From April 29th to May 17th 2016, Mama D and I went on a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the British Columbia Sunshine Coast and Vancouver island. It was a lot of fun to plan and so much more to experience! The itinerary was built around the train trip and everything went smoothly, and as planned. We were very happy with all the accommodations chosen; I did a lot of research before hand and in some cases, changed my mind and got a bigger room i.e in Calgary, Banff and Victoria. We did not regret our choice to go bigger as it made an even more memorable trip! Customer service and cleanliness were excellent in all seven accommodations, including the train.
This 18 nights itinerary starts in Calgary, Alberta and ends in Victoria on Vancouver island in British Columbia. If you travel light, you could add a float plane trip from Vancouver to Sechelt or Victoria, or from Sechelt to Victoria. I hope this inspires you to plan a wonderful trip! Please don’t be shy to post any comments or suggestions you might have for us or other travelers.
3 days and 4 nights in Calgary
Stay at Best Western Plus Downtown Calgary in a 2 bedroom suite (Breakfast included)
Day 1 Travel to Calgary
Day 2 (Saturday) Glenbow Museum with lunch at the Devonian Gardens in Stephen Street Mall
Day 3 (Sunday) Calgary Tower in the morning, lunch at hotel, Lougheed House in the afternoon
Day 4 (Monday) Calgary Zoo, pack a lunch, arrive before opening and book a Behind The Scenes tour
From the airport, you can take a shuttle to the hotel, a taxi or a luxury Sedan which is what we opted for, for not much more than 2 shuttle tickets. Train is free in downtown Calgary and if you need to travel outside the free zone you can purchase tickets at train stations in automated machines. Safeway and London Drugs are a short walk from the hotel.
On day 1 you could if you wanted to not pack a lunch and eat instead in one of the many fast food restaurants at the food court that is right in the Devonian Gardens, on the 4th floor. On Day 2, you could have lunch in the restaurant of the Calgary Tower that includes the visit or you could opt for the Sunday Brunch at The Fort of Calgary, a few train stations away… apparently it’s one of the best kept secrets in town and it does include the Fort’s admission entry.
3 days and 3 nights in Banff
Brewsters bus from Sandman Hotel in Calgary to Banff Hotel
Stay at Rundlestone Lodge in a family suite (No Breakfast)
Day 5 (Tuesday) Lunch in Hotel Lobby, Whyte Museum
Day 6 (Wednesday) Banff Gondola, lunch on top of Sulphur Mountain, Banff Hot Springs
Day 7 (Thursday) Shopping and laundry (3$ per machine)
Day 8 (Friday) Sundog Banff to Jasper Tour (10 hour)
Discounts for CAA-AAA members
An amazing tour across the rockies if you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive. There are many stops along the way to take pictures, for washroom breaks and for lunch. Do the Glacier tour and the sky walk, it’s worth it! Bring a super large bottle or two to fill with absolute pure and fresh glacier water!
The reason why Banff Hot springs is crossed is that we had planned to go but because of the high content of chlorine we decided to opt out and took the bus back to the hotel instead. The Roam Public buses are so convenient. Buy a day pass for $5 right on the bus. We could have visited the Banff Park Museum had we known they had opened earlier in the season than planned because of the nice weather and crowds. There is lots more we could have done but needed a rest so we took it easy.
1 Day and 2 Nights in Jasper
Stay at Columbine House Bed and Breakfast (breakfast included)
Day 9 (Saturday) Sky Tram with free shuttle from Mount Robson Inn Hotel, lunch at launch center, shuttle back downtown, Whislter’s Inn Museum, Jasper Museum where they sell super cute animal puppets!
At Columbine House you will be welcomed with open arms by Karen. 2 nights minimum stay with breakfast and snacks included and replenished in your mini fridge daily. There is a microwave but no stove top. Comfortable king size bed and queen size sofa bed with view of the Sky tram! We would have liked to go on a Maligne Tour with Sundog on Saturday morning but they were fully booked. We should have booked ahead… Our original plan was the Maligne tour in the morning and the Skytram in the afternoon but then we wouldn’t have had enough time to see the museum and get the puppets!
Via Rail on The Canadian
Day 10 (Sunday) Via Rail Train from Jasper to Vancouver in Sleeper Cabin for 2
.5 Day and 1 Night
The sleeper cabin for 2 includes all meals, tea, coffee and snacks. Snacks consist of cookies, muffins, fruits with teas and coffee. The food in the dining car is excellent. We had soup, salad, main course and dessert. The train leaves in the afternoon and we were fortunate that our train was on time and arrived an hour earlier than planned in Vancouver which gave us lots of time to get to our next destination. Ask for cabin F when you make your reservation for extra room.
People from all over the world come to Canada to experience this beautiful train ride through the Alberta and British Columbia rocky mountains.
Sechelt, British Columbia
2.5 days and 3 nights
Stay at Above The Inlet B&B, Leopard Suite (breakfast is extra$)
On day of arrival we went grocery shopping at The Independent for PC points!
Day 12 (Tuesday) walk to Sechelt marsh, Birthday Buffet lunch in our suite, lounge in the sun
Day 13 (Wednesday) Walking and shopping
Sechelt inlet is a small town north of Vancouver only accessible by ferry boat. We like to go there to visit family. There are not many things to do but there is a lot of beauty to take in and it’s the perfect place to unwind. The views from the B&B are amazing! There is a nice short hiking trail from the top of Trail Avenue to the high school and there is the Sechelt Marsh near the marina. You could easily spend more time than we did.
The easiest and fastest way to get to the Horseshoe Bay ferry dock is by taxi. Ask where to check your suitcase before heading to the waiting room. This is a 45 minute ferry ride. There is a restaurant on board. Once you get off in Langdale, you can either get a taxi or ride the public transit if you don’t have too much luggage like we do… There is a new shuttle service that wasn’t yet available when we were there. We love staying at Above the Inlet where Patricia and Peter are like family to us. The views are amazing. You could spend one day in Sechelt going to the marina, the marsh, do a little shopping, walk on the ocean front and walk the high school trail. A second day can be spent in Gibsons, using the public transit. We did a bit of shopping in Gibsons on our way back.
Vancouver, British Columbia
.5 day and 1 night
Stay at Residence Inn by Marriott, 2 Queen Suite, (Breakfast included)
There is a Safeway walking distance but we didn’t go because we were having dinner with a friend who lives in Vancouver and came to pick us up. We decided not to stay in Vancouver because we wanted to spend more time in Victoria and Sechelt instead. This was a stepping stone and a little rest before the last leg of our trip.
Victoria, British Columbia
3 days and 4 nights
Stay at Best Western Inner Harbour, 2 bedrooms Penthouse Suite (Breakfast included)
Day 15 (Saturday) Douglas park, Petting zoo, lunch at hotel, laundry ($1.50 per machine)
Day 16 (Sunday) Gorge taxi boat tour, shopping, lunch at hotel, Hollywood movie at IMAX
Day 17 (Monday) private tour in rural Victoria, IMAX movies in the afternoon, Dinner with family.
Day 18 Travel back home.
The best accommodation of our trip was in Victoria. There is a wraparound wooden deck with gorgeous views of the harbor and the Washington Mountains. We’ve been to Victoria twice before so we had seen most of the museums and attractions. We love the fact that you can walk to almost all of the major attractions. There is a magical feel not unlike what we feel when we visit Walt Disney World in Orlando and stay in a deluxe villa at Boardwalk although the price is so much better!
We had an awesome 10 hour tour with Lynn and Harry from Sundog. Among the stops along the way were the Chateau at Lake Louise and fortunately the water had started to melt, creating interesting Colors and patterns. Everybody on the tour was friendly and we were pleased to meet Judy from Melbourne Australia who took all portraits along the way.
Lynn, our guide who spoke very good French, took lots of pictures for me while Harry was driving as the front windows of the mini bus were very small. Alternating from the Canon camera to the Iphone, I took as many pictures, panoramas and videos as I could while taking all the beauty in.
After a quick lunch at Coleman along the river, our major big stop was at the Columbia Icefield where we walked on the glacier and I got the opportunity to fill my bottle with Glacier water! I walked on the glass floor of the Sky walk while Mama D waited for me; after the CN Tower and the Calgary Tower I can walk in any glass bottom!
Our last stop was at the Athabasca falls where we could have spent more than 20 minutes if we would have been on our own but it only made me want to return with Dami on a longer trip! On this tour, we learned so much about trees, animals, and the area. Were we to have rented a car and driven on our own, I don’t think we would have learned as much. After more than 10 hours, They dropped us at our B&B and we were welcome like friends or family by our host Karen.
We arranged to arrive early at the Gondola, taking the transit bus from the hotel. For $5 each we both bought a day pass right on the bus. The gondola trip to the mountain is short but the views are breathtaking. We didn’t quite know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised with the long boardwalk up the observatory that we can actually see from our hotel!
We were fortunate to see a few animals like the bighorn sheep, the American pica, a hoary marmot, a few squirrels and a grey jay while having our lunch. The facilities were still in construction and there was a lot of noise but the beauty made up for it.