Vancouverites are an adventure-thirsty bunch. There's a certain magic to the west coast that, in my own travels, I've found to be completely unrivalled. It's no surprise nearly every west coaster has long-since caught the travel bug with no signs of eventual recovery.
The best time to explore is now! Before you're tied down to a mortgage or a vacationless 9-5, take the time to hit the road and see the stunning landscapes and adventures our coast has to offer us.
With epic music festivals, mountain ranges, and fun cities to explore, what are you waiting for?! Here are 8 west coast trips ideas that will (at least temporarily!) satisfy that wanderlust:
1. Get on board in Tofino, BC
Tofino, a destination 'surfing town' on Vancouver Island, is the perfect place for a true Canadian Pacific Northwest adventure. Don't let the cold water deter you - whether you're a seasoned surfer or a total newbie, with a number of surf shops and instructors in town you're bound to find a great teacher or the perfect new surf buddy to ride some waves with. Once your arms and legs feel like jelly and you're in need of a break from the subarctic temperatures, explore the town! Tofino has a laid-back vibe; the locals are kind and seem united by a shared reverence for their little slice of paradise. Go on a hike or kayak trip, go cliff jumping (weather permitting!), and keep an eye out for whales.
2. Take in the stunning scenery on a road trip down the Oregon Coast
Make your way through Goonies country. The drive from Vancouver to Oregon is insanely gorgeous, and basically the whole Oregon coast is worth seeing. Stretches of breathtaking beaches, jagged cliffs, fisheries, whales, quaint vacation towns, lifeguard shacks - Oregon offers unparalleled west coast beauty and culture. Take the 1-5 over to Cannon Beach (9 miles of uniquely stunning sand and sea) and visit the astounding Ecola State Park. Nothing beats a good road trip, and on this one you can stop at seafood shacks and see stunning coastlines the whole darn way.
3. Or continue driving the whole way to California....
Find out what all the fuss is about the 101. The coastal route is well-worth the drive, especially when the reward is time spent in the Bay Area. Get your best playlists ready, pile in the van and familiarize yourself with the US's most scenic (and sung about) highway.
4. Explore 1,200 square miles of wilderness at Yosemite National Park
One of California's greatest parks, Yosemite is an epic destination for you and a car full of buddies. With 13 campgrounds, and nearly 95% of the park designated as 'wilderness', this place offers west coast adventure at its finest. Yosemite consists of nearly 1,200 square miles of scenery, including valleys, waterfalls, ancient giant sequoias, high cliffs and various wildlife -- there's a reason that millions of people visit each year. Plan your visit and get ready to stargaze under the most immense and gorgeous west coast sky.
5. Walk all the way from Canada to Mexico
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) spans 4265 kilometres, from Canada to Mexico, through Washington, Oregon, and California. This long-distance hiking trip takes you from the desert to glaciers to the deep forest to volcanic peaks. Channel your inner Reese Witherspoon in Wild and join wilderness fanatics for the whole stretch or else just a portion - hikers visit the PCT for anywhere from a day to eight whole months. Think of all the Netflix you'll have to catch up on upon your return.
6. Take the train down to Portland for an epic brewery hop
The train from Vancouver to Portland is a great way to experience the Pacific Northwest, with views of White Rock, Bellingham, Mount Vernon and the Skagit Valley. Trains leave Vancouver daily at 6:40am, stopping in Seattle around 11:00 am, and arriving in Portland by 3 p.m. Revered for its dynamic craft beer scene, Portland is the perfect place to visit with a bunch of friends looking to 'tap' into the eccentricities of the city while having a
little lot of fun. Home to more than 100 breweries and brewpubs, Portland is one of the best places to go on a bit of a beer bender.
7. Attend a weekend-long music festival
Not for the faint-hearted: weekend-long music festivals are a test of both mental and physical endurance. That said, they're a hell of a lot of fun, and the west coast has an ample selection of world-renowned festivals for you to choose from. While the most notorious of the bunch is clearly Coachella, the festival-meets-fashion-show drawing impressive crowds of celebrities and attendees from around the world, there are a handful of excellent festivals out here that won't quite break the bank. Sasquatch Festival, at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington is consistently impressive, and Bass Coast in Merritt, BC has earned its high acclaim as an oasis of good vibes and amazing electronic acts.
8. Put your arms to the test on a week-long kayaking trip
BC has many great options for kayaking, and a local favourite is the trip around Desolation Sound. Launch from the town of Lund on the Sunshine Coast or from Cortes Island, and paddle your way through the narrow inlets of The Desolation Sound Marine Park. Surrounded by majestic mountains and remote wilderness, Desolation Sound is also a favourite because of its unusually warm water temperatures. Fingers crossed - with orcas frequenting the area, you may just be in for the close-up marine wildlife experience of your life.
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