We packed our bags, loaded up the car and drove from Abbotsford to Horseshoe Bay terminal for a family adventure. For two nights we were going to explore the Sunshine Coast, staying in Gibsons and then heading up to Sechelt. We walked onto BC Ferries and were ready for an adventure, travelling around with BC Transit.
If you don’t often travel by public transport the first that I want you to know is that it’s actually so easy. Before we left I was a little worried about how many wrong buses we might hop on, as I grew up in an area outside of public transport and have never been super familiar with it. Well, we did pretty exceptional thanks to our friend, Google. For each of the destinations below we would type in where we were headed and then clicked on “transit” to show us what time we would need to be at the bus stop, the route the bus would travel, and the number bus to take. It was beyond easy.
Not only easy, but our kids thought it was THE BEST THING EVER (said in caps because, seriously, they love it)! Not once did we get an “Are we there yet?”, bickering was at a minimum, and they were beyond excited to not be in car seats. Who knew that changing up the mode of transportation on a family holiday would make it that much more memorable? We put together a list of things that were very easy to access via the bus routes and would strongly encourage you give it a try yourself – you will most likely be pleasantly surprised with how smooth it goes. Just as we were!
1. Gibsons Garden Hotel
The first thing you want to look for when travelling by bus is a place to stay that is close to a bus stop. Gibsons Garden Hotel is located not far from the ferry in upper Gibsons. There are bus stops nearby the hotel that makes it easy for transporting luggage on and off. We loved the floral entry and pathway leading into the hotel, had amazing service from the reception and other hotel staff, and enjoyed the complimentary breakfast each morning. We stayed in the family suite which was perfect with two queens in one room and a kitchenette and pull-out couch in the other. Having separate rooms allowed the kids to go to bed first and the adults time to stay up a little longer.
2. Sechelt Aquatic Centre
Perfect for a rainy day or when visiting in the winter, the Sechelt Aquatic Centre was a hit with the kids. Their lazy river, water slide, and bouldering wall were all some of the kids’ favourites. Coming from a larger town, I loved how quiet it seemed as it was such a big pool with small town, casual, relaxed vibes.
3. Sunshine Harbour Boat Tour
Located in lower Gibsons is Sunshine Kayaking, where we took a boat tour of the Howe Sound. We decided to walk down to lower Gibsons in the morning (it’s about 20 minutes downhill) and then took BC Transit back up later in the afternoon.
You usually can tell when someone loves their job, and it’s safe to say that our guide absolutely adored his job. He was beaming with everything that he shared, and was a wealth of knowledge of the area. He shared that he was a retired teacher and it showed with his willingness and strong ability to connect with the kids throughout our tour.
The afternoon was very much enjoyed as we travelled out to see the Vancouver skyline and Squamish off in the distance. We circled back in to see some seals perched on some rocks and then continued to learn about the neighbouring islands and different features along the way. Such a beautiful adventure.
4. Mike’s Gelato
Just up the road from Sunshine Harbour and Boat Tours is Mike’s Gelato. When I shared on Instagram that I was visiting Gibsons I had a handful of people message me to check out this shop. They weren’t joking, amazing gelato!! There were over 60 flavours to choose from and we learned that over 400 are in rotation. Guess we will have to go back again.
5. Gibsons Public Market
We were so happy that we got a chance to check out Gibson’s Public Market\. We were given a little tour around the space and learned so much about how they support and provide opportunities for people within their community. This includes featuring local Artists on rotation, a local community gathering space and offering a kitchen area for rent to support local entrepreneurs.
On the bottom floor you can discover eight local merchants selling their locally curated products. You can find a florist, cheese, butcher, bread, bakery, and so much more. We purchased a few items to have a snack on the beach, such a wise choice.
6. Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre
Also located within Gibson’s Public Market is the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre. Developed under a collect-and-release model, they have put together over 30 exhibits that feature the marine life that lives within Howe Sound. We were all so intrigued and interested in learning more.
7. Farm Ventures
I don’t even know where to start. This was the farm that just kept on giving! We were introduced to animal after animal and had such a memorable a time on the farm. Starting our with a trail ride, Ezra on a horse and the younger girls on ponies, we walked their property and had a fun time seeing the kids beaming as they got a chance to go through trails. After we arrived back to the farm, we were given a chance to feed the free-range chickens, ducks, pig, goat, donkeys and even met a llama! We didn’t even realize that there was more in store. The owner then lead us into the barn and we were all able to sit down and feed a room full of bunnies and guinea pigs, even getting a chance to snuggle the little baby ones. Unbelievable. We loved spending a full afternoon at Farm Ventures and could tell the love and care that was given to each animal as we were introduced to each of them one by one. Appointments to visit are by reservation only, so make sure to call in advance. There is a BC Transit bus stop about a 2 minute walk up the road that makes access very easy by bus, too.
8. 101 Brewing
If you are travelling with your family and also want to check out a local brewery 101 Brewing is a great option. If you are staying at Gibson’s Garden Hotel like we did, it’s a short 2-minute walk to the brewery. We were pleasantly surprised that they offered a kids menu and colouring and had a very enjoyable meal together.
9. Tapworks Brewing
Their rooftop patio is worth the visit. We discovered Tapworks after our boat tour with Sunshine Kayaking and came back the next day to enjoy a locally crafted beer, and juice boxes for the kids, while sitting on the patio. They had a foosball table upstairs along with a giant version of Connect Four. The perfect afternoon spot.
10. Peggy Sue Kids
If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that Gibsons locals are super supportive of each other on social media. While I shared my visit to Gibsons, I had the owner of Peggy Sue Kids connect with me, and her personal connection brought us into the store. If you need anything for your kids while away this is without a doubt the place to go. Filled with lots of BC-made products, plus loads more of trendy and stylish apparel, shoes, toys and accessories, give yourself some time to explore.
We didn’t get to visit everywhere that we wished this visit, which only means we will need to plan another trip soon! Here are some more places that were recommended on my Instagram Post while visiting: Drift Gibsons, Lunitas Mexican, Beach Comber Coffee, Eat Buono, Smittys Oyster House, Sunshine Coast Olive Oil, Sushi Barnagomi, The Clever Crepe, Plethora Fine Foods, Hooraw 4 Ever, La Petite Souris Chocolate, Sechelt Farmers Market, The Wobbly Canoe, The Gumboot Cafe, Lone Wolf Bakery, Basted Baker, Lucky’s, Persephone Brewing, PCKLS Burgers.
See more adventures and places accessible by BC Transit by visiting the hashtag #exploreBCbybus on Instagram. Enjoy your trip!
Want to plan your own #ExploreBCbyBus trip? Click on the links at the top of this page to get inspired by suggested day trips in communities across BC. Plus, if you share how you’re using BC Transit for your adventures this spring on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #ExploreBCbyBus, you’ll be entered to win weekly prizes of month-long bus passes, and a Grand Prize of two year-long bus passes and an adventure getaway for 2 or 4! All details can be found at explorebcbybus.com/contest.