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Brag-worthy City Experiences in BC

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Springtide Whale Watching | Jordan Dyck
Springtide Whale Watching | Jordan Dyck

Rock the water cooler with BC’s brag-worthy city getaways.

Check your email for this season’s hottest invitation: The pleasure of your company is respectfully requested—back at the office. Ready or not, the time has come once again to mix and mingle with colleagues at the water cooler. And if you’re worried your repartee is a little rusty after so many months at home and on mute, fear not: There’s nothing like a brag-worthy fall getaway to fuel the banter for weeks to come.

So, grab your bubble-besties and hop the Rockies for an autumn adventure. British Columbia is eager to safely welcome friends and neighbours for an intimate visit, before the rest of the world returns. And whether your vacation wish-list includes adrenaline highs or beta-wave bliss, BC’s big cities are standing by to serve up all sorts of memorable moments—and your next water cooler conversation.

Note: This story was written specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2021. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability and familiarize yourself with their COVID policies.

Takaya Tours at Deep Cove | Hubert Kang

Vancouver

For a land-locked Albertan, a 20-minute Harbour Air floatplane tour checks a lot of bucket list boxes, taking off from Coal Harbour to offer spectacular aerial views of Vancouver’s downtown skyline and iconic landmarks such as Stanley Park, English Bay, Canada Place, and the North Shore Mountains.

To keep the blood flowing, opt for a zipline rush across the peaks and canyons of Grouse and Dam mountains. Or, for a more grounding experience, Indigenous-owned Takaya Tours offers two-hour interpretive tours from the North Shore in replica ocean-going canoes similar to those traditionally used by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. It’s a great way to work up an appetite.

You can build your own Dine Around experience by sampling some of the outstanding restaurants listed on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. Kissa Tanto, Hawksworth, Boulevard, Botanist, L’Abattoir all made the top 50; French-themed St. Lawrence claimed third place. When it’s time for bed, put a bow on the day with a nightcap (and an overnight) at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s celebrated Botanist Bar—home of Canada’s coolest cocktails.

Moon & Back Gallery | @viranlly

Richmond

If foreign flavours are your favourite part of travel, fly into YVR and you’re only a 10-minute Canada Line ride away from foodie heaven—a.k.a. the Food Court at Aberdeen Mall. Come hungry and armed with cash (or debit) to feast on unique and authentic tastes from all across Asia. It’s a cheap-and-cheerful introduction to Richmond’s dynamic culinary scene.

For a deeper dive into the city’s food and culture, don’t miss Alexandra Gill’s bespoke Dine Like a Critic tour, spotlighting the renowned critic’s favourite Chinese restaurants.

You can sleep it off in style at the chic new Versante Hotel, an unforgettably stylish airport hotel featuring a rooftop pool, 24-hour room service—and a great introductory rate for those who like being first. And don’t forget an over-the-top selfie of your great getaway: Bring your phone to the unique Moon & Back Gallery, an immersive Infinity Room light gallery featuring crazy-fun kaleidoscopic backdrops.

Fairmont Empress | Jordan Dyck

Victoria

Looking to bond with long-lost friends after months of isolation? Get on board the Harbour Ferries Pickle Pub Crawl and put the “appy” in Happy Hour. A $25 wrist band pays for four water taxi trips and a free appetizer at six popular watering holes, including Canoe Brew Pub and LURE.

Keep the nautical vibe going with a half-day whale-watching tour—there are several companies operating around the harbourfront—and revel in the abundant marine wildlife in the waters surrounding Victoria including seals, sea lions, and orcas (also the focus of a compelling new exhibition at the Royal BC Museum).

Or experience a quieter kind of high on a guided forest-bathing experience with Elemental Magick Adventures: a 2.5-hour walking tour through a nearby rainforest, with a focus on spiritual connection and mindfulness.

After an encounter with the Forest Elder—a 650-year-old Douglas fir—you’ll return to the city in the perfect head space to enjoy the fabulously refined Afternoon Tea service at the Fairmont Empress. (Tip: Keep that indulgent vibe going all night long with an overnight stay on the hotel’s luxury-forward Gold Floor.)

MENTIONED IN THIS STORY

Skiing & Snowboarding, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking

Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Cypress Mountain - PROUD HOME OF CANADA'S FIRST OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS ON HOME SNOW! Cypress is...

Phone: (604) 926-5612

View Listing

Wildlife Tours, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Sightseeing, Adrenalin, Accessibility

Grouse Mountain

Just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain attracts locals and tourists alike. During the summer, guests enjoy hiking, Zip Line...

Phone: (604) 980-9311

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Boating, Paddling

Takaya Tours

Takaya Tours offers interpretive canoe and kayak tours in Burrard Inlet that highlight the First Nation culture of the area. Operating from bases...

Phone: (778) 835-5047

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Accessibility

Fairmont Pacific Rim

This ultramodern downtown hotel offers unobstructed mountain and harbour views, combining the best of the Pacific Rim in its architecture and...

Phone: (604) 695-5300

View Listing

Hotels

Versante Hotel

Minutes from Vancouver Airport but far from your typical airport hotel, Versante Hotel dazzles with vibrant colours, natural light and innovative...

Phone: (604) 242-7777

View Listing

Art Galleries

Moon&Back Gallery

We are Moon & Back Gallery, the First infinity mirrored digital light gallery in Vancouver! We have 10 themed rooms and lots of amazing backdrops...

View Listing

Sightseeing, Ferries

Victoria Harbour Ferry

Victoria Harbour Ferry's boats provide the best view of Victoria...From the ocean! Take a Harbour Tour, historic Gorge Waterway Cruise, or hop on...

Phone: (250) 708-0201

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Royal BC Museum

See all of British Columbia at the Royal BC Museum, a world-class museum of natural and human history. Explore our core galleries and immerse...

Phone: (250) 356-7226

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Spas & Wellness

Elemental Magick

Elemental Magick - Working with the natural forces in Nature for personal growth and holistic healing.

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

Fairmont Empress

Regarded as a Cond Nast Readers' Choice and Gold List hotel, and honoured with the Travel + Leisure distinction as a top Canadian hotel, the...

Phone: (250) 384-8111

View Listing

Skiing & Snowboarding, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking

Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Cypress Mountain - PROUD HOME OF CANADA'S FIRST OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS ON HOME SNOW! Cypress is...

Phone: (604) 926-5612

View Listing

Wildlife Tours, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Sightseeing, Adrenalin, Accessibility

Grouse Mountain

Just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Grouse Mountain attracts locals and tourists alike. During the summer, guests enjoy hiking, Zip Line...

Phone: (604) 980-9311

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Boating, Paddling

Takaya Tours

Takaya Tours offers interpretive canoe and kayak tours in Burrard Inlet that highlight the First Nation culture of the area. Operating from bases...

Phone: (778) 835-5047

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Accessibility

Fairmont Pacific Rim

This ultramodern downtown hotel offers unobstructed mountain and harbour views, combining the best of the Pacific Rim in its architecture and...

Phone: (604) 695-5300

View Listing

Hotels

Versante Hotel

Minutes from Vancouver Airport but far from your typical airport hotel, Versante Hotel dazzles with vibrant colours, natural light and innovative...

Phone: (604) 242-7777

View Listing

Art Galleries

Moon&Back Gallery

We are Moon & Back Gallery, the First infinity mirrored digital light gallery in Vancouver! We have 10 themed rooms and lots of amazing backdrops...

View Listing

Sightseeing, Ferries

Victoria Harbour Ferry

Victoria Harbour Ferry's boats provide the best view of Victoria...From the ocean! Take a Harbour Tour, historic Gorge Waterway Cruise, or hop on...

Phone: (250) 708-0201

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Royal BC Museum

See all of British Columbia at the Royal BC Museum, a world-class museum of natural and human history. Explore our core galleries and immerse...

Phone: (250) 356-7226

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Spas & Wellness

Elemental Magick

Elemental Magick - Working with the natural forces in Nature for personal growth and holistic healing.

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

Fairmont Empress

Regarded as a Cond Nast Readers' Choice and Gold List hotel, and honoured with the Travel + Leisure distinction as a top Canadian hotel, the...

Phone: (250) 384-8111

View Listing

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