Are you just about planned out? After your dream nuptials and throwing a lavish after-party for your friends and family, it’s time to hightail it out and do something that’s just for the two of you—and there’s no reason for overnight flights and jet lag. Many couples are delaying costly and planning-heavy honeymoons in favour of mini-moons—a laid-back alternative.
B.C.’s island capital is a romantic hotspot that combines cobblestoned old-European streets and gardens with modern cuisine and entertainment. Fly over on a scenic and quick Harbour Air floatplane that lands on the water in downtown Victoria, across from the famous Fairmont Empress (host to rock stars and royalty). Spend an afternoon in Beacon Hill Park where you can eat soft serve, stroll among peacocks, and take a horse and carriage ride, or explore the Royal BC Museum’s detailed walkthrough dioramas. For dinner, oysters are the aphrodisiac jackpot, so head to the hidden oasis of Ferris’ Grill and Garden Patio for fresh oysters done all ways and inventive cocktails like “Lick My Lychee.” End your night with a walk along the water before heading back to the hotel to refresh for your next day.
Craving Paradise Island? B.C. has a few of its very own, in diverse and lush Pacific Northwest-style. Hidden beaches, walks along rocky coastlines and rich copper-coloured arbutus trees that creak in the ocean breeze await. Salt Spring, the highest populated of the small islands, boasts lakes, beaches and trails for a private, wine-soaked picnic, and quirky, independent shops in which to sip coffee. If you want even more seclusion, head to the stunning rock formations of Galiano Island and get pampered at the exquisite Galiano Inn. On Hornby Island, book a private cabin on the beach and indulge in newlywed bliss. No matter which island you land on, be sure to grab a bottle of wine and go on a midnight walk to watch the stars. Swish your hands in the dark ocean water and, if you’re lucky, catch a magical twinkling display of bioluminescence, naturally occurring tiny organisms that light up when disturbed.
Make a mix of your most obnoxious sing-alongs and road trip it out to the Okanagan for wine, scenery, relaxation and more wine. The Penticton area is bustling in the summer with a laid-back variety of beach-goers. Make your romantic hideaway a B&B in nearby Summerland, Kaleden or Naramata, where the trees snow their cottony seeds throughout warm months, vineyards nestle amongst the hills, and Okanagan Lake, Skaha Lake and the Penticton Channel (on which you can ride along in inner tubes), are just around the corner. Plan for a scenic bike ride through the countryside. Be sure to book a guided wine tour in advance so you can leave the car and sip your way from winery to winery (because who wants to spit out all that delicious wine so they can drive?).
Craft beer everywhere, a city block of books, a scientific rose test garden and karaoke with a live band (or alongside some quirky strippers, for the more adventurous)—keep it weird with a mini-moon down the coast to Portland. Stay at an eclectic boutique hotel, like the Hotel Monaco downtown, where colours and patterns clash delightfully. In the trendy Northeast quarter, McMenamins Kennedy School is a converted old schoolhouse with theme hotel rooms. Be sure to check out nearby Alberta Street for vegetarian-friendly grub and artsy shops. Everywhere you look in this sprawling city is a chill craft brewery, warehouse-sized coffee shop or an intriguing food cart, like Viking Soul Food on SE Belmont serving up hearty Norwegian wraps from a vintage Airstream trailer. (Definitely try their beet-based hot sauce.) Let your inner nerd shine and get exploring with your lifelong partner.