Lifestyle: Year Round Activities

Thanks to the mildest climate in Canada life at The Gales offers things to do in all four seasons. From outdoor activities and adventures to wonderful and unique cultural and urban experiences life at The Gales a cornucopia full of the fruits of life.

urban adventures

While Ladysmith offers a wonderful range of urban experiences and is located just down the road from The Gales, the city of Victoria has a wide variety of cultural activities along with world class shopping and dining delights only a one hour drive from your home at The Gales.

Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria provides its own unique experience when it comes to shopping, dining, outdoor activities and tourist-type attractions. You can stroll its downtown streets browsing through quant boutiques and small shops selling wares of all nature from designer fashions to hand-pulled toffee and everything in between. If you prefer the convenience of shopping in a mall Victoria has several well appointed malls, both downtown and in the surrounding areas.

When those hunger pangs strike Victoria has a wide variety of options to help satiate your appetite. Being a city with international culinary influences you can find a dining experience to suite any taste. Whether you crave a quick meal in a small sidewalk cafe or a sophisticated and elegant dining affair Victoria is sure to serve up a memorable culinary encounter every time. From Great pub fare to high tea at the historic Empress Hotel to fresh seafood prepared in a west coast style to whatever you fancy Victoria can serve it up to you!

Outdoor activities in Victoria are numerous and wide ranging. The simple pleasure of a stroll around Victoria's world famous inner harbour, watching street performers on the harbour's causeway, the coming and goings of its traffic both water bourn and aircraft can be an entire afternoon's entertainment in itself. Follow that up with a wander through Beacon Hill Park with its myriad of beautifully manicured flower beds and duck ponds and you will have no doubt as to why Victoria is called 'The Garden City'. Views of the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca can be taken in along the entire waterfront off Dallas road where kite flyers and joggers enjoy the expansive view year round. Other local attractions like the world famous Butchart Gardens and Butterfly World are within easy reach of downtown Victoria. The Royal BC Museum, located by the inner harbour, is a 'must see' attraction that showcases the province’s natural and cultural heritage with displays the bring history to life for both young and old alike.

The streets and parks of Victoria play host to many sports and cultural events throughout the year. World class yachting comes to Victoria annually in the form of the Swiftsure International Yacht Race. This event draws thousands of spectators and participants to the inner harbour and along the waterfront to view the hundreds of racing yachts in full sail and to drink in the atmosphere. It is an event not to be missed. A wide variety of sports can be found around Victoria from hockey to lacrosse to lawn bowling and even cricket in Beacon Hill Park (Victoria is fiercely proud of its English heritage!).

Some of the other events to be taken in are:

JazzFest International
The Fringe Theatre Festival
Luminara Festival
Uno Live Theatre Festival

Victoria is not the only urban centre on Vancouver Island to find adventure in. Other places include:

Duncan with its Cowichan Cultural Centre
Nanaimo with its Bathtub Races, Empire Days celebration, Jazz in the park and much more
Parksville/Qualicum with beautiful beaches and quant shopping districts
Coombs with its market full of artisans along with goats on the roof!(really!)

Year round you can find something to do at The Gales, nearby, or on a memorable day trip from your home at The Gales. From simply relaxing on your spacious deck at home to something as adventurous as bungee jumping you can have it all!

The West Coast Trail

Some of the land based activities include:
* aerial tours: Sightseeing over a beautiful island from the heavens. Several sea-plane airlines offer private and small-group aerial tours.

* berry picking: Wild berries abound, often near highways and hiking paths.

* bicycling: The mild climate allows for a year-round riding season.

* bungee jumping: Imagine jumping off a bridge over a clean river in a verdant valley, fun assured by bungee.

* camping: one of the best places in the world for camping.

* golf: Golfers have more than 40 great golf facilities to choose from – most scenic, some world-class.

* hiking: From shoreline paths to mountain-climb routes, the island is a hiker’s paradise all year.

* guided walking or bus tours: From the haunted places of Victoria to historical logging equipment near Duncan, there are many guided tours by land.

* horseback riding: On inland trails, on beaches, and at equestrian centres. Guided tours, too.

* mountain climbing: The island is mountainous and people come from all over the world to explore them.

* mushroom picking: Those damp forests support a seasonal small industry of wild mushrooms.

* sightseeing: From a tour-bus window to a motorcycle helmet face shield to a scenic bluff, the island is a panorama of beautiful scenery from almost anywhere.

* spelunking (caving): Vancouver Island’s thousands of caves place it among the most significant and spectacular spelunking areas in the world.

* storm watching: A long-standing practice recently popularized on the island’s west coast. See why.

* visiting museums and galleries: From the small and private to the large and government-run, the island has many.

* wildlife watching: Hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians live here year-round or stop here on seasonal migration. They draw wildlife watchers from all over the world.

* winery tours: There are 25 vineyards in the Cowichan Valley – some producing wines that win regional and international awards.

Annual wildlife viewing events include:

* The Trumpeter Swan Festival in the Comox Valley each February.
* The Pacific Rim Whale Festival every March.
* The Brant Festival in the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area each April.
* Tofino’s annual Shorebird Festival every May.

outdoor activities – by water

Vancouver Island is one of the great aquatic playgrounds in the world. Voted by both Conde Naste Traveler and Travel + Leisure readers as North America's best island destination Vancouver Island has it all to offer when it comes to adventure on the water!

Included amongst the aquatic attractions are:
* beach combing: How big a piece of seaweed can you find? How smooth a piece of log? Build a fort of driftwood, too.

* bird watching: The island is a special habitat and a haven for trumpeter swans and for hundreds of other migratory and local birds. You can be there when an eagle swoops down and plucks a salmon from the water.

* canoeing: As with kayaking, canoeing is a popular water sport year after year, with a 12-month season.

* exploring tide pools: Fascinating explorations for the young and old when the tide is out.

* fishing: The Cowichan River is the Fly Fishing Capital of the World and herring migrate along the island’s west coast. That’s not all. The island has been sport-fishing centre for hundreds of years – river, lake, and ocean.

* guided boat tours: For fishing and for sightseeing, the island has many successful tour boats.

* kayaking: Vancouver Island is such a great place for kayaking that there have been busy kayak makers here for many years. In fresh water or saltwater, the kayaking is great here.

* river rafting: It’s a mountainous island with many rivers. Rafting can be a thrill.

* sailing: From this island in the Pacific with many neighbouring islands and a temperate climate, great sailing opportunities are plentiful. Sailing even becomes a spectator event with regattas such as the annual Swiftsure yacht race.

* SCUBA diving & snorkelling: Vancouver Island is a global destination for these sports, too.

* surfing: Long Beach, Sombrio Beach, English Beach – the list of great surf spots on the island is long. Find one you enjoy and come back for more.

* water-skiing & jet skiing: Many waters and a mild climate offer many opportunities to enjoy these sports.

* whale watching: Offshore, about thirty species of marine mammals make Vancouver Island home. You can visit various species of whale, seals, dolphins, porpoises, and sea lions from shore or by boat.

* windsurfing: Jordan River is a favourite for windsurfers on the Pacific. Yet, as with the other water sports, there are many freshwater and saltwater destinations that windsurfers enjoy. When you live here, you can try them all.

* yachting: Another popular pastime that draws people from near and far, and a thriving industry.

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