When the weather turns warm, exploring the wonders that Beautiful British Columbia has to offer can get pricey, if not a little overwhelming. With everyone wanting to go to the same places at the same time to do the same things, the hospitality industry kicks into high gear for its most expensive and difficult-to-book season.
So if you’re going to venture out, you’ve got to do a little pre-planning to keep costs down and crowds at bay, while keeping adventure high. Having fun will require you to be smart about what you do, where you go, and how you’re going to get there.
This is a time when the versatility, exceptional mileage, and compact size of the Mercedes-Benz smart fortwo shines as brightly as the summer sun. It’s as comfortable on long highway stretches as it is on the tight promenades of surfside towns. The fortwo’s killer turning radius accommodates spontaneous turnarounds to explore the unexpected — like a chainsaw carver from Mission with a penchant for crafting poodles out of wood logs. It’s your passport to an accessible, affordable, and economical way to uncover the gems of the Lower Mainland.
Here are a few ideas that will whet your appetite for the simplicity of a day trip to the suburbs.
Look no further than Chilliwack for lighter crowds, and an untapped well of thrift stores all set to throwback mode. You’ll find all kinds of antique stores, gift shops, and used apparel on Mill Street, where the quaint country kitchen of Apeldoorn’s Cottage Bakery anchors the area with freshly baked treats and ice cream.
Or, skip the whole thrift thing and angle park your vehicle on Wellington Avenue for a quiet stroll. Once there, you can throw a game of 5-pin at the Chillibowl, which also houses a sweet little 50’s diner and great stretch of pinball machines.
If it’s getting late, you can call Chilliwack home for the night by taking up residence at Wellington Avenue’s Royal Hotel, where hardwood floor hotel rooms with clawfoot tubs can be had for about $80.00.
White Rock in the summer on a clear day definitely calls the crowds, and the lure of a sunset over Semiahmoo Bay is worth it. No doubt you’ll see other smart fortwo’s tucked into pocket-sized parking spaces as you zip around the tight lanes of the promenade and zero in on your own compact spot.
Pull a couple beach chairs out of the trunk, hit the free library box located by the steps that lead from the East Beach crosswalk to Ash Street for a book, and set up on the low tide sands for some down time.
When you’re ready to come in for a bite, skip the trap line set by the monster lineups for fish and chips, and go all the way to the East end of Marine Drive, where the Sandpiper Pubawaits with plenty of patio seating and nachos that are next-level.
If you’re looking for some parks and recreation, skip the insanity of Stanley Park and head to the chilled-out vibes of Burnaby’s Central Park, where the risk of duelling with a tourist on a rented bike is low (and the chances of being hypnotized by the tranquil beauty of ducks drifting on idyllic ponds is high). Oh, and let’s not forget that it has a swimming pool, horseshoe pitch and a pitch-and-putt golf course surrounded by incredible Douglas fir trees.
Traversing Vancouver’s suburbs the smart way is all about keeping things simple, and being spontaneous in the spur of the moment. Good thing the smart fortwo has the spirit of fun in spades, with plenty of room in the back to fit the dog or some golf clubs, and a companion riding shotgun up front. Best of all, once you’re in smart mode, you’ll be hard pressed to burn even a quarter tank of gas on any of the adventures listed above. So if you’re feeling a little bit lost for a way to get away, remember – spending lots of money isn’t a necessity, and keeping it simple will take you further than you think.