Not to brag, but I’m sort of known for my epic trip planning. I love to take the time to research and put together amazing itineraries for every trip I take, mostly so I can maximize my time away and ensure that I don’t miss out on anything. Plus, finding the best deals, always gives me a bit of a rush. Speaking of “deals”, I got an email from West Jet with a Canada Day seat sale that was so damn good, I couldn’t resist grabbing my best gal-pal and booking my next vacation. I was able to scoop up round trip airfare from Toronto to Vancouver for only $290 cdn taxes in!! (Which is absolutely unheard of, usually flights out west are $1000+).
There’s SO much to do in British Columbia that I actually had a hard time narrowing down all the activities and places we wanted to visit, but I was able to put together what I think was the perfect West Coast girls trip. We were really able to cram A LOT in, in a short amount of time, which is usually my ultimate goal. After receiving a few DM’s on Instagram asking about my itinerary, I wanted to share it with all of you in case you plan on taking advantage of these super-low flights (FYI – they’re still on sale – click here to pick your dates).
✈️ Travel Tip: I always like to arrive at my destination as early in the day as possible, and depart later in the evening in order to maximize my time, so I try to pick my flight times accordingly.
What to pack:
Packing for Vancouver is hella challenging. And if you’re one of those people who only pack a carry-on, just get that out of your head right now because it ain’t happening. The weather on the West Coast can change on a dime. It can be sunny and 25 (rare) one minute, to rain and freezing (a majority of the time) the next. Sometimes even in a span of one day, you can experience multiple weather patterns and temperatures, especially if you plan on doing some road tripping. Also, the overall vibe in BC is very laid back and chill, so leave your “cocktail attire” at home.
Click on the images below to shop my West-Coast Fashion Favs!
- Rain boots
- Runners or trail shoes
- Comfortable walking shoes (ie. Converse)
Suggested Clothing & Accessories:
- Leggings (If you think you packed enough leggings, toss in one or two more pairs for good measure. In BC, Lulu’s are commonly worn on hikes, and then straight out for dinner and drinks.
- Jeans x 2
- Packable Rain Coat
- Sports bra
- Denim Jacket
- A toque
- Wide brim wool hat
- Crossbody purse
- Large carry-on (trust me, you’ll need the extra space LOL)
- Pullover Fleece (ideal for cold-weather hikes)
- A casual dress (only if you’re planning a wine tour or something that requires some extra effort, you know, like a wedding! lol)
✈️ Travel Tip: You will need to pay for parking everywhere you go, but it is fairly easy to get around and find suitable parking throughout Vancouver, Whistler and the Okanagan. If you only take one tip away from this entire post, this would be it. You will need multiple parking mobile apps throughout your trip, so I suggest you download them all and link your credit card in advance to save time. Here’s a list of the most common parking apps that we used:
Arrival Time in Vancouver: 11:30 a.m. – we gained three hours because of the time change and ended up having the whole day when we landed – score! We rented a car for this trip because we planned on doing a lot of driving, and road-tripping. We booked a mid-sized SUV through Rent-a-Car Vancouver and saved a butt-ton of money, compared to other rental companies (I’m talking less than half the price!). Their pick-up process was a bit hectic and they require a hefty pre-authorized deposit of $1000, so leave some space on your credit card to cover it.
Road trip to Whistler We decided to drive straight to Whistler, so we could spend the afternoon and evening exploring the village. We treated ourselves to a swanky hotel since we were only spending one night there, and I don’t regret a single penny of that splurge. We stayed at the Four Seasons Whistler, and let me tell you, they treat their guests like royalty. Valet parking, free daily wine tastings in the lobby, stunning mountain views from every room, gorgeous outdoor heated pool and spa, and even a complimentary car service to take you to and from the village. Boujee AF.
Road trip to Vancouver Before we officially hit the road, we took a morning stroll through the village for breakfast and a coffee, and then made a quick pit stop at Green Lake, which was absolutely stunning. After taking a million selfies for the Gram with the turquoise water backdrop, we finally made our way to Vancouver.
Luckily, we were able to crash on a friend’s couch for two nights, which was obviously cost-effective but also humbling after lapping ourselves in luxury at the Four Seasons! LOL But, it did bring me back to a time when having slumber parties and sharing a bed with my girlfriends was a regular occurrence, and I loved every minute of it. We spent the evening brewery hopping some of Vancouver’s best brewpubs, but our favourite by far was Parallel 49. Amazing atmosphere, great beer (or so I’m told – I don’t drink beer lol), and amazing pub fare served up from the food truck located INSIDE of the bar. Yes, I said INSIDE the bar.
Exploring Vancouver We had planned to do a hike, but since the weather wasn’t cooperating, we decided to hop in the car and do a self-guided rainy-day tour of Stanley Park, Grandville Island, Yaletown (basically just to go to The Cross Design – the most beautiful home decor and gift store in Vancouver), and Gastown. The nice thing about Vancouver is that everything is within a 10-minute drive of each other, and it’s very easy to get around the city, unlike cities like Toronto that can get extremely congested with pedestrians and traffic.
✈️ Travel Tip: If you plan a trip to Granville Island (and you absolutely SHOULD), be sure to grab a box of Lee’s Donuts located just inside the market. When we saw literally everyone walking around with a bright yellow box, and saw a giant line-up around the side of the building, we just knew we needed to try these donuts. And we were right. Yum.
After several recommendations from Vancouver locals, we treated ourselves to dinner at Via Tevere Pizzeria. By far the best pizza, and salad (this salad literally haunts my dreams) that I’ve ever had. Via Tevere is even AVPN certified, which ensures and protects the authenticity and traditional cooking method of true Neapolitan pizza. Basically, this shit is the real deal.
Road trip to Kelowna Kelowna has been on my bucket list for quite a while, and just so happens to be the home to one of my favourite people on the planet, Jillian Harris (more about miss Harris, later in this post). Everyone thought we were crazy to add this to our trip since Kelowna is quite the trek from Vancouver (4.5 hours by car), but honestly, the drive was almost the best part! We got to see so many beautiful sights along the way, and also witnessed the devastating aftermath of some of the recent forest fires in the area. We decided to break up the drive a little bit and plan a hike at the halfway point. We ended up making a pit stop at Coquihalla Provincial Park to hike to Othello Tunnels. There are two trailheads to access the tunnels, a 3.5 km easy hike that takes you directly to the tunnels, and a 6 km loop (mostly uphill – you’ve been warned), if you’re looking for an extra challenge and absolutely STUNNING views of the canyon.
We stayed at The Prestige Beach House downtown Kelowna, which was ideally located to the waterfront but wasn’t in the best part of town. But, we saved a few bucks staying there, the hotel was clean, and the parking was easy-breezy, but we did say that we’d probably spring for the Delta if we were to do it all over again.
✈️ Travel Tip: Be sure to watch the weather if you’re planning a trip on the Coquihalla HWY. Weather patterns can be extreme and ever-changing. Temperatures can even drop as much as 10 degrees from one rest stop to the next. Speaking of rest stops, there aren’t many, so be sure to map them out and bring extra car snacks to keep you going.
Wine Tour in Kelowna You can’t go to the Okanagan without hitting up some wineries. We booked a full-day tour with Metropolis Wine Tours in Kelowna. Our driver, Tracy was so insightful about the region and even offered to snap our Insta photos for us all day long (worth the price right there!) We visited the following wineries on our tour:
🍷 Mission Hill – stunningly beautiful, total Italian vineyard vibes, and the sit-down tasting was by far the best of the day.
🍷 Quail’s Gate – amazing atmosphere, great wine, and INCREDIBLE food. We had the most amazing lunch at Quail’s.
🍷 Frind – what makes a great winery even better? A BEACH! Enjoy your glass of wine at the only beachfront winery in the region.
🍷 Mt Boucherie – enjoy your tasting overlooking the Okanagan Lake and be sure to stop at the iconic Fruit Stand on the way out for some amazing photos. This spot was actually featured in Jillian and Tori’s Cookbook photoshoot, Fraiche Food, Full Hearts.
🍷 Rollingdale – family-owned, organic wines, and the only winery I purchased bottles from during our tour! (Ok, it helped that the winemaker was also easy on the eyes😍)
I must say that although the West Kelowna wineries are beautiful, the highlight of the entire day was running into the one and only Miss. Jillian Harris…..at her house no less (no big deal). To be honest, it was cool enough just to catch of glimpse of her black and white striped awnings and gorgeous pastel pumpkin-lined front porch, but to actually be able to stop and chat with her for a few minutes was so much fun. Not only was she so sweet and gracious enough to stop and chat, but she also let us snap a few photos with her. God. Bless. Jill. ❤️
Last Day in Kelowna & Road trip to North Van It was a grey day in Kelowna, the perfect day to make the long four-and-a-half-hour trek back to Vancouver. But first, we hit up Bernard Street for a little shopping, did a drive-by Team Jilly Headquarters on Osprey Avenue and after several recommendations from multiple people, we spent part of the afternoon at Kangaroo Creek Farm. This place was so incredible. You’ll feel like you’ve been teleported down under and everywhere you turn, you’re surrounded by adorable kangaroos, wallabies, goats, emu’s, bunnies, and more! Anyone who knows me can tell you that being around animals of any kind is quite literally my version of heaven, and for the super reasonable admission price of just $12, this place was beyond my expectations. Definitely add this to your list!
North Van & Squamish, BC We decided to stay in North Van for the last few nights of our time out west, just to be closer to a few of the sights on the list for the tail-end of our trip. The Holiday Inn North Vancouver was the perfect spot, close to the highway, and really quite comfortable.
The weather was less than ideal on day seven (they don’t call it RAINcouver for anything!) but we still managed to fit in a few activities, including a trip up the Gondola on Grouse Mountain, which was included in our hotel stay. It was too foggy to see anything, but when we got to the top, we were greeted by a family of wild deer and the two amazing grizzly bears that live in the habitat up there.
We ended up spending the afternoon in Squamish, and I have to admit, I fell in LOVE with it there. The views, the vibes, the food, all of it. On the topic of food, if there’s one place that I consider an absolute MUST from this entire itinerary, it’s to plan a trip to Sunny Chibas Mexican Cantina and Fried Chicken (yes, you read that right.) This amazing restaurant is serving up incredible, authentic Mexican / Fried Chicken fusion that literally doesn’t exist anywhere else (believe me, we looked, and apparently I’m also Guy Fieri now LOL). Order the Chiba Fries, (which are french fries topped with taco meat, gravy, their signature chiba sauce, pico & crema – YUM) and never look back! If I could franchise this place, I would (and still might!)
Later that night, back in North Van, we stumbled upon this amazing brewery called, Wildeye Brewing, which ended up having dueling pianos, which was a total blast.
Last Day in Vancouver *Sigh. I wasn’t ready to leave (and may or may not have looked up a few potential jobs and apartments in the area LOL), and since the weather was finally cooperating, we got up SUPER early in the morning to make the trip back to Squamish to ride the Sea to Sky Gondola and walk the suspension bridge. All I can say is, wow. This is an absolute must-do tourist attraction, for the photo opts alone! We were there right when they opened and were the first ride up the hill. I would highly suggest going first thing in the morning to avoid over-crowding. I’ve visited Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on a previous trip, and although that park is also beautiful (especially in the wintertime at night all lit up), if I had to choose between the two, I would pick Sea to Sky all day long. There are so many different trails and beautiful lookouts when you reach the top, and the suspension bridge kicks Capilano’s bridges’ ass! (If heights aren’t your thing, you may want to skip that part.)
There is so much to see and do on the West Coast, I still have so many things on my travel bucket list left to check off (a trip to the island will be definitely on the agenda next time.) Hope you find this helpful if you have an upcoming trip out West planned. (DOWNLOAD MY FULL ITINERARY HERE)
Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you want any more info about hotels, restaurants, or things to do, I’m always happy to share my honest reviews and experiences.
Bon Voyage! xo