Looking for a Nearcation? GMD’s got your back. Check out this list of staff recommendations to inspire your next local getaway.

1. Biking in Whistler

We recently spent a little time in Whistler with the family.

It’s a fantastic place for a nearcation … We have 3 kids (4, 8, and 12) and there was something for everyone. We took our bicycles up and went for a couple bike rides around the village. One was around Lost Lake which was about 10km and the other around Alta Lake which was about 12km. We hiked the Ascent trail twice, once all the way up with a gondola ride down, and second ½ way up (little burn and big burn) and hiked back down. It was a brutal hike but even our 4yr old made it both times without help. 

We also did Whistler Bungee which was a terrifying and exhilarating experience. 

– David


2. Camping in Cal-Cheak

Camping is always on the top of my summer must-do list.

With the Discover Camping reservation debacle (still haunting many of us) we’ve had to be a bit creative this year. I was pleasantly surprised to find a good number of first-come, first-serve sites near the city, to give us un-reserved folks a fighting chance. Cal-Cheak Recreation Sites just outside of Whistler are the favourite so far—55+ sites, right on the river and even a charming little suspension bridge leading to biking and hiking trails to the surrounding areas. Plus, it’s very close to the previously mentioned Whistler Bungee if you’re looking to balance out relaxation with blood-curdling fear.

– Rachel


3. Hiking in Birkenhead

Camping, hiking and Lord of the Rings have always been big in my family—

This year we had the chance to combine all three into one fantastical weekend. Located just beyond Pemberton, Birkenhead Provincial Park is home to four peaks with some familiar names: Mount Shadowfax, Mount Gandalf, Mount Aragorn and Mount Frodo. To begin our Middle Earth Trek, we headed up a forest service road near Birkenhead Lake Campground and hiked two and a half hours up to the pristine Long Lake. 

Although the Long Lake hike can be done as a day hike, the journeys up to any of the four Tolkien peaks are better done as their own day treks. The  lush meadows at the far end of Long Lake were perfect for pitching camp (but there’s also a quaint little hut for anyone who’d rather not lug a tent up a mountain). Our fellowship only ascended Mount Gandalf and Mount Aragorn this time, but thankfully, no matter where you end your hikeat Long Lake or on any of the surrounding peaks and hillsthe views in any direction are so incredible that you might imagine you’ve fallen into a story.

Cautionary note: Although the hike to Long Lake is fairly easy, Mount Gandalf and Mount Aragorn should only be attempted by experienced hikers. The ascent is fairly straightforward (if steep at parts) but the descent is quite technical and not for anyone with a fear of heights (or a fear of dying). Helmets are highly recommended, as loose rocks are both extremely common (and extremely dangerous) in one particular area as you head back down to Long Lake.

I would also recommend bringing bear spray/bear bangers, even if you’re just interested in visiting Long Lake for a day trip, as you will be trekking through the heart of bear territory. 

– Marie


4. Kayaking Up the Indian Arm

Earlier this summer, I completed a beautiful multi-day kayaking trip up the Indian Arm.

We left from Deep Cove and made it all the way up to Granite Falls to camp for the night. It was my first kayaking trip and we managed to kayak 42km in about 30 hours—needless to say my arms felt like noodles by the time we got back!

The water at Granite Falls was beautiful and very refreshing after paddling all day, and the views along the way were beautiful! After setting up camp, we went back out on the water to reach the very end of the Arm—which is where we saw the Wigwam Inn, which was built in 1910 and is a rumoured hideout of Al Capone (it was raided in 1965 by the RCMP!) along with the salmon estuary.

It was a great experience and I’d highly recommend this kayak trip if you enjoy paddling. If you would like to see more of the trip, I made a video! You can take a look at it here.

– Lara


5. Road Tripping in Nanaimo

A full-day trip is just a ferry ride away.

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, the long oceanside route from Nanaimo to Campbell River features many hour-long hikes and Instagram worthy pit stops.

Earlier this summer we left for the ferry at 8am and kicked off the trip just right outside of the city centre. Once you arrive, I highly recommend you start off the trip with a walk down Piper’s Lagoon. Walking the entire island takes under half an hour, and features many seaside lookouts to set the tone for your day ahead.

If you’re hungry from the early morning, Longwood Brew Pub offers takeout for their famous Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake, which in itself is worth the trip to Nanaimo alone.

As you drive down Highway 19, expect to make detours here and there for short hiking trails, just a 15-30 minute drive away from the road. I recommend the Englishman River Falls trail, tucked away behind a hidden driveway in the woods; and for an even shorter hike, the China Bowls via Davis Lake Main Trail near Cumberland takes you to little pools of water carved by decades of flowing water.

Last but not least, my favourite stop by far was the Coombs “Goats on the Roof” Old Country Market. The name says it all, this market has a grass roof with goats on top of it. If the Birkenhead hikes aren’t enough to satisfy your Lord of the Rings fantasies, this village will make you feel right at home in Hobbiton. Be sure to walk around town to check out the Billy G’s with hundreds of ice cream flavours and marshmallow filled donuts dipped in chocolate, amongst many other quirky stores that feel like they were taken out of a children’s storybook.

– Lebon


6. Camping in Miracle Beach Provincial Park

Miracle at Miracle Beach.

Our friends and family love camping! Sometimes we like a particular campground so much that we return on an annual basis – although we still always make room for new adventures. This year, we visited Miracle Beach Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.

Every time I visit Vancouver Island, it feels like I’ve stepped into a different world, even though it’s only an hour and a half crossing on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay. Everybody seems to be in cruise control mode, locals move slower, but they drive faster – my guess is it’s because they know their road well or are trying to make the next ferry!

The Miracle Beach Provincial Park campground is about an hour and a half drive from Departure Bay, Nanaimo. It has a friendly, family vibe and (for those who prefer a less rugged camping experience) it also has flush toilets and shower facilities. There’s easy access to the beach from the campsites – which is definitely the highlight! If you have kids, the tidal pools are full of sea life to explore during low tide – plus, while we were there, there was just enough of a breeze to fly a kite. You can literally spend all day at this beautiful beach, just remember to wear plenty of sunscreen!

– Mamio