This last summer, I made a big effort to introduce a healthy and life-affirming work life balance into my life. I made the decision that this summer was going to be as much about play as work, and that as much as possible I would step away from my studio and spend some quality time with my husband, my family, and the biggest inspiration for my designs… the beautiful outdoors.
Here are 14 places I visited this summer, and absolutely loved (complete with food, hiking, and shopping recommendations).
This summer was only my second time visiting Powell River, and it has quickly become one of my favourite places to go in BC. The first time, I flew over. The second time, I drove and enjoyed the scenic route along the way.
With reasonably priced hotels and some pretty great camping options, this is a great place to visit. Two highlights from this trip: The Townsite Brewery and The Sunshine Coast Trail.
Where to Walk:
The Sunshine Coast trail is “Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail, stretching over 180km of beautiful landscapes, from coastal shorelines, along creeks and lakes, through old growth forests to panoramic mountaintops. It provides hikers with the opportunity to experience Powell River’s breathtaking backcountry with its rich fauna and flora… If you aren’t ready to tackle the whole trail, there are many access points allowing hikers to complete one leg of the trail.” (source)
We did the Appleton Canyon leg of the trail. It’s 2.1 km long, and you’ll pass by a whole series of waterfalls, including the incredibly breathtaking Sylph & Gorge Falls. There’s also a swimming hole at the end of the trail by the Recreation centre to check out. Sunshine Coast Tourism calls this one of the most beautiful legs of the trail, and we definitely agree.
Want to gamify your Sunshine Coast Trail experience? You can get an SCT Passport for $5 and get stamps as you hike. Visit all 12 huts along the trail, and you’ll get entered into a draw to win some cool local prizes.
And check out this blog by 604now, about The Most Lush Hikes to Explore Along the Sunshine Coast Trail. Appleton Canyon makes the top of their list.
Where to Eat
“We are passionate about really great beer and frankly, we’re ecstatic that we get to make it in this amazing place along the shores of the Salish Sea. Cédric (our Brewer Engineer) is Belgian and if there is one thing Belgians know, it’s how to make really great beer; and he’s excited to bring some Belgian flair to the west coast.”
These next three are owned by a good friend of mine.
“Fresh Latin inspired cuisine (vegetarian/vegan) in a cozy traditional atmosphere amongst friends.”
“This fresh concept is inspired by Italian traditions of quality local ingredients & prepared with a modern taste. The menu is designed with sharing in mind! Arrivederci!”
“Enjoy a warm room with repurposed minimalist style. Highlighting the local industry in Powell River with a Redwood Cedar bar, Alder and Fir finishing, and a remarkable view of the Strait of Malaspina. We promise a relaxed dining experience that offers something unique to our local and out of town guests to ensure you enjoy a memorable food experience every time.”
If you’re coming from Vancouver, to get to Gibsons take the Langdale Ferry. It leaves from Horseshoe bay and takes you right to the Sunshine Coast. Gibsons will be one of the first towns you walk through.
I went to Gibsons this summer to watch my husband compete in a bike race, and was immediately struck by the strong sense of community we found there. There are also a lot of beautiful beaches.
Where to Eat:
Persephone Brewing is a famous brewery in Gibsons. I’ll let them tell you a bit more about themselves:
“Our farm consists of two hop yards, an apple orchard, market garden and flock of laying hens… All hops, apples and veggies on our farm are grown using only organic practices to minimize impacts to our land, soils and waters. The spent grain from the brewery is composted on site and used to build our farm’s soil fertility. The flock of chickens eat up food scraps from the food truck and lay eggs which you can buy through our Tasting Room or farm stand to support the Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living (who manage the flock).”
We had an opportunity to see the farm, and it was a very cool experience. You can actually see hops growing on the vine, just like grapes.
Another great place to check out is Lunitas Mexican Eatery. Their tamale is particularly good.
For the last several years, my studio has been a great haven for me. My studio mates and I have an amazing skylight, and access to the rooftop which has allowed for some nice sun breaks this summer. It has been a peaceful and motivating location to design new pieces and grow the Collective.
I also have some very exciting news. My two studio mates and I are opening up a retail shop in the first floor of our space. More details on this will be coming soon.
Now that I have a dog (@thegreat_elladog), I’m often taking her on a walks in the nearby parks.
My husband and I have been doing weekend get-a-ways to Seattle for awhile now, and we always have fun. The city is lively and beautiful, and always an exciting place to visit and explore. I also routinely make trips down to Seattle for their Renegade Craft Fair.
Where to Eat
I would travel 3 hours, just to have the mac and cheese at Plum Bistro. Chef Makini Howell is the woman behind the magic that is their menu. Her restaurants “honor the transformation that is occurring in the way we view food and our personal responsibility to our communities. She has created Plum Restaurants to answer the need for a complete, plant-based meals focused on organically-grown seasonal vegetables, non-GMO soy, and organic and local fruits and herbs from family-owned farms. Her cooking combines the familiar and surprising to delight diners with the best ingredients the earth provides.”
In Seattle’s Pike Place Market, I also recommend checking out The Crumpet Shop for breakfast. Watch them make their crumpets right in the window, and bite into them while their fresh. “
A Crumpet is not a mere food item, but an experience—prepared in a timely sequence and best enjoyed as fresh as possible. When a batch comes hot off the griddle it is racked to cool and ready for your order.”
Pair it with their chai tea with a memorable breakfast you won’t soon forget.
Even as a local Vancouverite, Granville Island is a place I’ve loved to visit since I was a kid. No matter how many times I’ve strolled through, I keep on stumbling upon new shops and spaces. In the summer, it’s particularly nice to sit by the water and listen to some of the live music played by a large variety of talented musicians who play in select spots around the Island.
I’m very grateful to have my pieces featured at on of the shops on Granville Island, called Dream Vancouver.
"Since 1993, Dream Apparel has been stocking the diverse creations of Vancouver fashion designers. In December 2008, Little Dream on Granville Island opened. From casual wear to avant garde one of a kind designs, Dream maintains a vision of a comprehensive venue for quality, well priced locally designed and made garments, jewellery and accessories. Handmade with love!"
Sooke is a quieter town in Vancouver Island. Right by the water, I love taking my dog there to explore the local beaches. My brother-in-law and his wife live there, so my husband and I visit as often as we can.
My husband and I often reminisce about the time we lived in Whistler for 8 months. If we could relocate, we probably would. But in the meantime, it’s a beautiful place to visit whenever we can.
In the summer, I almost always participate in the Whistler Farmer’s Market – The Whistler Farmers Market is a registered non profit society dedicated to the promotion of regionally produced foods, crafts and services.
Eight minutes north of Whistler village you’ll find Cougar mountain, which is one of my favourite places to hike. There are also treetop adventure tours around the mountain which look pretty exciting.
Where to Eat
Cates park is located in Burrard Inlet, just off of Dollarton Highway. It’s one of the rare beaches in North Vancouver that actually allows dogs, and it’s close to my house. I find myself there quite a bit, with Ella in tow. It’s also got a fantastic swimming hole.
Remember to always check the Water Advisory to make sure the water you’re dipping your toe in, is actually safe for swimming.
This is a beautiful crystal clear lake close to Earls Cove in the Sunshine Coast. My husband and I discovered it this past summer, and it is an absolute gem of a swimming hole. I’ve never before seen such crystal clear water on a lake in my life. Highly Recommend.
With about three hundred year-round residents the population swells in the heat of summer as visitors arrive to enjoy Lund's charm. Lund is the gateway to Desolation Sound Provincial Park, the Copeland Islands, Okeover Inlet, Savary Island, and the Sunshine Coast Trail. (source)
This cute little town has a variety of fun shops that are definitely worth checking out. One of my favourites is Pollen Sweaters, a famous wool clothing shop with some excellent quality sweaters. I bought a toque there awhile back that I adore, and that still keeps me warm.
Pollen Sweaters Inc. produces pure wool, machine knit, 100% washable itch-free sweaters, and they have been in business for the last 30 years. If you’re ever in the area, you seriously need to check them out.
The largest of BC’s Southern Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island has everything you could ask for in a location. Hiking, beautiful beaches and lakes, and a huge variety of artisan shops. On Saturdays, they host their famous farmer’s market. What’s so special about this market? In their own words:
“The homespun guarantee of course! Vendors must "make it, bake it, or grow it" themselves, and all products must be "vendor produced and sold". These simple mandates are the essence of our market. Visitors are treated to local creations stemming from Salt Spring's unique brand of "island ingenuity". The highest calibre of creativity and production standards make Salt Spring Island home to the greatest collection of artists in Canada.”
Just outside of Pemberton, there is a beautiful lake that my husband and I visit often. There is no cell reception at Downton Lake, and so when we go off on one of the forest service roads, we’re able to truly unplug, explore, and enjoy one another’s company.
This is known as a grizzly mating ground – we once came across paw tracks! The Downton Lake Dam is also pretty cool to see.
A stone’s throw away from my house, Deep Cove is a pretty popular location and I love stopping by. The Quarry Rock Hike has a stunning view at the end, and you’ll be in good company on its trails. It’s also not too strenuous a hike; just very enjoyable.
One of my favourite places to go is Honey Doughnuts and Goodies. But what I love most about Deep Cove, is its simplicity and beauty. It’s a great place to meander around with a loved one who you want to spend some time with.
One of the best things about this demonstration forest, is that you can ride your bike on the paved road all the way up to Seymour dam. You can even ride your bike on the trails. On a hot day, it’s also lovely to hike down to the Lynn Valley Creek and swim in some ice cold glacier water. Refreshing.
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For my very first backpacking trip, I connected with a good friend (and seasoned traveller) to explore Colombia. I was in University at the time, getting my degree in Biology. I hadn’t even started to consider a career as a jewelry designer, although looking back… I think this experience may have ignited a flame.