Whether you take your vacations rugged and untamed or refined and sophisticated, British Columbia has what you're looking for. Seventy-five per cent of this province is mountainous and 60 per cent of it is blanketed in forest. The climate here ranges from desert to coastal rain forest, so pack up your preferences and discover a little of what B.C. has to offer you.
Located 120 kilometres from Vancouver, Whistler sports 32 kilometres of cross-country trails, access to 15 parks, and five major lakes. During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Whistler will host the alpine skiing, luge, bobsleigh, skeleton, cross-country skiing and ski-jumping events.
Toot! Toot! All aboard...the Whistler Mountaineer
Launched in May 2006, the Whistler Mountaineer runs day trips, vacation packages and custom getaways. Your train ride includes an interpretative commentary, meal service and the chance to watch the scenery slide past from the Heritage Observation Car. (Love to travel by train? Read Riding the rails in the West.)
Want an adventure that's exhilarating and eco-friendly? Ziptrek is for you. Five ziplines -- the longest spanning more than 1,100 feet -- send you flying over the forest floor on a guided tour of the spectacular Whistler-Blackcomb area. At $98 for adults and $78 for seniors and youth aged 14 and under, this is a vacation experience you're not likely to forget.
Victoria and Vancouver share the distinction of having the mildest climates in Canada. In the summer, go swimming or build sand castles on Victoria's beaches, or visit the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. Visit Miniature World, All-Fun Water Slides or the Victoria Bug Zoo. On a rainy day or any day, check out one of Victoria's museums: try the Royal BC Museum, the Royal London Wax Museum or the Maritime Museum of British Columbia.
Geocaching at Hatley Park
Combine new technology with old-fashioned scavenger hunt fun as you try out the new sport/game of geocaching. At Hatley Park, a 90-minute introduction in geocaching (using a GPS unit to hunt for "treasure") teaches you how to mark way-points and use the GPS unit before you go off on your own. The cost is $37 per person, which includes the use of the GPS unit. To find out more or to preregister, call 250-391-2666.
Vancouver's world-class reputation for showing visitors a great time is richly deserved. Whatever time of year you visit, you'll find plenty to do, but if you visit over the Christmas season, be sure to take in the Carol Ships Parade of Lights. This seasonal celebration started more than 45 years ago and has built to a tradition of 80 boats festively dropping anchor, 150,000 lights, and dockside events that include performers, holiday craft workshops and live music.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Designed by George Grant Mackay in the 1800s, the original Capilano Bridge was made of hemp rope and cedar planks. Often called the "laughing bridge" because of the sound it made when the wind blew through, it has since been rebuilt and developed into a fun and adventurous tourism stop -- it's 230 feet above the ground and stretches for 450 feet across the Capilano River. Located minutes from downtown Vancouver, the Capilano Bridge and accompanying park have many other attractions, including the Story Centre, Totem Park, Rainforest Tour and Treetops Adventure.