Vancouver Island

Halloween events
Oct23

If you are visiting Vancouver Island this October there are plenty of things to do as Halloween grows near. These events are compiled with our Breakaway Vacation properties in Parksville and Qualicum Beach in mind but don’t forget to explore what goes on in other areas like Victoria, as well!

  1. Halloween Party & Masquerade Ball

If you don’t mind a short drive to Nanaimo then be sure to buy tickets for the annual Halloween Part and Masquerade Ball, hosted by the Serauxmen Service Club. Enjoy dancing, live music, and a best costume prize (solo and group).

Location: Nanaimo Curling Club (106 Wall Street)

  1. Pumpkins on the Drive

Wander along Resort Drive to see an assortment of pumpkins carved and decorated for the season. If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up some candy and hot chocolate along the way!

Location: Resort Drive in Parksville

  1. Friends of Foster Park Pumpkin Walk

More pumpkins, what a surprise! Tour through hundreds of pumpkins carved by community youth. This event takes place every year and is free to attend. The walk is family-friendly with enough rooms for strollers.

Location: Foster Park, Parksville

  1. Errington’s Pumpkin Trail and Fireworks

Visit Errington’s Community Park with the whole family in costume (child-friendly event) and check out the props hidden along the trails. Treats will be handed out at different milestone locations. There is also a market site at the end where you can stock up on treats and drinks. Plus: fireworks!

Location: Errington’s Community Park

  1. Coombs Candy Walk

This is a Halloween event held every year. Visitors can enjoy a circus-themed candy walk, concession stands, a “Little Ghouls” haunted house, and fireworks later in the night. The event is by donation, so chip in what you can.

Location: 1014 Ford Road, Coombs

  1. Halloween in the Village

Located in the heart of Qualicum Beach, Halloween in the Village includes a pumpkin trail, hotdogs and other treats, a bonfire, and some nighttime fireworks. Check online for more details, as they sometimes have a haunted house (OR a family-friendly version) set up, as well.

Location: Downtown Qualicum Beach

  1. Halloween Howl Swim

Want something totally unique? Try the Halloween Howl Swim at the Ravensong Aquatic Centre. The Centre is always decorated for the occasion. Also, there will be games and activities for kids. The event closed off with a piñata bash, so be sure to stick around.

Location: Ravensong Aquatic Centre, Qualicum Beach

Not sure what you want to do to celebrate this Halloween with your family? Ask us about our vacation rentals on Vancouver Island!

wine pairing
Oct16

Everyone knows that British Columbia is Canada’s wine region. BC wine is a must-try when you are visiting the area. Vineyards may not be open this late into the year but you can expect any local venues to be stocked up with wine from around the area. Here are just a few ideas of what types of wine and food pairings to try.

Savory Squash + Pinot Gris

Squash is in season so you will probably be able to find it on many-a-menu these days. Any savory squash meal should pair well with Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris is rich and spicy and quite popular in B.C. so you’ll find it everywhere. It pairs well with the rich creaminess of squash-based meals (think: pasta, warm salad, or soups).

Meat and Potatoes + Rioja

Steak and potatoes. Sausage and potatoes. Red meat stew. These are perfect cold-weather meals because they fill you up and make you feel warm and cozy as the nights get chilly. Try pairing these meals with a Rioja, which is a deep, leathery red with hints of cherry. Want it sweeter? Open a newer bottle. For more savory, pick a Rioja that has been aged.

Apple Cinnamon + Riesling

Cinnamon will be making a grand appearance in a big way in many desserts and even breakfast/bunches. You might find it with apple or pumpkin, which are in season. But what wine goes best with apple cinnamon tarts after a long day? Try Riesling, which is equal parts sweet and acidic—a perfect counterpart.

Turkey Leftovers + Grenache Rosé

If you’ve already celebrated (Canadian) Thanksgiving, you most likely have a fridge packed full of delicious turkey leftovers. You might be finding yourself adding it to everything: soups, salads, sandwiches. How about accenting the inevitable turkey overdose with some nice Grenache Rosé? The ruby rose colour and heightened acidity make it a great fall pairing.

Vegetable Stew + Pinot Noir

Vegetable stew is great to make in bulk and freeze or refrigerate for easy fall meals. Pack it full of lentils, mushrooms, carrots, potato, corn, and anything else you desire. Vegetarian stew lasts longer in the fridge than meat-based counterparts so you don’t have to worry about rushing through it. Pinot Noir is so food-friendly it goes with nearly anything but it will keep this particular meal company with it’s rich fruity character.

Lamb + Zinfandel

Thinking about ordering rack of lamb for a luscious, fall meal? Try pairing lamb-based recipes with Zinfandel, which is a perfect fall wine that also goes great with sweet potatoes. Zinfandel has hints of dark fruit and a smoky zest but you can also find earthier varieties.

No matter what you are eating, you will be able to find a BC wine to match. That’s because there are so many varieties to play with. Wine lovers rejoice.

Looking for a fantastic Fall getaway? Contact us and ask about our vacation properties here in beautiful British Columbia.

Packing tips
Oct03

Who doesn’t love a peaceful winter weekend vacation away from home? Or, you probably have plans to travel for holidays coming up: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and so on. If you are traveling to the Kelowna area or Vancouver Island, be sure to check out our vacation homes.

Pack More Socks than you Think You Need.

It’s cold out…but not always. Fall tends to flip-flop between balmy sunny days and chilly winter storms. That means a lot of moisture and mush on the streets, sidewalks, and in the parks. That means you might have to swap out soggy socks mid-day for a fresh pair. Not to mention that on the chilliest of days, you might want to wear two pairs in your boots, particularly if you like autumn hiking.

Pack Waterproof Footwear.

To prevent the above scenario, you could also just make sure to pack shoes or boots that prevent slush and moisture from leaking in. They should be something you can see yourself wearing on a warm day as well as a cooler one, as fall tends to flip-flop. One of the best packing tips is to bring appropriate footwear for your destination.

Pack a Portable Battery Charger.

Autumn can be warm at times but don’t let that deceive you. Getting stuck somewhere when the sun goes down will be unpleasant, even on the warmest days. You should always have a charged phone in case you need to call a friend or a cab if you get stranded or need a ride. That’s why packing a portable charger is a good idea, especially if you are on your phone a lot or it has an older battery that is prone to dying.

Pack a Neutral Scarf.

Scarves take up a lot of room in a bag and can be uncomfortable to wear if you are too warm. You probably won’t want to haul around more than one so make sure you pick one in a neutral colour like black, brown, beige, or grey that goes with everything and anything you might be wearing.

Pack a Tablet or Smart Reader.

Fall weather can be unpredictable. You might get anything from rain or hail or sun or snow. If there are days that you can’t go outside, you’ll want enough entertainment to get you by. A smart reader is a great way to pack every book you’ve been meaning to read without taking up much space in an overnight bag.

Pack Sunscreen.

You may be bundled from head-to-toe on a chilly day but that doesn’t mean the sun can’t reach delicate areas like your face, neck, and hands. Even on overcast days, the UV rays can get through, and sometimes clouds even amplify their strength. This is important if you’re skiing or snowboarding, too, to avoid picking up a goggle tan.

Bonus tip: Are you struggling to get your packing list together? Try a packing app! There are plenty of travel-based apps meant o simplify your vacation for you.

Haven’t picked a fall trip for yourself yet? Consider staying at one of our beautiful vacation rental properties in B.C. Contact us for more details.

BC Wine
Aug26

If you are travelling B.C. this summer, you will undoubtedly be drawn to the expansive vineyards. Not only are they stunning to behold but they produce delicious wines of every flavor and variety. Any vacation trip to B.C. would do well with some samples of the local wineries. Many visitors arrange wine tours during their stay. (Ask us if you are staying with us and in need of recommendations!)

In honour of all the great B.C. wineries and orchards, here are just a few of our favorite B.C. wines:

1. Family Reserve Chardonnay

From: Quails’ Gate Stewart in Okanagan Valley, BC

This tropical and balanced wine pairs well with any pork-centric meal. It won a bronze medal in the 2019 San Francisco International Wine Competition, among other notable achievements. This Chardonnay is refreshing, golden, and smooth with a fruity essence.

2. Red Icon, Bordeaux Blend

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

A red Bordeaux blend usually has Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in it. Bold and structured, this wine pairs well with beef and/or venison meals. Darkly colored and rich in flavor, many red Bordeaux are likened to dark fruits like plum and blackcurrant.

3. Syrah

From: Painted Rock Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape known for floral flavors in its youth and more peppery flavors as it ages. It pairs well with BBQ (think: spareribs and grilled veggies), braised beef, and aged hard cheeses. Fun fact: It’s only called “Shiraz” if it’s from Australia.

4.  ‘Portfolio’ Red, Bordeaux Blend

From: Laughing Stock Vineyards in Okanagan Valley, BC

Laughing Stock Vineyards is located in the beachy city of Penticton, B.C. This red pairs well with heavy, fatty, and spicier steaks and lamb. We’re sensing a theme here. Routinely wins top accolades from wine competitions and wine critics alike: a proven chart-topper.

5. Reserve Riesling Icewine

From: Mission Hill Family Estate in Okanagan Valley, BC

An ultra-sweet icewine with tons of tropical fruit flavours, like citrus and apricot. Don’t worry, citrus-infused acidity keeps it balanced. It will pair perfectly with berry-centric desserts so be sure to stick around for an after-dinner snack.

We hope this guide will help you sample the best wine of B.C.

If you in the area visiting and need a cozy vacation rental, be sure to contact us. Our staff would be happy to help you find the right fit.

BC nature scenery by water
Aug19

Thinking about visiting B.C.? We don’t blame you! Here are just a few of the things that we love about beautiful British Columbia.

1. The Hiking Trails

From the Okanagan to the Island, B.C. has hiking trails for all ages and skill levels. Take a family-friendly meander through a wooden grove or challenge yourself with a steep uphill climb! Check out our blog for suggestions of some hikes nearest you. On the blog homepage, search: “Hikes.”

2. National Parks

B.C. is home to some of the most gorgeous national parks in all of Canada. You can birdwatch, picnic, or site-see to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to call or email ahead to ensure that they are open to the public during your day/hour of choice. Make a day trip to the nearest one—you won’t regret it!

3. Budget Travel

B.C. has a perfect blend of flashy cities and small, community-centric towns. That means that no matter what your budget is, you can find somewhere to stay. Also: B.C. has a moderate climate year-round, meaning that you can fill your days with cost-free outdoor activities.

4. The Beaches

B.C. borders the Pacific Ocean and has many lakes and ponds that are safe for a dip. No matter where you stay, you’ll be able to find a waterside spot to soak up some sun. Okanagan Lake is a must-see if you are vacationing in the Kelowna and Vernon area.

5. Tourist Friendly

Not only is B.C. very multicultural but they have a thriving tourism industry. That means everywhere you go you will feel welcomed and taken care of. Our doors are always open to newcomers.

6. Wine County

B.C. wineries have a long history in the province, where the warm weather allows orchards of all sorts to flourish in the summer and autumn months. Book a wine tour to learn more or ask around for the best local picks.

7. Farmers’ Markets

Wine grapes aren’t the only produce that grows across B.C. You’ll find plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available at any local farmers’ market and even many varieties in common grocery stores, too.

Have we convinced you to try a B.C. vacation? Contact us for details on the best B.C. vacation rentals in the Okanagan Valley and on Vancouver Island. We welcome the opportunity to set you up in a modern, personable cottage or abode of your choosing.

As always: travel safe!

Summer cocktails using fresh fruit ingredients
Aug12

What can take any summer vacation up a notch? Some amazing cocktails (or mocktails if you want)! If you are staying somewhere away from home, like one of our vacation rentals, you will probably want something easy that you can throw together with minimal supplies and prep. So here are 5 of our favourite easy summer cocktail recipes. Mix, stir, blend, and shake away!

1. Jam Cocktails

By Dessert for Two

Pick your favourite jam—and if you are vacationing in B.C., you can probably find something homemade at one of the farmer’s markets. Place a few tablespoons of jam in a jar and add 1-2 shots of vodka and some lemon juice. Shake well before straining and serving over ice. Garnish with fruits and mint according to what type of jam you picked.

2. Easy Pimm’s Cocktails

By Taste.com

Add sliced oranges, lemon pieces, and cucumber to a significant portion of Pimm’s and then leave the whole thing in the fridge to chill for a few hours. Serve the mixture with tonic water, sparkling water, ginger ale, or lemonade, depending on your preference. Add some more fruit for garnish and voila—super easy fruity cocktail. Pimm’s can also be replaced by gin, vermouth, and an orange-based liqueur.

3. Malibu Sunset Cocktail

By The Cookin Chicks

This is a super easy three-ingredient recipe, requiring only Malibu Rum, pineapple juice, and a bit of grenadine. You can add cherries or pineapples as a garnish, but this is wholly optional. Fill a glass with ice and add in the rum and the pineapple juice. For a “sunset” look, pour the grenadine in slowly and watch the colours set.

4. Summer Solstice Wine Cocktail

By Boulderlocavore

What better to drink in Wine Country than a wine-based cocktail? First, combine cherries, peaches, and a Pinot Noir and muddle all the ingredients together. Then, add a few ice cubes and shake. Strain this mixture into glasses filled with fresh ice and top with Italian Soda (recommended: Blood Orange flavor). Try selecting a wine from a local vineyard for a location-specific twist.

5. Strawberry Basil Vodka Cocktail

By Garnish with Lemon

This is the most ingredient-intensive cocktail on this list so save it for a night you are feeling adventurous. You’ll need strawberries, basil leaves, lemon juice, simple syrup, vodka, elderflower liqueur, and prosecco. Muddle the strawberries, basil, lemon juice and simple syrup. Then, add ice, vodka, and elderflower liqueur and shake it. Strain everything into an ice-filled glass and add in the prosecco.

These summer cocktail ideas are sure to add a little spice to your vacation plans.

Don’t have any plans yet? Contact us about our vacation cottages and rentals across B.C. and we’ll help you find the perfect fit.

Sea
Jul29

If you are visiting Vancouver Island, you will find yourself surrounded by water. Of course, there is the Pacific Ocean to the West…but do you know what body of water borders the Island to the East? It’s called the Salish Sea! Here are some fun facts about this particular aquatic setting.

  1. It Connects B.C. to Washington state

The Salish Sea is a waterway that touches upon Vancouver Island, the B.C. province proper, as well as the coast of Washington. There are ferries that can take you from Vancouver and/or Victoria all the way to Seattle!

  1. There is a preservation and learning centre dedicated to the Salish Sea.

It’s called the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea and it’s located in Sidney, B.C., on Vancouver Island. They offer tours and events, activities for kids, a lecture series, and a gift shop. It’s listed as the largest aquarium on the whole of Vancouver Island, too.

  1. It is also called the Georgia Strait, Puget Sound, and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The first use of “Salish Sea” came about in 1988 by marine biologist Bert Webber. His goal was to emphasize the importance of protecting aquatic ecosystems, including this one. He didn’t intend to replace the “old” names, just draw attention to the area with a new title.

  1. The Coast Salish Indigenous People’s territory touches both B.C. and Washington.

The Salish Sea was a very important connection for trading goods amongst other groups that share cultural and linguistic origins. The Salish share over 23 different languages and have occupied the area long before Europeans landed here.

  1. The Salish Sea is Home to 253 known fish species and 37 aquatic mammals.

These include hagfish, lampreys, ratfish, mackerel sharks, cusk-eels, dogfish sharks, carps, trout, sturgeons, killifishes, orca whales, and plenty more.

  1. You might see whale pods while taking the ferry from Vancouver City to the Island.

If you get lucky, you might get to see a whale or whale pod passing by while you are crossing the Salish Sea. The best time to spot a whale is May through October, making summertime a peak time to do so.

If you’re staying with us in Qualicum Beach or Parksville, you will get an up-close-and-personal with the Salish Sea, AKA Georgia Strait, AKA Puget Sound, AKA the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You are sure to be greeted by beautiful, expansive beaches and mild, friendly waters.

Don’t have vacation plans yet? Contact us for a list of available vacation rentals in Qualicum Beach and Parksville. We welcome the opportunity to help you book the perfect getaway!

Fruit smoothie
Jul22

We love farmers’ markets and local produce in B.C. and if you are visiting from near or far you will probably want to get in on this smoothie trend. We always recommend that visitors to our vacation homes and cabins checkout the community markets and U-picks (pick-your-own-produce for a fee), but what to do with all the scrumptious fruit and vegetables you come back with?

Smoothies are super easy, can incorporate many flavors, are flexible to whatever you bring home, and are a super-healthy snack or treat. Here are some in-season flavours to try for July.

  1. Black Cherry Smoothie

Black cherries are just one of the fruits that are in season in July. And cherries are a staple in B.C. orchards. 3 cups of yogurt and 3 cups of black cherries make the basis of this smoothie. Then, add greens of your choice (avocado, spinach, kale) and sweetener (maple syrup, honey, brown sugar).

Try it: Super Heathy Kids

  1. Peach Smoothie

Fresh B.C. peaches are a must-try if you are vacationing anywhere in the Okanagan or on the Island. You’ll find boxes of them at every supermarket and fruit stand—and they ripen quickly, which means you can score a good deal on “very ripe” produce sometimes. Peaches that are slightly soft to the touch are the perfect smoothie ingredient. Try blending them with sliced banana, coconut milk, Greek yogurt, and/or honey.

Try it: Hungry Healthy Happy

  1. Raspberry Smoothie

Raspberries are a U-pick favourite in British Columbia, so you might be able to get them fresh from the bush. Raspberries are a super fruit. They contain vitamins C and E, selenium, beta carotene, and more healthy bits. Blend a handful of fresh, washed raspberries with Greek yogurt, almonds, and a sweetener of your choice.

Try it: Bawarchi

  1. Rhubarb Strawberry Smoothie

Rhubarb is in season mid-to-late summer but most people don’t think to put it in smoothies because it can be quite tart. The strawberries will help balance this out, though. Additionally, you can add a sweetener of your choice—we recommend fresh honey—milk, fruit juice, and additional frozen or fresh mixed berries.

Try it: She Wears Many Hats

  1. Radish Smoothie

Wait, RADISH smoothie?! You heard us right! Radish are in season and are incredible valuable nutrition-wise. Health nuts will love this, as radishes boast being low calorie, have anticancer properties, and are packed with fibre to aid in digestion. Radish smoothies might be new to you so follow the instructions in the below link closely until you get used to the idea.

Try it: Daisy’s Kitchen

 

Are “vacation smoothies” the new travel trend? We’re doing our best to make it so, which is really easy to do when you are surrounded by the orchards and gardens of British Columbia. Not sure how or when to travel B.C.? Contact us for a hook up with stunning vacation rentals in B.C.

Goat
Jul17

Originally constructed as a simple fruit stand off of the Alberni Highway is 1973 to a now bustling little roadside stop for travellers commuting up and down the island Coombs Old Country Market is a must visit for anyone passing by or staying in the Qualicum area. Perhaps you have had the enjoyment of witnessing the ever so popular goats on the roof grazing atop the grass covered peaks or maybe this is something you have only ever heard of, either way the experience is always just as exciting each and every time.

Over the years Coombs Old Country Market has grown organically into what it is today, a booming seasonal town full of local produce, baked goods, shops, and so much more. Stroll through the main market and enjoy looking at the display of fun little knick-knacks or follow the trailing smell of fresh baked bread made in house daily and still warm if you get there early enough.

donuts

Treats

If it is a tasty treat you are looking for you don’t have to go far to find it. Meander a couple steps past the markets main entrance and arrive upon Billy G’s Donut Shop, enjoy classic flavours like Honey Dip and Old Fashioned. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous flavours like their Gimme S’more donut filled with marsh mellow and dipped in chocolate or the Billy Gruff Bomber, a caramel filled donut with bacon bits on top and are definite must try’s! The Billy Griff Creamery is located directly across the street and offers over 60 flavours of ice-cream and over 30 flavours of home-made gelato and sorbetto, so there will always be something for everyone.

Shops

After filling up on sweets what better way to work it off than to walk around and check out all the cute local shops along the way. Zolena Boutique is full of beautiful textiles, hand crafted soaps and décor, perfect for gifts or spicing up your home. Wabi Sabi Boardware offers a wide selection of West Coast attire. Popular among the young at heart this shop has great staple clothing items with a laid-back vibe. In addition to clothing and interior design items there are also lovely garden shops full of plants and outdoor decorations. Whether you are looking to buy or just enjoy some browsing there are lots of things that are enjoyable to look at.

Cuckoo Trattoria and Pizzeria – Italian Restaurant

A full day at Coombs is never complete without enjoying a bite to eat at the stunning Cuckoo Trattoria and Pizzeria. With a loaded two-page menu the options seem endless. Amazing lunch options include sandwiches like their delicious meatball sub or the Focaccia consisting of dijon mayo, lettuce, tomato & grilled chicken breast, topped with mozzarella cheese. Indulge in one of their generous servings of pasta with choices like their baked Lasagna, Salmon Fettuccine, and Gnocchi Four Cheese. If it is something light you are looking for enjoy some appetizers to share like the delicious mussels or the Honey pecan crusted brie or order a verity of their traditional Italian Pizzas. Whatever you decide to choose you will not be disappointed.

After a beautiful day at Coombs Old Country Market, what better way to relax and cook up a family BBQ than at a Qualicum Landing Beach Home! Spread along the oceanfront, Qualicum Landing Beach Homes are excellent for families to relax and enjoy the amenities such as a pool and tennis courts.

 

Dinner
Jul08

With its breathtaking beaches, laid back vibe, and charming Beach Homes, Qualicum Beach is a favourite weekend getaway among locals on Vancouver Island as well residents of the Mainland seeking a place for some much-needed rest and relaxation. From its long list of easy to moderate hiking trails, refreshing local watering holes such as Cameron and Spider Lake, and of course the kilometers of beaches to choose from the activities here are endless. To make your stay even more enjoyable and hassle-free we have made a list of our favourite places for dine-in or take-out in Qualicum Beach so you can spend more time exploring, relaxing, and not meal planning.

 

Breakfast, Lunch, and Brunch Options

 

 

Courtyard Cafe

Courtyard Cafe is the perfect place for a quick on-the-go early morning bite to eat. The quaint little eatery is best known for its delicious baked goods and their sweet or savoury crepes loaded with your choice of toppings. Enjoy this meal on the go or take a seat on their lovely outdoor courtyard patio before heading out for the day.

 

Baileys In The Village

Baileys In The Village is another hot spot for awesome breakfast or lunch options in Qualicum Beach. A cute little restaurant in the heart of downtown Qualicum enjoyed by both locals and out of towners. Their comfort food keeps you full and happy all the way through until dinner. Choices of classic meals like bacon and eggs, breakfast sandwiches, lunch wraps, and tasty soup/salad combos.

 

Ohhh… So Yummy Cafe

This cafe has to be one of our absolute favourite spots for a delicious breakfast/brunch meal. Serving up all the best options like classic eggs benny, huevos rancheros, and we can’t forget about their famous happy face pancakes loaded with all kinds of fruit and topped with whipped cream. Their reasonable prices and generous portions make it a great spot for families to enjoy a great meal.

 

Dinner Dining Options

 

 

Deez Bar and Grill

Deez Bar and Grill offers some of the best feel-good foods in town. With a great selection of handhelds, fish and chips, pasta, salads, and large entree meals including steaks, seafood, and a massive Mediterranean platter you will always find something you like. Located only steps from the beach, this laid back bar is the perfect place to pick up a tasty meal to enjoy down by the water.

 

Bistro 694

Bistro 694 stands by their slogan, “Global flavours… local ingredients”. Although they are currently closed until late July, they offer amazing authentic foods to choose from. Try their hummus and warm pita or the Little Qualicum brie bruschetta for starters followed by the Kashmiri Butter Chicken, Balinese prawn curry, or their delicious seafood crepes. Bistro 694 offers a selection of foods and flavours that are truly divine.

 

Giovanni’s Ristorante and Lounge

Giovanni’s is the go-to place for Italian food in Qualicum Beach and an absolute must-try. With three dining experiences to choose from, fine dining, casual dining, or pizza takeout, Giovanni’s always delivers quality food with impeccable service. With so many options to choose from it is the perfect place to try new dishes because you will never be disappointed.

 

Finding the best place to dine-in or take-out in Qualicum Beach is now much easier! You can enjoy your Breakaway Vacation more without worrying about where to eat!