Road Trip Recap: Canadian Leg

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Hi guys! As you may know, I just wrapped up a road trip across Canada (well, to the west coast from Ontario anyways). I thought it would be fun to give you a snapshot of some of the things my husband and I did as well as share some pictures. We drove home through the United States so I’ll be posting that leg of the road trip separately.

Day 1: Drive to Brandon, MB

Our first day on our road trip was spent driving to Brandon, Manitoba. We opted to drive a bit longer as opposed to going to Winnipeg to maximize our days and decrease the driving time to Calgary. This drive was approximately 9.5 hours. Once we arrived we set up our tent at Turtle Crossing and went for appetizers at Joe Beeverz. Literally the most “Canadian” place I have ever been. Saw a big sign advertising Coleman Hell performing in Brandon which was pretty cool. Always great to see him doing well!

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Our camping set-up… and my husband’s “practical camping vehicle”

Day 2: Drive to Calgary, AB

Next up was the longest drive for the Canadian leg of our trip to Calgary, Alberta. This was approximately 10.5 hours. We did stop in Regina, Saskatchewan so that we didn’t totally by-pass the province. We spent an hour exploring the Wascana Centre Park.

Wascana-Centre-Park-Regina-Saskatchewan

Once we were back on the road we drove straight to Calgary minus one stop to refuel our Tim Hortons supply. I never sleep in the car but… driving through the prairies is a bit uneventful. I partook in a nap or two during this drive.

Once we arrived in Calgary we checked in at our hotel and headed off to the Calgary Tower to enjoy the view from the observation deck and enjoy a lovely dinner in the revolving restaurant. Note to self: revolving restaurant = slight motion illness. Dinner was delicious though!

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View from the Calgary Tower
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Sitting on the glass floor on the Observation Deck of the Calgary Tower!

Day 3: Calgary Zoo & Banff, AB

We stayed in Calgary for a short while to explore the Calgary Zoo. It’s a very nice zoo and one of the highlights was watching Tiger Training! I enjoyed the indoor exhibits as it was very cold that morning.

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After that it was time to head to Banff, Alberta! This was one of the parts of the trip we were both really looking forward to. The mountains and just the scenery in general is breathtaking. If you haven’t been to Banff, I highly recommend it.

Once we got there we set up camp at the Johnston Canyon Campground and headed into town for dinner. We enjoyed a yummy steak dinner at the Saltik Steakhouse and then went up the gondola to get an amazing view of the area. Simply breathtaking. After that we went to the Banff Upper Hot Springs to take a quick dip and relax before heading back to camp to sleep.

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View of Banff from the top of where the Gondola takes you

Day 4: Johnston Canyon & Lake Louise

We started our day by packing up our camp site (the “instant tent” proving itself to be a worthy purchase) and took a hike to see the upper and lower falls at Johnston Canyon. Definitely worth the hike and the views were incredible.

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Johnston Canyon

After that we drove around Banff to see some other viewpoints like Bow Falls, Surprise Corner and Hoodoo’s Lookout. We also went to Lake Minnewanka which was full of beautiful scenery and rocks to sit and enjoy it. Then it was off to Lake Louise where we set up camp again.

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Lake Minnewanka

We were ahead of schedule so we went to see the actual Lake Louise and walked around it. Then went to see Moraine Lake which was for me, definitely a highlight. It was so calm and the most amazing shade of teal. It was much quieter than Lake Louise and, I’m using this word a lot, breathtaking.

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Lake Louise
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One of the most peaceful places I have ever been… Moraine Lake

Day 5: Lake Agnes Teahouse & Drive to Jasper, AB

We woke up early to take down camp again and to head to Lake Louise to hike to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. The hike is approximately 3.4 kilometres up a mountain. It’s quite steep and considered a moderate level hike. If you’re out of shape like I am it’s a bit torturous. I didn’t think I would make it, I thought either my legs or lungs would give up. But we made it! The tea house is quite impressive. It has no running water or electricity so supplies are helicoptered in at the beginning of the season. Any fresh food is hiked in by the staff. They also bring down their waste by hiking the trail as well.

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Lake Agnes Tea House

Once we finished our tea and hike (downhill is so much easier) we started our drive to Jasper, Alberta. There is a lot to see between Lake Louise and Jasper so the 3.5 hour drive likely took closer to 6 hours. Some highlights are the various random viewpoints on the Icefield Parkway, the Glacier Skywalk, Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls. So many beautiful sights to see! After that we set up camp in Jasper and went for dinner before calling it a night. One more note before we move on, we walked up to the Columbia Icefield since there is a place to park and walk up if you don’t want to pay to do the tour. If you live somewhere where you regularly see ice in the winter, you could easily by-pass this. My legs were done from the morning hike so I didn’t find the walk up worth it. It’s a glacier which is neat but really to the eyes it is an icefield.

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Sitting on the glass floor of the Glacier Skywalk
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Athabasca Falls

Day 6: Jasper Skytram, Maligne Lake & Drive to Kelowna, BC

Before we left Jasper we went up the skytram to get a beautiful view of the mountains and Jasper itself. We weren’t sure if we would want to since we went up the gondola in Banff but I’m so glad we did. We didn’t hike up to the summit as we were pressed for time and our legs were sore from the previous days adventure but I would do it when (not if!) we go back.

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On top of the world after riding the skytram in Jasper

We also drove out to Maligne Lake which was further than we thought it would be. If we had more time I think a boat tour would enhance the experience. The mountains surrounding it make it pretty so boating through that would be amazing, but we just didn’t have time.

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Maligne Lake

Then it was time for another long drive as we were making our way to Kelowna, British Columbia to enjoy the Okanogan Valley, home of the wine trail. This drive was about 7 hours and I partook in another car nap. Alberta sure tired me out! Once we got there we checked into our hotel and enjoyed some takeout pizza from Antico Pizza before calling it a night.

Day 7: All the Wine!!!!

It was finally the day I had been anxiously awaiting… wine day in Kelowna! We started the day with a 11 am tour at Quail’s Gate. Almost didn’t make it on time as a portion of the road where the wineries are was closed due by the RCMP due to some kind of incident. The details surrounding it are a bit fuzzy but the road opened up again a few hours later. The winery was very nice, the tour was very casual and involved tasting some wines. This is where I tried ice wine for the first time and fell in love. I also tried their Old Vines Frosh wine which they called their “big boy” red and it had a smoky flavour to it. I was skeptical but actually enjoyed it enough to take home a bottle.

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Quail’s Gate Winery

Next we had some lunch before heading back to the trail to stop in for tastings at the Hatch and Beaumont Family Estate. The Hatch was enteraining, the employees all seemed to have a sense of humour and the place had a hipster vibe. I picked up another bottle of red wine here. Beaumont was a smaller winery but they had some great wines to try. I got a second bottle of ice wine and we picked up a bottle of white wine. Since we are red wine drinkers we never really enjoy white wines but Beaumont’s Trio impressed us.

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The Hatch

The last stop on our wine adventure was Mission Hill Family Estate. We did the Legacy Tour here and I am so glad we did. They were a lot more generous with their samples and we enjoyed a walk through their amazing vineyard and went to see where they age the barrels of red wine. The estate is beautiful and full of amazing art pieces. Each wine we tried was paired with a complimentary canapé which was a nice touch. Our sommelier, Erica, was knowledgeable, down to earth and friendly. All the wines we tried were great, highlights were their Compendium and Oculus. We didn’t end up bringing any wine back though as our favourites were quite pricy and I enjoyed our less expensive purchases just as much. If you go to Kelowna though this tour is a must!

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Sampling some red wine where it ages at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

We ended our day with dinner at La Bussola which is an Italian restaurant in downtown Kelowna. It was delicious and a great end to the day. After that we had a very early bed time as we were both exhausted.

Day 8: Drive to Vancouver & Exploring Downtown

We left Kelowna first thing in the morning after our marathon sleep. The drive was about 3 hours. We got into downtown Vancouver later than anticipated so we didn’t have much time to explore. We did a really quick walk around Gastown and a bit of Stanley Park before we went for dinner at the Cactus Club. The calamari and short rib pappardalle were amazing!

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Totum Poles in Stanley Park

Day 9: Whistler & Capilano Suspension Bridge

We started the day bright and early to head up to Whistler. It ended up being pretty foggy and over-casty but we ended up enjoying the regular gondola and the peak2peak one. The peak2peak was pretty neat, it holds the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers. The ride itself was about 11 minutes. We didn’t wait around for the glass bottomed one as they only have two and wasn’t worth the wait. The glass bottom was a small portion of the middle that looked like it was blocked off by metal poles and when we went past the people in those ones they were looking out the window like everyone else anyways!

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View from the peak2peak gondola

After we were done at Whistler we went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I’d been a few years ago but my husband hadn’t been since he was a kid so he wanted to go. We both found it overpriced for the experience which kind of ruined it. I think going once is enough. It is a neat experience though if you haven’t done it. They also have a tree top walk and a cliff walk that are worth checking out while you are there.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge

Day 10: Whales!!!!

Our last day for the Canadian leg of our road trip was definitely one of the highlights as we drove to Steveston to do some whale watching. I’d wanted to go whale watching for a longtime so I was really looking forward to it. We had to do some searching but we eventually found some transient killer whales. They estimated that we likely saw about 17 as they could identify some of the pod and are familiar with the family members who swim together. It was amazing seeing them in their natural habitat.

Vancouver-Whale-Watch

We also saw some stellar sea lions, seals and some harbour porpoises. Seeing the younger sea lions reminded me of the sea lions in Finding Dory. If you’ve seen it, you’ll probably know what I mean.

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Young Stellar Sea Lions
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Older Stellar Sea Lions

After that we enjoyed a few drinks on a patio before leaving Steveston and ending our final activity in British Columbia.

Phew! We packed a lot into this trip but that’s our style of travelling. We don’t really sit around much when there is so much to do and see. Stay tuned for the American leg of the road trip which will be up shortly!

What was your favourite road trip or tourist attraction you’ve ever done? Let me know in the comments down below! After doing this, I definitely want to take a road trip to the east coast in a couple of years but before that we will probably go back to Europe or do some other further travel. There’s so much we want to see and do!

xoxo,

Robyn

You can also find me here…

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14 Replies to “Road Trip Recap: Canadian Leg”

  1. Haha your hubby’s 2 door car is the practical camping vehicle? 😛
    How fast was that revolving restaurant spinning? I’ve eaten at several revolving restaurants and I could barely tell they were moving… they were so S-L-O-W.
    The views of Banff and Lake Louise are incredible! I haven’t been but I will, one day.
    I’ve been to Vancouver and Capilano – wow, it was busy when you were there. It wasn’t nearly as packed on the bridge when we went.
    Awesome photos!!! Your trip looked fantastic. For the trip home, did you drive straight back, no stopping? And I know you’re under the weather, so I hope you get better SOON!

    1. Lipstick on the Lake says: Reply

      Haha, yeah we always joke about the “practical camping vehicle” since my car is probably more practical (Hyundai Elantra GT). Everything fit in his car though and it actually wasn’t too bad. We packed fairly light (despite what my makeup bag post suggests, haha!) He loves that car and he was the one doing all the driving so I wasn’t one to argue. It’s a very smooth ride though so it was great for all the long drives.

      The restaurant was pretty slow, but it was the feeling of it moving that was making me feel a bit off? It’s weird because even above the restaurant on the observation deck doesn’t move) I could feel the vibrations of the restaurant moving and it was making me dizzy. It was so unexpected, I didn’t think it would bother me!

      You definitely need to go to the Banff/Lake Louise area! It’s amazing. Jasper is beautiful too! I’m totally in love with Alberta now.

      Everything was surprisingly busy for the time of year. I figured with school being back in session everything would be a bit quieter, but alas, it was busy as usual! The tree top walk at Capilano was thankfully a bit quieter than the bridge itself so we didn’t have to worry as much about people randomly stopping.

      For the trip home we went through the States so there were some stops along the way, I’ll be blogging about that next! 🙂 Probably sooner than later!

      And thank you, I hope this cold goes away! Today I woke up with next-to-no voice! So, resting and Netflix it is for me, I guess!

  2. I so want to road trip across Canada! I’ve been to Alberta before but never to Banff/Lake Louise and I’m dying to go there. The photos are gorgeous! You’ll have to let me know if you ever decide to come east for a visit!
    Janine recently posted…What I’m Buying This FallMy Profile

    1. Lipstick on the Lake says: Reply

      The Banff/Lake Louise area is absolutely stunning, I don’t even think the pictures do it justice. If you get the chance to go, definitely take it! The Jasper area is really nice too! Taking a road trip east is definitely on the travel bucket list and with how in love this trip made me with travelling in Canada, I’m sure I won’t be able to wait long! I’ll let you know for sure when we decide to head that direction 🙂 The east coast looks amazing!

  3. This was so much fun to read! It’s too bad the revolving restaurant gave you motion sickness. I’ve only eaten there once and couldn’t even tell we were moving if not for the changing views outside, lol! Did you go see the penguin exhibit at the zoo? That’s the best part!
    Sounds like the two of you hit the best parts of the Rockies! You’re right, Moraine Lake is probably one of the most breathtaking spots in that area. We just got our engagement photos done at Lake Minnewanka last month – it was my first time there! How was the Glacier Skywalk? I haven’t had a chance to go yet but it looks awesome.
    So much wine tasting done in Kelowna! Haven’t been since I was a kid, but I’ve heard the wineries are beautiful. Next time you guys go, you should do some fruit picking as well!
    Vancouver/BC is always a fun time. I only have a very fuzzy memory of being on Capilano Bridge as a kid, and have always wanted to go back, so it’s a little disappointing to hear it’s not really worth the admission! You’re super lucky you got to actually see whales. A lot of the times, there’s nothing!
    Glad you had a great time! Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much there is to see in our own country. Every province is so different!

    1. Lipstick on the Lake says: Reply

      Aw thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!!

      Yeah it was so weird that the revolving restaurant made me feel a bit sick! I felt fine while I was enjoying the meal though, it was just before and after, so strange!!

      Yes, we saw the penguins and they were soo cute! I think it was the first thing we saw when we went in 🙂

      Oooh engagement photos at Lake Minnewanka would be stunning!! Definitely another beautiful area. I wish I could go back right now and enjoy reading a book while I take in the views.

      The Glacier Skywalk was great! The view was really nice! It’s a bit pricy because it’s ran by a tour company that insists they have to bus you there, but it was overall a good experience all-around!

      Oh yes, sooo much wine in Kelowna!! I didn’t even think of fruit picking when I was there, I was pretty focused on wine, but I plan on going back so I’ll definitely check that out next time!

      I think if you didn’t remember the Capilano Suspension Bridge it would be more worth the admission, I had just been in… 2013 I think so it was less exciting the 2nd time around, lol

      With the Whale Watching we made sure we picked a company that guarentees whales so if we didn’t see any, we had a lifetime guarentee that we could go back and try again. Luckily, they were optimistic that morning due to some sightings they had already seen that morning. We had to do a bit of hunting so it was probably about 4 or 5 hours, but it was worth it! Plus we saw the other cute critters as well 🙂

      It truly is amazing how different each province is and how much there is to see! I definitely rekindled my love of Canada during this trip! I just posted the American Leg of the trip, and while it was nice too, the Canadian part was definitely the highlight! I’m sooo in love with Alberta and British Columbia right now. I live in a pretty scenic part of Ontario (Thunder Bay) but, all I want to see right now is teal lakes and beautiful mountains! haha

  4. […] Hi guys! Not to be repetitive but today we are going to talk about the American leg of my recent road trip! I wanted to do a beauty related post but I’ve been sick so I’ve been sleeping through all the day light/no one wants to see this face, trust me! I am feeling a bit better though so I thought I would sit down and write this post. If you missed the first half of my road trip recap you can find it here! […]

  5. […] If you missed out on my recent posts about my adventures you can find the Canadian leg of the trip here, and the American leg of the trip […]

  6. So jealous! I already said it, but what an epic trip! I’d love to do this with my husband at some point. Smart to take a tent and use that money elsewhere, but I’m a creature of comfort so I don’t know how well I’d have managed that. Kudos! It’s so strange to see water that blue (with living in the city). I’m not sure I would have wanted to leave! 🙂
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    1. Lipstick on the Lake says: Reply

      It was definitely an amazing trip! Tenting was pretty darn cold, but I think if we would have went earlier in the summer it would have been fine. At least for the most part, we were setting up the tent, leaving to do stuff, coming back to sleep and then taking it down first thing in the morning so we didn’t spend much time there. We did end up getting hotels in the bigger cities, but the more outdoorsy places, camping was much more cost effective. Hotel prices in Banff, AB are insane!! One look at them and the $30 or so it was to camp is a steal! haha

      I definitely fell in love with that tealy blue water! I live right by one of the Great Lakes, but those teal blue lakes by the mountains are definitely out of this world in comparison! I’m already mentally planning my next trip back to the Banff area, haha!

  7. Quail’s Gate was my absolute favourite winery in Kelowna! And I’m glad you got a chance to visit Steveston, I love going there in the summer. Sounds like you had a really fun and packed road trip!

    1. Lipstick on the Lake says: Reply

      Haha, yeah it really was packed! It was so amazing though. I loved every minute of it! I definitely want to go back to Kelowna, I’m so in love with the wineries! I’m really glad the whale watch was out of Steveston, I loved wandering around and exploring the area after! Ahh, I just want to go back to British Columbia and Alberta right now!

  8. […] travel diary from my big road trip last summer: Canada & […]

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