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Jill Von Sprecken

Hike & Bike With Into the Wild

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Cycle through scenic Pitt Meadows with Into the Wild

Cycle through scenic Pitt Meadows with Into the Wild

Wild about the great outdoors? There’s a tour for that, with Into the Wild. First stop: Lynn Canyon Park. It’s only a short drive, but it might as well be a world away as towering buildings give way to towering trees, a suspension bridge and breathtaking waterfalls. After a leisurely lunch, the tour heads to the scenic valley of Pitt Meadows. The wide-open spaces are perfect for exploring by bike, and are surrounded by picturesque mountain peaks. Want to take your explorations further? Try multi-day or private tours. It all adds up to one great escape.

Nibble and Nosh with Whistler Tasting Tours

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Sip and sample Whistler's best with Whistler Tasting Tours

Sip and sample Whistler’s best with Whistler Tasting Tours

If your ideal souvenir is an oh-so-memorable meal, sign up for a culinary jaunt with Whistler Tasting Tours. Foodies can indulge in tastings that range from upscale offerings—including a demonstration of the finer points of popping a champagne cork with a sabre—to hidden gems, and even dessert. With stops at four or six dining destinations, getting a sampling of Whistler’s food scene is a piece of cake.

Outdoor Eating

When the weather’s warm, there’s plenty to adore about the great outdoors. Savour the sunshine and dine alfresco with these options

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Mexican-themed fare at Tacofino. (Photo: KK Law)

Mexican-themed fare at Tacofino. (Photo: KK Law)

Creative Carts
Food carts are on a roll, with new four-wheeled eateries taking to the streets all the time. It’s a veritable moveable feast, featuring “à la cart” cuisines that hail from all corners of the globe. At the forefront of the street-food trend is Japadog, known for serving hot dogs trimmed with toppings such as bonito flakes, shredded seaweed or miso mayo to celebrities like Ice Cube, Anthony Bourdain and Mark Zuckerberg. Tacofino’s White Lightning makes waves with Baja-inspired tacos and burritos stuffed with crispy lingcod or pork al pastor, and brightened with salsa fresca, chipotle mayo and avocado. Chef Vikram Vij, famed for his trail-blazing bricks-and-mortar restaurants, makes crave-worthy Indian flavours mobile—try the butter chicken schnitzel, sold through the window of Vij’s Railway Express. (more…)

Sunday Seafood Boil at Boulevard

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Sample seafood at Boulevard's Sunday Seafood Boil

Sample seafood at Boulevard’s Sunday Seafood Boil

Tie one on—a bib, we mean—because things are about to get messy. Boulevard’s popular East Coast–inspired Sunday Seafood Boil Series returns for its second year, after proving to be a smashing success. A bounty of clams, crawfish, Dungeness crab and mussels are piled high on butcher’s paper and served family-style alongside corn on the cob, potatoes, bacon cornbread and blueberry pie. A glass of bubbly beforehand kicks off the nautical-themed feast. Grab a few friends and get crackin’, Aug. 14, 21 and 28.

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…)