The Best Places For Year-Round Adventure In Vancouver And Whistler.

British Columbia is blessed with natural good looks, oodles of space for adventure and a climate that makes it a joy to explore anytime.

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Vancouver uncovered

Nestled between high peaks and the Pacific, Vancouver is one of the world’s most spectacular cities. Warmed by ocean currents and protected by those marvellous mountains, it also has a temperate climate, remaining mild year-round.

Summers hit the mid-20°Cs, a delight for bathing on the city’s beaches. In winter it rarely snows, except where you want it to – on the nearby hills, enabling you to ski in sight of the skyscrapers. In this temperate rainforest, there’s a fair amount of rain, but that keeps the forests and city lush, and certainly doesn’t stop play.

English Bay at sunset (Tourism Vancouver)
Whale watching off the coast of Vancouver (Dreamstime)

However, spring and fall might just be Vancouver’s real seasonal secrets. Attractions are open, whales are migrating past (spot them March to October) but the city is quieter and offers great value, with a few other unique advantages too.

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For instance, Vancouver is a foodie’s city. There isn’t a cuisine you can’t try or a tasting tour you can’t take here. These are delicious options year-round, but spring sees a fresh bounty of local, seasonal ingredients inspiring chefs to get extra creative, while fall brings a new harvest – produce such as apples, oysters and succulent sea urchins hit the menus. For a delicious overview with a bit of history, join a tour like Gastronomic Gastown, a culinary exploration of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood that combines comfort food, craft beer and historic tales told amid the cobblestones.

First Nations totem poles in Stanley Park (Dreamstime)

Whistler – not just winter

Say the word ‘Whistler’ and you think champagne powder and good times on the piste. You wouldn’t be wrong. Further inland and at a higher elevation than Vancouver, Whistler’s alpine temperatures average a still-not-too-nippy -5°C during winter yet the snowfall is reliable and abundant, with dumps of 12m a year. Between them, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains comprise over 8,100 acres of slopes, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, and world-class terrain parks. In Whistler there are opportunities for skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tubing, ice climbing, ice fishing, dog sledding and ice skating, not to mention a lively après-ski scene.

Spring is super for exploring the woods around Whistler too: as the snow melts, new growth appears and the forests feel more alive than ever. Lower trails begin to clear, perfect for mind-mellowing forest-bathing. However, to fully appreciate the flourishing canopy, try a zip line tour. Various high wires are strung above Whistler’s rivers, canyons and old-growth forest, including the 2.2km Sasquatch, the longest zip line in Canada and the USA.

Black bear (Dreamstime)

“Join an expert-led bear watching tour through old growth forests, taking in feeding and hibernation sites.”

Spring is also when the bears wake up. Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are home to 60-or-so black bears. From April/May through to October, you can join an expert-led bear watching tour by 4WD and on foot through old growth forests, taking in feeding and hibernation sites. As the weather thaws, chipmunks, birds and deer appear too.

Peak 2 Peak gondola (Dreamstime)

By summer Whistler has hotted up. Hike and bike trails are fully open and the cafe patios are busy with refuelling adventurers. The slopes are a floral fiesta of wildflowers, sun-lovers lounge on lake beaches and alfresco concerts, screenings and cook-ups keep everyone outside into the wee hours. It’s a mighty fine time to be in the mountains. But don’t rush off after the close of peak season. Autumn, with its turning leaves, crisper days, Fall for Arts culture festival and more laid-back pace, is arguably pick to the crop.

September is a fantastic time to hike. The trails are clear of both snow and people, the temperature is not too hot, not too cool, slopes are dappled with huckleberries and mountain blueberries and pockets of autumn colour add extra glow.

Cheakamus Lake (Dreamstime)

The trails are easily accessible too. The Peak 2 Peak gondola, the world’s longest and highest, provides easy access between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, each boasting alpine hiking trails with incredible views. Try the High Note Trail, which follows a ridge with magnificent views across to iconic Black Tusk and Helm Peak and down to dazzling-blue Cheakamus Lake.

To plan your perfect Canadian adventure call Trailfinders, the travel experts, on 029 0272 6607 or visit www.trailfinders.com/destinationcanada

Discover more that Canada has to offer

This article was originally published in Wanderlust.


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