It seems a particularly cruel trick of this terrible period in human history that at the very time we most need a vacation, we can’t take one.
With borders closed to all but essential travel, Vancouverites have for the most part been staying put over the past year or so. Staring at the same walls is getting old, fast, especially for families stuck in close quarters.
But while we may not be globetrotting again anytime soon, there is relief to be found close to home for those who are looking for a break from it all. You don’t need to skip town to break up the routine, take a breather from the grind or gain some perspective. In and around Vancouver, there are fresh experiences awaiting at every turn.
To ensure your excursions are COVID-safe and responsible, the best options are excursions that keep you outdoors and bubbled with your immediate household only. For any indoor activities, be sure to adhere to local masking and distancing policies.
If you’re planning a getaway now in anticipation of restrictions lifting, here are three ways to carve out a little escape – whether an afternoon adventure, a day-trip or an overnighter – for you and the family, right in your own B.C. backyard.
Deep Cove day trip
Hit the water at Deep Cove Kayak Centre for a gorgeous day in nature. And yes, you can do it in the winter! A guided tour will allow you to explore the area around Indian Arm for a few hours, cruising over calm water, hugged by the mountains. Learn about local history from your guide while you explore.
Seafaring can work up an appetite. Snag gourmet takeout from Cafe Orso like the Sour Tuscan sandwich, which pairs sour Tuscan salami with roasted red pepper and blueberry balsamic drizzle. Then top it off with a box of crispy-chewy Honey Doughnuts to snack on by the shore. But don’t linger too long, because there’s more of Deep Cove to explore.
The Baden-Powell Trail is a 48-kilometre long hiking trail that runs all the way out to Horseshoe Bay. You don’t need to do the full journey, of course – just enough to earn a second visit to the doughnut shop on your way back.
Farm country calling
Only an hour’s drive from Vancouver, South Langley is a world away from the dense, townhouse suburbia of the city centre. Here, in farm country, pastures and orchards line the winding roads.
Explore country life with a trip to a local winery. The region has boomed in recent years with a handful of up-and-coming winemakers setting up shop, and most of the Campbell Valley’s wineries are still open for COVID-safe tastings and meals with reservations. Glass House Estate Winery has a great outdoor seating area (weather permitting), and even better cheese plates. Snack and sip away, and then stock up on a few bottles of sauvignon blanc to bring home with you.
Or, spend the day at sprawling, 1,400-acre Campbell Valley Regional Park. Vancouver’s regional parks are currently open to the public, with visitors directed to maintain a distance of at least two metres from anyone who is not a member of their immediate household. Fortunately, the park’s wide open spaces and 29 km of trails allow ample room to spread out and breathe in the natural beauty. Pack a picnic lunch before you go and a thermos full of decadent Italian hot chocolate.
A waterfront location. A private hot tub. A crackling fireplace and views for days. If you’re dreaming of a luxury getaway that doesn’t require a flight, the good news is that international villas aren’t the only vacation spots that boast these features.
Right in our own backyard, spectacular accommodations are hiding in plain sight. If you’re feeling hesitant about ferry travel, island cabins may be off the menu. But you can find all-season cottage rentals on the mainland within a 1-2 hour drive from Vancouver, near the beautiful scenery of Indian Arm or Golden Ears Provincial Park. Alternatively, West Vancouver has dozens of jaw-dropping private homes for rent that would do quite nicely for some R&R.
Lean in to the West Van lifestyle for a weekend, sharing takeout sushi from Zen as you soak up the Burrard Inlet views. Steal away for a treatment or two at one of the area’s nearby spas. You may be able to actually see Vancouver from your temporary Lion’s Bay digs, but that won’t lessen the impact of this glamorous getaway.
Whatever local exploring your family is doing this season, make sure you’re up to date on any local travel restrictions before you hit the road.