people are always searching for their next escape.

Seat sales.
Round the world tickets.
Backpacking through SE Asia.
Gap years in Australia...
But what about staying here

By the time I was 24 I had travelled, lived and worked in over 30 countries. I was a professional at hopping on any flight I could to get away; I needed to explore, but staying in Canada didn't seem "adventurous" enough for me.  I thought adventure could only be satisfied in foreign experiences on the other side of the world.

In my early 20's I was offered a short term contract for a travel company based in Vancouver. I had never been to Vancouver but thought "What the heck? It's only three months...just another trip and a new experience."

Long story short, it's been three years and I haven't looked back since. I absolutely fell in love with this city. Over the course of these years I was going through a lot of change, including transitioning out of the travel industry. It was SO hard to not have the option of travelling all of the time so I started packing my evenings and weekends with any adventure I could find in and around Vancouver.

Once I started exploring British Columbia, I realized how much I had skipped out on. I couldn't believe how incredible my own country was and couldn't help but wonder why I had never opted to explore my own backyard.

While I'm lucky to have seen and experienced so much traveling the world - this is my home..and I've set out with one mission:

Show people that they don't have to go far to travel.

So here it is: #TheStayCationSeries. My goal is to travel around Canada to showcase what our home is all about while supporting local, sustainable tourism and leaving you with a detailed blog on how you can re-create the trip for yourself.

Coming at your with Part Two from Fernie!

- Ally 

 

 
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Fernie, British Columbia

This small town is known for being packed with big adventure. Fernie is fully encircled by the Rocky Mountains and is a great spot to visit year round.

Because it's commonly known for skiiing and alpine adventure, I had a mission of taking on this town with a new pair of eyes and a completely different vision.

Mission: see this city for it's ability to host a relaxing weekend and unwind in the mountains.  The food, the coffee, the spas and spending the weekend on cruisers while breathing in mountain fresh air was refreshing to say the least.

WHEN TO GO

- Year round travel
- Winter for Skiing, off season for hiking and city exploration

GETTING THERE FROM VANCOUVER

- 10 hour drive from Vancouver
- By Air. Fly To Calgary or Cranbrook + drive.  Calgary airport offers free shuttles

 
 
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Birch MeadowS Lodge B&B.

One of the key parts to setting the tone for your vacation deciding on a place to stay. Sure, it's easy for you to pull up hotels.com and look up that full service, 5 star resort - but I wanted to feel like I was tucked away in the hills; I was craving that mountain shack, heart-warming home vibe.  

I loved the idea of Birch Meadows because of the friendly passion that radiates from their "why" of running their business.  Sonya (the owner) lives on the property with her husband (AND REALLY FREAKING CUTE DOGS) and uses her house as the "lobby". Each morning, she greets you with a huge smile and whips you up a full breakfast.

The property included options of cabins or rooms and is surrounded by the complete serenity of 58 acres of wilderness. Birch Meadows was the exact mountain cabin I was looking for.  Located just a 7 minute drive from the town of Fernie, I had the best of both worlds of being able to soak in the quiet views, but get the buzzing feeling of town when I needed one.

We stayed in the log chalets, which offered a full bed, pullout couch, fireplace, fridge, microwave, bathtub and unobstructed views of the mountains. I can't put enough emphasis to how amazing Sonya was.  There's no chance I'd want to stay anywhere else BUT here on my return.


 
 
 
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the perfect spot to relax and unwind

When I decided to go to Fernie, I immediately started researching where I could hike, climb, cliff jump and go into full adventure mode. It had a spot for me to do every.single.one of those activities.  After all, it's Fernie - don't most people go there to go full force?

I have this problem where I go on vacation to escape and turn off - but I always end up packing my days with so much that I return home more exhausted. I went into this weekend with a set intention of unwinding.

And that's exactly what I did.

 
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spa 901

I'll start off by telling you that this spa is listed as one of the "Top 25 Spas Across Canada" and as soon as you step foot in there, you know exactly why. Exposed brick wall, beautiful wood floors, a welcoming scent and ambient music immediately put you to ease.

Your experience starts off in their lounge with tea and comfortable chairs next to a crackling fire where you can lounge, meditate or nap before beginning your service. I opted for a massage that brought me into another world.

The service was amazing. I stumbled out of the room in a daze and spent the next couple of hours making good use of their outdoor hot pools and saunas.

With a weekend away designed to relax, it's hard for me to pass up a good spa opportunity.  SPA 901 does offer standalone pool access if you're not looking to book in a full experience.

 

get high

I know this trip was supposed to be about winding down, but there's no way I could have went out all this way and NOT hiked.

The morning started at Island Lake Lodge where we met our super rad hiking guide that led us up the Spineback Trail. This trail gave us an amazing view of the snow-capped peaks of the rockies and the lodge below us.

This trail is rated as one of the more difficult hikes from the lodge.  Like any hike: do your research, make sure you're prepared with the right gear and know the conditions before heading out! You can also contact Island Lake Lodge for a guided hike!

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fernie art walk

One of the things that I loved about Fernie was the small town artsy feeling. Exploring Fernie's Art Walk is a great way to visit local studios and galleries.  The tour is self led and done on your time, and at your own pace.

The tour takes you from red brick architecture, to mural painted buildings, shows off the dumpster art project and more.

I recommend putting on your walking shoes, grabbing a coffee, and enjoy a relaxing walk through town.

 

Explore By Bike

Renting a bike in a new city is probably my favourite way to explore.  

Since the town is small, biking is great way to roam the streets and take in your surroundings. We got set up with cruisers from the friendliest staff in town over at the Guide's Hut, where you can rent bikes by the hour or day.

I recommend heading through town towards the Elk River and follow it along as you soak in the incredible views.
 

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from bistro to breweries, fernie has it all.

"Where small town charm meets adventure in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains"

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the loaf

I'll start by saying that I ended up at this place...twice. The vibe of this spot is great any time of day and the food was amazing. The fried greens are a must to share and I definitely recommend the pizza!

 

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fernie brewing co.

It was really cool to see a staple part of the community in action. We were lucky to get a tour of the brewery that gave us a up close and personal look of this place behind the scenes.

If you're looking for a spot to hang out and have a local and quick drink, this is the place to be!

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The valley social

Good vibes and great coffee. The Valley Social was hands down my favourite coffee spot in Fernie. If an espresso isn't your thing, opt for a fresh juice or kombucha. 

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LUNCHBOX

We wandered into this spot on our last day and we're pretty bummed that it was a late discovery.

If you're looking for healthy eats, Lunchbox is the place to go in Fernie!  Menu options include wraps, salads, sandwiches, smoothies, chili and more. Note: this spot is only open for lunch!