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Jill Von Sprecken

Brunch Bliss at Jam Cafe

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Pulled-pork pancakes at Jam Cafe

Pulled-pork pancakes at Jam Cafe

The name may recall that most basic of breakfast ingredients, but trust us, Jam Cafe is anything but basic. Locals and visitors alike crowd into this all-day breakfast joint for the rustic, laid-back vibe and creative menu of down-home dishes. Hearty options abound, but you can’t go wrong with the blissfully indulgent red velvet pancakes drizzled in cream cheese icing, French toast adorned with crispy fried chicken and pickled cabbage, or pulled pork sandwiched between a pair of fluffy pancakes (pictured). Locally roasted coffee keeps patrons buzzing, but it’s the bacon-garnished Caesars that really have kick. Be sure to save a little room—they also serve lunch.

Make a Splash With Sunwolf

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Cruise the Elaho River with Sunwolf

Cruise the Elaho River with Sunwolf

Turquoise-blue water and spectacular alpine peaks—the setting takes your breath away. That, or the rollicking Elaho River. In nearby Brackendale, Sunwolf offers rafting trips through pristine wilderness, with plenty of white water to boot. Scale a rock face for a glacier-water plunge, then dig paddles deep to work up an appetite for the mid-trip barbeque lunch. Pint-sized adrenaline junkies find calmer adventures on the Cheakamus River. Still waters run deep, but wild ones are much more fun.

Pride & Joy: Vancouver Pride 2016

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Vancouver Pride Parade. (Photo: Michael Song/Tourism Vancouver)

The Pride Parade winds its way through the West End. (Photo: Michael Song/Tourism Vancouver)

Join a rainbow of revellers at Vancouver Pride. Over the last 38 years, a peaceful protest march bloomed into the city’s most joyful, flamboyant fete. More than 650,000 attend events such as the Davie Street Block Party (Jul. 29, 2016), Pride Festival at Sunset Beach (Jul. 31, 2016) and Pride Parade (Jul. 31, 2016). Absolut’s colourful tribute to diversity is the perfect way to shake things up. Scout out local liquor stores, or visit The Keefer and Royal Dinette for cocktails that capture the pride spirit.

Caught on Camera: Whistler Photo Safaris

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Shutterbugs watch for wildlife on Whistler Photo Safaris. (Photo: Jason Coleman/Whistler Photo Safaris Ltd.)

Shutterbugs watch for wildlife on Whistler Photo Safaris. (Photo: Jason Coleman/Whistler Photo Safaris Ltd.)

On the hunt for the perfect picture? Track down top-notch photo ops with Whistler Photo Safaris. Guides take shutterbugs—and their cameras—off the beaten path for a chance to view wild bears in their natural habitat. Explore beautiful backcountry terrain and the Whistler Olympic Park while looking for bears against a mountain-and-valley backdrop. The tour may only last a few hours, but the bragging rights last a lifetime.

Breakfast With the Bears

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Grizzlies Grinder and Coola frolic in their wildlife refuge. (Photo: Grouse Mountain)

Grizzlies Grinder and Coola frolic in their wildlife refuge. (Photo: Grouse Mountain)

For most, breakfast with bears brings to mind porridge that’s too hot or too cold. Not so at Grouse Mountain (to Oct. 9), where daily in summer, visitors can share a morning meal with orphaned grizzlies Grinder and Coola. Watch the bears’ morning feeding, learn fun facts from a wildlife ranger, then tuck into your own bear-themed breakfast, which includes smoked salmon and “bearioche” French toast. Now that’s a memorable meal.

Ice Cream Bars at Soft Peaks

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Ice cream bars at Soft Peaks come in fresh flavours like blueberry

Ice cream bars at Soft Peaks come in fresh flavours like blueberry

Let’s face it: everything tastes better on a stick. Soft Peaks, a soft-serve spot in the heart of Gastown, has churned its way into Vancouverites’ hearts with queue-generating organic ice cream topped with local honeycomb or yuzu marmalade. Now, the same soft serve can be found in handmade ice cream bars, which feature flavours like original (with just a hint of honey), blueberry and matcha. Enjoy it naked, or dunk it in syrup and toppings for a custom frozen treat that’s synonymous with summer.

Pemberton Music Festival

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

See Pearl Jam at the Pemberton Music Festival

See Pearl Jam at the Pemberton Music Festival

At the Pemberton Music Festival (Jul. 14 to 17, 2016), the stunning scenery is nearly as eye-catching as the stellar on-stage line-up. With the picturesque Pemberton Valley as backdrop, the four-day fest’s multiple stages host grunge-rock from Pearl Jam (pictured), lively hip-hop from Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube, and punk-infused rock from Billy Idol—just to start. There is plenty of talent on the comedy stage, too: Cheech and Chong, Craig Robinson & The Nasty Delicious, and Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson. Let the good times rock ’n’ roll.

Around the World

Satiate wanderlust with an array of globetrotting dishes and spa journeys—suitcase and passport not required

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Bao Bei's delectable edibles include charred octopus salad, poached braised chicken and  green beans with house-cured bacon. (Photo: KK Law)

Bao Bei’s delectable edibles include charred octopus salad, poached braised chicken and
green beans with house-cured bacon. (Photo: KK Law)

CHINA
Forget airports and security lines. Simply hop the elevator to the fifth floor to arrive at Chi, The Spa, a wood-panelled sanctuary that’s steeped in Eastern philosophy. Here, treatments are governed by chi, the universal life force that has guided traditional Chinese medicine for millennia. Inspired by the stretching methods of Chinese martial arts, the Wushu Massage treatment was created following study with a wushu master at the remote Wudang Mountain. First, guided stretching and breathing exercises open the body’s meridians. The stress release treatment is followed by tension-relieving muscle warming and Tai Chi massage. For the toxin-release treatment, bamboo assists in gentle stretches, then is rolled over muscles before a purifying oil massage. Serenity, found. (more…)

Picasso: The Artist and His Muses

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Femme au collier jaune" by Pablo Picasso. (Photo: Patrick Goetelen/©Picasso Estate/Sodrac 2016)

“Femme au collier jaune” by Pablo Picasso. (Photo: Patrick Goetelen/©Picasso Estate/Sodrac 2016)

Behind every great man is a woman. But in the case of prolific painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso, the woman was in clear view, inspiring his inimitable style. The Vancouver Art Gallery’s Picasso: The Artist and His Muses (to Oct. 2) tracks six women who inspired and influenced both the artist’s personal life and his paintbrush. From early 20th-century Paris through to the end of his life, follow the artist’s progression through the collection, the most significant of his work ever exhibited in Vancouver.­

Start Your Engines: RZR Tours

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Explore Whistler's backcountry on a RZR with The Adventure Group

Explore Whistler’s backcountry on a RZR with The Adventure Group

When it comes to thrills, all-terrain RZR tours put the pedal to the metal. The off-road vehicles are perfect for exploring Whistler’s backcountry, navigating boulder-strewn creek beds and steep climbs with ease. On the BC Tour, thrill-seekers strut their stuff on the giant teeter-totters and cliffs in the skills park. Just be sure to take your eyes off the road once in awhile to enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding Cougar Mountain. Get your motor running with The Adventure Group Whistler.

Guide to Outside

Plot out an itinerary for one of the world’s most pristine adventure playgrounds

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Only a unique breed of Zen-master thrill-seeker can successfully chill out while bungee jumping. (Photo: The Adventure Group)

Only a unique breed of Zen-master thrill-seeker can successfully chill out while bungee jumping. (Photo: The Adventure Group)

MAKE TRACKS
Once ski season is over, the peaks here turn into a mountain-bike mecca. Downhillers and freeriders flock to Whistler Mountain Bike Park, which boasts 1,500 vertical metres (4,900 vertical feet) of lift-serviced descending trails. Pedal through sprawling terrain that ranges from beginner to heart-stopping. Those with gold-medal dreams head to the Whistler Sliding Centre, the venue for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Even in summer, it’s possible to rocket down a track on Rolling Thunder, a bobsleigh equipped with wheels that reaches speeds of up to 90 km (56 mi) per hour. (more…)

The City of Bhangra Festival

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

(Photo: Joe Carlson)

Let the beats move you at the City of Bhangra Festival. (Photo: Joe Carlson)

The City of Bhangra Festival—a sequined, spangled, Bollywood-esque blowout—arrives on the streets of Vancouver and Surrey from Jun. 11 to 18, 2016. It’s the largest festival of its kind in North America, drawing a globetrotting array of DJs, filmmakers, musicians and dancers. Break out the bangles and bindis at the Crash an Indian Wedding kick-off party; laugh until your sides hurt at Where Not to Do Bhangra; listen to women share their stories of struggle and success; or let the beats move you at the open-stage celebrations.