We Hit 5 Awesome Hot Springs in Canada

Do we look relaxed? Because we just spent a week exploring the hot springs of British Columbia, a trip that included five long soaks, 500 miles in a Class C RV, gobs of eye-dropping views and one surprising conclusion: It is possible to overdo it on the hot springs circuit. Here’s how to pace yourself.

 

Come Hungry

Don’t dip your toe in the hot springs after a big meal. The experience is all about slowing down and speeding up your blood flow, so adding digestion to the picture complicates the healthy effects. It’s much better to have a meal, post soak. We loved lunch at Kingfisher, the impressive restaurant at Halcyon Hot Springs Resort.

Halcyon Hot Springs Resort
The cold plunge at Halcyon Hot Springs Resort was an eye-opener.

Get Hot, Then Plunge

Again, the idea is to get the blood pumping while chilling in those mineral infused waters coming from deep in the earth. We follow a routine prescribed by those in the know at the awesome Scandinave Spa near Whistler: 20 minutes in the hot pool, followed by a cold plunge, followed by a break in the warm pool or, as we saw many doing, a snooze in the lounge chair.

Drink Lots of Water

Bring a bottle of cold H20 with you to sip at a steady pace, pool side. It’s essential. We add a packet of Emergen-C to boost the healthy effects. We actually witnessed at least one person who didn’t hydrate practically pass out after too much time soaking and not enough water. Be safe out there!

Be Prepared to Chat

One of the best parts of visiting hot springs is that you meet all sorts of interesting people from around the world. We heard intriguing restaurant recommendations, tips for avoiding traffic and suggestions about off-the-grid hot springs to discover. The group dynamic was also fun when the fearless cold plungers took the frigid challenge. Everyone cheered.

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Relaxing in the waters of Fairmont Hot Springs, near Invermere, B.C.

Chill Out Afterwards

We had to jump in our big rig and drive to a destination a couple of times, and the stress of being on the road wiped out the good we did in the pool. If possible, stay put and mellow out in place. Fairmont Hot Springs’ nearby RV campground made that mission possible.

More hot springs intel coming soon.

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7 Fun Things to Do in Vancouver, B.C.

We’ve been on an epic road trip around British Columbia, starting with a couple days in Vancouver. This gorgeous city is so much fun to explore, whether it’s on foot, or an itty-bitty ferry. Here’s some of our favorite fun things to do.

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Leave the car and take the False Creek Ferry to get around.

Jump on Board a Water Taxi

These small boats stop at spots along False Creek, the main waterway on the south side of town. Ride it the full length for about $3, an incredible deal, before getting out at Granville Island. There, walk through the bustling marketplace. There are loads of cafes to get a meal, drink or coffee. Or, go DIY and score some outstanding charcuterie at Oyama Sausage Company before heading outside for a picnic. Talented buskers entertain the crowds on sunny days.

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The Sea Wall has some exceptional viewpoints around the perimeter of Stanley Park.

Walk the Sea Wall at Stanley Park

Take the roughly 4-mile perimeter trail around the premier park that helps define the urban area’s embrace of natural beauty. You’ll see snow-capped mountains in the distance and lots of ship traffic on the busy commercial gateway to the Pacific, all while sharing the path with runners, cyclists and skaters. Plan on spending some time in the English Beach area on the end of your hike. The Sylvia Hotel‘s bar is excellent for happy hour or a casual meal. Try the fried squid and the signature cocktail, a delicious gin-based drink called The Vancouver.

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Wet your whistle at the Sylvia Bar on English Bay.

Eat Southern Fried Chicken in Chinatown

Juke nails the crunchy, seasoned just right bird at spot on the edge of Chinatown. The vibe is fast food, order at the counter, but the results are shockingly sophisticated. Definitely drizzle some housemade hot honey over the golden pieces of perfect poultry.

Juke Fried Chicken
Juke fries up some outstanding chicken on the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Drink a Toast to Gassy Jack

Head upstairs to The Diamond, a retro cool bar with a view of Gastown’s heart, Maple Tree Square. The soaring windows look down and a statute of one of the city’s founders, John Deighton, aka Gassy Jack. Trust the friendly staff to make suggestions on beverage and food, but, if you’re adventurous, order the brandade. This sassy dip is made with potatoes and salt cod, which might sound strange, but it’s wonderful.

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The Vancouver at The Diamond in Gastown. Via Facebook
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Walk around Canada Place for a great view of the downtown Vancouver waterfront.

Go Downtown and Get a View

Canada Place, the iconic sailing-ship-themed convention center and gathering place on the downtown Vancouver waterfront, is as striking up close as it is from afar. Take a walk around it. While you’re there, consider going on the Fly Over Canada ride. It’s a bit cheesy, but undeniably fun. You’ll watch a beautiful big-screen view of the Canada’s beauty while hanging over a dark abyss. For another nice city view, ascend Vancouver Lookout at nearby Harbour Centre.

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Take in the city views from Vancouver Lookout downtown.

Eat a Boatload of Sushi

There are about a million sushi options in the city, which means the competition’s stiff. We checked in with the super helpful concierge at the swank hotel where we were staying — The Douglas — and he recommended a few spots within walking distance. We were so impressed by the depth of fish selection and pristine quality at Bistro Sakana in the buzzy Yaletown neighborhood, and its gracious staff. It was also pretty darned affordable, with dinner for two ringing up at under $70, Canadian.

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Photo via Bistro Sakana’s Facebook.

Start the Day Brunching

Medina Cafe is crazy popular for the morning/midday meal, so if you don’t arrive early, you’re going to have to wait. But you’ll be in good company. Your patience will be rewarded by inventive global twists on brunch like the egg-topped paella, cassoulet and spicy Moroccan lamb meatballs. The legendary Belgian-style waffles are a fine way to start a meal, or end it.

Fried Oyster Benedict at Cafe Medina
Brunch at Cafe Medina might require waiting, but it’s worth it, especially if you like Eggs Benedict.