Looking for a quick escape this fall? Here are five destinations and five must-dos to pique your interest and put that travel bug in motion.
And all of these places are nearby.
Salt Spring Island: Next time you need a quick respite from the pace of life, hop on a ferry and make a beeline for Salt Spring Island. With a reservation at the historic Harbour House Hotel you’re in for a night of luxury. Spoil yourself with glorious sunrises over the Salish Sea and spend your day meandering through Ganges’ art galleries, boutiques and coffee shops. Or rent an e-bike for a stress-free pedal around the island to glimpse its vistas, meadows and spectacular scenery.
Must Do: Explore the island’s famed Saturday Farmers’ Market, open April through October, 9 am to 4 pm at Centennial Park. In addition to produce, snacks and cheese, market vendors include potters, jewellers, fibre artists, woodworkers and artisans selling clothing, accessories, body care and artwork.
Nanaimo: It’s impossible to visit Nanaimo without thinking about its namesake treat – the rich Nanaimo bar. Whether your version is classic, specialty, gluten-free, vegan or in an ice cream version, you’ll find it on the Nanaimo Bar Trail. Nanaimo is also on British Columbia’s Ale Trail, with a few great breweries in town: Longwood Brew Pub, Wolf Brewing and White Sails Brewing.
Must Do: Catch a passenger ferry from Maffeo Sutton Park to visit Saysutshun (Newcastle Island) Marine Provincial Park for a few hours. Here, you can walk the trails on your own, or join a cultural interpretive tour to understand the sacred sites, traditions and history of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Want to stay a little longer? You can book a campsite and stay the night.
Port Angeles: Want a taste of the wild? Catch the Black Ball Ferry from downtown Victoria to Port Angeles, Washington—the gateway to the Olympic National Park. This World Heritage Site has almost one million acres of natural beauty—hikes, waterfalls, natural hot springs, pristine beaches and views that will leave you gasping.
Must Do: Book a night at the historic Lake Crescent Lodge, built in 1915, and awaken to the turquoise stillness of a magnificent lake surrounded by verdant forests. Hike from the lodge to the beautiful Marymere Falls or rent a boat for a quiet paddle on the lake. Don’t miss the Sol Duc Hot Springs, where you can have an indulgent soak in an array of outdoor pools of different temperatures.
Chemainus: Artistry comes to life in the small town of Chemainus, where 60 murals adorn the walls, offering a glimpse at the history, culture and roots of this unique destination. Check out the outdoor art and sculptures, and spend an evening at the beautiful Chemainus Theatre. If you’re a birdwatcher, don’t leave without a visit to the Chemainus River Estuary.
Must Do: Head to Waterwheel Park to listen to a live band. Visit the public market for unique artisan shopping and grab a meal at Ma Maison or Riot Brewing.
Lake Cowichan: One of the island’s largest freshwater lakes, it’s also among the warmest, so if you’re looking for some terrific summer swimming, head to the lake’s south arm, where water temperatures exceed 24 degrees Celsius. Take a scenic drive around the lake stopping at Honeymoon Bay, Youbou and Mesachie Lake.
Must Do: Visit the Cowichan River Provincial Park for world-class fly fishing, tubing, swimming and an array of moderate-to-difficult hikes along the Cowichan River Footpath. Make time for a farm-to-table dinner at Farm Table Inn, a restaurant and B&B that also offers a market store, where fresh bread, local wine and cook-at-home meals are at the ready.
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