Five great, relatively-green winter getaways

Here’s our eco-rated list of great places for close, but not too close, holiday travel from Vancouver, B.C.

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A 55-minute ferry ride from Tsawwassen brings you to Sturdies Bay on the southern tip of Galiano Island. They have Smart Cars for rent, so there’s no need to bring your car on the Ferry. But if you can’t part with your automobile, make sure to make reservations in advance for this small ferry.

Approximate distance from Vancouver:  68.5 km

What to do:

Pack a few sandwiches and soak in the panoramic view at the top of Mount Galiano. Put on your gloves and winter coat, the scene at the top will be worth braving the cold. The (aprox.) one-hour hike will start at the trailhead on the south end of the Island and end up at the top with a look at the sparkling water and snowy peaks in the distance.

You’ll be able to sit at the top of the mountain and watch eagles soar over your head, but if you want to get up-close and personal with the all-season J Pod of Orcas, join an excursion or keep look out at Sturdies Bay, Bellhouse Park and Bluff Park.

Make this an all-around eco trip by looking into the island’s Eco-Tours, plant sales from the Native Plant Nursery, stewardship walks and consultation. Mopeds, scooters and bicycles are popular ways to get around on the small island. Sustainable farming is a lifestyle on the island, so devour the delicious fruits no matter what season you visit in.

Where to stay:

After all that exploring, you’ll be tempted to spend the night. Relax and get spoiled at Galiano Oceanfront Inn & Spa, which is only walking distance from the ferry terminal.

Camping is restricted to Galiano's provincial parks. Montague Harbour Park has 13 drive-in sites and 15 walk-in sites with water, campfire pits and public toilets. You can stick around and ‘Island hop’ to other hot spots on the Gulf Islands too. View more Galiano accommodation here.

There is no landfill on Galiano, so whatever your brought on to the island, take it off. You can lighten the load at The Recycling Depot & Redirectory.

Eco-Rating: Kind of Green. 
The idea of a spa hotel may not sound very green, but the Island provides plenty of camping alternatives.

4) Snohomish County

A little north of Seattle and a short ferry ride away from the San Juan Islands or Olympic Peninsula, this location is an ideal starting point to explore the entire Pacific Northwest.

Enjoy the Agricultural tourism filled with wide-open land and experience the Snohomish lifestyle. Additionally, you can sip the many flavors of Western Washington in Snohomish County’s boutique wineries, breweries or micro-distilleries.

Photo of historic town of Snohomish in the county of Snohomish by Jasperdo via Flickr

How to get there:

Amtrak arrives and departs from Edmonds, Everett and Stanwood to and from Vancouver. I know it’s winter, but you’ll also find bicycle and horse friendly trails and services throughout the county.

Approximate distance from Vancouver:  196.5 km

When you get there, rental cars, taxis, public and private bus transportation and airport shuttles give you the options you need. Washington State Ferry service is available to and from Edmonds and Mukilteo making access to the Olympic Peninsula and Whidbey Island super easy.

What to do:

There is almost too much to discover in the county! Filled with skate parks and underwater parks, a 2-mile-long by half-mile-wide man-made island (Jetty Island), Segway tours, cliff climbing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Here are some narrowed down options:

Exfoliation Dome is a mountain peak with no simple route to the top or bottom. The main faces on the dome are called Blueberry Hill (facing west) and Witch Doctor Wall (facing east). Vertical cliff Witch Doctor wall has a 1,100-foot face and an angle of 75 degrees, and has been referred to as “the most difficult 4,000 foot peak in the State of Washington.”

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