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Traveling in British Columbia, Canada

Traveling into the Lower Mainland of British Columbia from the Pacific Northwest is an excellent way to get the most out of your honeymoon or anniversary. It is also close enough to provide entertainment and sightseeing opportunities for your out of town guests.

bridal couple outdoors

Border Crossings:

There are four border crossings available from the Pacific Northwest into Canada:

  • Peace Arch (north on I-5)
  • Truck Crossing (exit 275 off I-5)
  • Lynden/Aldergrove (north on Guide Meridian)
  • Sumas/Huntingdon (near Abbotsford, B.C., north on Guide Meridian, east on Badger Road, north on Highway 9, east on Rock Road, north on Highway 11 into Canada)

Which one you take will depend upon your destination and the time of day you wish to leave. Generally, Peace Arch is the busiest during the day and Lynden/Aldergrove is the least busy.

There are several areas that are particularly great for newlyweds and out of town guests to visit including Harrison Hot Springs/Harrison Mills, downtown Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler/Whistler Village.

Harrison Hot Springs/Harrison Mills: The best border crossing to use for this area is the Sumas/Huntingdon crossing. Take Highway 1 east and follow the signs for Harrison Hot Springs. Take Highway 11 north, then Highway 7 (Lougheed Highway) east and follow the signs for Harrison Mills. This area contains some rejuvenating hot springs coupled with some lovely scenery.

For ideas on where to stay in Harrison Hot Springs and Harrison Mills, see Travel Plans - British Columbia.

Downtown Vancouver: There are two ways I would suggest to get to Downtown Vancouver:

1. If going without a car: If you wish to stay close to shopping areas and attractions in the main part of town, you don't necessarily need a car. In this case, I would suggest taking the Amtrak train to the Main Street Station and then walking one block and taking the Skytrain down to the Waterfront Station. The Pan Pacific Vancouver and The Fairmont Waterfront are both right down by the water and have great views. You are also really close to the Seabus and can cross Burrard Inlet to Lonsdale Quay on the Northshore, which is a farmer's market and shopping area.

For information on the Amtrak train to Vancouver, the Skytrain and the Seabus, see Sightseeing.

2. If going with a car: Use the Peace Arch or Truck Crossing and drive down Highway 99, through the tunnel and over the Oak Street Bridge. Stay on Oak Street until you reach 25th Avenue and then turn left. Stay on 25th Avenue until you reach Granville Street and then turn right. This will take you over the Granville Bridge. Take the Seymour Street exit off Granville Bridge and turn left on Georgia Street. You are now right downtown.

For ideas on where to stay in Downtown Vancouver, see Travel Plans - British Columbia.

Victoria: Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada and is known as "The Garden City". There are many places to stay in Victoria, including some lovely Victorian bed & breakfasts. Your travel agent, the Internet, or the staff members at the Tourist Information Center (near Lakeway and Lincoln in Bellingham, WA) are your best bets for ideas as new accommodations and specials are available all the time. There are two ways I would suggest to get to Victoria:

1. If going without a car: Victoria-San Juan Cruises (1-800-443-4552 or www.whales.com) offers a 3-hour cruise leaving from Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven. You debark in downtown Victoria and may take a taxi to your accommodations from there. The ferry is approximately US$89 for the return trip. There is a complimentary dinner on the return trip. Victoria hotel packages are also available.

2. If going with a car: Use the Peace Arch or Truck Crossing; then take the BC Ferry (www.bcferries.bc.ca) from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (crossing time is approx. 1-1/2 hours). Then drive approximately 1/2 hour down the coast of Vancouver Island to Victoria. There is a charge for the ferry each way, including the vehicle and one passenger.

For information and schedules for both Victoria-San Juan Cruises and BC Ferries, see Sightseeing.

For ideas on where to stay in the Victoria area, see Travel Plans - British Columbia.

Whistler/Whistler Village: The Resort Municipality of Whistler is a wonderful area to visit. The drive up there takes you on the continuation of Highway 99 which follows Howe Sound most of the way and has absolutely breathtaking views. There are many places to stay in the Whistler Area, including Whistler Village. Your travel agent, the Internet, or the staff members at the Tourist Information Center (near Lakeway and Lincoln in Bellingham, WA) are your best bets for ideas on where to stay as new accommodations and specials are available all the time. There are two ways I would suggest to get to Whistler:

1. Take the Peace Arch or Truck Crossing to Highway 99 and follow the signs through Vancouver, over the Lion's Gate Bridge, up to Highway 1 and take the continuation of Highway 99 to Whistler (this route is shorter, but can take a longer time if the border lineups are bad or if you catch a lot of traffic in Vancouver); or

2. Take the Lynden/Aldergrove Crossing and go north on Highway 13, west on Highway 1, over the Port Mann Bridge, over the Second Narrows Bridge and take the continuation of Highway 99 to Whistler (this route is longer, but can take less time as there are usually minimal border lineups and you are on highways for most of the time).

Have a wonderful visit!

 

© 2007 Deborah Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Deborah Thibodeau lived in Vancouver, British Columbia for over 25 years and has personal knowledge and experience of the above information through her travels there.
If you have any questions or would like any more information, please email her at deborah@thesimplyorganizedbride.com or call (360) 527-8542.

 
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