“Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” – Confucius.

‘den stora västkustresan’ means ‘the great west coast journey’ in Swedish which accurately describes the three wonderful fun-filled weeks of travel we spent last summer on a road trip from Calgary to Vancouver Island.  My Canadian-born brother, having lived abroad for more than 40 years, while spending much of those calling Sweden home,  joined us in June of 2023 along with his partner, for a road trip to showcase some of the very best of our west.    

Our adventure included long days riding in the car, storytelling, laughter, and roadside meal stops while introducing some of what has made the West our favourite place for almost 30 years.   

Since our return,  many have asked for a roadmap of our journey to share with visitors and loved ones alike. And while there are certainly places, we missed and activities we didn’t choose, for us, it was the perfect mix of culture and cuisine, history and hiking, scenery and serendipity.

For those who are interested, this is what our trip entailed.  

We began in Calgary so that we could fully embrace the “Rockies”, and so glad we did. We stayed one night in the big city and dined at the River Café, where we had some of the best food we have ever eaten. 

On our first day, our westward journey began with a visit to Banff and the historic Banff Springs Hotel, before heading out with stops along the way at spectacular Emerald Lake, the Dutchmen Dairy, which boasts 62 flavours of artisan ice cream and finally making our way to Kelowna and dinner at the BNA Brewing, a full-service craft brewery and eatery where you can eat and play: retro arcade games, bocce, and 10 pin bowling.  

Before leaving Kelowna the next morning we had breakfast at the Jammery, spent some time at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, and then drove onward to North Vancouver, with a brief photo stop at beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, just east of Chilliwack.  

North Vancouver was the perfect base for a couple of days, beginning with a sea bus ride downtown, a visit to the Museum of Vancouver for the “Dressed for History” exhibit, and then a lovely walk to Granville Island for an absolutely delicious lunch at Alimentaria.  We made our way via Stanley Park and strolled oceanside, returning to our North Vancouver Airbnb. 

The next morning it was the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, for some more amazing West Coast scenery, before taking the ferry over to Vancouver Island and arriving home later that evening.

The next day included one of YELP’s top 100 eateries, the Shirley Delicious Café, followed by a leisurely stroll to the Sheringham Point Lighthouse, and a fantastic finale at Stoked Pizza.   A long walk along Whiffen Spit started our next day, with a stop for coffee and treats at the local Artisan’s Garden in Sooke before picking  up a few supplies for an all day summer barbeque the next day – lots of love and laughter with friends and family.    

Victoria was next on the list, with a visit to the Royal BC Museum and IMAX followed by lunch at the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf and a delicious dinner at Victoria’s downtown Tibetan Kitchen

Salt Spring Island was home for the next couple of days where we embarked on a self guided artists’ studio tour enjoying lunch at Salt Spring Wild Cider followed by one of most favourite meals, dinner at Auntie Pesto’s

Back to Victoria for a Harbour Ferry Tour, a pub lunch, a stroll along Victoria’s most famous and iconic Government Street and a dance show hosted by a local dance company, RNS.

Even with the best laid plans, itineraries sometimes need to change and our planned trip to Tofino and Ucluelet had to be cancelled due to wildfire.  With so much to see and do on Vancouver Island, it was easy to pivot and alter the adventure.  We made our way instead to Mystic Beach and our local surf spot, Jordan River with a stop at Cold Shoulder Cafe

We headed the next day to see Beyond Van Gogh, a truly breathtaking experience, had a wander through one of Victoria’s most loved areas, Cook Street Village and drove the Scenic Marine Route, before closing out the day with another amazing dining experience at Boom+Batten

A trip to Vancouver Island wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Sidney by the Sea and the world-famous Butchart Gardens which is where we ended our three week adventure, before saying goodbye to my brother and his beau.   

Life for us has always been about family and fun and this trip certainly earned a place in our top tier of travel adventures; time well spent with family well loved.