don't mind sleeping on a beach, consider a sea kayak tour on Vancouver Island. Take the ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo (a treat in itself) and drive north to Campbell River or Quadra Island. Look for a kayak touring outfit ahead of time. They can guide you across protected waters into some of the most amazing isolated and pristine islands you can imagine. Many of the touring outfits provide all the equipment and food.
Given the activities you mentioned, a stop in the Okanagan would most definitely be worthwhile. It's a holiday area that's very popular with residents of Alberta, the lower mainland (Vancouver), the U.S. and elsewhere (including an increasing number from Europe).
As you enjoy "wine and good food", the Okanagan would be a perfect choice as there are dozens of wineries in the valley. The greater majority are located in the south Okanagan (Oliver, Osoyoos) but there are some in the north as well. Some wineries also offer B&B's, so you'd be able to stay there.
In terms of where to stay, Kelowna is the most central location and the largest city, so that will provide the greatest number of hotels and restaurants and of course the lake. It's going to be busy and HOT in August, so advance booking would probably be a good idea. All the usual hotel chains (Best Western, etc.) are there as well as some independent properties. The largest hotel is The Grand which is right downtown and on the lake.
There's a Rock The Lake event taking place in Kelowna from Aug. 12-14, but it appears it's fully sold out. If you're interested, Mission Hill Winery in West Kelowna holds concerts in the summer and they've just added a second show for Michael Bolton on Aug. 7. Mission Hill was renovated a few years ago and now resembles a Tuscan Villa, located on top of a mountain with incredible views of the lake and vineyards. They also have a gourmet restaurant there. Just below Mission Hill is the Quail's Gate Winery, also with a gourmet restaurant. As I recall, Pres. Obama was served a wine from Quail's Gate on his first visit to Canada.
Another option for great food is the Gray Monk Winery in Lake Country, which has a patio overlooking the lake and vineyards (there are sometimes deer wandering through the vineyards). Finally, if you'd like to try a wonderful restaurant in Kelowna, I'd highly recommend Raudz Regional Table.
Regarding the activities you mentioned......
- Zip Lining - there's a Zip Lining facility in Oyama (Lake Country) - http://www.oyamazipline.com/
- Horseback riding - I'm sure there's more than one, but here's one possibility - https://www.myracanyon.com/stables/
- White Water Rafting - I've never checked, but that's probably offered in the Okanagan - one of the oldest and best operators of that type is located in the Lytton area - https://kumsheen.com/white-water-rafting/day-trips/ (you could do that on the way to Vancouver).
- Hiking - there are LOTS of hiking opportunities all over the valley. One caveat though - watch out for the Rattlesnakes in some areas!
- Mountain Biking - one popular option is mountain biking along the old Kettle Valley Railway and some trips go through vineyards and along the lakes. Mountain biking is also offered at Silver Star Resort in Vernon.
If you'd like to try a Spa experience or golfing on incredible courses (that have been used for major world tournaments), have a look at Predator Ridge or Sparkling Hills Resort (owned by the Svarovski Crystal family - they also have a fantastic gourmet restaurant with incredible views).
For outdoor activities, you could also visit Whistler. On the way you could stop in Squamish and take the Sea To Sky Gondola up the mountain for some hiking.
There are endless possibilities in Super Natural British Columbia!
Thank you so much for all your replays. This has given me lots of ideas.
Late but had to add, you must travel thru the parks, the scenery is breathtaking. Don't go another route.
I'm a BC girl so message any questions if you like
Canoeing on Emerald Lake in Yoho National is a favorite memory of mine. Absolutely beautiful. It's been years ago, but we went whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse near Golden. That was a fun experience.
Have a good trip!
Whistler ski resort has a lot of adventure activities to offer in the summer ( ziplines, etc.), plus an extensive network of bike trails and a mountain bike park on the mountain. Horseback riding is available up the valley in the next town---I forget the name but it offered great riding--- we were even allowed to canter (that is generally not allowed in the US on commercial trail rides outside of dude ranches, due to insurance restrictions)
Condos are abundant and very reasonable priced in the summer.
Of course usual questions such as how long will you be in BC (Is that the main purpose of your trip?), and where are you coming from. Are you planning on flying to Calgary, renting a car and driving to Vancouver? Its a good 11-12 hour drive between the two cities (900+ kms) so a stayover en route is a good idea. If BC is the main attraction I'd fly into Vancouver and save a couple of days driving.
Certainly lots of wineries in the Kelowna/Vernon area, just off the No. 1 highway, which make it a good area for a stopover. Look also at the southern route from Calgary to Pincher Creek (a stop at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump is well worth it) and then west on the No 3 highway through the Crowsnest Pass, Fernie and Osoysoos (also has a well reviewed winery resort) ending in Vancouver. There are a number of ranches just outside Banff that offer horse riding (Rafter Six comes to mind).
Don't end in Vancouver - take the ferry over to Vancouver Island (Schwartz Bay for an easy drive into Victoria). Lots of wineries, cycling trails, organic farms, cideries, whale watching tours, kayaking etc. etc. and the interesting and historic city of Victoria. Stay in one of the smaller towns outside the city - Brentwood Bay, Sidney, or further Up Island - Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach.
Rental accommodation is probably getting booked up and the forecast on the Island is for a busy tourist season - already busy in our small town so you might be out of luck for that. Rental accommodation here is generally hard to find whether long term or short-term
Here is a really good website to give you lots of ideas about what BC can offer you: http://www.hellobc.com/british-columbia/about-bc.aspx. Weather in August is usually warm (sometimes even hot!) and rain is unlikely (at least on the east coast of Vancouver Island).
Kelowna is good for wine. Depending on your time constraints, drive south through Glacier National Park via the stunning Going to the Sun Road and stay in Whitefish. Your outdoor activities can be satisfied here as there is great rafting on the Flathead River, a seven section zip-line on Big Mountain (danged fast, fun) and more, super mountain biking, horseback riding, water sports on Whitefish Lake, great restaurants, bars, two breweries and two distilleries. You could then drive to Kelowna and sample wines from the large number of wineries (how they survive is beyond me), before ending your trip in/around Vancouver.
Looks like you have a full plate with all these suggestions. 🍁⭐️🌲
Adding to the comments on touring the Okanagan, I'd recommend wineries south of Kelowna - in the Naramata Bench area, Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Osoyoos. Once you are in Vancouver there are lots of biking possibilities in the city with lots of cycle paths and greenways. The Stanley Park seawall can be very crowded and very frustrating at times - I prefer to walk rather than bike the seawall. I'd recommend one of the other cycle paths starting at English Bay, heading along False Creek, around Olympic Village and out to Spanish Banks and back - it's about 40km in total. This route is along the water the whole way and you go through Granville Island and the Public Market on a protected bikeway the whole way. A couple of attractions that are worth it are SeaVancouver - a 90 minute zodiac boat tour of Vancouver Harbour and out into English Bay and FlyOver Canada. We live in Vancouver and have done both with our 20 something kids and recommend them as worth the money. Another popular attractions is the Capilano Suspension Bridge - I haven't been in years but others rave about it. As mentioned previously, Whistler is definitely the centre of outdoor activities. I would recommend going to Whistler rather than going over to Vancouver Island. It's much easier and cheaper to get to and once you are there everything is close by. And, there are lots and lots of apartments for short-term rental in Whistler - check VRBO. You can hike, bike, zipline and whitewater rafting and all are easily accessible from the village. You might want to consider taking a seaplane from Vancouver Harbour up to Whistler or if you drive it's about 90 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Food options in Vancouver are endless and we are blessed with an abundance of great restaurants. Send me a direct message and I'll be happy to share our favourites with you.
I found this writeup that might be helpful
1) Grouse Mountain – www.grousemountain.com – this is a wonderful scenic mountain only about 15 mins from downtown Vancouver. Ride the airtram to the top for lots of fun activities that include a loggers show, birds of prey show, 2 movies (1 about the Vancouver area and 1 about the 2 Grizzly Bears who make their home on Grouse Mtn) ride a chair lift higher up the mountain to visit the wind turbine that generates approximately 30% of the power required for Grouse Mountain Resort and visit with 2 live Grizzly Bears. Thrill to a 2 hour Zip Line Tour. Enjoy a meal in any of the restaurants. Caveat only spend the money to go up on a clear day.
2) Capilano Suspension Bridge – www.capbridge.com – this is Vancouver’s oldest tourist attraction and I still enjoy visiting it! Located on Capilano Road just before you reach the Grouse Mountain parking lot. Walk across a suspension Bridge originally erected in 1889 over the Capilano Gorge. This bridge stretches 450’ end to end and hovers 230’ above Capilano River. Wonder the trails thru the rain forest, walk thru the treetops on the new Tree Top Adventure, traverse a Cliff Top walk, visit the trading post for a huge selection of souvenirs, watch native weavers and/or carvers at work.
3) Capilano Fish Hatchery is also located on Capilano Road and is a great place to view salmon jumping up the fish ladders to get around the Cleveland Dam. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CapilanoRiverRegional_Park
4) Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge – www.lynncanyon.ca - is also located in North Vancouver and is much less touristy than Capilano but it also is not as spectacular. The bridge is slightly higher above the water but much shorter in span. Located in a Provincial Park this bridge comes with some nice hiking trails and you will find an ecology centre in the park as well as picnic tables and a food concession outlet. Should you choose to enjoy the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge always cross the suspension bridge first and then hike down the trail to the lower (Twin Falls wooden) bridge to cross back over the Lynn Valley River and return to your car – that way you are hiking downhill rather than uphill. It is also free to visit this suspension bridge!
5) Stanley Park – www.vancouver.ca/parks/parks/stanley/ - is the crown jewel of Vancouver's parks. As one of North America's largest urban parks, covering over a 1000 acres and offering an abundance of activities. Enjoy the totem pole collection near the Brockton Point Light House, hiking trails, beaches, water parks for the kids (young & old), rose gardens, miniature train, aquarium –www.vanaqua.org – many view points, and several restaurants.
6) Vancouver Aquarium – www.vanaqua.org – is Canada’s largest aquarium and is committed to the conservation of marine life and education. Located in Stanley Park this is a fun place for the family to visit.
7) Fly Over Canada incorporates state of the art technology in an Imax theatre to show you supernatural Canada, Fly from coast to coast taking in breath stealing views of Niagara Falls, Lake Louise, The Rockies & more. Spectacular! www.flyovercanada.com
8) Gas Town – the location where Vancouver originated. The name is derived from a very colorful character named Gassy Jack who was one of the first settlers in the area and a salon keeper – while in Gas Town don’t miss your photo op with the statue of Gassy Jack and by the Steam Clock.
9) At the start of Gas Town is the Harbor Centre Tower www.vancouverlookout.com a great spot to start your tour of Vancouver with a birds eye view of the city. Either take the elevator up to the lookout level or go to the top and enjoy a meal in the revolving restaurant.
10) China Town is only about 6 blocks over from Gas Town and is the largest China Town north of San Francisco. While in China Town enjoy a visit to the Dr Sun Yat Sen Classical Gardens www.vancouverchinesegarden.com and also make sure you visit the world’s thinnes