5 Winter Getaway Ideas in BC

1) Go on a Food and Drink excursion in Kelowna. The region of Kelowna is well-known in the summer for its amazing wineries, but winter is as good of a time as any to visit the Okanagan Valley. Most of the wineries and wine trails are open all-year-round plus there are now tons of awesome local breweries popping up all over town, making it a great destination for wine and beer enthusiasts. Farm to Table is also a huge trend in Kelowna and the valley. Local farmers and chefs take pride in serving locally grown food from the neighbourhood farms. While you’re in the area, you can even take a self-guided farm tour to visit the local food growers and learn more about what the area can produce.

2) Go surfing in Tofino – Winter or the shoulder season are truly the best times to visit Tofino. Yes, the water will be cold but you get to avoid all the crowds and madness that you get during the summer. There are lots of great surf shops open all-year-round (Long Beach Surf Shop, Surf Sister, Pacific Surf School, etc.) and tons of spots to get surf lessons from if you’re new to the sport. Plus, the après-surf is that much more enjoyable when you’re sitting fireside with a warm beverage either at a nice Airbnb, an oceanfront cabin (check out Ocean Village Resort!) or even in your van. Van life is very much alive and well all-throughout the year in Tofino!

3) Go Hiking in Nelson – The Nelson Kootenay region offers a handful of amazing hiking options for those looking to spend some time outdoors this winter. Whether you’re looking for a quick jaunt like the 1.6k Pulpit Rock or something more grandiose like the spectacular Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, Nelson has all sorts of hikes that can be explored throughout the winter season with either regular hiking boots, crampons or even snowshoes.

4) Visit Halcyon Hot Springs – Open 365 days a year, these beautiful hot springs are located right on the waterfront of Upper Arrow Lake. While relaxing in the restorative and healing waters, you get to enjoy the beautiful views of the Monashee Mountains. The hot springs are just over an hour away from Revelstoke, making it the perfect après-ski relaxation spot. You can spend the entire weekend at the Halcyon Hot Springs exploring the area and renting out one of the chalets or cabins on property.

5) Go explore the backcountry in Whistler. Chances are, if you’ve visited BC in the winter time or your reside here, you’ve probably already gone skiing or riding up in Whistler. But have you explore the amazing backcountry before? There are lots of great local touring companies (Extremely Canadian, Altus Mountain Guides) that offer AST courses, clinics and tours for mountain enthusiasts of all levels. You can also purchase some backcountry tickets for Whistler Blackcomb, that are more than half the price of the regular lift tickets.

Happy winter adventuring friends!

AC Hotel in Downtown Portland

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Looking for a place to stay in the heart of Portland? Look no further than the AC Hotel, located right in downtown.

This brand new modern hotel offers travellers state of the art lodging in a stylish and contemporary setting. When you check into the AC Hotel, you immediately feel at home. Everyone on staff is friendly and very helpful making the arrival process smooth and stress-free.

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The hotel lobby is equipped with a brand new office space, which allows hotel guests to stay in touch with loved ones, print out itineraries, work, etc. In the lobby, patrons will also have access to the sophisticated AC Lounge, a beautiful area that can be used to sit and read a book, catch up on work or sip on a cocktail and enjoy tapas-style snacks from local suppliers.

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Adjacent to the lobby is the AC Kitchen, the location for the hotel’s European-inspired breakfast buffet. Each morning, the hotel serves up delicious and wholesome breakfast options for guests, which also include’s coffee from Portland’s own Water Avenue Coffee.

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Each guest room at the AC Hotel in Portland has been carefully designed having in mind the guests’ comfort. All the rooms are smoke-free and offer either downtown, mountain or waterfront views. Each room features platform beds, topnotch linens, an ultramodern bathroom, complimentary high-speed internet as well as USB ports and plugs bedside. There’s also space in the room to create a satellite office for those away on business.

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The hotel carefully selected art from local Portland artists for decoration throughout the building. The sleek and European-influenced design features natural colour pallets and elements.

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Some of the city’s top attractions are just a few short minutes away. It’s easy to walk to the waterfront or to the very trendy Pearl District from the hotel. You also have access to local transit, which is just a stone’s throw away.

All in all, the AC Hotel in downtown Portland is an urban gem that allows visitors to enjoy the buzz of the city while also retreating to a quiet and luxurious room after a busy day of exploration.

For more information on the AC Hotel in downtown Portland, 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.

Winter Getaway at Whistler Blackcomb

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For years now, I had been dreaming of riding in Whistler but I was never able to get the time off or travel to the area during the ski season. So I made sure that this year would be different and made it a point to include Whistler Blackcomb in my #wintergetaway destinations.

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If you haven’t been to Whistler yet, then you have been missing out! Since the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Whistler Blackcomb has become North America’s most popular ski resort. And there are many reasons why it has become the top winter riding destination.

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The first being the incredible skiing and riding you can do at the mountain. With over 200 trails, 37 chairlifts, 5 parks and over 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, even on their busiest days, you have so many options to choose from that it never feels crowded. What’s amazing is that no matter your level or riding preferences, there’s something for everyone. The resort is renown for its freeskiing and powder-filled bowls as well as gladed trees and also dedicated family-friendly zones. The views while riding are absolutely breathtaking. The infinite chain of mountain around you make you feel at one with nature.

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Also, it’s slope-side pedestrian village offers some of the best accommodations, top restaurants, hip shopping and fun activities one could want either pre or post-ski or for those who would rather just spend the day walking around.

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With reference to accommodations, I had the pleasure of staying at the Aava Whistler, a hotel located right in the Whistler Village thanks to the hotels.com mobile app. Whether you’re going on a budget or looking for luxurious après-ski digs, the app has it all.

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The energy at the mountain and in the village is electrifying. Everyone that comes to Whistler Blackcomb know they are about to have one of their best ski experience of their lives. It is understandable that this resort has become world-class over the years. With it being less than two hours away from Vancouver, it is definitely worth the visit!

For more information on Whistler Blackcomb, go here. To find accommodations in the area, go to Hotels.com or download their mobile app. Photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy S7, 360 video shot with the Samsung Gear 360.

5 Things to do in San Luis Obispo

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One of my new favorite areas in California is SLO County. Located in this beautiful county is the historical town of San Luis Obispo, which almost halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains. There are lots of great things to see and do in the area, so here are five travel recommendations for your next trip.

1) Get your morning caffeine fix at Scout Coffee. Owned and operated by husband and wife Jon & Sara Peterson, Scout Coffee is a super cute coffee shop and the hotspot for pastries and coffee. It’s a great place to meet locals, enjoy a relaxing beverage or bring your computer to work. Their two locations are incredibly charming and offer some of the most delicious treats.

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2) Hike at Montaña de Oro State Park. Located just 20 minutes from San Luis Obispo, the Montaña de Oro State Park is a stunning park where you can go for a walk, hike, bike ride or even camp overnight. The park’s rugged cliffs, canyons, plains and beautiful beaches make it the perfect place to visit all-year-round. There is also a lot of local wildlife and beautiful flora to see while you explore.

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3) Grab an açaí bowl at SEEDS. Though it may also be a juice shop, SEEDS makes some of the most delicious açaí bowls I have ever tasted. Their selection of fresh fruits, nuts and seeds added to their delicious custom bases make them the best mid-day snack or healthy breakfast option.

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4) Spend the afternoon at Avila Beach. You will find the cutest little oceanside community called Avila Beach just a few miles from downtown SLO. This small waterfront community (now part of the greater SLO County) is a great place to spend an afternoon. Whether you’re interested in surfing, relaxing on the beach, shopping, eating or just walking around on the boardwalk, it’s a great place to spend a few hours.

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5) Go wine tasting at Wolff Vineyards. Located in SLO County’s Edna Valley, Wolff Wineyards is a family-run winery that produces a wide variety of wines including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more. They have super friendly and knowledgeable staff on-site for wine tastings. You can walk around their property or even just set up for a picnic on their outdoor patio.

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Winter Getaway at Sun Peaks

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Did you know that Sun Peaks was Canada’s second largest ski area? This beautiful resort located just under an hour away from Kamloops, British Columbia offers some of the most beautiful skiable terrain in the country.

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Whether you fancy wide open slopes or a steep thrilling ride, fresh powder or beautiful glades to ride through, with its 4,270 acres of skiable terrain, Sun Peaks has something for everyone!

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In addition to the pristine riding you can do at the resort, they have a cute European-style ski-through village where you can find shops, cafes, restaurants as well as quality accommodations. I was once again able to book my stay via Hotels.com‘s mobile app, making it a quick and painless reservation process. Having my hotel be right at the bottom of the mountain, made it super convenient.

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In addition to riding, Sun Peaks also offers a variety of winter activities you can do while in the area. Their latest and greatest activity is ice fishing, run by a super knowledgeable and friendly young guide called Campbell from Elevated Fishing Adventures. This 3-hour excursion will bring you to Heffley Lake, where you will be able to fish for some wild local species. Not only do you learn a lot about the area, the local fauna and flore but also get to stay warm while you chat and fish thanks to a portable hut and some complimentary hot chocolate.

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I took the Samsung Gear 360 camera and Galaxy S7 phone with me again in order to document my adventures at Sun Peaks. I hope you will enjoy my recap below.

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For more information on Sun Peaks, go here. To find accommodations in the area, go to Hotels.com or download their mobile app. Photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy S7, 360 video shot with the Samsung Gear 360.

5 Things to do in San Francisco

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San Francisco is a city that grows on me every time I go for a visit. Whether it’s the vibrant food scene, the beautiful beaches or even some of the cool fitness studios in the city, there is always something new to check out no matter how many times you make it to the area. Here are some of my recommendations for your next trip to San Fran.

1) Go for a walk at Baker Beach. This beautiful beach is located just a few minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Though it tends to get crowded during the summer, it’s relatively empty during the winter time and just as stunning. The big majestic trees that are located on top of the bluffs overlooking the ocean make for stunning pictures. Plus the views of the bridge from afar, make it a prime walking destination.

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2) Eat at Tartine Manufactory. The newest addition to the Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt’s Tartine Bakery family in San Francisco is their ultra hype restaurant called Tartine Manufactory. Located in the Mission District, they serve a cafeteria-style lunch as well as a delectable sit down dinner. You can also obtain some of their infamous bread if you go early enough during the day. The dinner menu offers a wide range of meats, grains and veggie options as well as some of their delicious breads. Their desserts are also killer. Make sure you reserve in advance if you want to have a spot.

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3) Go for a spin class at SoulCycle. This incredibly popular spin studio recently opened 3 locations in downtown San Francisco, one at Castro, another at Union and finally in SoMa. The SoulCycle studios are a lot bigger than most in Southern California and the amenities are always topnotch. Their instructors are some of the best in the biz, ultra motivating and will get you sweating in no-time! I recommend taking a class with Andrew, he always has a rad playlist!

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4) Stop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with a quick stop at this ultra popular joint. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse offers the most delicious assortment of pastries and donuts. Grab just one or an entire box, everything sweet and savoury on the menu is to-die for. A major guilty pleasure!

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5) Visit Clarion Alley.  It’s easy to miss this little gem as it is tucked between Valencia and Mission Street in the Mission District. Grab a juice from next door at Happy Moose Juice and wander through Clarion Alley decorated with beautiful murals painted by members of the community. The Clarion Alley Mural Project, the American Indian Center are just some of the groups that have contributed artwork to this beautiful alley.

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Journey with Escape Campervans

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For the past month and a half, my husband and I have been living in an Escape Campervans. When came time to book our latest Californian adventure, we were on the lookout for a new low-cost experience that would allow us the flexibility to travel to different cities around the state while also providing us with some great accommodations. After doing a bit of research, I found a great van rental company called Escape Campervans based out in California. If you’ve traveled across the southern United States, you’ve probably seen some of their colorful vans on the road.

What I immediately loved about Escape Campervans was the two great campervan models they offer. We opted for the bigger model of the two, the Mavericks, seeing as we’d be living in it for quite some time and it turned out to be the perfect size. Their converted Ford E150 campervan was easy to drive, park, economical and also allowed us to travel to anywhere our hearts desired. The 17 ft truck was the perfect home on wheels with fully stocked bedding, 2-burner stove, sink with running water, refrigerator, cooking and eating utensils, tons of storage space, picnic chairs and everything we needed to be independent during our trip. I was particularly a fan of their solar-powered fridge and light, allowing us to make food even while off the grid.

Escape Campervans also offer a handful of different add-ons and options so that you can customize your experience exactly the way you want it. We opted for a roofbox to put all of our extra luggage, a GPS, a USB charger as well as one of their custom Insurance packages. The company also offers complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance.

The thing about #vanlife is that no matter what you end up doing with your campervan or where you end up going, it’ll always be an adventure and a unique learning experience. I’ve learned so much about camping, the roads, National Parks, etc. in the past month and a half, things I would have never learned if I hadn’t partaken in this great once-in-a-lifetime journey. The danger with vanlife is, once you get a taste of it, you’ll want to keep doing it. After living in a van for almost two months, we’ve grown so used to it that we are thinking of getting our own van after this portion of our travels ends. Our love for the #vanlife just keeps on growing every day!

You can find Escape Campervans in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Denver and Seattle. For more info, go here.

Video shot with: Huawei Nova Plus and DJI Phantom.

5 Things to do in Kauai

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1) Go surfing. This may seem obvious but surfing is Kauai is TOPNOTCH. Prior to visiting Kauai, I had never surfed in such clear and warm water. Mexico pales in comparison to Kauai. You can find all sorts of surf breaks around the entire island that will suit any level of surfer. Newbies will love Hanalei Bay and the local favorite Anini Beach or Keālia Beach (Andy Irons’ favorite surf spot) while more advanced surfers will love Poipu Beach and Tunnels. The summer is great if you’re looking for chill waves with not a lot of force. That said, the current can get quite strong around the island, so it’s always better to go in the water with a buddy or somewhere where there’s a lifeguard. Since I was new to the island, it also took me a little bit of time to get familiarized with the swell and different breaks. There are lots of sharp corals in the water so little boots or water shoes can be helpful.

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2) Fly over the island with Blue Hawaiian. I’m not a huge fan of helicopters but flying over Kauai is a must if you can swing it. It is one the pricer excursions you can do while in Kauai but well worth the money. It’s really the best way to see the island inside and out, as a lot of the island is wild and only accessible via boat or helicopter. Not only is the scenery unreal but you will learn a tremendous amount about the island’s history, evolution, etc. The 80-minute tour left me speechless. We got the chance to fly over the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, Mana Waiapuna also known as the “Jurassic Park Falls’, got up close and personal with the Na Pali Coast and the Bali Hai Cliffs, which made me pinch myself a couple of times, what a sight! We also got a full tour of the different little towns and regions of the island. The Blue Hawaiian team were excellent tour guides and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Flying over the island just makes you appreciate nature that much more and makes you want to do anything in your power to conserve such beauty.

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3) Get food at Java Kai. Located on the east side of Kauai, in the historic Kapaa town, this local hotspot is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch or a mid-day snack. All of their food is homemade from scratch. Their menu is filled with local specialties, healthy and vegetarian treats and colorful bites. There’s also a great community vibe at the shop making you want to come back again and again. I’m secretly hoping they’ll open up other locations in the US or Canada in the near future.

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4) Go horseback riding at Silver Falls Ranch. One of the best ways to explore the garden island is by horse. The Silver Falls Ranch offers unique horseback riding excursions that allow you to explore the pristine scenery of the island. Led by informative and professional guides, these half-day excursions allow you to fully explore local nature, wildlife while also making a stop at a beautiful waterfall for a swim and a Hawaiian lunch. The groups are small and the horses are all exceptionally well trained. My horse “Ohia”, named after a beautiful local tree was such a joy to ride with. It’s a great way to venture off into areas of the island you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

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5) Visit the Koloa Rum Company. If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary while in Kauai, head over to the Koloa Rum Company in Lihue. The rum company is located on the former Kilohana Plantation. In addition to being able to visit the plantation via train and by foot, you can also go for complimentary tastings that are offered every half-hour starting at 10 am daily. Koloa Rum produces single-batch Hawaiian rum with locally sourced ingredients at their distillery located near the town of Kalaheo. The rum is distilled twice using their vintage 1,210-gallon copper-pot still with a copper column and condenser. Their goal is to produce quality products while using sustainable practices and while also preserving the open agricultural space of the island. They first started producing rum in 2009 and have since won many international competitions and awards for the delicious rum they produce. From coffee to coconut, pineapple and sugar, the different flavoured rums are sure to please everyone.

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Salvation Mountain

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I have seen a lot of photos of Salvation Mountain but didn’t know very much about this place until I went for a visit two weeks ago while in the Palm Springs area. It was a little bit of a journey to find the monument but it was well worth the trouble.

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Immediately when I got to the area I was bewildered by the beautiful bright colors of the place. Luckily, as we were walking around, the resident “Salvation Mountain Man”, a very nice man who lives right beside the beautiful artwork gave us tons of information about the monument itself.

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This visionary artwork was created from straw and gallons of lead-free paint by local resident Leonard Knight, who passed away in 2014. The murals and painted hill depicts Christian sayings and Bible verses and though I am not a religious person, I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the positive vibes that the area radiated. This section below especially rang true to me… Love IS Universal!

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Since the death of Leonard Knight, the “Salvation Mountain Man” has gotten the help of the local Slab City community and anyone who is willing to lend a hand and donations to keep the monument freshly painted and in good condition. Several times a year he even organizes special painting events and invites people to come out and lend a hand in exchange for a beautiful sunset, great conversations and good times. You can check him out on Instagram here.

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Reef Rover HI LX (get them here), Jesus Gets The Girl Aqua Dip Dye Unisex Beach Punk T-Shirt (get it here).