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Please help with BC itinerary

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Help me plan our trip! DH and I are flying in and out of Vancouver, and we have 8 days/7 nights in early October. We are interested in exploring Vancouver, Victoria, Butchart Gardens, Pacific Rim NPR, and Whistler (via the Sea to Sky highway.)

1. How many nights should we plan to stay in Vancouver/Victoria?

2. Should we spend a night in Whistler or make it a day trip?

3. Are there lodging options in or near Pacific Rim NPR?

How would you carve this up?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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    If you want to start with Victoria you can take the ferry from Vancouver, Tswwassen, to Victoria. Buchart gardens is on the way into town so if you leave Vancouver early you can do this. Or, do Victoria last and visit Buchart Gardens on your way to the ferry back to Vancouver.

    Then drive ( I am assuming you will rent a car), to Tofino. You can stop along the way for lunch perhaps in Parksville, or Coombs and visit the Coombs country Market. (Goats on the roof).

    The next stop is Cathedral Grove. This would be a 15 minute walk through old growth forests.

    From here it is just under 2 hours to Tofino. (Pacific Rim National Park). Go onto booking.com and find places to stay. You can stay in the town of Tofino, there are some with harbour views which are great, or stay on one of the beaches such as Chestermans, Cox or McKenzie Beach. These will be more expensive. The park does not have hotels in it, but it is only a 10 minute drive.

    You can also stay in Ucluelet which is a 20 minute drive away. The road from Port Alberni to the West Coast ends in a T. Turn left for Ucluelet and Right for Tofino. The National park is on the way to Tofino, but the area is so much more than just the PNR.

    In Ucluelet is a wonderful hike/easy walk that hugs the coastline called the Wild Pacific Trail. If you have time it is a great thing to do.

    I would suggest that you do Whistler at the end, and so when you leave Tofino take the ferry now from Nanaimo. There is no reason to drive all the way back to Victoria. The road to Whistler is near the ferry terminal on the Vancouver side where the ferry docks, Horseshoe bay.

    so an idea would look like this.

    1. ferry to the island from Tswwassen, Vancouver
    2.Buchart Gardens.
    3. Victoria
    4. drive to PNP, Tofino and Ucluelet, stopping on the way there or/and the way back to see some sights.
    5. Take the ferry from Nanaimo back to the mainland and then drive up to Whistler.

    or do it all in reverse.

    here is a map of the island.
    http://www.tofino-bc.com/maps.php

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    We just got back from a trip to Victoria - it was beautiful. Two days was about right. We went whale watching, had tea at The Empress, and went to Butchart Gardens - the gardens were amazing.

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    You're cramming a lot into an 8 day trip, but it can be done.

    First, when are you visiting?

    In order to do the Tofino/Ucluelet area justice, you'll want to spend 3 full days there. At least. Anyone who visits often wish they had more time there.

    For Victoria, 2 days. 2 houros for Butchart Gardens. Victoria is a small city and its main downtown neighbourhoods and attractions can be explored in the span of one day, but you could easily spend more time there.

    The typical tourist crawl involves a stroll around the Inner Harbour (15 minutes), a peek at the Empress Hotel (15 minutes), 2-3 hours inside the Royal BC Museum (a must!), a tour of the BC Legislature Building (30 minutes?), and then a stroll up Government Street visiting the side streets and Chinatown's Fan Tan Alley.

    I often recommend 3 full days to scrape the surface of Vancouver. First-time visitors often underestimate how much there is to see and do in the city.

    In those 3 days you could spend one day just visiting Stanley Park and Granville Island.

    Another day visiting one or two of the attractions across the bridge in North Vancouver, like Grouse Mountain (2-3 hours), Capilano Suspension Bridge (1 hour), Lynn Canyon (1-2 hours), Lighthouse Park (1-2 hours), Deep Cove (1-2 hours), Whytecliff Park (1 hour), etc. Or if you prefer being active and hiking and have a car, a drive up to Mount Seymour for a hike to somewhere scenic, like Dog Mountain (3-4 hours).

    Another day exploring attractions within the city of Vancouver, depending on your interests, like the Museum of Anthropology (2-3 hours), Nitobe Japanese Garden (30 minutes), the Vancouver Art Gallery (2 hours), VanDusen Botanical Garden (2-3 hours), UBC Botanical Garden (1 hour), Queen Elizabeth Park (1 hour), etc.

    You could spend a day exploring the different shops, cafes, and restaurants in the different neighbourhoods around the city: Kitsilano (2 hours), Commercial Drive (2 hours), Main Street (2 hours), Gastown (30 minutes), Yaletown (30 minutes), etc.

    Another day cycling around the seawall or a picnic at the beach (if you're here in the summer). Another day exploring the different neighbourhoods and attractions a short drive outside Vancouver for half day excursions - Fort Langley, Steveston, Burnaby Village Museum, etc.

    So basically, you have to pick and choose and realize you're only going to scratch the surface for Vancouver. ;)

    Whistler is a 90 minute drive north of Vancouver, but take your time driving up during the daylight hours and spend then having dinner in Whistler and spend the night there and explore Whistler properly the next morning/afternoon. Make sure you stop off at Shannon Falls, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and Brandywine Falls along the way up. Once in Whistler, take the gondola up to the top for breathtaking mountain views (which aren't as evident down in the village). Scandinave Spa is also pretty blissful for 2-3 hours.

    The ferry from Vancouver to Victoria is 90 minutes but the full journey takes about 4 hours because of the waits, and the fact that Vancouver's Tsawwassen ferry terminal is a 45 minute drive south of the city, and Victoria's Swartz Bay terminal is located about a 40 minute drive north of the city (and is actually closer to Butchart Gardens).

    If you're going from Vancouver to Tofino first, take the ferry from either Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay 2 hours across to Nanaimo. The drive from Nanaimo to Tofino then takes 3 hours. The drive from Nanaimo to Victoria takes two hours.

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    Help me plan our trip! DH and I are flying in and out of Vancouver, and we have 8 days/7 nights in early October. We are interested in exploring Vancouver, Victoria, Butchart Gardens, Pacific Rim NPR, and Whistler (via the Sea to Sky highway.)

    1. How many nights should we plan to stay in Vancouver/Victoria?

    2. Should we spend a night in Whistler or make it a day trip?

    3. Are there lodging options in or near Pacific Rim NPR?

    How would you carve this up?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Hey there! So you'll most likely need to take a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria - it's a bit of a ways out of Vancouver, but BC Ferries provide such a lovely, mini-cruise style trip, that it is totally worth it! are you on a budget? If not, you could also take a seaplane right into downtown Victoria too. Once here, I'd recommend spending at least 2 nights in Victoria, then making a road trip to the Pacific Rim for another two nights. There are a ton of lodging options around Pac Rim, I recommend Vancouver Island Vacation Rentals for a private apartment, or one of the fabulous inns/hotels/resorts along the beaches up around Tofino/Ucluelet. There are so many options!
    If you're interested in any sort of activities, like whale watching, fishing, hiking, or winery tours, check out www.discovervancouverisland.com for some ideas - it's a super informative resource.
    That leaves you another 4 nights in Vancouver - try staying in Gastown for something charming, rustic, and central! Enjoy!!

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