The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
I visited the province of British Columbia for the second time in my life, and after spending only a few days in Victoria and Tofino, I am now a believer in the phrase "West Coast best coast."
As someone who has always lived in Ontario, I cannot see another province as home, but while travelling in B.C., it was easy to spot some things that the West Coast does better.
My husband and I were visiting friends that live in Victoria and we took a road trip to Tofino. I've always heard amazing things about this area and can confirm after my visit that it is all true.
The beauty, the food, the adventures... British Columbia has it all and I already cannot wait to plan another trip out West. Here are six things that I think British Columbia does better than Ontario after my recent travels.
Road trip stops
Megan in a Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park surrounded by evergreens.
An Ontario road trip typically means a straight drive down Highway 401, so when my British Columbia friends mentioned all of the stops we'd be making from Victoria to Tofino, I was intrigued, to say the least.
Instead of flat farmland and busy EnRoutes with fast food options, we stopped at picturesque market stores, rainforest hikes and tasty local restaurants. Not only were the stops beautiful, but the drive itself was also full of towering trees and distant mountains that made the time in the car much more enjoyable.
The B.C. road trip day was an adventure full of activities as opposed to my usual road trip mentality of just getting to the destination as soon as possible.
Vegetarian yam bowl from Roar restaurant in Tofino.
The city of Victoria was recently named the most vegan-friendly city in Canada by Meal Kits Canada, and after my visit, it's clear why. In comparison to many Ontario cities, I found it also easier to find plant-based meals in Tofino that are both tasty and filling.
I am personally not a vegetarian, but I do enjoy a good plant-based meal. When going out with vegan or vegetarian friends in Ottawa, where I live, more planning typically needs to be done prior to visiting a restaurant to make sure the menu offers something they can eat.
While visiting B.C., any spot we went to had a plant-based option and there was no need to check beforehand. I opted for a tasty yam bowl at the restaurant Roar in Tofino and it was delicious.
Showcasing Indigenous culture
Painted totem pole between Victoria and Tofino, BC.
While travelling between Victoria and Tofino, Indigenous artwork was proudly displayed from the murals along the Victoria Breakwater to totem poles at lookout points along the drive.
As the capital city, Ottawa has more Indigenous art and culture displayed than many other Ontario cities but it doesn't seem as prominent. If you don't go to certain spots in the city then you'll likely miss them. I couldn't help but notice all of the beautiful Indigenous artwork during my short trip to British Columbia.
Spicy peanut noodles from Noodle Box in BC.
I learned that Victoria is home to the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and walking through the area, admiring the scenes and smelling the freshly cooked food truly felt like a cultural experience. I'd love to go back and try more restaurants as I truly did not have a bad meal my entire time on the west coast.
It's also easy to find quick and affordable Asian cuisine such as this bowl from Noodle Box. This west coast-based chain offered me the best peanut noodles I've enjoyed in a long time. I couldn't believe the portion size, fresh ingredients and overall flavour of something that I ordered at a fast food counter and was ready so quickly.
Surfers walking to the ocean on Chesterman Beach.
As someone born, raised and still living in the province of Ontario, I love all of our beautiful lakes and sandy beaches, but it simply cannot compare to the ocean shores in B.C. The sand was soft, the waves were gorgeous and any ocean debris that washed on shore was unique to look at and added to the atmosphere.
I was weirdly excited to see kelp in real life for the first time and enjoyed watching my friends go surfing on a chilly November day. I can only imagine how amazing it must be to visit these sandy shores in the summer.
Embracing bad weather
The Rainforest Walk trail in Tofino, British Columbia.
I can say with confidence that I have never spent so much time out in the rain in my entire life and I loved it. I assumed we were just crazy tourists with limited days adventuring in the pouring rain but there were so many others doing the same.
We passed other hikers on wet trails, spotted many surfers catching waves as the rain came down and others walking around Tofino enjoying the misty view. Borrowed rain pants were definitely my saving grace and they kept me cozy.
While Ottawa winters are snowy and cold, there are a bunch of fun outdoor activities to be done, yet it feels like most of the city hibernates for the season. As for the rain, I won't even take out my recycling if it's raining at home but out in B.C., it was fun and beautiful.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.