Tofino combines the historical roots of the rugged Canadian frontier with the mellow rhythm of a California surf town—think Mendocino in a toque. Old-growth forest meets the relentless surf of the Pacific and explorers from age two to 102 dig into sand, tide pools, and surf. Talk to the locals and you’re bound to hear some interesting "How I came to live in Tofino" anecdotes.

The district’s 1,800 or so permanent residents host about a million visitors every year, but they've made what could have been a tourist trap into an unconventional little town with several art galleries, good restaurants, and plenty of opportunity to get out to the surrounding wilds. Reservations are recommended any time of year. While many outdoor activities are confined to spring through fall, surfing continues year-round, regardless of the temperature. November through February is devoted to storm-watching (best enjoyed from a cozy waterfront lodge).

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