Things to do in Vancouver This Weekend

August 27th, 2015 @ 7:09pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The last outdoor movie at Holland Park, the last Take Off Friday at YVR and the last Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square are all this weekend! Take advantage of some of these activities, and more, before summer ends in Vancouver.


Events that run for longer than three days in a row are highlighted in green below.

Things to do in Vancouver This Weekend

Friday, August 28, 2015
Sponsored by Miss604: Friday Late Night Movies at the Rio Theatre
Friday Movie Nights in Cloverdale, Surrey
Supernatural (TV Show) Convention, Vancouver
Take Off Fridays, Free Fun at YVR Airport
Free Friday Walking Tours, West Hastings
Fresh Air Fridays at Highstreet in Abbotsford
CASINO ROYALE – Party on the Patio
Shipyards Night Market, North Vancouver
Free Waterfront Walking Tours, North Vancouver
Surrey Night Market
International Night Market, Richmond
PNE Summer Concerts
Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival
Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Sponsored by Miss604: Downtown Surrey Movies Under the Stars
Music Therapy Ride
West End Art Market
YSL BEAUTY INSPIRATION: Charity Beauty Makeup Event @ Shangri-La
Bowen Island Rotary Run for Rwanda
Vancouver Pagan Pride Day
ArtStarts: Free Weekend Workshops for Kids and Families
Summer Sessions Concerts at Shipbuilders’ Square, North Vancouver
Cates Park Concerts
Trout Lake Farmers Market
West End Farmers Market
Free Waterfront Walking Tours, North Vancouver
Vancouver, Plaza of Nations Night Market
Richmond Night Market
Surrey Night Market
International Night Market, Richmond
PNE Summer Concerts
Supernatural (TV Show) Convention, Vancouver
Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival
Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park

Sunday, August 30, 2015
ArtStarts: Free Weekend Workshops for Kids and Families
Pink Salmon Festival
Voice Over Intensive –One Day Workshop with Jesse Inocalla
Free Sunday Salsa Downtown
All Things Pop Up
Vancouver Street Food Festival
Ambleside Artisan Farmers Market
Kitsilano Farmers Market
Free Waterfront Walking Tours, North Vancouver
Vancouver, Plaza of Nations Night Market
Richmond Night Market
Surrey Night Market
International Night Market, Richmond
PNE Summer Concerts
Supernatural (TV Show) Convention, Vancouver
Vancouver Wooden Boat Festival
Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park

Check out the full August event listings here and if you have an event to include, please send it in by email for a free listing. Follow Miss604 on Twitter for more daily updates.

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5 Ways to Enjoy a Vancouver Island Getaway in Parksville

August 27th, 2015 @ 3:50pm (PT) by Guest Author

Looking for a simple, refreshing vacation to wrap up summer or kick off fall? Parksville and Qualicum Beach are just a three-hour car trip from Vancouver, including the scenic ferry crossing from West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. Whether you prefer nature, dining, exciting rides, shopping or culture, there’s more to do here than just hang out on the beach.

Connecting With Nature

A man and his dog exploring the trails in the Cathedral Grove forest.  One of the few remaining sections of old growth forest.

From viewing the towering, ancient Douglas firs at Cathedral Grove to going bird-watching at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, Parksville and Qualicum Beach abound with timeless natural wonders.

Vancouver Island is home to more than 1,000 caves, and exploring the surreal, beautiful limestone formations in the Horne Lake Caves is a special highlight. The caves introduced several metal slides in fall 2014 to help visitors get around easily and reduce wear and tear on the priceless calcite that lines the walls.

Also worth experiencing is the 2013-launched Deep Bay Marine Field Station, not just to admire the state-of-the-art, clam-shaped roof, but also to touch anemones and sea cucumbers and view a huge grey whale skeleton.

Dining in Parksville and Qualicum Beach


Parksville and Qualicum Beach have a strong emerging restaurant scene. You can tuck into halibut and chips or a hand-peeled shrimp sandwich at CView, the refurbished Qualicum Beach Inn’s new restaurant. The unique, circular room is complemented by colourful glass ornaments and a magnificent view of the Strait of Georgia.

Devour a coconut chicken curry wrap or potato wedges at quirky, cozy Lefty’s, which pays tribute to southpaws and has locations in both Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

And there’s always room for wine and cheese, right? Head to Morningstar Farm, home to both Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and MooBerry Winery, to discover some savoury artisan products.

Thrills from Go-Karts to Horses


Ready to pick up the pace? You can rev up your engines at Fast Time Grand Prix, Vancouver Island’s newest and hottest go-kart track. Founded in Parksville in 2014, it offers 35 turns on a half-kilometre course, as you race around at up to 50 km/hour.

For an alternative way to explore the quiet roads and waterfront vistas around Qualicum Beach, rent an electric bike at Pedego Electric Bikes. These state-of-the-art vehicles offer throttles and enhanced pedalling power, and tandem bikes and trailers to pull the kids are available.

Or saddle up and go horseback riding at Tiger Lily Farm, where petting the bunnies and calves afterwards adds to the fun.

Quaint Boutique Shopping


It’s pretty much the polar opposite of big-box shopping in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. What are some of your options? Gape at the real, live goats grazing on the roof of the Old Country Market in Coombs. Head up to Fanny Bay Trading for a gorgeous selection of authentic native carvings, prints, and pottery.

Browse through 4,000 square feet of vintage furniture, radios, and Royal Albert bone china at Yesterday’s Child Antiques in Qualicum Beach. Or nostalgically search for literary treasures at Fireside Books. Burgeoning with gnomes, miniature cars, and other collectibles, it’s been family-owned and operated in Parksville since 1991.

Culture in the Oceanside Region

Check out the Oceanside Concert Series starting this fall at the Knox United Church in Parksville, which has delighted audiences with string quartets, harpists, and choirs since debuting in 2014. Echo Players Village Theatre offers enthusiastic performances of hit plays like Calendar Girls (October 8-30, 2015).

And don’t miss the Old School House Arts Centre, where you can watch artists at work on watercolours and jewelry, listen to scintillating music played on a Seiler grand piano, or purchase a hand-carved marble wine rack. See the Visit Parksville Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island Travel or Destination BC websites for more information.

About the Guest Author:

Guest Post by Lucas Aykroyd on behalf of Visit Parksville Qualicum Beach. Lucas Aykroyd writes about travel and sports for the Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail, and the New York Times.

Win a YVR Airport T-Shirt to Paradise

August 27th, 2015 @ 12:22pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

A t-shirt could be your ticket to an amazing destination in Asia courtesy of Vancouver International Airport (“YVR”) and its partner airlines. These graphic t-shirts have been available for free at events and festivals all summer long and each one features one of the grand prize destinations: China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and The Philippines.

Here’s how T-Shirts to Paradise works:

  • Visit a YVR Community Festival Booth located across the Lower Mainland this summer and pick up a t-shirt (last chance is September 5th at the Richmond World Festival)
  • Snap a photo of you with a t-shirt showing the destination of your choice
  • Sign up at the event with YVR’s Brand Ambassadors through email submission
  • Post your photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #TSHIRTSTOPARADISE


YVR has strong linkages to Asia, with up to 134 direct flights per week to Asia at the peak period in August. Thirteen air carriers currently service routes between YVR and 10 major destinations in Asia, providing excellent connections to all parts of the region. YVR is also the only airport in North America with service from four mainland China carriers: China Eastern, China Southern, Air China and Sichuan Airlines.

Fly Business Class to Japan, or receive a a $5,000 travel voucher to Korea, the prizes are amazing for any seasoned world traveler or first time explorer. In total, there will be nine grand prize winners thanks to partner airlines. Contest closes at midnight on September 13, 2015.

Win a YVR Airport T-Shirt to Paradise

Since each t-shirt could be your ticket to paradise, I’m going to arm 60 Miss604 readers with the t-shirt of their choice so that they can enter to win the grand prizes. I’m giving away 10 t-shirts for each destination!

Once you have your t-shirt, you can then enter to win grand prize trips, outlined above, by sharing a photo of yourself in the shirt using the tag #TSHIRTSTOPARADISE on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Here’s how you can win a t-shirt, which could be your ticket to paradise!

  • Leave a comment on this post naming the t-shirt you want (which will correspond with the destination to which you’ll be entering to win a trip): China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea or The Philippines. (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
I want to win #tshirtstoparadise from @Miss604 so I can enter to win a trip to Asia from @YVRAirport

I will draw 10 winners for each shirt (60 winners) on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 12:00pm. Note the Miss604 contest is only for the t-shirts, with the t-shirts though, you can enter to win the grand prize airfare/trips.

Must be 19+ to enter the contest. Check out full grand prize details and rules online and follow YVR Airport on Twitter and Facebook.

Watching Planes Land in Vancouver at Flight Path Park

August 26th, 2015 @ 4:13pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I found myself thirty minutes early for a family airport pickup on a warm Tuesday night in August and while I love killing time at Vancouver International Airport (at the Observation Area or Chester Johnson Park) I turned off Grant McConachie Way, looping past Burkeville on Russ Baker Way, and pulled into Flight Path Park.

Larry Berg Flight Path Park opened in 2013 at the tip of the YVR Airport’s south runway. Landscaped with plane watching in mind, benches line small mounds of grass and the globe in the middle of the information plaza is grooved for climbing. Children race down paved mini runways, giant paper airplanes dot the grassy field, and picnic tables provide a venue for an extended stay.

Flight Path Park
There is a small parking lot off of Russ Baker Way but if you keep going a few meters you can turn onto Airport Road and find much more parking space in a gravel lot.

Flight Path Park
Taking your bike? There’s a bike tool and pump station at Flight Path Park.

Flight Path Park
Tail wings around the plaza area feature historical YVR facts and fun, educational aviation statistics tell you the story of YVR and why it is one of the best airports in the world.

Flight Path Park

Flight Path Park

On Top Of His World

Flight Path Park
Landing at sunset.

Out Of This World

It’s the best place to watch planes land with your family as you hang out at a picnic table, scale the globe, or set up a blanket on the grass as aircraft approach for landing overhead.

Vancouver Whale Watching Tour Booked with Viator

August 26th, 2015 @ 2:31pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I’m not sure what is more exhilarating, witnessing a pod of killer whales frolicking in the wild or going through my photos at home later, identifying their markings, and discovering that one of them was over 80 years old! I still get goosebumps thinking back on my adventure with Vancouver Whale Watch in Steveston earlier this week.

Whale Watching Tour

Booking with Viator

My tour was booked through Viator, a TripAdvisor company that specializes in tours and tour packages in top travel destinations. I’m fairly good at being a tourist in my hometown but one ultimate experience that locals (and visitors) need to have is spotting whales in the wild — it’s a Vancouver bucket list item for sure.

I selected the Vancouver Whale Watching Tour and booked online. This was the smoothest third party booking I’ve ever made. Some fine print on the confirmation from Vancouver Whale Watch (the tour operator in Steveston) said to call the day before your tour to confirm your spot. I hadn’t done this. I called on the morning of my tour, a little worried, and told them I’d like to confirm. They said that they do like a call in advance because they might release a seat for someone else. The woman on the other end of the phone stopped short and said: “Oh, you booked with Viator? Yeah, you’re all set. You’re in for sure.”

Setting Out on the Tour

The check-in process went just as smoothly. I showed up in Steveston and they checked me off the registration list inside the main office, where I also picked up a complimentary parking pass. Other tour participants arrived at the same time on the round-trip shuttle from Downtown Vancouver hotels.

Whale Watching Tour

We all suited up in yellow splash pants and jackets, looking like everyone – young and old – was auditioning to be the next Captain Highliner. The group, made up of mostly families and many with accents from almost every continent, filed down to the docks, past the catch-of-the-day boats selling fresh-caught salmon, and boarded two of three boats in the Vancouver Whale Watch fleet.


I was on the Explorathor II, a 47 passenger zodiac style vessel, with an open seating area in the front and a semi covered seating area in the rear, and an upper level observation deck.

It was a very warm afternoon, with the pants and jackets making the beaming sun pretty unbearable until we started moving. Leaving Steveston through the Fraser River channel, the boat picked up speed and the breeze was delightful. I put my hand up on the side railing to allow the sea air to flow through my jacket, providing my own natural air conditioning. Our course was set for Saturna Island, where we would meet up with a pod of killer whales that were trending north from the San Juan Islands earlier in the day.

Killer Whale or Orca? When I was at the Vancouver Aquarium a few weeks ago, the guides there used Killer Whale and according to our guide on the whale watching tour, who also said Killer Whale, it is actually the preferred term in the scientific community. You can use both terms though, they are both acceptable.

On our way to Saturna, as we passed Tsawwassen, Point Roberts, and White Rock, a humpback whale was spotted. Our guide came on the boat’s loudspeaker to tell us that it was “Big Momma”, a humpback who has brought many of her calves through these waters from Hawaii over the years. While she didn’t fully breach, she did do a few deep dives and show us her immense fluke before disappearing under the water.

Humpback - "Big Momma"

Our Resident Killer Whales

There are two types of Killer Whales that roam the waters of Salish Sea off of Washington and British Columbia, Transient and Resident:

  • “Transient orcas are mammal hunters, with a diet that can range from seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins and occasionally other whale species. They typically hunt in groups of three to five, using stealth to surprise their unsuspecting prey. There are four distinct transient populations from northern Alaska to central California.” [Source]
  • “The Southern Resident community is made up of 89 whales, divided into 3 pods named J, K, and L. Because all the pods have related dialects, they fall into one clan, known as J Clan. J-pod has 28 members, K-pod has 20 members, and L-pod has 40 members. A pod consists of several matrilines that are related. The eldest female of a matriline guides the family, as killer whales are a female dominated species.” [Source]

After left Big Momma we headed south once again, between Mayne Island and Saturna Island where we spotted L-Pod. Shiny, smooth, black fins appeared between the waves and the group made an appearance.

Whale Watching

Our tour guide came on the speaker again to let us know they can be identified by their saddle patch markings, at the base of their dorsal fins. She said that there was a regular male in the group called Nigel and they made notes of who was spotted, and where, so that they can be added to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network.

The whales breached, jumping out of the water and making splashes that certainly caught our attention, even if we didn’t catch the first part of their display. Some flapped their tail flukes on the water repeatedly, or glided along the top of the water on their side, smacking their pectoral flippers along the surface. Our guide told us this is the most “playful” pod that she’s witnessed this season.

Orcas/Killer Whales

Whale Watching Orcas/Killer Whales

Orcas/Killer Whales

Orcas/Killer Whales

I think the whales were happy to be following their food up the strait as I saw several fish jump along our boat throughout the 4 hour tour.

By law, boats cannot be closer than 100 meters from the whales and must approach from the side, rather than from the front or the back of the pod. To reduce noise levels (which can negatively affect whales and other marine life), whale watching boats and other vessels should keep a very low speed around marine life or put the engine into neutral or idle. [Source]

Vancouver Whale Watch’s tours are guaranteed 3-5 hours and they provide bottles of water on the boat, and a restroom. You can bring your own snack but toward the end of the tour they also handed out some granola bars, which came just as my belly full from an earlier, hearty brunch was starting to rumble.

Other Wildlife

On our way back to Steveston, we took a detour around the ferry terminal and over to the Delta Port where some sea lions were sunning themselves on a massive buoy and another sat alone on a buoy by the entrance to the docks. Entering the Fraser River along the rock wall breakwater, a bald eagle looked on as harbour seals played in a tidal pool.

Sea Lion

Bald Eagle

With so much wildlife viewed on this trip, and over 300 photos taken on my camera, I returned to the dock feeling excited and energized. I love simply being out on the water in our beautiful southern coastal region but seeing all of these stunning creatures in their natural habitat was such a treat.

When I got home I loaded my photos onto my computer and studied the shots. One whale that popped up near us had distinct saddle markings so I did a quick Google search for an online identification tool. I found the Whale Museum and after comparing my photo with the ones of L-Pod in their gallery, I found out that I had the pleasure of “meeting” Ocean Sun that afternoon.

L-25 aka Ocean Sun

L-25 Ocean Sun: Ocean Sun (estimated birth year 1928) has outlived her immediate family. She spends most of her time with Mega (L-41) and his sisters.” 87 years old! I was floored.

Life expectancy of a female Killer Whale is 50-90 years, and our guide did tell us earlier that day that Granny, (aka J2 from J-Pod) is the oldest whale around at an estimated age of 104.

Our Route

Booking Your Tour

There really is no feeling like seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild and being honoured by their presence as they splash around in their home waters they share with us. To book your tour (or another amazing local experience) check out the Viator listings. They offer everything from seaplane tours and sunset harbour cruises to walking tours, beer and distillery tours, and food truck tours.

Disclosure: Sponsored Post

This post is sponsored by Viator. Views and opinions are my own.

Metro Vancouver Trails: St Mark’s Summit

August 26th, 2015 @ 11:05am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

If your Instagram feed was filled with contented hikers posing for glorious photos at the peak of a trail with beautiful views of islands and waterways below, chances are they attacked either Quarry Rock in North Vancouver or St Mark’s Summit in West Vancouver. The latter is a more intermediate hike and is a part of a longer trail network that can be traversed in sections.

St Mark's Summit

Just as some Lynn Valley and Grouse Mountain hikes are a part of the longer Baden Powell Trail (that spans from Deep Cove to Eagle Bluff) on the North Shore, St Mark’s Summit is a part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail (from Cypress Park, up past the famous Lions, to just south of Porteau Cove).

St Mark’s Summit

The hike to St Mark’s Summit is mainly open July to October and it leads to panoramic views of Howe Sound as you climb around the north west side of West Vancouver just north east of Horseshoe Bay, from Cypress Bowl. It’s step 2 in an 11 step Howe Sound Crest Trail, and is best suited for a clear weekend afternoon when you have about 4-5 hours to make the trek.

About the Hike

Rating: Intermediate
Distance: 11km (round trip)
Time Needed: 5 hours
Dog Friendly: Yes

Panorama From St. Mark's Summit

Step 1: Trailhead to Strachan Meadows
Make your way by car to the Cypress Mountain ski area parking lot where you will park and head out for the day. Be sure to pack out what you pack in and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. This first section is 2.64km and according to the Cypress Provincial Park guide, it will take about 45 minutes. “This first section offers good photo opportunities at Lions View Lookout. A short side trail to the west leads tot he Bowen Island Lookout and provides a glimpse of Howe Sound.”

Step 2: Strachan Meadows to St Mark’s Summit
This portion is +2.85km and approximately 1 hour 15 mins. The trail climbs 275m to the summit of St Mark’s Mountain. There is a short jaunt to the west where you can find an expansive view of Howe Sound.

At this point you have ventured out about 2 hours so looping back, it’s a good 4-5 hour hike depending on your pace and how many selfies are required — I would imagine many, since it’s such a phenomenal area!

The full Howe Sound Crest Trail (28km, 14-15 hours) continues to Unnecessary Mountain, the base of the West Lion, James Peak, Harvey Creek Saddle, Magnesia Meadows, Brunswick Mountain Trail, Brunswick Lake, Deeks Lake, and an outlet along Highway 99.

Its accessibility, proximity to Downtown, and high reward (views) make it an extremely popular hike. My friend Tanya has done it several times and I asked her what makes her return to this trail in particular: “It is spectacular. From the summit it feels like you are sitting on top of the world.” She says it always takes her 5 hours to complete as 30 minutes is usually spent resting and taking photos at the top.

“It was even pretty good in the rain, a bit of drizzle, because it’s less crowded and has a mystic feeling in the fog.” Without much rain this summer, Tanya told me that the creeks are dried up along the hike so it really is important to bring enough water with you during our drought.

Resources: Outdoor Vancouver, Vancouver Trails, Club Tread. Always prepare for the elements, stay hydrated, and let friends/family know when you’re going out on a hike.