Top 5 Hiking Essentials for Summer

Since hiking is everyone’s favourite activity here in British Columbia, I have also started going on a handful of day trips across the province. Your success as a hiker can definitely be determined by the gear your wear and bring with you so I wanted to share with you today some of my current hiking essentials for the summer and fall!

1) Camelbak Hydration Pack – I loath carrying around several water bottles with me when I hike, so getting the Camelbak pack was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. It comes equipped with 2L hydration bag as well as tons of pockets and storage to put snacks, my phone, wallet, etc. This one also comes equipped with a whistle, which is a must when you live in bear country!

2) Saje Wellness Journey On Kit – This customized Saje kit is perfect for staying energized and refreshed during those long hikes. The kit comes equipped with deodorant, lip balm, lotion and their energy remedy. It also comes in a super lightweight bag that is easy to strap onto your Camelbak or backpack.

3) KEEN Terradora boots – These lightweight boots are a must-have for any short or long hike. KEEN specifically designed these boots having women in mind making sure they fit like a glove and can be used in all sorts of terrain. The boots are also breathable and waterproof.

4) MEC Aquanator Jacket – Because you can never be sure what type of weather you’ll encounter during a hike, this MEC waterproof jacket with fully taped seams is a great layering piece to bring along. It comes equipped with underarm zips for cooling as well as adjustable cuffs and hood.

5) Stance Socks – A good pair of socks is crucial when hiking for a long time. These Stance Peak Hike socks are made with merino wool, polyester, cotton and nylon fibers that help keep your feet cool, pull moisture away faster and will last you hike after hike!

Some other must-haves include: a headlamp, trail poles, bear spray/bear bell, hat, etc.

Happy Hiking!

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!

Cultivate Wellness

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Mark your calendars! On June 25th, The Habit Project will be organizing an incredible day of wellness in Chilliwack, BC called Cultivate Wellness to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation’s Workout to Conquer Cancer. If you aren’t familiar with The Habit Project already, they’re a wellness company created by two families that make delicious cold-pressed juices and nut mylks. Danielle and Mariah, took a few minutes out of their busy schedules to share more about what they do at The Habit Project and what people can expect to experience at the Cultivate Wellness retreat in June!

Can you explain what the Cultivate Wellness event is all about? 

Cultivate Wellness is a collaborative wellness mini-retreat benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation’s Workout to Conquer Cancer.  We are so excited to gather participants from Vancouver to Chilliwack to take part in this event. 

What are some of the things that people attending will be able to experience?

Participants will be guided through a series of fitness workshops: featuring boxing with All City Athletics, the Class by Taryn Toomey led by Turf, yoga with Studio B and meditation by Moment Meditation. Our sweaty morning will be complimented by inspirational wellness and nutrition discussions by Mariah Vermeer of The HABIT Project, Kate Horsman and Katrina Vanderveen of Fortify Natural Wellness. Our retreat is designed to educate, inspire and provide space for individuals to take time for themselves and to forge new relationships with like minded community members.  A nutritious brunch will be provided by Faspa and Co, coffee by Jack Coffee and cold-pressed juice by The Habit Project. 

View More: http://yingerdesign.pass.us/cultivate2016

Why was it important for you to put together an event for physical and mental wellbeing? How does that tie into your mission at The Habit Project?

We believe habits are powerful and that everyone has the ability to take small steps in their daily lives to incorporate more balance and wellness habitually.  It is our sincere belief that with a focus on quality, balance and intention, we can all create healthy habits that benefit our day to day lives immensely.

We grew up here in Chilliwack on a small farm where we sold bags of apples on the side of the road.  Our parents instilled in us a passion for agriculture and took the time to show us the importance of eating and cooking with whole, natural foods.  In an era where the art of farming and the understanding of where your food comes from has been lost, we would like to continue this path of education and agricultural awareness.

We feel privileged to have the space to host such an event at our family farm, The Chilliwack Corn Maze.  We met Genieve last year at Cultivate, our long table dinner, and were immediately drawn to her motivation to inspire individuals to holistic living.  From there, Cultivate wellness was envisioned and a dream team came together to put on this amazing event.   

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In addition to being an event, this day is also a fundraiser for Workout to Conquer Cancer, why did you want to work with this organization?

Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way or another.  We can all relate to it’s power over our lives.  We wanted to work with an organization who focused not only on the research but also preventative health.  Work out to Conquer Cancer is a month long movement in pursuit in raising awareness and crucial funds for the BC Cancer foundation.  These funds fuel ground breaking cancer research and care at the provinces 6 BC cancer agency locations.  Funds raised towards Work Out to Conquer Cancer will support research initiatives for all cancer including breast, ovarian, lymphoid to name a few where researchers are making major advancements into early diagnosis treatment and prevention of these diseases.

After we had already chosen to work with Work Out BC, we hired someone at HABIT who we later found out battled cancer for three years.  Katrina Vanderveen is going to speak at our event for the very first time about her experience and journey through this difficult time.  She is strong and extremely inspiring and sure to touch everyone she meets.  She passionate about healthy living and has recently completed her Nutrition certification and ready to help guide others with cancer prevention.  She started Fortify Natural Wellness under which she will provide nutritional consulting for individuals as well as a granola line.  It’s really the best granola you’ve ever had!!!  We just adore, Katrina.

How important is community for what you do at The Habit Project?

Community is a core value of our company.  We want to be more than just a juice company.  We want to inspire people to reach their goals and build each other up along the way.  We hope to create a HABIT community; a group of people passionate about creating healthy habits and a life made better by wellness.  We hope that in enjoying our products people will feel nourished as well as supported on their own wellness journey by a community of people bound together by kindness and strength.

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There are only a few tickets left for the Cultivate Wellness event taking place on June 25th in Chilliwack, BC. All participants will be receiving a free Lululemon yoga mat at the event and have the opportunity to win some amazing raffle prizes. For more info or to get your tickets, go here. Hope to see you there!

Trail Running

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Trail Running has always been on my bucket list of things to try out. Having recently moved to British Columbia, I thought that this would be the perfect occasion to finally give it a try. There are so many great trails located just a few minutes from downtown like the Grouse Grind, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Stanley Park, Rice Lake, etc.

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Last week, with the help of a local friend, I did my first ever trail run. Trail running is unlike any sport I’ve done before. It’s one of the few activities that requires you to be 100% in the present moment, it’s like a meditation of sorts. It’s an activity that forces you to focus and work on your feet and eye coordination. You have to make split-second decisions about which way you’re going down and where to put your feet at all times. Also, because you are running up and down the entire time, it really gets your heart rate up and forces you to work on controlling your breathing.

davThe thing about it that I loved so much, was that unlike road running, you get completely lost in nature. You get to not only see some of the most beautiful viewpoints but also breathe in clean and fresh air and hear little to no noise.

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Having good gear is key when trail running. You want to make sure you have the proper footwear that will support your feet and provide you with the right amount of traction. Wearing breathable fabrics and bringing with you some form of hydration and even a snack are key. Experienced trail runners will often go out on their own but it’s never a bad thing to be accompanied by someone who knows the area, if you’re going out for the first time. Other things like having a whistle, compass, phone, etc. are all great, as you never know what could happen while you’re out in the wild.

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So if you’re like me and just easing into the sport, I recommend checking out MEC‘s website (here!) as they have run meet-ups, clinics and many races across all of Canada this spring, summer and fall. I am really looking forward to doing my first ever trail race this summer!

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Outfit provided by: MEC. Photos by: Chris Thorn.

48 Hours in Victoria

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In need of a little island vacation? Make Victoria, BC your next holiday destination!

Located just 30 minutes by seaplane from Vancouver, this wonderful city has so much to offer. From the little coffee shops, to cute boutiques, to the great nature landscapes and outdoor adventures, you can’t go wrong with an escapade in this buzzing town.

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Access to the island was made easy thanks to Harbour Air. It has always been my dream to fly in a seaplane, so I finally got to cross that off the bucket list last week. Harbour Air is North America’s largest seaplane airline and the first fully carbon neutral airline. It also showcases Canadian-made aircrafts and has over 35 daily departures between downtown Vancouver and Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Check-in and boarding is hassle-free plus they have a lovely lounge with complimentary tea, coffee and wifi that allows you to relax before your flight. The sights while flying are absolutely majestic and you get to downtown Victoria in just over 30 mins.

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Once in Victoria, there are many accommodations to choose from. On this particular trip, we had the opportunity to stay at a beautiful boutique hotel called Hotel Rialto, located right in the heart of downtown. Opened in 2009 and renovated again in 2012, this restored 1912 heritage building features 52 beautifully decorated guest rooms that include topnotch amenities. In addition to its central location, another plus is the Café Veneto, the bistro located in their lobby. It is the perfect location for your morning breakfast. They also have the Veneto Tapa Lounge, located adjacent to the lobby, which offers guests a complimentary cheese platter upon arrival and great dinning options.

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There are so many things occupy your time with while in Victoria. If you’re a nature lover, check out one of The Natural Connection‘s guided hikes. Led by Ryan LeBlanc, the company’s owner, you get to discover some of the most beautiful local hikes and point of views. He comes equipped with a gourmet lunch and supplies for your hike. He is a super knowledgeable guide, who invites you to use all five senses when exploring the area. It’s a great way to discover all of the stunning scenery just next to the city.

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If shopping is more up your alley, head on over to the colourful Johnson St. right in downtown to shop at some of the best local retailers, while sipping on a coffee or tea from Hey Happy. Another coffee hotspot that you’ll want to visit is Habit Coffee located on Pandora St. They offer delicious vegan treats and a wide-selection of drinks to choose from.

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Want to stay active while in Victoria, check out the newly opened SpinCo spin studio, also situated on Pandora St. in downtown. The city also has a handful of beautiful running trails located such as the waterfront trail on Dallas Rd or the circuit in Beacon Hill Park.

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Museums and art galleries are also a plenty in the area. The Royal BC Museum is a great way to spend a few hours going through all of the permanent and rotating exhibits. Their current exhibit called Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in British Columbia is a major eye-opener. They will also be showcasing a new exhibit featuring Terry Fox come April.

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While in Victoria, you can enjoy some of the best vegan and vegetarian food the country has to offer. My absolute favourite on this trip was Nourish Kitchen & Cafe, located in a beautifully restored colourful heritage house in the James Bay neighbourhood. They serve up fresh, seasonal produce and some of the most delicious vegan food I’ve ever had in my life. Note that though they aren’t fully vegan, they sure know how to make some tasty and healthy plant-based meals. You can even just stop by for a quick coffee or use their upstairs rooms The Study and The Parlour to work for the day.

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Other vegan and healthy stops in the city include Rebar – a funky vegetarian hotspot that serves up everything from fresh juices to vegetarian Reuben sandwiches and homemade berry crumble, Jusu – the best mylks, cold-pressed juices as well as vegan salads and bowls, Café Bliss – a cute breakfast and café perfect to satisfy an afternoon craving and Be Love – serves up raw, vegan and vegetarian-friendly creative dishes using organic, seasonal and fresh Vancouver Island products up to 95% of the time.

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Oh and there’s also Jam. It may not be the healthiest option but one cannot visit Victoria and not pay Jam a visit. It’s well worth the wait, their homemade scones and breakfasts are to die for!

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If all of the aforementioned info isn’t reason enough to visit Victoria, I made a little recap video for you to enjoy!

A big thank you to Tourism Victoria for their help with this wonderful trip!

Video shot with: Huawei Nova Plus.

Explore Whistler on a Snowmobile with TAG

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Headed to Whistler and looking for some winter thrills that do not include skiing or snowboarding? Make sure you check out The Adventure Group‘s snowmobile tour.

The Whistler-based adventure group organizes several excursions a day that allow you to explore Whistler’s beautiful backcountry on Cougar Mountain. Whether it’s your first time out or you’re a seasoned pro, TAG has a tour for you! Their expeditions last on average 2.5 hours and allow you to explore everything from great local trails to fresh powder or even wide-open areas with breathtaking views of the forest and mountains.

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Their snowmobiles are fully equipped with seat and hand warmers that will keep you toasty throughout. They also have helmets, goggles as well as gloves and hats for those who may have forgotten some of their gear.

TAG tour guides are super friendly and take the time to make sure everyone is comfortable before, during and after the ride. Plus, the company keeps the tours to a maximum of 5 guests per guide, allowing for a super pleasant experience.

They also provides a complimentary shuttle for guests from the Whistler Village, Fairmont Chateau and the Four Seasons Hotel. The company strives to make sure that their Whistler tours and activities are 100% carbon neutral.

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I had only been on a snowmobile once before but it was a huge thrill to ride out with TAG!

If zipping around on ski-doos isn’t your thing, TAG also offers a wide variety of additional tours ranging from snowshoeing to heli sightseeing and more. For more information, go here.

Scandinave Spa Whistler

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One of the best things about Whistler is the brilliant 25,000 sq ft outdoor spa located just a few minutes away from the slopes. The Scandinave Spa Whistler is the perfect place to unwind after a day of skiing, hiking or outdoor adventure in the area.

Situated right in the heart of nature, this Nordic-inspired spa enables guests to decompress and enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating escapade.  The mountain views and fresh air transport you into an oasis of wellbeing.

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One thing the Scandinave Spa is renown for is its topnotch amenities. Their baths, wood burning Finnish Sauna, eucalyptus steam room and waterfalls come together to create the most luxurious experience. This past year, they inaugurated a brand new building at the spa that features a state of the art sauna, observatory deck, lounge as well an additional eucalyptus steam room. You can also book a massage with one of their highly qualified therapists to prolong your Scandinavian bath session.

There are many health benefits associated with Scandinavian baths, also known as hydrotherapy. In addition to it being relaxing and energizing, the baths also help cleanse the body as well as stimulate blood circulation and the release of endorphins.

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The spa’s eco-friendly and sustainable building allows them to truly be in harmony with their natural surroundings. They pride themselves in their “green” roof as well as the use of sustainable fibers and stainless steel water bottles. They also make sure to work with as many local suppliers as possible.

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The Scandinave Cafe is a real treat, no pun intended. Their delicious and healthy locally-made snacks are the perfect pick me up after a few hours spent unwinding at the spa.

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Get a 360 tour of the spa’s facilities below with the Samsung Gear 360. For more information on Scandinave Spa Whistler, go here.

Sea to Sky Gondola

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Squamish has become one of the country’s most popular locations for outdoor sports and adventures. One of the latest and greatest activity to come to the area is the Sea to Sky Gondola, located just a few minutes from the city centre.

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Right off the 99 Highway, the gondola allows guests to get a panoramic view of the area while heading up the mountain. Once at the top, they offer a wide variety of activities to choose from. Whether you’re into snowshoeing, a casual walk, tubbing or ski touring, the Sea to Sky Gondola has got you covered.

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We opted for a snowshoeing excursion, which last 1.5 hours, with a super friendly and knowledgeable guide who has been residing in the area for 10+ years. Our guide brought us on some of the most scenic trails that tower the snow capped peaks of the mountain. They have trails for all levels and even have some light up trails and offer special themed activities depending on the time of year. The trails for snowshoeing and walking come at no extra cost once you are up at the top of the mountain.

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In addition to the trails, you can also walk over the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge or get some breathtaking views of Squamish at the Summit Lodge Deck.

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Following our snowshoeing excursion, we tried out their winter tube park, for some old-fashioned tubing. Situated just a few steps away from the Gondola, you get to slide down one of their four designated lanes as many times as you want for just an extra $5.

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Once you’re done your activities, you can either sit fireside or grab a snack while warming up in their cozy in their mountaintop lodge.

Can’t make it this winter? Not to worry. They have just as many activities to do in the summer time. In the summer, you can also hike up the Sea to Summit Trail (and can bring your dog along with you!), go rock climbing, do mountain top yoga, etc.

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If you’re headed up to Whistler or looking for a great day excursion, head over to the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish!

For more information on the Sea to Sky Gondola, go here.