Making The Most of Winter

Senior citizens love adventure at their own speed; Vancouver Island provides the whole spectrum

Mount Washington Alpine Resort

The best way to survive the winter doldrums is to get out in the elements and embrace the outdoor life. At Mount Washington, the variety of snow-based activities is wide, including skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and even snow tubing for those with grandchildren. Take a lesson in a new pursuit or rediscover an old love. Warm up in the lodge with lunch. Walk through the village. Soak up the winter vibes knowing you’ll be back in the lush green valley at the end of day.

Birds, Bird, Birds

Far from being an elderly-only pursuit, birdwatching is for anyone who loves the delicate chatter and songs of birds in the wild. The Island is a paradise for bird watchers, especially in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area. From finches to seabirds to the west coast’s famous birds of prey like bald eagles, owls and hawks, the variety of feathered friends is astounding.

Take a (Gentle) Hike

Call it hiking, forest bathing or strolling, the act of walking in the wilderness is therapeutic. With a deep rolodex of provincial and national parks to choose from, Vancouver Island has gentle, mellow hiking trails in all communities from Victoria to Port Hardy, on beaches, in rainforests, up mountains. Bring good shoes, Gore-Tex, and a sense of adventure.

Meet Me in the Garden

Even in the dead of winter, Vancouver Island’s gardens bloom. The world famous Butchart Gardens near Victoria is a National Historic Site and is open year-round. These gardens opened in 1904 and host one million visitors annually. Tofino’s Botanical Gardens are a west coast gem. For those who wish to get adventurous, the legendary—and remote—Cougar Annie’s gardens are accessed only by boat or float plane. Milner Gardens and Woodland (Qualicum), Hatley Park National Historic Site (Sooke), and Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens (Comox Valley) are all worth a visit.

Museums and Other Curiosities

The Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria is a simply a must-visit for visitors and locals alike. Make sure to plan for at least three hours to truly explore this treasure box of exhibits. On the other end of the island in Telegraph Cove, The Whale Interpretive Centre is a fantastic museum, including real whale skeletons hanging from the ceiling. In Sidney, the B.C. Aviation Museum showcases all manners of cool aircraft, as does the Comox Valley Airforce Museum, located on Canada’s westernmost Canadian Forces base. The Ucluelet Aquarium is open until the end of November and is Canada’s first “catch-and-release” aquarium. And finally, the iconic Coombs Market is worth a visit in winter, even if the famous “Goats on the Roof” are put away for the season.