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Epic Family Adventures in British Columbia: Relaxing Sonora Resort & Urban Vancouver

On the West Coast of Canada, you’ll find license plates that read Beautiful British Columbia. For anyone who’s visited this breathtaking province, you understand why.

Over the holidays, I read an article that explained why it is so important to give your kids experiences, not tangible items such as toys. A gift that will teach them the cultural values of other people, to show them what it’s like to become one with nature and how to appreciate and be grateful for what you have is an invaluable gift.



Sonora Resort

A short 50-minute helicopter ride from Vancouver will get you to the pristine and private island of Sonora. Set among the cluster of Discovery Islands (which you’ll fly over) Sonora Resort offers everything from eco and grizzly bear tours, helicopter fly fishing, glacier tours and scenic views right from your room.

A still Sonora morning - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

A still Sonora morning – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

For a chance to re-connect with loved ones and make lasting memories for unforgettable multi-generational family travel, here’s everything Sonora Resort has to fulfil this mandate:

The accommodations. From May through September, imagine waking up to the still waters of the Pacific Ocean watching sea lions frolic on the water all from the comfort of your plush robe, enjoying a hot cup of coffee perched by the window. Sonora offers 12-themed BC lodges, suites that range from Presidential right up to 6-bedroom lodges and one of two private villas, perfect for the extended family.

Views from Sonora room - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Views from Sonora room – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

The best part? Your accommodations include all your gourmet meals delivered with west coast flavours by executive chef Lukas Gurtner, alcoholic beverages, juice and soft drinks, (plus all the awesomeness that comes in your mini-bar) complimentary wireless internet and unlimited worldwide phone calls. Resort amenities include an outdoor heated pool, rooftop hot tubs, mineral pools, movie theatre, 9-hole putting green, virtual golf, fly-fishing ponds, saunas, fitness centre, shuffleboard, pool and Xbox. Grab grandma, mom and the girls and indulge in the serenity of Island Currents Spa while the boys go off and play some golf.

mineral pools at Island Current Spa - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Mineral pools at Island Current Spa – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

With so many adventures to take part in, I’ve narrowed it down for you. The Grizzly Bear Tours explore the raw beauty of Bute Inlet. Just a 45-minute boat ride from Sonora Resort and guided by Homalco First Nations, you’ll learn how to spot the difference between a male and female grizzly (females have a smaller head and curvier behinds) and that their diet consists of 30,000 calories/day-equivalent to 52 Big Macs!

We spot a female grizzly - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

We spot a female grizzly – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

In 2015, a research study sent to Victoria confirmed there are 52 grizzly bears in the area; I saw seven of them. The feeling of watching a male and female grizzly cross the turquoise coloured Orford River in search of salmon is a wildlife tour of a lifetime.

Views from Bute Inlet Grizzly Tour - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Views from Bute Inlet Grizzly Tour – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

An Eco-Adventure Tour aboard a zodiac is a great way to explore the surrounding islands. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon sea lions poking their heads above the water, eagles flying overhead or my favourite surprise of the day, a pod of Orcas that popped up several feet from the boat.

The newest activities for the adventurous are Sonora Resort’s Heli Adventures. A Heli Glacier Paddle takes you aboard a thrilling helicopter ride through BC’s coastal mountain range where you’ll get the chance to paddleboard or kayak through a remote glacial lake high in the mountains. The Heli Glacier Walk whisks you away through Bute Inlet on one of the largest fjords on BC’s coast home to mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and turquoise waters.

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, Sonora offers extraordinary experiences turned into unforgettable moments that the whole family will enjoy for years to come.

36 Hours in Vancouver and How to Spend it:

Since you and your family will be flying out of Vancouver’s International Airport (south terminal), it only makes sense to spend some time in this magnificent Canadian coastal city.

Below I’ve listed some of the best places to stay, eat and play while you’re in town:

STAY:

Since the theme of this family vacation is epic adventures, why not stay at the historic luxury hotel referred to as The Castle in the City? The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver boasts a prime downtown location, minutes away from some of Vancouver’s most prominent attractions including Granville Island, Robson Street shopping, Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver Aquarium, and Science World.

Fairmont Vancouver Hotel - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Fairmont Vancouver Hotel – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Celebrating their 80th-anniversary in 2018, these 557 newly renovated elegant rooms showcase modern amenities and a brand spanking new lobby including Notch8 restaurant (perfect for a buffet breakfast to get your day started). You’ll be welcomed by friendly staff and the Fairmont’s two canine ambassadors, Ellie and Ella, who pulled out all the cuteness for Halloween:

May the force be with you at Fairmont Vancouver with Ellie and Ella - Photo Credit Fairmont Vancouver Hotel

May the force be with you at Fairmont Vancouver with Ellie and Ella – Photo Credit Fairmont Vancouver Hotel

PLAY:

The Granville Island Market Tour with Vancouver Foodie Tours is the perfect combination of eating and play while exploring Granville Island, Canada’s second most-visited tourist attraction behind Niagara Falls. This is where Vancouverites come for food, art and culture.

Your first stop is Edible Canada Bistro where they pride themselves on using local farm to table foods, BC’s first artisan bakery, A Bread Affair where you’ll sample all kinds of delicious bread. You’ll want to save a few slices for Oyama Sausage and Benton Brothers Fine Cheese located inside Granville Island Public Market, one of the most authentic ways to experience Vancouver. Stop into the Kids Market for toys, candy and costumes, and of course, your trip wouldn’t be complete without a sticky and sweet donut from Lee’s Donuts.

Vancouver Foodie Tour stop, Lee's Donuts - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Vancouver Foodie Tour stop, Lee’s Donuts – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

*Be sure to wear comfortable clothing, shoes and rain gear depending on the weather as the tour runs rain or shine.

Get up close and personal with nature in Stanley Park and along the way, pay a visit to Canada’s largest aquarium, Vancouver Aquarium. With more than 50,000 creatures originating from the Arctic to the Amazon, visitors can attend daily beluga whale, dolphin and sea otter shows and sign up for a hands-on Animal Encounter.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is Vancouver’s oldest attraction. Built in 1889, the bridge hangs 70 meters above the Capilano River and is 137 meters long. Guests can explore Treetops Adventure (a series of seven suspension bridges built high in the trees) and a Cliffwalk.

Capillano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

EAT:

You’ll find Honey Salt inside the Parq Vancouver. Combining classic comfort with relaxed sophistication, you can enjoy locally and regionally sourced BC foods while catching a Vancouver Canucks hockey game. The kid’s menu features everything from turkey meatballs to mac and cheese and for the adults a recommended cocktail, The Green Daisy, with jalapeno-infused ice cubes alongside the adult mac and cheese and diver scallops.

Parq Vancouver's Honey Salt Green Daisy cocktail - Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Parq Vancouver’s Honey Salt Green Daisy cocktail – Photo Sabrina Pirillo

Head out to Chinatown, third-largest in North America and home to Torafuku, a small tapas-style fine dining style restaurant. Meaning “Lucky Tiger” in Japanese, their signature dish is the Kick-Ass sushi rice (they aren’t kidding, it’s made with torched pork belly) and G-Tao’s chicken wings with a side of Everyday I’m Brusselin’ made with Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, black bean balsamic vinaigrette, crispy chickpeas, fried quinoa, toasted almonds. The inspiration comes from the flavour profile of classic and Chinese foods using French technique.

 

 

*The author was a guest of Sonora and  Tourism Vancouver in October 2019.

 

 

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Due to COVID-19, travelling is not what it used to be. It is advisable to adhere to physical distancing requirements, ensure frequent hand washing, and wear a mask indoors when maintaining distances is not possible. See www.travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories for more details.