The really great outdoors. This trip starts in Vancouver and finishes in Victoria, with stops in Whistler and Sonora in between, and has all of the activities that an action loving family could possibly want, as well as great food, great hotels and high tea!
After clearing immigration and customs at Vancouver International Airport, you will exit to baggage claim, where your guide will be waiting for you. He will assist with luggage and transfer you to the city of Vancouver. This bustling west coast seaport in British Columbia is among Canada’s densest, most ethnically diverse cities. A popular filming location, it’s surrounded by mountains, and also has thriving art, theatre and music scenes. Vancouver Art Gallery is known for its works by regional artists, while the Museum of Anthropology houses preeminent First Nations collections.
You will be staying at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, the highest-rated hotel in the entire Fairmont brand, with its incredible location on the waterfront with amazing views and a fantastic outdoor pool for the kids. Located in the heart of Coal Harbour, Fairmont Pacific Rim is sophisticated and cosmopolitan but casual and contemporary.
Today, we recommend you visit some of the sites you may not have time for later in your visit. Recommendations include:
The Telus Science Center is a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller full of interactive exhibits great for kids.
The Vancouver Aquarium is one of the best in Canada and offers great exhibits and amazing animal encounters for kids.
The Anthropology Museum at the University of British Columbia campus is renowned for its displays of world arts and cultures, in particular works by First Nations of the Pacific Northwest. The Museum is extremely interactive and unique in the world.
Flyover Canada is located right next door to your hotel and utilizes state-of-the-art technology to reveal some of Canada’s most awe-inspiring sights as you have never seen them before. You will hang suspended, feet dangling, before a 20-metre spherical screen while our film whisks you away on an exhilarating 8-minute journey across Canada, from east to west.
At 9:00am, you will be met in the lobby of your hotel by your driver guide to go out on a private adventure in Vancouver which highlights the best of Vancouver’s amazing juxtaposition between bustling metropolis and the wild nature right next door. First explore Vancouver highlights from the Business district to hip Yaletown. Then you’ll glimpse into the city’s mixed native, European and Asian cultures in the T&T Asian Market, legendary Chinatown and historic Gastown. Discover the thriving residential known as the West End as you head into the Stanley Park to see the famous West Coast Totem Poles.
Then cross the iconic Lions Gate Bridge, to the North Shore for a visit to the tranquil setting of the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Unlike the touristy and crowded Capilano Bridge tourist sight, the Lynn Canyon is mostly visited by in-the-know locals and the last historic suspension bridge in the area. Then you’ll continue to the Capilano Salmon Hatchery, where you will learn and see the life cycle of the Pacific Salmon. The grand finale will be a walk through the Coastal Rainforest of the Capilano Canyon where you will indulge your desire for knowledge, and discover lichen, moss, ferns, and flowering plants, which grow under the mantle of Douglas Fir, Cedar and Hemlock trees. A stop will be made during this excursion for a gourmet picnic lunch.
After this 6 hour tour, return to your hotel to relax.
Vancouver biking and eating
Today you will experience two of Vancouver’s most famous activities – biking and eating – on a customized privately guided bike tour.
At 9:00am, depart your hotel where your guide will help fit your bikes. From there, you will proceed at a leisurely pace to soak up the vibrant culture and beautiful sights that make Vancouver a world-class city. Start with a tour of world famous Stanley Park, exploring the waterfront on the Seawall as well as exploring little-known forest trails where we see old growth trees, tons of wildlife and unique rainforest plants. Then then pass by English Bay, the hottest beach in the city and hop a small ferry over False Creek to discover amazing food and art at Granville Island Public Market.
Arrive at Granville Island at 12:30pm where your bike guide will connect you with your next activity, a private walking food tour. Your leisurely walk will include exclusive tastings from North American’s top meat-makers and Vancouver’s best bakery. You will also learn the history of Granville Island and the intriguing stories of the local artisans.
After a long day, go back to your hotel to enjoy the pool and relax.
This evening is on your own to visit one of Vancouver’s famous summer night markets, famous for hundreds of stalls of ethnic food, or enjoy the harbour at night.
Vancouver to Whistler
This morning, you will pick up your SUV rental and begin your journey north to Whistler. The drive is along the famous Sea to Sky Highway, widened as part of the Vancouver Olympics, boasting some of the most incredible views of mountains and sea in the Americas. The total drive without stopping is about 90 minutes, but we recommend several important stops to make a fun day of this beautiful drive:
About 45 minutes north, The Brittania Mine is a great family-friendly stop for about 90 minutes of touring.The mine was once the largest in the British Empire and has a guided tour which takes visitors deep underground in a mining cart to experience the deep dark tunnels experienced by miners long ago. (Tickets not included and based on your interest).
A further 10 minutes north, the Sea to Sky Gondola is a must. A 10 minute gondola ride will take you up to a truly magical place with some of the most spectacular views you will ever see and activities for all interests and ages. As you rise from the water’s edge on the valley floor, the view opens up before you: the bright blue water of Howe Sound, dotted with green islands and backed by the steep mountains of the Coast Range; the majestic Stawamus Chief; and a bird’s eye view of the town of Squamish with the rugged, snow-capped mountains to the north. You will arrive at the Summit Lodge where the experience continues. A popular spot for spectacular photos is the 100 metre Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. If you would like to explore more, there are many walking and hiking trails for all ages and abilities. After the adventuring, you can enjoy a meal with a view at the Summit Lodge.
Before reaching Whistler, a short visit to the dramatic Brandywine Falls, which plummets straight down for 70 metres (230 feet) is a must. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is located just south of Whistler, and the highlight of the park is the viewing platform overlooking the falls, from where you can see Daisy Lake and the distinctive Black Tusk mountain peak in the distance. The falls are an easy 10 minutes walk from the highway.
Arrive at Whistler in the late afternoon. Whistler is one of the largest and most famous ski resorts in North America and also the base for some of the best outdoor summer adventures in North America. You will be staying at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler, the top property in the area with fantastic rooms, amenities, food, and a great outdoor pool and hot tubs.
This evening have dinner at the hotel before retiring after a long drive.
Ziplining and Olympic Village
In the morning, drive over to the Lower Village for a fun ziplining adventure. The course is located right in Whistler and has something for everyone. The introductory course is perfect for first-time zipliners and allows kids as young as 6 years old, as long as they weigh more than 65 lbs. It involves 5 courses and delivers an eco-adventure that combines a personal guided zipline journey offering sustainable education in a receptive and engaging environment creating lasting memories. For the older kids and one parent, we recommend a more adventurous option, as the course also offers an intense 2 km zipline which is the longest in all of the USA and Canada!
After your zipline, go back to your hotel for lunch and pool/ rest time. In the afternoon, we recommend a short visit the Olympic Village. The Whistler Olympic Park is the location of the Nordic events facilities for the 2010 Winter Olympics and is located in the Madeley Creek basin in the Callaghan Valley, 30 minutes drive from your hotel. When you are visiting, make sure you have a look at the Olympic cross-country stadium, the biathlon range or the majestic ski jumps. You will gain an appreciation for this outstanding setting and why it was chosen to host the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games competitions in cross-country, biathlon, ski jumping and Nordic combined as well as the 2010 Paralympic Games cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions. More than one third of all Olympic Medals were awarded at Whistler Olympic Park. The Park also features impressive First Nations art, created in the lead-up to the 2010 Games. While there, the more daring in the group can actually try the bobsled!
This evening, we recommend dinner at one of the great outdoor venues in the Lower Village.
In the morning around 7:00, you will be picked up for a half-day fly-fishing adventure. In the summer months you can expect to catch Salmon, Rainbow trout, Bull trout, Dolly Varden, Whitefish and Kokanne. Most of the fly fishing is done in Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish, BC Canada. With great lakes and streams varying in size, they will customize the experience to your needs and experience. After 5 hours, you will be brought back to your hotel for lunch with your family.
In the late afternoon, return to your hotel and enjoy the pool and facilities. Or you can walk across the street from your hotel to the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, the first ever centre dedicated to the history and culture of local First Nations where mountains, rivers and people meet. Built to preserve their culture and share it with others, the building is designed to evoke the longhouses of the Squamish people and the Istken (traditional earthen pit house) of the Lil’wat people with a modern architectural interpretation.
Whistler to Sonora Island
In the morning, check out of your hotel and begin your journey to Vancouver Island. Drive back down the Sea to Sky Highway and then drive your car right onto a car ferry at Horseshoe Bay and experience a 2-hour ferry crossing on the Salish Sea to Nanaimo. Now on beautiful and rustic Vancouver Island, and continue West on the North Shore for about 2 hours, until you reach Campbell River. You will leave your rental vehicle in Campbell River and be taken by water taxi at 3:00PM to the incredible Sonora Resort.
This afternoon, go on a self-guided hike or enjoy the pool, tennis courts, game rooms, and much more before having a great family dinner in the Relais & Chateaux award-winning dining room.
Sonora Island Eco Adventure
This morning, head out on a two hour eco-adventure tour. There is much to experience in the Discovery Islands, especially when it comes to wildlife. Bald eagles and sea birds swoop to pluck fish from whirlpools. Steller sea lions, Dall’s porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins frolic and feed. Come summer, killer whales frequent the channels surrounding Sonora Island, and their humpback, grey and minke cousins sometimes pass through too. Capable of carrying 12 guests and reaching speeds of 40 knots, our open-air, 28-foot Eagle Master boat is equipped with a hydrophone and headphones for hearing whale songs and undersea sounds, as well the informative narration provided by our wilderness guides. This excursion is a favourite of photographers and nature lovers looking to savour the sights and stillness of Sonora’s setting.
In the afternoon, enjoy the facilities of the resort with a self-guided hike, pool time, visit the spa, try your hand at the fly-fishing ponds, indoor tennis court, or 9 hole putting green.
In the evening after dinner, the outdoor fire pit at Story Pointe provides a picturesque spot to unwind with a mug of hot cocoa. Pull up an Adirondack chair and swap stories or lap up the soft sounds of Sonora at night.
Sonora Island Kayaking Adventure
Today, go out on a sea kayaking adventure as a family. The quietest way to see wildlife from the emerald waters just South of Sonora is to set out in a stable, easy-to-paddle sea kayak. Sonora can tailor trips to suit every level—beginners, experts or families with young children. If two really want to sync their strokes, a tandem boat can be requested. A half hour cruise takes you to Surge Narrows Marine Park on Quadra Island where you’ll then hop in your kayak to explore the ecologically rich area. Sonora will schedule the best time of day for your excursion based on tidal conditions. Sign out a waterproof digital camera at the gift shop to capture the vivid scenery. Please note that other guests may also join on this activity.
Sonora to Victoria
After lunch, say goodbye to your remote playground and transfer by water taxi at 1:00pm to your rental car in Campbell River. Drive 3 hours back through Vancouver Island, ending up in Victoria at your hotel just in time for the last seating of their famous high tea which has been a tradition for over 100 years.
After tea, we suggest driving over to the Butchart Gardens. These botanical gardens are some of the most famous and beautiful in the world, and stay open until 10:00pm in the summer.
This morning, check out of your hotel and drive to Victoria Airport to drop off your rental car, and board your flight home.