With 10 major mountain ranges and as Canada’s westernmost province bordered by the Pacific Ocean, British Columbia is known for its breathtaking views and seemingly endless outdoor options that are sure to connect you with nature. With over 27,000 km of coastline, more than 864 vineyards and over one million birds that use the Pacific Flyway (a migratory path that ranges from Alaska to Patagonia and crosses BC), it certainly lives up to its provincial motto “splendor without diminishment.”
Here are a few not-so-common attractions that will wow you!
Free Spirit Spheres
If you love nature, and we mean really love nature then you need to experience the Free Spirit Spheres. Within the canopy of the coastal rainforest of Vancouver Island you’ll find “Eve“, “Eryn” and “Melody” suspended like giant tree nuts waiting to be discovered by the adventurous traveler. These quirky and unique spherical treehouses invite you to re-connect with nature where you can be lulled to sleep by the gentle sway of the trees and night-time forest sounds, while reducing your eco-footprint to near zero. Utilizing bio-mimicry design features like a web of rope for suspension allowing you to nestle among the tree-tops, while the nut-shaped orb helps them to blend into the surroundings, the Free Spirit Spheres are the perfect setting to meditate and commune with nature from an entirely new vantage point.
Faerie Village of Redwood Park
Nothing can prepare you for the humbling experience of standing amongst the soaring Sierra Redwoods of Surrey’s Redwood Park. Home to the largest stand of Redwood trees north of the 49th parallel, some of its majestic giants can reach heights of over 300 feet. But if you’re not careful, while gazing upward at the tree-tops you might just miss the colourful and tiny faerie village waiting to be discovered at your feet on the forest floor.
While strolling along the trails that lead to the west side of the park, pay close attention and you’ll be treated to the wondrous site of dozens of oh-so-sweet and whimsical pint-sized houses perched on fallen logs. This colourful art installation of tiny abodes known as the Faerie Village of Redwood Park range from very intricate and detailed to sweetly simple. Some have been created by children and others by local young-at-heart residents, but all embody the magic of imagination and wonder.
You’ll find the faerie village down the main trail if you head north at the T-intersection on the northwest edge of the park.
On A Rainy or Cold Day
We know that when you think of British Columbia, you think of nature and outdoor adventure. But if you’re a fair-weather explorer, there are lots of great options that will keep you dry and warm. Why not tour the Beaty Biodiversity Museum where you can explore over two million plant and animal specimens, including a blue whale skeleton that measures over 26 metres! Or why not turn your eyes to the stars and visit the BC Institute of Technology Planetarium, which has housed a 77-seat planetarium since 1964 and is now open as a community resource. And if you have enough time, why not sign up for a general interest astronomy course that make use of the planetarium.
If you’re looking for a bit of fun in the evening you’ll have a wide range of nightclubs to choose from, or perhaps a little Karaoke is more your style. Or if you’re feeling lucky you can always enjoy the table games or slot machines at one of the province’s 36 casinos and gaming centres, such as the Hard Rock Casino in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam (pictured below)…but maybe first find somewhere to practice online at Lion Casinos to refresh your skills.
RAPS Cat Sanctuary
The Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS) has been lovingly referred to as the “Club Med” for felines. If you’re a cat-lover or an animal-lover in general, you need to experience this for yourself. Now one of the largest cat sanctuaries in North America, it is the forever home for hundreds of abandoned, surrendered or feral cats and kittens. RAPS is a registered charity that relies on donations and the help of approximately 200 volunteers committed to creating a loving, clean and comfortable environment for each and every furry resident. They believe “every life is precious and every animal—not only the young, the healthy, the attractive and the docile—deserves a chance to be safe, healthy and loved.” Aww! You can visit the sanctuary on Sundays from 1-4pm and they welcome wet and dry food. Be sure to check the website first as there are some visitor restrictions.
The Butchart Gardens
What began as a limestone quarry and a dream of a sunken garden in its place, is now a National Historic Site of Canada. Originally from Ontario, Robert and Jennie Butchart moved to Vancouver Island to build a cement plant on a rich limestone deposit at Tod Inlet. Once the quarry was depleted in 1909, Jennie spearheaded the transformation of the property into what has now become The Butchart Gardens. Over 100 years in the making, it has blossomed into 900 varieties of plants and 29 greenhouses across its 55 acres of land.
As you wander through the millions of bedding plants in the gardens you’ll find remnants of the original cement plant as you enjoy the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden (built over their tennis court), and the fragrant and overflowing Rose Garden, which are now illuminated at night so you can enjoy a stunning evening stroll.