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Spectacular nature in Western Canada

There’s something about summer on Canada’s west coast that makes you want to be outside. Maybe it’s the soaring mountains, the still-as-glass lakes and the breathtaking ocean views. Or perhaps it’s the posh waterfront shopping and fine dining on a big-city rooftop. This trip will take you to some of the most iconic locales in Calgary, Kelowna and Vancouver, inspiring you to experience our westernmost provinces in new ways, from new perspectives.

Illustrations by Jeannie Phan
Motion design by Yan Aftimus Rosa

Day 1
Fly to Calgary

Did you know that Calgary has one of the most extensive urban biking and pathway systems in North America? You can experience the city by bike safely and at your own pace, catching expansive city views and taking the time to nosh. During your travels, be sure to swing by the Studio Bell National Music Centre, an architectural marvel housing over 2,000 musical artifacts, some dating back hundreds of years. (It also houses the Rolling Stones' mobile recording studio, which has been called “the Sistine Chapel of Rock ‘n Roll.”)

Experience the city of Calgary on two wheels.

Find lovingly crafted handmade pieces at Moonstone Creation
Destination Indigenous

Another stop on your journey should be Moonstone Creation. Featuring art, clothing, beaded items and leather goods from over 60 Indigenous artists, you'll be able to pick up something handmade and special while supporting local Indigenous businesses. You may want to pay a visit to the famed Bow River in the heart of the city, and perhaps take a tour by kayak or raft with The Paddle Station.

End your day with dinner at Native Tongues Taqueria (try the killer rib eye steak tacos), or sample some creative cocktails at the Burwood Distillery Lounge.

Day 2-3
Drive to Jasper

Be sure to rise bright and early for this side trip to Jasper, where you’ll experience the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains up close and personal. It’s a stunning, five-hour drive along the Icefields Parkway (including time to stop and take photos along the way). If you have the time, you could easily spend a day or two in Jasper, including Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Choose from an abundance of activities including rafting, canoeing and water sports and sightseeing tours. Do some hike- or vehicle-based wildlife viewing in the area, where you might encounter animals such as caribou, elk, moose and bighorn sheep.

Roam the Canadian Rockies in Jasper National Park.
Tourism Alberta

Warrior Women invites visitors to connect with the land through Indigenous knowledge and teachings.
Indigenous Tourism Alberta

While in Jasper, experience the land in a new way with an Indigenous cultural experience by Warrior Women, owned by Cree Knowledge Keeper Matricia Bauer and her daughter Mackenzie. They offer fireside chats, performances and plant walks, where you can learn about the food and medicines found on the land.

End your stay in Alberta on a high note with a scenic helicopter tour for awe-inspiring views before you embark further west.

Day 4-6
Road trip to Kelowna and the Okanagan

It’s time to pay a visit to B.C.’s wine country with a road trip from Jasper to Kelowna in the beautiful Okanagan region. (Fun fact: 200 of the 284 licensed grape wine wineries in British Columbia are in the Okanagan.) With over 1,000 vineyards and more than 11,000 acres of planted land, there will be no shortage of things to do.

If you’re looking for a full-service tour with all the fixings, try a Vines & Views Wine Tour where you’ll be able to sip spectacular wines at a selection of wineries across the region (includes pick-up and drop-off at your local accommodation and transportation in air-conditioned vehicles). If you’d rather plan your itinerary on your own, be sure to include a meal at the country’s largest organic winery, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, an architectural marvel with gorgeous views. Drink up the scenery of Kettle Valley next, maybe even getting back on a bike to ride through the tunnels and trestles of Myra Canyon on the reclaimed Kettle Valley Railway. Then sample the rainbow of summer flavours in this verdant region at acclaimed Raudz Regional Table (with sumptuous wine pairings, of course).

In the Okanagan, a wine tour often begins with the vine.

Pair delicious dining and gorgeous views with Moccasin Trails.
Destination Indigenous

Another option for visitors seeking to experience the land in a new way is an Indigenous cultural journey with Moccasin Trails. The company offers detailed and immersive trips that may include canoeing, sightseeing, cultural workshops, wine-tasting, museums, walking trails and top-notch dining.

End your wine-country trip with a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon ride with Okanagan Ballooning for a bird's eye view of the sunset.

Days 7-10
Drive to Vancouver

What's a trip out west without a couple of days in Vancouver? An urban playground for art, shopping and dining surrounded by mountains and water, it’s been called “a world-class city with the ocean attached.”

Upon arrival, take a refreshing walk along the seawall or through tranquil Stanley Park. For an Indigenous perspective on the land, book an eco-tourism experience with Talaysay Tours, such as the Talking Totems art tour located right on site within the Park. Spend an unforgettable night at Skwachàys Lodge, a beautifully-designed boutique hotel and art gallery offering authentic Indigenous experiences while funding supportive housing for Indigenous artists. Then, take in dinner at Vancouver’s only Indigenous-owned and operated restaurant, Salmon N' Bannock, for bison pot roast, bannock tacos and smoked salmon burgers.

Sprint or stroll through Stanley Park for stunning scenery.

Find fun for the whole family at Granville Island.
Destination Vancouver/Hubert Kang

To sample a slice of the ample culinary diversity of the city, embark on a food tour of Modern Chinatown, including Chinese dishes that have been reinvented using local ingredients, Japanese fusion hot spots and local craft brews. Visit the Richmond Night Market  in the summer to experience the largest Asian food market in North America. This all-night extravaganza features 70 food and 100 retail stalls, with delicacies ranging from BBQ squid to ramen to Japanese poutine and crab meat noodles.

For a deeper dive into the natural world around Vancouver, catch a ferry to Vancouver Island to connect with the wildlife in the region. Visit Khytzeymateen/K'tzim-a-deen Grizzly Sanctuary to see grizzly bears in their natural habitat (safely in a boat or floatplane). See orcas in Johnstone Straight on a paddling trip with Spirit of the West Adventures, then soak in the views from a hot tub back at base camp.

Back in the city before you depart, make your way to waterfront shopping hub Granville Island. Pick up some souvenirs to bring back home with you, along with lasting memories of fresh ocean air, lively city life and soaring mountain views you’ll never forget.

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Destination Canada. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

CREDITS: Concept and oversight by JESSICA ROBINSON; Editing by SHELLEY WHITE; Art direction & Design by AASHISH ARORA ; Developed by KYLE YOUNG;

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