This category covers places to stay, things to do, ways to get there, excursions, tours, getaways, along with shopping and eating while on vacation.

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Learn A New Language For Free With Gamified Duolingo

If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language or bone up on an old one you haven’t spoken since high school, free,  addictive, “gamified” Duolingo will see that you get the job done.

iStocklanguage 650

FREE & ADDICTIVE | Last fall my husband and I took a group of enthusiasts to tour private gardens in the south of France. He was the landscape expert in charge, and I, along with a local tour guide/translator, was responsible for everything else.

I once lived for a year in Paris and spoke only French on a daily basis so I knew I would be able to get by linguistically on our trip, but I wanted to do more than that—I wanted my proficiency back. Read more

George Lange

PICTURE THIS

This is how you take an unforgettable Photo: 228 ideas, tips and secrets for taking instantly better photos.

The Unforgettable Photograph - George Lange

WHAT TO GIVE | Are you casting around for an inexpensive gift for someone you don’t know all that well, or for someone you do know well but, for whatever reason, everything you can think of to give that person doesn’t feel like a fit?

You won’t go wrong by shooting them a copy of esteemed American photographer George Lange’s The Unforgettable Photograph, written with the assistance of journalist and onetime Vancouverite Scott Mowbray. Everyone is snap happy these days—it’s not for nothing that “selfie” was named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2013—and most of what is being shot would be instantly improved by adopting any of the 228 dead easy non-technical suggestions put forward in this meaty $6 picture book.

Here are three favourite takeaways from my now dog-eared copy. Read more

Sunburn back

No Really, Vinegar Is Great For Sunburn

Who would have thought that plain old vinegar would be the best thing to take the sting and colour out of sunburn?

Sunburn back

THIS STUFF WORKS | If I were forced to go back to grade school in the coming days and then asked to write an essay about the coolest thing I learned on my time away from the classroom, I would definitely wax lyrical about how I discovered that common household vinegar is a rock solid remedy for sunburn. Read more

Young boy jumping into lake

Take A Mini Vacay @ Cusheon Lake Resort

For us, the perfect vacation spot is a little less Napa and a little more Mayberry.

Young boy jumping into lake

 

TRAVEL ADVISORY | The province of British Columbia is peppered with posh resorts, and developers keep adding new ones all the time thinking that designer surroundings, celebrity-chef restaurants, spa treatments and 600-thread-count sheets are what make a vacation unique. That is one approach for sure, but it’s not our preference. We like a little less Napa and a little more Mayberry when it comes to summer retreats, which is why we love Cusheon Lake Resort on Salt Spring Island, a perfect example of the latter.

Read more

Flying U

Mini Vacay @ Canada’s Oldest Dude Ranch

Pony up for a mini vacay at Canada’s oldest and most original dude ranch, The Flying U—where you’re allowed to ride out on your own.

Horse wrangle at Flying U Ranch

 

TRAVEL ADVISORY | I never went to a dude ranch as a kid, but my husband did. He and his brother spent a week as buckaroos at The Flying U guest ranch in B.C.’s Cariboo. It was their favourite childhood holiday. “Better ’n Disneyland” is how they described the experience to their friends when they got home, and the way they continued to speak of it years later. Read more

Rodney Graham

Get Better Photos With Your Digital Camera

This surprisingly inexpensive introductory class will teach you how to take much better pictures with your digital camera.

Rodney Graham

 

SUPER VALUE  | There’s no way my snaps will ever match the cinematographic style of Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham (featured above) or Ian Wallace, three stellar members of the internationally acclaimed “Vancouver School” of photography, but recently I learned how to get a better than average shot with my compact digital camera. For the surprisingly low price of just $25, I received two hours of solid instruction in alternatives to Automatic Mode, the most commonly used setting (and my former personal fave) on the mode dial of digital cameras. Read more

Iceberg Alley- FlyOver Canada

See Canada’s Wonders On FlyOver Canada

See all of Canada’s natural wonders on FlyOver Canada’s spectacular virtual flight ride.

Iceberg Alley- FlyOver Canada

 

TRAVEL ADVISORY | I flew across Canada the other day. It took a total of 30 minutes to travel from coast to coast. For $20 dollars I dipped, dove and soared in an aerial dance that began in Newfoundland’s surreal Iceberg Alley and ended in the Northwest Territories, where glowing, auroral streamers swirled in the northern light. Along the way, I flew into the misty middle of Niagara Falls, over the top of the astounding cirque glaciers found along ridge crests in the Rockies, and through a procession of other breathtaking Canadian landscapes. Read more

Griffith Observatory - 123rf

L.A.’s Best Free Attraction: The Griffith

But not like you think—the Griffith Observatory is the best free attraction in the city.

Star Gazing In L.A.

 

TRAVEL ADVISORY | It always surprises me when I hear that friends who’ve vacationed in Los Angeles multiple times haven’t ventured up Mount Hollywood to visit the Griffith Observatory, the most interesting FREE attraction in this town after the sun and the beach. Read more

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The Coolest Way To Tour Vancouver

Many of the West Coast’s most spectacular homes are on the water. To see them, you should be too.

West Vancouver Waterfront Homes

 

TRAVEL ADVISORY | West Vancouver is hardly Amalfi, but like this picturesque stretch of Mediterranean waterfront in Italy, it does have interesting houses terraced into the rocky coastline, some with cascading, tropical gardens of Babylonian intent. And when the days are sunny and calm like they they will be shortly, we like to rent a (reasonably priced) runabout from Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay and treat our out-of-town guests to a tour of this gorgeous shoreline in one of Canada’s poshest postal codes. Read more

Top of Vancouver- Wikipedia Commons

Vancouver’s Revolving Eateries Are The Top

Does Vancouver have more revolving restaurants than anywhere outside of Asia?

View from the Top of Vancouver

 

TRAVEL ADVISORY | While the market for revolving restaurants is hot in the Middle East and Asia, no one is making new ones in North America, and the multitude of revolving restaurants here, most of which were built in the 1960s and 1970s, are shutting down.

What was once the chicest place in town to take your sweetie to eat is now—at least in North America—considered a tourist destination or the spot to dine with old aunties in taste-bud decline.

Too bad about these closures because revolving restaurants offer an unrepeatable experience, a one-of-a-kind way to see a city. In Vancouver we remain lucky: we still have three revolvers open for business. Read more