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!
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.
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!
View from the Calgary Tower
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sitting on the glass floor of the Glacier Skywalk
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Young Stellar Sea Lions
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!
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