5 Inexpensive Weekend Summer Excursions From Vancouver

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Bowen Island Kayaking

1. Twin Island Kayaking Trip                                         

If you are on a conservative budget and crave a cool adventure then head to Deep Cove for an overnight kayaking trip. Deep Cove Outdoors offers kayaks for $138 for a full two days. The Twin Islands are located approximately five-km from Deep Cove and can be reached easily in under two hours. The North Island has a designated camping area with no camping fees while the South Island is for day use only. Be sure to bring a camp stove for cooking and water for drinking as there is no drinking water available on the islands and fires are not permitted.

A longer trip would be to head further North to Granite Falls about 18-km (6 hours) from Deep Cove, here there is access to drinking water and is a good option if North Island is full.

2. Seattle Mariners Overnight Trip

You need not break the bank to enjoy Seattle, Mariners tickets are available for close to $27 USD, sure they are nosebleed seats, regardless, grab a beer and enjoy the game. There are many inexpensive accommodation options, such as The Moore Hotel– don’t go with an expectation for a five star luxury stay, however, it is located near major attractions and does provide a fun atmosphere.

The Pike Place Market is a great spot, checkout the famous fish market and watch as the men toss huge fish back and forth as they take an order. If you’re craving some java and are addicted to Starbucks like many, the original Starbucks is near and dear.

As a true Vancouverite frequents brunch spots in town often, for a really great brunch in Seattle head to Lola located in Hotel Andra – another great spot to stay but not as cheap.

3. Bowen Island Day Trip

A quick ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay or a water taxi from Granville Island offered by companies, such as English Bay Launch, Bowen Island offers a surprising amount of activities.

Hiking to Dorman Point provides a great view of Whytecliffe Park in West Vancouver and is an easy hike from the Ferry taking only 1.5 hours return. Look for the Snug Cove Picnic Area and head up Government Road to find the entrance.

Killarney Lake is a beautiful hidden lake on Bowen Island, offering a very nice trail that loops around the lake. The trail will take roughly 45 minutes and is a good option for the leisure hiker. To get there, head straight along the main road from the ferry and turn right on Cardena Road. Not too long after, you will find a sign for Crippen Regional Park, follow the trail and keep heading straight.  Eventually you will come across Miller Road, and when you do – keep going straight – you will now be on a path called Hatchery Trail. When you come across an open meadow – you are not lost, again keep walking straight until you reach a wooden bridge leading to an intersection when you will want to take a left. When you get to a fork in to road – take another left and the lake will be visible. To loop around the lake, take a left at the gravel road and a sharp right onto the trail and voila!

Mount Gardner is another option for a more challenging hike. As you follow the path along Killarney lake, look for a steep trail on your left, follow it to the street and turn right, walk along the road until you approach Hikers Trail Road on your left. Follow Hikers Trail Road uphill until you see the start of the Mount Gardner Trail.

Bowen Island Sea Kayaking, located in Snug Harbour offers stand up paddle boards for $25 for a two hour rental or a single kayak for $45 for a three hour rental. The team is very helpful and can point you in the right direction for a nice paddle around the island.

Do you love chocolate? Coco West Chocolatier offers delicious hand crafted chocolates, espresso and ice cream. On hot a day, try ordering a shot of espresso over ice cream – it is delicious!

4. Naramata Bench Vineyards and Kettle Valley Trail

Great for foodies and winos alike, Naramata is an easy drive from Vancouver and is home to a selection of B.C. wineries including; 3 Mile Estate, Bench 1775, Black Widow, D’Angelo Estate, Elephant Island, Hillside, Howling Bluff, Kettle Valley, La Frenz, Lake Breeze, Lang, Laughing Stock, Misconduct, Monster, Moraine Estate, Poplar Grove, Red Rooster, Serendipity, Terravista, Therapy, Township 7, Upper Bench and Van Westen. Nominate a driver in your group and visit them all!

Some wineries offer free tastings, others have small fees and some are free only with the purchase of a bottle of wine. A suggestion would be to budget for a case of wine among your group – it is very easy to purchase more bottles than anticipated.

There are many options for accommodation, such as vineyard guest houses that can be a little on the pricier side or quaint B&Bs that are very reasonably priced if you are trying to keep the costs down and allow for extra spending money. Many places offer outdoor seating areas with spectacular views of the valley, great for sipping on wine and relaxing after a busy day.

Local and organic ingredients are featured at most of the restaurants and cafés located throughout the area. Many wineries operate bistros or restaurants, often a great spot for a glass of wine, however, the food menu tends to be quite pricey. Penticton is a short drive away, with a variety of inexpensive dining options, that being said, it is definitely worth dining at a winery at least once during your stay.

The Kettle Valley Railway (KVR), is an old railway that was built between 1910 -1915 and was last used for freight in 1989.  Over 450 kilometers from Midway to Hope, the KVR is now open to cyclists to ride along, crossing over bridges and through tunnels. The entire trail can be covered over several days stopping at lodges or campgrounds along the way.

For a weekend trip, there are many different route options varying in distance and if you don’t have a bike, rentals are available in Penticton such as Okanagan Bike Rental. Local companies, such as Ambrosia Tours, offer shuttle services to Chute Lake, Kelowna or Myra Canyon allowing you to ride back to Penticton with amazing views of the area and stops at wineries on your way.

5. Ruckle Provincial Park Camping

Ten kilometers from Fulford Habour on Salt Spring Island, Ruckle Provincial Park offers an abundance of natural beauty that is sure to keep you busy exploring.

Leave your vehicle at the parking lot and take a five minute walk or bike ride through the grounds to the walk-in only sites. The park runs along the coast with amazing ocean views and provides opportunities for viewing killer whales, sea lions, mink, otters and really cool phosphorescence at night!

Activities to keep you busy include hiking the local trails, cycling around the island, scuba diving the underwater caves, swimming with the phosphorescence, kayaking  around the coast, wildlife viewing and visiting the village of Ganges, home to the famous and original Saltspring Coffee.

Written and researched by Roxanne Le-Goff, a columnist at Vancity Buzz. Connect with Roxanne on Twitter @RovingRoxy.

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