A couple hiking up Mt.Tolmie. The sun is starting to set, casting a yellow glow over the landscape.

Spring in BC: A Tale of Deep Connections
and Rich Experiences

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Mt.Tolmie near Victoria | Reuben Krabbe

Spring is a time of renewal, but it is also a season of reconnection and rediscovery. It’s time to get out on the road; to visit old friends and make new ones. To broaden your horizons, to revel in the vibrancy of BC cities, and to luxuriate in the wild beauty of mountains, valleys, vineyards, and coastlines.

This season, as pale pink cherry blossoms drift across city streets and buds break in a soft green haze across the vineyards, stay a little longer and discover something new in a place well-loved. Find something exciting to tell your friends about back home or bring them along on the journey.

Here are six ways to explore BC in these hopeful days of spring.

Parliament buildings in Victoria's Inner Harbour | @emgemstone

Explore BC cities

This year, see Kelowna, Metro Vancouver, and Victoria in a whole new light.

Spring is a magical time to visit BC’s most popular urban centres. Jackets are shed, umbrellas furled, sidewalks lively with patios and foot traffic. But no matter how busy and bustling the city, nature is never far away—and it’s all in bloom right now.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited one of the famous display gardens in Vancouver or Victoria, make this the year you do. One of the most charming is “The Garden that Love Built,” the Abkhazi Garden, built by the Prince and Princess Abkhazi in 1940s Victoria. Or venture out to the fast-growing communities of the Fraser Valley, and tiptoe through the Harrison Tulip Festival, where seven million of tulips bloom alongside daffodils and hyacinths.

One of the best ways to enjoy all this beauty is to get out of your car and walk, bike, hike, boat, or paddle. There are plenty of great hikes in or near the cities—especially Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna or the North Shore mountains near Vancouver—as well as places to rent e-bikes and kayaks.

Join a biking and brewery tour in Kelowna, where you can enjoy a pint as you and your friends pedal the streets, fragrant with peach, cherry, and apple blossoms. Or, hop aboard the whale-watching expeditions out of Vancouver, Richmond, and Victoria. They offer glimpses of orcas, otters, porpoises, and, if you’re lucky, humpback whales on their way to their northern feeding grounds. To view even more migratory life, grab your binoculars and head to the BC Bird Trail to spot the songbirds, shorebirds, and raptors winging their way along the coast, pausing to rest in the marshes and estuaries just minutes from city centres.

Meanwhile, savour the taste of spring as the season’s first produce hits the market and the plate. Fiddlehead ferns, tender asparagus, delicate berries, the tart bite of rhubarb all announce spring is here, as does the season’s bounty of seafood, including salmon, halibut, Dungeness crab, and the buttery spot prawns that are only available for a few short weeks in May. Take a foraging tour with Swallow Tail Tours and see what’s growing in forests, fields, and other wild places—mushrooms, berries, seaweed—or join a farm-to-table feast like the ones offered by Wild Mountain in Sooke outside Victoria.

Whether you’ve explored BC’s popular urban destinations before or not, this is the year to discover something exciting and new here.

Wake up in Nature

Then again, this might also be the year to get out into nature and find a sense of calm and balance. BC is blessed with vast tracts of forest, sweeping expanses of grasslands, and endless coastline with secluded coves perfect for a serene escape from the everyday. While there, enjoy the healing power of forest bathing, recharge with a meandering hike, or snap a shot of wildlife or waterfalls, the better to tell your friends about later at home.

And there’s no need to rough it in a tent or sleeping bag (unless that’s what lights you up). BC has plenty of unique, nature-based accommodation choices including yurts, nature retreats, geodesic domes, backcountry lodges, treehouses, and glamping tents. The whole range of accommodation is on the menu at the cosy-rustic Chute Lake Lodge, nestled in the hills above the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley, where guests can stay in cabins, yurts, luxe tents, or in the lodge itself. Or, for a more (literally) elevated experience, there’s Villa Eyrie, an Italianate resort high above the scenic Malahat Drive on Vancouver Island, where nature comes with stunning views, a spa, and exceptional fine dining. (Be sure to check out the new Malahat Skywalk while you’re here.)

Connect With Indigenous Cultures

Since time immemorial the territories that make up modern-day BC have been intertwined with the many inhabitants that have lived and cared for them. Indigenous Peoples have celebrated these deep connections with the lands, waters, and animals. It is through Indigneous cultures, passed down from the supernaturals and ancestors, that we gain a glimpse of these vibrant relationships, and our place within them. We are reminded that as we walk on the land, we do so mindful of the delicate balance we must uphold; that it is through gratitude that we begin a journey to connect with the spirit of these territories. Indigenous histories highlight long-held traditions of Indigenous Nations hosting visitors in their lands. Today this tradition continues but with the understanding that those who visit have responsibilities to their hosts and the place rooted in respect and reciprocity.

Among them is Klahoose Wilderness Resort, a luxuriously rustic lodge and cabins surrounded by rainforest on the shores of a calm, crystal clear inlet in Desolation Sound. This eco-resort is now owned by the Klahoose Nation and offers an all-inclusive Indigenous experience that includes up-close and personal bear watching. It’s relaxed, authentic, immersive, and truly a special place on this planet.

Head to the Mountains

Come spring, even the tallest peaks and iciest glaciers have begun to slowly shrug off their mantles of snow. This is the season to view wildlife emerging from their wintry slumber, waterfalls plunging down sheer cliff faces, the first shy flowers, and pale green new growth.

If you’re craving time and space to soak in the beauty of nature while reconnecting with others—or even just yourself—a springtime mountain escape is just what you need. Breathtaking vistas and endless outdoor activities await, from spring skiing to spa days to forest bathing in the trails off the Sea to Sky Gondola. And so do culture, shopping, and fine dining at mountain resorts like Whistler, where the Audain Art Museum is host to contemporary Northwest Coast art. See The Dance Screen carving  by artist James Hart, which depicts many traditional Haida beings and emphasizes the fundamental role of the salmon within Haida society and ecosystems

Raise a Glass to the Grape

Spring is one of the most exciting times in wine country, and one of the best times to visit vineyards in the OkanaganSimilkameen, and Cowichan valleys. Vines are bursting into bud, wineries flinging open their doors to welcome guests, and winemakers busy blending, filtering, and bottling the juice that’s been quietly fermenting in vat or barrel. This is when most white and rosé wines are released, and there is real excitement in the tasting rooms as guests and staff alike sample the new releases.

Those tasting rooms are a little quieter right now, the staff more able to spend time chatting about their wines without the crush of summer crowds, and with less risk of running out of your favourite Syrah or Semillon. Winery restaurants are opening for the season, celebrating the first new tastes of spring, the wild herbs and tender greens, the delicate flavours that go so well with lighter styles of wine. A winery tour can introduce you to new wineries, but more importantly, it will carry you—and your purchases—safely back to your hotel later.

Take the Road Less Travelled

Getting there is part of the adventure, so why not take the roundabout, meandering route with beautiful scenery and unexpected pleasures instead? Check out BC’s secondary roads and rural routes and you will discover hot springs where you can soak away your worries, small towns with big hearts, artists crafting one-of-a-kind works that will fill your home with beauty and joy, boutique wineries that tempt your palate, farm markets bursting with local bounty, and any number of delicious adventures.

Besides, this is the best way to escape the crowds, discover natural beauty, and make new memories. From urban centres to rural retreats to the wildest of places, British Columbia is rich with ways to reconnect this spring. Isn’t it time to start planning your journey?

Originally published in February, 2022.


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