5 Things to do in Palm Springs

Traveling to Palm Springs and looking for new activities to do while in the area? I’ve got you covered. The greater Palm Springs area offers such a wide variety of activities that there’s something for everyone! This was my 5th trip to the area and I always find new things to do. Here are my latest recommendations.

1) Pioneertown – Located just a quick drive from downtown Palm Springs via route 62, Pioneertown is an old live-in film set dating back to the 1940s that has now been transformed into a tourist attraction. The area was incredibly well kept and though a little small, is worth the trek. They’ve got a few shop as well as a bar and restaurant where you can stop in if you’re in need of a snack.

2) Tahquitz Canyon – This hidden gem is a stone’s throw away from downtown Palm Springs. Tahquitz Canyon is a very well kept secret in the city and rightfully so. This beautiful canyon has been around for 1500+ years and is part of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. There is a beautiful 2 mile hike that leads to a 60 foot waterfall right in the middle of the canyon. You have to pay a small fee to walk on the trail but they also have a visitor centre with exhibits and information about local archeological finds, etc.

3) Native Foods Café – Around since 1994, Native Foods Café provides delicious and quality plant-based meals in a cafeteria style low-key restaurant in Palm Springs. Whether you’re craving a bowl, sandwich, burger or salad, they’ve got a wide variety of tasty eats to choose from. Though originally from Palm Springs, they’ve had so much success that they’ve expanded to several other locations across the Southern United States.

4) Off Road Rentals – If you’ve driven into Palm Springs before, you’ve probably noticed Off Road Rentals, located on the right of the highway 111 heading into town. This family-run business has been around since the late 80s. You can rent one of their 4-speed quads and drive up and down their huge sand dunes. It’s an amazing time for anyone wanting a little adventure. Depending on how busy the course is, they may even give you some free riding time!

5) Mt. San Jacinto – One of the greatest finds in all of Southern California. Mt. San Jacinto can be accessed via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (at $25+ a round trip!). It’s a quick 10 min ride up or for those wanting an extra challenge, you can also hike up the 10,000 ft mountain and just got a one-way down. Once at the Mountain Station, you can refuel or pack snacks and explore some of their 50+ miles of trails at the top. The trails offers some of the most stunning views of the desert, valley and high country forest.

 

Discovering the New 2018 Toyota C-HR

I had the pleasure of spending the last couple of weeks adventuring around British Columbia with Toyota‘s brand new car, the 2018 C-HR. It was the perfect vehicle for both city and nature discoveries. Its ultra-sleek and unique design combined with Toyota’s best safety features, made it a reliable and fun car to drive, in all driving conditions.

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Its two-toned colourful exterior turned heads everywhere I went. This car is without a doubt one of the coolest looking vehicles on the market with its modern design. Toyota did a great job imagining a car that stood out from the pack and pushed the envelop on a design standpoint. The vehicle’s standard 17″ alloy wheels and also diamond-cut lines, make it very pleasing to the eyes.

SAFETY 

Toyota is renown for its top of the line safety standards and features. The Toyota Safety Sense P system includes lane departure alerts, pre-collision system with pedestrian and dynamic radar cruise control, just to name a few. The vehicle also comes equipped with 10 airbags, a monitoring system that alerts you if you have low fuel or washer fluid, an ajar door, etc. Moreover, the vehicle also offers the Toyota Star Safety System that features Brake Assist, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control and more! All of these safety features gave me peace of mind while exploring through the city and mountains and allowed for the safest driving conditions.

PERFORMANCE

Performance enthusiasts will be happy to know that the C-HR contains a 144-hp, 2.0L, 4-cyl VALVEMATIC and a continuously variable transmission. You also have the ability to choose Sport mode, which transforms the vehicle in a simulated 7-speed sequential Shiftmatic transmission, making it that much more fun to drive. But with speed comes the need for a reliable breaking system, something that Toyota has not overlooked. The car’s braking system works with front and rear discs and an Anti-lock braking system, braking assist and electronic brake force distribution, which allows you to keep control of the vehicle no matter what situation may arise.

TECHNOLOGY

It’s impossible to talk about the vehicle without noting some of its great tech features such as the backup camera that comes up in the electrochromic rearview mirror, the rear cross traffic alert with blind spot monitor as well as the Smart Key system, allowing you to start the car with just the push of a button. And for avid music fans like myself, the car boasts an impressive sound system and all the jacks you could need to play your favourite playlists or albums while on the road.

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All in all, my time driving around with the 2018 Toyota C-HR was very pleasant. It allowed me to discover new parts of British Columbia and drive through windy country roads, mountainous areas, the beach as well as the crowded streets of Vancouver. The C-HR is a car that has all the modern features a driver wants, a spacious interior and trunk for longer trips while never compromising safety or comfort for the driver and passengers of the car.

For more info on the 2018 Toyota C-HR, go here.

Go Snorkeling with Seals at the Subsea Retreat in British Columbia

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by marine life. There was even a period of time in my life where I considered studying marine biology, but that ambition quickly faded when I reached high school, due to my poor grades in science. That said, my passion for all-things water-related, has remained over the years.

So when I heard of the Subsea Retreat, out of Sidney, British Columbia, I immediately contacted them. This family-run eco-tour allows ocean enthusiasts like myself, to realize their lifelong dreams of snorkeling or even scuba diving with local seals and other marine creatures. The retreat is run by Jack Madro, who has over 35-years of scuba diving and tour organization experience, Pam and also his daughter Amanda Madro, who is a biochemist, a boat captain and an all-around inspiring woman who is passionate about ocean wildlife. Each bring their many years of diverse experience together to create not only a fun and safe retreat but also give you a ton of information on the area and the local marine life.

What’s great about the Subsea Retreat is that they offer different types of excursions for people of all-ages as well as skill levels. I had personally never gone scuba diving before, hence why I opted for snorkeling. Additionally, they have all the gear necessary for their excursions, so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything with you. You will be able to try on all the equipment with Jack by your side. The family will then bring you out on the water with their own private boat and make sure you are fully comfortable the entire duration of the excursion.

Sidney, is just a short ferry ride away from Vancouver (only 1h40 mins, and the retreat is a 5min drive from the ferry terminal!) or a quick 30min drive from Victoria. While you’re out in Sidney, you’ll be able to stay at their beautiful home that contains several private rooms, a large dining room and living room as well as outdoor deck, BBQ and pool, all located on a beautiful and quiet property. In between excursions, you can really kick-back and relax, you may also see hummingbirds, eagles or even deer while you’re lounging outside.

In addition to snorkeling or scuba diving, there are tons of other activities you can do while you’re staying at the Subsea Retreat such as hiking, SUPing, swimming, there are also lots of cafés, restaurants, farms and even wineries to check out in the area. The family gives great local tips on where to go, if you’re on the hunt for some additional activities.

I couldn’t believe that in just one afternoon, I got to cross two things off of my bucket list: I snorkeled with seals and also got to see a local pod of transient killer whales swim by the boat. I had such a wonderful time with the family that I’m already planning my return. Below is a little recap vlog of my adventures at the Subsea Retreat.

For more information on the Subsea Retreat, go here.

A major thank you to Toyota Canada, for allowing me to test out the 2018 Toyota C-HR during this trip!

Testing Out the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop

I’m super grateful to have the opportunity to try out some of the coolest new gadgets and gear currently available on the market, especially when they are products that fit so naturally with my lifestyle.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been testing out the brand new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop. I’ve been bringing it with me on my travels as well as to my outdoor workouts and to the fitness classes I’ve been teaching. The fact that this ultralight and portable computer is made with premium materials like machine aluminum, carbon fiber and hardened Corning® Gorilla® Glass NBTTM that allows for added durability, is a major plus for me since I’m always on the go.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is the first laptop to introduce the InfinityEdge display, which is the 5.2mm border on the top and both sides of the computer, thus allowing for maximum screen space. The computer’s UltraSharp Quad HD+ display with 5.7 million pixels, anti-reflective coating and high contrast ratio allows for high resolution viewing, always providing a crisp and clear image no matter the lighting. So when I’m taking the laptop with me for some of my outdoor park workouts, it allows for a great viewing experience throughout my exercise session.

An added bonus is also the laptop’s long-lasting battery life. When you’re only using productivity applications like Word or Excel, or for me, timers for my workouts, the battery can last for up to 15 hours, or alternatively up to 9 hours when streaming video like Netflix content.

Plus! the device is a 360-degree convertible, meaning it can be used in 4 modes – like the tent mode above, the laptop mode, stand mode and even tablet mode! This allows me to use the computer in different ways depending on what activity I’m up to.

The device is a great all-around computer because in addition to its transportability and sleek design it is also fast and efficient. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is equipped with a 7th Gen Intel® Core i5, which means top of the line performance power. It also comes with an expandable 16GB memory. Furthermore, it is equipped with 2 USB Type-C 3.1 ports, which enables charging and display functionality. One of these ports is also a Thuberbolt 3 port, which allows for transfer speeds 8x greater than the speed of USB 3.0 ports at up to 40Gbps. Note that with this computer, you will also receive a USB-A and USB-C adapter. So whether I’m transferring music for my classes, photos for my website or working on some class prep or writing articles, I know the computer can handle it all.

But that’s not all! The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 also has a precision touchpad, allowing for easy manipulation. It allows you to pan, pinch and zoom as well as precisely select items on your screen. You can also use the Dell Active Pen, to help with handwriting, selecting and even drawing.

It also comes with stereo speakers that are professionally tuned with Waves MaxxAudio® Pro, which allows me to prepare playlists for my classes or even play music while I work out.

Finally, another important aspect worth mentioning is that the XPS laptop is one of the greenest laptops out there. From the design all the way to the recycled packaging, Dell always has the environment in mind. They avoid materials such as cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury and some phthalates plus they are all BFR/PVC-free. Additionally, the laptop ships in recyclable and compost-friendly packaging. Dell also offers the possibility to recycle old products through their Dell Reconnect partnership present in 78 countries.

As my first experience with a 2-in-1 device, I definitely see what the value is, especially for my lifestyle. You can learn more about the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 here.

This post was written in collaboration with Dell but all opinions are my own.

5 things to do in Osoyoos

Osoyoos is one of the hottest places in Canada, literally! Located just 4 hours from Vancouver, this desert-like region is well worth the visit. Check out my 5 things to do in the area below!

1) Visit the Nk’ Mip cultural centre – If you’re headed to Osoyoos, you’ll want to reserve a few hours for the Nk’ Mip cultural centre, located right near downtown Osoyoos. Run by the Osoyoos Indian Band, the cultural centre offers lots of great learning experiences via interactive presentations of song, dance, wildlife exhibits, etc. They have exhibits both inside and outside, sharing the history of their people, the land, the language, etc. You can also hike through some of their trails that start off right at the centre.

2) Eat at Dolci Deli – This trendy looking café is where you’ll want to go for homemade lunch and dinner. The Dolci Deli serves up tasty dishes using local ingredients and offer a variety of vegan as well as gluten-free options. They have a beautiful outdoor patio and vintage-inspired bar and dining room. The staff is also incredibly friendly and the food is reasonably priced.

3) Swim in Osoyoos Lake – Known for its warm water, the Osoyoos Lake is one of the main attractions in the region. Its sandy bottom and long beach area, offers beachgoers plenty of area to set up for a long day of lakeside fun. If you’re also into SUPing, kayaking or even wake boarding, there are lots of places to rent equipment from and where you can organize water adventures!

4) Go for breakfast at JoJo’s Café – This local hotspot is where you’ll want to go to start off your day. JoJo’s Café is a great place for coffee, breakfast and also to work as they have some free wifi and lots of seating options inside and out. They even have some yummy homemade vegan muesli!

5) Watch the sunset from a winery – The area is filled with a handful of wineries. With the hot arid climate in the area, the Osoyoos region is able to produce a lot of the heavier reds that other areas of the province or even country cannot. One of the best spots to watch the sunset, while sipping on some delicious wine is from the Nk’ Mip Cellars‘ outdoor lounge area. You can order a flight of wine as well as one of their boards and watch as the sun sets over the lake and valley.

5 Things to do on Salt Spring Island

If you’re looking for a great weekend getaway idea for the summer or fall, try out Salt Spring Island. It’s just a quick 90 min ferry ride from Vancouver. Check my top 5 things to do in Salt Spring Island below.

1) Visit the Saturday market – The Saturday market is a great way to start off a weekend trip to Salt Spring Island. Whether you’re a fan of crafts, jewelry, handmade goodies or delicious fresh organic produce and homemade snacks, you’ll want to stop by the market during the day. It starts early in the morning and lasts until mid-afternoon. There’s also music and even some dancing in the grass, making it a fun outing for the entire family. If you make it out, make sure you grab some “Green Godess” tacos from the market taco stand, they make the best lunch! If you’re lucky you may also see Raffi there (word on the street is he sells his music there!).

2) Go swimming at St Mary Lake – This beautiful lake is located right in the middle of the island. You can pretty much park anywhere on the side of the road where you find space and walk down to the lake. There is also a small beach area with sand but that can get quite crowded on the weekend. The lake is warm in the summer, making it a great way to cool off after a day of outdoor activities!

3) Hike up Mt Maxwell – There are tons of trails that are available around the island but one of my favourites was the Mt Maxwell trails because of the incredibly views you can get at the top. The trails are uncrowded and allow you to explore a bunch of different viewpoints and landscapes on the island.

4) Cycle around the Island – Salt Spring Island is a popular destination for cycling enthusiasts. Lots of people cycle around the island, stopping at all the different farms, art studios, yoga studios, etc. around the island. You can find a map with the bike routes on the island here. There are also cycling excursions that you can join and bike shops, in case you need any tune ups while journeying across the island. If you’re a fan of hills, then you’ll be well served on the island!

5) Grab a snack at Morningside Organic Café – This cute little vegan café is located right beside the Fulford Harbour ferry stop. The Morningside Organic Café serves up a variety of bowls, wraps, vegan pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, nut mylks and more! You can also buy local produce and even books at the café. It’s also the coolest looking café around!

5 Things to do in Tofino

With Tofino being one of the summer travel hotspots in British Columbia, there’s no doubt that a lot of people will be coming to the area in the next couple of months. Having said that, there are lots of great things to do in and around Tofino, so I wanted to highlight a few of my discoveries from my first trip there last week!

1) Go surfing at Long Beach – Long Beach is definitely one of the most coveted surf spots in all of Canada. The long strip of sandy beach draws people from all around the world and with reason. It’s a great spot to learn how to surf or catch some smooth waves with your longboard. It does tend to get a little crowded this time of year, but the beach is so vast that there’s always a quieter spot somewhere in the water. It’s also an ideal spot to enjoy a post-surf picnic, BBQ and even watch the sunset.

2) Grab a beer from Tofino Brewing Co. – You can’t go to Tofino and not want to stop by their one and only brewery in the area, the Tofino Brewing Co. Their brewery is located on Industrial Way, on the way into downtown. You can get a tasting flight for just $10 and they also serve the local Tofino Kombucha, if you’re more in the mood for a non-alcoholic beverage. The spot is quaint, decorated with lots of surfing photos, and artwork. It’s a fun and casual place to go post-surf!

3) Visit Ucluelet – Ucluelet is located just a short drive away from Tofino. This small town is a lot quieter than Tofino but offers just as many things to do. I highly recommend doing the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse hike, visiting Small Beach, grabbing a homemade snack from Zoë’s Bakery and going shopping at Gypsy Drifter, the cutest bohemian-inspired shop! You can also hop on a sea plane for a tour of the area, go SUPing or visit their aquarium.

4) Tofitian Café – Looking for a place to grab your morning java or a homemade snack? You’ll want to go to Tofitian. It’s a super popular spot with both locals and visitors because they serve up delicious scones, muffins and croissants as well as tasty matcha lattés, coffees and drinks. The café is located in a cute shopping area, where you can sit on picnic tables and enjoy the proximity to the woods.

5) Rainforest Trail – There are tons of hikes to do in the area, but one that must be added to your list is the Rainforest Trail. Located in the Pacific Rim National Park, this lush green trail will make you feel like you’re in a magical wonderland. Though it tends to get crowded in the summer, there’s always room to feel alone in the vast forest. There are tons of different loops that you can choose from, which will please everyone from a newbie to a seasoned hiker!

Go Camping with MEC’s Gear Rental Program

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Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.

Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!

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Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!

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What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.

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Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.

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The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!

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Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!

For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.

This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.

5 Things to do in Seattle

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1) Grab lunch at Wayward Vegan Café. This little Seattle hotspot serves up veganized versions of American diner food. Around since 2004, the Wayward Vegan Café has become a community favourite for its bottomless coffee, generous portions and comfort plates. They offer an extensive menu of all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner items as well as many gluten-free options. Waffles, sandwiches, salads and scrambles are just some of the many delicious dishes to choose from.

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2) Walk around in Capitol Hill. Located just east of downtown, Capitoll Hill is one of the liveliest areas of Seattle. Renown for its eclectic array of shops, restaurants and attractions, the colorful area has also become the city’s LGBTQ hub. Whether you’re looking for the trendiest urban offerings or quiet tree-lined parks and streets, the area has it all.

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3) Grab a mid-afternoon snack at Mighty-O Donuts. Looking for a sweet stop during your explorations? Stop by Mighty-O Donuts in Capitol Hill to satisfy your sweet craving! This ultra-popular shop has been around since 2000 and prides themselves in creating donuts and glazes from scratch using only certified organic ingredients. Plus all of their donuts are egg and dairy free!

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4) Visit Olympic Sculpture Park. This free outdoor park is open to the public all-year-round. Part of the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park was opened back in 2007 and features both permanent and visiting installations and spans 9=acres across a park and beach. It’s a great place to admire and get inspired by art as well as a great place to enjoy ocean views or even have a picnic!

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5) Have dinner Harvest Beat. If you were to ask me my top 3 vegan meals I’ve ever had, the one I had at Harvest Beat in Seattle, would definitely be in that list. The restaurant uses seasonal ingredients from local farmers to produce their daily menus. The 100% vegan 5-course prix-fixe dinner menu can be paired with wine or non-alcoholic beverages. The dinner is set in a very intimate and warm setting that allows conversation with the chef and for a truly wonderful evening!

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Summer Travel Essentials

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Today I share some of my favorite summer accessories for the active traveler out there. If you’re hitting the beach or plan on going on a surf trip, you may want to add these items to your suitcase!

1) Wander Wet Bag – This is the perfect accessory for your bathing suit this summer! Wander Wet Bags is a local company based out of Encinitas, California. Each wet bag is made 100% in the United States and all the materials used from the bag are also local. The creator of Wander, Eileen, has come up with a beautiful variety of prints and colours. It’s the ideal bag to throw in your bathing suit after a day at the beach, swimming or even surfing!

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2) Colorescience Sunscreen – Want a quick and easy solution for makeup and UV protection while you travel? Try out Colorescience‘s Daily UV Protector. This lightweight, non-greasy and water-resistant cream blurs imperfections and also protects the skin from environmental stressors. It’s an easy foundation to use under makeup or even wear alone.

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3) Bikini Village Bathing SuitBikini Village is back with fun new bathing suits this summer. They have really stepped up the ante with the collections that are available in stores and online. Whether you’re looking for a bikini, a one-piece suit, a tankini, boy shorts and more, they’ve got you covered. Bikini Village offers 50 + brands to choose from for classic, trendy or more sophisticated beach and summer looks.

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4) Reef Escape Sandals – Flip flops are a must in your suitcase this summer! Reef has released a series of cute printed luxury sandals that are easy to pair with a bathing suit or a cute summer outfit. The sandals are water friendly, free of PVC (which is better for the environment!) and also provide arch support for added stability and comfort while you explore.

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5) Rip Curl Hooded Towel – This towel is an absolute must for surfers and swimmers who are looking for a great way to keep warm and dry after going in the water. The Rip Curl Wettie Gift Hooded Towel is also an easy way to change at the beach, without having to find a change room or toilet. It’s lightweight and easy to roll up in your suitcase.

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