Blue Grouse Estate Winery by Jacqueline Downey Photography in Cowichan Valley
Blue Grouse Estate Winery by Jacqueline Downey Photography
The sweetest slice of wine country heaven you’ve probably never heard of. Photo by Jacqueline Downey Photography

Warm days and crisp nights, gravelly soil rich with minerals, and lush aquifers imbue Cowichan Valley wines with fruit-forward flavors that deliver a crisp, dry finish. The conditions are similar to what’s found in the northern regions of Germany and France. The main difference is: Cowichan vines are relative babies. 

The oldest operating winery can trace its lineage back more than 1,150 years. By comparison, the first commercial wineries on Vancouver Island appeared just 100 years ago, making wine from local loganberries. It wasn’t until the 1980s that grapes were planted in Cowichan Valley, located on the southern end of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island.

But make no mistake — this quaint slice of paradise produces exceptional grapes. It’s a fact that was recognized in June of 2020 when Cowichan Valley was formally given a sub-geographical indication (sub-GI). An official and protected term in B.C., it helps people identify local wine origins, signifying that at least 95% of the wine was made with regionally grown grapes.

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seaplane in seattle skyline

While Seattle has long been dubbed one of the rainiest cities in the United States, this enchanting destination is far from boring. The diverse topography is home to more than 20 culturally unique neighborhoods, picturesque hiking trails, outstanding waterfront views, and an eclectic mix of museums. This comprehensive list of what to do in Seattle is just a jumping-off point. 

The opportunities here are endless and constantly expanding as more inventive chefs and local purveyors make their mark in this tech-heavy urban hub. From coffee shops to neighborhood trolls, there’s something for everyone. 

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sea lion photo by Jess Newley
Sea Lion in the Salish Sea by Jess Newley
This Steller sea lion is just one of the unique wildlife encounters that you can enjoy while visiting the islands. Keep an eye out for large colonies hauled out on rocks and an ear out for their roars often heard throughout the night. Photo by Jess Newley

Breaching killer whales, soaring eagles, swimming sea lions, and stunning shorelines—these are just a few of the sights that people travel to the San Juan Islands every year by foot, boat, or plane to behold. If you’ve been to the islands before, then you know that their moniker as “the hidden gem of Washington State” is true. But did you know that under the water there is a whole system of wondrous natural resources (eelgrass, kelp, forage fish, juvenile salmon, and of course, killer whales, to name a few) that support what we get to experience above the surface?

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Orcas Island by Eduardo Hueck
Orcas Island View by Eduardo Hueck
48(ish) hours sampling the best things to do on the biggest island in the San Juans.

This quaint destination, tucked within Washington’s gourmet archipelago, is loaded with enough baked treats, fresh seafood, and epic views to keep everybody happy. Residents of Orcas Island unite around the core conviction that they live in a beautiful and relatively untouched place. Here, artists thrive, hikes abound, and sea-to-table cuisine reigns supreme.

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Mt. Finlayson
Mt. Finlayson San Juan Island Day Hike

Deep forest lagoons, sweeping grasslands, and an iconic lighthouse make this easy jaunt a favorite for visitors and locals alike. 

At the southern edge of San Juan Island, you’ll find the longest stretch of public beach in the archipelago. The preserved waterfront property is thanks to the Pig War — an 1859 confrontation between the U.S. and Great Britain. While remnants of battle installments and officers’ quarters can be found throughout the island, the ‘war’ was far from gruesome. Just one shot was fired and the only casualty was a hog. 

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things to do in Victoria BC
Victoria BC

Victoria is just 25 miles from Port Angeles, the closest American shore. That’s 25 miles closer to America than its Canadian mainland. But the quaint British Columbia capital feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of US city life thanks to its walkable streets, historic architecture, and generally upbeat culture. 

Like its residents, its gardens tend to be bright and cheerful — thanks in large part to incredible Victoria BC weather patterns. Tucked within the Olympic Rainshadow, the small metropolitan hub gets 308 days a year with sunshine! So whether you’re looking for indoor activities or plenty of fresh air, there’s a wide variety of things to do in Victoria, BC. 

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Scoot coupe san juan island
Riding a scoot coupe and moped on san juan island
Eat, Explore & Enjoy it All this Summer. Photo by Adam Gilani

Summertime practically begs for a trip to the San Juans Islands. There is something extra special about the islands this time of year. The islands are bursting with gorgeous blossoms, beautiful windswept beaches, glimmers of blue sky, and an abundance of fresh produce. One trip is all you need to feel gratitude for the beautiful place we get to call home. Hop on a seaplane and spend your weekend visiting both new and familiar places, eating delicious food, and being reminded of the intense charm small-town life has to offer.

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Flegels at Kenmore Air
They met on a climbing wall – a flight instructor and an artist. Today, they share a dock for an office.

Husband-wife duo — Kenmore aIR Captain Brian Flegel and Line Crew Lead Jaazia C Moran Flegel — are passionate adventures. As a pair, they have trained and performed as both trapeze and acrobatic artists. They’ve spent a summer commercial fishing in Alaska and four summers woodland firefighting.

It was there, creating firebreaks and protecting the forest, that Brian’s passion for seaplanes was ignited. He learned to fly at Walla Walla University, but it was on an uphill firebreak that his own personal spark was ignited. During breaks, the couple watched as firebombers (seaplanes equipped to dump water) swooped just above the flames and released their loads.

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Friday Harbor
Friday Harbor on San Juan Island

With its lush landscape and plethora of activities, it can be hard to leave the Emerald City during the summer. Throughout the prized months of sunshine, locals and visitors alike try and soak up every bit of the fun things to do in Seattle. But just at the edge of the US and Canada’s watery border rests a quaint archipelago that beckons those looking for a bit slower-paced adventure.

But exploring a slice of the San Juans doesn’t have to mean giving up a whole weekend. (Though you certainly could and wouldn’t regret it.) Nor does it mean investing several hours in commuting. The San Juans have never been easier to reach, thanks to the new 25-minute scenic flight departing from Paine Field, just outside of Seattle. 

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Zingaro Floral Perfumery
Zingaro Floral Perfumery Victoria BC
Victoria’s Palma Cafolla’s parfum and flower shop transports visitors deep into memories and beloved destinations. 

Zingaro Floral Perfumery could well be a time machine. The small boutique is tucked within a historic building on Johnson Street, less than half a mile from the Victoria Harbour Airport. The space is an Instagramer’s daydream, filled with the kind of treasures that evoke a mix of old-world elegance and whimsical fun. 

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