See Metro Vancouver and Victoria through a new lens this summer

B.C.’s big cities are known for their restaurants, shopping, and urban sights and attractions. But keep exploring, and you’ll discover opportunities for forest bathing, kayaking, bicycling, and birding that will take you just outside the downtown core to replenish and reconnect in nature. 

Summer offers ample reasons to get out and try something new, and that’s easy to do in B.C.’s vibrant, outdoorsy cityscapes. And once you venture back downtown, local businesses have implemented safety measures designed to keep you well. 

Discover Victoria’s wild edges 

B.C.’s “Garden City” is known for manicured spots like the sprawling Butchart Gardens, but for something new and a little more uncultivated, seek out the city’s wild side.

Head into the rainforest and walk among towering cedars, Sitka spruce, and arbutus trees with Elemental Magick Adventures, and be present in the moment, aware of the sights, sounds, and smells of the ancient surroundings. Called “forest bathing,” this practice lowers blood pressure and increases vitality. 

To increase adrenaline, get out on the water with Ocean River Sports—kayak excursions depart daily from the Inner Harbour and Oak Bay, offering exhilarating opportunities to spot seals, otters, eagles, and maybe even a whale. Rest after a day’s play at the Inn at Laurel Point, which offers a B.C. residents special.

Pedal, walk, or eat your way to a new side of Vancouver

With more than 450 km of bike lanes, plus multi-use pathways, including the Arbutus Greenway and the Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver is highly accessible on two wheels. Join Cycle City on a small-group tour led by a storyteller guide. Explore trails through Stanley Park or pedal into the history of Chinatown, Gastown, and Granville Island. 

Locals may think they know everything about the city, but a walking tour with Forbidden Vancouver will prove otherwise. From the mobsters that ruled Gastown a century ago to the secrets buried in Stanley Park, Vancouver’s history may surprise you. 

Other tour options include the murals in Mt. Pleasant with Vancouver DeTours, and upscale picnics in local parks with B.C. Adventure Company. Slumber at Skwachàys Lodge, a boutique hotel with stunning “art installation” rooms jointly designed by an interior designer and an Indigenous artist. 

Richmond is a haven for birders and bikers

Richmond is revered for its Asian cuisine, but its location on the Pacific Flyway—a migratory route for birds—is ideal for spotting common yellowthroats, bold rufous hummingbirds, or water birds like the shy green heron. Iona Beach Regional Park is a favourite viewing spot. 

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s Pacific Flyway Adventure Package includes an overnight stay, plus the use of a birding backpack with binoculars and maps, and a chef-prepared picnic lunch for two. Join a tour with photographer Liron Gertsman for tips on how best to capture these feathered beauties on film.

Richmond’s flat topography also means easy cycling along 80-plus kms of routes. Interesting stops include the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, where fish were turned into edible “gold,” and Britannia Shipyards, a shipbuilding and maritime repair shop. 

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