Know Before You Go:

Find current travel restrictions, wildfire info, and other key resources. Learn more

CLOSE

Quirky City Experiences in BC

Share  Facebook Twitter Pinterest | Print Your browser does not support SVG.
West Vancouver's Lighthouse Park | Tom Ryan
West Vancouver's Lighthouse Park | Tom Ryan

Hear that sound? British Columbia is throwing open the doors—at work, at home, at school—and the hinges are still a little creaky. Perhaps you can relate.

Mired for months in pandemic-driven ruts and routines, we’re all a little stiff in body and spirit. But with vaccination rates on the rise and leaves beginning to fall, there couldn’t be a better time to shake things loose with a quick and quirky city getaway. Because no matter how well you think you know BC, there’s still so much to be surprised by—and who couldn’t use a dose of curiosity and wonder these days?

So, whether your bucket list includes high-octane outdoor adventure or low-stress rest and relaxation, you’re sure to find your vacation sweet spot close to home—and be safer for it.

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.

Oak Bay Beach Hotel | Hubert Kang
Oak Bay Beach Hotel | Hubert Kang

Victoria

There are so many ways to shake up your perspective on Vancouver Island. Get a bird’s-eye view from the island’s newest attraction, the Malahat Skywalk, offering stunning views from a 32m-high lookout over the Saanich Peninsula, Mt. Baker, and the Coast Mountains.

Hop aboard a charming Harbour Ferry for a “see-level” tour of Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, cycle the city’s bike-friendly roads with The Pedaler’s self-guided tour option, or explore by car with an eco-friendly and custom-crafted tour with Alset Tours.

Foodies will get a new lens on the local culinary scene with a self-guided wander along the Greater Victoria Flavour Trails, or Off the Eaten Track’s Island Eats Passport Tour featuring chefs and restaurants from the new Island Eats cookbook launching this fall. There are even new ways to count sheep: Wind down under the stars in a yurt at Merridale Cidery, a tent at Fort Rodd Hill, or a mineral pool at the luxurious Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

Skwachays Lodge Aboriginal Hotel and Gallery | Tourism Vancouver/Skwachays Lodge/Craig Minielly at Aura Photographics
Skwachàys Lodge | Tourism Vancouver/Skwachàys Lodge/Craig Minielly at Aura Photographics

Vancouver

In Vancouver, arts and culture aren’t confined to galleries and grand halls—sometimes they’re right there on a wall in front of you. To that end, Toonie Tours hosts a Street Art and Craft Beer Walking Tour highlighting fabulous local brews and unique outdoor murals in and around the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.

It’s a great complement to a stay at the roguishly stylish Hotel Belmont in the downtown entertainment district, or the more refined Skwachàys Lodge—Canada’s first Indigenous Arts hotel showcasing local Indigenous art and culture in 18 one-of-a-kind guest suites.

Keep the visual vibe going with a City of Vancouver self-guided walking tour of public art installations; you’re sure to find the perfect backdrop for your holiday selfie in a nearby neighbourhood. Prefer to make your own art? Try Rockwood Adventures’ Rainforest Photography Adventure in Lighthouse Park, an intimate four-hour tour led by a professional nature photographer.

Dining at the Golden Village district in Richmond | Tourism Richmond

Richmond

Home to YVR, Richmond is a naturally sociable city and an easy place to reconnect with family and friends. The Richmond Night Market is authentically quirky and as close to Hong Kong as you can get without hopping on a plane—except, perhaps, for the excellent eateries along the Dumpling Trail, cited by CNN Travel as one of the world’s “most enticing food and drink trails.”

Work off the nosh with a self-guided wander along Richmond’s Bird Trail. Fall is a prime season for bird-watching from land or sea: Richmond’s scenic dykes are easy to hike and bike, and Vancouver Whale Watch’s Wildlife Spectacular offers a novel way to view migrating birds.

Round out a family day-trip with a visit to the pumpkin patch at Richmond Country Farms or the Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment, a unique (and free!) play experience designed to bolster connection with nature.

Staying longer? Check out the Panda Pod, a centrally located high-end hostel-style hotel promising considerable comfort at a great rate.

Kelowna | Tanya Goehring

Kelowna

You already know fall is grape-harvest season and an ideal time to visit the globally acclaimed wineries around Kelowna and the central Okanagan. But did you know the phrase “wine flight” now has a whole new meaning? Travel to your tastings in style with Valhalla Helicopters on their unique half- or full-day tours that combine sight-seeing with sip-stops at select local wineries. Or, enjoy the view from the ground and rent an e-bike, with stops along the way at wineries, cideries, distilleries and popular brew pubs such as Rustic Reel, Vice and Virtue, Jackknife Brewing, and the recently launched English eatery Welton Arms.

And while no visit to Kelowna is complete with some quality time on Okanagan Lake, there’s a new way to spend time on the water: Moccasin Trails offers an insightful tour featuring story-telling and a visit to the Indigenous World Winery—Canada’s only 100-per-cent-Indigenous-owned winery. Bunk down at the new Hotel Zed in downtown Kelowna: with free roller skates, free bikes, and free VW shuttle vans, it’s the fun-and-friendly offspring of Schitt’s Creek’s Rosebud Motel and Herbie the Love Bug.

www.julieovenell.com
WRITTEN BY: Julie Ovenell

Julie has lived on one island or another for more than half her life and is delighted to now call Victoria, BC home. An award-winning writer, she has worked at CBC Radio, Western Living, and The Globe and Mail, and freelanced for publications such as Canadian Living, Canadian Geographic, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Georgia Straight, Report on Business, Edible Vancouver Island, and Style at Home.

MENTIONED IN THIS STORY

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Sightseeing, Accessibility

Malahat SkyWalk

Malahat SkyWalk is opening July 2021 as the newest outdoor experience providing the ultimate natural high on Vancouver Island – located 35...

Phone: (833) 625-2428

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

Sightseeing, Biking

The Pedaler

Guided bike tours. Bike Rentals. Food tours. Custom bike tours and events. Stylish pedal bicycles, tandems, child carriers, e-assist bicycles. Our...

Phone: (778) 265-7433

View Listing

Dining & Culinary Tours

Off The Eaten Track

We are open for business and running all of our food tours for 2021. We have also opened a new kiosk space located in the Steamship Terminal...

Phone: (778) 918-4584

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Accessibility

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

Merridale is a delicious destination in Cowichan an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distillery, and event venue. Join us for a cider...

Phone: (800) 998-9908

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Cabins & Cottages

oTENTiks at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site

Experience life within the forts walls as you fall asleep to the ocean and natures soothing sounds; and be taken back over 50 years ago when...

Phone: (250) 478-5849

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Accessibility

Oak Bay Beach Hotel

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a spectacular five-star boutique resort and spa. Enjoy fine dining in The Dining Room, pub fare in The Snug (a local...

Phone: (250) 598-4556

View Listing

Sightseeing

Toonie Tours

Welcome to Toonie Tours! We are Canadian guides inspired and humbled to share an honest, unique perspective of Canada and North America. We are...

Phone: (778) 244-8648

View Listing

Hotels

Hotel Belmont Vancouver, Ascend Hotel Collection

The Hotel Belmont is an 82 room boutique-style hotel built in 1912 and situated in the heart of Vancouver's Entertainment district. This 100%...

Phone: (604) 605-4333

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Shopping, Hotels, Art Galleries

Skwachays Lodge

Art, Culture, and Exceptional Hospitality! Canada's first Indigenous Arts Hotel, Skwachys Lodge, combines art and culture with exceptional...

Phone: (604) 687-3589

View Listing

Bird Watching, Whale Watching

Vancouver Whale Watch

Vancouver's Best Whale Watching experience! Seasonal, guided tours led by professional naturalists. Whale watching trips, sea lion and birding...

Phone: (604) 274-9565

View Listing

Hostels

Panda Pod Hotel

Going for early morning flight? Dealing with late arrivals and luggage? Fed up with frustrating flight delays? Panda is here at your service....

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Sightseeing, Accessibility

Malahat SkyWalk

Malahat SkyWalk is opening July 2021 as the newest outdoor experience providing the ultimate natural high on Vancouver Island – located 35...

Phone: (833) 625-2428

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

Sightseeing, Biking

The Pedaler

Guided bike tours. Bike Rentals. Food tours. Custom bike tours and events. Stylish pedal bicycles, tandems, child carriers, e-assist bicycles. Our...

Phone: (778) 265-7433

View Listing

Dining & Culinary Tours

Off The Eaten Track

We are open for business and running all of our food tours for 2021. We have also opened a new kiosk space located in the Steamship Terminal...

Phone: (778) 918-4584

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Accessibility

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

Merridale is a delicious destination in Cowichan an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distillery, and event venue. Join us for a cider...

Phone: (800) 998-9908

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Cabins & Cottages

oTENTiks at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site

Experience life within the forts walls as you fall asleep to the ocean and natures soothing sounds; and be taken back over 50 years ago when...

Phone: (250) 478-5849

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Accessibility

Oak Bay Beach Hotel

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a spectacular five-star boutique resort and spa. Enjoy fine dining in The Dining Room, pub fare in The Snug (a local...

Phone: (250) 598-4556

View Listing

Sightseeing

Toonie Tours

Welcome to Toonie Tours! We are Canadian guides inspired and humbled to share an honest, unique perspective of Canada and North America. We are...

Phone: (778) 244-8648

View Listing

Hotels

Hotel Belmont Vancouver, Ascend Hotel Collection

The Hotel Belmont is an 82 room boutique-style hotel built in 1912 and situated in the heart of Vancouver's Entertainment district. This 100%...

Phone: (604) 605-4333

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Shopping, Hotels, Art Galleries

Skwachays Lodge

Art, Culture, and Exceptional Hospitality! Canada's first Indigenous Arts Hotel, Skwachys Lodge, combines art and culture with exceptional...

Phone: (604) 687-3589

View Listing

Bird Watching, Whale Watching

Vancouver Whale Watch

Vancouver's Best Whale Watching experience! Seasonal, guided tours led by professional naturalists. Whale watching trips, sea lion and birding...

Phone: (604) 274-9565

View Listing

Hostels

Panda Pod Hotel

Going for early morning flight? Dealing with late arrivals and luggage? Fed up with frustrating flight delays? Panda is here at your service....

View Listing

Plan Your Getaway Now

Know Before You Go

Learn about key travel restrictions and how to travel safely in BC this season.

Travel Updates
Book Your Trip

Find a place to stay, activities, attractions, and travel deals.

Learn More
Weather

Know what to expect in communities across the province.

Check Conditions
Explore Farther

No Car? No Problem. BC residents can explore farther with EVO.

learn more
Travel Responsibly

Follow these tips to travel safely and responsibly in BC.

See the Tips