8 road trips that will make you want to explore BC ASAP

Jul 24 2020, 12:11 am

We’re truly spoiled to have this rugged, culturally rich, and vast terrain as our playground — it’s quite unlike any other place on earth.

That’s why this summer, we hope to safely and responsibly rediscover the hidden gems strewn across our province. Our uncertainty around international travel can be a springboard for local exploration and help us rekindle our connection with the unparalleled beauty, diverse culture, and unique people of places we get to call home.

We’ve teamed up with Destination BC to inspire you to go where you’ve never been — or to see and experience our province with fresh eyes. From BC’s cities to forested coasts to the towering alpines, wild north, and lush sweeping valleys, there’s so much to discover and feel grateful for.

By exercising patience regarding what’s open and having consideration for fellow BC travellers on their own paths, remarkable journeys can await us all. Here are eight road trips calling you this summer — which will you choose?

Foodies, embark on a delicious day trip

Goat Yoga/Maan Farms

Looking to escape for a day of deliciousness? There are tons of reasons to visit the Fraser Valley. Brimming with wilderness, agriculture, and culinary delights, the Valley is also home to many farms, like Taves Family Farm and Maan Farms (both in Abbotsford) and Krause Berry Farms (in Langley). Make furry friends doing goat yoga and treat your palette to delicious treats and local cider.

Another great day trip is Richmond, named by Eater as one of the top places to eat in the world, earning itself a spot on the international food map. Fuel up with some dim sum before you hit the road to further explore outside the city. Take on Delta’s Boundary Bay Bike Trail, then explore the village of Ladner and grab a growler to-go from nearby Four Winds.

Ride and unwind on the Sunshine Coast

Destination BC/Local Wanderer

Slow down and breathe in the salty ocean air and rich coastal culture with one of the many quintessential coastal getaways that every BC resident should experience at least once.

Within a 40-minute BC Ferries ride from West Vancouver, you could be taking in the stunning stretches of shoreline from a laid-back seaside community on the Sunshine Coast. Sip on a fresh morning brew from quaint cafés, like Beachcomber Coffee, before heading out with Sunshine Coast Art Tours for a glimpse into local artistry or stopping by Gibsons Public Market to learn about local food and art. 

Cap things off with a pint from Batch 44 or find out why Sunday Cider is a good idea any day of the week. The backdrop of orchards, farms, and oceanviews at one of the areas many breweries, cideries, and distilleries are sure to transform happy hour into meaningful memories.

For a longer getaway, drive up the scenic Sunshine Coast Highway all the way to Earls Cove, take BC Ferries over to the North Coast, then continue onwards to Powell River for great foodie finds, cute cafes, and bookshops; make sure to visit Townsite Brewing in the historic district. Outdoor adventure-seekers, plan a trip to Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park and stay at incredible wilderness lodges and resorts, like Cabana Desolation Eco Resort.

Explore Victoria and beyond

Tourism Vancouver Island/Ben Giesbrecht

Discovering the laid-back vibes and ocean vistas of Vancouver Island will have you counting your blessings to call yourself a West Coaster.

After you eat, drink, walk, and cycle your way around enchanting Victoria, consider venturing up the east coast and discovering some gems that will give you a whole new appreciation for the Island. Get nautical on nearby Cadboro Bay or beaches like Willow’s Beach in Oak Bay. Paddle around with a rental from Ocean River Adventures or take a kayaking tour with Blue Dog Kayaking if you’re just starting out.

Within a short distance of the city, geological wonders, like the Sooke Potholes, and historic sites, like Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, are begging to be explored. You can even take a tour of the lush canopy on a zipline with Adrena LINE.

Sip your way through the unique pockets of the Okanagan

Destination BC/Kari Medig

Rethink your usual road trip route and make the journey just as fun as the destination. When you get there, savour the bounties of the Okanagan at one of the region’s many wineries, or take in the picturesque landscape from above with a helicopter tour (or do both).

Feel the breeze on your face and the distant aroma of grapes from Kelowna vineyards, like CedarCreek and Mount Boucherie, while cycling from winery to winery. This style of touring will give you a whole new appreciation for the vast vines that cover the hillsides.

In Penticton, south of Kelowna, the wild salmon from The Restaurant at Poplar Grove is a must (as is taking home a bottle of their mouth-watering red blend, Legacy). Relish in the Mediterranean-inspired menu at Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek in Oliver while admiring the panoramic views of the valley below.

Pay a visit to the neighbouring Similkameen Valley the best way possible: by bike. Bring your own, rent locally, or hop on a Grape Escapes guided outing.

Choose a path that’s good as gold

Destination BC/Kari Medig

Witness the epic beauty of the canyons along the Fraser River on a road trip north to Lillooet, Mile “0” of the Cariboo Waggon Road, and then up to Barkerville — home to BC’s largest historic site (make sure you reserve ahead).

Make a pit stop to marvel at the limestone facades of Marble Canyon Parkvisit a mini-Grand Canyon in Chasm Provincial Park, and follow traditional Indigenous trade routes and gold mining paths along the Gold Rush Trail. Continue east on a scenic drive to Kamloops, which sits at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers, making it a prized spot for adventure-seekers.

You can even unleash your inner cowboy with an overnight stay at one of BC’s many incredible guest ranches and try your hand at horseback riding and lasso throwing — or simply kick your feet up by a lake and take in the sweeping rangelands that surround you.

Follow the call of the mountains

Destination BC/David Gluns

Uncover the epitome of authentic mountain culture within the jagged mountain peaks and picturesque towns of southeastern BC. In places like Fernie, Nelson, Golden, and Revelstoke, exploring the great outdoors is a way of life that few get to truly experience.

Plan a longer stay and live like a local in one of the many quaint towns that bustle with indie scenes. Fuel your day of exhilaration at the coffee shops and eateries ahead of unforgettable mountain adventures, whether chasing waterfalls, paddling, mountain biking, or hiking.

After a day of exhilaration, après at BC Ale Trail breweries like Backroads, Mt. Begbie, Whitetooth, and Fernie Brewing CoLast one down the mountain has to buy the first round!

Take scenic Route 16 through northern BC

Destination BC/Andrew Strain

As British Columbians, we have the good fortune of having an enormous outdoor playground at our disposal, and BC’s scenic Route 16 up north is no exception.

We recommend starting in Prince George (just a short direct flight from Vancouver), as it’s the perfect gateway to BC’s vast north and the surrounding wilderness. After spending some time exploring this northern hub, make your way to Burns Lake and the Lakes District where you can paddle your way along 300 lakes and almost 5,000 km of shoreline.

An adrenaline seeker’s paradise — from mountain biking, to paddling, fishing, and hiking — Route 16’s potential for memorable experiences is endless. Be sure to hit up Terrace and the classic mountain town of Smithers along the way to hit the mountain biking trails.

Learn about Indigenous culture at ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum in Hazelton to get a fuller picture of the vast history of BC’s great northern reaches. Often cited as one of the most beautiful drives in BC, the route from Terrace to Prince Rupert also lets you explore the northwestern coast of BC (kayaking or whale-watching anyone?).

Hit the road down BC’s historic Alaska Highway

Northern BC Tourism/Matthew Littlewood

Imagine big open spaces, glacial valleys, soaring mountain peaks, and dense forests teeming with wildlife. Are you immediately inspired? Then you better head north — northeast, that is — up the historic Alaska Highway.

Get familiar with the incredibly varied Peace Region via Highway 97 by camping out or staying in places like Mackenzie and Chetwynd. See Williston Lake (the largest body of freshwater in BC), visit Hole in the Wall Provincial Park, and stop to see the Bear Mountain Wind Farm turbines up close.

Spend some time exploring Tumbler Ridge where you’ll see real tyrannosaurus tracks. Then, from “Mile 0” of the famous Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, head to the top of the province to explore the expansive wilderness, jade coloured lakes, and vast mountain ranges of the Northern Rockies from Fort Nelson and beyond. Oh, and don’t forget to sample some craft beer when you arrive — there’s quite a beer scene up here.

We feel incredibly lucky to be able to rediscover our province safely and responsibly this summer. To find inspiration for your next trip, see what’s open, and learn what you need to know before you travel in BC, visit ExploreBC.com.

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