The Perfect Adventure-filled Vacation in British Columbia
Let’s be honest: Canada is on a bit of a hot streak right now. The country has an energetic new Prime Minster in Justin Trudeau, and it’s leading the way in terms of climate change research, globally. Canada is also welcoming more travelers than ever to urban centers like Montreal, Quebec City, and Calgary, thanks to their state-of-the-art museums, standout food scenes, and new boutique hotels. Then, there are Canada’s spectacular national parks — Banff, Jasper, Pacific Rim — all gorgeous and easily accessible to American visitors.
For all these reasons and more, Travel + Leisure editors recently named Canada as destination of the year. And now, you can experience the highlights of British Columbia, one of the most picturesque provinces, through our bookable trip program with Butterfield and Robinson. You’ll bike and taste your way through the thriving city of Vancouver before heading up to the ski-resort town of Whistler, your base for explorations out into the country.
This region is home to a lush rainforest and towering peaks, dominated by some of the largest glaciers in North America. You’ll hike alpine ridges, and, as part of the itinerary, stop for a special picnic lunch near the Joffre Lakes. Our editors have chosen this setting for its remarkable (and very Instagram-friendly) views over the aquamarine waters.
Read on for the full day-by-day itinerary, and contact Butterfield and Robinson should you want to book or learn more about our trip program. From $6,495 per person, based upon two people traveling.
Welcome to Vancouver! Upon arrival, we have arranged for you to spend the night at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in the heart of the city. Here, you are surrounded by countless dinner options and shopping, all just a short walk from the busy harbor. For your first night in town, check out T+L’s comprehensive guide to Vancouver for ideas on where to go and what to do.
Stay: The 367-room Fairmont Pacific Rim is a luxe base in the heart of downtown Vancouver; it also boasts an 8,500 square foot Willow Stream spa, and sweeping views of Stanley Park, the North Shore Mountains, and Coal Harbor. You’ll be here for two nights.
There’s no better way to explore this beautiful city than by bicycle. Today after breakfast, you’ll pedal through Coal Harbor and Stanley Park, the city’s 405-hectare wilderness of giant cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir. You’ll also get acquainted with Vancouver locals’ most beloved landmark — Stanley Park Seawall, the curving paved northwestern edge of the city that, given its accessibility, will have you feeling like a local yourself in no time. Ride on designated city bike lanes to Granville Island, Vancouver’s local market for fresh fish, vegetables, and other fine foods, as well as a number of merchants ranging from bookshops to art galleries. Refuel with a delicious lunch and then enjoy some time exploring the market itself. Ride back to the hotel later in the day for some downtime before heading out to dinner in the historic Gastown district.
Enjoy a leisurely morning at the Fairmont before making the trip north on the beautiful Sea to Sky highway to Squamish, sitting at the top of Howe Sound. Head up the Sea to Sky Gondola and begin your hike deep into the mountains, weaving your way through old-growth forests, ancient glacial formations, and past waterfalls, all the while overlooking the Sound below. Once back at the ocean's edge, you will continue north past the dramatic Tantalus Icefield and further to the charming village of Whistler. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel, the Four Seasons Whistler, and get comfortable for the evening. For suggestions on where to dine and shop, check out Travel + Leisure’s editor curated guide to Whistler.
Stay: A World’s Best winner, the rustic-luxe, family-friendly Four Seasons Whistler plays off of its mountain setting by using plenty of timber, stone, and glass materials throughout the property. You will be here for four nights, so be sure to take advantage of the spa and the on-site restaurants.
Today, you will explore the region by bike. Riding from the village, you will spend the morning on the Valley Trail network, a combination of paved pathways and crushed gravel trails that connect the local lakes. With route options to match all abilities, the biking in Whistler is sure to impress. For the afternoon, you can continue your ride onto further trail networks or you may choose to head back and explore the village or relax with a spa treatment. This evening, ask your guide for suggestions on a great place to dine — there are many in Whistler.
Departing from Whistler, you will drive north to the remote hiking trails of Joffre Lakes. Your route leads you up the valley past three aquamarine alpine lakes fed by the massive glaciers resting above. Our editors love this setting, which is why we’ve picked this location for your lunch. You’ll be completely in awe of the towering Stonecrop and Tzsil glaciers that surround you. This is truly a unique experience — being so close to the massive glaciers as they slowly melt into the lakes beside you is something to cherish for generations. Spend the evening enjoying the Four Seasons amenities and dinner on your own in town.
Today, you will ride the gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain and hike along the beautiful alpine trails overlooking the entire valley below. This afternoon, you’ll enjoy a picnic lunch with a view of the many lakes that cover the valley floor and the imposing Coast Range glaciers. Complete the alpine loop with a ride across the Sea to Sky Gondola to Blackcomb Mountain and then descend to explore the Village shops or visit the spa in the late afternoon. Tonight, enjoy your final dinner in town and toast to a fantastic week.
Enjoy your final morning in Whistler before packing up and heading to Vancouver. On the journey back, you can stop for a short mountain lake hike to stretch your legs before continuing south. Upon reaching Vancouver, your guides will drop you off at your hotel or at the airport, depending on your travel plans. Safe journey!