Ask a local what to do on Canada’s West Coast and they’ll rattle off a few tourist traps. Ask them what locals do and they’ll probably give you the name of a great pub.
It’s not intentional, it’s the same thing you might’ve experienced the last time someone asked you what your favourite movie is. That strange moment when suddenly you cannot remember ever having seen a movie, and if you can, you certainly don’t remember what it was called.
That can make finding an authentic experience a nightmare, but no longer! Here are three ways to enjoy British Columbia (that locals forgot to tell you about!):
Vancouver: Nooner at the Nat
Vancouver is a gorgeous city known for its art and film scene, so you might be forgiven for not knowing that the hottest deal in town is a ticket to a minor league baseball game.
Visit Vancouver in the Summer to discover the absolute joy of a “Nooner at the Nat”.
Nat Bailey Stadium is the home field of minor league team baseball team, the Vancouver Canadians. The Canadians are a farm team for major leagues Toronto Blue Jays and a staple of Vancouver’s sporting community.
In terms of the actual baseball, the Canadians are an alright team. But you don’t go to a Nooner for baseball. It’s all about the crowd.
Without the pressure of major league consequences, a Nooner game is cheerful, relaxed event with just enough competition to keep it interesting. The ‘Nooner’ nickname comes from the tendency of hardworking Vancouverites to duck out of work early to get to the game-only to be caught out by their boss when the game is televised.
The atmosphere is casual and friendly, so if you tell the person next to you that you’re from out-of-town, you’re likely to end up with a new best friend excitedly explaining the game over a beer and a hotdog.
Nooner tickets are a hot commodity in the Summer season, games tend to sell out so getting your ticket ahead of time is essential.
After the game, take the Canada Line back into the city and then hop the number 2 bus to the uber-hip Kitsilano (Kitts) neighbourhood for a craft beer or a walk along the Sea Wall where you’ll meet plenty of locals (and their dogs!) out for a stroll.
Victoria: Cook Street Village
A 3-hour ferry ride will take you to Vancouver Island and to the Capital of British Columbia, Victoria. Whilst there is a central district with some great history and shopping, if you’re looking for something a little more off the well-worn path, take a 15-minute walk to Cook Street village for a real local experience.
Grab a coffee and take a stroll through Beacon Hill Park. You can cross the park in 10 minutes easily, but why would you want to? The park is home to winding trails, ducks and deer, so you’re likely to want to take your time. After, head on back to the village and stop by the local staple, legendary Irish pub, The Beagle.
The Beagle’s website will not tell you how long it’s existed or how loved it is, just what’s on tap and what’s on the menu (in that order). That local you asked where to go before? The one who could only remember the name of one pub? This is the pub. If you’re looking for the locals, you’ll find them at 301 Cook Street, they’ll be happy to have you.
Finally, before you head back your hotel you shouldn’t leave Cook street without seeing a genuine historic landmark. Pic-a-Flic, is functioning, successful, DVD rental shop. Really. Where the Blockbusters of the world floundered, and died in the digital age, Pic-a-Flic innovated, hosting film viewings and events, keeping them afloat at a part of the Victorian local community. Whether you end up renting something or not, there’s something hopeful about the little rental shop that could, it’s worth a look-in.
Whistler: For the Warm Weather
Okay, so no one’s really a local at Whistler, but as an Aussie, you’ll feel right at home. Seriously, every other person working at Whistler is an Australian. There is one thing locals will tell you about Whistler that you mightn’t expect; go when it’s warm.
Sure, if you’re seeking out the slopes or looking for a white Christmas, Whistler is second-to-none. But if you’re not a snow-bunny, Spring, Summer and Fall (Autumn) on the peaks is unmissable.
Take the Peak-2-Peak glass-bottomed gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb to get a stunning view of the mountains. Both Peaks have a range of hiking trails (colour coordinated by difficulty) the shortest of which you can walk in half an hour.
Warmer months will also find mountain biking a popular past time, with special events and competitions dotting the calendar. You can also swing by the Whistler Farmer’s Market where great local food vendors sell their product for a good cause, a portion of the revenue goes to the Whistler Food Bank.
When you’re all tuckered out, take the chairlift back down to Whistler village (you might even spot a bear in the forest below!) and grab dinner at the local darling, Caramba.
So next time you’re contemplating Canada, leave your ‘toque’ (aka your beanie) at home and get ready for the warmer side of the Great White North.
If you’d like help planning your trip, whether it be Canada or somewhere just as exciting, we’d be delighted to have a chat about your travel dreams and tailor you the right itinerary. You can give us a call on (02) 6041 5577, call into the office at 601 Dean Street, Albury or book an appointment with one of our expert travel agents via the form below.
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